Saturday, January 17, 2004

How to shed winter lethargy

In the same way as you might go for a quick carbohydrate fix when you are drooping, you can choose the healthier option of stimulating your stomach energy. This can be achieved, writes Barefoot Doctor, by eating ginger and doing a two-minute exercise which accelerates your tempo.

Beating winter blues
Beating winter blues

IF YOU'D been following your natural inclinations you would have gone into hibernation a couple of months back and not come out of it yet.

As it is, however, our world doesn't run on natural inclinations and, to survive, your presence is generally required on a day-to-day and night-to-night basis, not just at your place of work, but in your social world, too. There are people to meet, money to be made, love to be shared but if left to your own devices, you'd probably stay curled up beneath a duvet, warm and safe.

But since you can't do that, there's no point lamenting it and, anyway, it's fun hanging out in the world and being involved. So how do you stir yourself from your winter lethargy? How do you fire yourself up enough to get going when your energy is flagging? According to the Oriental view, the energy most readily available for you to tap into for an instant uplift is your stomach energy. Much in the same way as you might go for a quick carbohydrate or sugar fix when you are drooping, you can instead choose the healthier option of stimulating your stomach energy, which helps override lethargy and accelerates your tempo till you're up to speed again.

Initiate the process by eating a small knob of raw ginger, which will instantly heat up your stomach energy and make it more malleable.

Next, briefly inspect the area of your lower legs from the outside of each knee down to the top of each foot and locate that strip of muscle immediately bordering the outside of each shin bone. Along its length lie four acupoints which, when stimulated, trigger a sudden release of stomach energy into your system, tangible within only a few minutes. Make fists, keep shoulders back, elbows and wrists relaxed and percuss with the little finger edges, one fist to each leg, a moderate-tempo drum roll up and down the length of the muscle strip for at least 30 seconds - more if you're getting into the groove.

Immediately you stop, use your palms to rub briskly and vigorously up and down the length of the strip for a moment or two and you'll begin to feel an extraordinary heat radiating up your legs, through your back and into your stomach, where it meets the heat from the ginger.

To make that heat circulate round your entire system and get you back in the game, start with feet 45cm apart, knees bent, pelvis tucked under, back of neck extended upwards, chin pointing down, chest and belly relaxed, shoulders slumped, arms held out in front and elbows slightly bent, as if pushing something away from you.

Relax and imagine as you inhale that you're collecting the heat in your belly and, as you exhale, imagine it radiating to your extremities.

Complete nine breaths, straighten at the knees and, gently pushing your hands up above you, declare with quiet confidence and gusto, 'I am imbued with limitless life force, with limitless life force I am imbued!'

Unless caused by illness, lethargy tends to originate in the mind, without you realising it. Your unconscious resistance to having a good time usually caused by self-pity sends cancelling messages all round your energy circuits and your body closes down. Repeating a positive countermand acts as a form of auto-suggestion gives you access to instant energy.

The entire procedure from ingestion of ginger knob to the exclamation mark at the end of your declaration takes three minutes, so shouldn't eat too much into your schedule if performed three times a day, which is all that is required to get you up and keep you there for the whole day and night - till spring comes round again, which won't be long now. Happy leg-banging.

The Guardian