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Escaping the Herd and finding your Path

So, something else that I noticed over the Lockdown was this insistence of “keep on going”, “only the weak give up”, and “keep calm and carry on”, etc.  This type of mantra has been around forever of course, but it seems to have become more prevalent lately.  Or is it just me?  There is nothing wrong with this type of rhetoric; it’s important to remain motivated and keep the spirits up.  The flipside unfortunately are feelings of guilt and shame if for any reason you can’t “just do it”.  And sometimes it is positively the wrong advice.  In my experience, this type of inner voice can be quite destructive and simply leads to disappointment and depression, even physical injury.

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Keep on not keeping on going

Instead of just keeping on irrespective of how you feel, how about taking a moment to pause and experiencing who you are and what you want.  Nature does it every year, taking a moment to rest and replenish; it’s called Winter.   And to top it all, the predominate emotion over the lockdown has been fear, which has the potential to severely deplete our Kidney and Yin energy.  Just “carrying on”, together with a Yin deficiency, only leads to one thing…ill health.

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Yul again…I couldn’t resist it

I wrote about this a few years ago in my blog about exercise addiction, when a good thing becomes bad.  In this article I explain that as your Qi becomes more depleted you have to do more and more to get that ‘runner’s high’, that fix of endorphins that once came so easily.We need to tune-in to what we really need, and to do this we can take some advice from nature.  Nature doesn’t try, it just does.  The river doesn’t flow uphill, that goes against its nature.

Finding your True Nature

So how can you tune into your inner nature?  It takes some degree of practice, that’s all.  In Taoism they call it Wu Wei, or action without action.  To use the river analogy again, the river doesn’t have to ‘think’ about flowing, it just flows.  The wind doesn’t have to think about blowing.  The seed doesn’t have to think about growing.  Similarly, neither do we.  It just happens.  But this doesn’t mean do nothing.  Yes, we grow, but into what?  So, it’s important how we cultivate ourselves.

The trick is knowing what you need, rather than what you want.

Practices such as Qi gong and meditation help the body’s natural energy flow, as do the right foods, making the whole process of Wu Wei happen more easily.  And if Qi gong isn’t enough, well, then you come to see someone like me for Acupuncture and Tui na.

Healthy Qi has its own natural flow.  In nature we can observe it in the seasons.  Water always flows downwards.  Fire always burns upwards.  Trees grow in all directions!

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Qi isn’t static, nor does it just float around like a mist.  It moves according to its function.  For example, Stomach Qi always descends.  If for some reason it ascended, the result would be nausea and vomiting.  Qi is also affected by the time of day, the time of year, and the time of one’s life (Qi moves a lot quicker in a 21 year old than it does in an 81 year old!).  It is affected by the environment, including the weather and pollution, and also by our emotions, so not only how you are feeling in general but who you have spoken to or what you might have just seen on the news.  Even just being in the same room as someone in a bad or good mood will affect your energy, which is something we have all experienced.  So bearing all this in mind, you can imagine what the Lockdown and COVID fear is doing to our Qi!

Fill the tank before setting out

So ‘just keep going’ is not always the best advice, especially when your Qi is taking a battering.  Running on empty is a common analogy. It makes sense to fill your car up with petrol before your head out on a journey, rather than after.

It is of course important to remain motivated, whatever your physical condition, but the Mind too will be affected by the state of your Qi, and vice versa, the state of the Mind affects Qi.  Depression and hopelessness can deplete the Qi, whereas Qi stagnation, often a consequence of Qi deficiency, can lead to frustration and anger.  Or in more severe cases, you just lack the energy to do anything or feel anything.

So don’t be too hard on yourself.  Don’t feel pressurized into keep going when your gut feeling is to just take a moment to check in with your true nature.  Going with the flow doesn’t mean simply following the herd, but rather simply doing what is natural for you.

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.


If you are interested in what direction the Qi should flow in, I have listed the main organs below.


Control the descending of Qi: send Qi downward to Kidneys & Bladder.


Controls the smooth flow of Qi in all directions, esp. upward.
Lungs & Liver balance each other (Lung Qi flows downward, and Liver Qi upward)


Control transformation of Water.
Impure Fluids flow downward & clear Qi flows upward.
Lung Qi descends to Kidneys. Kidney Qi ascends to Lungs.
Lungs send Qi down. Kidneys receive Qi.
Lung controls exhalation. Kidney controls inhalation.


Spleen sends pure Qi upward to Lungs & Heart.
Stomach sends impure Qi downward for further refinement.
Spleen controls transformation, Stomach controls receiving.
Therefore ascending of clear Qi and descending of impure Qi depend on ascending of Spleen Qi and descending of Stomach Qi.

Heart and Kidneys

Fire of Heart flows downward to meet Water of Kidneys. Water of Kidneys rises to nourish Fire of Heart.

Derangement of any of the above directions of Qi flow can cause problems.


  • Stomach Qi rises instead of descending: nausea, vomiting, belching.
  • Spleen Qi descends instead of rising: diarrhea, prolapsed organs


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Are you Looking but not Seeing?

