Topic: Chinese Medicine

The Power of Yin

The power of Yin - stargazing

What is Yin?

Yin is a term that comes from the classical Chinese concept of opposite yet complementary forces, Yin and Yang. Yin is described as the “shadow side of the mountain” in relation to the sunny side, which is Yang. Yin is dark, cool and quiet, and so we often neglect the importance of Yin in favour of the hot, bright and loud Yang elements in life.

It’s an elegantly simple concept, yet Yin Yang can describe mind-bending complexities of the mechanisms of the universe. Its essence is encapsulated in the Yin Yang symbol. No matter how you try to dissect this circle, every slice will contain both Yin and Yang.

 

power-of-yin

Image courtesy of tcmworld.com

 

You can use this symbol to understand the relationship of Yin to Yang and vice versa.

It’s impossible to separate Yin from Yang. They don’t exist without each other because they:

  • define each other
  • transform into each other
  • create balance and harmony together
  • are completely interdependent.

Neither is superior or inferior. They are both respected for their unique and necessary qualities as indeed, without one, the other would not exist.

 

Characteristics of Yin

Yin can be described as the quality of slowing towards stillness. It’s the withdrawing, the receptive. It’s what nourishes, what holds, what contracts, what is degenerating. It’s an entropic force.

In the body, Yin is the substances and states that nourish, and the matter that catalysts act upon to transform.

Yet, so often today, in relationship to the ebb and flow of our lives, we don’t value our Yin. We don’t protect it, nourish it, cultivate it. The body obeys natural law, but we live in an environment that doesn’t.

In our ceaseless activity we overwork, we over-schedule, we consume too many stimulants, we leave ourselves time-poor for the tasks we need to complete. We are glued to technology, rapidly processing volumes of information without a break. We rarely experience silence and we don’t rest when we are sick. We have the most unrealistic expectations of our bodies.

Yin states are restful states:

  • Relaxation
  • Meditation
  • Rest
  • Napping
  • Daydreaming
  • Sleep
  • Meditative art and music
  • Slow sex
  • Receptivity
  • Quietude
  • The realms of sensation
  • Space.
Power of Yin

 

In our rushed and overloaded culture, embracing these Yin qualities often feels indulgent and triggers guilt.

We can feel like we are weak, lazy, unproductive or vulnerable. We feel guilt or shame about having bodily needs. Through all this we have misunderstood the power of Yin. We have all sorts of judgements about dropping into deep restful Yin states, what are yours?

The good news is:

  • Great sleep produces optimal performance.
  • Slowing down enables better concentration.
  • Allowing space to digest information allows processing and integration of information. Boosts brain power.
  • The body can go into growth, repair, re-balancing and healing during rest periods.
  • Slowing down allows you to access your non-work Self.

Without periodic and ample restoration, you consume all your resources without replenishment. If you push yourself beyond your capacity, you start to consume your reserves. Do this for long enough and you’re on the burnout train, baby. Your actions start to lose presence, efficacy, efficiency, focus and power. You start to lose the ability to relax.

You’re entering into empty Yin territory.

Empty Yin

What the hell is empty Yin?

Empty Yin happens when you’ve let your stress run your life. Being in flight or flight mode has become your norm and you no longer listen to your body’s messages to slow down, take space, rest, relax and recuperate. Empty Yin feels like pressure, fatigue, irritability, anxiety, inability to relax, reactivity. Empty Yin can feel inflamed and dry, you may have tapped your adrenals, stressed your digestion, put pressure on your liver and overwhelmed your mind.

Fun times.

Empty Yin leads to empty Yang.

The good news is that to reverse this scenario – to build your Yin back and heal your body – relaxation, rest and recuperation are THE ONLY technologies that will get you there. You must give your body the environment it needs to heal, and that is in the rest and digest (aka autonomic nervous system) state.

At first it can be hard to finally feel what your body has been trying to tell you for months. You can crash. That’s ok. Understand that it is through the crash that you will build power. You’re cultivating the essence from which the next thing will spring.

