Exercise Is The Perfect Complement To Traditional Medicine

By Sally Perkins

Being told to exercise is likely one of the most common treatments ‘prescribed’ by contemporary doctors. It’s not without merit, and there are a multitude of benefits to be gained from exercise that are discovered every day. For example, medical researchers have recently found that 10% of advanced lung cancer patients benefited from exercise.

What role does exercise have to play in traditional medicine? The likes of tai chi and tui na already have a physical aspect and the benefits of those practices are well known. Both within Chinese medicine and other non-western medicines, physical activity has been shown to have a positive contribution to overall health when used in conjunction with other methods.

Tai Chi, Yoga, and The In Between


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Coming from different corners of the continent, tai chi and yoga have remarkable similarities despite their differences. Both rely on stretching movements, but yoga is more energetic and pushes into stillness; whereas tai chi relies on fluid movements to relax the muscles in preparation for stretching later. Recently, they have ‘combined’ in a way to create yin yoga. Early studies have suggested that this particular type of yoga, when conducted safely and with the proper equipment, can have a strong positive influence on health. One study, conducted by Lund University, Sweden, found that yin yoga could significantly reduce physiological and psychological risk factors. The study found that those taking part in yin yoga had reduced levels of ADM, a marker often found in those developing non-communicable disorders such as cardiovascular disease.

Is Vigorous Physical Activity Possible?

Vigorous activity is not part and parcel of Chinese medicine. As the Traditional Chinese Medicine foundation have noted, sweat is the fluid of the heart, and vigorous activity will unbalance your Qi creating a deficiency. What’s the solution?

One potential is swimming. Swimming can be moderately vigorous, requiring every muscle in the body to work in tandem to stay float and propel. However, it can be moderated, and sweat is greatly reduced when in a colder pool. There is also evidence to show swimming can work well in tandem with traditional Chinese medicine. Researchers from Zhongshan Hospital, Shanghai, China, found that songyou yin and swimming aided liver immunity when used in conjunction. Ultimately, this reduced the levels of liver cancer in the study group.

The Bottom Line


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Bringing in more energetic forms of traditional exercise, and more mainstream methods, such as swimming, have an overall contributory effect to your health. However, multiple studies have shown the well established link between traditional Chinese exercises, like tai chi, and good health. As this South China Morning Post article clearly outlines, the holistic use of traditional Chinese exercises, good diet and mindfulness (or meditation) mitigate many cardiovascular ailments, regardless of country; the study cited pointed out that over 2,000 people across 10 countries reported on.

Traditional medicine has shown its effectiveness when paired with exercise. There are ways to augment this in order to provide the maximum benefits for your health. However, while these have been shown to help, the best way to stay fit is through traditional routines.

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The Qigong Corner - 2: Qigong Walking

By John Voigt


Boston Common 2011. Source: author.

Introduction.

It is common knowledge in the west that walking is an excellent
exercise that promotes general fitness. When walking is practiced as a qigong it
becomes even more effective. For Chinese people throughout the world it is the
most commonly practiced qigong used to promote health and well-being.
Walking becomes a qigong when: The person is fully aware of 1. The gravity of the
earth grounding and supporting them. 2. The air they are breathing deeply and fully
into their lower abdomen (the simplest definition of qigong is “breath work”). 3.
The beauty of nature around them—the trees, flowers, sunrise, other walkers, etc.,
as well as the universal nature above them (sky, clouds, sun, the stars, planets,
galaxies, heaven)—and that they are an integral and living moving part of all of this.
Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.
Thich Nhat Hanh.

Qigong Gymnastic Walking.

There are many styles of walking qigong. What follows was synthesized
from various instructions from my teachers, observations
in parks in Chinatowns in the United States and Canada, and from the
sources listed below. A bibliography is attached for further study.

The Simple Walk. Stand straight. Relax your body and mind. Have your shoulders
loose, and your chin slightly tucked it. Breathe comfortably, slowly, and fully
through the nose into the lower abdomen. Now begin walking calmly, and allow
your arms to loosely and gently sway from side to side. When the left foot moves
forward the right arm sways forward and slightly to the left; when the right foot
moves forward the left arm sways forward and slightly to the right. Increase your
awareness of your surroundings, your gentle but full breathing, and the way the qi-
life energy is feeling inside your body. Walking in this way moves health bringing
energy (qi) throughout the vessels and channels (meridians) and organs of the body.
Increasing The Amount of Qi-Vital Energy. Mind thinking nothing. Body relaxed
and tranquil. Inhaling more oxygen than exhaling. (Sheng Keng Yun).

Now intensify your walking this way: have your right hand make a waving motion
up as you quickly breathe in twice. Then as you exhale once the left foot steps out.
Immediately reverse this with the left hand making a waving motion up as you
breathe in twice. Then as you exhale once the right foot steps out. Do this
approximately for five to fifteen minutes. If it feels really good and natural you may
do it for a longer period of time. If something feels wrong or not right then stop
doing it and consult a qigong teacher well versed in such things, or if necessary a
doctor or physical therapist.

Video of Qigong Gymnastic Walking


Carolyn Wilkins - Reiki master, spiritualist medium, tai chi and qigong
practitioner demonstrating
Qigong walking gymnastics.

Walking Meditation.

Walk very slowly, and optionally and if safe to do, with bare feet on clean
naked earth. When stepping out lift the heel first. When stepping down
the toes touch the earth first. Clear the mind of all verbal thinking about what
happened in the past and may happen in the future and be totally mindful in the
present. For a beginner, walk in this manner for ten minutes up to a half an hour at a
time.

If you can’t keep your mind quiet as you walk, then count numbers related to the
rhythm of your breathing patterns, or repeat a single word (e.g., “Peace”).
The walking becomes more spiritual or religious when you add a silently said
spiritual affirmation such as, I feel more youthful, healthy, and beautiful [or
handsome] with each step I take. Or a short religious prayer; e.g., Heal me, O Lord,
and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved; for you are my praise. – [Jeremiah
17:14]. For believing Christians, silently chanting the name Jesus contains enormous
power. From a Daoist perspective, by observing your oneness with the movements
of interacting yin and yang energetic elements around you as you walk, you may be
brought to a place that offers the quietude of a deep seated mediation. This qi-
energy harmonizing is said to extend all the way to the stars, planets, and galaxies of
the universe to the divine forces in heaven.

A more simple practice as you walk is to repeat to yourself the word Dao; which may
be understood as “The Way” – (as in the path, the proper direction, for spiritual
progress).


Buddha’s Footprint. A symbolic representation of the presence of Gautama Buddha.

Practical advice.

  • When you step don't mindlessly drop the foot down, instead feel as if you are
    gliding above the earth. One of my qigong masters over the years never needed to
    have his leather shoes resoled.
  • Use a walking cane if needed. Excessive pressure should never be placed on any of
    the body’s joints or bones in walking qigong. Correctly done walking is one of the
    few exercises that will strengthen the joints and aid in preventing arthritis.
  • Most qigong exercises are best done at the break of dawn, in good weather among
    the civilized nature of a large well cared for and secure park.
  • Qigong walking is best done in groups. But within such groups the Chinese people
    seldom talk to each other in order to maintain a concentrated focus on what they
    are doing. It is after the walking that they usually gather in a tea house and socialize
    with lots of talk, and laughter. Opposite the Boston Common I would gather with
    one such group at a McDonald’s. They didn’t speak that much English and my
    Cantonese was worse, but there was plenty of fun and good feelings and smuggled
    home baked Chinese cookies hidden in purses to go along with the plastic cups of
    coffee and hot water for tea.
  • Knowledgeable Chinese do the walking in circles, usually—but not always—in
    some sort of counter-clockwise way (the left side pointed in to the center of the
    circle). In Chinese communities in the morning you will see this done around small
    ponds, large fountains, or even a tree. From a Southern Daoist lineage that I was
    taught in, this is best done with the people singularly filing after each other in a line
    that curves around in a circle. This is intended to bring peace to the walkers and to
    the world at large.

Disclaimer.

This article is not presented not as a cure for any illness but as a
possible way to help to gain well-being. If any this or any other qigong, or exercise
or activity, hurts or causes discomfort stop doing it and see a medical professional.

Author’s Note.

In this short article I wanted to introduce Guo Lin’s Anti-Cancer
Walking Qigong, but time and space ran out on me. So I plan to write that for next
month’s issue of Chinese Medicine Living. But for now the interested reader could
reference these sites:

Walking Exercise - Persatuan GuoLin QiGong Malaysia
and Guo Lin’s Anti-Cancer Fixed Foot Walking Qigong, by Jim Russo.


Boston Common 2011. Source: author.

Sources & Further Resources.


