I was outside enjoying my backyard some days ago and caught a glimpse of the morning moon as I looked up through the branches of one of our taller maples. On that day the moon was in its last quarter phase before the new one, happening Wednesday (Oct. 6) and I was inspired by the clear impression of symmetry between Yin and Yang.
New moon intention: (new moons are for setting intentions, getting the process started; full moons are for affirming what has transpired- or- so I have been told):
"The moon is a reminder that no matter what phase I am in, I am still whole." (Anonymous)
Intend to know more about this in the coming weeks.
These quarter phases between the new and full moon are, like the equinoxes and solstices, great times to check into your center and work with your sense of balance. They are balancing points and, at the same time, tipping points into the next phase as everything revolves full circle. We’re still feeling the celestial influence created by the Fall Equinox. Major changes in seasons can be mildly or wildly unsettling for some as the Qi in the environment synchronizes with the new season's rhythms. Energetically sensitive people might feel these disruptions a few weeks before and few weeks after each seasonal change. In addition to sensitive digestion, more sensitive emotionally, there can also, be a feeling of being “out of sorts”. This is a condition that we call “reversed polarity” in some Reiki and Qigong circles. You'll find in this post three, or so, practices that can help when your personal orbits feel all jacked up.
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What is polarity in the body?
Polarity is a fundamental law of nature involving the union of opposites through a middle point, balanced between the positive and negative poles of the same essential thing. The earth’s polarity creates a magnetic field that is sensitive to what is happening in the two innermost core layers.
Polarity therapies operate from the theory is that the human body, like the Earth, has positive and negative poles radiating from the center core that act like an inner compass and form a protective field around the body. When there is an excess of Qi, or a deficiency, the poles can sometimes flip, disrupting the flow of Qi and temporarily knock your sense of direction off kilter.
So, polarity for humans is the perception of which way is up, down, right, left, behind, and in front. It helps us gauge both where we are in relation to the world around and how to move well through it. Like the Earth’s polarity, it creates an electromagnetic field around the body; in “energetic” anatomy, this field is referred to as “Wei Qi” which is also a protective force, like the geomagnetic field, that can weaken if certain conditions are present- chronic stress, for instance, that require a harmonized Qi flow to maintain. The Wei Qi fields in my mind are similar to proprioceptive sense.
“Without proprioception, you wouldn’t be able to move without thinking about your next step. Proprioception allows you to walk without consciously thinking about where to place your foot next. It lets you touch your elbow with your eyes closed.” (WebMD, 2020)
Think of how it is to be dancing and in sync with the music- when you are in this flow, you don't second guess where your feet go next, you just go with it, immersed in the moment. When polarity is off, you are less centered, clumsier than normal, and well, you're just not a spiffy dancer. Proprioceptive (kinesthetic) sense is how we understand our location amid everything else and enables us to move within space with effortless coordination, and good timing. While polarity gives a kind of compass coordinate, this sense involves timing and rhythm, because it also helps you perceive things moving around you. In other words, we have a phrase for when we are feeling off center; we say, “I started off on the wrong foot” and have a harder time recovering coordination or timing. In a word, we’re discombobulated. When polarity is balanced, you feel confidence in your movements, knowing where you are, having a feel for and trust in yourself.
What can cause it? In addition to medical causes,
Stress, with little down time
Poor diet or too little hydration,
Too much time in front of screens: cellphone, computer, TV,
Too much time in rooms with fluorescent lighting,
Especially for introverts, other people, no alone time
Especially for extroverts, too much alone time without social interaction
Unresolved emotional trauma
Symptoms of reversed polarity can include depression and exhaustion, poor memory, anxiety, fear, vertigo, hopelessness, dizziness, immune disturbances, lethargy, poor coordination, mentally and physically, headaches and dissociation, or feeling out of body. Other conditions that can initiate reversed polarity are associated with chronic fatigue syndrome, hormonal disturbances, muscular pains, autoimmune diseases, or even cancers. We all have these symptoms from time to time, they don’t necessarily mean there is a serious health issue, but if they are a regular occurrence, or unusual in any way, seeing a medical doctor would be advised to rule out serious causes.
What some holistic practitioners call reversed polarity is very much like proprioceptive disorder, which is a diagnosable medical condition. After testing to confirm a diagnosis, typically doctors will encourage movement therapies to retrain the muscles and improve balance and coordination. The interventions include Tai chi, Qigong, or exercises to improve core strength, and physical therapies. In a medical qigong or reiki treatment, the healer would include body work to harmonize Qi flow.
From the standpoint of Traditional Chinese Medicine, whatever is happening in the body regarding pain, disease, or injury will influence how the Qi flows through the meridians. Some types of pain, for example, can be an expression of excess Qi, or a “full” condition which manifests as sharp, intense pain, that can trigger anxiety. Obsessive looping, including worry, brooding and over thinking, related often to Spleen deficiency can be triggered by poor diet or digestion. Disharmonies in physical form or function do affect mood and vice versa. Moods are like inner winds that influence the Qi flow, becoming muscle tension, poor posture, changes in heart rate, quality of respiration, and other physiological functions. Every muscle movement contains proprioception, what you think about, how you feel about it, and how you move all have an affect your sense of where you are in the moment. If you feel unusually lost, clumsy, or confused, clearing reversed polarity might give you some relief.
