Four Letter Word

Fear. It has dominated most parts of my life. There have been many things I have done that I did not want to but was afraid to say no; there have been many things I have not done because I was afraid of doing them. In both directions, my life has been ruled by fear.

This applies to my wellness, too. I have done and not done things simply due to fear. ‘I need to have this test done because of scary stories about people who did not; I need to not eat that food because it will clog my arteries.’ Fear, fear, fear.Fear

Sometimes tests do need to be run; sometimes food really does clog my arteries. However, these decisions need to be based on something other than fear. When I act out of fear all I get is more fear; suddenly I am in a spiral that cannot be checked. Suddenly my health is no longer there because it has disappeared in a giant puff of fear.

Fear is such an ingrained response for me, I don’t even see it coming. I often think that I am operating on other principles; it is easy for me to fool myself. It is easy because our culture is bred on fear. We learn that fear is the natural response and what we should be feeling. “You are not afraid? What is wrong with you?”

Fear stops so much momentum in my life. It stops my very breath; when I am afraid I am not breathing. Life is based on breath and when I am holding my breath my life goes on hold: all motion stops. The funny thing is, motion helps me combat fear. When I am proactively taking steps on an issue there is always less fear than when I am cowering in a corner. Even if the steps are small, they are motion. 

Acupuncture works well with my fear. Each week that I come there is motion: the energetic motion created by the insertion of the needles and the physical motion of me showing up for an appointment. There is also the motion of me committing to a course of treatment and seeing it through.

The treatment itself works with my fear. Each time needles are inserted I learn another lesson about my body’s physical responses. I learn that responses I thought were negative and fearful are not necessarily. I learn how my body interacts in the world, a language I am very disconnected from.

Acupuncture asks me to be present in the moment and open to what is going on, another antidote for the fear nibbling at the sides of my brain. Any time I am severely caught in a fear reaction I am usually not present.  When I am caught in this reaction I am not engaging in life.  I am closing my door to all experiences, not just the scary ones.  

Acupuncture helps me to loosen the grip on the negativity that eats my brain. Fear and negativity are buddies. Acupuncture slowly replaces that negativity with positive truth; this is not the same as a sugar coated reality. Acupuncture does not allow me to circumnavigate my situation but it shows me how positivity exists even in hard places.

Acupuncture teaches me to be grateful for what is, the greatest remedy to fear. It teaches me to appreciate the journey; it allows me to move past that four letter word.

 

Darkness into Light

This is my favorite time of year.  Not only does fall bring amazing colors in the landscape, but apple cider, squash pies, crisp air, and fall festivals.  My favorite festival of the year is the lesser known one of Samhain, which occurs on November 1st.

This is a Celtic born holiday.  Samhain is a Gaelic word which translates as “summer’s end.”   The Celts viewed the year as divided into two seasons: the light season and the dark season.  Literally the days are getting darker and shorter.  May 1st, Beltaine, is the beginning of the light season.fall-leaves-tree

The Celts felt it was very important to honor the opposing forces of light and dark.  They saw all of life in opposing pairs, the same way that the Chinese view life in their concept of yin and yang.  Light and dark, cold and hot, far and near, all of life can be divided into two categories: the dark or yin forces and the light or yang forces.

It is interesting to note where the Celts viewed this continual process starting from.  Their day began and ended at dusk; their year began and ended on November 1st.  Both of these cycles start with darkness.  They understood the world as springing from darkness, the way they saw their seeds needed time underground before they became  fertile plants.  Darkness was sacred because the old needed to die before the new could be born; there was a certain amount of incubation needed to produce life.

The Chinese have a similar view.  They too believe that the yin, or darkness, is what the yang must spring from.  There is always some aspect of both yin and yang in all things and in varying degrees and ratios.  However, if there is not enough yin available, life will not appear.  

Many times in our culture we do not appreciate the yin enough.  We see times of incubation as a nuisance; we see the darkness as something that needs to be cured or cut out.  What we fail to see is that the cycle starts in the darkness and without it the full beautiful life that we want to live would not be possible.  We want to believe that we can be in the womb for nine months and then go, go, go for the rest of our lives.  But this does not honor the interchange of yin and yang, the very cyclical nature that we are.  We will invariable have times of lower energy; the problem occurs when we do not honor the yin and instead push through.  This is what creates a culture addicted to caffeine and suffering from chronic fatigue.  The more we honor the yin and replenish, the yang will then have a base to spring forth.  

I always feel a lot of energy in the fall; I believe my body feels the yin time of year approaching and knows that soon it will fall into quieter energy patterns as the darkness envelopes us.  Understanding and listening to these cycles has also allowed me to appreciate winter.  I allow myself these quieter energies because I know that the darkness will eventually turn back into the light.

Hungry Thoughts

Someone pointed out that I often say, “I shouldn’t be hungry!”

Hunger

Which, if you think about it, is a very ludicrous thing to say.  

This statement points out that I believe that one day I will get to the point where I will no longer feel hunger or need to feed myself.  

And I will get to that point someday: when I die.

But for now, I need to eat and I need to eat more than once every couple of weeks because I am not a snake.  

And you may be thinking, of course you need to eat, this is silly.  But many people have these same kinds of thoughts about taking herbs:  

  • I just need to take this herbal formula once, right?
  • I took the herbs the practitioner gave me but nothing happened.  It must not have worked.
  • The practitioner gave me herbs and I took them for a couple of days but I got bored, could not remember, did not like the taste, etc and I quit taking them.  
  • Awhile ago I took an herbal formula; I should never have to take an herbal formula again, should I?

Chinese-Herbs-for-Weight-Loss

Herbs are food.  If you need food to live everyday of your life, it would stand to reason that you could use herbs everyday of your life as well, especially if the quality of life that you are experiencing is not what you want.  Herbs are superfoods, packed densely with quality nutrients.  When so much food is becoming denatured and void of nutrition, it is important to get it from high quality sources.  

I tend to be the kind of person that prefers to eat different things, not the same thing everyday.  Different kinds of food provide my body different compounds that it needs.  Just the same, different herbs give us different minerals and benefit different acupuncture meridians; so different formulas could be needed as the body’s needs shift and change.  

The only way to determine which herbal formula is good for your body at this moment is to notice what is happening and let your practitioner know what you are experiencing.  Your practitioner will be able to take your pulses and adjust your formula to give you herbs that will benefit your body where it is right now.  

Herbs only work if you take them, just like good food only nourishes us if we eat it.  We can think about leafy greens all we want but until we put them in our mouth, we are not getting their nutrients.  A practitioner may give us herbs but if we are not taking them they might benefit the container they are in but won’t do us a bit of good.  

Herbs, as a general rule, do not stay in the body for long periods of time.  If you are not taking your herbs in the recommended dosage and schedule that the practitioner has laid out for you, chances are you won’t notice them doing anything because they have not been able to reach the level in the body that is necessary to effect change.  

Herbal formulas may need to be taken for longer than the original amount given.  Practitioners tend to give small amounts in the beginning, maybe a weeks worth, to see how an herbal formula works for you.  It is important to check back in the time frame that a practitioner determines so that they can monitor how things are going.  A formula may be too strong or you may be experiencing issues that could be better served by another formula.  

Herbs can be a wonderful compliment to many different wellness and longevity plans.  But wait: do you hear that sound?  Yup, that is the sound of my stomach growling.  I need to go give it some grub with a side of herbs; because I do plan to live a long time!