One of the things I noticed during the lockdown was how often I have my head down looking at my phone.  I eventually uninstalled Facebook, not only because I was looking at it far too much, but also because it made me feel bad for not totally redecorating the house or learning a new language.

Things are looking up

I did, however, start to walk more; mainly to simply get out of the house (and ignore the decorating that needed to be done), but it was also an opportunity to clear my head.  One day I just happened to look up and noticed a building I had never seen before.  I’ve lived in Southend all my life and have probably walked/run/cycled/driven past this building a thousand times over the last 50 years, so how could I have never seen this building before? And then it dawned on me that I never look up; or more accurately, I look but I don’t see.  So I started to look up as I walked.

Behind the facade

If you have walked down Southend high street in the last 50 or 60 years, you would have noticed that architecturally it’s a 1960s modernistic nightmare.  Whoever was in charge of town planning in the post-war years was seriously lacking in inspiration and designed simply for functionality (although he deserves a pat on the back for the old central library, which is a lovely piece of post-modern architecture).  If you look closely, most of the original buildings in the high street are still there, just hidden behind facades.

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Looking without Seeing

My point is, I suppose, is that it’s funny how we can look without seeing.  Most things we do, I guess, are not done consciously.  We just float through our lives never looking up and doing what we are told, either through conditioning or simply for a quiet life.  For example, we all know how easy it is to decide whether we like someone the moment we lay eyes on them.   It takes just 3 seconds from meeting someone and making a judgement as to whether you like that person or not.   But this is so flawed.  In my experience, the person I initially judge to be the biggest plonker usually turns out to be my best friend!

Becoming instinctual

In his excellent book Bounce, Matthew Syed explains how the brain is too slow to react to a tennis ball approaching at 120mph, but instead, by practicing for thousands of thousands of hours, the muscle reaction must become instinctual to ensure the racket is in the right place in a millionth of a second.  Kung fu experts have known this for thousands of years, training to a degree where the mind is no longer part of the reactive process.  They practice to such an extent that their reactions are swift enough to block a punch, for instance, long before they have seen it and the brain has had time to react.  Bruce Lee said he fears the person who has trained one kick a thousand times rather than the person who has practiced a thousand kicks only once!

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So why do we rely on our sight so much, even when we know how inefficient it is?

The eyes are so important in our culture.  We even rely on the eyes as a sort of lie detector.  We say that the eyes are the windows to the soul and that you can’t hide the truth in the eyes.  It takes a lot of training to control the eye movement when not telling the truth, which is a big thing in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).  Or so I thought…In fact new research now suggests that that “lying eyes” are actually a myth.  It is verbal hesitations and excessive hand gestures that can give away a liar.

‘Seeing’ with touch

In Wing Chun kung fu, the martial art that I have studied for many years, we practice a sensitivity technique called chi sau, or ‘sticky hands’, in order to heighten our sensitivity.  At a more advanced level we even do this blindfolded to rule out the influence our sight has on our reactions.  One’s sight is replaced by the sensitivity of the hands.

The hands (or more accurately the Qi in one’s hands) are quicker to react to an attack than the eyes, and even the brain.  And of course, the thousands of hours of practice help, as demonstrated in Mathew Syed’s book above. In Qigong the eyes are closed to keep qi in, especially if it is depleted.  More normally though the eyes are kept open, or half open, to allow the qi to circulate freely.

The Liver channel opens at the eyes

In Chinese medicine the eyes and sight are most closely associated with the Liver, as the Liver channel opens at the eyes.  And because of the Liver’s relationship with blood, it is also responsible for keeping the eyes moist.  This is interesting when you consider the Liver’s role as the military leader when it comes to health, and its corresponding emotion of fear/courage.  As I’ve mentioned in many of my blogs, the Liver represents the warrior within all of us, giving us the courage to not only move forward in life, but also to defend ourselves.  To be an efficient warrior you need to keep your head up to be able to see.  Not just with the eyes, but intuitively and instinctively.   Fighting blindfolded is just as much about conquering fear as it is heightening the senses.  We instinctively close our eyes and flinch away from what we fear, or we lock ourselves away.

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Becoming blind to the problem

Try not to accept things without question, because what we see is not always true, as the COVID19 pandemic has highlighted; there is much going on around the world that we can’t afford to be blind to.   Equally, there is much to be distracted by in this world, and there is much that some people and groups of people don’t want us to see.  They want to carry on doing what they are doing –  making a lot of money at any price, away from prying eyes, or in plain sight most of the time.  It can be so obvious, we just don’t see it anymore.

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The distractions employed by these nefarious groups are pretty simple too.  We are encouraged to feed ourselves with junk food and numbing medications.  We eat our dinners in front of the tv, distracting us from the food we are putting into our mouths; it could just as well be cardboard.  We speed round the supermarket, subconsciously being told what to buy and eat. We walk around with our headphones on and our heads down looking at our phones.  We need to open our eyes!  Go to the market and see your food: feast with your eyes on the beautiful shapes and sizes of the fresh fruit and vegetables.  Walk with your head held high without headphones on.  Eat your food without watching TV every now and then.    Open your eyes and see what is going on around you and what’s coming your way!

It is only with open eyes that we can defeat fear and move forward.


If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.