From an energetic perspective, willpower increases when we open the pathways that allow us to nourish the prefrontal cortex and frontal lobe of our brains. These areas of the brain play a role in our ability to make choices to engage those things out of our usual comfort zones (necessary for breaking out of negative habits) and also play a role in delaying gratification.
Yes imagine that! Your brain is already hardwired to empower you to say NO to that last bar of holiday chocolate lingering on your kitchen table.
How do we open these pathways to the brain to strengthen our willpower?
In the Chinese medicine system, the energy of our willpower dwells within the lower dan tien in the lower back and abdomen (some refer to this area as the lower chakra). That energy then flows to infuse the marrow of our bones and our brains, the classical seas of marrow. Thus, qi gong breath work and self massage activates this connection between our lower dan tien (chakra) and brains to increase the neurological and energetic pathways that nourish our willpower and increase it.
Qi Gong Willpower Builder
Make a list of three habits that are positive in your life on one side of a piece of paper. These are habits that encourage your growth, enhance your relationships and optimize your well being.
Now make another list of three negative habits on the other side of the paper. These might be habits that prevent you from reaching your goals, work against your health, and sabotage your relationships.
Connect with and Strengthen Positive Habits
Read your list of positive habits. Let your eyes really drink in the energy of what you listed.
Place one hand on the list of three positive habits in your life.
Take your other hand and place it on your lower back.
Breathe deeply, inhaling slowly for a long count of five and exhale for a long count of five.
Imagine a rich, powerful surge of energy flowing in the lower back. Notice and observe your emotions. Notice how you feel about these habits that serve you well.
Observe and simply hang out here as long as you like, experiencing the energy of the habits you listed, the energy in your lower back and your breath.
When you feel ready, gently take the hand that was at your lower back and rest it on your forehead and massage in gentle circles. Don’t worry about the direction, just relax and massage in a way that feels natural to you.
This gesture transfers the energy of the will housed lower dan tien or chakra, and transfers it to the frontal lobe of the brain.
Hang out here as long as you like, breathing, massaging the forehead and imaging healing energy flowing through the front of your brain.
When you are ready, let your hands relax.
Connect with and Transform Negative Habits
Place one hand on the list of all the negative habits in your life. Let your eyes and mind reflect on what you listed.
Take your other hand and place it on your lower back.
Again, breathe deeply. Inhale slow and full. Exhale long and deep.
Notice and observe any sensations either physical or emotional that come into your awareness.
Sometimes, we hold fears about changing habits. If fears arise, simply observe and give some movement to those fears by consciously exhaling the energy of fear. Consciously, inhale the energy of courage and perseverance. Hang out here as long as you like.
When you feel ready, take the hand that was at your lower back and place it on your forehead and massage in gentle circles. Again, don’t worry about the directionality of the self massage.
Continue observing your feelings and using your breath to give movement to feelings– consciously exhaling what you need to release and inhaling what you need to welcome.
Allow yourself to imagine warm energy flowing from your hand into the front part of your brain as you massage gently.
Visualize yourself engaging in the opposite behaviors of the negative habits in your life.
For instance, if you overeat to self soothe, visualize yourself stepping back from your table and choosing to relax in a delicious bath filled with lavender bubblse to self soothe in a new way.
As you visualize yourself taking a bath instead of overeating, allow your hand to gently rub the forehead in circles with the intention of self soothing.
Qi gong self massage creates an energetic memory of being soothed while you visualize new positive habits. Thus, you begin rewiring your brain to associate the feeling of self soothing with the positive behaviors you visualize.
Stay here as long as you like and work with as many of the habits on your list but take it slow and gentle. You don’t need to work with everything on your list all at once. This is work you can come back to over a period of time and also add or remove things from your list.
If you do a little bit of this qi gong breath work and self massage daily, you will find that when you engage the positive behaviors that you visualized, these behaviors will feel more rooted energetically and connected with positive feelings, which will motivate you more to engage these behaviors more often.
It is the repetition of behaviors that create habits commit to and engage positive behaviors if even for a short while each day to form new habits that will allow you to optimize your potential in this new energy year.
For further information about the neuroscience behind will power, please consult these articles by master social worker and life crafter, Inga Larson: