Category: Mental Health, Self Care & Wellness

The “Yellow Emperor” meditation

Not long ago I posted my two pence piece regarding the novel Coronavirus. In that article I was posting a visualisation exercise prescribed in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, the most fundamental book for the traditional Chinese medicine, which contains a series of recommendations for practitioners in order to maintain good health, especially in times of epidemics. One of them is a visualisation technique for physical strength and protection, before the health workers enter the hospital to assist the diseased.

This is the text that inspired my meditation:

“This worker should practice visualising a strong Liver with green energy emanating from it to the East and producing vibrant vegetation; a white energy emanating from robust Lungs to the West turning into metal armour and weapons; a red energy emanating from an active Heart to the South creating radiant light; a deep blue energy emanating from solid Kidneys to the North forming a formidable sea; and a yellow energy emanating from a sturdy Spleen in the Middle manifesting the substantial Earth. […]”

Please note that this is my own interpretation of the text. If you plan on doing this meditation standing, you can turn to face those specific cardinal points. If you sit or lie down, just imagine yourself facing the cardinal points.

Here is the transcript of the meditation

I want you to find a comfortable position. Whether you choose to stand, sit or lie down, please make sure your spine is straight and you can relax.

Begin by focusing on your breathing. Do not try to change anything about how you breathe, just acknowledge the fact that you are breathing and become aware of the act of breathing. Just breathe normally, in and out.  Let your thoughts come and go, just acknowledge their presence and let them be, do not try to push them away, just let them float around in your mind, like clouds in the sky.

During this meditation, if thoughts try to disturb your focus, just go back to the breathing and allow your thoughts to come and go, just breathe and listen to my voice.

You will now begin your journey inside your body. Your body is strong and healthy, and this meditation will help it stay strong and healthy.

Now I want you to focus your attention on your Liver, on the right hand side of your body, just below the ribs. With your Liver in mind, imagine the sun rising and shining the light over a beautiful, green forest, in spring. This forest is full of vibrant, green vegetation: majestic trees with thick, strong branches and beautiful leaves, graceful young trees with slender, flexible bodies, and beautiful, green blades of grass. All this lush forest grows patiently from the green light of your Liver.

Return to your breathing for a few moments, taking in all that green, fresh beauty of the forest at dawn.

Now I want you to shift your attention to your lungs, in your chest. As you focus your attention to your Lungs, visualise the most beautiful sunset ever, with red and yellow clouds and blue sky. As you are admiring this gorgeous view, picture yourself protected by the shiniest, silver armour you have ever seen. You can design this armour as you wish, as a thin silver layer covering your skin, or as a big, medieval-like armour, with a shield and a sword to match. This armour can protect and shield you against anything.

Mind your breathing for a few moments, feeling that silver armour covering and protecting your body.

Next I want you to focus your attention on your Heart. Place your fingers in the middle of your breastbone and let it rest there gently. Now picture yourself in the middle of the summer, the Sun is shining right up in the sky from the South. There’s red fruits and berries everywhere. Your Heart radiates the purest red light, filled with love. There’s laughter and joy everywhere. Your Heart is content.

Return to your breathing for a few moments, allowing that feeling of pure, red love fill your Heart.

Now I want you to move your awareness to your Kidneys, in your lower back. It is the middle of the night, the sky above is full of stars, you are by the sea, and you are dipping your feet in this blue, clear sea. Feel the water touching your feet. Know that this formidable sea is coming from the North. It is You in Essence form. Everything that you are, your DNA, the wisdom from your parents passed on to your children is in this sea of yours.

Return to your breathing for a few moment, breathing in the salty sea air and feeling the blue sea water gently touching your feet.

Now I want you to move your awareness to your spleen, in the stomach area. Imagine the strongest, most majestic mountain, covered in gold. This mountain is your centre, you are grounded and firm. Feel the grounding and the strength of this mountain in your own body. Feel the golden light radiating from the centre of your body.

Return to your breathing and take in the majesty and the strength of this golden mountain.

As you keep breathing in and out, I want you to visualise the whole picture, your entire universe, with the strong, beautiful golden mountain in the centre, covered by luxurious green vegetation, with the deep blue sea washing yellow shores of sand at the base of the mountain, with you standing tall and protected in your silvery shiny armour, feeling the love of the universe filling your heart. You are loved, you are safe, you are nurtured, you are healthy.

Before you conclude this meditation, give thanks to yourself for taking time to do this, and know that this meditation is an act of love and healing.

And here is the recording

Coronavirus, my two pence piece

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have already made acquaintance with this intriguing little coronavirus which seems to be causing a lot of havoc around the world.

