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A goal is first a vision, a spark of imagination, a hint of what could be before it’s ever a manifested reality. From a Chinese medicine perspective, the liver meridian mediates our hopes and dreams. Known as “the free and easy wanderer”, the liver energy is that part of us that longs to live without agendas and schedules; these restraints of modern life squelch the liver’s ability to move us along our most rewarding life path. If you’re not expecting exciting things for yourself – or if you’ve lost hope of ever creating a life that lights you up – it’s likely your liver energy could use a boost. A daily walk in nature and at least 20 minutes of “do nothing but daydream” time can do wonders to free you to begin living a life you love.
Many times, people will come see me for acupuncture when they’re at a crossroad. When they look around at life and feel disappointed, disenchanted, and sometimes downright disgusted with what they see as lack of progress toward some unrealized potential. More often than not, they’ll say something like, “I’d change jobs or move or find a more supportive, loving partner. But I don’t really know what I want and this is kind of okay, even though I’m not really happy”. Yet the mindset of “kind of okay” and “not really happy” will keep you standing in the crossroad in confusion and chaos. Because you’re buying into the biggest lie that people tell themselves, and that’s “I don’t know”. The mind and the heart, from a Chinese medicine perspective, are both capable of misreading and misleading us. It’s only the gut that won’t lie. That knows with a resounding “yes” or “no” if we but ask its guidance. And so to cultivate clarity, begin making every decision based on what your gut tells you is true. This inner knowing will guide you unerringly past this place to which you’ve come and take you as far as you really wish to go.
What we believe to be true IS true for us. Chinese medicine teaches that daily cultivation is key to positive change. If your beliefs need a boost, then practice turning your awareness toward something that makes you smile every time a doubt arises. Even focusing on one thing that makes you feel grateful can create a can-do attitude!
Buoyantly bubbly in nature, hope is our inner cheerleader, rooting us on no matter what external circumstances are showing us the “score” is. From a Chinese medicine perspective, hope wells up from the kidneys’ deep essence and is carried along the upward and outward liver pathways. And so nourishing the kidney and liver channels through deep breathing, proper rest, good nutrition, daily stretching, and walking in nature will nurture your Pollyanna tendencies and cultivate a true “can-do” attitude.
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
From a Chinese medicine perspective, the liver meridian fuels our imaginations and feeds ideas. But if liver energy isn’t well rooted, we can become wishful thinkers instead of action takers. Practice grounding daily through deep breathing, proper nourishment, and getting out into nature.
In ancient China, it was said the Emperor always faced South to keep a “good fortune” mindset. This practice illustrates how a “glass is half full” outlook is achieved by focusing our attention on all the good in life. There is inevitably something positive to experience if we look for it!
Michael John Bobak
As cellular biologist Bruce Lipton teaches, growth means being open to what is. And protection is shutting down in the face of a threat. Since an organism can’t be open and closed at the same time, we humans can’t grow when fear shuts us down. And so moving forward along our path usually involves taking a step that makes us feel exposed and even vulnerable. Until we can take a moment to see that, from our new vantage point, there really IS no threat lurking. Only then can we feel lit up by our progress!
So many times, we stop ourselves from taking action on our dreams because we don’t have everything figured out. We’ll get an inkling of how to begin working toward a goal, but because we can’t see how it all might come together, we abandon the idea – usually with a frustrated feeling of “what might have been…if only”. Chinese medicine teaches it’s the same channels governing digestion that also bless us with the patience and perseverance to pursue our path one step at a time. By nurturing our digestion with proper nutrition and learning to chew each mouthful thoroughly, we teach ourselves we can similarly “digest life” and move more easily toward our dreams – one mindful bite at a time.
When we suffer loss or disappointment, it’s natural to grieve and reflect on what’s happened. That process is how we heal, and there’s not one way or formula or timeline that feels right for everyone. In Chinese medicine, the lung and large intestine meridians govern grief and letting go. And so breathing issues and digestive difficulties can arise when at some point we can’t seem to stop gazing in the rear view mirror once we again try to navigate this thing called life. Deep breathing and walks in nature can help us remember we must keep our eyes on the road ahead so we can not only start to move forward again – but also begin looking for new blessings coming our way.
