By Brendan Thorson, LMP 2/16/2012,
This article is published in the 2013 Spring issue of the Qi-Journal Magazine
Would you like to be able to fall asleep shortly after you go to bed, sleep deeply throughout the night, and wake up feeling rejuvenated and refreshed every morning? If you have ever personally struggled with insomnia or your sleep quality then you know how important good and deep sleep is to your health and well being. It is estimated that “70 million Americans suffer from a Sleep Disorder”.1 Deep sleep is essential to activate the Endocrine System, which is responsible for creating our Internal Medicine—the release of essential hormones–for recharging our body/ mind and releasing waste products like stress that have built up during the day. Once our sleep becomes light and problematic, it triggers a domino affect, gradually degrading our vital energies supporting our body, mind and nervous system while simultaneously allowing toxic waste products like stress and anxiety to infest and contaminate our homeostasis and internal peace. If you would like to sleep like a child again, feel refreshed and energetic, then Yi Ren Qigong can allow you to accomplish your goals.
The effects of sleep deprivation and chronic lack of sleep
- Fatigue, lethargy, and lack of motivation
- Moodiness and irritability
- Reduced creativity and problem-solving skills
- Inability to cope with stress
- Reduced immunity; frequent colds and infections
- Concentration and memory problems
- Weight gain
- Impaired motor skills and increased risk of accidents
- Difficulty making decisions
- Increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other health problems http://helpguide.org/life/sleeping.htm
I recall as a teenager and early adult how my sleep quality gradually began to deteriorate as I aged. By the time I was in my early twenties, it was difficult for me to fall asleep, and sleep soundly throughout the night. I would commonly wake up from my alarm clock in the morning—because of work or school obligations— before getting adequate sleep, which made me frustrated and not properly refreshed for my day ahead. I regularly struggled to fall asleep, especially if I went to bed after midnight. During the hours of 9 and 10pm, I was commonly tired and sleepy, but I usually put off going to bed until after 11pm. Unfortunately, by that time, my mind would begin to get very active—which included racing thoughts–and I was no longer sleepy. I would usually lie down in bed and become aggravated for one or more hours before I would fall asleep. Once I fell asleep, I was easily awakened by noise—which was a clear indication that even though I was sleeping, I was not reaching the levels of deep sleep necessary to refresh the body and mind.
“The most damaging effects of sleep deprivation are from inadequate deep sleep. Deep sleep is a time when the body repairs itself and builds up energy for the day ahead. It plays a major role in maintaining your health, stimulating growth and development, repairing muscles and tissues, and boosting your immune system. In order to wake up energized and refreshed, getting quality deep sleep is key”.2
I knew my sleep problems were a major factor in my failing health and strength. I was struggling with many sleep disorder symptoms including: exhaustion, compromised immune system, low stress capacity, and concentration and memory problems.
Sleeping Medications and Sleep Aids:
In order to try and correct my sleep issues, I tried Western medicine, a Chinese herbal sleep formula, Melatonin, and Ear-Plugs. Western medicine allowed me to sleep, but after awakening I did not feel rested and actually felt tired—a clear sign the sleep drug was not the right choice for me. I had much better results from both the Chinese sleep formula and Melatonin than I did from Western Medicine. They both helped me to sleep, but they never fixed the origin of my problem—so I needed one of them every night. Or allowed me to reach deep levels of sleep like I needed to truly help me heal from my years of exhaustion and feel ready to go every morning. Therefore, since my sleep was superficial I had to use ear-plugs every night to minimize waking from noises during the evening—another sign the Chinese sleep formula and Melatonin were unable to help me reach deep levels of sleep necessary to feel mentally and physically fresh. Ear-plugs never helped me to improve my sleep quality, but they were effective at minimizing being awoken by external noises. I can honestly say that I did benefit from some sleep aides I used; however, they were more or less like using a band-aid on a cut for me because they helped cover up the sleep issue I had but never truly addressed or corrected the origin of my sleep issues.
Transcending My Sleep w/ Yi Ren Qigong:
After 8-10 yrs of seriously struggling with my sleep and my deteriorating health I began studying Yi Ren Qigong (an authentic qi/energy centered cultivation practice) with Yi Ren Qigong Developer Dr. Guan-Cheng Sun. During my first class with Dr. Sun I could clearly feel the positive impact his Qigong was having on my health. I felt rejuvenated, refreshed and energized from my first class. I could clearly feel this training had the potential to bring me back my lost health and strength and I was committed to learn Yi Ren Qigong and resurrect my lost life and vitality. Thus, I made it a very high priority in my life and I began to practice as often as I could on my own; in addition, to attending the weekly classes. Within a couple of weeks of training my sleep made a 180-degree turn—from superficial and inadequate sleep to deep and refreshing sleep. I was surprised how fast my sleep transformed. The deep sleep I was now getting, in addition to the energy improvements and healing I was getting from the Qigong practice, was creating an opportunity for my body and mind to recover from my years of exhaustion and energy depletion— a major factor in my health decline.