Apart from an unusual appetite for toilet paper, from what information is out there, it seems to behave like a proper coronavirus, that is a respiratory viral infection, much like the seasonal colds and flus. What seems to be different is the speed with which it seems to be infecting a large number of people. This is why the doctors in China had so little time to isolate it and at the same time warn everyone.

This one turned out to be out of the norms and with too many cases all at once.

I am not going to bury myself into conspiracy theories, political discussions, fake news and other false food for thought about this virus.

What I am going to do instead is offer my two pence piece on the matter based on my training in the healing arts of the Chinese medicine and maybe offer some useful advice based on it.

If you read my other two pence piece about the season of spring (you can read it here), you already know that one of the natural elements that can become out of balance easily in spring is Wind. And Wind means a lot of things in connection to our inner universe, including respiratory and viral infections. Go figure! Viral infections are to be expected during the spring season [yes, I’m being a bit sarcastic]

According to the principles of Chinese medicine and the Five Elements, an imbalance in one of the Elements will affect the next but one in line. That is because the controlling cycle of the Elements over one another. So, this means that any viral infections or allergies in Spring actually stem from Autumn. This is why I keep telling my clients with allergies to start consuming local honey in autumn and boost their immune system if they want to keep their allergies in check in Spring. If you start taking care of your problem when you already got the sniffles, it’s like forging weapons when the war is already at your door. It’s too late.

So this battle with the new coronavirus actually started, as we know by now, in November, when the first cases started to appear. So far nothing out of the ordinary.

At this point, a few words are in order about the main “culprit”, namely Autumn.  

Autumn is the season of Metal, the Element that governs over our defensive mechanisms: Lungs, Large Intestine (gut), skin. In the classical texts of traditional Chinese medicine, the Metal presents all the traits of a Prime Minister, as the intermediary between our inner universe governed by the supreme ruler, the Heart, and the outer universe.  

We use the Lungs to breathe, to provide oxygen for the production of Blood, the main domain of the Heart, to circulate the Qi around the body and to produce some of our antibodies. This means that the quality of our breathing has a direct impact on our entire body and, of course, on our immunity.

We use the Large Intestine to separate the good and valuable metals (metals = Metal) that are needed in the body from the toxic waste from the food processing. The gut also collects water from the same sources. I bet many of us breathe easier and have a much lighter day after a nice and smooth bowel movement and opening early in the morning.

Our skin is the first and foremost line of defence against all the threats out there that would like nothing best but to penetrate our body and have a field day with our internal organs and body parts. The Defensive Qi (Wei Qi) of the Metal is on patrol permanently within our skin and inside our body, performing 25 complete cycles during the day and 25 complete cycles during the night. That is why the quality of our sleep and rest is vital for our immunity, not to mention the quality of our skin, and here I’m not talking about cosmetics, but its ability to filter out the toxins through sweat, its ability to regulate our temperature and protect us from lots of other pathogens such as chemicals, or radiation.

The sensory organ of the system is the nose and the sense related to it, the smell. Most of the aromatic herbs used in herbal remedies as well as in cooking have affinity for the Lung – Large Intestine system. And that is why aromatherapy should be used wisely and not for a long time so that we don’t burn out our ability to respond to various aromas when we need it the most.  

At an emotional and spiritual level, the Metal is in charge of our personal relationships with the outer universe, pretty much like at the physical level. Which means that this is the level of interaction with the others. Our skin is the interface between the inside and the outside. The skin is not sensitive only to environmental stimuli, such as temperature, humidity, and radiation, but also to touch. We are designed to respond to touch, and various types of touching generate various responses within ourselves. Some of the touches will make us raise our defences, put on our armour and raise our shield, while others will have the opposite effect, leaving us naked and vulnerable. This is why massage therapy and cupping are one of the best therapies to boost our immunity and also meet our need for touch, and a hug is one of the best pick-me-ups.

The emotions associated with Metal are related to the balance between gain and loss: bereavement, grief, sadness, and they relate to our ability to gather, collect, open up, accept, invite, allow, let go and release. The very act of breathing represents these actions: we open up our Lungs to the exterior, we accept the air inside our body, and we allow it to offer us the gift of life. Then, we must allow the same Lungs to release all the waste components from the used air back to the exterior. A very similar process takes place in the bowels, as we release the waste elements from feeding back to the exterior. The only two voluntary processes related to our physiology are breathing and opening the bowels and they both belong to the Metal Element.

So if this is a somewhat natural process, what went wrong this year?

