Tagged: Yin-Yang

What Is Wellness?

What is wellness?

What is wellness, exactly? What does wellness look like for you?

 

Wellness As A Commodity

 

Have you noticed a trend towards people consuming wellness? Objectifying it into a commodity that you can purchase to attain?

Instagram is rife with it. The building blocks of consumerist culture.

Aspirational living is so on trend – as though that is the only direction one should choose.

Isn’t the modern obsession with attaining wellness just sprung from the mythscape of “I’m not enough”?

 

Stop Your Perfectionism

 

In my opinion, the aggressive expansion in wellness marketing drives obsession, perfectionism, neurosis and the undermining of self-esteem.

In the quest for ultimate wellness we see unhealthy obsessions with:

 

These obsessions also flood the internet with unreliable resources, and an ongoing lack of representation of diversity (age, body type, class, colour, style, life stage, ability).

We are perpetuating a myth of what wellness looks like. 

 

What Is Wellness? What Is NOT Wellness?

 

Let’s not be manipulated by all this imagery and marketing.

Wellness is not something that you consume.

Wellness is a state of being, and not always relating to your physical state of health. 

I love what Dr. Gabor Maté said recently on healing being a subversive act:

 

“… our work with people is about subverting their self-image as isolated, simply biological or simply psychological creatures, and helping them see the connections among their existence, the nature of the culture we live in, and the functioning of all of humanity.”

 

On what wellness is not, Dr Mate` also said:

 

“[We need to challenge] the idea that someone’s value is dependent on how well they fit into an abnormal, unhealthy culture. Ideally, as healers in the broadest sense, that’s what we should be doing.”

 

What is wellness?

What Is Wellness from a Chinese Medical Perspective?

 

Chinese Medicine has a concept of Yang Sheng, commonly translated as ‘Nourishing Life.’ 

The Chinese word “Yang” means to nurture, take care of, and nourish. “Sheng” means life, birth, growth and vitality.

Together, “Yang Sheng” means to nurture life or to cultivate health and vitality.

Yang Sheng is the practice of health cultivation/preservation by nurturing body, mind, heart and nature.

Yang Sheng is an accessible practice for ordinary people to cultivate health and harmony through daily activities – the micro-moments in which you choose what benefits you, and then what benefits others.

​Chinese medicine has always considered both the internal landscape and the external environment of a patient – the ways in which the patient participates and interacts in the world.

The cultivation of health, rather than simply the treatment of disease, is a major characteristic of Chinese medicine, strongly differentiating it from modern biomedicine.

 

The Many Ways to Nourish Your Life

 

Nourishing life is about nurturing yourself. This can occur over many aspects of your life.

Nourishing life could look like:

  • Saying no
  • Having pyjama days
  • Chewing your food
  • Watching comedy
  • Giving up on shit that’s not working
  • Shopping for your food
  • Making your own food
  • Spending time with music or the arts
  • Connecting with a community to support a cause you’re passionate about
  • Calling your mum
  • Spending time outdoors
  • Spending time with your family and friends
  • Having fun
  • Watching a sunrise/sunset
  • Having conscious sex
  • Getting good sleep
  • Knowing your limits
  • Playing with animals
  • Financially living within your means.

 

Abandon Perfection, Focus on Balance

 

Seriously, it’s time to stop striving for perfection.

Instead, focus on maintaining balance through an awareness of our connection to nature, to our own bodies, to our heart and to society. Yang Sheng is a powerful practice that can preserve and improve health when engaged in daily.

 

So, What Does Wellness Look Like For You?

 

Maybe take a moment and draw your own little map, keep it simple.

I’m not enough is pandemic in our society. Maybe it’s about what not to do. Be mindful of the endless, unattainable self-improvement list that is stemmed in an inability to accept who you are, as you are.

 

Getting Support for Restoring Wellness Through Balance

 

In the beginning of a holistic treatment process, you may need to apply some discipline to change habits and the corresponding dynamic in your body or behaviour. A practitioner (or, if accessible to you, your community) can support you through that.

Ideally, through that process you glean what you need to do. Your plan of action (or inaction) should be appropriate to your lifestyle, your needs, your stage of life and your capacity, so that you stay well. (Most of the time.)

You will still get sick.

You will still feel pain.

You will still experience difficult emotions.

Your heart will break again.

You will have significant traumatic events happen.

Life will always challenge you.

 

Wellness resides in your adaptability in response to challenge and in your resilience to get through it. 

 

 

Nourishing Blood with Chinese Medicine

Nourishing Blood with Chinese Medicine

Nourishing ‘Blood’ is a really important therapeutic strategy in Chinese Medicine.

This strategy you can take on for your own self-care to strengthen the effects of your treatment.  This will help you get where you want to be and  maintain it.

Nourishing ‘Blood’ is really important for women, as most women of menstruating age literally loose blood regularly.

 

What is ‘Blood’ in Chinese Medicine?

So what do we mean when we say Blood in Chinese Medicine? It can be very confusing. Let’s clear it up.

When we talk about Blood in Chinese Medicine, we don’t mean blood in the way you know it from a Western biomedical sense.

It’s the same with organs.

It’s a translation issue. Classically, the Chinese have a very precise way to describe the functional physiology of the human body. They have Chinese terms for it,  I would prefer to  call them by their original Chinese terms. But in Western translation we use Western words that unfortunately have already important associations – ie blood, organs.

