Tag Archives: chinese medicine

Energy

Today, I decide to spend the whole day chilling out at home. I have a lie-in, I meditate, I eat breakfast.

I reply to a few text messages. I attempt to get cheap car insurance. I have lunch. I read emails. I watch Whip It for the second time.

By four pm, I’m agitated. What to do next? I could watch another movie. What a privilege to have the time and space to do so. I could read.

But I’m starting to feel uncomfortable. I’d probably feel better if I went for a walk. It’s sunny outside. I’d feel less guilty if it was raining.

I could follow a yoga class on YouTube. But I just don’t want to.

In the past, when I suffered spells of depression, I spent long periods in my room. I stayed in bed. I binged on junk food and mind-numbing box sets.

As a result, I became even more depressed and self-hating. Then, I definitely didn’t want to face the world because I felt so ugly and useless. Now, a part of me is scared that something similar could happen again.

For the past while, I’ve made sure to exercise every day. I get out of the house. I’m sociable. I’m busy. I work. I write blogs.

What I’ve learned from Chinese Medicine is that, when we don’t move enough, our energy becomes stagnant and we experience pain and fatigue. When enough energy doesn’t go to the head, we can feel depressed. That’s why it’s important to move our bodies and to receive energy treatments such as acupuncture.

However, I’d been moving my body to such an extent that I’d injured myself several times and I was exhausted. Following an acupuncturist’s advice, I haven’t exercised in four days.

Last night, I met a friend who’s home from abroad. She told me that I’m looking really well. I wanted to work out immediately. But I didn’t. Instead, I noted this reaction and I was okay with it.

For a change this Saturday, I haven’t arranged any coffee dates. I haven’t driven to the gym. I haven’t walked or yoga’d or even ventured outside the house. Instead, I drink hot beverages in bed, bite my fingers and click on Facebook for something to do.

The energy is rising. I usually shake it off or stuff it down. I’m not used to doing nothing. I don’t think I can do nothing.

I want to pump iron and dance and make love with aggression. I want to race through the countryside and bomb into the ocean. I want to laugh and cry and scream with abandon. I want to explode all this energy into my writing. I want to squeeze all my blackheads and peel off my skin. I even consider rejoining Tinder.

But I don’t do any of these things. I stay in my room, turn my phone on silent and sit on my meditation cushion. I bounce a little and rock back and forth. I start composing this blog post.

Then, I realise that there’s something about this energy that makes me want to burn it off. It doesn’t matter how. It just has to be released.

Suddenly, images of yogis and monks come to mind. People who have trained themselves to sit with this energy and allow it to build.

Humans who have managed to transcend these egoic and bodily urges to sex and spend, do and distract. They harness this energy and use it to connect with something bigger than all of this. To be present to all that is rather than losing themselves in all that they wish they were.

There’s nothing wrong with making the most of this creative energy. Artists splash it across canvasses to form beautiful masterpieces. Musicians and singers unleash it with passion. Champions triumph. New lives enter the planet.

And the rest of us mere mortals make sure to stay just ahead of it so we don’t have to think or feel too much. We move forward, we move forward, we move forward. We don’t want to get caught.

Most of the time, when I write an article, I’ve reached some sort of conclusion. I’ve come up with a positive slant. I’ve learned something. I’ve let go of something else. I’ve made myself feel better.

Today, I don’t transcend body, mind or ego. I sit on that meditation cushion for 10 minutes before moving the cushion in front of the laptop and vomiting all over WordPress. I feel a little bit better. I guess I’m still ahead.

life coach kildare

Images: favim.com

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Stinking Thinking vs Good Gut

In the space of a couple of days, a handful of people have told me to stop thinking and listen to my intuition. And this morning, I tore off a page from my Louise L. Hay calendar to read: “All that I need to know at any given moment is revealed to me. My intuition is always on my side.” And just in case I hadn’t taken notice, as I write this blog post, the following picture pops up on Facebook!

louise hay

For about a month now, I have been thinking, thinking and more thinking. I haven’t felt as calm as I had been. Chinese Medicine tells us that too much thinking puts extra heat into the body. I’d done so much over-analysing that my mind was ready to erupt and I’d given myself an infection. I was exhausted, sick and cranky and the negativity had deviously spotted a chink in my threadbare armour.