Jean de La Fountaine
We can hem and haw, delay and detour when we dread taking the very path our hearts know we must travel. From a Chinese medicine perspective, such avoidance is often fear that arises from an imbalanced kidney meridian. Since the kidneys rule our deepest essence, fear can feel bottomless – and hopeless. Yet if we practice nurturing our kidney energy – through rest, proper nutrition, and reassuring words like “everything is always working out for me” – we will begin to feel calmer and more confident no matter how our fate unfolds.
Many people who see me for acupuncture are at a crossroads in life. They have big dreams and bucket lists, but have often spent years planning, preparing – and procrastinating. From a Chinese medicine perspective, the channels governing digestion are often out of balance when we overthink, overworry, and overwhelm ourselves with the idea of doing something without actually taking action. By committing to proper nutrition and just five minutes of daily activity geared toward reaching your goals, you’ll see how something as simple as a phone call or a booked flight will have you sailing toward your dreams in no time.
Whatever delays, detours, or derailments may have shown up on your journey thus far, it’s important to keep focused on the path unfolding right in front of you in order to progress toward your dreams and goals. From a Chinese medicine perspective, a well-aspected liver meridian will help you move freely and easily forward. Deep breathing, walking in nature, and affirming, “Things are always working out for me” can help develop a deep trust that our travels always carry us exactly where we need to be – at the exact time we need to be there.
Dreams need to be big enough to scare us; they must spring from our deepest passions or else they won’t ever burn brightly enough to light us up totally. Yet it’s common to feel overwhelmed while staring at a far-off summit when we have no idea how we can even begin our ascent. From a Chinese medicine perspective, it’s the channels governing digestion that also allow us simply to focus on placing one foot in front of the other. By moving in such a slow and steady way, we learn to be present in the moment at hand as opposed to lamenting the prior pathway or worrying about step #2,164 that lies somewhere ahead. When we eat healthfully, exercise regularly, reduce stress consistently, and allow for progress step by gradual step, we cultivate the balance and patience needed to make even the most daunting dream doable.
Delays, detours, and “do not enter” signs that appear on our path are actually blessings and not the burdens they can at times feel like. Knowing what’s not meant to be is every bit as important as knowing what is. If a door doesn’t allow passage, it’s crucial to determine if it’s not our door – or simply not yet time for the door to open. Energetically speaking, only the gut knows the difference. And so it’s wise to navigate our way through life based on whether our gut instinct says something is an obstacle to go around – or an opportunity waiting to happen.
Martin Luther King Jr
Experiencing love and power at their best is what the great Martin Luther King Jr. was speaking about here. From a Chinese medicine perspective, our deepest core power is governed by the kidney meridian, which bestows strength and endurance and wisdom to the heart – our Inner Emperor – whose love then accepts and embraces the kidneys’ gifts. To ensure this inner axis of self-empowered love stays as balanced as possible, it’s important to nurture the kidneys and heart through deep breathing, spending time in nature and with pleasurable pursuits, earthing with bare feet to the ground for at least 20 minutes, and getting adequate rest. By caring for ourselves in these ways, we can be assured our power and love are mutually supporting and sustaining us so we can begin to see ourselves at our best every day.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Prepping and planning are all well and good – until perfecting becomes a very clever form of procrastinating. From a Chinese medicine perspective, an imbalanced lung meridian can keep us indefinitely in a holding pattern of gathering data or going to school without ever putting what we’ve learned into practice. The result is a never-ending state of getting ready instead of getting out in the world and getting our hands dirty. By deep breathing and affirming, “I take action easily every day on my ideas”, we can actually turn dreaming into doing.
When the going gets tough, the tough sink into their deepest energies for the never-give-up, never-give-in road ahead. From a Chinese medicine perspective, this doubling down and dropping into essence calls on the kidney meridian or water element within. As the strongest element, water is capable of weakening earth to mud, extinguishing fire, eroding metal, and rotting wood. And so to foster our watery reserves, it’s important to practice deep belly breathing while allowing adequate time for meditation and rest. By nurturing ourselves in these ways, our inner wells will always be replenished and ready to fuel the journey forward.