 

Blood As A System, Not A Bodily Fluid

Chinese Medicine is systems medicine. We are looking at how various systems in your body function together to generate health but also how they behave in dysfunction.

‘Blood’ in Chineses Medicine primarily includes the functional relationship AND physiology of the:

  • digestive system
  • bone marrow
  • reproductive system
  • cardiovascular system
  • central nervous system
  • endocrine system
  • neuro-musculo-fascial planes.

It also includes:

  • nutritional status
  • tissue hydration
  • hormone and neurotransmitter balance.

Blood is a broad term that you can drill down into depending on what type of pathology you are experiencing.

Nourishing Blood in the human body

Why is Nourishing Blood Important?

When practitioners encourage you to ‘nourish your Blood’, we are talking about your ability to nourish yourself.  This is achieved through a proper digestive process, the building of sufficient material resources and the effective distribution of those resources.

 

Qi + Blood are always connected. Qi is Yang and Blood is Yin.

Qi moves the Blood, and Blood nourishes the organs that produce Qi.

Blood moistens and warms the body and its tissues. Areas that suffer from lack of Blood nourishment are cold and often painful.

Blood tends to get deficient or stagnant or a combination of both.

Blood  ‘anchors your Heart-Mind’. Adequate blood levels are really important for your mental health, cognitive function, emotional resilience and ability to fall asleep and stay asleep.

 

What Happens if You Don’t Have Nourished Blood?

Fatigue is the first and most obvious sign. You’ve pushed too hard and consumed your resources. Yin/Yang start to become unbalanced. Qi and Blood are consumed and need rebuilding.

Other signs of lack of Blood nourishment can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Emotional turbulence
  • Depression
  • Feeling faint when you stand up or dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Floaters in your eyes.
  • Poor memory
  • Cold limbs/hands and feet
  • Slow healing and recovery
  • Weak immune system
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Gynecological conditions
  • Absent periods
  • Pale complexion
  • Pale gums
  • Easily startled
  • Feeling weak.

 

How to Nourish Your Blood

  1. Eat food. Sounds basic but part of nourishing Blood is the willingness to be open to receive nourishment and to feed yourself well. Supplementation may be needed in Blood deficiency but you cannot build blood without eating.
  2. Improve your digestion. Improper digestion, inc absorption and assimilation can be the root cause of so many pathologies. How is your micro biome? Do you have leaky gut? Are you experiencing inflammation in the gut? Do you have an overgrowth of bacteria or parasites? Do you have adequate stomach acids and enzyme production? Has chronic stress impaired your digestive function? Do you have chronic bloating, constipation or diarrhoea? Even if you are making great choices with the food that you eat, if your digestion can’t break it down and absorb it, you may be malnourished. See the list below for Blood-nourishing foods. Acupuncture and Moxibustion are very effective in improving digestive function.
  3. Engage in adequate movement and rest. Exercise regularly, have an active lifestyle and know how to rest well, relax regularly, protect your leisure time and have good sleep hygiene.
  4. Replenish after blood loss. Such times include menstruation, postpartum, during breastfeeding and post-surgery.

 

Foods for Nourishing Blood

As Blood (in Chinese Medicine) is also made from bone marrow, bone broths and slow-cooked bone dishes are very effective at Blood nourishment. Protein and good fat in every main meal are essential for Blood building.

 

Excellent foods for nourishing Blood include:

Broths

  • Chicken soup
  • Beef bone broth
  • Lamb shanks
  • Osso Bucco
  • Kombu dashi (V)

 

Meats

  • Pate
  • Parfait
  • Offal and traditional dishes containing blood, eg blood sausage
  • Animal protein and good fats are highly effective at building blood. Any animal products should be hormone free, grass fed, free range and ethically treated.

 

Plants

  • Soaked goji berries
  • Chinese dates
  • Figs
  • Prunes
  • Cherries
  • Pomegranates
  • Dark leafy greens; kale, spinach, watercress, silverbeet, rucula
  • Nettles and nettle tea
  • Macro (seaweeds) and micro (spirulina, chlorophyll etc) algaes
  • Cereal grasses (wheat and barley grass)
Nourishing Blood - pomegranates

Cooking in a cast iron pot can be an easy way to increase your iron intake.

Chinese Medicine doesn’t advocate a vegetarian, vegan or raw food diet, especially for women. It most certainly advocates a wholefood, locally grown, organic diet where you eat seasonally. Any animal products should be hormone free, grass fed, free range and ethically treated.


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Cultivating Spirit – The Shen or Heart-Mind in Chinese Medicine

Shen or Heart Mind - cultivating Spirit

 

“Life is transformation. There is no life that is not an unceasing transformation.”

– Élisabeth Rochat de la Vallée

 

It’s the final month of our Winter here in the Southern Hemisphere. As we approach Spring we get closer to emerging from our Yin state and the building of Yang will initiate.

Yang is light, activity, movement, initiation, action, the doing. On a metaphysical, spiritual and cosmological level the most Yang manifestation of a human, the purest Yang aspect of our consciousness, is the Spirit or ‘Shen’.

Shen is translated as something which is divine, marvellous, extraordinary or mysterious. In recent times we call it the Heart-Mind. (more…)

The Power of Yin

Power of Yin

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. (more…)