true <3

January 8th, 2012

Offering unconditional acceptance to every aspect of our humanity (every emotion, thought, attachment and avoidance pattern, etc.) catalyzes awakening by freeing prana/qi from the places in the body-mind where it assumed space.
Shining the light of awareness is not about intentionally fixing or releasing or transforming. It’s about sensitively and compassionately listening to ourselves from a space of present awareness that intuitively, effortlessly registers, holds, and cares about whatever arises in the material world. Conscious self-acceptance – as a meditation and/or ongoing practice, offers us a continuously accessible opportunity to care-give the aspects of self that did not receive enough unconditional acceptance at whatever stage in our life development.
In the glow of our own conscious allowance, lodged emotions and beliefs surface – not as facts, but as markers of an earlier experience. Allowing the layered emotions/thoughts/stories the space and attention they need to evolve, they are often freed or integrated. The literal space created, invites our most tender selves – that have been suppressed or hidden – to feel safe enough to emerge and engage again with other aspects of self (and others), inviting a more deeply felt experience of wholeness and union (within the world) – Paraphrased from Waking Down in Mutuality

For a pretty interesting take on the awakening process, please check Map of Embodied Awakening

winter breath

November 6th, 2011

lungsFor many, Nov 6th marked the turning back of clocks to align with the rising sun. On Friday, December 21, 2011, the winter solstice will usher in the shortest day of the year. From then on, the days will grow progressively longer, meaning these darker days will quietly shift to light.

In the cold shadows of winter we naturally turn inwards: the pace of life slows so that we may restore and rest. Winter is an intuitive time to conserve energy and replenish our vitality for the unfolding Spring to come. Winter is Yin in nature – placid, viscous and cold. Like a midnight tide returning to its source, winter is an intuitive time for stillness. Quietude naturally unfolds space for contemplation – and insight. Within this sacred quiet we are invited to the depths of our being, and it is here that we hold the power to transform.

Let’s practice . . .

Gather warmth around you, a sweater or blanket. Feel your feet resting easily on the floor. Gently release your exhale and inhale through the nose,  breathing softly into the low belly. Let the exhale be natural and complete. no need for effort. Feel the breath move in and out of the body. Maybe take 5 more of these gentle, slow breaths.

You might be aware of areas of constriction in the body. You might experience a sense of ease, maybe your eyes are tempted to soften and close. Allow whatever shifts are needed to feel comfortable. With your awareness focused on your breath, notice 3 more cycles of inhale and exhale. Allow a few more moments to greet whatever is happening. Whatever thoughts arise may pass through as you continue focusing on the breath.

Allow your attention to ease from the breath to any sensations in the body. As you scan, you might notice tensions or areas that are clinging or holding tight. You might notice spacious areas that feel soft and sweet. You might notice thoughts of the future or the past. Whatever your experience, know that you are deeply loved, deeply connected. Keep breathing. Inhale. Exhale.

Perhaps you notice feelings of unrest – of anxiety or stress, fear or worry – you might also notice a (sudden) reflex to return to whatever you were doing or planning before you began reading this. Helpful to notice. Allow 3 more deep, soft inhales and exhales.

As you sit here breathing, sensations may awaken, you might notice thoughts, memories and associations. Notice how soft the breath feels at the nose, how it feels traveling the nasal passages, how your ribs expand on the inhale. Maybe you notice softer and tighter bands of muscle around your chest and belly. Perhaps you feel a sense of letting go on the exhale. You may feel fully supported, odd, sweet, loose, uncomfortable and/or peaceful. Feel your feet on the floor, the body softening on the inhale, releasing any tension on the exhale . . .

You might notice emotions or thoughts that you’ve kept at bay. This is natural. You might contract or want to move away from uncomfortable feelings. Also natural. Just as our bodies brace against the cold in Winter, we often contract against emotions, particularly those we perceive as negative or those that resonate with fear and anxiety – emotions that commonly arise in winter . . .

As you return your attention to the breath, notice the sensation of your feet supported by the earth, the space of your chest and low abdomen. You might choose to focus on the chest expanding when you inhale, deepening into the low belly, and exhaling from the low belly as the chest softens. Notice what feels good about breathing.

After a few minutes of mindful breathing, you may feel a bit more centered, empowered or available to tend to your needs. Perhaps this exercise was unsettling – at least at first. Consciously checking in through breathing returns us all to what is happening in this present moment.  Perhaps the past few minutes were challenging or compelling or both. Maybe some part of you wonders what it might be like to check in through your breath later today, perhaps before you fall asleep, or when you’re feeling a little stressed, or when you’re waiting or commuting or taking a walk . . .

