Ready to Leave the Monkey Business of 2016?
I know many people who are ready to leave the Year of the Monkey 2016 behind. It was a year full of unexpected surprises, and some were not so great. The Year of the Red Rooster is ushered in on January 28, 2017, and it promises to offer some interesting twists and turns in the year ahead.
As always, there's good news and bad news. It is the yin and yang of life. The good news is the year will feel more focused, productive and visionary with more dedication and loyalty to the things that matter to you. The bad news is if you are looking for a rest after the year of monkey business, you may not get it.
On a related note, in numerology, 2017 is a year of endings and beginnings. It is a ”one” year. (Add all the numbers up and reduce to a single digit.) One is the number of creation. It is a powerful force that produces results from the intentions set. This marks a great time to look at your life and determine what is/isn't working and set intentions to create the life you want. What is the work you were meant to do in this “earth suit” this year? (Keep your eye out for another blog on what I mean by earth suit.)
It is always fun to read predictions and horoscopes for the upcoming year. They are truly entertaining with a grain of truth. But what if you could look at the qualities of the upcoming year that the prediction or animal represents and set some personal goals and intentions that align with those qualities?
Using Symbolism for Inner Growth
The ancient Chinese culture used astrology as a way of understanding how the celestial and terrestrial movements affected the human condition. They watched the sky, flora and fauna, and identified qualities and movements that described what they saw.
Using astrology symbolically is a wonderful way to move into the deeper aspect of yourself and the culture you live in. Symbolism offers a way to connect with your heart (spirit or soul-intuition) and gain greater clarity between your inner and outer world. This as an opportunity to ask for the red rooster’s assistance in matters of your life this year. Ask for assistance with goals and intentions. Ask if those intentions align with your inner world and the energies of the year.
Red Rooster Qualities
The rooster is up at dawn, waking the world up around him to the new day. He is laser-focused in his quest every morning as he faithfully watches over the hens in the yard. He is proud of the work he does. He is loyal to the morning call. He looks his best every day with his sharp features and flamboyant feathers. He walks with strength and pride. Don’t get in the way of his planned activities, or he will be sure to let you know he doesn’t appreciate it. The rooster does not take unwarranted risk. He plans his route of walking the yard, jumping in to ensure protection for all around him.
As the year opens to the Red Rooster, reflect on the following qualities and see how they play out in your personal and professional life. Think about areas in your life that are calling for the positive attributes of the red rooster. And ask yourself what areas of your life are the negative attributes getting in the way of moving forward.
With these attributes in mind, answer the following questions:
- Is the wisdom of the rooster calling on you this year to find focus and courage to make changes?
- Is he calling on you to open your mind and find patience and compassion for yourself and others?
- What calls to you in the wisdom of the rooster?
Leave a comment below and let me know how the Year of the Red Rooster relates to your life!
To a productive, beautiful 2017!
Identifying the Energy Thief
It is estimated that over 50 percent of Americans experience chronic fatigue. The most common causes are stress, overwork, insomnia, depression and major body system malfunctions. It can also be a sign that you are not in control of your life. Perhaps you are in a marriage that is not working or a job that feels stagnant. Maybe you never have time for yourself because you are too busy caring for others. Or maybe you have financial problems that make life feel like a burden. Whatever the issue is, it steals your energy. Modern medicine typically tries to treat fatigue with drugs such as Prozac, Paxil or Wellbutrin. Rarely are patients offered lifestyle counseling. But acupuncture and alternative treatments like herbs, nutrition and exercise can decrease and eliminate chronic fatigue.
How Acupuncture Can Decrease and Eliminate Chronic Fatigue
The majority of patients who complain of fatigue suffer from a deficiency of vital energy (Qi). Qi is the basic energy that manages optimal physiological and neurological function. Acupuncture is highly effective in healing fatigue because it can supplement the body’s energy.
Moxibustion, a topical warming therapy, is typically used as a nourishing complement to the needles. This involves burning mugwort on top of the needles or directly on the skin. This treatment is typically applied weekly for 4-6 weeks (then assessed for next steps).