Today, finally, I feel that I have dropped back into who I really am. I trust that my gut won’t lead me astray. I realise (or re-realise) that worry is a useless and destructive activity. Today, I choose to breathe, to be present and gentle with myself, and to enjoy this wonderful day.

So this morning, I went for a walk by the river in the August sunshine. A warm breeze swept over my bare arms. I strolled beneath lush green trees that whispered soothing lullabies. And the river kept moving and flowing. As all things do.

Under Pressure

This morning, I travelled to Dublin for a seminar which was cancelled. I arrived home with a free day to spare. It occurred to me that I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t set aside much time for fun and relaxation. I’ve been occupied with work, courses and going to the gym. And even when I have a couple of hours in the evening, I haven’t been able to sit still long enough to watch a movie or even a television programme.

It’s good for our ego when we’re busy. Society is so obsessed with doing doing doing. Laziness is frowned upon. One must constantly be striving, improving, achieving and accomplishing. People love to tell us about their hectic schedules and full timetables. But there is absolutely nothing wrong with a bit of nonaction once in a while. In fact, the Chinese insist upon it as part of their medicine. Resting, relaxing and doing things we enjoy is all part of boosting our Yin. In everyday language, it’s called having a work-play-rest balance.

We all know how it is when we have too much on. We become cranky and overwhelmed. Little things get to us. We’re irritable and exhausted. Everything takes more of an effort. And when we do take a break, it’s extremely difficult to switch off and unwind. That’s why holidays are vital as it can take a while before the body and mind fully relax. It’s also important to set aside some time to be quiet and alone on a regular basis. Perhaps in the countryside or by the sea. And away from your phone and internet.

This week, the importance of self-care has become very apparent to me. If we don’t look after ourselves, how can we hope to be of any use to anybody else? It’s like when the air hostess advises us, in case of emergency, to apply our own oxygen masks before attending to young children. Otherwise, nobody would survive. This is not being selfish. This is being smart.

Being nice to yourself comes with extraordinary health benefits. So this afternoon, I’m going to light my stove and curl up in a big blanket with a mug of tea and a couple of episodes of Modern Family.

For more on boosting Yin energy, read here.

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Treat Yourself

Chinese Medicine teaches us that it’s important to boost our Yin Energy. Yin Energy is a cooling energy. It’s the energy of rest and stillness. Its opposite is Yang, which refers to heat and activity. When Yin Energy goes down, Yang rises. Alternatively, when Yang rises, it burns off the Yin. Either way, when Yin diminishes, the ageing process accelerates, disease sets in, and the person becomes irritable, suspicious, and “hot and bothered”.

Aside from treating yourself with acupuncture or Chinese herbs, there are many other wonderful ways to boost your Yin. All you have to do is relax, unwind, and enjoy life. Medicine never tasted so sweet.

Here are some ways I treat myself…

Taking myself out for coffee. I nearly prefer going for café solo as I’m free to cover myself in yellow cupcake icing, before licking my fingers and thumbs and perusing the Sunday papers.

Silent meditation – just sitting in the quiet, and not having to do or be anything. Becoming aware of my thoughts and bodily sensations. Letting go and surrendering so I can tap into the oneness of the Universe…

Midweek Movie Mania – this is my new favourite hobby. Every Wednesday, I make the trip up to Dublin to meet a few mates. And each week, one of us decides upon the film and the venue. This is promptly followed by a pint and a laugh in the pub. What better way to shake off the stresses of the week?

Booking a trip – be it backpacking in South America, a sun holiday in Spain, a retreat in the West of Ireland, or a weekend splurge in a European city, it’s always nice to have something to look forward to. And getting a breather away from everyday life is a tonic in itself.

A walk or a cycle or even a sit-down or picnic outdoors. Nature always calms and inspires me and puts things into perspective.

