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Monday, April 18, 2011

Acupuncture and Happiness
As spring matures into summer, life continues to unfold. The cold, dark days of winter are behind us and we are able to enjoy the weather before it gets too hot. This is a lot like the honeymoon of a marriage, at the beginning when everything is fresh and new. It is easy to feel happy under these conditions, as there is much to look forward to and not much to regret. Nature reminds us of this feeling every year for several weeks.  This is the season of the Fire element in Chinese Medicine. 

For better or for worse, what touches the Heart touches everything. It’s important to note that joy is not always correct; too much of it can be as bad as too little. Mania is as much a sign of imbalance as unending sadness. Out of balance, Fire shows up as distorted or lack of joy, lack of compassion, and disconnectedness, twisting our relationship with others and ourself. The tears of the clown are the perfect illustration of this imbalance.

Acupuncture can help to balance the feelings of happiness by encouraging our Fire to thrive. The pathways of the Fire element travel from the torso, covering the arms, tracing the imprint of a hug, where we embrace and are held by loved ones. They end and begin at the tips of the fingers, covering the hands as well, where a handshake connects us with an associate. When the Fire element is in balance, we feel a level of joy within us most of the time. This is not to say that we are grinning from ear to ear, but we feel alive and connected as we go about our lives.  True joy is like a fire in the hearth that warms the home, just as the compassionate fire of the Heart warms the spirit. Using acupuncture is one way to tend the Fire.

4:55 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Acupuncture and Growth
As spring develops further, we cannot help but notice the changes. In nature, the trees are starting to bud, flowers are blooming, the wind is blowing, and the sun is up longer every day. It is a time of hope, renewal, and putting plans into action. Lots of us made resolutions in January. April is the perfect time to really get going with them. Acupuncture can help keep our energy smooth as we stretch and grow. 

It is natural to start slowly with big plans. In fact, small steps are a good way to improve your chances of success. The mighty oak starts as an acorn, then a seedling and so on. It is not taller than a house in just one year! Our plans grow in much the same way. Moreover, when we make a commitment to steady growth, it is best to commit to the feeding and nurturing of that dream, not just to what we imagine it must become. Therefore, it is best to focus on doing whatever will nourish the dream. This allows maximum flexibility and increases the possibilities that can develop.

When we place too many conditions and controls on our dreams at the outset, it cuts off the flow of enthusiastic energy that will give it life. This is another way of saying that attachment to outcome is a qi thief. Having strong expectations and attachments to how things will go steals our energy. Rather, putting a dream in fertile soil, placing it in the right spot, and watering it as much as it needs, requires zero expectation. What it requires is patience and benevolence.

Acupuncture opens the channels and nourishes the qi; exactly as a gardener tends her garden. When we cultivate the qi without placing lots of demands on how it manifests, we allow maximum growth.

4:07 pm edt          Comments

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Acupuncture and Anger
We are now at the beginning of a change in seasons.
This is now the Chinese year of the rabbit and spring has begun its renewal of the Northern Hemisphere. Just as night must turn to day, winter must turn to spring. Alas, this change can be uncomfortable, especially for someone with a lot of anger. Fortunately, acupuncture can be very helpful with this emotion.
It is no coincidence that of the Five Elements, the Wood Element is associated with spring and with anger, as well as hope and creativity.  Interestingly, all these emotions feel the same: they are vivid, strong, and upward. Remember that this surging, vivacious energy is coursing through everyone at the grocery store checkout, in traffic, in the office, and everywhere else. It’s good to know that what we are feeling is nature at work. Although it can feel like an all-consuming rush, it’s not personal.
The most significant changes in life usually begin as barely noticeable, even trivial. When an underground seed begins to sprout, nobody knows. Yet, that seed could be a mighty oak tree, destined one day to bring shelter, food, and beauty to the world. Moreover, a small spark can turn a dry forest into a raging inferno in very little time. Minor irritation turns to rage in a person this same way. The best thing to do in this situation is for that person to get away from other people and animals until he or she is safe for others again.
Thankfully, you can use acupuncture to smooth the flow of qi. Wood in balance is benevolent and flexible. Conversely, Wood out of balance is inflexible, unclear, irritable, and violent. When someone has to be first in line, at the light, or wherever, this can be Wood out of balance, especially if he/she is willing to cut off others in order to get “there”. If this angry, rushing person sounds like you, it might be a good idea to pay a visit to your local acupuncturist. (It might also be a good idea to take some anger management classes or see a good therapist.) Anger is a natural emotion. However, to avoid upset and even abuse, it must be handled with clarity and benevolence.
3:09 pm est          Comments

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Winter 2011 - Seeing the Future

Winter 2011 - Seeing the Future

Resting is Wizening
You Saw it Here First

My latest article "Acupuncture and Immortality" is just now coming out in "Your Health" magazine in January 2011. Since you are on my mailing list, you saw it here last month. Below is your special sneak peak at February's issue.
The energy of the Water element acts just like water. It must sink to the lowest level and cannot rise. It is the ultimate yin in nature: dense, cold, moist, and mysterious. See last month's article for the associated taste, smell, and emotion. You can contact me if you have any questions.