Your Quick Guide to Personal Happiness - 5 Happiness Habits

By Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP

For many years I have been fascinated by the concept of happiness. Part of my fascination was personal, and the other was professional. I was seeing so many patients who were deeply unhappy and the interesting thing to me was that when I asked them what would make them happy, most of them had no idea. For many, it seemed to be the first time they had given the idea any thought at all. So, what is happiness? And why is it so elusive?

What is Happiness?

For something that we all seem to be after, happiness seems to be largely misunderstood and pretty difficult to come by for a lot of people. And when it comes to a definition of happiness, well I imagine that would be very different depending on who you asked. For our purposes, I will define it as a general feeling of well-being and joy about the totality of your life - not necessarily the details as those will be constantly fluctuating, but a general sense of wellbeing about your existence. If I were to ask you what would it take for you to be happy? Maybe a better question is - what does your life look like where you imagine your happiest self? This is an interesting intellectual exercise for sure, and one I often ask my patients to do to help them clarify what this scenario would look like for them.

In my experience, I see what happiness isn't. It is not something that can be acquired, some kind of external thing that one must chase after and get a hold of, never letting go. External things don't give you happiness, at least not a happiness that is grounded, meaningful and lasting. The way to happiness is within. And I think this is one of the reasons that we as a species, are largely so unhappy right now. We are taught, from a very young age, to seek everything we need in our lives - "out there". All the things we need to be complete, happy beings are out there in the external world. Good education, a better job, good relationship, nice house, fancy car - and so forth. These seem to be the benchmarks for success and happiness for many of us. But this is changing. There is a movement of young people growing up now who realize that those things often have nothing to do with true happiness and are seeking happiness, fulfillment, and connectedness within. And that is where we will all find it. There has been an explosion of interest in things like yoga, meditation, ayahuasca, etc... to more deeply understand ourselves and our world.

The Chinese Medicine Angle

In Chinese medicine, our ability to feel joy is seen to be an expression of our heart energies. But joy is only one part of overall happiness. In Chinese medicine, how you feel is an important part of your health. Each of the organs has an emotion associated with it to help determine which organ (or emotion) might be out of balance at any one time. If you are overwhelmed by anger and frustration, the liver is the culprit, if sadness is predominant then the lungs are to blame, or if fear and anxieties are making life uncomfortable then we must look at the kidneys for their role in these feelings. I believe that for a feeling of overall happiness and wellbeing that so many of us are striving for is to be achieved, it is balance that we must seek. And there is no better system to teach us to balance ourselves, our bodies, our emotions and our spirits, than Chinese medicine.

The emotions are a more ephemeral and therefore often more difficult thing to contend with, especially in our society with its emphasis on the physical and tangible especially when it comes to health and healing. Because of this, tools we can use to help us manage difficult emotional states or patterns are difficult to come by. Thankfully, Chinese medicine offers many ways in which we can both identify as well as manage and resolve our emotional hardships. Each organ's energies are at their peak in a specific season, so taking care of both the organ, its corresponding emotion and changing our behaviours depending on the time of year are some of the ways we can help to keep ourselves balanced. Changing the foods that we eat according to the seasons and our physical predispositions is another good way to stay in harmony, as well as some basic things like listening to our bodies - as they tend to tell us in subtle ways when something is wrong - taking care of ourselves on all levels, being kind, loving and nurturing to ourselves and others and working on self-awareness is especially important when it comes to dealing with emotions. So much of our demons and the things that hurt us are unknown to us. If we are really willing to do the work to discover our hurts and sorrows, that is the first step in shining a light on them and being able to process them and letting them go.

5 Happiness Habits

Below are some of the most powerful habits that, if you incorporate them into your life, will help you to have a happier experience and feel more joyful overall.

Gratitude

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Some interesting studies have taught us that so much of our ability to feel happiness is in our attitude. Many highly spiritual beings know this too. One way that we can really help to change our attitudes so that we may attract more positivity into our lives is by being grateful. Taking some time every day to focus on the things that you are grateful for, no matter how big or small, will help to literally rewire your brain, making it easier to think about and feel those feelings of gratitude in the future. A helpful exercise that will help you to literally rewire your brain (plasticity) is to take time every day to think of three things that you are grateful for. In doing this, your brain starts to retain the pattern of scanning the world not for negative things, but positive ones, helping to keep you in a state of positivity.

Positivity


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Scientific studies have shown that the brain works better when we are in a state of positivity giving us a happiness advantage. Here are some statistics from Shawn Achor's TED talk (which is embedded below):

  • When we are in a positive state the brain performs better in terms of intelligence, creativity and our energy increases
  • Positive brains are 31% more productive than brains that are negative, neutral or stressed
  • When we are positive, our brains are 37% better at sales
  • When in a positive state, doctors are 31% faster and more accurate at coming up with correct diagnosis

An activity to help you to become more positive is to journal about one positive thing that happened to you (or that you witnessed) that day. Writing about the experience allows your brain to relive it, and releases powerful hormones like dopamine, which not only makes us feel good, but also turns on all the learning centres in the brain.

Conscious Acts of Kindness

Another exercise that you can work into your daily routine is to reach out to one person in your social network and tell them that you appreciate them and why. This only compounds the exercise above and will help not only you to feel grateful, but also spread the goodness around by making the person or people you reach out to feel grateful as well.

Meditation

Meditation has so many benefits to our health and wellbeing, that it is something I would recommend for absolutely everyone, especially living in our hectic culture. Meditation allows us to slow down, relax and reconnect with ourselves in a way that many of us have forgotten. Giving that time to yourself as a way to pull yourself out of the chaos that often predominates modern life and to just sit and listen has so many positive effects that will not only make you feel better, they will ripple out into every aspect of your life and ultimately benefit not only you, but the people around you.

Self Awareness

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From the years of treating patients, one of the things that I really believe is a huge contributor to our physical health as well as our mental health is dealing with our demons. I use the word demons, because that is what they can become, haunting us and making us miserable. Everyone has difficult, painful and traumatic experiences in their lives. But the way to have a happy life I believe is not to wish for an easy existence, but to learn how to handle difficulties when they arise so that they can be processed appropriately and let go so that they do not become demons from our past that haunt us in our present.

This ability to really look at ourselves and self reflect is not easy, and this important work is not something that is taught to us as children in schools, so finding a way to work through these difficult experiences can be daunting. The tools that will work will not be the same for everyone, but this is some of the most important work we can do in our lives and the work that will help us to be happier beings and enjoy our time on this beautiful planet.

 

Sources

This excellent (and hilarious) video from Shawn Achor speaking at TED about happiness and our brains.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXy__kBVq1M

 


Meditation: Improve Your Health in 20 Minutes a Day

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Chinese Medicine Says - Balance Equals Health

Chinese Medicine is all about balance. Balance in all aspects of life is what keeps us healthy and keeps disease away. In a time long ago, this balance was the normal way of life for most people, and they understood the importance of doing things in moderation - like eating, physical activity, expressing of emotions and all aspects of life. Chinese Medicine has always taught that this moderation in all things is the way to achieve balance and is ultimately the path to health. When something in life becomes unbalanced, illness can result. When this happens there are wonderful tools to help put the body, mind, and spirit back into a harmonious state - like acupuncture, Chinese herbs, moxibustion, gua sha and tui na. These are just some of the tools that Chinese Medicine has in its formidable toolbox. But ultimately, the goal is to live a balanced life so that illness never has a chance to develop, Chinese medicine is a medicine of prevention.

Losing Our Equilibrium

Now, many of us are living unbalanced lives in an increasingly unbalanced world. Finding the equilibrium that our ancestors enjoyed becomes more difficult as we live in a world that is more complex, and needs us to work more in a time where most of us are able to have less. There is a growing disparity between people who have and those who have not. Cities are growing as nature dwindles. People are being pushed, working more, sleeping less and getting sick because that balance has been lost. So what can we do? It is not realistic to quit the jobs we need to survive, and many of us live lives that we must and not the lives we would like to. One of the ways that we can get back to that balance, that equilibrium that keeps us aligned and happy is to slow down, sit and listen.

What is Meditation?

Meditation - Finding A Way Back to Balance

There are many ways to meditate, and everyone needs to find the one or the ones that are right for them. For some, walking is a wonderful healing type of meditation. For others, painting, cooking or writing poetry is their meditation of choice. I like to define a meditation as being in a state of complete harmony and flow. Like you are completely connected to the universe and in a state of bliss where time completely disappears. This is only my definition, but a similar sensation has been described by others in a state of deep meditation. It is like being in a complete and all-encompassing state of mindfulness.