When you get the hang of Yin restoration, it can feel lovely. A beautiful return. There is an art to relaxation – which is different from rest and different from sleep.

 

The Power of Yin

The internal martial arts, the Yin arts (training the mind, cultivating spirit), have always understood that to cultivate power you need to periodically turn inward.

With this space and quietude we can develop the relationship to our inner world. We can process and let go of how life has affected us. We can get clear on our deep motivations, we can reconnect with that consistent witness Self that is less swayed by the comings and goings of life. We can realign to our centre and we can house our mind back into our body, cleansing the doors of perception so as we can be refreshed when we re-engage with life outside ourselves.

Without this space, without this downtime, without letting go, without these rhythms, it’s an endless pushing of your own willpower. And with that approach, how are you meeting life?

 

Have you reached destination burn-out town? It may be adrenal fatigue.

Acupuncture can help you restore your health and recover your Yin – book an appointment with Becky today.

The Flower Blooms : Sexual & Reproductive Health Practices for Women

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                                                                                                                                                                                                         *Image by the talented Jem Magbanua

Safe sex in classical Chinese thought is sex that does not drain the body of needed energy and vitality, but increases it.

Chinese Medical history is long and traverses time, to places where cultural norms were quite different.

The Eastern wisdom traditions of both Dao & Tantra say sexual energy is a possible pathway for awakening consciousness, divine enlightenment and healing.

That is what imbibes the language that they use to describe the body.

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Experiencing Emotions (and how to mine them for their wisdom)

mountain meditation

We all have trouble dealing with our Emotions sometimes.  Feelings that come up can have all sorts of stories attached to them. Stories we don’t like, feelings we don’t want to experience.

We hide what we feel, ignore it, feel shame & guilt about it, lie about it or blame other people for causing them in us.

We also crave certain emotions, want to grasp on to them, get addicted & attached to things, people & places which generate that emotional feeling.

They can motivate our behaviour and make us feel out of control

When it comes to Emotions, perhaps we never really grew up.

Our feelings & thoughts have a somatic expression. ( A response in the body)

The Chinese mapped this somatic expression and attributed them channels. They also discovered which organs get affected by different emotions.  Within a Chinese Medicine framework, feelings are considered natural & necessary with their own unique wisdom, insight and character. They begin to be considered pathogenic ( a cause of disharmony or illness) when the mind judges, controls, distorts, represses or suppresses these raw feelings. When the mind becomes involved in a controlling manner, it can stagnate the energetic momentum that contains the feeling.

This is why, when you start to move that blocked energetic momentum & relinquish mind control in practices, such as acupuncture , massage, breath work or yoga spontaneous emotional release can occur.

Our mind is heavily influenced by our conditioning. By our family, sub-culture & societal values.  By how our past experiences have shaped us, by our associations. We create defence mechanisms to get through, to avoid pain and to keep ourselves together psychologically. I call these mechanisms the gate-keepers or the body guards.  They are so important & do great work. Until they don’t. We outgrow them, but don’t update their job description and they start to cage us in and healthy intimacy in relationships out.  That’s where the stagnation can really start to affect your health and happiness.

Emotional stagnation can  lead to physical and mental ill health.  It can keep you trapped and stunt your growth, maturity and intelligence.

The basis of this usually has to do with fear & control.  Fear of experiencing something that will overwhelm you & make your lose control.

The way to deal with that fear is to wake up to the very nature of Emotion. 

That is; they are changeable. Often within milliseconds. The latin root of the word Emotion, means ‘to move’ . Left to their own devices without interference by mind they rapidly change.

It is the control, repression, suppression & stories we attach to them, that causes them to stagnate & or to identify with the story so much so, that it becomes part of our personality.

So how to wake up and lose the fear?

1) understand the nature of Mind

2) understand the nature of Feelings

The penny-dropping insight, the big A-ha, is realising that both Mind & Emotion BY THEIR NATURE are impermanent, transient and are in a process of change. This means  mis-identifying them as fixed, permanent or part of yourself is fundamentally futile.