Buying myself a new outfit and applying my best makeup. Just because.

A bath. With bubbles. And candles. And relaxing music.

Long yoga stretches that one instructor described as “delicious”.

A great book, a cup of tea, and an ultra comfy couch…

Turning off all the lights and gazing at the flickering flames of the fire. Mesmerising…

It doesn’t require much effort or cash to boost your Yin. So go on, take the (Chinese) doctor’s advice and treat yourself! You don’t have to ask me twice!

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How to Deal with a Pre-menstrual Female

Most women suffer from Pre-menstrual syndrome at some point in their lives. This nasty affliction causes food cravings, moodiness, cramps, headaches, breast tenderness, and much, much more. Fortunately, not all women get PMS all the time. It depends on a range of factors, including hormone levels, diet and lifestyle.

I’m a woman so I’m allowed say this but pre-menstrual females can be extremely tricky. If you’re one of the men lucky enough to bag a woman who sails through her cycle, without even the slightest touch of PMS, you must have done something really good in a past life. If not, here’s some information, tips and insights from one of the not-so-lucky females…

The pre-menstrual woman suffers from exhaustion, irritability, and bloating during this time. She will be convinced that she’s put on weight. Even though she thinks the exact same thing every single month, she will not see a pattern. She will compare herself to a whale. She will wonder if she could possibly be pregnant, even if the last time she had sex was in 2004.

Don’t be surprised if she refuses to get out of bed or if she starts keening during an episode of Secret Millionaire. If you hear her wailing “Just kill me now” and “I hate my life,” don’t be alarmed. She’s probably just deciding what to wear.

If you’re another female, now is not the time to tell her how well your diet / marathon training is going. If you’re male… a 10-day sabbatical might be for the best. If you’re her partner, she will want to punch you in the face every time you cough / laugh / speak / breathe a little too loudly. She will admit she was being unreasonable. But not right now. Right now, everything you say / do / don’t do will drive her demented. That’s just the way it is.

We all know that women can get cranky, spotty and depressed just before their period but did you know that women can also become clumsy? Yesterday, I walked into a barrier, opened my car door into a wall, knocked my elbow off the same wall, and dropped my purse in the newsagent. As coins spun all over the shop floor, the cashier asked, “Are you okay, miss?” I wanted to scream and cry and pull my hair out and maybe pull his hair out a little too but I merely sniffed a barely audible “Yes” before getting on my hands and knees in front of the rather cute customer I’d just been eyeing. FML.

Some women swear by Evening Primrose Oil to curb the symptoms. Here’s my testimonial: That is some good shit! One month, I ran out of the capsules and thought, I probably don’t even need them. By God, it was probably the worst month of my (and my shell-shocked new boyfriend’s) life. In other words, it works.

In Chinese Medicine, one of the main causes of PMS is Liver Blood Stagnation. Acupuncture is great for getting the energy and blood moving around the body. Exercise also does the trick but I’ll let you suggest that one to her.

But it’s not all bad… *scratches head*… Eckhart Tolle has a section in The Power of Now about how women, because they go through this condition each month, are closer to enlightenment! Is it worth it, ladies?

And guys, if you’re starting to feel sorry for us, don’t worry. You more than make up for it with this: 

Image: http://alittleteenangst.tumblr.com/post/12149939979

Anger: from destructive enemy to constructive energy

Living with anger is like swallowing a wriggling baby octopus. As it grows, it expands, and pushes against your insides until you feel so full with it that you’re about to burst. When the pressure becomes too much to bear, it will use its tentacles to pierce and swipe its way out.

Some of you may be welcoming more awareness into your life at the moment. You’re currently coming to many realisations about yourself and about how you’ve been living and behaving. Despite this new-found enlightenment, you’re noticing that you’re getting angrier than ever before. I used to be such a gentle, peaceful human being. This alien emotion may surprise and even scare you.

