Apr 13 2019
When you argue, are plates thrown? Do fists fly? Do you make killer statements that end the conversation? Are you sorry later for what you said? In the west, anger is often considered to be a dark and difficult emotion. We associate anger with negativity, violence and relationships gone awry. Often, we believe that by using positive thoughts and affirmations we can transcend anger and not have to go there. Perhaps we are missing something important. Anger can be a purposeful.
Anger is the force of change. It is the spark that drives all creative processes, include birth, growth, personal development, transformation in relationships and political change. Without the spark of anger, everything remains the same.
If you think that expressing anger only leads to hurt, you might have a point. When we become stuck in anger, we either implode and turn it inward upon ourselves, or we explode with rage and fury. Both implosion and explosion can be damaging to ourselves and those around us, because we haven’t successfully communicated our point of view or needs. Darkness falls upon us and all in our paths.
Anger can be a positive and creative force; it gives us the push we need to overcome the difficulties and obstacles in life. Personal growth, artistic processes, human rights battles, scientific innovations, and even work itself is often fueled by anger. It drives the artist or musician to work endlessly towards a vision. Difficult challenges and personal development require a certain amount of discomfort. For most of us, change that accompanies growth is inherently difficult.
The Chinese say, emotions should change like weather. Each of the five emotions – anger, joy, sympathy, sadness and fear are important to our health. Each emotion has upsides and downsides. Ideally, each emotion is a note within a song. Getting stuck on one note or emotion is problematic. Too much or too little of any emotion is a sign of imbalance.
Anger can be overwhelming. The person who is yelling all the time is stuck – anger shuts out other experiences. Conversely, the person who is always whispering can’t assert themselves or fight for what is important. In either case, anger can lead to frustration and ultimately into despair.
What value or purpose could anger have? In Chinese medicine, anger is both the source of and the force of change. When spring arrives, shoots sprout up from the ground and rapidly become plants. In Chinese mythology, when spring arrived the fish exploded from the water into the air to become a bird.
It is easy to to forget that we are living organisms just as much affected by the the season, weather and time of the day as other animals and plants are. We breathe, evolve and fight for survival just as other other creatures and life forms do. Five Element Acupuncture utilizes our connection with nature in treatment. The inherent role that seasons play in our health is considered when diagnosing and treating mental and physical maladies.
If there is inadequate rainfall in the spring, the dry earth produces a poor crop in the summer and a meager harvest in the fall. Each season plays a vital role in the earth’s cycle.
Each of the five elements correspond to a season and an emotion. Wood is one of the five elements that relates to the spring and also to anger. An excess or deficit of wood energy adversely affects the health of an individual and shows a wood imbalance. The Five Element Acupuncturist looks for and treats the source of this imbalance.
The wood element also corresponds to the liver and gallbladder meridians. In Chinese medicine, each meridian is related to a specific organ, but also relates to both mental and emotional function.
Physically, the liver meridian relates to the liver, but it also relates to the tendons and eyes. Emotionally, the liver relates to anger, or it’s absence. Mentally, the liver relates to strategic planning. When a person is unable to make plans and go forward in their lives, there is often a wood imbalance. Substance abuse overloads the liver’s capacity. People who abuse alcohol or drugs are often unable to make or keep plans.
There are important natural cycles that affect all life on this earth. Our emotions, hormonal changes and energetic patterns are affected by the changes that occur within each day, season and lifetime. Five Element Acupuncture utilizes our connection to these cycles by viewing symptoms within the context of our environment, history, relationships, work and to nature.
Ideally, each of us has a balance of all the elements: wood, fire, metal, water and earth. In Five Element acupuncture, we work to restore this balance and support the health of the body and also the mind and spirit.
Mar 12 2019
What makes a women’s body beautiful? How do the standards of beauty affect self image, identity and shape our sense of what is possible?
Nature and biology dictate the huge variety of shapes and sizes that women have. Culture defines and imposes a particular set of standards for what female beauty is.
These standards change, depending on the era and decade that one is born into. Women may have a sense of failure or a sense of success regarding their own beauty and their own particular physique.
Knowing one’s weight is a relatively new phenomenon. Bathroom scales were invented in the 1920’s. A voluptuous and well nourished figure was popular 25,000 years ago. For the past 8 generations, women have been encouraged to become progressively smaller. The 1980’s fostered extreme thinness as an ideal, and since then the culture has been creeping back to a more nourished ideal body type for worship.
Currently diversity in body types are beginning to be embraced.