At this point I must mention that I am not attempting to find a cure for the novel coronavirus, I am just trying to find an answer to my own questions about it and make sense of what is happening and why.

The fundamental book of the Chinese medicine, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine, is the best source for answers when confronted with a complex problem. My professors at the TCM College taught me many valuable lessons, but one is more valuable than the rest: “When in doubt, always turn to the fundamental book of Chinese medicine, that’s where you’ll find your answer”

The theory of the Five Elements applies to everything in the universe, to the outer universe, the nature, and the inner universe, the human body. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that we get a new respiratory virus with such dramatic signs in a new Chinese year under the Element of the Metal, which emerged in the season of the Metal.

The Metal has the ability to control Wood, the Element of Spring. A wise and balanced Metal will know exactly how much to prune and control the Wood so that Wood grows harmoniously. However, an excessive Metal will cut too much of the Wood. In the absence of trees, the Wind becomes unleashed. Hence the epidemic.

The fundamental book contains enough indications on what such events should be dealt with and how the practitioners should treat the cases, based on the specific signs and symptoms. Research articles are already emerging in journals on herbal remedies and acupuncture points the Chinese doctors have used to make their patients better. I was more interested in something I could do to protect myself and also share with my community.

As always, the book didn’t let me down. And this is what I found:

Huang Di asked: “The epidemic infections are often deadly and contagious. Are there any ways that health workers can prevent being infected?”

Qi Bo replied: “People with strong antipathogenic Qi do not succumb to epidemic infections. Let me share with you some of the ways. Before entering a medical facility, a health worker must focus the mond and summon the indefeatable antipathogenic forces to protect the body against any possible invasion.

This worker should practice visualising a strong Liver with green energy emanating from it to the East and producing vibrant vegetation; a white energy emanating from robust Lungs to the West turning into metal armour and weapons; a red energy emanating from an active Heart to the South creating radiant light; a deep blue energy emanating from solid Kidneys to the North forming a formidable sea; and a yellow energy emanating from a sturdy Spleen in the Middle manifesting the substantial Earth. […]”

Health means balance. If we focus on boosting only our immune system, we only feed more Metal. I strongly believe that the answer lies in balancing the Elements, not going after one in particular. And the book confirmed this to me.

The Liver – Wood governs over intuition and patience, the Metal – Lungs give us courage and cooperation, the Heart – Fire governs over love and laughter and melts excessive Metal, the Kidneys govern over trust and wisdom, and the Spleen governs over empathy. One of the articles I read about how the doctors in China dealt with the virus mentioned how much trust the patients had in their doctors and the treatments they received.

I am not saying we should stop following the recommendations of the doctors and authorities. Please continue to wash your hands and keep yourselves clean, minimise physical contact and isolate yourselves if you are ill, even if it’s just a cold.

I do believe the virus must run its course and we must reach “herd immunity”. In the absence of a vaccine, we must do it the old way, the natural way. A second wave in Autumn is to be expected and the best prevention is to be prepared, with as many people as possible armed with the best armour ever: natural immunity. By then we will know our enemy and our possible allies.

This is the blessing hidden in this epidemic: we will finally learn to take proper rest when we’re ill, we will appreciate every breath we take, and we will appreciate more the value of a hug and human contact and companionship. And we will learn to open up and work together, like the links of one strong chain.

If you want to strengthen yourself and your defences, this is what I use. Please note that this should be done regularly, not when the enemy is already at the gates. Chinese medicine is preventative medicine first and foremost. Make this part of your lifestyle.

  • The visualising above from the fundamental book. If you don’t know where the cardinal points are, just visualise an image of:  sunrise for East, full summer sun for South, sunset for West and starry night sky for North. Spend a few minutes with each organ and what it represents, as mentioned in the book. Feel free to add more, and give thanks to each of them for making you healthy.  
  • Breathing exercises and Five Elements QiGong (WuXing QiGong). I recommend the ones in Heavenly Streams. Meridian Theory in Nei Gong by Damo Mitchell. YouTube materials also available.
  • Tai Chi exercises (I am a Tai Chi instructor), nature walks and lots of enjoyable activities to nourish my spirit. Some people call them hobbies.
  • Stop following the crowds. Embrace an individualised and personalised lifestyle, adapted to your personal needs: nutrition, exercise, sleep, rest, emotional hygiene.
  • Learn to listen to your body and learn to work with yourself and not against yourself
  • I am not against supplements. However, if you learn to nurture yourself properly, for your own needs, you should not need them. The only ones I rely on, when needed, not all the time, are royal jelly, probiotics, CBD oil, and vitamin D (I live in England, after all)
  • There’s always opportunity with every challenge. Look at everything with new eyes and learn to find the hidden treasures in the muddy waters.