Herbs and Chronic Fatigue
Qi deficiency primarily affects 4 organs: the spleen, kidney, heart and lungs. Here are the symptoms and herbal treatment options for each:
Spleen: Diarrhea, loose stools, bloating, bruising, fatigue, prolapse, laconic speech, internal cold
Herbal Formula: Bu zhong yi qi tang
Kidney: Low back pain, low libido, fatigue, internal cold, frequent urination
Herbal Formula: Jin gui shen qi wan
Heart: Restless sleep, worry, fatigue, heart palpitations, shortness of breath
Herbal Formula: Gui pi tang
Lung: Chronic cough, weak immunity, allergies, fatigue, shortness of breath, asthma
Herbal formula: Bu fei tang
Rhodiola rosea, ashwagandha and ginseng are also helpful herbs.
Supplements and Chronic Fatigue
The following supplements can also help revitalize you:
B Complex: B vitamins are warming and energizing. They build Qi and blood.
Tyrosine: Precursor to norepinephrine (often deficient in chronic fatigue)
5HTP: Precursor to serotonin; for deeper sleep, weight loss and anxiety
Adrenosen and Adrenotone: Effective adrenal tonics for fatigue due to adrenal burnout
Exercising the Fatigue Away
Getting 20-30 minutes of exercise 4-5 times a week can be a wonderful cure for fatigue. At first, this may be difficult because you won’t want to exercise when you feel tired. But after a few days, your body will begin to love the endorphin release and serotonin boost that exercise provides. Your program should be a combination of cardio (running, biking, swimming, hiking, etc.) and restorative exercise (yoga, tai chi, or qi gong).
The Fatigue Addict
Some people can become addicted to their chronic fatigue. Over time, it can cause people to use passive behaviors like giving up responsibilities and letting others take over. As a result, it can give you a lot of attention from others, which may seem nice at first, but can cause a codependent relationship down the road, where you give up your power in exchange for attention. It’s necessary to be honest about chronic fatigue to see if it has a hold on you psychologically. Here are a few questions you can ask yourself to see what your “relationship” is with your fatigue:
- What is your belief system around your fatigue?
- What do you tell yourself that supports and sustains the fatigue?
- What would your life look like if the fatigue weren’t an issue?
Taking Your Life Back
There are many wonderful treatment options for chronic fatigue. This article is not intended to cover this issue in its entirety, as there can certainly be other factors involved in fatigue (immune dysfunction, low-level pathogenic influences, etc.) The key is to be proactive in treating this condition. It’s important to identify what is stealing your energy and set an intention to heal it.
October is Lung Awareness month, so this is a great time to talk about the function of the lung from a Chinese Medicine perspective.
The Five Elements in Chinese Medicine
Before you can understand the lung, it's important to have a general scope of the 5-Element system, which is one of the main foundations of Chinese Medicine. It is a system that allows you to navigate the natural world and your body/mind through the process of change reflected in nature.
Here are the the 5-Elements reflected in the seasons:
- Water- Winter
- Earth-Late Summer
- Metal- Autumn
The elements are not like the periodic table of "physical" elements; they are phases and changes of movements in nature. Remember, the ancients of Chinese Medicine looked at the world through the movement of energy, or Qi. Each element works with the other elements in a beautiful dance called life. Examining the 5-Elements is a great way to understand this dance. In this post, I will cover the Metal element, since the lung and the autumn season is associated with that element.
Autumn: The Metal Element and the Lung
The lung is associated with autumn. With the fall of the foliage and fruit, the earth absorbs the decay and transforms it into nourishment for the roots and fertilizer for spring growth. Like soil draws in the essence from nature's withered harvest to nourish the living and its seedlings, the lungs draw in and disperse Qi (vital energy) to nourish the organs. Another way to look at it is the lungs take in the new and let out the old. Like autumn, the lungs deal with transition. With the 5-Elements you can see the physiological, mental, emotional and spiritual aspects of a person. It is really a system of self-awareness that allows you a deeper connection to yourself.
Metal Element Attributes
- Yin Viscera (solid organ): Lung
- Yang Viscera (hollow organ): Large Intestine
- Sense Organ: Nose
- Tissue: Body Hair and Skin
- Emotion: Grief, Melancholy, Sadness
- Transformation of Emotion: Moving from loss and grief to appreciation and acceptance.
