I’ve been accustomed with fatigue, lethargy and feeling drained all my life. Totally not being a morning person, I have difficulty dragging myself up from bed ever since primary school days. As I began working and as my job stress got more and more, I resorted to caffeine boost to regain energy. If anyone tells me that they suffer from constant fatigue, lethargy and low energy levels, I completely understand, because it is something that I face all my life.
If we suffer from lethargy and have a job that demands a lot of constant mental output, if we rely on artificial stimulants, it would be only a matter of time before we worn our physical, emotional and spirit down.
But I never give up. I constantly look for ways to increase my energy levels- here are the methods that I’ve adopted in the past:
- become a vegetarian
- cut down sugar
- try GI (glycemic index) method of eating
- join gym
- learn yoga
- core based exercise- trigger energy from the core
- quit my corporate job
Exercise and certain diets worked for a while. If our spiritual and emotional are feeling exhausted, that in turn have an effect on the physical and so it becomes a vicious cycle. So the more we push ourselves to exercise, if it’s not something we find relaxing but yet something that we must do to help control the weight or give us more energy, it creates more output of energy causing us to lose even more vital ‘qi’ or ‘chi’.
Too much exercise, is bad for us as we would need to use our inner reserves (vital qi stored in our organs) to exert the exercise output. Done with a negative emotion (like pushing ourselves to do, doing it to ‘punish’ the body or compensate for guilt feelings that came from overeating, etc), it creates a double whammy- because negative emotions creates imbalances inside our body, blocking our meridian points and causing illness (that is why it is possible for seemingly active people to develop illness).
On the other hand, too little exercise causes blockages and stagnation of our chi. Think of a blocked pipe due to lack of circulation- eventually it clogs up and causing pains, discomforts and cancerous growth.
Anyway, I’ve earlier quit my previous job because I was exhausted. I took a break and came back from it almost 30 pounds lighter. When I began working back, I took a paycut job and last year I went back to corporate life again.
However in recent months, I felt exhaustion and the danger of burnt out came back again. When I encountered a challenge, I always want to try to solve it first before giving up. It’s the same here. The issues plaguing me was different from what I had in my previous job- to be able to deal effectively (without sacrificing my own ethics and principles) calls for more compassion, composure, patience and equanimity to more subtler levels than before. If I can cultivate those qualities, I’ll pull through and survive. But my exhaustion was moving in far too fast.
At first, I’ve tried to cut down as much as my personal pursuits after working life. I’ve learned to sleep early, relax, cut down on blogging and research activities- I took time to rest more. But I knew that I was fighting a losing battle- my weight has always been an effective thermometer of how I am handling the stress. It had steadily climbed up in recent months and I’m only short of 12 pounds from my old weight. And despite many things I’ve done- the weight stuck stubbornly. In a way, I knew my body was clinging on to stress and negativity and unable to diffuse it.
Still, I constantly search for solutions- I tried this and that. Like I mentioned, I don’t give up easily without doing my best.
Then recently, during a trip of Camerons Highland following a group of Wai Tan Kung practitioners, I discovered this gem of a practice. My mom had joined wai tan kung for about 2 years and she had been practicing it dillegently but I’ve never joined because I know the class requires commitment (not money but time). The teacher teaches from the heart and it’s bad if you stop going after a while.
At Camerons, the founder gave a talk about how wai tan kung opens up the meridian channels and promotes better chi flow in the body. That got me really interested but not interested enough to join because I doubt I could give that time commitment.
But as work exhaustion is gradually caving in and I was not reluctant to give up my personal life so that I have enough energy to work- you see, my job is mentally challenging and demanding- if I don’t have enough of sleep, it’s very tough to be able to get through the days and get things done.
I knew I had to do something about it- the answer is not to cut down on personal life activities so that I can preserve the little energy I had left. Physical exercise was not helping much either.
Again, the determined spirit in me would not give up. I managed to get my hands on a few books that talked about qi gong and ancient Chinese exercises that balances the energy and increases vitality. One of it was the tortoise exercise. I spoke to my mom about it and she told me that the wai tan kung classes teaches this. She then proceed to demonstrate the tortoise exercise and some of the exercises to me and got me to try it out. I remembered that afternoon, I was drinking on my second cup of coffee while speaking to her as I was feeling tired.
The moment I’ve tried on the exercises, I immediately felt more energetic, driven by the better chi/ energy flow bought about the simple exercises. ‘Don’t use strength’, she kept saying- the movements are natural (and at first, it’s more difficult to be done without strength).
The next day, I started to attend the wai tan kung class. I’ve noticed that my energy levels are so much higher and lasted longer throughout the day (before this, I felt my energy levels low in morning, then rise a little and dip gradually after lunch).
The wai tan kung exercises worked like magic- the exhaustion that had previously threatened to engulf me had now been placed on check. Now I automatically get up about 5.30am feeling refreshed. Even if I have active dreams and feel a little tired, just the one hour of exercise would have me feeling energized and my general well-being well.
Therefore, I urge if you are like me, who have tried all conventional methods but nothing seemed to work, do give any exercises that helps to promote chi movements a try. It can be wai tan kung, but if you cannot find it, you can go for qi gong/ chi kung, nei kung or tai chi. Any of these exercises, practiced consistently works wonders on your body. In China and Malaysia, most of these exercises are taught in parks and almost free of charge.
If you are unable to find classes near your area, then you may search for YouTube for any of such exercises. They look easy, but the benefits that you derive is enormous- you get the gift of health, which is more valuable and that all the money and power in the world cannot buy.