Below are three different techniques for clearing reversed polarity- two in the video and the third just below. Try some of these the next time you fell all cattywampus to regain balance, clarity, and to feel more centered.
The balance exercises in the video are part of a Fall season practice we are doing in my weekly qigong groups. They are adapted from Crane Frolic and in addition to cultivating healthy lung Qi, they are excellent for improving your sense of balance and moving with grace and confidence. They can help to strengthen core muscles, build coordination, and clear the mind, promoting a sense of peacefulness. I found them in a book called "Qigong Through the Seasons" by Ronald H. Davis (referenced below) which I highly recommend. Or, you can visit our weekly classes and learn them throughout the year.
If you'd like to join us, sign up online for (still Zoom for now) a class- we'll be moving on from the Crane exercises soon, but the winter exercises are also fun- Sign up here
The final recommended practice below, is one I found in Emergence Magazine. It takes some time to do, but the result is feeling connected not only to your immediate environment, but also to its history and your part in the human story.
Exercise 3, by Aylie Baker:
“Navigating a Shifting World”
A lesson in locating yourself on the natural land; understanding the gravity of its existence and knowing your resonance with it; or, recovering the sense of you in the world.
Three questions to consider as you go through this exercise:
“Where you are,
what’s around you, and
what the history is beneath your feet?”
Step 1: Start where you are. Find someplace to sit that is close to home, preferably outside in a more natural area, if possible; get comfortable and sit there for around 20 minutes without electronics. If you happen to have a printed map, see if you can place your finger on the spot where you are in the map. If you have a regular compass, you can place it in your lap; then, just begin to look out, locating yourself via the north, south, east, and west. Rotate your position so your shoulders square with each of these four cardinal directions. [reflect]
Step 2: “The oak tree that rises from the sidewalk, the river that runs through town, the cloud that passes overhead- all exist in relationship, and all exist in relationship to you.” Still from where you are, notice the directions, but this time observe what is moving around you (animals, trees, plants; if you know this, also, planets and stars over the area; and finally, are there cars or signs of human life- lights, planes, etc.);
Step 3: Even though there are numerous apps to look this information up, the point is to relate to this environment through your own inner sense. For this step, close your eyes and recall the directions. Breathe gently, but deeply, as Baker says, “lean into your senses.” Note what you hear, any smells, and other sensations you feel around you- what direction are these coming from?
Step 4: From this place, think of the history of your own town, the geography around it. Think of major landmarks, rivers, mountains; also, buildings- schools, factories, or bus terminals, airports in relation to where you are sitting. As you bring them into your “mind’s eye”, can you point to where they are?
Step 5: “Now take a moment to remember that the space you inhabit has its own unique resonance and unfolding story, of which you are having an immediate experience. Take a moment to extend your view of time. Orienting yourself is not just about you in this moment, but you in relation to an infinite intersection of moments.” How do you imagine (or perhaps you know) the landscape has changed over all of time- prehistoric, ancient, into the modern day. What do the highways and buildings cover; who were the indigenous peoples in the area; what about your own ancestors? What kinds of technologies did they develop because of living here?
Step 6: As you get up to go, remember you can always do this practice from wherever you are, by stopping and asking the original question- whether you come back to this place, are stuck in traffic, at home or anywhere. You can always “take a moment to locate yourself in relationship.”
Step 7: Go from this place and reflect, maybe writing down your impressions or items you’d like to research more fully- the history of the area or the particulars about any of the flora, fauna, or indigenous peoples, ancestors you thought about. “Remember that you’re connected to a larger story, both in place and time.” If you feel comfortable, share what you have learned with others in your community.
We are still in the Metal phase of the year, which impacts Lung Qi the most. The lungs themselves are an indicator of balance and symmetry. Think of how breathing is affected by pain or emotions; it gets shallower when we are reacting to physical pain or strong emotions and deepens when we are relaxed, content. They are also the origin of our protective Qi, our sense of connectedness, and our part in the integrity of the whole. Maybe not surprisingly, two things that you can do when you feel out of orbit or unconnected are the simplest of all techniques: 1) stop what you are doing for a moment to orient yourself in space: note the space in front, to the right, in back, to the left, the floor, the ceiling; 2) breathe consciously. You will find yourself again, in the center of all of that.
References not linked:
Emergence Magazine: "Practices", Vol. 1. Copyright- 2019.
This is a small booklet of nature awareness exercises that comes with each print copy issue of Emergence Magazine. See: www.emergencemagazine.org to subscribe.
Davis, Ronald H., "Qigong Through the Seasons: How to Stay Health All Year with Qigong, Meditation, Diet, and Herbs". Singing Dragon, an imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 73 Collier Street, London, N1 9BE UK and 400 Market Street, #400, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA. 2015. www.singingdragon.com