Chinese New Year & The Chinese Zodiac

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Chinese New Year

The celebration of the New Year is the longest, most important and most anticipated Chinese holiday. The Chinese New Year is celebrated by an estimated one-sixth of the population or one billion people! Because it is traditionally a holiday spent with family, the coming New Year causes an enormous number of people to travel to be with loved ones and has been called the largest annual human migration in the world. The traditional holiday period is 23 days long and is called the Spring Festival. it is broken up into three parts. The first eight days are called Little Year. This is when the preparations for the New Year begin and go until New Year's Eve. Chinese New Year officially begins on the ninth day and runs for the next ten days, for eleven days in total. This is officially called the Spring Festival. The last four days are called the Lantern Festival. Preparations begin on the first day and the Lantern Festival is held on the last day. Below is a chart to help you visualize it.

 


Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels

The Lunar Calendar

The date for the Chinese New Year varies each year because the Chinese Zodiac system is based on the Chinese Lunar Calendar and not the solar or Gregorian calendar that is used in the West and internationally. Using the lunar calendar, the first day of the month begins on the new moon. Chinese New Year's day is the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar. This is why the specific date of the Chinese New Year changes every year but is always between January 21st and February 20th.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels

The 12 Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

There are twelve animals in the Chinese zodiac and they go in a specific order. Every New Year it signifies the movement to the next animal in the cycle. The really interesting thing is that each animal year has lots of personality traits associated with it, and people born in that year are seen to be imbued with those particular traits.

What's Your Zodiac Sign?

The year you were born determines your Chinese zodiac sign, but, because it is based on the lunar calendar and not the solar, or gregorian calendar. People born in January or February have to pay special attention to their birth date as well as the year to make sure they get their Chinese zodiac sign correct as the exact date of the transition between animals varies every year. Here are the animals in the Chinese zodiac in order, starting with the year of the rat.

RAT - OX - TIGER- RABBIT - DRAGON - SNAKE - HORSE - GOAT - MONKEY - ROOSTER - DOG - PIG

Rat

People born in the year of the rat are highly organized and love saving money and collecting beautiful things. They are very discerning with the people they spend their time with. Rats don't like to be the centre of attention but are highly observant and very sensitive.

Ox

People born in the year of the ox are strong, quiet and very hard working. They have a strong sense of responsibility, and will always get the job done. They keep their emotions (and most other things) to themselves. If they run into difficulties, they always persevere. They don't lose their temper often but when they do, it is explosive.

Tiger

People born in the year of the tiger are highly protective, independent and are natural-born leaders. Justice is important to them and they are not afraid to fight to get it. In Chinese culture, tigers are believed to be the guardians of children so children often wear clothing, hats and shoes with tiger designs for protection.

Rabbit

People born in the year of the rabbit are gentle and kind. They are responsible and have great attention to detail. They are intelligent and excellent with their hands, making them excellent artists, craftsmen, builders and chefs. In Chinese culture, the rabbit represents the moon.

Dragon

The dragon is the only mythical creature in the Chinese zodiac. People born in the year of the dragon are mysterious and majestic. They are full of personality and love lives full of adventure. They are natural leaders and very charismatic. They will never lead a boring life. They are extremely ambitious and achieve great things. Dragons are a very revered creature in Chinese culture and represent royalty. Emperors were often seen as the reincarnation of dragons.

Snake

People born in the year of the snake are determined and devoted. They are rational, calm and thoughtful. They love solving complex problems and have many talents allowing them to be able to choose many different professions. Snakes are graceful and are loyal to all the people in their lives.

Horse

People born in the year of the horse are strong, powerful and elegant. They have great strength and enthusiasm. They love their freedom and have a strong sense of adventure. Horses are intelligent and quick-witted making them suitable for fast-paced professions as they can think on their feet and adapt to change.

Goat

People born in the year of the goat are loving, kind and gentle. They are lovers of animals, children and nature. They love to care for others because they are thoughtful and good-natured. They have many friends as they are great listeners and always understanding and kind.

Monkey

People born in the year of the monkey are highly intelligent, clever and adventurous. They are creative thinkers, have many interests and excel in many areas. They tend to be tricksters, but are good-natured. they are very sociable and humourous and are well-liked by their many friends. They make excellent leaders.

Rooster

People born in the year of the rooster are magnetic, confident and high energy. They love being the centre of attention and are charismatic, very sociable and successful. Roosters are intelligent, and organized, resourceful and courageous, they will lead an exciting life.

Dog

People born in the year of the dog are loyal, honest and kind. Because of their intense loyalty, they love to serve others. Warm-hearted, sensitive and generous, they always have many people around them who love them. They are dependable, intelligent and resilient, making them great friends and allies.

Pig

People born in the year of the pig are intelligent, generous and helpful. Sincere, romantic and generous, they have a laid back attitude and don't let things get to them. They are able to see the big picture and not get caught up in the details. They are calm and collected and are great at settling disputes.

RAT - OX - TIGER- RABBIT - DRAGON - SNAKE - HORSE - GOAT - MONKEY - ROOSTER - DOG - PIG


This cute image from cafeastrology.com

Being In Your Animal Year or Ben Ming Nian

Being in your birth year, or Ben Ming Nian in the Chinese zodiac happens every twelve years. You would think that when your animal rolls around that it would be a good thing, because it is YOUR animal so it must signify all kinds of good things for you, right?

Unfortunately, the opposite is true. It is considered a year that you have to be especially careful and where you are most predisposed to attacks from evil spirits and general misfortune. Good news though, something you can do to ward off any bad luck or calamity during your year is to wear red underwear every day. Yup, every day...

So why is it that being in your animal year is considered to be such bad luck? According to Chinese astrology, people in their animal year are believed to offend the 'God of Age' Tai Sui. Tai Sui is called a star, but is not in fact a star but roughly corresponds to Jupiter. Jupiter takes 11.86 years to orbit the earth and is an imaginary star that changes its position exactly 30 degrees each year, which means it orbits the earth exactly every twelve years.

The 'star' Tai Sui is said to bring back luck and misfortune to people in the zodiac year of the animal in which they were born. For example, if you were born in the year of the rat and you are presently in a rat year, you may be in for a rough year. Tai Sui eventually evolved into the God of Age and has been worshipped by many generations of Chinese. People offer the God of Age sacrifices to keep themselves safe from bad luck and offer blessings in their zodiac year. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can fend off bad luck in your zodiac year.

Getting Good Luck in Your Animal Year

Wear Red

Red is one of the luckiest colours in Chinese culture and is seen to ward off evil spirits and drive away bad luck. Red symbolizes prosperity, success, loyalty and happiness. Wearing red items like clothing, shoes, belts or socks in your animal year will bring you good luck and give you a better chance of having a good year. Red clothing will bring luck, but red underwear seems to really amplify red's luck producing effects. There is an important rule though to make sure that wearing red will have the desired effects - the red items (and especially the underwear) must NOT be bought by you, it must be bought by someone close to you like your spouse, family member or friend.


Photo by Castorly Stock on Pexels

Wear Jade

Wearing jade accessories like jewellery during your animal year is also seen to ward off evil spirits and encourage good luck.