Energetically speaking, fear and excitement are two sides of the same coin. Thus the need for security often accompanies a longing for adventure. Practice taking a small risk every day – even something as simple as trying a new tea – to teach yourself not to fear the unknown. But to look forward to what’s next.
Grief, betrayal, and loss can all leave us feeling like there’s no hope, no point, and no use in going on. Energetically speaking, that rock-bottom, bottoming-out space ideally needs to be honored. Usually we need time to feel – and heal. And yet from a Chinese medicine perspective, if we linger too long in the shadows of our dark night of the soul, the energy in the lung meridian tends to stagnate – and then we feel stuck in sadness. By practicing deep breathing, walking out in nature, and affirming, “I am safe and supported by the Divine always”, a guiding light of good things to come will surely begin to shine.
Why don’t we dance like nobody’s watching or eat dessert first? When did chaining ourselves to a desk we despise instead of chasing our dreams become not only normal – but the norm? The truth is literally that no one cares. Because everyone is so concerned with his or her own “short list of shoulds”. And so how can you free yourself from trying to please all these peeps who will never notice anyway? By practicing deep breathing and committing to speaking our truth, we start to care less about what others think and more about how we can color outside the lines.
Acceptance can bring a peaceful feeling. Yet from a Chinese medicine perspective, it can also foster complacency if the liver channel is stagnant. Signs that your liver energy may need to move include getting frustrated easily or having lots of unfinished projects or tension headaches. If you’re experiencing this “liver chi stagnation”, it can be helpful to get that energy moving by choosing one aspect of your life where you’d truly like to see a transformation. And then take one action every day that will keep making this change a reality. Before long, you’ll see how your pent-up anger has a welcome new outlet – one that can help you feel happier and healthier on a daily basis.
To be on the right track, we don’t need to have everything all figured out. In fact, we can miss magical opportunities for the Universe to work its mojo if we overthink, overplan, and overdo in an effort to overcontrol a particular outcome. From a Chinese medicine perspective, an imbalanced lung meridian can have us forcing our fate instead of holding a desire in mind and allowing it to flow naturally to us. By practicing deep belly breathing and affirming, “All is unfolding perfectly in Divine timing”, we teach ourselves to trust that all is right and well and good – all the time.
At the heart of any chronic symptom is stuck emotion, from a Chinese medicine perspective. What we’re not ready to feel is not ready to heal. And yet the truth is we may never feel “ready”. But balancing one’s energy by introducing helpful movement is a wonderful way to start the healing process. Acupuncture, deep breathing, exercises like yoga and walking, and affirming, “I release all that needs to go, and welcome all that needs to come,” will help keep you peddling forward with a positive outlook.
Being overly critical, from a Chinese medicine perspective, is rooted in an out-of-balance lung meridian. Often born of unresolved grief or loss, judging others can make us habitually so nitpicky that people are more than likely walking on eggshells around us. And yet all folks who continually find fault with others are actually even more relentlessly harsh when it comes to themselves. When we are thus judging, we cannot at the same time be feeling love, and so constant criticism is an energy state that depletes and defeats any momentum we are gaining toward a calm, grounded, and balanced state within. By practicing deep breathing, feeling compassion, walking in nature, and affirming, “All is well and unfolding perfectly according to Divine timing”, we can help soften and shape our Inner Critic into a hopeful, helping hand.
Achieving a goal can seem like pushing a boulder up a mountain. Or it can feel like cruising the Autobahn, with no traffic and no speed limit. Wouldn’t you rather sail along than struggle? From a Chinese medicine perspective, the sustained energy needed for smooth and steady progress toward your dreams is supplied by the same channels governing digestion. So cultivating healthy digestion through proper diet, thorough chewing, daily exercise, and stress management can help propel you forward with the momentum needed to realize your vision. And ultimately lead you to a life that lights you up instead of bogs you down.
