Week 1


Activated Qi Meditation Notes

Week: Monday, 5th to Friday, 9th February 2018

In connection with last week’s notes about the University of Bonn research last week, Jane from the Lifeways Wednesday class sent me the link to an article which appeared on the Guardian website this week.

Remember the saying ‘3-square meals a day’?  Taking into account the outcome of the research we looked at last week which identified how the body’s immune system reacts to highly processed foods in the same way as it does to bacterial infection and then ask how must the body be feeling if it is having to cope with 3-square bacterial infections a day? 

As ridiculous as it sounds just what are we doing to our immune system over a period of time if we are not careful with our diet?  Obviously, some people really are careful with their diet but according to a new piece of research led by Professor Carlos Monteiro, in the UK, they are now in the minority.  From the research he and his team carried out they identified that UK families buy more ultra-processed food than any others in Europe, amounting to 50.7% of the diet.

They broke down this figure into digestible chunks for us!   They categorised foods into four groups.

  • 6% was unprocessed or minimally so,
  • 4% was processed cooking ingredients such as vegetable oil,
  • 2% was ordinarily processed, such as cheese or cured meat.

Leaving,

  • Rounded up to 50.7%, the rest was ultra-processed food and amounted to more than all the other groups combined.

From the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil, Professor Monterio, is Head of the University’s Centre for Epidemiological Studies in Health and Nutrition and a member of the WHO Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group.  In an example, he described how a common breakfast bar, Froot Loops, is made up of more than 50% sugar and there is no fruit in it despite the inference of its name.  He states, “Ultra-processed foods are essentially new creations of the food industry with very low-cost ingredients in a very attractive product.”

He continues, “These foods are made from cheap ingredients and produced on a huge scale.  Ultra-processed cheese is made of milk powder and additives, for example. Some instant noodles are not noodles.  If you have instant noodles they are essentially based on oils and starch and additives, you are not eating real noodles. The same goes for chicken nuggets, when you get these ultra-processed chicken nuggets you are not getting real chicken.”

He identifies that there are two problems with all this, people are,

  1. Missing out not only on vitamins and minerals.

But,

  1. Bioactive compounds found in natural foods such as phytoestrogens and fibre are also missing.

Monteiro continues, “And then you get salt and starch and sugar and fat and all these additives. We are consuming every day an amount of new substances that are these flavours and colours and emulsifiers and we don’t have any idea as to what will be the problem of these items.”  (We do!)

Regulations concerning the use of additives and flavouring date mostly from the past century and were focused on whether or not they caused cancer. Other cumulative effects of eating these industrially-made substances are not yet known.

“The honest answer is we don’t know what is going on,” said Monteiro.

Jean-Claude Moubarac, professor of nutrition from the University of Montreal in Canada, who works with Monteiro, said they had found that ultra-processed foods, “have very low nutritional quality in terms of the amount of free sugars they contain and sodium (salt) and saturated fat and they tend to be much lower in proteins, minerals and vitamins”. They are also high in calories.

“When we compare ultra-processed foods to the rest we see striking differences (in nutritional quality),” he said. “We are recommending people limit or avoid ultra-processed foods because they have very low nutritional quality.”

From a personal perspective I avoid processed food for a very simple reason.  One of the benefits I get from my work has been developing the ability to feel qi; obviously, imagine trying to teach something that you have no idea about!  So, the simple reason for not eating processed food?  As soon as I could feel that there was no qi, nothing, zilch, nada, within such food offerings, that was it, why would I ingest something that won’t benefit me?  No thank you!  (There’s always an exception to the rule and for me that would have to be ice-cream.)

Source: 

https://www.theguardian.com/science/2018/feb/02/ultra-processed-products-now-half-of-all-uk-family-food-purchases

So how and what does it affect in humans including you and me?  One of the most important parts of the body to be affected is what Dr. Michael D. Gershon calls the ‘Second Brain’, hence the title of his book "The Second Brain".  He is the chairman of the department of anatomy and cell biology at Columbia University.

The Second Brain, Enteric Nervous System or Gut Brain, a brief intro:

The enteric nervous system is embedded in our gut.  Our everyday emotional well-being is also dependent the interaction between our enteric nervous system embedded in our gastrointestinal tract, our internal micro-organisms (not just bacteria) and out head brain systems.  The way they message each other has a significant effect upon how we feel as well as the well-being of the physical body.   The enteric nervous system is made up of more than 100 billion neurons.  Although it works with our head brain it can also work independently for instance, scientists were shocked to learn that about 90% of the fibres in the primary visceral nerve, the vagus, carry information from the gut to the brain and not the other way around.  Also 95% of all serotonin (a hormone which stimulates positive feelings) in the body is in the enteric brain (please see below).