Practical Meditation

In all my years of treating patients, I have found meditation to be one of the most effective healing tools, and one of the most empowering for patients. I often give patients a "prescription" for daily meditation to help them with their health and overall well-being. There are lots of reasons why it is such a great healing tool and why people love it so much. Here are just a few:

  • You can choose a meditation technique or practice that resonates with you - it is highly individualized
  • You can do it in the privacy of your own home
  • You do not need any special gear or equipment (although a lovely meditation cushion is so nice)
  • Meditations positive effects can be felt by doing it in as little as a few minutes a day
  • You can use your creativity to design a practice and a space that supports your meditation practice
  • The beneficial effects will ripple out into all aspects of your life
  • The positive effects will be felt by the people around you
  • With time, you will be able to handle stress and other difficult situations with more equanimity
  • Your memory, concentration and mood will be improved
  • You will have better quality of sleep
  • The power of this healing tool is completely in your hands

The list of meditations benefits is really enormous and there isn't enough room here to list them all. But for practical reasons, I can share an example of a meditation practice that can help to rebalance mind, body and spirit as well as all the benefits listed above.

Creating a Beautiful Space

One of the first things you can do, is to create a beautiful, calming, peaceful space where you will do your meditation. If you can, remove all electronic devices so that the space is quiet and you will not be disturbed. Keep the space clean and clutter free as this will help eliminate distractions while you are meditating. If you have a meditation cushion, you can arrange it so that it is appealing to the eye and when you look at the space in its entirety, it gives you a feeling of calm and joy. I am lucky to have a beautiful meditation cushion (which is from the lovely people at Chattra) - whenever I look at it, it makes my heart so happy and I thoroughly enjoy sitting on it. I don't have a lot of space, so I create a tiny space for myself with my cushion and a mosquito net which is lovely and really gives it an enchanted feel. Create your space however you desire, using objects (or the lack of objects) that make you happy and help to create a feeling of calm and serenity.

This is my lovely meditation space with my beautiful Chattra meditation cushion. If you would like one of your very own,
you can see all their beautiful designs here in their shop and enjoy 10% off (see coupon below).

20 Minutes to Health

You can choose however long you like in terms of your meditation practice, but I suggest that if it is new to you, to start slowly. You can start with just five or ten minutes a day and work up from there. I find that a good number is twenty minutes a day, or if you are ambitious, twenty minutes twice a day, morning and evening. Twice a day is ideal as it acts as a primer for the day and a bit of a cleansing of the days energies before bed to ensure a good, restful, rejuvenating sleep. If you can set aside twenty minutes when you wake up before you start your morning routine, you will find that you will set your intention for the day and be better able to focus as well as being better able to handle difficult situations. The more you meditate, the more you will find this equanimity in your life and in all things. In the evening, do everything you need to do and do your meditation right before sleep. You will find that the quality of your sleep will improve and you will wake up feeling more rested and ready to start your day with positivity and awareness.

The Meditation

As mentioned above, there are many different types of meditation, and I always recommend to patients that they find the one that feels right for them. A good way to start if you are looking for ideas is to sit comfortably in your meditation space and begin to focus on your breathing. Focus on your breath moving in and out of your body. I sometimes suggest trying to focus on breathing light into the top of your head, gathering the breath and all dark energy, emotions or experiences we are finished with, illness, pain or trauma and breathe it out with every breath. Sometimes, when you begin, it is good to have something to focus on and this one has worked for me, and for my patients.

Keep breathing deeply in and out focussing solely on the breath. Your mind will inevitably wander, but when you notice you are somewhere else in your mind, gently bring yourself back to the breath. At first, your mind will be all over the place - this is called monkey mind by the Buddhists (and here is a great definition) - but just keep bringing yourself back to the breath. This will get easier and easier the more you meditate. And try not to be hard on yourself. There are days when you will do nothing but bring your mind back to the breath, over and over again. But over time, you will find that you will have to do this less and less and that your mind will settle into a peaceful quiet which will allow you to connect to yourself in a way you may not have done before, and that is a wonderful thing indeed.

Chinese Medicine Living readers can enjoy this 10% off coupon in the Chattra shop. Visit www.chattra.com or click on the coupon below.

Chattra Meditation Cushion Review

If you would like to read my review of the lovely Chattra meditation cushion, you may do so here - Chattra Meditation Cushion Review

 



Meditation for Health, Happiness & Wellbeing

By Emma Suttie D.Ac, AP

For thousands of years cultures around the world have known about the benefits of meditation and have woven the practice into their daily lives. Meditation is not just a way to relax or clear your mind, it has been used for millennia to raise consciousness and connect us with the divine.

Meditation for many of us has become a sort of buzz word. Meditation is touted as a way to help you relax, get better sleep, lower stress and improve mental functions. And while meditation does all of those things, they are just a few of its wonderful byproducts. If you look at the complete picture of what meditation is and what it was originally intended for, the benefits of meditation go much deeper. A devoted practice can help not only feed the physical as well as the psychological aspects of ourselves, but can also connect you to your spirit, fostering self awareness, and filling you with feelings of compassion and loving kindness. When some are in a deep state of meditation, they are able to activate the pineal gland (also known as the third eye) - a small pine cone shaped gland that sits in the centre of the brain - and is thought by many cultures to be the doorway that leads from the physical to the spiritual worlds. The pineal gland is extremely sensitive to light, and this is why in many ancient cultures, serious meditators have always engaged in long periods of meditation in complete darkness. This darkness activates the pineal gland and allows humans to traverse from the physical to the spiritual worlds and gain insights into the nature of life and the cosmos as well as connect with the universal energy (of which we are all a part). These experiences remove the body and the ego completely and allow a person to shed their worldly trappings and feel what it is like to be in complete oneness. This has been described by some as what it is like when we "die", leaving our bodies and returning to source energy.

Science & Spirituality

It is only in our recent history that science and spirituality have been broken into two separate entities. They used to be considered part of the whole of things - the macrocosm, neither being able to exist without the other. But things started to change - subjects were broken apart and people began to specialize, meaning it became more difficult for anyone to see the whole picture. With the world as it is now, with its focus on science, it is difficult to accept that science and spirituality were at one time inseparable. Many ancient cultures had a holistic view of life and the cosmos, and their lives were part of a vast web that included all of nature and indeed, everything in existence. As a species we have become so identified with our minds and especially our thoughts, that this connection to the whole, of all there is, has largely been lost. We have slowly separated ourselves from the world that we came out of and have become more and more identified with our thoughts - one tiny aspect of who we are.

Impermanence - Anicca

Ancient cultures around the world realized what to us living in the modern world seem to have forgotten - that life is a microcosm of the universe itself, and is in a constant state of change. The only constant is change itself. This is what the Buddhists call "anicca" which literally means impermanence. This knowledge did not cause worry or fear as it might today, but a sense of calm and peace, the acceptance of the way things are, and that everything rises and passes away in an unending cycle. As a culture, we are taught to yearn for things or experiences that are desirable or cause us to feel pleasure, and to avoid painful or negative experiences. The acceptance of anicca in ones life is actually quite liberating. Instead of spending energy craving or avoiding things, you just accept everything as it comes, not judging it to be good or bad but simply allowing it to happen and then, inevitably, to pass away into the ether.

The Benefits of Meditation in Modern Life

The benefits of meditation are particularly compelling and needed at this time in our history. Many people live more unnaturally than they ever have, working long hours in offices in front of computers, living in huge buildings alone in tiny apartments, eating at their desks, consuming foods that are processed and made in factories, not getting enough sleep, spending little to no time outside and always in a hurry. Does this sound familiar? If this is not you, then you are fortunate, but it is the life that many of us have - often out of necessity. We also have problems like violence, addictive behaviours, mental illnesses and suicide in unprecedented numbers. Our modern lives, and the fast pace at which we live them, have caused us to lose the connection to ourselves and to others. So many of us are sick, sad and lonely and struggling to live lives with the most basic of necessities. Also, for the first time in a long time, life is not getting better for each subsequent generation, it is getting harder. The political, and economic landscape has become divisive, corrupt and many people are losing faith in their ability to live a happy, fulfilling life.

The gift that meditation can give you is a chance to slow down. It is amazing all the sounds you can hear in the silence. It is amazing what happens when you slow down and LISTEN. Going outside and sitting in the grass quietly, you will begin to hear that nature has a hum that you have never heard before. It is communicating with you, it has always been communicating with you, but you have never been able to hear it. The natural world speaks a language that we have all known since the dawn of time, but our lives - the way we are living our lives - are drowning it out and we have slowly forgotten it.

Our fast paced, hectic lives take a toll on us on many levels. Physically they exhaust our adrenal glands (the glands that sit on top of our kidneys and manage our fight or flight responses to perceived threats or danger). Due to the high levels of stimulus constantly coming at us, our nervous systems are overworked and easily become exhausted leaving us feeling frazzled and anxious. Many of us are overworked and under-slept not giving our bodies time to heal, relax and play that they desperately need. Some may need to work more to pay off debts, school loans or support families, parents or grandparents. It has become increasingly difficult to live a balanced life in an unbalanced world. With the widening gap between rich and poor, life for many is getting harder and not easier putting even more stress on us individually and as a species.