Energetically speaking, like attracts like. And so if you wish to draw helpful people, hopeful opportunities, and happy circumstances your way, then it’s important to find ways to feel good throughout the day. Begin each morning writing down three things that make you smile. Every time you’re paused at a traffic light, think of something that makes you feel grateful. And reassure yourself frequently that everything is always working out for you. Because it is!
The Dalai Lama
Why do some people relish risk – and others avoid it at all costs? From a Chinese medicine perspective, whether we perceive risk as thrilling or chilling to the core has a lot to do with how balanced our kidney energy is. When the kidney meridian is well aspected, we tend to feel secure at a deep level; from this vantage point, risk looks like a reward waiting to happen instead of imminent danger. By meditating, practicing yoga or Tai Chi, or soaking in Dead Sea salt-infused water, you can nurture your kidney energy and begin to see all the potential instead of the pain that risk can bring.
Buoyantly bubbly in nature, hope is our inner cheerleader, rooting us on no matter what external circumstances are showing us the “score” is. From a Chinese medicine perspective, hope wells up from the kidney’s deep essence and is carried upward and outward along the liver’s pathway. And so nourishing the kidney and liver channels through deep breathing, proper rest, good nutrition, daily stretching, and walking in nature will nurture your Pollyanna tendencies and cultivate a true “can do” attitude.
Did you ever angst over a pimple in high school? As teenagers, it’s all too easy to become consumed with worry over what others will think of these volcanoes we see erupting over our faces. Yet the truth is every teen is so anxious about his or her own face that nobody really notices anyone else’s acne! From a Chinese medicine perspective, many of us carry this self-consciousness into adulthood due to an imbalanced lung meridian. When it’s not well aspected, the lung’s natural role of boundary setter and minister of discernment can become harshly self-critical and overly concerned with others’ opinions. Developing deep breathing and self-care habits can bring harmony to the lung – and freedom from caring so much about what others think.
Nor can you navigate a car through traffic via the rear view mirror. What’s behind us is meant to be a reference point – not a guiding light. Yet from a Chinese medicine perspective, grief and loss and disappointment can block lung channel flow, making it harder to process painful emotions and let go of things. By practicing deep breathing, walking in nature, and reminding ourselves, “I release what no longer serves me,” we can help balance lung energy and learn to relish the moment instead of rehashing the past.
The truth is we only stop ourselves. But why do we do that? Fear is always at the heart of self-sabotage. From a Chinese medicine perspective, fear results from imbalanced kidney and gallbladder meridian energies. Yet the lung is what nurtures the kidney and balances the gallbladder, and in my clinical practice I find two lung imbalances are keeping most patients in fear – shallow breathing and harsh judging of self and others. We can’t actually judge and feel love at the same time, and so fear builds instead. By bringing breath and awareness every time we feel critical of ourselves and others, we can start to heal judgmental tendencies. See for yourself how quickly you move forward on your path once you free yourself from the self-sabotage straitjacket!
Getting a “no” in life can mean either “not now” or “not ever” – neither of which is a bad thing if you consider what’s going on energetically. When things don’t work out the way we’d hoped, often it’s because we’re impatient and expect results according to our demands and not Divine timing. Or perhaps what we are desiring ultimately wouldn’t serve our best, highest good – and so that door stays shut because it’s not our door. Whether a roadblock means a temporary detour or a “do not enter – EVER”, what’s required of us is to surrender to the knowing that the Universe is benevolent and always helping things to work out for our benefit – at the exact time that’s most beneficial.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, the liver meridian births ideas, while the spleen’s energies ground and sustain creative endeavors through to completion. Yet if there is disharmony between the liver and spleen, we tend to overthink, overplan, and overextend ourselves in over-the-top ways. Which leads us from simplicity to simply chaos. By balancing the liver and spleen through walking in nature, chewing your food thoroughly, and practicing deep belly breathing, you’ll help bring elegance and ease to all that you create.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, it’s the liver meridian that gifts us with goals, ideas, and dreams. If the liver channel is imbalanced, then we can tend to become wishful thinkers instead of accomplished achievers. If you feel scattered, unfocused, or have lots of unfinished projects lying around, it’s likely your liver could use some balancing. Deep breathing, walking in nature, eating plenty of green vegetables, and earthing for 20 minutes a day with your bare feet to the ground can all help turn dreaming into doing.