Facing Away From Tai Sui

Because Tai Sui is seen to change position by 30 degrees every year, Chinese astrologers say that if you simply face away from the direction Tai Sui is presently occupying you can not only ward off bad luck, but you can bring good luck by simply facing in the opposite direction. Some Chinese take this seriously changing the position of furniture in their homes and sometimes where they live and work so they can be facing away from the God of Age and preserve their good luck for the entire year.

Origins of the Chinese Zodiac

The Chinese Zodiac or Sheng Xiao (生肖) is thought to have its origins in animal worship and dates back to the Qing dynasty, more than 200 years ago.

Legend has it that the creation of the Chinese zodiac comes from the Jade Emperor. The Jade Emperor is one of the most important deities in Chinese mythology. He is the ruler of heaven and the first emperor of China. He was renowned for his fairness, benevolence and mercy. Even in the present day, the Jade Emperor plays a significant role in Chinese life, especially during the New Year when the Jade Emperor is said to judge the character of each individual over the past year and reward or punish them accordingly.

The legend has it that the Jade Emperor summoned all the animals to his palace for a great feast, and they order in which they arrived determined their place in the zodiac.

The Chinese zodiac is extremely popular in China and the rest of Asia to this day and is an integral part of everyday life. The zodiac is used to determine what will happen during the year ahead, relationship compatibility, career and financial advice, the best time to have a baby and many aspects of daily life.

 

*Featured image by Min An on Pexels


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Welcome To The Year of the Ox!

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

The Chinese New Year arrives on February 12th this year. The celebration of the Chinese New Year is called the Spring Festival and is the longest and most anticipated Chinese holiday. It is also celebrated by an estimated one-sixth of the world's population or one billion people! The traditional holiday period for the Spring festival is 23 days and is broken up into 3 parts. The first 8 days, this year from February 4th to the 11th is called Little Year. This is when preparations for the New Year begin and go until New Year's eve. Chinese New Year officially begins on February 12th and ends on February 22nd. This is the Spring Festival. And the last four days, this year February 23 to the 26th are called the Lantern Festival. Preparations begin on the 23rd and the lantern festival is held on February 26th.

Chinese Lantern Festival takes place on February 26th in 2021.
Photo by Leon Contreras on Unsplash

Lunar Calendar

The date for the Chinese new year varies each year because it is based on a lunar calendar and not the gregorian calendar that we use in the West. Using the lunar calendar, the first day of the month begins on the new moon. This is why Chinese new year falls on a different day each year.

Chinese New Year - February 12, 2021

The Twelve Animals of the Chinese Zodiac

Each Chinese New Year is associated with an animal. There are twelve animals in total and they go in a specific order and repeat every twelve years in a continuous cycle. 2021 is the year of the ox, which is the second animal in the zodiac. Each of the years also has an element associated with it. There are five elements and they are fire, earth, metal, water and wood. 2021 is the year of the metal ox.

Ox Years: 1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021

Here are the animals in the Chinese zodiac listed in order with their corresponding year.


This image from cafeastrology.com


The Ox Personality

People born in the Year of the Ox are hard-working, loyal, trustworthy and conscientious. They are also reliable, methodical, fair and inspire confidence in others. As a result of these traits, they make friends easily and keep them for the long term. They are usually quiet and say little, but have strong opinions. They believe strongly in themselves but are also stubborn and hate to fail or be challenged. They usually have a great deal of common sense and intelligence. They are hard workers but never want praise or to be in the spotlight. In Chinese culture, the ox is a highly valued animal because of its work in agriculture. The twelve animals were chosen because of their importance to the people and the way they benefited their lives. Below are some of the personality traits of people born in the year of the ox.

  • strong
  • reliable
  • fair
  • conscientious
  • calm
  • patient
  • methodical
  • trustworthy
  • intelligent
  • loyal
  • quiet
  • serious
  • positive
  • grounded
  • workaholics
  • inspire confidence in others
  • opinionated
  • stubborn
  • hate to fail
  • don't like being challenged

According to astrologers, the year of the ox denotes hard work, positivity and honesty and these are the qualities that will manifest in all of us over the next twelve months.

Compatability

Most Compatible with Ox

Most compatible with Ox are Rat, Snake and Rooster.

Least Compatible with Ox

Goat, Horse and Dog.

Lucky Things for Oxen

Colours: Blue | Green | Yellow
Numbers: 1 & 4
Flowers: Lucky Bamboo | Lily of the Valley

Unlucky Things

Colours: Brown | Red
Numbers 3 & 6

What Animal Are You?

Check the chart below and find out your Chinese animal...

This image from changechecker.org

Featured image is by Photo by V Srinivasan on Unsplash


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Emergency Treatment of Cardiac Arrest

By Luke Douglas

Dealing with a heart condition is one of the most difficult things in the world – for the doctors, for the patients, and their families. This is why avoiding any potential problems and minimizing the chances of heart failure in the first place is so important. However, in case something does end up happening and you might be forced to be admitted to a hospital, you’ll need to undergo emergency treatment. What does this treatment include in case of cardiac arrests, is there something you can do yourself, and what does the outcome look like?

No warning

The biggest problem each one of us faces when it comes to cardiac arrest is the fact that it can occur with no previous warning at all. You may be focused on your everyday activities, relaxing at your own home, or walking to your favorite store – and suddenly start experiencing the symptoms of cardiac arrest. That’s when you’ll probably either lose your responsiveness, start having problems breathing, or temporarily lose your consciousness.

Some of the other symptoms of cardiac arrest include the feeling of discomfort in your chest, sudden weakness, or an elevated heart rate. Feeling these things will probably scare you, and that’s quite normal and expected, but what you shouldn’t do is panic and lose your cool. If that happens, though, the symptoms will probably get even worse and you’ll start feeling even less comfortable because of that. Therefore, try to remain calm, think happy thoughts, and be patient because help is surely on the way.

Treating cardiac arrest

Whether it’s you, someone you know, or a person you’ve never met in your life, as soon as you notice something’s wrong, you need to react. Calling for help is the first thing you should do, especially if you’re home alone or with someone you can’t seem to help on your own. Once the medical professionals arrive at the scene, they’ll do some tests and check if you’re dealing with cardiac arrest or something else.

Still, before they arrive, there’s a simple technique you can perform and make a huge difference in the outcome.

CPR is a combination of chest compressions and rescue breathing you can perform on another person and possibly save their life. In case that doesn’t seem to work, the emergency medical team will take the patient to a hospital where the doctors will use defibrillation. This is a procedure that uses a defibrillator to issue electric shocks in the patient’s chest, trying to help the heart start beating on its own once again.

Getting certified

If someone in your family – from your partners and your parents to your children or your cousins – is struggling with cardiac arrest and experiences problems every once in a while, taking things to a new level is the best way to go. This means getting certified and learning how to deal with this problem professionally and effectively that won’t just minimize the consequences of cardiac arrest, but actually help the patient feel better than ever.

One of the ideas you could explore is taking an Advanced Cardiac Life Support course and learning all the tips and tricks that will allow you to help different people at the same time. The course you’ll take and the certification you’ll get will make you an expert in this field, which will, in turn, mean the people in your life struggling with cardiac arrest have nothing to worry about in the future.