Contemporary culture, media, art, the cosmetics, fashion and plastic surgery industry play a crucial role in our perception of what we consider to be attractive. It is no longer unusual to to see an ad for underwear featuring a group of vital healthy women representing the spectrum of sizes that women encompass. This sends a powerful message of inclusion pertaining to whatever size one is.
How do our biases about what is, versus what is not beautiful shape our opinions of and interactions with others?
As the culture sets the standards of what is beautiful, it also teaches us to evaluate how the women in our world measure up to this ideal. Our judgments may prevent us from really “seeing” the individual.
Now that the media is beginning to embrace a variety of body types as attractive, our vision and perception of beauty can shift. Perhaps this trend creates an opportunity for us to discover our own ideal of physical beauty rather than accepting the cultural norms.
When Rolfers look at a body they envision a structure which breathes fully, moves with ease and reflects the unique and wondrous being within. They gaze past the surface and visualize how the person in front of them would look minus the remnants of physical/ psychological injuries that drag them down and eke away at their self image.
Both emotional and physical stress can prematurely disable and age an otherwise healthy body. Physical manifestations of stress can be experienced as aches and pains, limited mobility, exhaustion and sometimes depression. Emotional trauma can also leave its mark on the body. Rolfers help their clients to process both the physical and emotional remnants of stress by removing the longstanding tensions and myofascial shortenings that have taken residence in the structure. Both the body and the person inside have the opportunity to change.
A beautiful body is one that is fully alive and expresses the essence of the person within. While Rolfers are working directly with the connective tissue on a structural level they are also striving to bring out the beauty in each person they work with. Maybe it’s the industrial standard of beauty that prevents us from celebrating each person’s magnificence. Perhaps our differences are what make us truly beautiful. 2019 is the year for us to begin redefining what is a beautiful body.
Jan 25 2019
The Gongfu tea service is an ancient Chinese tea ceremony designed to help you leave your cares behind, and celebrate the present moment. There are many steps involving both the tea master and tea drinker that are performed to sharpen the senses and cultivate awareness.
Chaozhou, a city in the Guangdong Province of China is the home of the Gong Fu tea ceremony. The Gongfu tea ceremony like the martial art Tai Chi share the same intent; both involve art, skill and effort. While both disciplines are highly ritualized and physical, they are each ultimately a spiritual practice.
The Gongfu tea ritual provides an opportunity for the tea master to develop artfulness and grace, while performing a relatively simple and seemingly mundane activity. The tea guest is invited to do the same. While slowing down and focusing our attention, we attune to our senses and to ourselves. As we enjoy the present moment, we become aware of life’s subtleties and the richness that is always available to us.
Gongfu means “making tea with skill.” The intention is to produce a brew that tastes good and is satisfying to the soul.
The tea master prepares the tea tray with a gaiwan (tea bowl), lid, teacups (one ounce), friendship (small pitcher), tea holder, tongs and tea cloth. A kettle with hot water is kept near by. The tea master determines the optimal temperature for the water depending on the type of tea. The tea tray has wooden slats that allow discarded water to drain and collect underneath in a hidden container. The ritual involves multiple infusions of the same tea within a small teapot.
Once the tea tray has been prepared, the tea is measured. Most often, oolong tea is served although pu erh and some black teas are sometimes used in Gongfu ceremony. Each guest is given the opportunity to check the fragrance and appearance of the tea leaves. The tea set is heated by spilling hot water over each vessel, and allowing the water to overflow into the tray.
Each infusion is a bit longer than the previous one and has a slightly different fragrance, flavor and color. Multiple infusions stimulate the senses differently in appearance and intensity.
Some notable aspects about Gongfu is that the tea master uses tongs to serve the cups of tea. Also, Gongfu tea is unusually strong! Each serving is less than one ounce. A little goes a long way.
The Chinese speak of “cha qi” meaning “tea energy.” Cultivating awareness in movement and the practice of making the best tea is believed to endow a person with a good moral character.
During February 2019 the Chinese New Year, the year of the Pig is celebrated. It is believed to be a year of fortune and luck. Let’s drink to that!
Teas vary as much in appearance as the different faces of men – Hui Tsung
Nov 24 2018
Extreme fitness has become increasingly popular in our culture. Crossfit and Bootcamp classes are designed to push us beyond our limits and prepare us for an Armageddon like disaster. Sledgehammers, kettle bells, heavy weights, martial arts and sprinting with backpacks full of rocks are often activities that are on the menu. Exercise protocols often borrow heavily from training programs for the Navy Seals and other military organizations.