With this constant focus on the external world, which is where we must focus at least some of our energies if we are to survive, there is little time to look inward and cultivate our inner worlds. This includes the cultivation of our spirit which contributes to our health and wellbeing. It also allows us to remove ourselves from the world of the physical, detach from our ego's and reconnect with the one universal energy.

Meditation & Health

Meditation is something I recommend to all my patients. In my opinion, there is not a single person that would not benefit from meditating regularly. It does not require any expensive equipment, any in depth knowledge or adherence to a specific set of beliefs or a level of physical fitness. All you need is the desire and a little time.

I usually recommend starting slowly to help get your body and mind into the habit. It can be overwhelming at first and many experience what can be quite an intense "monkey mind". That is the mind racing from one thought to another and never seeming to quiet down. This is normal. If you think about it, we rarely simply allow our minds to wander - letting them move from one thought to another without pulling them in one particular direction. We are constantly tasking them with specific things, forcing them to focus and never really allowing them to relax and for our thoughts to meander as they like. So, when you begin, your mind tends to sort of freak out, having never been allowed to run free before, it runs wild and in all directions at once. I find that starting slowly helps, and after a few days or sometimes weeks, your mind starts to quiet down. There are many, many meditation techniques out there, and if you like, you can find one that resonates with you, but for the beginning I simply tell patients to get to a point where your mind is quiet. Once there, focus on your breathing and the physical sensations on the body. Just observing them. The wind hitting a spot on your arm. The breath as it enters your nose. The smell of a flower growing just outside an open window. The mind will inevitably wander, but you must not get frustrated, you simply kindly and gently bring yourself back to the breath. Twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes in the evening is ideal and you will find that just this small thing will have a positive effect that will ripple through your entire life.

Meditation Benefits

There are numerous benefits to maintaining an ongoing meditation practice for body, mind and spirit. They are:

  • Improves memory, concentration and clear thinking
  • Improves quality and quantity of sleep
  • Decreases anxiety and stress
  • Builds a sense of wellbeing
  • Deepens our sense of compassion and insight
  • Nurtures a sense of joy, peace and love
  • Helps to build connections within ourselves and with others
  • Helps us to process and manage our emotions
  • Cultivates personal growth and self discovery
  • Helps to connect us to our inner selves
  • Separates us from the ego and helps us to connect to source or universal energy

Beginners Meditation Tips

  • Start Slowly - Just 10 Minutes at a Time is Great
  • Find Time Everyday - Preferably Morning, Evening or Both
  • Find a Comfortable Seated Position
  • Be in a Room with No distractions - Clean & Quiet with Good Energy
  • Expect Your Thoughts to Run Wild at First - They Will Calm Down with Time
  • Focus on Your Breath - Whatever Thoughts Enter Your Head, Just Gently Return to the Breath
  • Be Kind to Yourself - It Takes Time!

A Guided Meditation for Beginners (4 Videos)

There are almost limitless meditations and techniques, and I encourage any of you that are new to meditation to try things out and find something that resonates with you. Here is a nice guided meditation with some information and good instruction that you can check out on our YouTube channel, I will embed them below. Feel free in the comments to let me know what you think. :)

Samadhi - Guided Meditation - Chinese Medicine Living YouTube Channel

Meditation Gear

The great thing about meditation is you really don't need any "gear" at all. All you really need is a quiet place and, if possible, something soft to sit on so your bum and legs don't hurt. But, if you want to get more serious, then creating a lovely, peaceful space where you can meditate and having a few things can help get you into the right head and body space to do some serious meditating. I would say that having a dedicated space for meditating is wonderful if you can do it. The thinking is that every time you meditate in that space, you are building up the good energy there and it will help you slip into your meditations more easily. If you don't believe me, try it. Once you have been meditating in a space for a while you will literally be able to feel how powerful the energy is there. And it doesn't have to be big, all you really need is enough room to sit down and cross your legs.

Seated on my SPOKO meditation bench.
There are many ways to sit in meditation, you just have to find the one that is comfortable for you. 

Another thing that is nice to have is a meditation cushion, or bench to sit on for your meditation practice. There are a wide variety of both, and which kind you choose is really about your own personal preference. I have a few cushions of different styles that I love as well as this beautiful meditation bench which I have featured in this article. Now, I have used a few types of meditation benches which are originally what the Japanese use to meditate, and all of them were pretty uncomfortable, especially for long meditations. But, this particular bench was ergonomically designed and is actually incredibly comfortable - and beautiful to boot. It is called the Spoko meditation bench made by a lovely company in Canada. I love this bench as it is comfortable, beautiful and very portable for impromptu outside meditations. The legs come off so it is very easy to throw into a backpack if you are doing something like hiking up to a waterfall or walking in a forest and find a place you would like to stop and meditate to soak up the nature vibes.

If you would like to read my review of this sassy bench you can here - Spoko Meditation Bench Review.

Meditation for Everyone

In conclusion, I think it is exciting that meditation is getting so much positive attention these days. Scientists are now beginning to be able to prove its positive effects on the brain and body, and many cultures have known its benefits on all aspects of our beings for centuries. Even though I am a practitioner of Chinese medicine, I always stay open to all possibilities that can bring healing to us on any and all levels. Meditation, for me, has been one of the best healing tools that I have discovered. Like anything, there are layers to it and it depends on what you goal is when you begin, but I have found that one of the best things about meditation is that when you spend time in the silence, there is a unique opportunity to delve deeply into yourself, and that if you are willing to listen, this is where the answers to all the questions that you have ever asked lie. It has been a reminder that inside us is everything that we have ever needed to be healthy, happy and divine beings.

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End Notes

Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana meditation is approximately 2500 years old and is thought to be the meditation taught by the Buddha himself. If you would like to learn more about Vipassana meditation, you can read about the two 10 day silent Vipassana retreats that I have done here - My 10 Day Vipassana Meditation and Vipassana 2.0. There is also an excellent documentary about Vipassana meditation that I would highly recommend called The Dhamma Brothers.

In this article, I have featured the SPOKO meditation bench. If you would like to read the review, you may do so here - Spoko Meditation Bench Review. If you would like to have one of your very own, you may purchase it here - SPOKO.ca

The wonderful guided meditation is from The Samadhi Center via the AwakenTheWorldFilm YouTube Channel. Thank you for your awesomeness!

There is an excellent series of four videos called Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds. They cover a huge range of topics, but are a must see for everyone! There is quite a bit on meditation as well so check them out, I highly recommend them. :)

You can watch all four parts on the Chinese Medicine Living YouTube Channel.

Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds

Part One - Akasha
Part Two - The Spiral
Part Three - The Serpent And The Lotus
Part Four -  Beyond Thinking

The beautiful featured image Photo by Sarah Ball on Unsplash. Thank you!


How My Cat Taught Me About Buddhism

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Cats are the ultimate Buddhists.

When I first arrived in Panama many years ago, a friend arrived at my door one day with a burlap sack and handed it to me. Inside it was a tiny kitten, about the size of a tennis ball. He was filthy, missing patches of fur and had a huge cut on his tiny pink nose. I instantly fell in love with this baby cat and from then on my life completely revolved around his comings and goings.

Little Pepe soon after I got him at about 5 weeks old. Who could resist that face??

Being In The Present

I used to love to watch him. No matter what he was doing, he was always so in the moment. I never saw him sitting around brooding over the past of worrying about the future as people so often do. He was always absolutely engrossed in whatever he was doing at that particular moment. He was always reveling in the present.

Seeing The World As It Is

My little cat was living his life, fully in the present. He wasn't avoiding certain situations or experiences. He was taking life as it came and, seeing the world as it really was. As human beings tend to do, we avoid things that are painful or unpleasant and crave experiences and things that give us pleasure which creates a constant cycle of unhappiness. Pepe was living the hell out of every moment, no matter what was happening.

Little Pepe - fearless explorer, supreme hunter, and the ultimate Buddha. 

Everything Is A Meditation

I used to watch him while he was hunting, often birds, and he was so focussed and almost relaxed as he stalked them... it really seemed to me that everything that he did was a meditation. He was always mindful and present and everything he did seemed like the thing he was DESIGNED, MADE to do. It was so effortless, and even though I often had to save birds from his clutches, I loved to watch him because it was like watching water moving effortlessly through his environment.

