On Vitality – Tools, Obstacles and Signposts


According to the Vitality or Chi / Ki paradigm of thought, Life is a force comparable to a river who is best flowing freely and without obstacles. An imbalance in the Life Force affects its course, slowing it down or speeding it up, creating areas of deficit and areas of excess.

Healing modalities that focus on balancing the flow of vitality and raising the vital force share the common philosophy that healing is possible from within the organism, provided the presence and free movement of Chi.

To clarify my own position: I am no scholar or researcher and have no scientific claims to this or any other model. I do not seek to prove a framework true or false, and my concern is never whether a framework or model or method is ‘real’ or not, but whether it is consistently useful to me and those that I interact with, or not. In this light, I have no objective proof or measurements for the existence of Chi, meridians and chakras, and will not go into debates to prove or disprove them.

In my own experience, I have had periods of high vitality and low vitality, and I have observed a consistency of feelings, behaviours and in general inner and outer experiences that seem to correlate with the flow and levels of the life force. I have noticed obstacles in the way of vitality, and effective tools for enabling its flow. I have noticed methods, practices and behaviours which lead to higher vitality and others which lower it and I have developed the practice of looking for ‘sign posts’ to help me navigate on my journey of recovery from trauma and stress to greater well-being, creativity, productivity and happiness. This practice of looking for sign posts has been helping me pick and choose what enlivens me and reduce or discard what diminishes me.

Not all obstacles and tools are made equal, and some weigh more than others in their impact on health; for example, working at a job you hate is more harmful to you than eating sugar, and leaving a toxic work environment to join a pleasant and nourishing workplace for a meaningful, engaging work, can do more good to you than eating an all-organic diet.

Obstacles to Vitality:

Need deprivation – from basic survival needs to higher needs
Environmental toxicity – air and surface contaminants
Lack and restriction of movement
Environmental noise – sound pollution
Environmental ugliness – ‘a sore for the eyes’
Detrimental use of language
Emotional unfinished businesses
Poor nutrition
Social isolation, especially if you are an extrovert
Lack of privacy and solitude if you are an introvert
Lack of creative activity if you are creative
Ugliness – sensory offensive images, sounds and smells – especially if you are sensitive
Lack of caring touch, or inadequate touch
Improper breathing – shallow, restricted, rapid
Unconscious, harmful day dreaming – imagining worst-case scenarios, mental conflict etc
Lack of purpose and living for oneself alone -especially bad for the heart

Vitality Enhancers:
Meeting needs from basic to advanced, to include healthy pleasure as a guide for fulfillment
Consistent and richly varied movement
Appropriate nutrition
Helpful use of language, including useful poetic language (metaphors, comparisons etc)
Consistent exposure to beauty – image, sound, smell, taste, touch, language
Playfulness and the use of humour
Practicing conscious awareness to self, others and environment
Sexual, sensual and emotional intimacy – with cuddles, caresses, snuggling and lovemaking
Healthy breathing habits – slow, deep, full
Fulfilling social connections, especially for extroverts
Personal retreats – time and space alone, especially for introverts
Engaging in creative endeavours
Volunteering and contributing meaningfully to community – especially good for the heart

Signposts of Enhanced Vitality:
Elevated mood
Elevated stamina
Increased libido – sexual desire, as well as desire in general
Increased motivation and productivity – getting things done
Good hair days – shiny, elastic
Healthy skin colour, visible on the face
Positive self image
A sense of ease and flow in daily activities and projects
Increased efficiency
Increased resilience
A sense of well-being that is independent of conditions
Ability to look at and plan for the future
Ability to be present with others
Decreased frequency and intensity of illness
Faster and easier recovery from illness
Increased courage