Here you will find info on the 24 solar terms of the Chinese agricultural calendar, nerdnotes about classical Chinese medicine, tips for self-care drawn from all the various healing modalities I practice, epiphanies about mind & body awareness, and other personal ramblings. Enjoy.
|Posted on May 18, 2016 at 10:05 AM|
For the second night in a row I have slept through until 5:05am, and not woken up at 2:50 or 3:15, or 4:30. If only I could figure out how to put myself to bed before 10:30-11ish, and how to stay asleep...is it the herbs I'm taking? the slow breathing and mindfulness exercises? biking over 10 miles that day? cuddling my feline and human companions?...I'd be thrilled.
I'm excited anyway. It's been months since I've slept through the night.
|Posted on May 9, 2016 at 11:20 PM|
For my doctoral capstone project, I'm making an audiobook of the Huangdi Neijing: Suwen, my favorite classical Chinese medical text, over 2000 years old.
If all goes well with the sound quality I hope to make it available for general consumption via audible.com ...way to harness modern technology for ancient texts. For the win, as my lady de la Libertina would say.
You can follow the evolution of my understanding of the Simple Questions in the Yellow Emperor's Internal Classic here:
|Posted on May 6, 2016 at 8:00 PM|
Yesterday was the solar term 立夏 lì xìa, the beginning of summer. I lost my first patient on this day three years ago. Exactly one year later, we lost my partner's maternal grandfather.
Since I became aware of the turning of the seasons and its effect on people, I've become...increasingly judgmental of the Gregorian? calendar which thinks that spring and autumn begin on equinox and summer and winter begin on solstice. By the lunar calendar, that's mid-season, not start of season. And, after adjusting for the consequences of modern medicine & how it sometimes delays or hastens death, SO many of the few people I know who have died naturally (i.e. at home) have left this world at the turning of a season. My brother, for one.
As humans, we are microcosms of heaven and earth. It's hard sometimes, for the body to catch up with the seasons changing. As in, the world changes, but your body lags...the converse can also be true, that your body moves toward the next season and the world hasn't gotten there yet. Either way, this lack of synchronicity causes dis-ease...not just death from terminal illness, but also seasonal allergies, cold & flu, changes in sleep, etc.
Summer is the season for love. The heart belongs to it, along with the color red, the direction south, and the element fire. According to the Suwen, we're supposed to
sleep late and rise early
enjoy the sun
let the emotions not feel angry
let all flowers come to fruition (i.e. make seedpods...is this a euphemism for sex?)
let the qi flow outward
as if that which you love is outside
to reflect the qi of summer
to cultivate growth
...so, I took myself out for a long leisurely bike ride.
|Posted on May 5, 2016 at 9:45 AM|
I have been starting my day with a large goblet of hot water with lemon. According to my meditation teacher, drinking extra water helps us digest our feelings. Tea is fine, but coffee doesn't do it. (According to my friend who is studying to be a chiropractor, the ideal amount of coffee to consume is 0-1 cups per day. I'm talking about American mugs here, no more than 12 oz. But coffee really ought to have its own post. Back to hot water and lemon.)
The lemon was not suggested by my teacher. I add lemon because I have trouble drinking just plain water, and he wanted me to do 16 oz. I add lemon because sour softens and ...astringes? is that the English word for 收... according to Chinese medicine. I feel like my emotions need that right now. Also because, according to one of my doctoral clinic supervisors, people with Type O or B have more stomach acid, so it's good to alkalize the water they drink with lemon. (Types A and AB have less stomach acid so this doesn't apply as much; they should eat fish and fowl only, while O and B can digest red meat no problem.) I'm O+. Lemon and lime alkalize inside our bodies, but other citrus like oranges and grapefruit do not. I wonder what pomelo does.
I drink hot water with lemon the rest of the day too, aiming for 16 oz. every 2-3 hours. I've really developed a taste for it. Even in California where the drought is terrible (all the dead almond trees along Highway 5...entire orchards), I have found it surprisingly easy to charm hot water for free from most establishments that serve coffee or tea: cafes, gas stations, restaurants, 7-11, the pretzel stand at Oakland airport...there's usually a spigot coming out of the machines, with an orange tab. I bring my own little water bottle, also 16 oz, with its neoprene sleeve, and smile, "Do you have hot water? May I fill my water bottle, please?" If the coffee machine is behind the counter, they will usually fill the bottle for you, and sometimes dump out your lemon wedge, unfortunately. At restaurants, you have to catch the attention of the waitress as she takes your order or sets down the standard glass of ice water. Some of the stupider waiters will need you to explain that they should take the ice water away and replace it with hot water. "You can take that back. Really, I'm not gonna drink it. Thanks!"
I feel so grateful for living in a country where fresh drinking water is always available. I don't know how I feel about living in this country where fresh potable water is used to flush toilets. Anyway.
I have only been doing this morning ritual for about 20 days, but I like it. My body enjoys it, I mean. I've never been a fan of chugging water, even at core body temp which is the easiest for our bodies to assimilate... I feel like too often it flushes the kidneys and stresses the bladder (especially if you're chugging water colder than core body temp...this includes room temp water. Room temperature is ~25 degrees Celsius. Core body temperature is on average 37 degrees Celsius, or 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. It feels warm on the tongue.) I always found it better to sip water whenever one feels thirsty. (Thirst and hydration deserves its own post too, come to think of it.) The analogy I give folks is, would you pour an entire week's worth of water on your potted plant if you forgot to water it for a week? Does that make up for the days you didn't hydrate it? Why would your body be okay with you chugging 8 cups of water at the end of a workday when you were sucked in by your computer as soon as you arrived and didn't get up to go to the water cooler at all?
However, given the feelings I've been breathing through, I have found this practice of starting the day with hot water and lemon helpful. I am not a person who wakes up in the middle of the night to drink water, so if I went to bed at ten o'clock and stayed in bed until six in the morning, my body has been functioning without any fluid intake for 8 hours. It seems to appreciate my taking the time to water it, like I used to water my backyard garden first thing in the morning, when I still had a backyard.
Considering what all my body does for me, I am happy to do this for her.
|Posted on February 21, 2016 at 9:35 AM|
excerpt from an email to a patient:
You can work on slow breathing. I mean really slow, smooth, and relaxed, like you're sipping sweet air through a straw that's the very back of your airways to fill up your lungs from the bottom to the top. I can get down to 2 breaths a minute (15 seconds inhale, 15 seconds exhale) but you can start by timing yourself breathing normally and try to cut that down by half. For example, if you breathe 12 breaths a minute naturally, try for 6 breaths a minute, and when that gets to be easy, then go for 3. For most things (like the flu, and general wellbeing...more energy and stronger immune system yada yada) you want to focus on the sensation in your back about level with your navel, as if somebody is holding your Kidneys in the palms of their hands...for pain down the side of your leg/foot and your shoulders, you'll want to visualize your ribcage is an accordian, opening side-to-side instead of front-to-back and making whimsical music. Remember, slow, smooth, and relaxed. Don't do this if you can't breathe through your nose. You might notice that one nostril is more clear than the other. That is fine. Rarely are we perfectly balanced right-to-left. But if your allergies or the flu acts up and you have to breathe through your mouth, don't bother.