Enhancing Your Immunity
As we move on in years our immune system is increasingly challenged. Here are some moves to enhance your life force and immunity.
Our bodies have two basic forms of immunity—innate immunity and adaptive immunity. Innate immunity is what you are born with. When a foreign body enters your body—a bacteria from a cut—your innate immunity responds; an example: white blood cells mobilizing to neutralize the bacteria. Adaptive immunity is based on cellular learning. Your cells learn about the individual chemicals that have invaded before and develop precise and specific action modalities to cope with the invader.
An interesting question for us is: Can Laughing Heart enhance innate and adaptive immunity, and what role in particular might love play in this process? As noted in the introduction, in exploring this question we elect to view love as a special, most powerful form of universal energy working in close partnership with qi.
There is already a substantial body of evidence that our brains are actively involved in all the attributes we associate with love, kindness, compassion, generosity, and trust. And Professor Barbara Fredrickson of the University of North Carolina has done some fascinating research documenting the biochemistry of love. A next scientific frontier is: What is the role of the heart as a systems integrator and modulator of brain, biochemical, and other processes?
In the meantime here are several exercises and practices by which you can explore and easily confirm for yourself the centrality of the heart.
- Opening the Heart—All you need do is Quiet the Heart (Move #1), and then allow your heart to open. As your heart naturally opens and expands, qigong Grandmaster Li Junfeng suggests you repeat this mantra: “I am a big body of love.” You let your heart and mind soar. Your heart expands with love and qi. You have the feeling of connecting everywhere. Your energy body, inner and outer becomes very strong. Your power of perception deepens and clarifies. You can See the Big Picture.
- Be Kind to Yourself—Love begins at home and joy is the default state. Asceticism is unnecessary of Laughing Heart explorers. One easy practice is not to waste your life worrying over trivial things. (Shakespeare, Richard II, “I wasted time and now doth time waste me.”) The secret to not wasting time is to focus your heart and mind on what is really important and not sweat the small stuff. Another useful practice is to listen deeply to your body. It is a close and beloved friend. When your heart is open, you are very powerful.
Cultivating Love as a Skill
It is somewhat odd to think of love as a learned skill but actually it is fun to explore it in this way. Here are a few guidelines.
- Creating a baseline–First, explore your personal experience of love, particularly unconditional love, by asking this question regarding the love you feel toward those you most cherish: your wife or husband or primary partner in life, your children, your best friend, your pet, and then ask yourself this question:
How does it feel?
(Not how do ‘I’ feel, but how does ‘it’ feel.)
- Explore the experience of love by opening all your senses: sight, touch, sound, taste, hearing, smell, etc.)
- See if you can detect love’s special flavor, and then, see if you can differentiate its subtle nuances and changes as you encounter your loved one each new time.
- Can you detect something fresh and new each time? —for love has own distinctive forms of light, color, emotional nuance, imagery, and meaning.
- Expanding the baseline
What happens when you open your Laughing Heart to increase the joy or lighten the burdens of others beyond your immediate circle of loved ones or your friends, for example, a business partner, a total stranger, even an adverse party? Ask yourself: How does it feel? Can you detect the same energetic/emotional signature or pattern?
Now explore this week, just as an experiment, in the simplest, most modest and most easily verified way expanding your sensory gates by opening Laughing Heart to whom you haven’t considered in these terms. Keep an Explorers Log and note what you discover.
Playing with the Universe
You can conduct this simple experiment: See yourself as the happy Hotei Buddha in Move 2 and send your love pouring from the cups in your hands (laogong in Chinese) out to the farthest reaches of the universe, way beyond our solar system; pour it out from your heart, and watch what happens. I have discovered the more love I send out, almost immediately a cascading beam of energy comes back, it seems with compounding interest. What is this all about? What do you discover when you play with the Universe in this way?
Energetic Practices to Enhance Immunity
- Standing Like a Tree
You can learn how to develop health and vitality simply by “standing like a tree” (Zhan Zhuang).
This meditative practice combines the “no-thinking” mind of Zen Buddhism, with mindfulness training and energetic (qi) power training of qigong.When you practice this form in a Laughing Heart state with love, and pay attention to the flow of energy from your solar plexus (dantian) to your heart and then outward throughout your body, you will have a palpable discovery of your life force.
Try standing like a tree for one (1) minute 3 times a per day for the first week, and see if you can reach 10 minutes, 3 times by the 10th week. Keep a Vitality Journal recording what you discover about your health and life force.
For a variation on the theme of standing like a tree try tree-gong as described in Julian Gresser, Piloting Through Chaos – The Explorers Mind (2013), Book II, section on life force.
Now that you are beginning to have a direct experience of Laughing Heart and have explored its potentialities, you are ready to extend its vitality energy to helping your family, friends, tribe, organization, or community. The most direct and powerful application is to combine Laughing Heart with the simple act of “paying forward” in Move 8.
Tango is an art form that combines big heart energy, exercise, a sense of deep connection, and love.
Tango—The Dance of Heart
Emotive Reaction Range? Hints: resilience, bouncing, expansive, generous, grateful, open, friendly, power, community, optimistic, faithfulness, loyalty, healing, nurturing, nourishing