The reprieve of watching breath for 5 to 10 cycles often eclipses whatever thoughts and sensations that were commanding our attention – and what seemed so inherently intense  loses it’s import. Connecting to our present experience sinks us more deeply into our center – into the grounded space within our bodies.

As we remain attuned to the breath, on the periphery we might notice sensations, emotions, and beliefs. The energetic charge of thoughts and emotions hold a particular resonance or vibration – they do not represent what is True or what Is. Thoughts and feelings reveal what is present in any given moment and offers us insight into what we can attend to, love, integrate, release, transform.  Emotions and thoughts are always changing: arising and passing, arising and passing, much like a belly that gently rises and softens, rises and softens, with each breath.

Remaining present within the body, we connect both with uncomfortable and pleasurable sensations. We notice what we like and don’t like, what we reject and what we cling to.  Sometimes, we notice that our associations are arbitrary: what we so often wish for is also what we fear most. Sensations, thoughts and emotions do not hold an inherent nature of likable or unlikable, good or bad. How we respond shows us our associations and habits – all of which are available to change. . .

Softening through breath to find a middle ground, we grow beyond grasping/rejecting to a space that is open to what is and can be. We simply are. Breathing.

For more ideas about how to take care, especially during the winter months, please check health tips for winter

health tips for winter

November 6th, 2011

“During the Winter months all things in nature wither, hide, return home, and enter a resting period, just as lakes and rivers freeze and snow falls. This is a time when yin dominates yang. Therefore one should refrain from overusing the yang energy. Retire early and get up with the sunrise, which is later in Winter. Desires and mental activity should be kept quiet and subdued, as if keeping a sweet secret. Stay warm, avoid the cold, and keep the skin covered. Avoid sweating. The theory of the Winter season is one of conservation and storage. Without such practice the result will be injury to the Kidney energy. This will cause weakness, shrinking of muscles, and coldness; then the body loses its ability to open and move about in the Spring.” ~Neijing Suwen, 240 B.C.

In Chinese Medicine, winter is associated with the vital root organs of the Kidneys, Adrenal Glands and Urinary Bladder. According to Yuanchen of the Ming Dynasty “the kidney is the ocean of the human body . . . All the essences and fluids of the body’s various pathways pour into the kidney.”

Located just beneath the Kidneys – behind the navel – is an energetic portal known as the Gate of Life or Ming Men. The Huangting Jing states that ‘The igniting spark between the kidneys is the origin of the various processes of human life.’ This essential life fire supports the Kidneys to purify the blood, store the sexual and pranic essences, and stimulate the body’s Qi when depleted. Ming Men is the center of Prenatal Qi or essential life force and may be comparable what yogis refer to as the store of kundalini.

During winter, we naturally consume more Qi (to stay warm and vital) and consequently, our kidney qi is more easily depleted. To remain healthy and balanced, it’s essential to take extra care during the winter months. Classic Chinese texts offer these practices to strengthen our Kidney qi and overall immunity:

  • Fall to sleep early and rise late – after the sun’s rays have warmed the earth
  • Enjoy cooked, warming meals. Hearty soups, whole grains, roasted vegetables, and most meats (if that’s your jam) help warm the body’s core and keep us nourished.  Kidney beans, walnuts and beef are also warming and particularly recommended to strengthen Kidney Qi.
  • It’s natural to gain a bit of weight during the winter months to conserve warmth, so no worries, you’ll easily shed the extras in Spring.
  • Build community and spend time with friends and family – it’s not surprising that this time of year is marked by festivals of light in most of the world’s religions
  • Take time for quiet and reflection, ease up pressures to do: Be*
  • Bundle up – be sure to keep the lower back (Kidneys) warm, and the upper back, back of your neck and throat protected – the areas most susceptible to wind, chill and other foreign invaders. Consider extra layers and hot showers on colder days
  • Qigong, Tai Chi, yoga, meditation and other simple relaxation/movement therapies can help release stress and maintain a sense of balance and ease
  • Acupuncture, body work, essences, herbs and other holistic remedies can offer great support and reconnect you with other methods of self-care and vitality
  • Support the immune system by massaging the ear lobes, below the occiput (base of your skull), along the neck and at the armpits (to promote lymph drainage)
  • Enjoy sex – but in moderation: sexual activity easily depletes Kidney Qi.

fall upwards

September 18th, 2011

light leavesshed any grief lingering in the lungs and belt it (like these talenteds):

florence + the machine: cosmic love

and review these for a bright season:

health tips for autumn

love x

seasonal allergies + acupuncture

April 28th, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a brief and simplified explanation of hay fever from an acupuncture perspective

read post

gem + flower essences: how they work

March 24th, 2011

While no doubt mystical in their effect, gem and flower essences are less mysterious than their reputation conveys. In fact, research shows that gem and flower essences stabilize biochemical processes by matching, tuning and upgrading our cellular frequency or rate of vibration.

