What is the one thing you should know to have a lifetime of abundant health?
Just as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west due to Earth’s rotation, there are natural laws your body follows. One law, discerned by traditional Asian medicine, can decide the health of your body, mind, and spirit.
Water Up Fire Down by New York Times bestselling author Ilchi Lee reveals this golden rule of health. Know it, feel it, and use it in your daily life to:
- Manage your stress
- Balance your emotions
- Maintain your focus
- See situations clearly
- Maximize your immunity
- Have abundant energy and passion
- Sleep soundly
How can one rule affect all this? Because it is an essential principle of energy circulation in the body. No matter what physical or mental issues you may have, if you apply the Water Up, Fire Down energy principle in your daily life, you can make progress toward clearing them up.
Ilchi Lee gives you proven mind-body exercises and lifestyle recommendations so you can apply this energy principle to your body and your life. These simple yet effective exercises are shown with full-color illustrations so you can easily do them on your own right away. Get your copy today.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
I would be foolish to ask, “Do you want to be healthy?” After all, health is the most basic standard for determining your quality of life, and maintaining your health is the greatest gift you can give yourself. Your health is a great blessing for your loved ones and your community, too, since it is the foundation of all the good and beautiful things you do.
You can borrow money and knowledge from others, if necessary, but you can’t borrow health. And you can’t share your own health with others, no matter how much you love them. Whatever you’re seeking to achieve in life right now, you need to base your efforts on your health, not anyone else’s.
Are you striving for better health? You may be trying different things, such as eating better or exercising more regularly, or maybe you’re trying to fix bad habits like smoking or excessive drinking. How’s that working for you? Are those efforts bringing you satisfactory results? Do you feel healthy? Or is the gradually deteriorating state of your body causing you to struggle?
I’d like to introduce a principle that can serve as the cornerstone of your efforts to attain better health, whatever your state of health right now. I call it the “Golden Principle of Health.”
First, you must understand that certain principles, or causes, lie behind all natural phenomena. You might also call these principles “natural laws” since they are intrinsic to the way the world works. The reason the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, for example, is that the earth rotates. And the natural law of gravity makes apples fall from their trees. We did not artificially create such natural laws, nor can we change them however we’d like. They have always been there, existing before humans discovered and named them.
Universal principles lie behind our health, too, and failing to live in harmony with them gives rise to illness. With so many people sick these days, illness may seem normal, and it may seem like you have to do an awful lot to keep yourself healthy, but good health is the most natural condition of life. In other words, being healthy is what’s normal. So, to regain and retain good health, you need to understand the principles of health and live according to them. “Keep your head cool and your belly warm.”
This is the Golden Principle of Health that I’m going to tell you about. No matter what physical or mental issues you may have, if you apply this principle in your daily life, you’ll be able to make progress toward clearing them up. As a universal law and principle, this applies to everyone, everywhere. You’re healthy when you follow this principle, unhealthy when you don’t. If you keep ignoring this principle, you may have to pay a hefty price later.
To maintain your health by applying this principle, consider it as important as social distancing, wearing a mask when going out, and frequently washing hands during the coronavirus pandemic. And I want you to make it a daily habit, like eating, brushing your teeth, and washing your face.
Have you ever received acupuncture treatment? Even if you haven’t, you’ve probably heard about it or seen it in a movie or TV show. Let’s say your head hurts so much that it feels like it will explode, and taking medication hasn’t helped. You go to see your neighborhood acupuncturist at the recommendation of a friend and explain your symptoms in detail. Strangely, the acupuncturist places needles in your healthy arms and legs without doing anything to your aching head. Even more strange, the throbbing pain in your head vanishes as a result. This kind of thing is possible because Asian medicine looks at our bodies through the lens of energy. The acupuncturist views our bodies holistically, their parts interconnected through energy, so he places a needle in your foot to treat a disease of your head and places a needle in your back to deal with a problem in your shoulder.
But what is energy? From the calories in the crunchy energy bar you eat as a snack to the head-spinning theories of quantum physics, energy has been understood by scientists in a variety of ways. But the way of describing energy I am using here is much older than that. It’s an understanding that is central to Asian medical traditions that are thousands of years old. To put it simply, the energy we deal with in this book is the life force flowing through your body. You could say the concept is similar to that of the bioelectromagnetism created in living cells, tissues, and organs, discovered by Western science, but it is more comprehensive than that. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you could think of it as something like the Force that surrounds and penetrates us, giving power to the whole universe, the Jedi and the Sith alike.
This energycommonly called chi, qi, or kicannot be seen or touched. That’s why some people think it doesn’t exist. But just because something is invisible doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Energy exists invisibly, and this unseen thing affects everything visible.
Energy can’t be seen with the eyes, but its waves can be felt. (A small minority of people see it, as well.) Organisms have a sense allowing them to feel the subtle flow of energy. How do ants and bats know in advance that an earthquake will occur? Out in the ocean, how do salmon swim such great distances to return to the river where they were born? How do migratory birds get their direction while flying in the wide-open blue sky? Although there are many theories about the fantastic abilities of various animals, the precise mechanisms making them possible remain shrouded in mystery. Scientists think animals may be using their senses to detect subtle changes in the earth’s magnetic field. In fact, although animals may look different on the outside, all are ultimately made of the same stuffenergy. Thus they can detect subtle changes coming from other organisms and objects. This is possible because they feel and respond to energy.
