Dr. Nishimoto advises that to boost serotonin in the brain (which calms the nervous system and makes you feel good), you should chew your food really well, get lots of sunshine, breathe slowly and deeply, and practice rhythm exercises.

This is one of his rhythm exercises, along with full instructions. Aside from being a great practice to stimulate the flow of Ki, I find it’s also very good to do this as a break from sitting at my desk! My favorite place to do this kind of exercise though, is out in the fields or forest, with my horses 🙂

If you try this exercise and find your body responds well to it, then you may want to look into taking Qi Gong or Tai Chi classes where you live – as these are also gentle, restorative techniques that focus on building and moving Ki/Chi around the body. And of course, don’t forget Feldenkrais!

Here are Dr. Nishimoto’s instructions:

Arm Swinging to Boost Serotonin

Notice and observe your palms before you begin; note their color (reddish, white), temperature (warm, cold) and whether there’s any numbness.

After this exercise, most people’s hands become warm, reddish in color, with increased sensation. This shows that the blood flow is getting smoother. When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, the blood vessels tighten and constrict, which affects blood flow.

Doing this arm swinging exercise and smoothing the blood flow will help to adjust your autonomic nervous system.

When you do this exercise, swing your arms so that they move your shoulder blades (scapula). The shoulder blade is the large, flat, upside-down triangular bone, located on the left and right sides of your upper back.

Too much stress will tighten the back side of the neck muscles. Moving the shoulder blades will help to loosen these tight muscles.

Doing this exercise in the woods, or in the garden, is best. But you can still do it inside; listening to music with nature sounds will increase the beneficial effects.

During the exercise, you might feel the urge to yawn or move your neck. Please feel free to do so.

How to Do the Arm Swinging Rhythm Exercise:

1. Place the legs shoulder-width apart and be barefoot. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Move your toes as if you were grabbing the ground. Repeat this toe-grabbing a few times and feel that your body and the ground are connected.

2. Bend your knees a little so they are relaxed with some flex in them.

3. Face your palms towards your sides (palms facing each other) and swing both arms together. Make sure arms don’t swing separately. Swing your arms to the front and back, at about a 45 degree angle. Swing arms with an easy, rhythmic speed.

4. Swing arms, with knees gently bent and toes grounded to the earth for 5 minutes, 4 times per day.

After the exercise, don’t stop the movement suddenly. Instead, move your arms slower and slower and gradually come to a stop. The tips of your fingers might be reddish in color, or there may be mottling on your palms, or you might feel heat or other sensations.

Move your hands in front of your face. Breathe out moving your hands toward your face; breathe in moving your hands quickly away from your face. Breathe out and move your hands toward your face, but don’t touch your face. If you have a magnetic feeling in your hands, you can heal your body with those hands.

You can reach your hands towards your gut, but don’t touch it. when you do this after having a shower or bath, or when naked, you may feel the warmth or magnetic sensation more easily. Even without the magnetic feeling, if you can feel warmth in your palms, that is fine.

It is important that you recognize there may be some changes to your palms after this exercise and you should then imagine yourself healing your body with that special power.

Excerpted from: “A Book To Cure Ulcerative Colitis” by Dr. Shinji Nishimoto. Translated by Yoshiko Kubo.