In Harmony With His Environment

Pepe always seemed like he was perfectly designed to blend seamlessly into his environment. Like millions of years of honing the perfect cat characteristics had reached its equinox with this one, small white cat. He effortlessly climbed the highest trees, plucked birds out of the air with one perfectly calculated jump. He and the environment were one, communicating through some silent nonverbal language, like a song being written on the fly, of the most beautiful music you have ever heard. Music you could never have conceived of because it is divine in nature. There was an ease about his movements and demeanor, and he always seemed relaxed and completely content, like he was made for his environment, and it was made for him.

Equanimity

I never saw things like fear (which might have done him some good sometimes, oh the things he would get into!!) from my little cat. He was always perfectly equanimous. I never saw him reflecting, brooding or looking anxious, he always seemed perfectly at peace. My life in those days was filled with such dramatic highs and lows and I always would look at my little cat and wish I could be more like him. Good and bad things didn't happen, only things. It is us that judge them as being good or bad. Pepe seemed to have equanimity at all times, no matter what might have been going on. I admit, there were many times I envied him, wishing for the balance that eluded me and seemed inherent in him.

Impermanence

It always amazed me how Pepe could be so completely engrossed in any activity and seamlessly flow into being just as engrossed in the next thing as it came. I never saw him stop something he might have found enjoyable and get sad that it was over. This seems to be a purely human thing. He was completely able to move from one thing to the other just being and taking it all as it came. Not being sad about things that had gone or worrying about what was coming. He was all about anicca (the Pali word that represents that all things, including the self, are impermanent and constantly changing). Change is so difficult for many people and I have certainly struggled with it. Pepe however, seemed not to even notice, he was able to go with the natural from of things.

Vipassana Meditation : Chinese Medicine Living

Wisdom

I have had a lot of change, upheaval, highs and lows in my life. I have bene trying in my own way, to live it to the fullest. So many of these Buddhist concepts and teachings are difficult for me, and I am constantly working on them. I find that whenever I am feeling something strongly (which is often), or struggling with my feelings (which happens on a regular basis), wondering things like why bad things happen to good people or get worried or depressed about the state of the world, all I have to do is go outside and watch my little cat. He is a wonderful reminder that things aren't good or bad, they just ARE, and it is my feelings and judgements about them that cause me unnecessary suffering and pain. My little cat always seems content, in the moment and completely at peace with himself and with life. With all that I have "learned" in many decades on this planet, I realize that my little cat Pepe is still one of my best teachers.

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If you would like to read about my experience with Vipassana meditation (and my foray into Buddhist concepts and teachings), you can read these - My Ten Day Vipassana Meditation, & Vipassana 2.0. I hope you enjoy them. :)


5 Ways To Cleanse Your Energy Field

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Everything is the universe is made of energy; from the planets to rocks, to human beings. Energy affects all of us, which is why it is a good idea to keep your personal energy field clean and free of negative influences and vibrations. For a healer, this is extremely important, so many healers have rituals that they perform to ready their energy for the healing session as well as cleansing their energy afterward. I know that before I see a patient before I even enter the room with them I make sure that I take a moment to clear my head, ground myself and set an intention for the session. After the session, I make sure to cleanse my energy so that I am not carrying any remnants of the previous person's energy to the next patient, as well it is a sort of recalibration, or reboot of your energy field so that you are starting fresh with each patient. For me, what ritual, meditation, intention or objects you may use are not as important as doing it in the first place. There are many, many ways that you can cleanse and restore balance to your energy field, you just need to find the one that is right for you.

I like using crystals and stones in my treatment room and sometimes with patients for healing specific issues and attracting certain energies to the space. I burn a lot of incense and sage, especially after a particularly intense or emotional session. I always make sure to wash my hands constantly throughout the treatment and certainly after each patient. I use Qi Gong regularly with patients (with their permission). I have salt lamps in my treatment room for cleansing and purification of energies and I like to use colours for activating certain chakras and building certain energies that will help in my treatments. Below are just a few things you can use to cleanse your energy field. Try them out and see which ones resonate with you.

Sage & Smudging

this lovely image from heyfranhey.com

Burning sage is one of my favourite ways to cleanse energy. This practice goes back to Native American tribes who would use it in various rituals and healing practices. The practice of burning sage or "smudging" was often used to cleanse the energy of a person, group of people, animal, living or workspace. Native American tribes would often smudge people as they entered a sacred space before a ritual or healing took place to make sure everyone's energies were clean, and they weren't bringing anything with them that was not pure and might negatively influence the ritual that was about to take place. The Latin word for sage is Salvia from the word Salvus meaning "to heal". Burning sage keeps a person and their environment energetically balanced. Other benefits of burning sage are said to be a heightened sense of spiritual awareness and intuition, wisdom, cleansing of energy and clarity. Burning sage is also an excellent thing to do after you have been around people who are depressed, emotionally unbalanced, sad, ill, mentally ill, angry or emotionally toxic. Burning sage can also help you when you are feeling any of the above as it acts to clear those energies and restore balance. The idea of how this practice works is that the smoke attaches itself to the negative energy, and as the smoke clears away it takes the energy with it.

An example of the many herbs that can be used to burn for smudging : This lovely image from alchemy-arts.com

There are many cultures around the world that have adopted burning sage and countless other burning rituals. You may use burn many different herbs depending on your purposes. Traditionally, the Native American tradition of burning sage uses white sage or desert sage. To smudge yourself, another person or an environment like your home or workspace, do a small meditation to clear your thoughts and make your intentions clear. Sage burning is a wonderful way to regularly keep your home or workspace clear of negative energies, and you will find that you will feel a tangible, positive difference in how you and the space around you feel afterward.

Himalayan Salt - Salt Lamps & Salt Baths

Pink Himalayan salt is not only beautiful but has amazing cleansing properties as well, both for the body and the spirit. There are many ways that you can use Himalayan salt to cleanse your energy of negativity; you can carry a piece with you as a sort of protection from taking on negative energies from the world and other people in your day to day life, you can put Himalayan salt lamps in your home or workspace. Salt crystals absorb water from the air. The small light bulb in the salt lamp dries the crystal and causes it to release healthy negative ions - which are abundant in natural, healing places like oceans, waterfalls, and the beach - into the air. Negative ions in the air attract particles of pollution giving them a negative charge causing them to seek an electrical "ground" making them fall harmlessly to the ground. Nature is constantly producing negative ions to combat pollution in the air, this is why the air after a lightning storm always feels so invigorating - lightning produces a high concentration of negative ions. Because an energy source is needed to create negative ions - like the heat from the bulb in a salt lamp, lightning in a storm, rise and fall of tides at the beach and friction and evaporation in a waterfall - carrying salt does not have the same powerful effect. Think of salt lamps as protective as well as cleansing energy.

Carrying salt, as well as bathing in salt baths are a great way to cleanse energy. A salt bath cleanses both body and spirit. These can be used once a week to once a month to cleanse any negative energies that may have accumulated. It is a good idea to shower and wash first, then give yourself some uninterrupted time and the intention of cleansing so you can completely relax and be mindful of what you are trying to achieve. Burning incense or candles, having crystals or listening to relaxing music can also enhance the experience. Do whatever makes you feel good. All of these things contribute to the beneficial effects of the bath and open you up to the universal energies that rebalance and heal us.

A Cleansing Meditation

this calming image from buddhaweekly.com

Meditation is something I talk about a lot and I think is really vital to our health and wellbeing. That said, I know it can be a bit intimidating for anyone who has never done it and feels that they might not know "how". My thought is that the "how" isn't as important as doing it in the first place. Just starting by clearing your mind (which is no easy task, I know), and in the case of cleansing, setting an intention or having an image in your mind is what you need. You can think about whatever represents cleansing or purifying to you... it could be a white light, fire, creating a barrier around yourself, whatever you feel is cleansing, you can do a little meditation where you visualize the process of this cleansing of your energies, and it should do the trick. When I am energetically cleansing a patient, I see myself pulling negative, sticky energy off of them, balling it up and tossing it away. In many cases, they can feel me pulling it off and feel much better and lighter afterward. After a treatment, I have many different techniques that I use to cleanse, but a short meditation before and after each patient to recalibrate myself and cleanse any energy that isn't my own is vital to being an effective practitioner and a healthy, happy person. Find something that feels right for you and experiment. You will eventually hone it to what is exactly what you need.

Grounding, Drawing Energy from Nature

this beautiful image from magazine.gow.asia

Another favourite of mine is to leave it to the power of mother nature to remove negative energy and revitalize your body, mind, and spirit. You can draw energy from the earth, the sun and all the flowers, plants and trees that have been soaking up and are now radiating that wonderful energy right into your person. A great way to absorb good energy from nature is to take off your shoes and just stand with your feet on the ground, in the grass or in the sand and soak up the earth's energy directly into your feet. You can reach up into the sky and absorb the sun's energy at the same time and complete the circuit, becoming a conduit for the power of the sun and the earth at the same time.