Think of it this way. You have begun a fascinating journey of discovery and you are rapidly changing for the better. However, you’re still surrounded by people who are not travelling along the same route as you are. Your energy has shifted and what was once safe and familiar now annoys you. You no longer accept bad treatment from others because you’re starting to think more of yourself. Instead of feeling hurt and depressed by others’ misdemeanours, you’re now getting angry, which is a healthier reaction. But you need to realise that you are replacing your passivity for aggression.

Don’t worry about this new way of being. For a while, you will feel as if you’re walking in a field of land mines. You need to finally release all of these pent-up emotions. When there are no more long-buried devices left to explode, you will come back into balance. By this time, you will hopefully have removed yourself from situations that don’t suit you and distanced yourself from people who are not good for you. As Eckhart Tolle explains in the following clip, anger is just energy.

Steps for dealing with anger:

1) Sit with it

Like in a quiet waiting room, if you’re sitting with someone long enough, you’re eventually going to ask them where they’re from. Speak to the anger. Examine your feelings. What is it about the situation/person that angers you so? Is there something that you recognise (and dislike) in yourself? I know a man who became unreasonably irritated whenever his children let out the sofa footrests as they watched TV. Years later, he admitted that it was because he detested his own lazy streak and was reminded of it every time his kids sat back and relaxed.

Maybe you’ll discover that the anger you’re experiencing is directed at yourself. This could be for not living up to your purported potential, for acting in a manner that you’re ashamed of, or for feeling things that you’d rather not admit to. Holding on to anger is an exercise in self-destruction. It has no positive consequences but it will make you do stupid and even dangerous things. It will ruin relationships, fill your days with misery and, ultimately, bring about disease.

2) See where the attachment lies

Understanding what’s charging your anger is like finding the right plug in a large, tangled clump of electric wires. You have to unravel each cable and find which one you’re attached to before you can disconnect it. Recognising where the attachment lies will help you let go of this disturbing emotion. If a loved one has said something to upset you, ask yourself why these words have had such a profound effect on you. Do you care so much what that person thinks of you? Has something in what they’ve said resonated with a part of you that you fear, dislike or distrust?

3) Understand

When you begin to grasp why the person is behaving in a certain way, it makes it a lot easier to handle. Maybe it’s the only way they know how to act in order to get through life. We are all just trying to survive in this world and everyone has a different way of achieving this goal. Know that their behaviour is nothing to do with you. This knowledge will make you a lot less angry and will enable you to accept people for who they are, without allowing yourself to be dragged into their pain. Also, understanding why the person has filled you with anger will push you further on your road to self-discovery.

4) Express yourself

Get it out! Break some glass at the bottle bank. Smash a few plates, Greek-style. Go for a sprint. Take out the punching bag. Scream and shout. Scribble down your rage. And if you can express it to the person who’s brought all of this up in you, do so. Let them know how you’re feeling. You will not let them get away with treating you badly. Aside from relieving the pressure on yourself, this will have the added benefit of ensuring that a similar situation will not reoccur. Now that you’re stronger and more assertive, people won’t dream of treating you with anything less than respect. And if they still feel they have a right to mistreat you, it’s time for you to move on.

5) Energetic medicine

In Chinese medicine, repressed anger can create physical discomfort and disease. Acupuncture is an excellent tool for releasing anger. Staphysagria is a homeopathic remedy that you can take whenever you’re feeling a sense of entrapment, anger, frustration, or resentment.

6) Let it go

If you’ve expressed your rage, come to understand it, and removed yourself from the people and situations that are bringing you down, it is now time to let go. As Siddhārtha Buddha said:

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

7) Transform

Anger and passion are two ends of the same stream. One comes straight from the source, high in the mountains, clear and fresh. The other leaks into the ocean, becoming lost and bitter. Once you’ve dealt with the anger in all its stages, all you’re left with is energy.

Use this energy for whatever invigorates you. Allow it to ignite your creative spark, light up your spirit, and propel you into a world of power and passion.

Images: Google

“You’re making me feel bad”: true or false?

Do you have (at least) one person in your life who constantly makes you feel bad? He/she passes hurtful remarks, criticises, or makes fun of you. I’m interrupting this transmission of self-pity to bring you a very important newsflash: The other person is not the one making you feel bad. You are doing an excellent job of that all on your own.

