Today’s Silent Sunday post veers slightly away from techniques designed to summon and deepen a spiritual approach to Life. Rather, I focus on a few methods to promote healing in an already sick body. That said, the techniques have innate calming qualities, and thus evoke a meditative state. Each suggestion can be practiced singularly; however, when combined into a routine, the healing potential magnifies exponentially.
My sister flew (flu!) in from San Diego for a visit about 10 days ago: Within 24 hours, she was deep under the covers, deep in the throes of the flu. The virus determined that her lungs would be the ideal place from which to wage war against her body. She has followed every protocol—sleep, fluids, fever-reducer, and more sleep. Sometimes, though, the flu gets in and stays in, because it has found an environment that is ripe for attack.
When you are weak from sickness, and the symptoms seem to batter your body incessantly, there are a few things that you can do that may usher in your body’s healing reserves. For starters, try sitali pranayama. This is a cooling, soothing breath that does not require great effort from the lungs.
Special note: If you were to practice sitali breathing when well, you would aim for full, deep breaths. In this case, however, you focus solely on bringing in some fresh air despite lung and sinus congestion.
First, curl your tongue into a straw-like cylinder. If your tongue does not curl in this way, place the tongue tip between your ever-so-slightly parted lips. If you have created the curl, extend the tongue out through the parted lips. Inhale, and feel the cooling air flow through (or over) your tongue; bring in as much air as you can without triggering a cough or ache in the chest; direct the new air toward the back of your throat. To exhale, you may determine what feels best for you in the moment: Withdraw the tongue, and breathe out through the nose if it is clear; otherwise, keep the tongue in its original position, and exhale as fully as you are able. Repeat for as long as you can maintain ease in your body and breath.
The next piece of the routine is a qigong exercise to clear and strengthen the lungs. As in any qigong practice, part of your task is to visualize as you move: In this case, the color white accompanies your inhale, because white is the color of the metal (Lung/Large Intestine) meridian when it is balanced and healthy. Draw in the healthy, clean whiteness to fill your lungs; exhale to push out the offending viral energy, and allow the fresh white color to permeate the lobes of your lungs.
The movement is simple, but specific. With the tip of your tongue touching behind your front teeth, stand (or sit in bed) with your arms by your sides: Inhale as you raise the arms to shoulder level, palms down, in the shape of a “T.” At the end of the inhale, turn the palms up; immediately exhale and draw the hands toward your midline at the level of the heart; bring the pinky sides of the hands together. As you complete the exhale, turn the palms down and raise them a few inches up to the level of the collar bone. Inhale and continue the movement pattern at least 3-5 times, longer if you can muster the energy.
Special note: Feel and visualize that you are drawing a long, narrow ellipse in front of your body that creates a healing fortress around your lungs. The lung meridians lie in the inner/front of the arm, so as you “draw” and breathe, you purge and tonify the lung energy.
Finally, you can add essential oils to your remedy arsenal. As I suggested to my sister, eucalyptyus, rosemary, camphor, or even peppermint or pine are excellent for respiratory conditions. A few drops of any of the oils in a bit of unscented lotion or carrier oil can then be applied to your toes and balls of the feet. In reflexology, these areas correspond with the sinuses, throat, and lungs.
When you feel up to it, you could also give yourself a good, old-fashioned steam bath. Fill a large bowl with boiling water; add a few drops of your chosen essential oil. Then, move your face above the rising steam, and cover your head and edges of the basin with a towel. You instinctively will close your eyes, which is important to protect your eyes from the hot steam and the potent aromatics of the oil. Stay with the steam for as long as you are comfortable, up to 10 minutes. When you finish, be sure to rinse your face and drink at least one glass of water.