Winning or losing, energetically speaking, comes down to how you perceive what’s happened. Perhaps you don’t cross the finish line first in that 5K, yet you post a personal best time. Or maybe you don’t get the job offer you were expecting, but instead meet a meaningful contact who networks you into your next position. If you cultivate a positive outlook through deep breathing, proper nutrition, nature walks, and the affirmation, “Life is always working out for me”, then in no time it will seem like Lady Luck keeps smiling on you. And no matter what hand you’ve been dealt, you’ll begin to feel like you’re always playing your cards right.
Modern living has conditioned us to equate happiness with how much we earn or accumulate. Yet from a Chinese medicine perspective, neither a big bank account nor a Benz in the driveway truly brings lasting joy. In Asian philosophy, it’s how our heart – our metaphorical Emperor or Supreme Ruler – feels that’s the biggest bliss factor. For most of us, we feel our best when we allow ourselves to move beyond seeking and striving. When we stop doing and start BEING. And so once we quiet life’s distractions and make time for meditating, deep breathing, walking in nature, soaking in hot baths, and eating nurturing foods, we realize how simply “being” brings an inner smile that no outer trappings of success can match.
This Japanese proverb reminds us that toddlers are great role models for how to be successful. Have you ever watched a 12-month old? They live for fun! They feel good about themselves. They are spontaneous and stay in the moment. And if they fall, not getting up again is never an option.
We’ve all experienced that Monty Python “wafer thin mint” moment. The point in time when it finally sinks in that we’ve been way over our own internal line in the sand for way too long. Often that stark clarity comes when, metaphorically speaking, our backs are breaking from the burden of carrying around two 60-lb. suitcases. Why do we do that? From a Chinese medicine perspective, an imbalanced lung meridian can lead to low self esteem and poor boundary setting. Balancing the lung through deep belly breathing, hiking in nature, and affirming, “I easily release what needs to go and receive what needs to come” truly help one to choose when enough is indeed enough.
Sometimes life can feel like pushing a boulder up a mountain. When we experience resistance and everything seems difficult, our energies tend to stagnate from a Chinese medicine perspective. The Taoist way toward allowing all things to be possible is to shift perspective and consciously become more like water. Flowing instead of forcing. Is an obstacle an insurmountable burden or an opportunity to choose an easier way? By practicing deep breathing and affirming “I sail easily through life”, the path moves freely forward instead of being fraught with hardships.
Fear and excitement are two sides of the same emotion, according to Chinese medicine. And so to start feeling the desire instead of the dread, practice taking a small step outside your comfort zone every day. Wearing a bold new color, wishing a stranger a good day, and treating yourself to dinner alone at a restaurant you’ve heard is fabulous are all effective ways to begin changing your thinking from fearful to fun-loving.
Trying to control external circumstances only taxes the lung and liver meridians in Chinese medicine, leading to exhaustion and frustration. What we CAN learn to control is our perception and our attitude. Practice seeing everything as a gift or lesson that’s meant to help you.
Whatever wrongs we see in this world cannot be made right through our righteous indignation. No matter how heartfelt or well-intentioned. Because from an energetic perspective, we cannot be in judgment and feel love at the same time. And so if we can accept that love heals all, we owe it to ourselves, our loved ones, our plant and animal friends, and Mother Earth to drop our judgments. Set down our weapons. And embrace everyone and everything we encounter on our daily walk through chaos as an individual spark of the Divine. Even the ones perpetuating the pain. Especially them! Because at one time, all abusers have been abused. And we cannot fix that – ever – with an eye-for-an-eye attitude. Only with love. And perhaps only when we can practice hugging all that is – atrocities and all – will we begin to embrace planetary healing at its full potential.
From a Chinese medicine perspective, we receive love from archetypal mother energy (as the one who nurtures from the breast) – and approval from archetypal dad. Approval is perhaps overlooked at times. Yet it’s one of the most profoundly important things a parent can give to a child, because it teaches that the child is accepted. And when a child grows up feeling “good enough”, he or she develops true self-esteem. These self-confident kids in turn go on to become the game-changers in life. Because if you believe you’re enough, then you experience a world without limitation or lack.