"No one can make you feel inferior without your consent." Eleanor Roosevelt

Everything you sense has to go through a filter system in your mind before it can have any effect on you whatsoever. You control this. Therefore, you are the one who allows yourself to feel bad. If an insulting remark is something that you already believe about yourself, then you’re more inclined to be sensitive about it and it’s more likely to hurt you. If, on the other hand, your friend tells you that you look like a luminous yellow dinosaur, it won’t rattle your confidence because you know for a fact that you don’t resemble an extinct vertebrate wearing a hi-vis vest. That’s ridiculous, you snigger. What is ridiculous is when you internalise other equally silly comments.

People can only make you feel bad when you’re already feeling bad. Or when your good feelings are based on something so shallow and transient that they are all too easily snatched away. Having said that, there are some people who are more skilled than others at resurrecting those negative emotions that you’d prayed were long-buried.

Let me tell you about a childhood friend of mine. Simone and I met in play school. She was imaginative and hilarious and fun. Even though I moved town a couple of years later, we continued to have regular sleep overs. We phoned and wrote letters and emails,  sharing all our teenage and early adult experiences. I thought she’d be a friend for life. In my mid-twenties, however, I began to realise that she was making me feel bad.

She sulked and gave me the silent treatment any time I couldn’t hang out with her. Her brilliant sense of humour was often at my expense. She insulted me with witty remarks and gave me back-handed compliments. She once told me I laughed like The Whirligig Witch in Fortycoats and, when I pouted, she told me I should be happy ‘coz the Whirligig Witch had magic powers. Then she snorted: “You kinda look like her too…” When we holidayed together before college, she announced that I’d lost “soooo much weight”, like I’d been previously obese. She complimented me on my new hair style, adding that she’d hated it after the last hair cut. She regularly told me how “awfully tired” I was looking. And consistently poked fun at my “dumb blonde” tendencies. She’d often say things like: “Why do you and I put on weight so easily?” or “How come we never have boyfriends?” (I didn’t even bother pointing out that I was two sizes smaller than her and I had been MARRIED.) She called me a “swot” for studying and “boring” or “Little Miss Perfect” when I wouldn’t indulge in food, cigarettes and alcohol as vigorously as she did. She frequently bitched about my other close friends and even my family members. And any time I landed myself a fella or started making a success of my life, she totally withdrew from me.

It’s scary that it took me so long to realise how bad I was feeling whenever I was around Simone. And I’m not blaming it all on her. I’m sure that some of the things I took to be insults were benign comments or jokes. I had always been super-sensitive and I clearly cared what she thought, otherwise it wouldn’t have bothered me. Some people just aren’t as tapped in to others’ feelings and they blurt things out before they have time to censor them. Or they honestly believe they’re being helpful when they inform you that you look like you haven’t slept a wink in days. But, oftentimes, when someone puts you down, it’s because they’re feeling so miserable about their own lives that lashing out at someone else makes them feel marginally better.

Simone’s father had a habit of “affectionately” calling Simone, “my little fattie”. Her three older brothers teased her incessantly. A particular favourite taunt was: “No fear of you ever getting pregnant! If you look ‘contraceptive’ up in the dictionary, there’s a picture of your face!” And much later, I found out that Simone’s mother had tried to commit suicide when Simone was only nine years old. Simone and I have since drifted apart. I don’t know if she’s grown into a happier woman. I hope she still laughs as much as she used to (preferably not at anyone else’s expense).

If you have a multitude of Simones in your circle of friends, here’s what to do:

1) Speak up!

Confront the person about their behaviour. They may be perfectly unaware of how they’ve been acting. However, blaming them for how upset you’ve been will only get their backs up, so, instead of snarling: “You did this!”, try: “I felt hurt when…” This will help them to see things from your perspective without making them feel as if they’re under attack. This mature approach may even gain you some respect. And when someone respects you, they’re unlikely to mistreat you.