Help yourself

Another huge issue with cardiac arrest is not being able to rely on someone else to help you. If you’re living alone or simply happen to be alone once you start feeling the aforementioned symptoms, you may get frightened and not know what to do. That’s why you need to learn a few techniques that will help you remain calm and start feeling better – at least until someone comes back home or the ambulance arrives your way.

One of the most popular solutions you can find online is the so-called cough CPR, but you need to keep in mind that this procedure isn’t the safest and most effective in the world. On the contrary, it could lead you to further issues and delay medical help that could save your life. Instead, what you need to do is take a minute, relax, sit down, and take a dose of glyceryl trinitrate. These come in tablets and spray, and could effectively prevent further damage to your heart. After you do that, you need to wait five or six minutes and repeat the process in case you remain feeling breathless.

In the end, no matter what happens, remember to call for help because cardiac arrest is a serious matter that should be treated by professionals. Still, if you know how to react and what to do, you’ll be able to save someone’s life, and that’s all that matters!


Luke is a lifestyle blogger. He is editor in chief at blog Ripped.me and one of the contributors at blog Trans4Mind. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
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Chinese Medicine To Support Sensible Weight Loss

By Sally Perkins

According to the CDC, around three-quarters of all American adults are overweight. With around two-thirds of these trying to change their eating habits and lose a few pounds, it’s no surprise that weight loss plans and programs are big business, with a huge range of suggestions and options touted as providing miraculous results – some with more success than others. Chinese medicine offers the opportunity for mindful, realistic and sustained weight loss, so if you’re looking for a sensible solution for an ongoing, healthy lifestyle, here are some changes you could consider making.

Food and Functionality

Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on many principles relating to food consumption, metabolism and digestion which can aid weight loss and improve your relationship with eating. Excessive weight gain is thought to relate to the accumulation of ‘dampness’ – a condition that occurs when food intake, absorption, digestion and transportation are not balanced. Take the festive season as an example – if you eat too much, or consume food higher in fat, your spleen and stomach will struggle to transform your food, and any excess will be left sitting stationary, leading to an accumulation of dampness.

Elimination of dampness is the main tenet of traditional Chinese weight loss programs, and there are a number of ways to achieve this. According to the guidelines, cultivating a diet of bitter, sour and pungent foods can aid with achieving a healthy body shape, and help you avoid fluctuating weight that can have an impact on your mood, wellbeing and budget – having to invest in different clothes of different sizes gets expensive, and has a negative impact on the environment too. Whether you’re ensuring your favorite bikini will fit exactly come the summer, aiming to eliminate health conditions exacerbated by weight, or simply want to adopt a more mindful lifestyle, changing the way you eat can make a real difference.

Antioxidant Assistance

Many Chinese people drink tea every day, and it is thought to have a number of health benefits. Polyphenols are an antioxidant found in tea and may help to maintain a healthy metabolism whilst you lose weight, repairing cells and easing digestive issues. Green tea, Jiaogulan tea and Oolong all have a soothing flavor and a good level of antioxidants, and just one cup a day is enough to make a difference – something that can be easily incorporated into most daily routines. There are also various herbs known to support weight loss by suppressing appetite, burning fat, and boosting metabolism. He Ye (lotus leaf), Fu Ling and Huang Qi are some of the most well-known, but there are others that may also be suitable, depending on your lifestyle, goals and commitment to weight loss. Consulting a Chinese medicine practitioner can help you to tailor an individual treatment plan based on your personal needs.


Photo by Kristaps Ungurs on Unsplash

Changing the way you eat and drink and supplementing with appropriate herbs is not just about losing weight; it’s about improving your overall wellbeing and health as well. Making one or two small changes at a time can support you to develop positive food habits that’ll balance your body and leave you feeling fit and functional – as well as helping you to stay that way.


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Essential Oils Still Favored By Modern-Day Chinese Medicine Practitioners

By Sally Perkins

The use of essential oils continues to skyrocket in popularity, with an increasing number of people embracing the power of these oils to not only address various health concerns but improve general well-being as well. While the effectiveness of essential oils is still often questioned, they have been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with great success. Even today, Chinese medicine practitioners make use of various essential oils when administering acupuncture, aromatherapy, and other treatments.

Essential oils have a long history

Essential oils are representative of the essence (jing) of plants and have been used in Chinese medicine for over 2,000 years. According to ancient belief, essential oils can impact the physical, mental and spiritual realms of the body, as the jing of the plants resonate with the body’s own jing. When used in TCM, essential oils can impact an individual in one of five ways. They can aid in healing and relaxation. They can boost healing in non-healing wounds. They can enhance nobility and improve self-esteem, and they can be conducive to a milder temperament.


Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

The applications are varied

The use of essential oils in Chinese medicine is very diverse. Topical application is used during cranial-sacral work to address a range of health concerns. Essential oil is also commonly placed on various acupuncture points to affect the nerves, blood, or lymphatic system of the body. Additionally, a range of essential oils can also be used to increase the effectiveness of a Tuina massage. In recent times, the use of candles scented with essential oils has also become increasingly popular among Chinese medicine practitioners. Scented candles not only help create a therapeutic atmosphere but can also help address a range of concerns, including unhealthy food cravings. Burning a candle that boasts a scent with hints of vanilla can, for example, make it much easier to stop snacking on sugary treats, contributing towards healthy body weight and improved overall health.


Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

Lavender oil is a popular choice

Although there is a wide variety of essential oils utilized in Chinese medicine, lavender oil is among the most popular. One of its primary functions is to promote the smooth flow of liver Qi, while also calming the Shen and cleansing it of heat. As a Yin nourisher, lavender essential oil can calm the mind and help protect the heart. It is known to ease depression, reduce stress levels, and even neutralize a frantic state of mind. Lavender oil is often used with great success to alleviate headache-causing tension, reduce the prevalence of inflammation in the body, and ward off various viral and bacterial infections. Other essential oils that are very commonly used in various applications of Chinese medicine include geranium, lemongrass and bergamot.

Essential oils have been used extensively in Chinese medicine for centuries. With all the potential benefits they boast, it is no surprise that the Western world has also started to embrace the power of essential oils in recent times.


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Winter Tea – An Add On To The Festive Season

Tea is a wonderful beverage that fills the heart with love and our homes with smiles. The warmth of a steaming, aromatic and delicious cup of tea can make your day! Tea is an evergreen drink and can be enjoyed by everyone irrespective of their culture, place, occasions or seasons. Thus, it isn't wrong to say that a hot mug of tasty tea can be a cosy friend in the misty winter season!

The tea that we consume in the winter season is normally referred to as Winter tea. Winter tea is filled with dozens of flavours that will add an extra layer of warmth to your cold, dull and dark winters. Tea for the winter season enhances the festive mood and spreads all over happiness. As this tea is consumed hot, it balances the low temperature of the winter season and makes you feel homely. During the winter, our body is set at a lower temperature but drinking winter tea increases our immune system and makes us fit as well as healthy. Indian Chai is loaded with lots of health benefits and is a prime tea for winter.