The trials and tribulations of Spring

Spring is the season of awakening. All things in nature are reborn, revitalised, awoken. The seeds break open their shells and the plants begin their journey towards the light. Birds and animals are more vocal and they start shouting and fighting to prove themselves worthy of the favours of a potential mate.

In Chinese Medicine, spring is associated with the element of Wood: green and vibrant, with the roots firmly grounded in the Earth, drawing its life-force from Water and with the branches soaring towards the Heavens and the Sun.  

Anything green growing in nature plans ahead when to start germinating and growing from a seed. It usually needs at least one cold spell before starting sprouting. A tree will first develop roots, then a trunk and only then it will grow a full canopy. The plan is very precise, the root system matches that of the canopy, so the tree will keep growing below the ground as much as it will grow above it. Every stage is carefully planned and the tree will make sure it has got enough resources to complete each stage and the resources reach all the branches and leaves without any obstacles.

The organ system most affected by Spring in Chinese Medicine is the Liver-Gallbladder. Let’s take a closer look at what Wood is about in TCM

In traditional Chinese medicine, Wood is considered the General. Just like its military counterpart, Wood in the human body is responsible for planning and regulating all the body’s activities. Wood is the one that stores the Blood, the source of all the nourishment around the body. When the body is resting, Wood stores the Blood in the Liver, its major internal organ. When the body is active, both physically and mentally, Wood uses the Liver and its functions to distribute the Blood where it is needed. Just like a General ensures all the operations run smoothly and without obstacles, Wood in the body is responsible for the smooth and free flow of the Qi, because the Qi is the moving force and the energy behind all the functions of the body, both physically and mentally.

At a physical level, the internal organs that belong to the Wood phase are the Liver and the Gallbladder. Wood governs over the joints, tendons and ligaments, the parts of our body that ensure our mobility. Just like a General, Wood is a visionary, therefore it governs over the sense of sight and the eyes.

At an emotional level, Wood relates to anger, frustration, and jealousy. At a cognitive level, Wood controls creativity, initiative, decision making and planning. The spirit of the Wood is Hun, the ethereal soul, our intuition, the part of us that outlives our body.  The virtue that keeps Wood in check is patience. 

Wood imbalances

Now let’s take a look at some of the things that could go wrong in the Liver system by looking at the Wood element in Spring.

Much like the Sun at rising point, Spring causes nature to wake up from slumber and raise. This upward movement of the energy can be seen in all aspects of nature: we enjoy more daylight, the Sun shines its light at a higher angle, the plants start to grow, the trees produce buds, the bees get busy, the birds and the animals come out of hibernation and become more vocal and more active.

Humans feel the rising energies of Mother Nature as well: we feel more energetic, more active. A healthy and balanced person will enjoy and will harness the rising energies of Spring by starting eating more green foods, drinking more water, spend more time in nature, meditate and do light exercise like stretching and practice patience and equanimity.

Failing to control this rising energy or trying to supress it will lead to symptoms and diseases that will affect the body in the long run.

When a person fails to temper this eruption of exuberant energy, the energy in their body will rise abnormally upwards, towards the head. This is called Liver Yang rising or Liver Fire.  

This can translate into:

  • hypertension
  • headaches
  • migraine
  • vision problems
  • insomnia
  • outbursts of anger, jealousy, frustration
  • dream disturbed sleep
  • OCD
  • PMDD

When a person tries to block this eruption of exuberant energy instead of managing it, the energy in their body will stagnate. When the Qi in the body stagnates, everything else stagnates: Blood, Bodily Fluids, hormones and emotions. The main symptom of stagnation in the body is pain. The main symptom of stagnation at a mental level is translated in mood, emotional and mental disorders.

When the Liver fails to ensure the free flow in the body we have Liver Qi Stagnation and various symptoms and complaints such as:

  • dysmenorrhea (painful periods)
  • PMS
  • irregular periods
  • fibromyalgia
  • muscle cramps
  • TMJ
  • IBS
  • constipation
  • emotional and mental disorders
  • improper time and money management

Wind disorders

While there is no Air element in TCM, Wood is strongly related to Wind. In Chinese Medicine, Wind is regarded as one of the “evils” that can cause disease in the body.

As an external pathogen, External Wind is most likely to attack the Lung system, our first line of defence, causing colds, flus, sinusitis, sore throat, coughs, itchy skin, hay fever, etc. All of them very specific for the spring season.