If you wake up to this reality, then you can really get to the root of what is causing you pain.

What allows out feelings to transform & continue on their merry (or raging) path is recognition or acknowledgement.

Acknowledgement.

Not by someone outside of you. By your own heart.

If you are busily committed to avoiding or ignoring your emotional truth, it takes a whole lot of energy, effort & mind control.

The Chinese called the cognitive part of our mind, the streams of consciousness, the planning, the thinking, the processing etc the Yi

They called the part of our consciousness that is beyond Mind, the consciousness you’ve had since within the womb, (my working title is: the embryological mind) the consciousness or awareness that is there beyond the thoughts, in between the thoughts,  they call that Shen.

Instead of bombarding you with concepts  of Shen. ( For which there really is no words ) The Chinese being an insanely practical culture, focused on Shen realisation.  They then developed methods for people to practice and guide them to Shen realisation.

Shen realization is the mother of all insights (and a different blog post) and is what re-oriontates everything & you on your path. Shen realisation is awareness of our most primary nature.  It is what can really reframe our sense of identity and make it a whole lot easier to see the ‘stories’ you’ve created.

Shen realisation is the goal of treatment process.  It’s like the Diamond or pure awareness hiding under the Rough of all the misunderstandings of our self.

We all have Diamond (pure awareness) and we all have Rough (not that)

The degree and impact of the ‘Rough’ is very individual, it’s very human stuff and by viewing yourself with gentle eyes, suspending judgments long enough to listen to your heart into,  can lead to liberation and wisdom.

girl meditation

Holding Space for Yourself

This is  a practice,  and it means setting an intention for your mind to suspend judgement of yourself and sit, listen and feel into your heart, your body  and find your truth. Regardless if it’s unacceptable or contrary to your social values, regardless whether you like it or not.

This is a really easy way to do it.  You could do it just about anywhere, or use it as a regular practice.  The acupuncture table is an optimal place for it.

I sit in Meditation or lie down with hand over heart & belly

I set my intention that for just this 20 mins I will maintain concentration & suspend my usual judgements, stories and avoidance, clinging and all the rest and be kind to those disenfranchised parts of self.

I visualise my self  sitting in my heart, by a campfire wrapped in a blanket and I wait and listen.

I listen and wait to see, hear or feel what appears. That which has been hiding, drowned out, un-seen, not felt, denied. I wait gently for them.

I then relax my body, soften & acknowledge what shows up. My truth.

This is where the wisdom seeps in , the A ha’s show up. Accepting what is my truth, does set me free.

I then take rest in pure awareness knowing that all else is impermanent, by nature will change and to identify or hold onto it is futile.

I exhale and let go.

 

 

 

Detox: A Guide

detox bowl

 

I use detox as a clinical tool,  I find it makes a huge improvement in my patients, especially for( but not limited to) fatigue, pre-conception care, endocrine issues,  digestive disorders & adrenal burnout.

I always spend time, chatting with my people and really getting a sense of  what is  realistic and what they can manage. Aspirations can be admirable, but you must know what your getting in to, be invested in the benefits and be up for it. It can either be a pleasurable coming home to your optimal health or it can be a total struggle. Preparation is what makes the difference.

My programs are designed primarily for the inner city urban dweller who often has a huge demand on their energy and time. There is no fasting involved and they are designed to provide you with consistent and improved energy levels. I also integrate my Chinese Medicine perspective in tailoring a program to an individual.

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Are you a tired puppy? The Adrenal Fatigue Lowdown.

Tired Pppy

In July I attended an industry seminar called the Adrenal Epidemic and got the download on the latest research about adrenal fatigue which is otherwise known as allostatic resistance.

I’ve summarized  what I believe you need to know, especially if you are:

  •  someone who suffers from fatigue, burnout, thyroid or hormonal issues
  •  are entering their late 30’s, living in the inner city with a really full and busy life, burning the candle at both ends and wants to age­ (in the words of the naturopath leading the seminar)­ disgracefully well
  • wanting to stay fertile & juicy and have an easy menopause.