Acupuncture and Insight
How Your Practitioner Can Predict the Future
Have you ever wished you could see what was happening in your body? An ultrasound gives you a moving picture of structures, but what does it tell you about function? It is not obvious to most people when their heart is struggling for oxygen from blocked blood vessels. In fact, 50% of heart attacks are a complete surprise to everyone, even the person’s primary care doctor.  This is because scans, scopes, and blood tests are not very helpful in predicting morbid events.

After thousands of years of development and practice, there are more clues available to the discerning eye of an acupuncturist. Through the effective use of traditional diagnosis, a practitioner can assess the state of the internal organs and the prognosis for recovery or failure. Just as a good tracker can look at the forest and tell you which animals have come through, when, what shape they are in, and what they have been eating, a good acupuncturist can tell you how much rest you’re getting, what sorts of foods you eat, how your mind behaves, and which emotions give you the most trouble. They also can tell you how healthy your internal organs are and how healthy they will be in the future if nothing else changes (i.e., treatment and lifestyle). This is why an acupuncturist makes recommendations for lifestyle changes. If you had a view of the future, wouldn’t you warn the people around you if they were making trouble for themselves?

Regular visits to an acupuncturist not only will keep your organs and systems in balance, it will give you insight into yourself. Acupuncture awakens a person’s senstivity to how they feel physically and mentally. When you practice listening to your body, get regular treatment, and make the lifestyle changes that promote health, it is amazing how ‘in touch’ you will be. .

Keep Yourself Balanced
Get Treatment

If there is a secret to reading the future, deep listening is most certainly part of the equation. And, as I say every time, keeping your energy in balance makes everything easier. In times of stress and recovery, receiving energy work really comes in handy. When your energy is flowing unobstructed and the organs are in balance, the body and mind can handle routine and release tension much better. With regular treatments, it is far easier to rest and relax without nervous energy. So my advice: stay warm, go with the flow, and take care of yourself. You are welcome to give me a call and schedule one or more winter sessions!
Some ways to enjoy stillness in the wintertime:
1. Sit by the fire and doze.
2. Sit by a window and watch the world outside.
3. Take a nice hot bath.
4. Stay home one day a week and read.
5. Stop when you're tired.
6. Take an afternoon nap.
7. Eat hot food and drink.
8. Cuddle with someone.
9. Put a humidifier in the bedroom.
10. Replace the air filter in your heating system with a finer one.
Winter foods:
Lamb, beef, liver, kidney, shellfish, soups, stews, roots, tubers, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, parsnips, walnuts, kidney beans, water fowl, water chestnuts, watercress, and small amounts of salt (to name a few).

12:47 pm est          Comments

Monday, December 13, 2010

Acupuncture and Immortality
Rachel Sara Strass, MAc, LAc, Dipl Ac (NCCAOM)

Almost everyone wants to live a long life, if not to live indefinitely. Many people believe that aches and pains, fatigue and loss of libido go hand-in-hand with aging. According to Chinese Medicine, these concerns are evidence of imbalance, not age. Just like anything else, how we age depends on how hard we run, how well we rest, how long we let problems go before taking care of them, and what we take in for fuel. The darkest season of the year, between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, is a time for doing maintenance and taking a break. This is one of the best ways to age more gracefully. 

Until very recently, it was crucial to keep the fire going all night in the winter.  If the whole year were like a day, winter is like the nighttime of that day.   Therefore, it makes sense to bank our own fire in much the same way. To bank a fire, the flow of air is restricted and the fire covered with ash until no flames are visible. This means sleeping more, eating less, doing less, and letting things run themselves with minimal effort. In this way, we use the winter as a period of rest and rejuvination. As a result, when the light and heat return to this part of the planet, we are fueled up and ready to go, just like a well-banked fire in the morning. All it takes is some fresh air and kicking off the dust (a little spring cleaning).

This time of year is critical to the aging (or anti-aging) process. With an annual season of rest, we get the chance to heal from the stress of the year. It may take a little redesigning for some habits and activities, but the benefits are endless.

3:35 pm est          Comments

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