Best Winter Tea

The list of teas for winter contains main types, although you can choose the one which brings you heavenly happiness. Teas for winter are numerous but the best winter teas are as follows.

1. Normal Tea

This tea can also be called Indian Chai. This tea is made out of Camellia Sinensis, a plant cultivated in regions of Assam. This Winter tea has strong and unique flavors and contains lots of antioxidants. It has plenty of nutrients and is also used as a remedy for fever, cough and is considered a top winter immunity tea.

2. Spice tea

This is one of the healthy teas for winter as it is free from caffeine. This tea is packed with lots of medicinal properties. All spices used in tea have their own special characteristics, taste and aroma. Let's have a look at the list of spices.
·   Turmeric
·   Black Pepper
·   Cloves
·   Ginger
·   Mint

3. London Fog Tea

This is another best tea for winter which is filled with delicious chocolate flavors. The tea is made by combining earl grey tea powder with some steamed milk. For making tea sweet and chocolaty vanilla syrup and lavender extract is added. The fog on the tea is because of frothed milk. This tea is considered as luxurious also it relaxes your mood and makes you feel fresh.

4. Ashwagandha Tea

Ashwagandha is one of the ancient and medicinal herbs. It is used as a remedy for anxiety and male fertility. Having this tea in winter keeps our immune system balanced and helps with blood circulation. The tea is made from a small woody plant of yellow colour, and has a pungent and creamy taste.

5. Lemon Tea

This tea for winter is a low in sugar, low-calorie beverage and one of the finest winter immunity teas. Due to its medicinal qualities, it is also a herbal tea. This winter tea contains citric acid and is used as a recovery agent for kidney stones, and aids weight loss. It has a slightly pungent flavor and can be enjoyed with honey.


Photo by Anda Ambrosini on Unsplash

Winter Green Tea

Tea for Winter come in various types such as oolong tea, black tea, white tea, green tea, and ayurvedic tea. Green tea is a type of tea which is made out of Camellia Sinensis leaves but doesn't go under the process of oxidation. They are rich in nutrients, fiber, proteins and considered as one of the healthiest winter immunity teas. Some of the winter green teas are listed below.

1. Jasmine Tea

This is one of the winter green teas made with a combination of leaves and jasmine blossoms. This tea is rich in antioxidants and is used to cure severe illnesses and also is the best remedy for weight loss. It has a slightly sweet aroma and delicate flavors.

2. Mango Leaf Tea

This tea is used as a refreshing element as it enhances mood and makes us feel relaxed. It contains nutrients such as vitamin C, fiber, and iron. It is used as a recovery agent for diabetes and menstrual pains.

3. Tulsi Tea

Tulsi is stated as the ‘Queen of Herbs’ and has been a widely used herb since ancient times. The tea is made of tulsi leaves which have a peppery flavor. Also, this plant gives relief from tension, asthma,
cough, and fever.

4. Hibiscus Tea

The flower and other parts of the hibiscus plant contain medicinal properties and are used as a remedy in pregnancy, for menstrual pains, hair loss and skin problems. The fruity acid in the tea kills bacterias in the body. It has a slightly tart flavor.


Photo by Marisa Harris on Unsplash

Benefits of Winter Tea

·   Infuses our immune system and makes us fit
·   Improves concentration, focus and helps the brain to function properly
·   Generates heat and keeps us warm during winters
·   Reduces the risk of high blood pressure and heart attack
·   This tea improves mood and kills depression
·   Best remedy for weight loss
·   It fights against bacteria and protects the body from germs, and viruses
·   This tea can be easily included in our diet
·   It promotes good digestion

Recipe for making winter tea

The recipe for making winter tea is not rocket science and a very simple and easy process. All you need is make yourself comfortable and enjoy this delicious recipe of winter tea.

Ingredients
·   Water
·   Winter Tea Powder (you can switch to your favorite tea)
·   Milk (optional)
·   Sugar (optional)

Utensils
·   Teapot or Saucepan
·   Cup

Time Required – 10 minutes approx.

Procedure to prepare the tea
·   Put water and tea powder together in a pan
·   Start boiling the mixture
·   At boiling stage add milk and sugar (if required) and let it boil for few more minutes
·   Now turn the heat off and strain the tea into cups
·   Serve hot with delicious add ons

Chef notes
·   Add honey instead of sugar to make it sweet as well as healthy
·   You can also add cinnamon powder or maple syrup

Points to remember
· On a daily basis, only 2 to 3 cups can be consumed

What time should winter tea be consumed?

After reading the first half of the article all of you might be having a common question – what time should winter tea be consumed?
This question has a very simple answer, the best time for consuming winter tea is:
·       In the morning as soon as you wake up
·       After your breakfast
·       In the evening from around 4pm to 7pm
·       Before going to bed

Thus the best time for consuming winter tea is totally a subjective matter and can differ from person to person. The only thing common to all is that winter tea gives ultimate satisfaction and bliss to every person consuming it!


Photo by CandyChain on Unsplash

Add on snacks to winter tea

Even though tea is a complete beverage in itself, we sometimes require some additional snacks to make our tea time more delicious and amazing!! Here we present you some wonderful add on snacks to make our tea table look fabulous.
·   Tea can be complemented with namkeen snacks such as bakarwadi, pakora, chivda, sav, chips
·   Sweets such as jalebi, soan papdi, laddu, gulab jamun can be served
·   Diwali snacks can also be added to our tea table
·   Christmas and New Year cakes or pastries can be enjoyed with tea
·   Biscuits or milk toasts can also be consumed with tea

The Bottom Line

We conclude by stating that winter tea is not just tasty and delicious but it is also healthy. All you loving people out there make yourself feel happy with this cup of tea that ‘TeaSwan’ have specially created for this chilly season.

Experience the heavenly feel by having a hot mug of winter tea and enjoy the beautiful winter season!


Featured image photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash


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5 Tips for Athletes to Thrive on a Plant-Based Diet

By Luke Douglas

Over the years, vegan and plant-based diets and lifestyles have become extremely popular around the world. Naturally, this is a good thing for Mother Earth as well as our general well-being, so if you’re contemplating making this transition, rest assured you’re not in the wrong. That said, it’s important to note that sustaining a vegan lifestyle or simply a plant-based diet can be difficult at times, and if you’re a novice, it can seem completely overwhelming. Especially if you’re an active individual who cares a great deal about their nutrition.

After all, you’re eating to fuel your body and your mind in training and perform at your best, so you need the nutrition approach to match your goals. Without a doubt, a plant-based diet fits well into an athlete’s lifestyle, but only if you know that you’re doing. Let’s take a look at the five tips that will help you thrive on a plant-based diet as an athlete.

Mind your caloric intake

First things first, before we get into macro and micronutrients, we need to address the overarching question of calories. As an athlete, you probably know that calories are the predominant factor that influences your figure and performance. While it is true that not all calories are created equal, it’s also true that fueling your body with the right number of calories daily is paramount for peak performance.

Eat too much, and you will gain unwanted weight. Eat too little, and your precious muscle will start deteriorating and you will lose weight. Now, it’s important to keep in mind that a plant-based diet can often be low in calories, whereas meats, dairy, and eggs are calorie-dense.