As an internal pathogen, Internal Wind is mainly related to the Liver system because the Liver is responsible for the free flow. There are many diseases caused by Wind, and they are not all related to the spring season, but they might be triggered in spring or by emotional imbalances and most acupoints used to manage them belong to the Liver and Gallbladder meridians. They usually appear suddenly and most of the times have a seasonal or migratory nature:

  • passive-aggressive and bi-polar disorders
  • arthritis pain that moves from joint to joint
  • moving pain of any kind
  • headaches or migraines accompanied by dizziness and nausea
  • vertigo, BPPV
  • tremors and shaking, essential tremors, Parkinson’s
  • muscle spasms, epilepsy
  • stroke, paralysis
  • rashes, itchy skin or genitalia

A few words about Anger

Many people say that Anger weakens the Liver. Truth is Anger is just a response, a symptom, a message that something is not right and the Liver system is not balanced. Many people may not even have very clear cut physical symptom that can be linked to the Liver. I’ve had patients complaining about not being happy about how they manage their tasks and time at the office or about how aimless their lives feel, about not being able to make decisions or not being able to go with the flow. I’ve had people complaining about feeling trapped or stuck, having nightmares or they simply complained about waking up every night between 1 and 3 am. All these are red flags for me that there is lack of free flow somewhere.

Anger is the most powerful driving force in the Universe. Anger is neither good nor bad. Anger becomes a problem when it is untamed, suppressed or repressed.   Without a bit of frustration, the seed will always remain in the form of a seed, failing to fulfil its intended purpose. Without a bit of anger, the little tiny plant that emerges from the seed will never find the power to penetrate the hard shell of the seed and push itself upward through the hard soil towards the light. Without anger and a bit of jealousy, birds and animals will never engage in the loud and sometimes violent act of finding a mate and they will never have the power to defend their chicks and younglings. Without anger and frustration we will always be confined to the same unfulfilling environment, relationship or workplace, we will never find our voice and our battle cry.

Self-care advice

At a physical level, eat appropriate foods in spring. All year round, eat foods that support the free flow of the Qi and nourish the Blood. Also, increase the time spent in nature and introduce slow exercising, such as Tai Chi, QiGong and Yoga. Walking in nature benefits both the joints and the mind.

At a mental and emotional level, spending time in nature and contemplating the vegetation coming back to life is very beneficial. Mindfulness is a must and you should try to integrate it into your daily routine, even if it’s just a few minutes a day, especially in the morning, to help with the flow of the Qi.

You should embrace activities and hobbies that support creativity, intuition and patience, such as growing and nurturing plants from seeds, painting flowers, and the practice of self-compassion.

Wuxing Nutrition Therapy Workshop

Join me on a wonderful journey of self discovery with the Five Elements Nutrition Therapy Workshop

What is Wuxing nutrition therapy?

The Wuxing nutrition therapy is Five Elements nutrition therapy, created on the principles of the ancient art of Chinese nutrition. Please read the article for more information.

Wuxing nutrition therapy, is about self-discovery, self-transformation and self-healing. It puts YOU back in control of your food intake.

What is in the workshop?

We will look at foods, beverages and cooking methods according to the laws of Yin and Yang and the Five Elements and classify them into categories based on thermal energy, taste, flavour, area of influence in the body and the way cooking methods can influence them.

We will learn about seasons, constitutional factors, how food can influence our health and well-being, and how to create recipes for better health and vitality.

Who can benefit from this nutrition therapy workshop?

Anybody who is interested in learning about the ancient Tao healing art of nurturing themselves in accordance to the principles of the Five Elements is most welcome.

Will I have to cook and eat Chinese?

Absolutely not! One of the important rules of Wuxing nutrition therapy is that it encourages the consumption of local foods. You will learn how to combine them based on the Wuxing principles so that you can start cooking for your own personalised needs and preferences.

What if I am vegan or vegetarian?

Wuxing nutrition therapy works with who you are, physically, emotionally and spiritually, to help you transform in the best version of yourself. If you are vegan, you are free to stay vegan, but it will help you be the best version of you as a vegan.

However, please note that the workshop will make mention of all food groups, including meat and dairy products.

Please read the disclaimer before enlisting for the workshop.

DISCLAIMER

The Wuxing Nutrition Therapy workshop has been designed to familiarise you with the principles of the Five Elements nutrition, as they have been written down in the Chinese medicine literature, so that you can become more aware of your daily food intake, enhance well-being, and enrich your relationship with food and food preparation.

One must consider the fact that Wuxing nutrition therapy must be accompanied by other therapies and lifestyle changes in order to become most effective.

The workshop does not enable you to complete a Chinese medicine diagnostic on yourself or others.