Because so many of us now are living in big cities and live in apartments or houses and work in buildings all day long, we get less and less time to be in nature which is the ultimate healer. There is nothing better to cleanse negative energy and boost positive feelings and thoughts than simply going for a walk in a forest, on a beach or along a path outside, breathing deeply and taking it in through all your senses. To some, this may sound a bit silly, but this connection to nature's healing power is something we have largely lost and I think is a huge contributor to our decreased health, happiness, and well-being as a species. Chinese medicine believes that a close relationship with nature is an integral part of health, and is a huge part of its system of preventative medicine. So, if you want to clear negative energy, rebalance, recharge and reconnect, go outside. Breathe deep. Take off your shoes. Lie in the grass. Climb a tree. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you.

Move Your Body

this happy image from startupdope.com

One of the major causes of both pain and disease in Chinese medicine is energy that gets stuck, or stagnant. This can start energetically and eventually can manifest physically as well. A large part of these "stagnations" in the body are due to the fact that we have become so sedentary. Exercise is good for your body for many reasons, not just physically, but emotionally and psychologically as well. A great way to also get rid of negative or old and stuck energy is to simply move your body. You can do this any way you like. Go for a run. Do some yoga. Practice Qi Gong or Tai Chi. Go out dancing. Anything that moves you will increase circulation, and move energy inside your body as well as move old energy out to make room for new, good energy.


External Qi Healing - Part 2

By John Voigt

**Disclaimer. This article is written for educational purposes only.  It is not offered for the healing of any serious illnesses. If a person is sick he or she must see a proper professional, in either (or both) western or traditional Chinese medicine.**

C - The Sending. 

It is important to be relaxed, both physically, mentally and emotionally.  Never send healing qi if you are fatigued, sick, or mentally distressed; your client could become sicker, and possibly you could more easily infected with their illness.  Proceed in the following manner:

1)  Ground yourself, center, and connect to your sources of spiritual energy.  Breathe fully, softly, deeply.  Have a hint of a smile at the corners of the mouth.  Gently tighten the muscles in the perineum area.

2)  With your creative imagination, build an Energy Shield all around yourself to prevent the entry of any pathogenic qi.  Rub your hands together.  Stretch open your palms and wiggle your fingers.   

3)  Bend your knees and crouch down a little to better ground yourself and to increase, solidify and intensify the qi in your body.  Look directly at the area or areas on the client that you are about to send to (qi follows sight)  and form a “Tiger’s Claw” with your right hand.  The left hand is held by the left side.  [see picture].

4)  Send qi to the acupuncture points related to the condition.  Use your eyes as well as your hands to direct sharp pointed beams of radiant qi-energy.  As with acupuncture treatments, simultaneously send to as many points and places as the condition requires.  The healer’s “sent qi” will become the client’s “internal qi” and dissolve and drain out pathogenic elements.

5)  When engaged in a send it is proper to feel heat, especially in the hands, and even to heavily sweat.  But if you feel cold then stop.  Do a qigong closing form and try again at some future time.

Although there are many accepted places from which to emanate healing qi, the author prefers the acupuncture points Large Intestine-1 (Shangyang), Pericardium-8 (Laogong) and Pericardium-9 (Zhongchong).  The locations are LI-1 on the outer side of the index fingers just below the corner of the nail.  Pc-8 is on the palm approximately where the tip of the middle finger would touch when making a fist.  Pc-9 is at the center of the tip of the middle finger.  Generally the sending comes from the right hand, with the left hand functioning to release and drain noxious energy, but both hands can be used to send.  The hands could be stationary, but it is best to lead and guide the “good qi”  forward and move the bad qi out of the troubled areas.  This is done in pushing-pulling manipulations; or by waving, rotating, or quivering  motions. Good qi can be “screwed in” and bad qi can be “unscrewed” by moving the right hand in a clockwise motion, and the left hand counter-clockwise.  These are only suggestions: there are many other different well established methods to perform external energy healings.

Large Intestine 1 Acupuncture Point from A Manual of Acupuncture by Peter Deadman

The Pericardium Acupuncture Points Running Along The Inner Arm : Image from ITMonline.org

Scan-Snatch-Throw method to remove harmful qi. 

If the practitioner is skilled enough he or she may be able imaginatively to bring their hands into the client’s body and, as it were, scoop and pull out the polluted illness causing qi.  One of my teachers succinctly described this method as, “Scan-Snatch-Throw.”

Correcting Yin-Yang Imbalances. 

Health problems are often caused by imbalances of yang-heat and yin-cold.  This EQH treatment comes from VitalityLink Finder:  If a patient shows signs of excess heat or cold we are able to rebalance these energies through emitting wai qi [external energy] of the opposite quality.  This conforms to the TCM treatment principle of using cooling techniques on heat conditions and warming techniques on cold conditions.

To create warming energy, the therapist imagines drawing down the energy of the sun into the Dan Tien, a major energy centre below and behind the navel.  The energy then collects in the Dan Tien in the form of light and heat.  The therapist then draws the qi from the Dan Tien to the Laogong point (Pc 8) in the centre of the palms.  This qi is then emitted to the client.

To create cooling energy, the therapist imagines drawing cool earth energy up into the Yongquan (Ki 1) points on the soles of the feet.  The qi should then be mentally drawn up from the feet to the Laogong points in the palms.  Imagine cool wai qi forming on the palms only, and emit this qi to the client.  It is important not to imagine this cool energy anywhere else in your body as cold has a tendency to slow qi and blood flow. [ Wai Qi Liao Fa – Healing by External Qi Projection. http://www.vitalitylink.com/article-qi-gong-1132-wai-liao-healing-external-projection-energy

this image from lexicolatry.com

Sensations Experienced During Healing. 

When doing External Qi Healing both the sender and the client may feel tingling, itching, hot or cold or electrical pin-prick sensations. For the sender especially in the hands and in particular the palms and fingers.  The client may experience quivering in the problem areas.  Any of these sensations may also travel in the meridians, especially in the arms and legs—but more often this feels like numbing electrical currents.  These all are signs suggesting a healing may be taking place.

When the energy is being guided and moved by your mental intention to leave your fingers, palms, eyes—even from other parts of your body—you might actually see the qi.  From what teachers have told me, and including my own experiences, this often appears as a phosphorescent mist (interestingly the original meaning of qi was something like a “vaporous foggy mist”).  Or the qi may appear like a luminescent white cloud clustered around the hands, fingers, and especially the palms (laogong points).  This light may increase as your practice deepens and become something like a bright moon shining on a clear dark night.  During distance healings at night I twice saw rays of this phosphorescent qi substance running from my hands to the targeted subject.  At another sending, this time in the same room, the client saw it as resembling heat waves rising from a summer sunbaked highway.

D - After the Send. 

The healer might offer suggestions and instructions to the client in such things as meditation, qigong or tai chi exercises, or appropriate dietary changes and other lifestyle modifications.

After the client has left...

It is important to remove any unwanted qi you may have picked up during the send:

1.  Shake your hands as if you were shaking off dirty water; kick your feet front and back as it you had stepped in dog feces and you were cleaning it off your shoes.  It will be absorbed into the ground and function as compost.

2. Rub down the outsides and insides of your arms and again flick the “evil qi” from your hands.  If practical, jump up and down to further rid yourself of anything noxious.  This is all best done outdoors and in sunlight.    

3.  If the transmission took place at night (understanding sending during the day is best) stand and raise your arms up in front on the inhalation and back down on the exhalation.  When inhaling lift your heels. When exhaling lower your heels back to the ground.  The goal is to have the pathogenic elements flush out the soles of the feet and the tips of fingers.

4.  After washing and changing clothes, use inner (nèi dān) qigong-like meditations or visualizations:  From outside sources, which may range from flowers and trees to the sun,  gather external qi into yourself.  And if acceptable to the belief systems of you the healer,  gather in the energies of divine spiritual entities.  This is the time to do whatever is necessary to clean and recover your life force.

Sage Smudging : Image from  nari-gordon.livejournal.com


Happy Fun Qi Gong - Part 3

**This article originally appeared as "Happy Fun Qigong."Qi JournalVol. 25, No 3, Autumn 2015.**

By John Voigt

Laughter.

Learn to laugh deep inside, feel that the laughter is vibrating tremendously inside you. When you do this, the blood, the chi [qi], the energy are all moving. So the stagnant chi is gone, and the most important pump, the heart, can work with less effort. Mantak Chia. Wisdom Chi Kung. Destiny Books, 2008. pg. 64.