Don’t let this catch you off-guard, and keep in mind that you will need to eat more food on a plant-based diet to compensate and get enough calories in daily. If you’re unsure how many calories you need, you can refer to Mayo Clinic’s handy calorie calculator

Understand complete vs incomplete proteins

Photo by Marta Branco from Pexels

Protein intake is one of the most important factors that will determine your performance and progress as an athlete. Not only is protein an excellent source of sustainable energy next to carbohydrates, but it is also an essential building block of new muscle tissue. If you’re looking to add lean muscle to your frame and ensure long-term health and well-being, then you mustn’t skimp on protein consumption.

On a plant-based diet, however, you need to be very careful where you’re getting your protein from. This is the matter of complete vs incomplete protein sources, and you need to prioritize the former in your clean diet in order to get all the essential amino acids to build muscle, fuel your body, and reach your weight goals. You can find complete proteins in nuts and seeds, beans and legumes, buckwheat, seitan and soy, whole grains, and the like. 

Supplementation is more important than for carnivores

Before we get into supplementation, understand that supplements are not there to replace a wholesome diet. You still need to eat all your meals and get micro and macronutrients from whole foods, however, getting the right amount every day can be a challenge as a vegan.

Adequate protein intake can be one of the biggest challenges. So it’s important to delve deeper into the matter and go through a reliable plant protein guide where you will find out exactly how to maximize your protein intake and find the right supplement that is vegan-friendly and has all the amino acids you need. For vegans, it’s also important to supplement with vitamins D3 and B12, zinc and iodine, iron, and calcium.

Fats and carbs matter as well

Of course, it’s not just about the amount of protein you consume or if you’re getting all the micronutrients – you also have to be mindful of your fats and carb intake. Carbohydrates are your body’s primary fuel source, and luckily, the plant-based diet is rich with slow-releasing carbs that will provide sustained energy throughout the day.

Fats, on the other hand, are essential for the proper functioning of your immune system and are important for brain health. You can find healthy fats in all nuts and seeds, but also in avocados, olive oil, and coconut oil.

Ensure consistency over the long term

Photo by Ella Olsson from Pexels

On a final note, always remember that staying consistent with your new lifestyle will be the key to long-term success. This is a journey, not a destination, so you have to make sure that you’re able to adhere to the plant-based diet in the long run.

This can be a challenge if you’re new to the vegan game and haven’t yet mastered the art of meal prepping. Make sure to use a slow Sunday afternoon to prep the majority of your meals for the upcoming week, and you will have no problem sticking with a healthy plant-based diet no matter how hectic your life might be.

Wrapping up

Switching to a plant-based diet can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be if you take a calculated approach. Use these tips to transition to a plant-based diet quickly and easily, and most importantly, to make it an inextricable part of your lifestyle.


Luke is a lifestyle blogger. He is editor in chief at blog Ripped.me and one of the contributors at blog Trans4Mind. He follows the trends in fitness, gym and healthy life and loves to share his knowledge through useful and informative articles.
Connect with him on Facebook & Twitter


Featured image photo by Monika Grabkowska on Unsplash



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5 Tips to Help Fight Colds & Flu This Winter

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I know that we are all pretty worried about COVID-19 right now and that it has been dominating the news, our psyche's and our thoughts for almost a year. Viruses seem to be a part of the human experience and have been around for a very, very long time. Without going into an in-depth discussion about viruses and COVID-19 in particular, let's focus on the fact that we will still have to think about how to manage colds and flu's this season. Below are some of the best ways that I know to help us stay strong and healthy so those nasty viruses can never take hold, and if they do manage to sneak in and make us sick, there are some ways to flush them out as quickly as possible and get back to a healthy state.

A Virus. A microorganism that is smaller than a bacterium which is unable to grow or reproduce outside of a living cell. Viruses invade living cells and replicate themselves by using their host cells' chemical machinery to keep themselves alive.

What's the Difference Between A Cold & The Flu?

A good place to start the discussion is to talk about the difference between a cold (common cold) and the flu (influenza). What is the difference?? It's often hard to tell, but both colds and the flu are caused by viruses. Someone with a cold generally has milder symptoms, that come on more gradually, and someone with the flu generally has symptoms that are more severe, are more systemic and come on quickly. Influenza can be more dangerous as in people with compromised or weakened immune systems they can lead to complications like pneumonia. Below is a chart that lists the difference in symptoms between influenza and the common cold.

This fancy chart was made by Chinese Medicine Living. Yay!

As a mother of two small children, I am acutely aware of the realities associated with influenza and the common cold. There are many factors to consider like climate, the changing of the seasons, staying hydrated, dressing warmly enough, eating well, getting enough sleep and proper hygiene to name a few. In our hectic world, it is near impossible to stay on top of everything and ward off illness all the time, but there are certainly things you can do to keep your immune system built up and keep yourself as healthy as possible in these challenging times. Below are the things that I use, and have found to be the most effective for prevention, or at the first signs of a cold or flu, helping to push it along quickly, shortening its duration and severity.

1. Diffuse Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree, also known as melaleuca, is an essential oil that comes mainly from the Australian native plant Melaleuca alternifolia. Tea tree oil has been widely used throughout Australia for its medicinal properties for at least the last century and is well-known for its powerful antiseptic and antibacterial properties as well as its ability to kill many strains of bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

Tea tree oil is very versatile - it can be used to make homemade cleaning products, diffused to kill toxic mould that’s growing in your home, and applied topically to heal acne, cuts, and scrapes and treat skin infections. Tea tree’s natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory actions make it one of the most beneficial essential oils for health and healing making it a powerful addition to your medicine cabinet. If you would like to learn more about Tea Tree Oil, its health benefits and recipes, you can read this article - Tea Tree Oil - Benefits, Uses & Recipes.

Tea Tree Oil Steam

This is one that I have used for as long as I can remember, long before I ever became an acupuncturist. At the first signs of a cold or flu, get a large bowl (metal or glass), put 6 drops of high quality, organic tea tree (melaleuca) essential oil into the bowl. Boil some water (filtered if possible as you will be breathing in the vapour). Get a towel. Put the bowl with the tea tree oil on a table, and sit in front of it. Put the towel over your head. Pour the boiling water into the bowl. Put your face over the bowl - be careful as the steam will be very hot and the tea tree oil will be strong - cover your head with the towel and breathe deeply for about 20 minutes. If you do this early enough, the cold/flu will not progress.

Tea Tree Oil Diffuser

When anyone in our house is sick - especially my children - I diffuse tea tree oil. You can also add other essential oils depending on what is happening - I often use lavender as it is soothing and helps my children sleep. You have to be careful in children under 2 years old as essential oils are extremely concentrated, but diffusing 4-6 drops of high-quality tea tree and 4-6 drops of lavender essential oil will often stop a cold or flu in its tracks, especially if you react early enough. If you have a full-blown cold or flu, diffusing tea tree will also help with congestion, cleaning out your sinuses as well as purifying the air in your room and lessening the length and severity of the illness.

