Now retired, I was involved in fitness, sports, and athletic club management for an entire 40 year career. I was never the “no pain, no gain” type of body Nazi, but I believed that if you weren’t maxing out, you weren’t gaining in your fitness level. I thought that I could eat anything and everything that I wanted. It seemed true because even if I ate 6,000 calories, there was no doubt that I’d stay trim and burn it off. How could over eating be harmful if I stayed thin and felt good? Well, read on because that’s the moral of my story here.
During my years as a fitness expert, I learned how to practice yoga and meditation, but I was far too jacked up to practice such laid-back methods. I would find my knee bouncing and the clock moving too slow.
Once I retired, I found the benefits of slower, more meditative techniques for fitness because frankly, my body was too stiff and sore to go all out any more. In addition to this, my husband was still working and I worried about him and how we would pay all of the bills on one paycheck. I WORRIED in capital letters!
During these first few years of retirement my annual medical exams were showing raised cholesterol readings, high blood pressure, and weight gain which falls into the unhealthy category that I had escaped for so many years. Of course, the medical readings were causing me to pile up on medications. I was taking what I would call high doses of two different blood pressure medications and still showing high readings.
Two years ago when my husband was preparing to retire, in my panic of how we would survive, I started looking for a place to retire with an affordable future. I found a condo in the desert that would accommodate our income and a quiet future. In my usual highly energized fashion, I packed up, sold our house and anything that would support the future.
Up until our retirement move, I had been reading about and trying to practice Qi Gong. It was so quiet and relaxing, but in my high energy caffeinated style, I couldn’t practice very well, but once we settled in with a regular routine, miracles began to happen.
Living in a smaller place with no reason to rush out the door in the morning, I started playing very relaxing music in my space all day. I started practicing Qi Gong, specifically a practice called The Eight Brocades. It was so named because the moves were written down on silk and handed down. There were only eight moves. I could learn by practicing one of each of the moves a day, or several of each move. It really depends on how strong I was feeling.
In addition to practicing Qi Gong, we started sitting in the sun for a half an hour each morning while enjoying our breakfast, tea, or coffee. What a lovely turn our lives had taken. I was getting tanned, energized, and motivated to further my daily practice that was so relaxing, spiritual, and strengthening.
At this time, I noticed that in the evenings I felt really strange, almost faint. When I saw the doctor, she recommended that I split my blood pressure medicine and take one half in the morning and one half at night. There was no change. At that time, she suggested that I cut one of the medications in half and that should help, but it did not. Since the doctor hadn’t recommended to cut it any more, I assumed that she was right. After all, when the doctor tells you to take something, you do it. The doctor had prescribed the meds, so it might be too dangerous to take less.
Another thought that was bothering me was that the people I saw on YouTube that practiced Qi Gong appeared spiritual, in fact, way more spiritual than me. I uttered the F word often, I wasn’t necessarily spiritual or reverent in any way, so how could Qi Gong be responsible for my healing?
By now, I was only taking one of the BP medications, but my blood pressure was getting lower and lower, and I still felt like I must be dying because my morning Qi Gong routine was hardly strenuous. If years of hard-core aerobics hadn’t prevented me from getting high cholesterol and high blood pressure in my later years, how could this easy relaxing practice be lowering my BP by so much? I researched low blood pressure, and most Qi Gong websites and reputable medical sites claimed that one of the benefits of Qi Gong is that it can lower blood pressure. I felt like I wasn’t reverent enough, or that this practice would only work on those old Chinese Centenarians that were experienced practitioners and teachers, but not me.
I contacted another doctor. She is from Colorado. When I explained my worries about my blood pressure getting lower and lower, she inquired about my lifestyle and any changes that I had recently made. I had made a few changes over the past couple of years. I no longer had a teenager in the house, I no longer managed two businesses, I had a lot of time to enjoy nature, and I had become a regular practitioner of Qi Gong and meditation. My recent labs had shown nothing notable about my health to be alarming which was not surprising to her. My cholesterol was even normal!
After answering all of her questions, she cut my blood pressure in half which left me with ¼ of what I had started with several years before. Her main comment was “believe it!” She believed that my slow lifestyle changes along with removing myself from a stressful lifestyle meant that I no longer needed the industrial doses of medication that previous doctors had kept loading to the dose. My goal is to stop all blood pressure medications completely, and at this stage of my life that would be such a blessing.
I can’t stress enough how much that I’ve learned from this experience. My insecurity about not belonging in the spiritual culture of this type of meditative practice could have led me to my golden years dosed up on medications that I did not need. My advice to the reader is believe it! You can be an average Joe that mutters the F word now and then, and still practice this stillness and meditative state to your benefit. I will admit that I’m still a bit of a skeptic that listening to healing music and practicing a slow-moving exercise has brought me to this place, but my medical records show that there is no metabolic reason that my blood pressure has dropped so significantly besides my new lifestyle.
Talk to your doctor about lowering your blood pressure naturally and do what he or she says. Contact a Qi Gong teacher (if you’re older, some yoga moves can be hard on your joints, so I recommend Qi Gong). Look on YouTube for some Qi Gong videos. Go online to some reputable medical and university websites and they will say the same thing. I wonder why I was so slow to believe that people do lower and even eliminate medications!
If I had not thought that I had a serious malady causing my heart to slow drastically, I never would have contacted a doctor. I thank God for that doctor. I’m so relieved that I’m retired and well.