 

With a big smile and without saying what you are about to do, go up to people in the group and slowly and softly start making “Ha” sounds. When someone joins in, show your approval with grinning nods and thumbs up gestures. Wave your hands inviting others to join in. When you have as many folks conscripted into this as you practically can get, increase the tempo and volume. Once they catch on they have been tricked into laughing, they will laugh even harder. After a minute or so of this stealth hilarity, signal them to stop. Some should still be giggling or at least smiling. Most of them should be feeling good all over. Now you may want to give a mini-lecture along these lines: “As an old great qigong master of the past said, Laughter is not only the best medicine, sometimes it can be the best qigong. [Note to reader: actually I made that one up, but I like the way it sounds and anyway it isn’t totally wrong.] I continue with, “Much of the so-called “civilized” world that surrounds us is just plain nutty, and has the ability to creep behind our eyes into our minds with its worries, fears and negative judgments—and that can mess us up. Laughter helps prevent that from happening.”

this joyous image from thegospelcoalition.org

 

Five Organ Laughter for Emotional Wellbeing.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) there are five major organs, but these organs are not exactly like the body organs of western medicine. Rather than being like something seen in a display case at a butcher shop, the Liver, Heart, Spleen, Lung, and Kidney are interrelated profound energetic forces. That is why they are capitalized and not written as plurals. Even though understood as being in part physical, in traditional Chinese thought these organs are more like active verbs than stationary nouns. The way they function is the basis for all life, including physical and mental health or sick- ness. For our purposes sending laughter into any organ enhances its well-being.

 

Have the group begin with some deep belly laughs. A minute or so is enough. This should bring qi into the dan tian located in the center of the lower abdomen; this is the place where qi is gathered and stored for future use. Carefully monitor the group so that no one laughs too hard. At times you may need to lower the volume to a quiet or medium laughter so no one hurts themselves. Finish with a clockwise rub- bing of the lower belly. Cats and dogs like their dan tians rubbed this why. Why shouldn’t we?

 

Next laugh gently into each of the organs in the order given below. Silent laughter and even humming into the chosen organ seems to help break up negative emotions. Simply smiling into an organ might even produce good results, as long as a full but comfortable abdominal breathing is maintained throughout this gymnastic.

Liver (on the central right side of the torso).

When the qi flow is harmonious in the Liver a person feels empowered. When the flow is disturbed a person may suffer from personal frustration and feelings of being too vulnerable. Laughing into the Liver can function as a way to change feelings of anger into a sense of relaxed self-assurance.

Heart.

The Chinese traditionally conceive the Heart as being the center of both mind and emotions. It is located in the upper center of the torso, in much the same place as the heart chakra, or the Middle Dantian. When the flow of Qi is disturbed or if there is an excess of qi in the Heart, a person may become mentally hyperactive, even hysterical. Laughing into the heart will not only increase the healthy circulation of blood in the arteries, veins, and capillaries, it is said to smooth out and reduce excessive emotions; and the over-thinking of what the Chinese call, “too many monkeys in the head.”

Spleen.

This organ is on the lower left side of the torso and governs digestion. In TCM it often includes the pancreas and stomach. (Mantak Chia tells his students the importance of owning an anatomy book and study at its pictures so you know where to look inside yourself when doing qigong). Disharmony here triggers worry. Harmony here helps create a state of clear calm mindfulness. Laughing aloud or silently into your lower left abdomen seems to drive away worrisome thoughts and replace them with feelings of clear happy confidence.

Lung. (upper torso).

It is given as a singular and not plural “lungs” because we are talking about one interrelated group of energetic

It is given as a singular and not plural “lungs” because we are talking about one interrelated group of energetic functions, and not simply a physical organ on both sides of the chest. Here disharmony, stagnation, and depletion of qi can create - or be created by - feelings of isolation, grief, and depression. (It’s the same in all the organs: the emotion effects the qi and the qi effects the emotion.) The Chinese saw that when a person was in a state of intense grief and or depression they would seem to stop breathing, and often bend over so much that they could hardly breathe at all. If we understand the word “qi” can also mean “breath” it makes sense that laughing into the Lung can bring about feelings of courage and victory. I like using the image of the Tarot card The Chariot, as a visual metaphor of this positive state of being, with the breastplate of the Charioteer signifying the ribs of the chest.

Kidney.

As mentioned above, the Kidney is a singular term in Chinese traditional thought. When a person is very frightened they may “pee themselves.” Therefore the Chinese posited that the Kidney relates to the energy element Water, and when the qi is not right in the Kidney the bad emotion most likely to appear is fear. To create harmony in the Kidney, access it by laughing into both sides of the lower back, and into both sides of the lower front of the body just below the belly. Breathe in, and with short staccato repeating exhalations, laugh into the Kidney. As with all Happy Fun practices be relaxed and don’t force anything. A minute or so of this inner laughter can help in dissolving the emotions of fear into feelings of joyful personal power.

If the group would be comfortable with it, here is a way to close the Laughter gymnastics. It comes from http://www.laughteronlineuni- versity.com/150-laughter-exercises/64. Heart to Heart Laughter: (Intimacy Laughter) Hug each other and laugh by feeling the vibrations in each others’ bodies; alternatively, you can hold hands and laugh. The participants come closer and hold each other's hands and laugh with compassionate eye contact. One can shake hands and hug each other while laughing if convenient.

Ending The Happy Fun Qigong Session.

1. Total Body Shaking, Twitching and Wiggling.

This is a quick gymnastic to cleanse and refresh the organs and meridians. It should be done quickly and loosely. It should feel good and be fun to do. We start twitching, shaking and wiggling the toes, then the feet, and continuing these nervous wiggle twitching movements in the feet, we move it up the legs, waist, body, head, and still continuing this wiggle twitching in all those places, we move it into the shoulders and down the arms and into the fingers. Now your entire body, legs, arms, and head should be twitching and wiggling like a rag doll in a wind storm. Now reverse the process. As quickly as you can, stop the wiggling in the fingers, then stop it in the lower arms, upper arms, shoulders. Then stop in the head, upper body, lower body, hips, upper legs, lower legs, feet, finally the toes. End by taking a deep breath and carefully jumping up and coming down with a shouted “HA!” Next, pretend you are a collie dog coming out of the ocean after a swim and shake the water off your fur.

2. Flicking the Schmutz Off.

Next, we do some outer gymnastics I have often seen people doing early in the morning in parks around the country. It is a way to get rid of any remaining xié qì! meaning “bad qi.” (For any Mandarin purists out there it is pronounced shay chee. The arrows indicate pitch direction of the words.) Schmutz is a German word, and the similar“ shmuts” is Yiddish; both mean “nasty, filthy, yucky, or xié qì.

The Gymnastic. Bring your hands up and out to your sides and as if they were covered with dirty dish water shake and flick the schmutz off - especially from the fingers. I instruct those in my groups to do it this way. Shake off the bad stuff. Wipe it off yourself, wipe your arms, hands, legs and toss it on the ground. Don’t worry about ecology, this stuff goes right down into the earth like compost.

3. Kicking the Schmutz Off.

Next, I lead the group in kicking their feet forward as if we were getting rid of dog poop on our shoes. Then we kick the heels back. Then we kick the feet out sideways. Having the group move about kicking this way is a lot of fun. It gives me a chance to yell out, “Don’t kick that stuff on me!” to really enhance the experience, (and I seriously don’t want that stuff on me anyway.)

This all may seem silly, but nevertheless, it is a valid Chinese technique to get rid of xié qì. If you are doing this gymnastic outdoors and there is sidewalk close by, go to it and wipe the bottoms of your shoes on the curb, the area between the sidewalk and the road. We don’t want to be tracking any bad qi into the house, now do we?

4. Close the session.

You can close the session with any standard smoothing and centering the qi exercises that you might normally perform.

Disclaimer.

Happy Fun Qigong is practiced to gain feelings of health and well-being. It is not meant to be a substitute for medical treatment for physical or psychological illnesses. Consult your doctor or an appropriate medical professional before beginning this or any other exercise regimen. Otherwise, Fun Happy Qigong is not suitable for people who have physical or mental health problems. This is even more so for anyone who may suffer from uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, metastasized cancer, epilepsy, hernia, serious backaches, or psychiatric disorders. If discomfort or pain is felt when doing this or similar exercises consult a doctor immediately. The author and the publisher disclaim any liability or loss, personal or otherwise, resulting from any of the procedures and information presented in this article.

Concluding Comments.

Even though I used the word “visualization” in this article, I really do not like the term; it puts too much of a distance between the individual and what she or he is imagining. “Visualization” carries the idea of internally seeing something, and not actually being it or doing it. As in: You are here. It is there. You are watching it. It is being watched.

Instead of “visualizing” I prefer the terms “active imagination” or even better “inner-imaging.” But most people do not know what they mean. I want the practitioner to internally create an imaginative reality and then actively merge with and become it. However, this is advanced inner-energy work and therefore best studied with an advanced master. I am not saying don’t do it by yourself. What I am saying is that it is mandatory you are able to leave this “inner imaging” state whenever you wish and return to a more normal everyday reality. Otherwise, it could begin to resemble insanity. After all, you are not really Tarzan, Jane, or the ape.