Stabilizing our most basic patterning allows our deepest issues to emerge and reorganize – creating lasting changes on the physical, emotional, psychic, social and spiritual levels.

Thoughts, beliefs, emotions and stored experiences are ultimately different forms of energy with unique vibrational patterns. Physical symptoms are often condensed forms of these energetic frequencies.

Similar to homeopathic notions of “like cures like,” the unique resonant pattern of gemstones and flowers transform denser and lower-frequency currents and forms.  More specifically, essences carry the imprint of the resonant pattern of a specific gem or flower and effect change because the pattern of an essence’s vibrating atoms resonate with, neutralize, uplift and/or amplify the subtle structures of our energetic anatomy.

Unlike homeopathic pellets and tablets, essence preparations are particularly potent because of the medicinal’s carrier. In the case of gem and flower essences, the carrier is water.

Research shows that the bonding between hydrogen and oxygen atoms in water is remarkably flexible and the angles can vary more than with any other known substance. It is thought that this unique quality brings ‘memory’ of essences to water.

The bestseller Messages from Water illustrates this nicely. Written by the researcher Masaru Emoto, Messages demonstrates that speech, music, thoughts and prayers all affect the aesthetic configuration of water molecules. How water molecules organize is contingent upon the tone, quality and intention of the words or thoughts to which they are exposed.

Since our bodies are composed of 70% water, we can’t help but ‘memorize’ the higher-order vibrational messages of the plant and mineral essences we imbibe.

What’s more, while our bodies appear to be solid (or 70% liquid), we are composed of a complex matrix of life-force energy that extends through and beyond our bodies and unites with a Universal Energy Field – of which we are all comprised and through which we are all connected. This etheric matrix is continually in flux – responding to and reflecting our mental-emotional experiences, our environment, our choices and purpose.

To illustrate, each wave of energy (light, sound, etc.) has a unique resonance and creates an instant, long-lasting physiological change at the etheric level – affecting people in different ways at different times.

Consider music. In this case, the carrier is air, though the mechanistic similarities to essences, well, resonate.

Invisible wavelettes of sound vibrate in our ears, through our senses and shift the vibratory resonance of the nervous system, uplifting our spirits, nudging us closer to the edge of a feeling-scape, to dance, sing or remember someone or something we haven’t thought of in years.

The resonant patterns of the flower or gemstone stored in the essence ‘tune’ the etheric aspects of unstable bio-molecular structures within the person’s physical body much like the most gentle and harmonious of tuning forks.

Essences, anyone?

gem + flower essences: background

March 24th, 2011

Gem and flower essences offer us a safe, effective, inexpensive and portable energy medicine that is both gentle and profound.

Essences are infusions of gems or flowers in water by sun or moonlight. Each plant and mineral species embodies a distinct vibrational pattern that transfers to the water through the light of the sun or moon. The gem or flower is removed from the water and brandy is added to preserve the memory of its resonant field.

Because essences work on an energetic, vibrational level, they are not associated with any adverse side-effects, they are non-toxic and there are no contraindications to use essences alongside any other medicinal.

Essences help address the issues that often underlay stress and health problems, helping to ‘unravel’ or release mental/emotional energetic knots. Essences can help transform emotions, attitudes or patterns of behavior to enhance one’s development, growth and awareness. Each person responds to essences according to their inner rhythm and needs.

Since recorded history, traditional eastern and western astrologers and healers have used gemstones, metals, plant elixirs and sound vibration to direct the subtle forces of nature.

Essences were formally re-introduced to the West in the 1930’s by Dr. Edward Bach, an English physician. Through his observations of patients and the natural world, Dr. Bach understood that a person’s temperament and personality determine the illnesses they are prone to and what medicines will help. He was thought to have discovered essences after tasting the dew from the petals of an herb and noticing immediate mental/emotional changes.

According to Bach, health ’is the complete and full union between soul, mind and body.” (Collected Writings, page 91).

health tips for spring

March 21st, 2011

Along the northern hemisphere, March 20th marked the Spring Equinox and the dissolve of winter into spring. As winter offered a time to reflect and conserve nascent energy, spring is a time of regeneration and renewal.