Energetically speaking, we truly do create our own reality. Yet many of us aren’t comfortable with this Law of Attraction concept because we may look at ourselves and our lives and say, “Well, I focused really hard and made vision boards and sang Kumbaya and none of it worked!”. And then we distract ourselves with trying to make another potential materialize. But the Universe responds to flow, not force. If we can release our death grip and instead relax into receiving with open arms, then – and only then – will we experience all the goodness in store for us.
It’s easier to think life is always working out for us if we are calm and centered. Acupuncture can help anyone feel more balanced and thus better able to see the rainbow through the rain. Please share in the comments below if acupuncture has ever brightened your day!
True belief in oneself is being all in – no ifs, ands, buts, or backsies. From a Chinese medicine perspective, such unshakable faith is present when the heart channel is fully enthused and engaged. That’s why following our bliss is so important. Because when we’re truly lit up about life, then whatever we’re looking to achieve already feels like an accomplishment.
You can’t find what you don’t know in what you do know. And so to explore all of who you are – your authentic self and deepest potential – requires risking a trek into your inner depths. As an acupuncturist, I find the biggest lie patients tell themselves is they don’t know what brings them joy or what their life purpose is. The truth is, we always know. But we can be so afraid of the unknown that it’s safer to fall into an excuse of ignorance. If you find yourself feeling fearful to embrace all that you are, begin by dropping into slow, deep belly breathing. And then reassure yourself that you are safe and all is well. Because truly it is.
Truly we can psych ourselves into – or out of – anything. From a Chinese medicine perspective, having a strong belief in oneself springs from getting consistent encouragement and approval in childhood. If we routinely hear “I’m so proud of you” or “good job” growing up, we tend to blossom into adults who feel secure enough within ourselves simply to look beyond any obstacles of the moment – and believe in a positive outcome. If you find your self-esteem needs a little shoring up, though, practice deep breathing and affirming “Things are always working out for me” to cultivate a can-do attitude
Sometimes it’s all too easy to get caught up in feelings of regret when we look around and “what is” appears so very different from “what might have been”. The truth is we can choose again in every moment. If you feel stuck or sadly lacking in motivation, then from a Chinese medicine perspective, your liver meridian may need balancing. Practicing earthing with bare feet to the ground for at least 20 minutes every day will help you recharge your liver and reclaim a path forward filled with delight instead of despair.
If a dream scares you to the point where you feel you can’t do it, be it, or have it, then energetically speaking that’s a sure sign you are face to face with what you’re destined to do, be, or have. In moments when “cannot” outweighs “can do” in your mind, it’s important to take a step back, take a deep breath, and then take a running leap toward some aspect of your goal. Whether that’s just five minutes of networking, visualizing, exercising, or meditating matters not; what’s important is taking a decisive and doable action that shows your inner Doubting Thomas truly how much you’ve got this!
Standing still for a moment, from a Chinese medicine perspective, can help us become more centered and grounded. Yet standing still for too long invites stagnation, stifling our ability to step forward at all. And so to encourage healthy movement toward goals and dreams, practice deep breathing, walking in nature, stretching, and repeating the affirmation, “I am learning, growing, and gaining momentum every day at a pace that’s perfect for me”.
Have you ever considered that, instead of living, you’re really moving safely toward death? If you died today, would your tombstone read, “Achieved an 800+ credit score”? And if that thought strikes a nerve, can you honestly say this is how you want your life – and legacy – to be? From a Chinese medicine perspective, an out-of-balance lung meridian can make us feel overly protective and keep us choosing safety over spirit-soaring YESES. Deep belly breathing and walks in nature can help free us to color outside the lines … and ultimately live for fun instead of forever putting off the very things that light us up.
Dr. Henry Link
As an acupuncturist, I find that stagnant energy is behind every imbalance. And because digestion and worry/overthinking are governed by the same channels, one of the best ways to transform fear is through improving digestion. Proper nutrition, exercise, deep breathing, and laughter all move the fears that keep us stuck and allow us to move forward more freely.