The workshop does not present any specific food cures related to any illnesses or medical conditions and it is not a substitute for professional consultation and treatment from a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner, other nutritionist practitioners or your doctor.  

If you have concerns about your health or if you have to follow a special diet due to various illnesses or diagnosed medical conditions, it is recommended that you consult your healthcare team before you make any changes in your diet.

The information contained in the workshop are by no means a substitute, replacement or alternative to any form of medication you may be taking for your medical conditions.

This workshop is designed for personal use.

If you are a professional, you will be able to receive a CPD certificate of attendance, but it will not qualify you a Chinese medicine nutritionist, nor will you be able to use it to get insured as such a nutritionist, unless you are already qualified as a TCM practitioner and/or TCM acupuncturist.

All participants to the workshop will sign a copy of this disclaimer at the moment of their training.

Wuxing Nutrition Therapy

One of my favourite teachers at the Chinese medicine college used to say:

“This person needs nourishment, not punishment!”

Food, glorious food!

As human beings, we have a special relationship with food. Food is not just fuel for the body, food is much more than that.

Our first relationship is with our mothers, through feeding, both in the womb and after we are born. 

We break bread only with friends and family, and many of our first dates include food.  An old proverb says that love passes through the stomach, and they are not far from the truth, considering that the Heart meridian is paired up with the Small Intestine in Chinese medicine.

We use food and eating metaphors to describe how we feel, “full of zest for life”, “with no appetite for anything”, we take in “the sweetness of life”, or “life can be bitter sometimes”.

Food is one of our greatest pleasures in life. Some take pleasure from eating it, some take pleasure from cooking it. For some, food is a hindrance, for others, a sin.

What is nutrition therapy?

Nutrition therapy is one of the Tao Healing Arts also known as the arts of the Mountain or the Alchemy arts. It does not belong to the arts of Medicine. In fact, it is the precursor of herbalism, as physicians developed the herbal remedies from the foods and herbs they were eating.   

According to the principles of Tao Healing Arts, nutrition plays a very important part in preserving and restoring our health. Food is not just a means to nurture our bodies, but it represents a vital part into maintaining a healthy balance of the spirit.

As all the other healing and metaphysical arts of the Tao, nutrition is first and foremost an instrument for preserving health. It was considered one of the most powerful forms of self-transformation and self-healing arts.

Food as an instrument of health preservation

As part of the ancient Tao healing arts, nutrition therapy uses the same fundamental principles to analyse foods and their effects on the human being.

Foods, drinks, spices and cooking methods are differentiated according to the following principles:

  1. Energy/thermal energy. This is related to the Yin or Yang nature of the nutrition. Thus, we have hot, warm, neutral, cooling and cold energy. Hot and warm influence Yang, cooling and cold influence Yin and neutral can be either.
  2. Taste or flavour. Here we have five aromatic categories, corresponding to the Five Elements (Wuxing) and also to the five pairs of Zang-/Fu organs. The five flavours or tastes are: sweet, pungent, salty, acrid/sour, and bitter.
  3. Qi affecting properties. This represents the way in which a certain food or drink affects the movement of the Qi. We have foods that move the Qi upwards, foods that move the Qi downwards, foods that keep the Qi at the surface and foods that sink the Qi deep in the body.
  4. Area of influence. In this category we find foods that support the Qi, foods that nourish Blood or nourish the Bodily Fluids and foods that supplement the Essence (pre-natal Qi)
  5. Cooking methods. The way we process the foods can enhance their properties or destroy them

We are not what we eat, we eat who we are

Since no two people are exactly identical, what we eat and how we eat should be as individual as ourselves and should help us preserve our health and cure us when needed.

Choosing to follow the principles of Wuxing nutrition therapy means to learn about our unique constitutional profile, our strengths and weaknesses, what our symptoms mean, and eat our way back to balance. It is a journey of a lifetime. As we change, so should our nutrition change to support the new us. It is a very personal path and nobody can walk it for us. 

Many people think that they will have to start cooking and eating Chinese or they have to change their dietary regime. Far from the truth. Wuxing nutrition therapy works with who you are, physically, emotionally and spiritually, to help you transform in the best version of yourself. If you are vegan, you are free to stay vegan, but it will help you be the best version of you as a vegan.

Wuxing nutrition therapy, aka Five Elements nutrition therapy, is about self-discovery, self-transformation and self-healing. It puts YOU back in control.

If you want to learn this ancient art, join me for the Wuxing Nutrition Therapy workshop. Private consultations also available.

