It was exciting, but hard to sustain. Fire, after all, consumes.
In martial arts we use the wisdom of the Chinese five element practice, which associates elements with various organ systems. The heart element is, predictably, fire. Fire is a rising energy, which draws upward and away from the kidney element of water, which naturally follows gravity and sinks. This separation isolates our energy centers and can drain vitality or create instability.
On the other hand, when we can harness that wild fire heart energy and bring it into our belly, what happens? Well, what happens when you light a fire under a pot of water (the water energy of the kidneys)? The water boils, creating steam, or vital energy. Now the two energy centers are operating in harmony to create tremendous internal power instead of drawing away from each other.
So how does one shift the heart fire energy into the belly? Admittedly, it takes a bit of imagination and practice. Belly breathing is a good place to start. And there are many qigong and taoist practices for guidance.
But my point here is not so much about technique as it is about concept. I don’t know where the phrase “fire in the belly” originated. It can sometimes have a negative connotation of unbridled ambition. But it can also describe the intense passion of a transcendent calling, the burning clarity of an inner knowing, the radiant glow of an unquenchable internal energy.
Fire does consume. And in consuming, it transforms and purifies. Whatever is dense or solid is burned away, releasing energy as light and heat. It destroys in order to create.
That is how I have experienced this year. The euphoria of the year’s beginning gave way to pain at times, showing me where I needed to release. And when I thought I had released everything, the fire sparked anew and showed me more. Liberation is not always a pleasant process! Yet as the fire in my belly burned on, I surrendered to the flame.
And it was good.
Gratitude to the year ending, and welcome to the new year.