Not good enough, brave enough, smart enough, rich enough, lucky enough, sexy enough. Not enough, period. Low self-esteem is at the heart of all these low opinions we can have of ourselves. And so to let go of these lies, we need to embrace being more grounded and centered so we can begin to see ourselves objectively from a self-empowered state. Practicing deep belly breathing, self-caring strategies, and affirming, “I love and appreciate myself” throughout each day will help transform feelings of worthlessness to worthiness.
Big ideas and bold actions nearly always begin as nagging whispers and intuitive nudges. Crazy notions, some would say, as they can’t quite fathom the vision urging you – Quixote-like – toward your windmills. From a Chinese medicine perspective, it’s the liver meridian (or wood element, represented metaphorically by a tree) that governs the creativity and outside-the-box thinking that are hallmarks of a visionary ahead of his or her time. For such a tree to grow big and strong, it must be planted in nurturing earth – which, in Chinese medicine, correlates to our digestion channels. And so cultivating better digestion through proper diet, daily walks in nature, and deep belly breathing will provide a firm foundation for rooting your dreams so they can sprout and expand your reality.
Barbara Haines Howlett
And so it is with the mystical magic of metamorphosis. This type of radical transformation usually happens in humans after extreme emotional experiences. We tend to crash and burn our way through deaths, losses, and betrayals. And just when it seems it’s all been for naught – when the tank’s on empty and we’re wondering how we’ll ever rock this new norm of rock bottom – then something shifts. Somehow, by hanging in there past the point of reason or reasonable hope, we get a second wind. And a second chance emerges. In Chinese medicine, it’s the channels governing digestion that also give us the patience and endurance to keep on keeping on. And so through practicing deep breathing and proper nutrition, we can emerge from our dark night of the soul with a newfound knowing that we’re back and more beautiful than ever before.
Truly, laughter is the best medicine. From a Chinese medicine perspective, laughing opens the rib cage and frees the diaphragm, allowing the lung to link with the kidney for overall support and balance. When our energy is thus connected, all bodily processes can function better. By encouraging belly laughs as much as possible, you’ll have more humor in your life and absolutely no days will go to waste.
Anxiety is rooted in childhood. From a Chinese medicine perspective, if an overly anxious parent is feeding a baby, then the little one comes to associate nourishment and receiving with fear. That child may then grow into a nervous adult, one who has trouble self-nurturing and who may choose a selfish or abusive partner that mirrors the “love equals fear” emotional programming within. Such fear-based ways of being lead us to try and control every aspect of life in order to foster a feeling of safety. Practicing deep breathing, eating in a relaxed manner, walking in nature, and affirming, “I am safe and all is well” can help curb fear and cultivate instead a calm centeredness.
In Chinese medicine, it’s believed that “where attention goes, energy follows”. And so if you want to experience more joy, attain more goals, and live more dreams, it’s important to begin each day focused on feeling grateful for all the good in your life. And then go about your day expecting magic and miracles.
In Chinese medicine, the lung meridian helps us create healthy boundaries when it’s well aspected – but if we’ve suffered loss or disappointment, the energy normally used to create boundaries can be misappropriated into masks. Truly there’s a reason why the lung resides within a rib “cage” – we can effectively shut down our authentic selves when we feel unsafe through shallow breathing. To practice reclaiming who we really are, we can begin by laughing heartily at every opportunity! Laughter opens the rib cage and allows us to reconnect to all that we feel, so we can then start speaking from our deepest truth.
How we look at hardship can make every trying circumstance into a test from Hell – or a chance to dig deep and do more than we ever thought possible. From a Chinese medicine perspective, it’s the kidney meridian that governs our deepest resources and allows us to be wisely resourceful. And so we can nurture this precious essence by practicing deep breathing, reducing stress, meditating, and getting proper rest. Such self-care will help balance kidney energy and allow us the wisdom to see every obstacle or obligation as an opportunity.
