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Stagnation: a modern syndrome

In Chinese Medicine, we talk a lot about something called "stagnation". This happens when the body's Qi (or life force energy) is not moving freely. Qi Stagnation is a helpful way of understanding why we can feel "stuck" at different points in our lives. The primary organ and meridian system related to this stuck energy would be the liver, which can be viewed as the entire nervous system. The nervous system is responsible for directing the flow of energy around the body depending on the electrical signals that are sent out by the brain. What is particularly interesting is how stagnation presents differently from person to person. This also makes the remedy and treatment protocol different each and every time. We hope to unlock the stuck Qi by understanding what someone is doing and not doing in order for the Qi to stagnate. Even though a bit of stuck Qi doesn't sound like a big deal, symptoms can range from frustration, irritability and mood instability, all the way to anxiety, depression and psychotic episodes. If you think back to any time in your history when you felt trapped and unable to find a way out of your situation. Now consider the emotions that are often accompanied with such states, first comes a little frustration and irritability. If these are buried in the body without expression, they simmer and boil into anger, resentment and even rage. Now, anger is the primary emotion related to the liver system (nervous system), which gives this particular emotion a great capacity to move Qi. Think about how anger can make you take action pretty quickly, and with physical force. It could be the sudden outburst, or the need to move your body and face something that scares you. However, if anger and frustration go unaddressed for long periods of time, we can end up in deep stagnation, often presenting as either anxiety or depression; or a tendency for both. Since these mental health patterns are becoming more and more prevalent and severe, it can be beneficial to return to ancient medicinal systems as an alternative view. Most people that have experience with either depression or anxiety will usually report how debilitating these states can be. The levels of discomfort can easily crack through even the strongest constitutions, especially when western treatment options are restricted to counselling and pharmaceutical medication.

The even more interesting thing about Liver Qi Stagnation is that it can be an incredibly useful tool to help someone understand what their body is trying to communicate about their current life situation. Now, traditional remedies for Qi stagnation have always included more exercise, changes in the diet, acupuncture, herbs that invigorate the circulation and relieve the sense of "stuck-ness". From a psycho-spiritual point of view, we would start to question how the individual has made choices based on limiting change rather than embracing change. Stagnation begs of us a level of change that the ego cannot quite consent to. Since modern society has us hyper-focused on comfort and safety, we often miss out on life experiences that fuel and stir our being on a spiritual level. Traditionally, we would find ourselves on regular spiritual quests, pilgrimages or training of some kind purposefully designed to test our strength and our connection to our celestial guides. Without the traditional tribal structure and cultural systems void of spiritual progression, we find ourselves needing to facilitate our own stagnation-lifting experiences. For some, a new hobby is enough to move stagnation from the body and being. For others, they might have to climb the highest mountain on Earth to feel a sense of personal evolution. The important part of the conversation is that if we listen to our body well enough, we can learn to gauge how much change is necessary for our Qi to flow smoothly, resulting in deep states of contentment and fulfilment. Remember the quote, "Do something every day that scares you." Well, this may have been someone's personal antidote to making sure stagnation doesn't come knocking on the door. Embracing change is about facing fears big and small. When we hide away from discomfort, risk and change, our bodies register a sense of sedentary behaviour, considered a major risk factor for illness and disease. What if we learned to listen and trust our bodies, to tell us when stagnation was starting to show up? Could we answer the call and facilitate change even though this might bring us face-to-face with our fear? Could we take some risks and develop ourselves enough to get us to our next point of evolution?

If authenticity means honouring our own needs and expressing ourselves without people pleasing. The alignment means living without stagnation according to a pathway of learning that aligns your heart, mind and soul. No one can achieve these concepts for you, but we will always get close to our own truth by surrounding ourselves in nourishing connection. If you are feeling stuck or frustrated spiritually, reach out to a practitioner or mentor that can help provide support towards embracing change that serves your next chapter of life's adventure.


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