Change weaves together the seasons, and each season reflects unique qualities of nature, the cosmos, and our place within it. In spring, verdant buds appear on bare branches, seeds begin to sprout, the earth is warmed by an expansive light of the sun.  A thrill is in the air, in our hearts, with each step.

In East Asian traditions, spring is associated with the wood element, the color green, movement and wind. In Chinese medicine, spring is also associated with the liver and its complementary organ, the gallbladder.

The health of the liver is reflected in the tendons, eyes, and fingernails, and is essential to a balanced reproductive system. The liver system engenders the smooth flow of mental and physical lifeforce energy or Qi throughout the body and mutually supports all the other organ systems. Liver qi facilitates the easeful movement of emotions, and is particularly linked with feelings of anger and frustration.   When the liver is healthy, our physical, mental and emotional activity is also easeful.

Like a young shoot or the wise roots of a weathered tree, wood exemplifies growth, change, and the moving through of obstacles. It’s an active/yang expression that encourages evolution, in the world and within. When this outwardly spiraling energy is thwarted or suppressed, it can revolve into frustration, anger and stress.

While spring often illumines winter’s doldrums, the evolution of spring can also exacerbate imbalances related to Qi stagnation. It’s not uncommon to experience depression, muscular tension and pain, digestive issues, headaches, and menstrual disharmony. If these issues surface or seem worse in spring, don’t fret. The opening and active qualities of spring allow for profound transformation and remind us how to intuitively take care. With a sense of revolution and new beginnings, spring is the ideal time for cleansing health regimens and physical activity.

To optimize our health and harness the blossom of spring’s light:

Exercise and Stretch – the liver system is deeply connected with the tendons of the body. Holding and releasing rich stores of oxygenated blood to the tendons and sinews is one way the liver supports movement and change throughout the body. Stretching and exercise maintain tendon health and flexibility. Inadequate activity can also take it’s tole, resulting in tightness, tension and irritability. To counteract qi stagnation and other frustrations, take long walks, incorporate a daily practice of yoga, qi gong and/or tai qi. Get down: dance, make music and art, play!

Enjoy Nature – fresh air encourages the easeful flow of qi throughout the liver meridians and all energetic pathways or nadis. Take deep breaths, inhaling the spring air and take a hike, a walk amongst trees or along the seashore. Cultivate a garden and pot plants for indoor growth.

Eat Green and Well– fresh, leafy vegetables and sprouted greens (kale, chard, dandelion, watercress, asparagus, pea shoots, alfalfa and bean sprouts, wheat grass) invigorate the liver’s functioning and enhance the smooth movement of qi throughout the body. Lightly steaming or sautéing vegetables and greens help retain their nutrients and facilitate digestion. Sour flavors, in small amounts, also stimulate the liver’s qi. Consider a slice of lime or lemon in your water. Pickled vegetables are great this time of year. Herbs like basil, dill and rosemary are also recommended.

Clear and Cleanse – Spring clean! Let go of anything you haven’t used in the past year. Clean out that kitchen drawer, closets, and storage spaces. Donate clothes, books and household items to a charity or shelter. Consider a full-body cleanse with vegetable and fruit juices and plenty of water. Irrigate the nasal passage with salt water and a neti pot – this is especially helpful for those suffering from seasonal allergies.

Layer – During this time of transition, it’s hard to read how the day’s weather will unfold. Best to wear or carry extra layers and adjust as needed. Balmy mornings often evolve into blustery nights. Remember that the neck, throat, back and chest are the most vulnerable to invading pathogens like wind and cold, so keep rockin the free world and wear a scarf!

nourishing foods for winter

February 19th, 2011

Similar to the Autumn months, Winter is all about warm, cooked foods. Out with the raw and cold temperature foods (like uncooked vegetables, salads, fruits, iced drinks, smoothies and cold milk with cereal) and in with roasted vegetables, savory soups and baked stews.