The credo of extreme fitness is that we should all be ready at any moment to face danger, be it fire, tsunami or terrorism. With a gladiator body, you are ready to face anything. Images of hard, chiseled bodies beckon us to join the culture of fitness. They have come to represent an elite team of athletes that anyone can join with hard work and dedication.
Our posture and body alignment can be shaped by the exercises we do.
Here’s what happens with extreme exercise: As muscles become bulkier, they shorten. That’s why serious bodybuilders often become muscle bound. Their bodies become more compressed forfeiting length for the strength.
Exercising to create a six pack belly is a surefire recipe for shortening the muscle and fascia (myofascia) of the belly, waistline and ultimately, the overall structure. Crunches and leg lifts not only reduce the length of the rectus abdominis, they also shorten the hip flexor or psoas muscle. As the abdominal and hip flexor muscles become shortened, the height of the waistline is reduced and the lumbar spine becomes compressed. This distortion of the structure inevitably leads to back pain.
Over time, flexibility diminishes. As the muscles and their fascial wrappings shorten movement becomes labored and efficiency is lost. Many people exercise to improve their appearance. Ironically, extreme fitness yields a shorter stockier structure.
As the body shortens it loses organization around the vertical line. Length helps you to stay more organized around a vertical axis. This length is available to everyone, whether you are short or tall, thin or full figured.
Rolfers aspire to help you become as vertical as possible within the gravity field.Since humans are bipeds they are uniquely challenged to develop a harmonious relationship with gravity.
How then can we cultivate length in our bodies?
Hatha yoga is a form of exercise that helps you maintain length and flexibility. Yoga asanas both stretch and strengthen your muscles while cultivating alignment around the vertical axis. Tai Chi and Chi gong are also practices that promote strength, flexibility, verticality and inner peace.
The Rolfing Technique of Structural Integration releases chronic shortenings within the myofascial network. As the tensions become more equal throughout the body, the structure moves towards length and symmetry. This balance within the structure makes for highly efficient, graceful, elegant body, a beautiful body.
Nov 2 2018
Almost everyone suffers from low back pain at some point in their lifetime. There are many types of back problems ranging from stiffness and muscle spasm to nerve pain that can radiate into the foot. Low back pain can simply be due to poor sitting or working posture. It can also result from the degeneration of lumbar discs or spinal vertebrae. Whether you have minor discomfort or suffer miserably, acupuncture can make a huge difference in the prevention and treatment of low back pain.
Diagnostic tests (CAT, MRI) are sometimes useful, yet they often miss important information that can only be obtained during a thorough interview and physical examination.
Low cost, non invasive diagnostics are vital to the effectiveness of acupuncture treatment. Skillful observation is a priceless component needed to understand back pain.
While each acupuncturist works differently, there are a few keys to successful treatment.
To treat a problem we need to fully understand the problem.
- How did it start? What activities make the problem worse? Are there positions or movements that reduce the symptoms?
- Range of Motion (ROM) measurements of the low back, neck, hip and shoulders show where mobility is limited and whether specific types of movement increase pain.
- Observation of the patient’s sitting posture, the transition from sit to stand, standing posture and gait pattern demonstrates much about an individual’s tension patterns and habitual movement.
- Alignment of the foot, pelvis and recognition of structural asymmetries also provide vital information pertaining to the origins of a particular person’s back pain. For example, people with fallen arches miss the shock absorption that well functioning feet provide for the low back.
- Palpation reveals tenderness, pain and soft tissues that are excessively firm or immobile. In many cases, back pain is related to a low back, diaphragm or psoas muscle spasm.
- Chinese pulse can point to energetic blocks (energetic conflicts) reflecting the health of each meridian. Acupuncture releases these blocks and strengthens the constitution.
Each finding provides valuable clues for the acupuncturist to uncover the etiology of a patient’s back pain and to monitor progress. Acupuncture utilizes energetic pathways to speak to the underpinnings of limited motion, spasm, structural imbalances and spinal compression. By doing this acupuncture creates an opening for misaligned structures and compromised movement patterns to shift toward greater balance. This is a noninvasive and gentle approach that promotes healing.
The hallmarks of a good treatment include, but are not limited to the relief of back pain. By removing energetic blocks, releasing tender areas, restoring mobility, balancing the structure and supporting the client’s unique constitution the whole person moves towards balance. Acupuncture can do all of this by restoring healthy energetic patterns. Symptom oriented treatments often miss underlying causes of problems. By looking carefully at the whole person and exploring their problems in depth, treatment proceeds with insight and understanding.
Contribution of Robin Mckenzie to Understanding and Treating Low Back Pain