Balancing Internal Energies leads to Sleep Transformation:
During the early days of my practice I made many discoveries that were keys in helping me improve my sleep and begin to understand the health imbalances that (energetically) caused me to deeply struggle with my sleep. Also, learn how to operate, manage and regenerate my broken down body/mind. One revelation I had was to practice every night before going to bed. This had many benefits including helping me to become very calm and relaxed before going to bed—allowing me to fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly through the night. Sometimes my late night practice would cut into my normal sleep schedule, but I found that since my sleep quality was significantly deeper than before that I never felt tired upon awakening even if my sleep time was reduced by an hour or more. Then, I no longer needed any sleep aides and my sleep quality quickly improved to the point that I was awakening every morning feeling deeply refreshed.
In addition, from my practice I found a few key energy centers and organs that were vital in the restoration of my sleep. For example, from working with the Third-Eye I felt a reprogramming and resetting occur deep inside the center of my brain, which I felt was related to my Pineal Gland and its role on the sleep/wake cycle. Then, I could feel the work I was doing on the lower abdomen “dantian” and lower back “kidney center” was strengthening and balancing my internal energies and foundation. I began to specifically feel the development of the Dantian was bringing new fresh energy into my body to support my daily activities and nourish my nervous system allowing me to feel calm, centered and relaxed. While the work done to develop the Kidney center was helping me to feel energized and grounded. In addition, the work done to develop both the Dantian and Kidneys was also keeping my energies much more grounded which prevented the energy from rising up and stimulating racing thoughts at night around 11pm to midnight (like it used to) that once triggered my insomnia and years of frustration.
You may be asking yourself how was he able to feel and understand what was occurring from his qigong practice and in particular what he described from the work he did on his Third-Eye, Dantian and Kidney-Center? With the Yi Ren Qigong training we activate our energy system and the energy becomes a bridge between the mind and the body and also amplifies the feelings of the body so the mind can better hear the bodies messages. Thus we begin to get more sensitive and heighten our awareness similar to how a blind person can develop their sensitivity to read by brail, enhance their hearing skills and awareness’s to their physical environment so they can walk around their home without walking into the walls and tables etc. Or if that analogy does not work for you then think about trying to listen to music with the stereo turned on but the volume turned as low as possible so you will not be able to hear the music. But, then if you were to turn the volume up to an appropriate level you would be able to hear the music. So the activation of the energy system from Yi Ren Qigong more or less turns up the bodies’ volume so the brain can better hear the bodies signals.
Thus, from the practice of Yi Ren Qigong for example, one can begin to feel and understand what areas of their body are strong or weak, where they have excess emotions, feel the organs and glands, and energy pathways connected to an energy center, organ, or chakra. This may seem far out to someone who has never done this type of training before, but it is a skill that is easily developed and it is the key for Self-Awareness and Self-Realization necessary for Self-healing, Personal Growth and Spiritual Development.
Age and Sleeping:
“Given what we know, late childhood may well be the “golden age” of sleep during a lifetime. Beyond the age of 11 or 12, sleep disturbances begin to creep in.”4 “Along with the physical changes that occur as we get older, changes to our sleep patterns are a part of the normal aging process. As people age they tend to have a harder time falling asleep and more trouble staying asleep than when they were younger. It is a common misconception that sleep needs decline with age.”5
According to Chinese Medicine insomnia or sleep weaknesses occurs naturally when some internal energies get out of balance. For instance, deficiency of blood, qi, yang, yin, disturbed spirit/heart, excess heat, liver congestion, and wind invasion are all examples of internal qi imbalances that can cause insomnia.6 As you can see insomnia is truly a symptom of internal energy weaknesses and imbalances. Commonly most peoples energies are more balanced and vibrant as children and as we age our energies gradually decrease and become less balanced. Now, I hope you can see the direct correlation between why children usually have great quality sleep in comparison to adults.
In conclusion, regardless of your age or length of time you have struggled with your sleep Yi Ren Qigong can help you transform your sleep, balance your energies and improve your health so you will be able to feel more refreshed and vibrant. Yi Ren Qigong has been the key to me regaining my health and sleep and as the years have passed and my Qigong cultivation has deepened I have found that I need much less sleep than before. Now I usually need 4.5 – 5hrs of sleep a night to feel deeply refreshed and ready for the day ahead. After improving my sleep from Yi Ren Qigong I have never again used or purchased any sleep aids.
- Guan-Cheng Sun “An Overview: The Nine of Internal Cultivation in Yi Ren Qigong.” Qi: The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health and Fitness. 2007. 17 (1) Spring
- Jake Fratkin Chinese Herbal Patent Formulas. Shya Publications. Boulder, Colorado: 1998
Qigong and Taichi classes and seminars taught in Seattle, WA and throughout the Puget Sound and the Pacific Northwest.