2) Second chances

Everyone deserves a do-over. Perhaps your friend or loved one has been going through something difficult recently, which would explain their hurtful behaviour. If you’ve had the talk and they’ve apologised, the ball is now in your court to give them an opportunity to get back onside.

3) From a distance

The trick to all of this is not to allow anybody to affect you negatively. Unfortunately, with certain people, this can be extremely difficult. Especially if it’s a parent or lover. In delicate cases like these, the only remedy is distance. You are not strong enough yet to come out of an altercation with this person uninjured. You don’t need to put yourself through that right now. Just be gentle with yourself and work on your confidence, so then, if you decide to go back for round two, you’ll be well able for whatever they throw your way.

4) Cut your losses

If, like me, you’re no saint, there’s only so much you’re going to be able to take before you snap. And this may not be a bad thing. You’re not doing them any favours by accepting that kind of behaviour. Maybe losing you as a friend will be enough of a wake-up call to prevent them from sacrificing any more relationships. And if you’ve had to distance yourself from most of your so-called friends, don’t worry if you’re feeling a bit lonely. You will now have more time and space to meet like-minded people. People who will enrich your life and appreciate your friendship.

5) Build yourself up

Once you start believing in yourself, and recognising that you’re wonderful, you’ll probably notice that people won’t get at you as much. They will sense your strength and won’t even consider trying to annoy you. After all, bullies only pick on those they deem to be weak.

6) Observe

When you remove yourself from a situation emotionally, it can have no negative power over you. Instead of getting hurt or angry, observe the person with interest. Contemplate why they might be behaving this way. If they’re sulking, let them. Like a spoiled kid, they want to get their own way. So, treat them like the child they’re imitating and ignore them. Don’t let their tantrums dampen your spirits or poison your enjoyment. Detach from their negativity and recognise that their mood is not yours.

7) Have fun

Once you reclaim your power, you may even begin to get a kick out of observing others’ silly behaviour and letting them know that you know what they’re playing at. I know a farmer, who’s fascinated by human behaviour. He always manages to show people what they’re really like. It’s almost like he carries around a magnifying mirror and whips it out when the person least expects it. He walked into a room once, where a cranky, old lady squinted sourly at her visitors. She only ever had time for gentry. She looked down her nose at this country man and sneered, “Who might you be?” Without missing a beat, he answered, “I’m an alien from outer space.” This rendered the woman speechless. Instead of passing her usual judgemental remarks, she had to really think about what had just happened.

8. Understand

In Chinese medicine, when someone is feeling angry, resentful or frustrated, their liver is said to be “in excess”. When they lash out at somebody else, this releases some of the excess, making them feel better.

If you find that your loved ones are trying to put you down regularly, it is saying a lot more about them than it is about you. Perhaps, recently, you’ve started to put yourself first, you’re learning to say “no”, and you’re becoming more self-assured. Your loved ones may fear that you’re going to outgrow them completely. They’re terrified of losing you. If they keep you in your box, like a pet rat, you’re not going to go anywhere. So, if your husband tells you your bum definitely does look big in that, or scoffs at your decision to go back to college; instead of vowing to only consume celery and lemon juice for the next month, or beating yourself up for being so stupid as to even consider giving education another shot, recognise that he is simply threatened by your new-found confidence. He’s probably scared that you’ll go off with another man in your new skinny jeans and FMBs, or he may be positive that, once you hit the library with your smart, sexy lecturer, you’ll suddenly realise how dull and uneducated he is.

When you find yourself feeling bad because of what other people say or do, you need to take a long, hard look at why. Do you still care what others think of you? When someone puts you down, think of it as a test. You are being examined on how much you really believe in yourself. If one snotty remark can fling you into a spiral of self-doubt, your self-esteem is weak and in need of a work-out.

If a compliment makes your day, an insult will crush you. Stop giving all of your power away. Don’t wait for others to validate you as a worthwhile human being. Believe in yourself, your strength, your talents, and the miraculous beauty of your body and spirit. Nobody can make you feel bad. Nobody can make you feel good either. The power is, and always has been, in your hands. Do with it what you will.

10 metre jump into the sea!