10 Years

10 years

Another life, literally.
Got my PhD, got promoted to Lecturer, became the LCCI Centre coordinator at the uni.
Wrote several books and a handful of research papers (28 in total)

Thought I had everything figured out. I thought I was happy and loved and safe.
Then burnout and PMDD arrived, bringing “happy” thoughts of a world that would be better off without me in it.

All I knew about UK was that the weather was horrible and the food not much better.
But this a wonderful man opened his heart and his house to me
And he told me I can be anything I want to be.
So I took a giant leap of faith and I jumped and never looked back.
I patched my cracked pot of a heart with gold from his love. And he stood by me through thick and thin and he taught me the real meaning of love

I am proud of my Transylvanian heritage and my battle scars. And my quirky accent.

I know I’m not everyone’s cup of tea and I’m happy with that. I tried that once and nearly killed me.

I’ve learnt that:
1. Not getting what I wanted was indeed a wonderful struck of luck
2. A kick in the butt is a step forward
3. What doesn’t kill you does make you stronger but it also gives you a sick sense of humour
4. Acupuncture is proof that getting stabbed in the back can be a very beneficial thing
5. English food is actually not that bad

Happy New Year everyone! Keep the ball rolling!

Mind full or mindful?

The choice is yours

The human mind can be a wonderful servant or a terrible master. As a servant, it can turn you into the most accomplished warrior. As a master, it can turn you into the most accomplished worrier.

One of the most successful people in the world are the ones who made their minds work for themselves instead of allowing their minds to control their pain, thoughts or emotions. If we look at their lifestyle habits, they all seem to have one thing in common: they meditate.

Are you looking to improve your life? Would you like to enjoy better health and more wealth?

The practice of mindfulness, developed by the ancient cultures, such as the Buddhist and Zen practitioners, is now available at Purple Jade Holistics. All you have to do is choose the package that is best suited for your needs (click to find out more). 

Yes, it’s all in your head!

Scientific studies have demonstrated that mindfulness and meditation do actually change the brain chemistry and how we react to stimuli.

Did you know?

The corporations in Japan have interior gardens built within the premises so that all their employees can spend time in contemplation every day. Many of them will also spend at least one week in Buddhist or Zen retreats, because they believe that mindfulness not only helps maintain good health, emotional balance and general well-being, but it also makes them more successful in their professions, leading to wealth and prosperity.

This art of contemplating the present moment, as it is, without trying to change anything about it, without judging or trying to quantify it in any way, has many benefits.

The act of gently guiding the mind to the present moment is not only grounding, but it also helps deal with an overactive mind, stress and anxiety.

Mindfulness relaxes the mind and helps it become open and aware, which improves the memory and focus.

A relaxed mind is also better equipped to handle pain. Mindfulness can be a very important instrument for people who struggle with chronic pain and inflammation, such as arthritis or fibromyalgia. Also, by releasing stress, mindfulness can help with strengthening the immunity and lowering the blood pressure.

One of the first effects people notice when they start practising mindfulness is a significant improvement in their sleep patterns. Mindfulness not only helps them fall asleep faster, it also helps them stay asleep, and the quality of the sleep is much improved as it assists in the reduction of nightmares.

One of the fundamental principles of mindfulness is to explore everything with new and curious eyes. This helps develop creativity and problem solving skills. This is why people who meditate and practice mindfulness tend to be more relaxed, creative and more successful.

Another interesting side-effect of mindfulness is that people practising it seem to feel less lonely. Being present and aware of the surroundings and looking at everything with new eyes and a vivid curiosity renders one feeling connected not only with themselves, but to the world at large. Plus, by attending mindfulness group sessions, one is prone to meet like-minded people and make new friends.

Mindfulness is able to regulate the moods and the responses one has towards external and internal stimuli. A regular daily practice of mindfulness, even just for a few minutes, will prevent the stress build-up.

In a nutshell, it puts YOU in control of how YOU choose to respond to the events inside or around you.

Mindfulness can become an empowering tool by putting YOU in control of your mind and your life.

Can you afford NOT to give mindfulness a try?

Packages start from just £30 (click to find out more)

Tai Chi for Health and Well-being

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Please be advised that it is always recommended that you consult with your GP and other healthcare specialists before starting ANY Tai Chi programs

Tai Chi belongs to the great family of physical exercises designed with the purpose of cultivating and preserving the life force Qi.

With roots in martial arts, developed by the Chinese monks in order to counterattack the long time spent immobile in meditation and mindfulness, Tai Chi, alongside QiGong and other forms of Qi cultivation and preservation, presents many forms and styles, all created with the same principles in mind: the integration of body and mind by controlling the movement of the body and the breathing, thus cultivating the life force and rendering the human being in total harmony with themselves and with the Universe. 

