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Kiss of Approval – Book Review: Water Up Fire Down by Ilchi Lee

sabrina cadini book review water up fire down ilchi lee holistic life coach kiss of approval life-work balance

I recently read Water Up Fire Down, another great book by Ilchi Lee filled with great wisdom and precious insights. This is a very timely, COVID-era book that shares a positive message of hope – if we truly want to improve our life and the world around us. I’m sharing my full review in this blog post and I hope you will buy or order your copy 🙂


Ilchi Lee is a Korean meditation expert, New York Times bestselling author, educator, mentor, and innovator who has dedicated his life to teaching energy principles and developing methods to nurture the full potential of the brain and to help people harness their own creative power. For this goal, he has developed many successful mind-body training methods, including Body & Brain Yoga and Brain Education.


  • Change Your Energy sent me a free copy of the book in return for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog post are my own and not influenced by Change Your Energy or Ilchi Lee in any way.
  • I am not affiliated with Change Your Energy or Ilchi lee.


I started nodding my head since the first page because Ilchi Lee and I have so much in common! He opened the book saying that “we must defend and protect our health, not only for ourselves, but also for our families and our communities”. Lee wrote this book to offer help and healing during the COVID-19 pandemic, but we should keep this in mind, front and center, in our everyday life. This is how our bodies keep us healthy, happy, positive, vibrant. This is our foundation for productivity and success: “Health is Wealth,” as the classical Roman poet Virgil said thousands of years ago. We haven’t changed, our bodies are still functioning in the same way, and when we are healthy we can achieve anything we desire.

Another point that Lee made in the book is that “the key to good health is maintaining harmony and balance, and that is true for immunity, too.” But here’s the key: “our immunity is determined by how we manage our bodies and minds on a day-to-day basis.” This means that being good for one week (eating healthier and taking supplements, for instance) won’t make a big difference in your body. It should become your lifestyle. I learned this the hard way years ago, and I would never go back to the way I was living, working long hours, considering sleep as “naptime,” eating lots of sugar because of my sweet tooth, moving whenever I had time (which was not every day), and basically thinking that I was invincible. I never realized that my body needed specific tools day in and day out to do its job: keeping me healthy, happy, vibrant, successful.

Lee guides us to:

  1. Recognize that we are responsible for our own health
  2. Recover our sense for communicating with our body
  3. Develop and consistently practice life habits for maintaining the harmony and balance of our body and mind thanks to the energy principle of Water Up, Fire Down (simple but VERY effective!)

I couldn’t wait to learn his tools and tips about these principles that he takes from the Asian tradition (seeing our human nature as a whole, similar to my holistic approach), the Korean mind-body tradition called Sundo (I was introduced to this in his previous book, Connect – you can read my review HERE), plus Brain Education, his signature personal development system (how could I not love Ilchi Lee being a huge fan of the brain?).

His introduction was rich in content, including the way our health and balance depend on nature’s life force. I keep telling my clients that we may be the most evolved and sophisticated animal species on this planet, but we are still animals and we depend on Mother Nature for the air we breathe, the soil that gives us the foods we eat, the water we drink, and the sun that gives us energy and vibrancy.

As Lee suggests, our bodies have the ability to maintain “their own balance and harmony and signaling us when that balance is broken.“ But, unfortunately, “most of us fail to recognize the signals because we are disconnected from our bodies, living with our attention focused on the outside world instead of on our bodies.“ This is exactly what happened to me back in 2011 when I experienced burnout and – thankfully minor – health issues. I simply ignored those signals.

However, once you’re able to recognize what’s wrong in your body, you can take control of the situation and work on the solution. Exactly like I did. Maybe it’s just a matter of changing certain habits. Whatever it is, it might take time to fix it, but never give up. Your body deserves it. Love your body as you do other people. Your body is your most precious asset, and your health is your most precious wealth.

His final message was about finding the time to always keep our balance in control, despite our hectic lifestyles. “That’s why we must make time to connect with our essence in our daily lives. We need time to meet with nature, with the life force within us.


Lee’s list of tools to recover energy balance, along with training routines to perform in the morning and/or night was amazing. This was probably my favorite section as Lee guided us through a suggested routine to keep our water up, fire down circulation – the Golden Principle of Health – in order based on the principles and methods in the book. I love that he suggested being consistent with these practices in order to achieve what we want in our health. I started to follow the instructions when I was reading the book and I’m still practicing them every day!


COVID-19 has certainly brought lots of challenges and hardships but, at the same time, it provided some type of relief to nature (less pollution, more habitats coming to life, etc.). This has shown us that nature has this amazing power to find its own balance and stability. We also realized how social interactions are important for us, especially now that we have to enforce physical distancing.

I was introduced to Lee’s “Golden Principle of Health” (I’ll let you discover more in the book!) which is tightly connected to stress as it causes a “reversed water-fire state,” and he went on providing excellent descriptions and symptoms about why – and how – this happens. The important thing is that we accept stress as a part of life and we coexist with it, rather than “unconditionally avoiding it, thinking of it as an enemy.“ My Beat The Stress! program helps clients exactly in this way. Stress is just a tool and it’s great for us to grow physically and mentally, but we need to identify the triggers, understand our reactions, and manage them in a healthy, positive way.

Lee also introduced me to the concept of Mibyeong which is traditional in Asian medicine, and I think I discovered a new friend! “Mibyeong refers to an unhealthy condition that isn’t disease in itself but could lead to sickness if ignored.” What I often see in my coaching practice – and Lee mentions this in the book as well – is that people get used to being lethargic. tired, and as a result, this becomes their new normal. But you shouldn’t give up – you have to find a solution to live and work better.

Another great teaching from the book was identifying three situations that block our water up, fire down circulation. I’ll let you discover more about these when you read the book!


Energy creates mind, and mind creates energy.

Your brain can better exhibit creativity only when you rest and recharge it.

I believe we should all love and cherish our bodies, regardless of their appearance. They are miraculous, and they deserve our respect. Rather than looking in the mirror to examine them for imperfections, we should learn to feel them, listening for the messages that they are giving us. We need to acknowledge the connection between our bodies and minds, and we learn to understand ourselves in the process.


Why is it so hard for us to change lifestyle habits that ruin our health, even though we want to be healthy?

Why are we negligent about taking care of our bodies in our daily lives when we’re well aware of the importance of prevention?



Water Up Fire Down gets my Kiss of Approval.

Taking care of our bodies is the foundation to a happy, vibrant, positive, creative, and successful life. As Lee states, “we regularly check a machine to make sure it’s in good operating condition. Shouldn’t we do the same for our bodies, which are far more sensitive than any human-made contraption?


To know more about Ilchi Lee, visit the following links:

Water Up Fire Down

The book’s webpage. Visit to learn how to optimize your body and mind with the energy principle of Water Up, Fire Down, read testimonials, and get your copy of the book.

Body & Brain Yoga Tai Chi Classes

The 100 Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi centers in the United States are one of the best ways to create and maintain the Water Up, Fire Down energy balance with group classes, workshops, and individual sessions from experienced instructors – both online and in person.

Change Your Energy

This online educational platform and lifestyle product store is based on Ilchi Lee’s teachings, and you can find video courses, articles, and weekly live classes and webinars ranging from energy management to meditation.

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