When you’re feeling mentally and physically exhausted, there could be many different causes. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Dr Marina Christov explains how taking a closer look at your kidney system, AKA your ‘gateway of vitality’ could be the answer.
As we proceed through our lives, they will continue to bring us ups and downs. The best medicine to cope through it all is a commitment to self-care, and to nourishing the systems in our body that will motivate us to continue to seize the day.
Traditional Chinese Medicine recognises the kidney system as the backbone for all life processes. The kidney dives deep into the emotional and innermost important vital energetic resources of the body, and it ‘rules’ and influences the bones, the ears, our hearing, our reproductive capacity, and our sexual desire. Overall, it is the ‘Gateway to Vitality’; to our inner strength and purpose.
The kidney also governs our willpower, which is akin to a spiritual ‘fire’ that warms, motivates and fuels our life. This is the energy that translates as motivation to complete projects and vitality to be resilient. It manifests through laughter and a sparkle in one’s eyes.
Physically, the kidney ensures that our lower back and knees are pain-free and our spine is strong. Emotionally, it is a state of being that is the opposite of fear.
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How our body tells us our vitality is low
The main signs that our Gate of Vitality is depleted include a lack of willpower, exhaustion, poor memory, low libido and physical symptoms like cold legs, an aching back and weak knees.
The energy that fuels this gate can become deficient if we are constantly under stress and facing excess adrenaline. Examples of when this is very apparent include after birth; after a prolonged illness or trauma; if we are sedentary and not moving daily; or if we are overworked, doing excessive physical work, lifting or even excessive sexual activity.
At the extreme, you will feel mentally and physically exhausted, will be depressed and will have almost given up any hope of getting better, or of starting or changing anything in life.
That is not okay. Let’s change that.
How to get your vitality back
It’s time to get serious and with your MingMen! The acupuncture point known as MingMen (DU-4) translates to mean “The Life Gate” or “The Gate of Vitality.”
The absolute best way to open this gateway manually is through acupuncture from a skilled practitioner, which may also be prescribed with herbal formulas that nourish and strengthen the kidneys. Despite the necessary restrictions at the moment, appropriately qualified acupuncturists are an essential service and are still treating patients for a range of ailments and conditions.
Aside from that, there are three key practices we can employ to remove blockages and get this energy point flowing again.
Systematically stretch the spine in all directions – bending forward, backward, to each side and twisting to each side. Do this in the morning after you have had some cleansing tea or lemon water.
Check in with yourself again between 3-5 pm (peak time for the kidney meridian). Schedule ten minutes of stretching in and if you have a foam roller, it is a good time to use it.
Breath work is also very important. Following your stretches, ground yourself on the floor with crossed legs or sit on a chair with a straight spine.
Close your eyes and while visualising energy flow through the spine. Breathe in for three seconds and exhale for six seconds. Repeat this nine times.
Be conscious to check in with yourself and your feelings and refocus, positively, on bringing vitality back to our bodies.
Rub your hands vigorously and mindfully and for one to two minutes.
Make a fist with your hands, stand with feet hip distance apart and raise your arms to shoulder height. Begin to twist gently from left to right, with hands floating to opposite sides around to the back body.
Eventually build up a momentum with the twist and lightly stimulate the opposite sides of the kidneys (the lower back area) by tapping it with your opposite fist. Alternatively, apply magnesium oil to the lower back and keep this area warm.
Dr Marina Christov is the owner of House of Life in Melbourne and has been practicing Chinese medicine and acupuncture for more than 20 years. She has two Health Science degrees from the Victoria University of Technology and two clinical internships in China at the Affiliated Hospital of the Liaoning College of Traditional Chinese Medicine.