One of the reasons I love being an acupuncturist is that, within the scope of Chinese medicine, we tend to believe nothing is impossible. We are not bound by western medicine definitions and diagnoses. Strictly speaking, there is no “cancer” or “stroke” in Chinese medicine; we deal with imbalances in energy (or “chi”) and blood. And so whether someone comes in for treatment saying there’s a sinus headache or stage four melanoma, I don’t focus on these descriptions, as my role is helping to balance chi and blood with my intention and needles. Once patients understand I truly believe nothing is impossible, I often see their apprehension turn to anticipation of all potentials becoming positive outcomes.
When we feel like we can’t possibly hear one more “no”, cry one more tear, or take one more step, that’s when true courage can well up as the still, small voice within. Gently encouraging and inspiring us to keep on keeping on, even when we feel we’ve lost all our ability to act. From a Chinese medicine perspective, it’s the deep essence of the Kidney meridian that can replenish our depleted reserves. And so nurturing Kidney energy through proper rest, deep breathing, earthing with bare feet to the ground for at least 20 minutes daily, and practicing yoga will bring up a grit and gumption for going on that’s beyond anything we ever thought possible.
Or to put it another way … you’ve got to be in it to win it. Which means, essentially, you need to show up and open up to opportunities. To risk a daily habit of vulnerability that’s cultivated by committing to your goals, plans, and visions. From a Chinese medicine perspective, it’s the digestive channels that feed our dreams as well as our bodies by fueling our patience to persevere. Just one more great reason to nourish ourselves in a healthy way!
Who doesn’t like to plop on a couch and have a do-nothing day every now and again? Yet perhaps you’re spending too much time channel surfing or social media hopping. Or maybe you’ve stayed in a stale relationship or dead-end job too long simply because you’re comfortable. In Chinese medicine, if the channels that govern digestion are out of balance, then we can tend to feel stuck with no motivation to make healthy choices. By committing to a clean diet and taking one self-caring action each day – such as a short walk, a hot bath, or writing down three things for which you’re grateful – you may be amazed at how quickly you nurture yourself right into a “take positive action” zone.
The ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step”. Yet often we find that first step to be the hardest. Going for an actual walk daily is a great way to begin moving toward a goal. From a Chinese medicine perspective, walking stimulates the lung and liver meridians; activating the lung helps establish a healthy new routine, while energizing the liver brings life to dreams and visions. If we are thus actively engaged and invested in reaching our destination, whatever presently surrounds us ceases to matter.
Real power doesn’t need to shout or show force. Real power is like a lion; even as he lies purring, there’s never a doubt he is the King of the Jungle. And so it is throughout the pages of “Atlantis Writhing”, where we can watch a lion’s type of true might in the visiting ambassadors from Ahlaile. Who demonstrate how staying calm, centered, and self-empowered is the only way to channel Highest Light. And is thus the only hope left against the evil that’s crumbling Atlantis.
Neck and shoulder tension/pain is the number one complaint that brings patients to me for acupuncture. Since Chinese medicine sees no separation between body and mind, we acupuncturists recognize neck and shoulder issues as pent-up frustration/anger/resentment from “shouldering” too many responsibilities and worries. I often explain to patients that it’s like they are carrying around two 60-lb. suitcases – a burden I help them learn they can set down. Deep belly breathing, stretching, massage, and yoga are all effective remedies for this “boulders on the shoulders” syndrome – which frees up energy for more positive, pleasurable pursuits.
Grief, disappointment, and loss all can be felt so profoundly and can penetrate so deeply that we truly never see the world in the same way again. From a Chinese medicine perspective, such wounding affects the heart – which is the metaphorical Emperor of the body – and as such, rules how we navigate life. Yet the choice remains ours as to whether we will be broken by what happens to us – or broken open. In my romantic fantasy “Atlantis Writhing”, the character Alaric shows us what it looks like to refuse to be reduced by unimaginable pain. And that requires looking at our shattered pieces and accepting there is no “spiritual super glue” that can ever recreate what once was. But that in the shattering, we lose our old armoring, too. Fear never actually feels the same once you’ve faced the worst. And so if we can take away from our traumatic experiences the knowing that we survived our worst-case scenario, we can have a newfound grace and gratitude for each precious moment moving forward.