The slow, soft moves were created to build and reinforce fitness, agility and balance, both in body and mind. The mind is present and aware of every move the body makes.

Benefits of Tai Chi:

  1. Reduces pain. From the Chinese medicine point of view, Tai Chi enables the free flow of Qi, Blood and Body Fluids. The moves are especially designed to follow the natural flow of Qi along the meridians and collaterals, thus restoring the healthy flow of Qi and the elimination of stagnant energy and pain. A good flow of Qi also leads to a good flow of Blood and Body Fluids which nourish the muscles and the joints, which means less pain and stiffness and more mobility.
  2. Promotes mindfulness. Because the mind is present and aware of every move the body makes and it focuses on the breathing at the same time, Tai Chi is in fact moving mindfulness. It makes you aware of your body and breathing in the present moment, helping you control the mind from wandering off. This calms the mind and helps you think more clearly.
  3. Reduces stress. The classes do not measure progress in any way. All the participants are there to enjoy themselves while moving within their own range of mobility and comfort. This contributes to a very a relaxed state of mind.

Tai Chi for Health programs developed by Dr Paul Lam combine Western medical science with Oriental wisdom. The programs are designed especially for medical conditions, such as: arthritis and fall prevention, diabetes, rehabilitation and so on.

It is a known fact that people in pain and elderly people are more prone to accidents due to lack of balance.

Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention contains twelve simple and easy to follow moves that have been chosen for their ability to increase muscle strength, balance and confidence in people suffering from:

  • Arthritis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • MS
  • Post-stroke rehabilitation
  • Asthma

Benefits of Tai Chi for Arthritis and Fall Prevention:

  • Increases strength and flexibility
  • Decreases pain in joints
  • Decreases stress
  • Helps reduce high blood pressure
  • Increases a sense of well-being
  • Improves balance
  • Improves lung capacity

The program is endorsed and recommended by many international health organisations, such as CDC in America and Arthritis Care in UK.

If you are interested in joining any of the classes I teach in Tameside, please drop me a line 🙂

Your Transylvanian Tai Chi instructor and TCM coach,

Daciana

The troubles of the Mind – the Shen disorders

[…] we won’t establish peace of mind just by praying for it. Dalai Lama

 

The principle of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is to restore balance in the being by restoring the free flow of Qi, Blood, Bodily Fluids and Shen (Spirit).

Stagnation in the body can manifest itself on several levels and can have multiple symptoms. The most important symptom is pain. This pain can be physical pain or it can be emotional distress.

When we suffer from mental issues, this pain comes in a multitude of forms, because each individual copes with emotional distress in their own unique way.

According to Chinese medicine, there are many complaints that belong to this category of disorders of the Spirit (Shen). Some of them are:

  • Sleep disorders: insomnia, restless, interrupted sleep, dream disturbed sleep, sleepiness
  • Disruptive mental episodes: lack of focus, overthinking, lack of vision, memory lapses, inability to make decisions, procrastination, lack of creativity, OCD, psychotic episodes
  • Emotional distress: anxiety, anger, jealousy, panic attacks, traumatic events, flashbacks (PTSD), depression, unjustified sadness, hyperactivity, inappropriate language and manners, phobias, inability to form meaningful relationships, low self-esteem, lack of trust
  • Female disorders: PMDD, post-partum depression, hormonal fluctuations, menstruation complaints, infertility (some cases)
  • Addictions: alcohol, nicotine, drug abuse, over-medication, gambling, eating disorders

However, it is not just in your mind. The Shen disorders can even be felt as physical pain. This pain can be in the form of a headache, backache, stiff neck, TMJ, chest pain, tight throat, eye strain, coarse voice, vertigo and dizziness, IBS and other digestive issues, to name but a few. If the physical ailments do not seem to be confirmed by scan or test results, one can almost safely assume they are of emotional or mental origin. At the same time, certain confirmed physical ailments can be improved once the mental state of the individual is improved.

So, if just praying for a peaceful mind won’t cut it, what can we do to improve our mental balance and restore mental health?

It is always recommended to combine alternative therapies with medication and professional therapy and counselling, especially in the case of severe manifestations. Once the critical stage has been dealt with and the mind has settled, the treatment can be extended to alternative medicine, art therapy and other forms of therapy designed to help maintain an optimal level of mental balance.

Acupressure or acupuncture, combined with mindfulness and massage therapy can be a very effective combination in restoring and maintaining a healthy mental state, provided the treatment is backed up by dietary and other lifestyle changes.

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