- Virtue: Appreciation of Preciousness
- Season: Autumn
- Environmental Factor: Dryness
- Sound: Weeping
- Color: White
- Taste: Pungent
- Direction: West
- Time of Day: 3am-7am
- Light Attribute: Respectful, Inspired, Precise, Dependable
- Shadow Attribute: Rigid, Sad, Cut-off, Moralistic, Lacking Inspiration
The Lung (Metal Element) in Real Life
Let's meet Peter, Paul and Mary. They are long time friends who go on an annual fall hike through Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. They all love this time of year for the fresh chilled air, crisp light, beautiful colors, scent of pine and quiet, calm sounds as Mother Nature gets ready to slumber for the winter.
Peter really needs to go on this hike. He is uninspired and has the worst case of "writes block" he's had his whole writing career. Strangely, his writer's block came on several months ago after he lost his beloved cat to old age. He has entered into a terrible fatigue that has challenged him to enjoy life's foundational pleasures like eating and socializing. He seems to be walking around with a grey cloud over his head most days.
Peter is uninspired. The lung is about inspiration-the act of inspiring (inhaling) air and being inspired. Breath is at the center of existence. Without it we die. We "expire". Peter is unable to be inspired because he is experiencing grief from the death of his cat. The lung network has been weakened, and the lung energy is "knotting" and "contracting" due to his grief. Without this inspiration (metaphorically and literally), his body is unable to cultivate the energy needed for inspiration. Peter is experiencing the emotional aspects of an imbalanced lung network.
Paul has struggled with asthma most of his life. He also catches colds often, especially in the autumn. He caught a cold from his son a month ago and has not been able to "kick" it. He is worried he is going to hold up his friends on their hike with his shortness of breath and hacking cough. Not to mention, his eczema flares up every fall. He wants to scratch himself out of his skin. Paul fell the other day when he missed the curb and jammed his right thumb. It is swollen and aching. When this happened, he noticed a strange ache where his clavicle and shoulder meet.
The anatomy and architecture of the meridians often explain physical problems. The lung meridian starts in the upper chest just below the clavicle and runs down the arm to the thumb. If there is an injury along this meridian, pain can show up in other places along the meridian. Paul's shoulder and clavicle could be hurting because of his thumb injury. When the energy of the lung network is not strong, symptoms like asthma, bronchitis, and catching colds often show up. The skin is related to the lung network; if there is weakness in the lung network, skin issues often coincide with lung issues. Eczema is often a secondary complaint from people who suffer from asthma. Paul is suffering from the physical aspects of an imbalanced lung network due to trauma and constitutional weakness.
Mary has a love/hate relationship with autumn. She loves the season, but she knows that she will "shrivel up" like a prune October 1st. Her nose is like the Sahara Desert and with that comes nosebleeds and crusty mucus plastered to the sides of her nasal passages. She also broke up with her boyfriend six months ago and has had terrible constipation recently. She is having a hard time letting go of this relationship.
In Chinese Medicine, organs are paired together through their yin/yang relationships. One is solid, the other hollow. The lungs pair with the large intestine. Again, symptoms often give clues to which meridian is imbalanced. For Mary, her large intestine network is showing signs of emotional and physical imbalance. The constipation is an emotional and subsequent manifestation of Mary not letting go of her relationship that ended. Just as the large intestine gets rid of physical waste the body no longer needs, it also gets rid of emotions and situations that no longer serve us. The nosebleeds are a physical manifestation of an imbalanced large intestine network. Mary's dry nose can be attributed to the large intestine (and lung) network along with the change of seasons. As reflected above in the metal element attributes, dryness comes with the autumn season. Many people suffer dry nasal passages as the moisture from the summer heat begins to decline. Mary is suffering from a physical and emotional imbalance of the large intestine and lung network.
Imbalance Does Not Happen in a Vacuum
It is important to note that the body, mind and spirit are interconnected and so are the meridians of the body. The 5-Element system is dynamic, and all the elements interact with one another all the time. These caricatures are only showing you one aspect of the whole person. Each person mentioned above has other things going on within the realm of the 5-Element system.
We Are All Striving For Health
People stumble through imbalances in body, mind and spirit as they move through life. Our bodies naturally want to be balanced, which is the most pure reflection of health. Some imbalances pass easily, while others stick around a while or become permanent changes that require a new normal. Chinese Medicine allows us to see our health instead of our illness and understand and adjust what our body and mind might be trying to communicate. I hope this post gives you more insight into the lung network and the fall season from a Chinese Medicine perspective. Be well!