2. Acupressure

**There are certain points in the body that are strongly moving and are contraindicated if you are pregnant as they can induce labour. Both Spleen 6 and Large Intestine 4 are in this category so not for pregnant mamas.** 

Acupressure is basically acupuncture without the needles. Awesome, yes? There are hundreds of acupuncture points on the body, and there are a few that are particularly good for giving the immune system a boost as well as treating symptoms if we do come down with a cold or flu. I have chosen 3 powerful ones that I think will be the most beneficial, and have included images so you can find them. When using acupressure, you apply pressure to each point with your finger or thumb for 30 seconds to a few minutes and then rotate to the next point. Most acupuncture points are bilateral, meaning they are on each side of the body except for the ones that are on the midline that runs up the front and down the back of the body. All the points below are bilateral - located on each side of the body.

Large Intestine 4

Large intestine 4 is an extremely powerful and versatile point. It is located on the fleshy part between the thumb and first finger of the hand. The best way to locate it is to put your thumb and first finger together so they are touching and the point is at the top of the mound that is created. If you press on it, it is often quite sore. Large intestine 4 is the pain point for the entire body. Whenever there is pain, you use large intestine 4. It is the command point of the head and face, so any problems in this area, this point is appropriate. Its other functions are that it builds qi, strengthens the immune system, stops pain and induces labour - so please DON'T do this point if you are a pregnant mama! (see note above).

Below are some symptoms that large intestine 4 can help to alleviate.

  • headaches, dizziness, congestion, body aches, nosebleeds, toothaches, swelling or pain in the eyes
  • aversion to cold, fever
  • painful periods, lack of periods, difficult/painful labour and childbirth
  • gastric pain, abdominal pain, constipation, diarrhoea
  • pain anywhere in the body and especially in the head/face
  • excellent point for the flu (releasing wind-heat in Chinese Medicine)

LARGE INTESTINE 4

Acupressure for Large Intestine 4

Apply pressure to large intestine 4 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is usually quite sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other hand. Then move on to the next point in the group - spleen 6, then stomach 36.

Spleen 6

Spleen 6 is also extremely powerful and versatile, which is why it is on this list. It is located on the inside of the lower leg, about 3 inches above the ankle bone or medial malleolus. The way we measure the three inches above the ankle bone is to put the 4 fingers of your hand together and place them on the ankle bone and the width of those 4 fingers is approximately where spleen 6 is located. It is just behind the tibia or shin bone. A good rule of thumb is to feel for the tibia and then just roll off and the point is located just behind it. This point is also often tender, especially on women, and even more so when they are menstruating. Because this point crosses the liver and kidney meridians, it can treat many conditions related to all three organs. Spleen 6 is a powerful point to treat gynaecological issues, digestive problems and problems with the emotions. **This is a strongly moving point and is contraindicated in pregnancy so do not do this point if you are pregnant.**

Below are some symptoms that spleen 6 can help to alleviate.

  • irregular, painful or lack of menstruation
  • masses in the abdomen, prolapse of the uterus, infertility and nocturnal emissions
  • impotence, premature ejaculation, hernia, testicular atrophy
  • digestive problems of the spleen and stomach
  • diseases of the skin
  • insomnia, headache, dizziness

  SPLEEN 6

Acupressure for Spleen 6

Apply pressure to spleen 6 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is often sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other leg. Then move on to the next point in the group - stomach 36.

Stomach 36

Stomach 36 is perhaps the most powerful point in the entire body for strengthening blood and qi and fortifying the body to boost overall health. The point is located on the lower leg, about 3 inches below the kneecap. To locate it, place your 4 fingers starting just at the lower border of your kneecap. This is the level of stomach 36, then it is located about one fingerbreadth on the outside, or towards the outside of the tibia or shin bone. The image below illustrates its position.

Stimulating stomach 36 is said to give you energy equal to eating an entire chicken or to walk another three miles (its name zusanli translates to leg three miles). It is command point of the abdomen therefore many problems in the abdominal area are treated with this point. Whenever you can feel a cold or flu coming on, start doing acupressure on this point as it will boost your immunity and help build your external defences which are called our wei qi in Chinese Medicine.

Below are some symptoms that stomach 36 can help to alleviate.

  • vomiting, diarrhoea, constipation, abdominal distention, abdominal pain, acute mastitis
  • heart palpitations, shortness of breath, low energy, dizziness, insomnia
  • cough and asthma
  • calms the spirit
  • stops pain

STOMACH 36

Acupressure for Stomach 36

Apply pressure to stomach 36 with your finger or thumb for 2 minutes. The point is also often sore, so apply as much pressure as to activate the point (you can feel it) but not so much as to cause pain. After 2 minutes switch to the other leg. You can do this set of 3 points, on each side two or three times a day when you are sick, or once a day or week for building immunity and general health.

3. Wear A Scarf


Photo by Kiyun Lee on Unsplash

Now, this one may seem a bit overly simplistic, but according to Chinese Medicine, wind is the master of 100 diseases and it tends to enter the body the most easily at the neck. So, the simple act of wearing a scarf in windy, wet or cold weather protects you against an invasion of wind-cold. It is basically the same as bundling up and staying warm when the weather is cold, wet or windy because these are ways that we can easily weaken our immune systems which make us more susceptible to colds and flus. And we don't want those. I think I may always have been destined to be a practitioner of Chinese Medicine because I have always loved scarfs, and I always seem to have one with me just in case I get chilly. I find it makes a big difference and is like always having protection from external invaders. I have also instilled this love of scarfs in my children, and we try to make it fun, finding scarves that they love (dinosaurs!!) so they WANT to wear them.

4. Eat Warming Soups & Bone Broths

Photo by Hanxiao on Unsplash

If you know anything about the spleen in Chinese Medicine, you know how important it is and how many responsibilities it has. If you don't, then you can read these articles to learn a bit more about it -

Loving Your Spleen with Chinese Medicine

How to Strengthen Your Spleen in Chinese Medicine

Worry and the Spleen

Dampness and the Spleen in Chinese Medicine

What is Spleen Qi Deficiency?

Digestive Health & Nutrition in Chinese Medicine

In a nutshell, the spleen is the main organ of digestion, and it uses digestive "fire" to power all the work it has to do to break down the food we eat and turn into the energy we need for our bodies and minds to function. But, it doesn't stop there. The spleen is also responsible for "digesting" all the stimulus that comes in from our sense organs, and, in a culture of multitasking, heavy mental work, long hours and little sleep, the spleen is a hard-working little organ. To put it simply, when we are compromised and our immune systems take a hit, we need to be gentle with our bodies. Because all that digesting that the spleen is doing requires energy, eating soups that are already well cooked and take very little energy to digest, they take some of the burdens off of the spleen. And that way your spleen, and all the other hard-working organs in your body can focus on fighting invaders and getting well. But when you are healthy and want to fortify yourself against an external (or internal) attack, then eating soups and bone broths, in particular, is an excellent way to build the immune system, warm your system and strengthen your body so that colds and flus don't have a chance.

In Chinese Medicine, the bones are associated with the kidneys, our bodies' most fundamental energy and the source of our yin and yang. Therefore, eating bone broth is strengthening to both the bones and the kidneys, whose element is water, emotion is fear and whose season is winter which is the best time to tonify the kidneys for health and longevity.