Even without any words being said, we can tell whether a colleague sitting next to us is angry, and we can feel whether someone is overflowing with energy or is sad. That is also energy sensing. We all have a sense for feeling energy, so anyone can develop it further through training. In fact, feeling energy is easier than frying an egg. If you’ve never experienced feeling energy, please turn to page 184 of this book.
In South Korea, where I was born, going to an acupuncturist to get treatment for shoulder or lower back pain is as common as going to a dentist for a toothache. The idea that pain results from a blockage of energy and that acupuncture can open blockages and improve symptoms is common sense. And it’s not just South Korea. The traditional medical systems of Asian countrieswhich account for close to 60 percent of the world’s populationare mostly based on this understanding of energy. Even now, billions of people continue to use such traditional medicine to support their health.
Many people do yoga to lose weight and create a beautiful figure, and they do tai chi or qigong because they’ve heard doctors say it’s good for joint health. But yoga, tai chi, and qigong were originally developed by energy masters millennia ago to concentrate and circulate energy in our bodies. Of course, if you have enough energy in your body and it circulates well, you’ll also lose weight, and your joints will grow stronger.
In the East, people have long believed that everything in the world was created by energy. To understand the world, they carefully observed and contemplated how energy acts in nature. They applied the knowledge and wisdom they obtained through observing natural phenomena to the human body because they considered humans to be part of nature. Such experience was accumulated and systemized over thousands of years to become traditional Asian medicine.
“It is energy that brings good health and energy that causes disease.” This is the most fundamental idea they had in the East concerning the body and health. So to maintain health and heal disease, they first examined and took care of energy. But what should you observe about energy? The primary concern is “circulation.”
Just as there are certain patterns even in natural changes that may seem incredibly complex and random, the energy in our bodies moves in certain patterns and directions, not randomly or haphazardly. We’re healthy when our energy flows well, without blockages, in its original, natural direction. We develop disease when our energy is blocked or flows in the wrong direction. Symptoms improve and disease is healed when energy blockages are opened up and flow is redirected and corrected. Receiving acupuncture, taking herbal medicine, doing acupressure, or performing certain yoga, tai chi, or qigong movements are all for correcting the flow and circulation of the body’s energy.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Own Your Health for Everyone's Sake 9
Part 1 Energy Principle 17
Chapter 1 Discover the Golden Principle of Health 19
Cool Head and Warm Belly 20
Key to Good Health: Energy Circulation 24
Water Energy Up, Fire Energy Down 27
Chapter 2 Balance Your Energy to Manage Your Stress 33
When Fire Energy Surges to the Head 34
When Water Energy Sinks to the Belly 36
Energy Circulation and Stress 37
Strategies for Managing Stress 40
The Physiology of Water-Fire Energy Circulation 42
Chapter 3 Connect with Your Body to Prevent Disease 49
A Body with Water-Fire Energy Circulation Rejects What's Unhealthy 51
The Energetic Root of Disease 52
Vitality and Resilience Should Be the Norm 55
Chapter 4 Run Three Engines for Water-Fire Energy Circulation 59
The Three Energy Centers in Your Body 61
Warm Belly, Open Heart, and Cool Head 64
Chapter 5 Three Reasons for Reversed Energy Circulation 69
Overworking the Brain Causes It to Overheat 69
Fire Way Blockage Causes a Constant Stifling Feeling in the Chest 74
The Core and the Lower Body Are Weak 77
Chapter 6 Four Tools for Recovering Energy Balance 81
Control Your Breathing 81
Be Aware 88
Part 2 Training Routines 95
Chapter 7 Before You Begin Practice 97
Abandon the Thought That Change Takes a Lot of Time 98
Interact with Your Brain as You Practice 99
Check the State of Your Water-Fire Circulation 100
Chapter 8 Keep Your Belly Warm 103
Before You Begin: Check Your Core Energy 103
Exercise 1 Tap Your Belly 105
Exercise 2 Exercise Your Gut 107
Exercise 3 Train Your Lower Body 111
Chapter 9 Open Your Blocked Chest 115
Before You Begin: Check the Energy Balance of Your Chest 116
Exercise 1 Opening Blockages Caused by Worry and Anxiety 118
Exercise 2 Release the Stress in Your Chest 130
Exercise 3 Send Healing Energy to Your Chest 133
Chapter 10 Cool Your Overheated Brain 137
Before You Begin: Check the Energy Balance of Your Head 138
Exercise 1 Open the Energy Blockages in the Hips 140
Exercise 2 Release Energy Stagnation in Your Head 144
Exercise 3 Relax the Tension in Your Neck Muscles 148
Chapter 11 Develop the Power of Your Mind 153
Before You Begin: Check the Power of Your Mind 157
Meditation 1 Lay Down Your Attachments 159
Meditation 2 Develop the Energy of Your True Self 160
Meditation 3 Protect Yourself with an Energy Capsule 161
Chapter 12 Establish Your Own Water Up, Fire Down Routine 167
Daily Practice 1 Morning Routine 171
Daily Practice 2 Evening Routine 179
Daily Practice 3 Fundamental Meditations 184
Part 3 Reflections 191
Chapter 13 Beyond individual Energy Balance 193
When We Feel the Life Within 194
Secure Time for Balancing Your Energy Daily 195
The Earth Needs Energy Balance, Too 196
If the Planet Hurts, So Do You 198
Creating a Balanced Water-Fire Energy Lifestyle 199
About the Author 205