In summary, Happy Fun Qigong uses inner-imagining yourself to become some or all of these formidable characters: Franz Liszt, a hula dancer, LeBron James, Tarzan (or Jane), a tiger, phoenix, peacock, a car lube air dancer. In this qigong you talk and listen to your smiley heart, laugh into your organs, shake twitch wiggle and jump, then flick and kick off the schumtz.

After all that I hope we all return to our everyday lives happier, healthier, and full of radiant healthy qi. BTW: Feel free to keep Tarzan and any of the other creatures alive inside yourself and ready to bring out of hiding and use whenever you wish - as long as you can put them back whenever you want to.

Endnotes

  1. If you are going to send qi-energy to anyone first always ask and get their permission; not to ask is impolite, improper, and invasive. The same with touching anyone to correct a posture or to show them an acupressure point: always first ask permission.
  2. Wiggling Fingers A personal note. This practice has helped me heal, or at least eliminate, the pain of arthritis in my fingers. Some of the joints are still gnarled, but now I can move my fingers easily.
  3. See “T-cell Modulation Group” at http://www.tcells.org/beginners/tcells/.
  4. “Five Animals.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Animals.
  5. “Phoenix (mythology)” [at] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoenix_(mythology).
  6. “Fenghuang” [at] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fenghuang.
  7. The “Phoenix Spreads its Wings” gymnastic presented in this article is a simplification of number 15 of the second set of Taijiqigong- Shibashi created by Lin Houshung, See “Lin Housheng’s Qigong” [at] http://www.lin-housheng.com/products.php.
  8. After these techniques are learned there is the potential of adding to them other Asian healing modalities such as using mantras, hand mudras, qigong gestures, ritual movements, affirmations and tuina massage. And adding some love into all this increases its effectiveness. Only the safety and security of the group and the presenter limit what may be done. Nevertheless laughing into the organs creates a foundation for any such future work.

How to Get Healthy in 2017 with Chinese Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

Another year is upon us! The arrival of the new year always causes me to reflect, and think about what I would like to improve upon in the coming year. Health, happiness and well-being are always top of the list, so here is a list of some things that we can all do to be a little healthier and happier in 2017.

Take Time for Yourself

this beautiful image from 68.media.tumblr.com

This is a hard one. Our lives seem to get busier and busier and we all seem to be working more and sleeping less which means less time for, well, us. Even though taking time out for ourselves is often not easy, it is an important part of our health. Psychologically, it is you caring about yourself enough to take the time to do something that feeds you, whatever that may be. Go for a walk, read a new book you've been meaning to start, have a bubble bath, start a new art project... do something that feeds your soul. Your whole body, mind, and spirit will thank you for it.

Meditate

this relaxing image from www.chatelaine.com

Now I know the thought of meditating is scary for a lot of people, especially if you have never done it before. But meditation doesn't have to mean spending hours on a mountainside in complete seclusion. If you are new to it, start slow. Spent ten minutes a day, either when you get up in the morning (the energy of the day is so calm and lovely at this time), or if it is easier, at the end of the day before you go to bed. Just sit or lie quietly without distractions (the TV, your phone, computer, etc..) and just relax. For the first many times you do this, your mind will no doubt be racing and it might not feel relaxing at all, but if you think about it, you never just "let your mind go" like this. We are always forcing our minds into doing things, like work, cooking, driving or what-have-you. Your mind also needs time to empty itself out, but once it does and goes quiet... it is wonderful. With some practice, you will be able to drop into a quiet meditation easily, and your body and mind will crave it because it is so nourishing to every part of you. I find that the benefits of a little daily meditation spill out into the rest of my life causing me to be calmer, more patient and generally happier which is a wonderful thing.

Find a Local Farmer

this image from larahudson.com

Reconnect with your food. Food does not arrive at the grocery store wrapped in cellophane and politely organized and placed onto carts. That food is grown and tended by farmers - people who have one of the most important jobs on the planet - feeding us. Our food is the medicine we use every day to keep us healthy, and many of us have lost our connection to where it comes from. If you are able to, find a local farm where you are able to visit and buy fresh, organic (if possible) foods for your family. If this is not possible, then find a local farmers market and meet the farmers there. This will give you a new appreciation for where your food is coming from, who is growing it and in turn, you will be eating local (very good in terms of Chinese medicine) and supporting your local farmers - who absolutely need and deserve the support of their communities. Farmers markets are also a wonderful place to meet other local, health conscious people, eat local treats and reconnect with your community. Win-win!

Reconnect with Nature

this lovely image from www.drjimtaylor.com

I know I say this one a lot, but it is so imperative to health on every level. One of the reasons we see disease on such an unprecedented scale is that we have lost our connection to nature. We live in huge cities where we spend our days behind desks in buildings under florescent lights instead of in forests and jungles, which is where we belong. We were not designed to live this, well, unnaturally. Obviously, it is not feasible to go completely wild and live in forests (unless you are really hardcore) but in Chinese medicine, we are always striving for balance. So, even if you work in an office or a factory and sit behind a desk or stand on an assembly line, eat your lunch outside. Take off your shoes and put your feet in the grass. Feel the earth, it is talking to you in a language you have probably forgotten. It is feeding you in a way you desperately need to be fed. When you have time off, go for a walk in a forest, swim in a lake or ocean, or instead of working out at the gym, go for a run outside. Our connection to the planet feeds us as much as what we eat and drink, so think of your time outside as food for your body and soul. You will notice how much better you feel, inside and out.

Zoom Out

this magnificent image from youtube.com

I love this one, and doing it helps your mental state more than you can imagine. Zooming out just basically means, keeping things in perspective. When you are having a problem or something disastrous is happening in your life, just take a moment and back up. Zoom out of your situation. Zoom out of the building, the street, the neighbourhood, the city, the country, the continent, the planet, and so on. The farther out you go, the better you will feel. It is so easy for our lives to become very small. Problems become huge and often seem insurmountable, but zooming out will help to keep things in perspective. Think to yourself... in the grand scheme of things, does this really matter? In a week, will I be thinking about this at all? Zooming out is a sort of meditation, and one I do often if I am struggling with something. Instead of feeling small, I am always trying to be as big, as expansive with my mind and my awareness as possible. Not always easily done, and certainly takes practice.

Be Grateful

Gratitude is something I try to practice every day. It has been one of the most beneficial practices that I have in my life, and I am so grateful for it. Ha. Being grateful doesn't mean that life is not going to present challenges. Life is full of them. But spending some time each day to consciously think about what in your life you are grateful for will put you in a happy, loving state of mind, which will attract more happy, loving energy to your experience. This energy will help you to cope when difficult situations arise and help you to fully appreciate all the wonderful things/people that you have in your life. Absolutely everyone has things that they can be grateful for, and focusing on this positivity will only draw more of it into your life and that is a wonderful thing.

Unplug

this image from gameacademy.com

We are all connected, and now this is even more true with the advent of the internet and the miracle of cell phones which allow us to communicate with one another from almost anywhere on the planet. This wonderful technology has allowed access to information by millions of people who would otherwise not be able to benefit from it. There are so many positive aspects to our ability to connect, but there are drawbacks too. The pendulum seems to have swung quite far in that direction so that in our attempt to stay technologically connected to each other, we have lost our human connections. I see groups of teenagers sitting together, each looking at their cell phones, instead of talking to each other. People live is vast cities, crammed into apartment buildings, but never interact with each other. As with all things, we are going for balance. Many people could not live without the internet of god forbid, their cell phone, but trying to unplug, at least for parts of the day or week is a good way to bring about that balance. Call a friend, then go and meet with them. Have a coffee and a conversation. We are social animals (not social media animals, although sometimes it seems we certainly are) and human contact is good for us and we NEED it.

Be of Service

A part of being human, and one of the reasons that I think we are here, is to serve our fellow human. This doesn't have to mean volounteering in a cancer ward or an old age home (as these are big commitments - but wonderful things to do), it may be as simple as helping someone struggling with their groceries, opening the door for someone with their arms full, giving someone directions when they ask you on the street. These small things make a huge impact. No one makes it through life alone. We all need each other, and by being kind, generous and helpful with our fellow human being is the glue that holds us all together. In a time where there is so much divisiveness in the world, it seems there are so many reasons for us to fear and hate each other, all it takes is the conscious effort to not let in that darkness and to treat each person with love and compassion, just as you would like to be treated. It will go a long way to healing the negativity on this planet and it happens to feel really good too. <3

How to Get Healthy in 2017 with Chinese Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living