"Some of that info that passes from the second brain to the head brain is decidedly unpleasant," according to Gershon.  He also states that the connection between the brains lies at the heart of many woes, physical and psychiatric; it signals our body to stress. Ailments like anxiety, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers and Parkinson's disease manifest symptoms at the brain and the gut level.

(Serotonin: The functions of the neurotransmitter “serotonin” are numerous and appear to involve control of appetite, sleep, memory and learning, temperature regulation, mood, behaviour (including sexual and hallucinogenic behaviour), cardiovascular function, muscle contraction, endocrine regulation, and depression.)

On that happy note let’s discover what people experienced at last week’s meditation sessions.

  • From what people are writing, it is clear that people are really connecting with and moving the qi both within their body and from the earth.

Please remember this section is important because it helps us to learn about meditation through the experiences of others.  Every experience is valid so thank you for sharing, inspiring, and encouraging others!

“Flowing qi; think I’m getting the hang of this meditation lark!!  Very contented.”  A.B.

“Enjoyed practicing with the Earth’s qi. Very relaxed and continued to feel the qi flowing with the heart.”  L.R.

“Found both meditations nice and relaxing, especially the qi one.”  J.S.

“I missed not coming last week.  Lovely relaxing session tonight, my arms and legs felt very warm with energy.”  D.T.

“Good to get the energy flowing around the Tan Zong and heart.  Really felt it tonight.”  C.S.

“Heat moved up through my body and I felt pins and needles in my hands and feet.”  S.H.

“Could feel cool flow of the qi.  When sitting against a tree the whole body felt like a stone.”  C.T.

“Safe and sound!”  F.P.

This Week’s Meditation Practices:

Remember it is important to read what the purposes are of each meditation so that you know what the benefit of the meditation practice is to your health and well-being.

Introduction Meditation:

Creating the right foundation for meditation is so important.  Remembering to focus on what you are developing not just for your health and well-being now but also what you are putting together for your future. 

Purpose: To create a space in which we feel safe and secure so that we can allow ourselves to relax and change.

Purpose: To develop a feeling of gratitude about the time you have given yourself to promote your present and future state of your health and well-being. 

Purpose: To strengthen our own inner meditative space.  This strengthens the neural pathways associated with your meditation practice.

Purpose: To centre, focus and ground our consciousness, making it easier to maintain an inner feeling of balance and be more harmonious in our lives.

Purpose:  To take the opportunity to self-observe and develop our self-awareness. As Professor Walsh explains to be successful we need to be consciously aware of what we are doing.

Physical Relaxation:

This week, the first week of the month we will be focusing on relaxing the muscles using our consciousness.  This will be followed by focusing upon relaxed breathing, and the breathing practice where we focus upon breathing out through the mouth.

Purpose:  By focusing upon the out-breath we can balance any excess yang energy in the head which builds up from too much thinking.

Purpose: Strengthening the parasympathetic nervous system.

Purpose: Identify the physical tensions within the body and then relaxing to remove them in order to improve our ability to create and deepen your body’s relaxation response

Purpose: Enhance the flow of qi by reducing the physical tension held in the body.

Purpose: To remove emotional tension locked within the muscles by building up the feeling gentleness.

Purpose: To ground our energy effectively helping us to maintain an inner balance.  When we can do this effectively we can ground excess energy therefore preventing it from disrupting our system.

Guided Mediation:

Raising the vitality of the the tan zong and heart and then guiding this into the abdominal region via the hands in order to begin energising and strengthening our enteric nervous system .

Purpose: To raise the vitality of our body by acquiring qi from the Earth.

Purpose: To raise the vitality of the tan zong, heart and abdominal region.

Purpose:  To deepen our ability to ground our energy.

Purpose: To enhance the feeling of calm, stillness and contentment within.

Purpose: To develop your self-awareness through self-observation.

Purpose: To feel a connection with the qi that flows though all living things via the beauty of nature.

Concluding Meditation:

Each week we will conclude with setting the scene for our week ahead, choosing whichever of the emotional energies seems the most appropriate for the forthcoming week.

Purpose: To make sure that as soon as we walk out the door we don’t just forget what we were doing and what it achieved for our health and well-being.

Finishing with Honouring the meditative space, each other and ourselves.

Purpose:  The honouring of ourselves is often the most difficult one to do.  It is important to actively remember the things we have got right; not, as neuropsychologist Dr. Rick Hanson points out, just to focus on our brain systems natural tendency towards negative bias. 

If you have any questions about any of the above, please do ask!  Also, if you would like to share any of your experiences or ask me questions about them, please do email me.

Private meditation sessions are available; please contact me for more details.


©2018 Peter Keynton-Hook, Activated Qi Meditations