Getting to the Root Cause
Imagine you own a leaky sailboat with a broken rudder and a huge tear in the sail. To fix it, a shipwright gives you a pail to bail out the water, saws off the rudder, safety-pins the sail, and sends you on your merry way. Feel like jumping in ?
What if your body was the boat and your doctor offered the same remedies?
Unfortunately, this often happens with modern medicine. The bucket is a pill, the sawed-off rudder is surgery, and the safety pin is a crutch for a chronic condition. These “solutions” won’t get to the root cause of the problem and none will heal the illness.
Medicine Is More than Pills and Surgery
Unlike modern medicine, Chinese medicine (or East Asian Medicine) is about health, not disease. It treats the whole person—not just the part that is broken—so the illness can’t come back. To heal the whole person, three interconnected elements—physical, emotional and mental—need to be treated; fixing one is not a cure.
Feeling Like a Machine?
Through acupuncture and other Chinese medical treatments, you will learn how to relate to your body in a new way. Modern medicine may have you thinking you are like a machine (or a boat, for that matter) with interchangeable parts, but you are so much more than that. You have emotions and thoughts that greatly influence your physical state and vice versa.
You Have the Power to Heal
You have a life force within you that is creative, dynamic and has the power to heal. Chinese medicine helps you tap into that force and change your health (and life) for the better.
Do you want to continue to bail out water, or heal? Open yourself up to more than one way to health and wellness. Contact me to schedule a complementary 30-minute consult today.
I hear the voice in the back of my head as I jump into the deep water off the coast of Puerto Vallarta to snorkel for the first time.
“You can do this Steph!”
I see Matt, my husband, in the water below me smile and encourage me with kind words. But beyond him and below him, I see deep blue water where anything could be lurking to get me. The fear of the unknown creeps up again and I start to hesitate. My breath is shallow. There is no way to back out now.
So I dive in.
My face under water, I don't want to open my eyes. But when I do, all the fear leaves my body. It is amazing. There is another world below the surface and I am part of it.
Seven years prior to this moment I wouldn't have been on a boat to go snorkeling. Just being in the water at the beach would give me heart palpitations. My fear of deep water had been with me since I was a child.
It was a long road of transformation to love deep water.
And chronic illness prepares you to face your greatest fears too.
Cancer, a chronic and often times deadly illness, does a funny thing to a person. I know. Just like deep water, I now realize there really is nothing as scary as potentially dying without living your life to the fullest. Every moment. Every day. That includes doing things that scare me. It is all about transformation.
Now I sit at the precipice of the great unknown again. Only this time, it is allowing my voice to come out. It is time for me to start writing about my journey in health and how Chinese Medicine can support life, no matter where you are. It is time for medicine to heal our bodies, minds and spirits. Not just cover up symptoms.
Health can be a scary journey. It can often mean letting go of a part of you that no longer serves you. Whether that be certain foods you eat, unhealthy relationships, self-talk, or working less. Whatever it is, health is about transformation and riding the changing tide with grace and ease.
You see, if we aren’t changing/transforming we are dead. Change is constant.
I made the choice thirteen years ago to transform through my illness. It hasn’t been easy and there is no destination. It is a journey. It is a daily process of choices to cultivate my body, mind and spirit in ways that support me on my journey in this “earth suit” to be the best I can be. And Chinese Medicine helps me navigate my life in health.
What do you do everyday to support your journey of transformation in health and wellness? I would love to hear how you choose health and what works for you in this crazy modern world we live in.
If you would like to learn more about how Chinese Medicine can be a part of your transformation in health, please call contact me for a complementary 30- minute consult.
To your health!
For those of you who have been with me on the journey of opening my practice, I am excited to announce an Open House on Tuesday, May 3rd from 3-7pm with the other colleagues in my office. Please come by and meet Stephanie Ring, an MD specializing in women's sexual and reproductive health, Martina Skenderova, a Licensed Acupuncturist who specializes in cancer support and autoimmune conditions and Alison Ruge, who specializes in brainwave optimization. There will be mini-stress relief ear acupuncture sessions, pulse reading from a Chinese Medicine perspective, wine, light appetizers and some great give-aways as well. As always, thank you for all the support you have shown me over the years.