If this is you, then please, get to know allostatis and cortisol.

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What Your Naturopath Didn’t Tell You About Adrenal Fatigue

Chinese Medicine Adrenal Fatigue

 

Chinese Medicine takes seriously the importance of our relationship to the Earth.  It is concerned with our broken connection to the Earth, and how we can re-connect to its natural rhythms. By doing this, we can begin to harmonize our body, breath and mind to capture,cultivate and nourish our in-built self-healing mechanisms.

Older civilisations, such as India and China, have developed naturalistic cultivation practices to maintain, deepen, and draw from our relationship with nature. Recently I have been learning about Ayurveda, which sits alongside Chinese Medicine as the oldest known living medical systems. They both clearly describe this nature-connection and cultivation process.

In Chinese Medicine it is described in the physiology & cultivation of our Pre & Post Natal Essence (Jing) and Qi.  The Ayurveda speaks of our Prakriti – our inherent individual nature. It also speaks of the Soma, the Nectar of life and how the wise collect it and drink it in.

Below is the low-down on Jing-Essence, what it is, how and why to treasure it.

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Chinese Herbs for Your Bone Broth To Take It Next Level.

Broth Broth Broth Broth.. sick of hearing about it already?  Thought you learnt all there is to know about it, starting to think it could be a diet fad to rival green smoothies? Should kale and quinoa get nervous? Things may be blowing up in the media and people touting all sorts of claims, but really, but it’s a very normal part of diets occurring across the globe . It is especially present  in cultures where they need to utilise as much as they can from their produce and livestock in an effort to have enough to nourish and strengthen the tribe.

Not only that, it’s easy to make, nutrient dense, easily absorbable by the body, warming and welcome in the colder months and suitable for all ages.

More specifically, adding medicinals to your soup stock is way old grandmothers medicine in China. The synergistic effect of combining both food and medicine in Chinese culture has been understood and utilised for a long time.  It has a beneficial effect on vitality, energy, immunity and fertility.

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Why I’m a Moxibustion Freak and I Think You Should Be Too

moxa 3

 

Sometimes I feel so passionate bout Moxa that I feel I could pop.

Why? Well
1. I’m a major chinese med geek
2. Because of the untapped potential of this amazing technique. It’s a true gem.

It’s

  • effective
  • cheap
  • easy to use for most people
  • portable

Lets put it into context.

To start, what is it? Moxibustion is  the burning/smouldering  of the herb known as Mugwort (botanically known as artemisa agyii,princeps or  montanta)  that has been dried, processed & aged so that it is a punk (soft downy fluff made from the hairs & oil of the leaves) or rolled into cigar like sticks. (uses more fibrous parts of the plant)

Moxa is burnt on or near acu-points in the body.

 

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How to Recover Fast from Injury with Chinese Sports Medicine Techniques

Chinese Sports Medicine is a science that athletes, martial artists and their trainers have utilized to their advantage for centuries.

Here’s the ticket, the main difference is in the initial phase of the injury.

I think that  Eric Armstong, from Tree of Life explained it best.  So to paraphrase;

‘If you imagine a basic injury is like a disaster site where the water pipes have broken and water is flooding the place because it (the swelling) has nowhere to drain.   The repair crew (nutrients in the blood) can’t get in to fix things (things=cells) because there is water everywhere. The first step is to minimize the damage.’

In the West we have been taught to use the R.I.C.E formula ; ie rest,ice,compression and elevation for the first 24 hours. After which, we are supposed to rest and heat.  The ice and elevation stops the swelling and then the heat is to encourage the circulation back to allow for repair.

The Eastern approach is to get new blood to the cells as quickly as possible so that the repair crew can do its work.  But what about the flooding? The idea is to put in water pumps to take it away and put it somewhere else.