  • Baking, roasting, stewing seasonal foods like winter squashes, root vegetables, winter greens, mushrooms, apples and pears is a wonderful way to warm the core of our being. It’s also a great time to enjoy the beans, grains and nuts that were harvested in fall.
  • A great way to start the day is with warm oat or grain porridge, cooked eggs and proteins, toasted breads, congees, heated left-overs and soups.
  • Foods that specifically nourish and warm the Kidneys include black beans, kidney beans, bone broths, lamb, chicken, walnuts, chestnuts, black sesame seeds and dark leafy greens. A small pinch of unrefined sea salt in meals also helps balance the kidneys. Seaweeds (in moderation) also offer a salty taste when cooked in soups, grains and beans.
  • Warm, herbal teas throughout the day help keep us warm. Gently warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, and cardamom are a great accompaniment to foods, though very hot spicy herbs are not recommended in winter because they create sweating, which ultimately cools the body. A small amount of a hot spice can increase circulation, so a pinch of pepper to taste could offer a perfect balance.
  • In Winter, we naturally crave fats – satisfy the call by eating healthy fats instead of fried and packaged/processed crappies. Organic butter, ghee, olive oil, and coconut oil are stable fats to include in the diet. Marbled cuts of meat from local, grass-fed animals contain a healthier balance of Omega 3 fats than grain-fed animals. To help digest fats, room-temperature fermented vegetables are recommended. Bitter leafy greens also aid digestion of heavier foods.
  • If you’re feeling under the weather: Soups of vegetables, beans, garlic, ginger and other warming antibiotic herbs and spices like thyme and rosemary are perfect to boost the immune system and ward off colds and flus. A little miso is wonderful with root, green and sea vegetables, and chicken soup is great to revitalize after an illness. If you’re chest feels congested and warm, barley cools toxic heat in the lungs and eliminates dampness resolving phlegm.

health tips for winter

February 19th, 2011

The winter solstice of Dec 22, 2011 ushered in the shortest day of the year. From then on, the days have grown progressively longer – meaning, these dark days are quietly shifting to light.
In the cold shadows of winter we naturally turn inwards: the course of life slowing to gather and rest. Winter is the perfect season for reflection – an intuitive time to conserve energy and replenish our vitality for the unfolding Spring to come.
Winter is Yin in nature – inactive, cold, and damp. In Chinese Medicine, winter is ruled by the Water element and is associated with salty flavors and the color dark blue or black. Like a tide returning to its source, winter offers contemplation of the murky depths of our deeper nature. Here we can easily touch into the core emotions of fear. Sometimes unsettling, fear can awaken tricky sensations, memories and associations. In the same breath, fear also reflects our deepest desires and aversions – reminding us of what we most want and don’t want in our lives, offering inroads to a higher purpose and the choices available to align with that purpose.
East Asian medicines also attribute the winter with the vital root organs of the Kidneys, Adrenal Glands and Urinary Bladder. Zhuang Yuanchen’s Inner Chapters from the Ming Dynasty state that “the kidney is the ocean of the human body . . . All the essences and fluids of the body’s various pathways pour into the kidney.”
Located just beneath the Kidneys, opposite the navel, is an energetic portal known as the Gate of Life – the essential fire between the yin energy of the two kidneys. The Huangting Jing states that ‘The igniting spark between the kidneys is the origin of the various processes of human life, the base of the body’s five (yin) and six (yang) organs, the root of the twelve channel pathways, the door of breath, and the source of the triple burner.’ Commonly known as Ming Men, this portal supports the Kidneys to purify the blood, store the sexual and pranic essences, and stimulate the body’s Qi when depleted. Ming Men is the center of Prenatal Qi or essential life force and might be considered one entrée into what yogis refer to as kundalini.

Throughout the winter we naturally consume more energy (to stay warm and vital) and our kidney qi is more easily depleted.

To remain healthy and balanced, it’s essential to take extra care during the winter months. Classic Chinese texts offer these practices to strengthen our Kidney qi and overall immunity:

  • Fall to sleep early and rise late – after the sun’s rays have warmed the earth
  • Limit superfluous sexual activity ☺
  • Enjoy cooked, warming meals – hearty soups, whole grains, meats (if that’s your jam) and roasted nuts help warm the body’s core and keep us nourished.  Kidney beans, Walnuts and Beef are particularly recommended to strengthen Kidney Qi. (It’s natural to gain a bit of weight to conserve warmth, so no worries, you’ll easily shed the extras in Spring)
  • Build community and spend time with friends and family – it’s not surprising that this time of year is marked by festivals of light in most of the world’s religions
  • Take time for quiet and reflection, ease up pressures to do: Be*
  • Bundle up – be sure to keep the lower back (Kidneys) warm, and the upper back, back of your neck and throat protected – the areas most susceptible to wind, chill and other foreign invaders. Consider extra layers and hot showers on colder days
  • Qigong, Tai Chi, yoga, meditation and other simple relaxation/movement therapies can help you release stress and maintain a sense of balance and ease
  • Acupuncture, body work, essences, herbs and other holistic remedies can offer great support and reconnect you with other methods of self-care and vitality
  • Support the immune system by massaging the ear lobes, below the occiput (base of your skull), along the neck and at the armpits (to promote lymph drainage)