5. Good Hygiene

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Wash Your Hands Often & Don't Touch Your Face

If the recent proliferation of COVID-19 has taught us anything, it has brought our awareness back to the basic importance of good personal hygiene. There probably isn't anything better you can do to keep yourself healthy and stop the spread of germs, bacteria and viruses than simply washing your hands often and trying to be conscious not to touch your face. With two small children around it is frightening to see how unaware they are of things that are logical to adults like not putting dirty things into our mouths, not always washing their hands after going to the washroom, picking random things up outside, just to name a few. So teaching them to wash their hands, not to touch their faces but most importantly WHY we need to do these things is a huge step in the prevention of preventable illnesses like colds and flu. Things like showering often especially when you or someone in your house is sick, wiping surfaces, changing clothing and doing laundry often are also ways to reduce our exposure to germs and help us stay healthy all year round.

 



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How Meditation Changes The Brain, Exterminates Depression

By Tiffany Harper

Meditation is an old spiritual exercise, commonly associated with Oriental spirituality. The method involves mindfulness, relaxation, and breathing patterns. The goal is to achieve a general state of well-being, specifically a psychological one. Today, meditation is a widespread wellness practice. You can find through meditation tutorials in books, on Youtube, or by taking classes.

So, chances are you tried meditation at least once. Therefore, you can agree that meditation is undoubtedly an excellent way to relax and unwind. But does it have real scientifically proven benefits on the brain? In this article, you’ll find out more about how meditation changes the brain and exterminates depression.

Meditation Against Depression And Anxiety

Mindful meditation is just as powerful as antidepressants. According to some research, the subjects experienced less anxiety, pain, and depression after practicing meditation. The result was incredible: meditation had a 0.3 effect on the subjects (moderate), which is just as much as the 0.3 of antidepressant medicines. Moreover, meditation can help reduce social anxiety. A precise type of meditation, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), which focuses on stress, showed significant results in research. The participants took a course of MBSR for eight weeks, and the results were reduced physical and mental anxiety and stress. Furthermore, the effects lasted over the years. Lastly, meditation was found as a solution to social anxiety disorder: mindfulness reduces the activity of parts of the brain associated with unhappiness.

Meditation Improves Focus

A common problem among the global population is the difficulty to focus. Meditation was found to help increase concentration and attention. In one study, participants had meditation training for a few weeks. Then, they were tested for cognitive skills, including focus. The results revealed that they improved by 16%. This means that people who teach, work, or use their intellectual power for tasks can tackle their jobs better.

Likewise, kids were tested for their concentration skills since they are often associated with a lack of focus. In this case, meditation had a massive impact on developing minds. It can help with cognitive skills as well as emotional skills. Some schools implemented short meditation breaks, which brought an increase in GPAs and attendances, and a decrease in suspensions.

Meditation Helps Against Brain Aging

UCLA conducted a study that linked meditation to brain aging. They compared the brains of participants who meditated regularly to participants who didn’t. The results proved that the brains of the subjects who meditated still aged. However, they had more gray matter volume than the others. Even comparing old participants with young ones proved that meditation could slow the aging process of the brain while reducing the loss of gray matter.

Meditation Decreases The Activity Of The DMN

The Default Mode Network (DMN) consists of various parts of the brain that regulate self-referential and mind-wandering ideas. These thoughts are associated with unhappiness, worrying, and anxiety. A study by Yale University proves that meditation quiets the DMN. The participants who meditated could switch back to the present moment, while non-meditators would get lost in negative and worrying thoughts easier.

Meditation Positively Changes The Brain

A Harvard study showed that meditation could change the volume and dimensions of various brain parts. The research studied the participants in the eight-week program of MBSR:

  • The subjects had increased hippocampus thickness, which means that they improved their memory, emotional control, and learning skills.
  • The subjects showed diminished amygdala, which means that they are less likely to be afraid, anxious, and stressed.
  • The subjects showed a different perception of moods and emotions.

Meditation Against Addictions

Since meditation is centered around self-control, it was found to be useful against a variety of addictions. One research study proved that smoking addicts were more likely to give up smoking after meditation training. So, mindfulness showed even better results than the “Freedom From Smoking” program (FFS) after the 17-week follow-up. The reason behind the study’s success is that meditation helps people resist temptations, withdrawals, or cravings because it interrupts the connection between those and the addiction itself.

How To Effectively Meditate

Now that we know how many benefits meditation can bring, it’s time to practice it. At first, meditation can seem a challenging activity to do, or that requires special techniques and training. Nevertheless, meditation is a simple method to refocus the brain on the present moment, thus reducing stress, anxiety, brain aging, and other issues. Initially, it may seem impossible to quiet the mind. Still, after a couple of sessions, you may improve your cognitive skills.

Here is a simple guide to meditation:

  • Find a peaceful place in your home. It could be your living room, or even in your backyard. You can light up some candles or open up the window to create a pleasant atmosphere. If you’re going to focus on your breathing, you might want to have fresh or lightly scented air in your space. You also might want to play some calming music, especially if the environment you’re in isn’t quiet enough.
  • Find a good position. You can sit upright on a cushion on the floor with your legs crossed. Alternatively, you can lay on the bed or a mat and blanket. Just make sure that you’re comfortable and that your back is straight. If you’re sitting horizontally, make sure that your belly’s facing the ceiling.
  • Close your eyes. If you wish to work with your mind, you might want to rest your eyes to focus better.
  • Start to breathe slowly. You can inhale for four seconds and exhale for four. Take as many as you need to ease into it.
  • Observe your thoughts rather than thinking about them. Your brain will inevitably want to wander off and think about chores, fears, and feelings. Please don’t beat yourself up for it. Just try to observe them and gently come back to your breath.
  • Continue breathing and observe every sensation in the body.
  • Try to reach a mental state where you’re focusing on your sensation and your brain instead of thinking thoughts.

Keep coming back to your senses and breathing every time you get distracted.

  • Accept that your mind may not want to settle down. Just keep trying.
  • Once you reach a calm state, continue to breathe.
  • When you’re satisfied with your session, bat your eyelashes open and slowly return to your day.

Conclusion

The spiritual practice of meditation has a myriad of benefits, from reducing brain aging to improving mood, focus, and self-control. If you want to start meditating, find a quiet place in your home to focus on your breath with your eyes closed. The first day you may not be able to concentrate on your breath well. Nonetheless, if you keep trying, you’ll get there.


Author Bio
Tiffany Harper is a freelancer and blogger from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She specializes in psychology, natural remedies, and wellness topics. Tiffany is also a yoga lover, so every Saturday if she is not working as a consultant with an essay writer from Write My Essay, she spends her free time meditating in the local park. Please do not hesitate to contact her on twitter


Sources:
1. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/04/harvard-researchers-study-how-mindfulness-may-change-the-brain-in-depressed-patients/
2. https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/how-meditation-helps-with-depression
3. https://eocinstitute.org/meditation/depression-shrinks-our-brain-how-meditation-builds-it-back-up/
4. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2015/02/09/7-ways-meditation-can-actually-change-the-brain/#207157b71465
5. https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/what-does-mindfulness-meditation-do-to-your-brain/
6. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/mindfulness-in-frantic-world/201110/curing-depression-mindfulness-meditation


Other Sources:
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2. [http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/016383439500025M]
3. [http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/8/1/65.short]
4. [http://pss.sagepub.com/content/24/5/776]
5. [https://srcd.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1750-8606.2011.00215.x]
6. [http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10826-013-9784-4]
7. [http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fpsyg.2014.01551/full]
8. [http://www.pnas.org/content/108/50/20254.short]
9. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ articles/PMC3004979/]
10. [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/ articles/PMC3927233/]
11. [http://www.pnas.org/content/110/34/13971.short]


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Emotional Healing In A Time of Crisis

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

We are living in unprecedented times in our world. We have just lived through a global pandemic of COVID-19 and the world we knew no longer exists. Anger and frustration are coming out in so many ways all over the world as people struggle with the new reality and many struggle to survive. 