These water pumps come in 3 forms:

If  you can’t get to treatment in the acute phase – Hello most likely! Then:

  1. Massage with a Liniment.  This is  can be applied by anyone.  TCM sports therapists  suggest to massage the sprained or strained area as immediately and as vigorously as possible.  If possible with liniment.

In a treatment a practitioner would use:

  1. Heated Cups. These would be placed on either side of the injury so blood is drawn away from the injury site. The swelling and inflammation of the injured area is immediately reduced and space becomes available which is then allows fresh oxygenated blood to get to the injury, carrying with it all the essential nutrients and factors needed for repair.
  2.  Acupuncture. Depending on the placement of the needle, the resulting vasodilation,vasoconstriction and general muscle twitching stimulates drainage and blood flow.  It also directs Qi to the area, the Blood then follows.

What is liniment?  This is what to cotton on to! -It’s miraculous stuff.  Basically it’s an alcohol based tincture that has been made by distilling potent healing herbs that reduce swelling, inflammation, pain and promote healing.   There are many common, easily-found and effective liniments around.

My personal favorites are; Zheng Gu Shui, Zen, Tiger Balm. I also use Fisiocreme.

Chinese herbal liniments, patches and moxibustion for rapid healing

Powerful and effective home care techniques for rapid injury recovery

 

So the steps are:

  1. You get hurt.
  2. Straight away douse the area with your liniment of choice
  3. Rub it in to tender spots.
  4. Mobilize (gently move with your hands) the joint or area, this can be a bit painful so breathe, stay mindful and calm.  Gently manipulate the joint the opposite way that it’s been affected.  IE if you rolled your ankle, slowly and gently roll it with your hands in the opposite diection.
  5. Loosely strap the area and keep it warm.
  6. Repeat steps 2.3 and 4. Every 1-2 hours in the first 12-24 hours.

Great, well done. You’ve gotten through the acute phase, with technique thats going to set you up for the best longer term recovery.

The most important factor to really understand is keep the circulation going.  Injuries can become chronic if stagnant blood is not removed.  Over time the local area becomes deprived of nourishment which can cause permanent weakness and potential for repeated injury to the area.

More tools that keep the circulation and thereby the nourishment going are:

Moxabustion.  This is a powerful tool for healing. It’s also pain free and inexpensive.

For take home care, we will give you a stick of moxa, in which you light and hold over the site of injury or nearby acu-points (if known) for 5-10 mins at a time. Until you feel the heat saturate the area.  Do this everyday for about 2 weeks after the acute phase has passed.

Herbal Patches.  The quickest and easiest way to keep the area infused with healing herbs. No witchy poo apocatheray skills required. They come fully prepared.  They are a stick-on plaster which you apply to the affected area.  They infuse the skin and then blood with similar healing herbs that are in the liniments. They usually last for 7-12 hours and are very inexpensive.

What else? Self Massage, stretching, mobilization ,  heat, heat, heat  and liniment, liniment, liniment.

So there you have it. All the tools and tips you need to look after yourself and bounce back from any injury. So, stock up your first aid kit with these inexpensive  and effective tools and you’ll be the star of  any outdoor adventure or sporting event.

Products are available at Cloud Gate Therapeutics, China Books, online, many Asian grocery store and the occasional chemist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Mindset of the Chronically Relaxed

relaxed

Stop the glorification of busy

In Chinese Med treatment, we always ask about your stress levels and how they are impacting you. ‘Stress’ is so incredibly prevelant in the inner city modern life that its considered normal.

So often in treatment when people really get some space from and perspective on ‘Stress’ EVERYTHING CHANGES for them. I mean in a good way.

So I ask..
Are you in control of your stress levels or is stress running you ragged?

Do you feel your heart, your head & your feet walking off in separate directions?

Stress is the conundrum of our modern lives and it is the number one underlying factor in so many chronic and potentially life-threatening complaints.

You are not alone, underneath are some helpful habits, which I’ve identified as the five  Mindsets of the Chronically Relaxed. Truth is it is in reach for all of us and I can’t wait to see it showing up in clinic.

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