Photo by CDC on Unsplash

To me, it isn’t the physical challenges that the virus presents that worry me, it is the emotional state of our global population. In the US we see riots, campaigns to defund the police, racial tensions, destruction of property and businesses and unprecedented violence. No matter how many of us may want to politicize what is happening, I think it points to something much deeper that has been brewing for much longer than many people realize. People are angry. They are frustrated. Life is getting harder. People work more for less money. There is so much uncertainty about the future. Many have lost their businesses. Their jobs. Their abilities to support their families. People are exhausted and scared. And they see more and more corruption at every level of business and government - which only feeds the anger and frustration that a few profit at the expense of so many. 

 


Photo by Tito Texidor III on Unsplash

I can’t offer a solution to the problems we face as a global community, but I think that we need to be honest about what is happening and be able to express those feelings. We have a right to be angry, frustrated and afraid. And we need to give those feelings a place to go. There is so much “political correctness” that people these days feel that they can’t say anything for fear it will offend somebody. We need to be able to have honest discussions about what is REAL and TRUE. And yes, it might offend somebody. In the present climate, the truth seems to have become a dirty word. The truth might hurt someone’s feelings. The truth might not be what someone wants to hear. And this is part of the problem. Because the truth is what is going to save us. 

For most of my life and career, I have been very conscious of focussing on the good. The positive. Practising kindness. Being loving. Having compassion. But I don’t insulate my life and not let anything negative come in. That would be delusional. When you are healing, people come and they need those things. They are hurting so they need love, kindness, compassion and your positivity and light. Those are the things that start the healing process, and support it until the end. But now I see that we seem to be having a reality problem. Some people are unable or unwilling to accept what is happening in the world. I understand this, as often, the reality is dark. It’s hard. There are things that are difficult to accept. And they hurt. 

There have been a lot of difficult truths coming to the surface lately. And if you don’t know what I am talking about, then you aren’t paying attention. This has been causing a lot of pain and a lot of grief. The new reality, for many, is difficult to accept. 

Another theme I see that is contributing to a lot of pain is that there seems to be a conscious effort to divide us. Break us apart and make us fight with each other. This breeds fear, fear of the “other” and only compounds the feelings of grief, depression, anxiety and isolation that have exploded since this all began. They want you to feel that you are alone. But the truth is, that you are not alone. There are more than 7 billion of us on the planet. We are a global community, and we have the intelligence and creativity to solve any problem we may face. But we can’t solve problems when we are angry, sad and afraid. You cannot focus your energy on solving problems when you are fighting an enemy.

I have been thinking about how we might go about trying to heal from so many of the powerful emotions we are dealing with right now. Both ones that have been building up for years, and the ones that are a result of this new situation that we find ourselves in. Chinese Medicine is really unique in how it looks at our emotions and how important they are to our health and wellbeing. As many of you know, each of the emotions is associated with an organ or an organ pair and when that emotion is healthy and in balance, it is strengthening to the body and that organ in particular. But when that emotion is out of balance, in excess or unexpressed, it is depleting to the body and its respective organs, causing problems in all aspects of your life and health. Generally in our culture, we are not taught that emotions can make us sick, but I think that most of us instinctively know that this is true. How does your stomach feel when you worry? Or how about those headaches when you are angry and stressed? How does your heart feel when you are grieving?

The good news is that because the emotions are built into the system of Chinese Medicine, it also offers solutions and practices we can use to keep emotionally healthy. Each of the seasons, for example, offer us an opportunity to really work to clear old emotions we’ve been holding on to and balance and strengthen the system. I have been thinking that this wisdom is so needed right now. 

The emotions - things that hurt us, cause us grief or stir up anger can be an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. Why are we having these reactions to things that are happening? Why does one person respond to a situation in anger when another might feel grief?

Treating Emotions in the Real World

Helping us to manage the tsunami of emotions we are all feeling right now is the understanding that we must first become aware of the emotions, and then work to change not WHAT we are feeling but how we REACT to those feelings. Read that again. It's so simple, but it will likely change the way you think about how you may be feeling.

In my work with patients, we often start with simple awareness. Let's use an example.

If you are struggling with a particular emotion, let's say grief. Usually (but not always), the person is aware of the grief. The cause is the death of someone close to them, their loss is causing the grief. The lungs in Chinese Medicine are associated with grief, so there might be lung symptoms as well- shortness of breath, asthma, dizziness (not enough oxygen), coughing, etc. Their grief can literally be causing the lung symptoms because intense or excessive grief weakens the lungs' Qi. The person is describing how they are feeling, saying they feel consumed by their grief, out of breath, have no energy and are anxious and stressed because the grief is making it difficult to function because they still need to go to work and look after their young children. And this is it. The grief is a completely natural result of someone important in your life passing away. But the reaction is an increasing feeling of anxiety and panic because there is no space for the grief in their life because they have to keep going to work and looking after children.

So, we look at those feelings first - the anxiety and panic - and we figure out a way to help to manage them. Are you able to take some time off? Could the children go to stay with a grandparent for a few days? Can you take some time to allow yourself the space to grieve? Do you have someone you can talk to about everything you are feeling? All of these things will help release some of the pressure that can make these emotions so overwhelming. Just the acknowledgement begins the healing process. We start with the reaction - the anxiety because of the pressure to keep going normally while you are suffering - and work backwards to the grief itself.

When we get to the grief, there are a few ways that we can help reduce its intensity. We work to strengthen the lungs and build up their Qi, which very often helps lessen the grief's potency. We create a space for the grief to be felt, fully allowing those feelings to be expressed. In Chinese Medicine, the way emotions can be causes of disease is if they are repressed or unexpressed, leading to a stagnation in the body and eventual toxicity. Anyone who has a secret or something in their past they have been holding on to for years can tell you. It has an effect. Holding on to emotions isn't good for you, so finding the proper avenue for their expression is an important part of the healing process.

We are living in challenging times that are unprecedented in our history. Our struggles are multi-faceted right now. People are struggling to find their way in the new reality we face as a global community. The good news is that human beings have incredible intelligence, adaptability and resiliency. If we are able to stay positive, stick together and express what we are all feeling honestly, we can come out the other side of these difficult times stronger and with a new appreciation for everything good that still exists in this world.

If you need help working through what you are feeling right now or healing in general, I am here for you. My information is below.


Featured image photo by Mitchell Griest on Unsplash - Thank you!



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