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Imagine there is a bank which credits your account $86, 400.00 each day. The account carries over no balance and every evening cancels whatever part of the amount you had failed to use during the day. What would you do? Most likely you would draw out every cent before the end of each day. Well, every one of us had such a bank. It is called time.
Every morning it credits you with 86,400 seconds. Every night it writes off whatever remains and carries over no balance. It allows no overdrafts. Each day it opens a new account for you. Each night it burns the records of that day. If you fail to use the day’s deposits, the loss is yours.
There is no going back, there is no drawing against tomorrow, you must live in the present… in today’s deposit. Invest it so as to get the most in health, happiness and success. The clock is running, make the most of today.
To realize the value of one year…
Ask a student who has failed his final exam.
To realize the value of one month…
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.
To realize the value of one week…
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.
To realize the value of one hour…
Ask a daily wage laborer who has children to feed.
To realize the value of one minute…
Ask a person who has just missed a train.
To realize the value of one second…
Ask the person who has survived an accident.
To realize the value of one millisecond…
Ask the person who has just won a silver medal in the Olympics.
Treasure every moment that you have. Treasure it more because you shared it with someone special… special enough to have some of your time.
What will you do with 86,400 seconds today?
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity answered,
“Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and dies having never really lived.”
“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”
How can an attitude of gratitude help your health and happiness?
Cultivating a regular practice of gratitude can keep us healthier and happier. Studies have shown that keeping a gratitude journal increases our determination, attention, enthusiasm, optimism and energy levels. We see a greater improvement in exercise patterns, quality of sleep and lower levels of anxiety and depression.
When in a state of gratitude a brain scan shows us higher levels of activity in the hypothalamus which controls an assortment of essential bodily functions such as eating, drinking and sleeping. The hypothalamus also has a large influence on your metabolism and stress levels. Feelings of gratitude also directly activate the brains regions associated with neurotransmitter dopamine which feels good to get and is responsible for reward-driven learning. This means your brain becomes engaged in a virtuous cycle, looking for more things to be grateful for to receive a dose of dopamine again and again.
Every thought we have produces chemicals in the brain; negative thoughts produce chemicals which slow down the brain, reduce our brains productivity and may lead to depression. Positive thoughts produce chemicals in the brain that creates a sense of well being and allows the brain to function at peak capacity.
So what is gratitude?
Gratitude is a noun defined as the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. Gratitude magnifies positive emotions and allows us to celebrate the present. It blocks negative emotions such as envy, resentment and regret. Gratitude is also a high thought vibration.
What is a high thought vibration?
Everything in our universe is made up of energy – different wavelengths vibrating at different frequencies. Our brain is a translator and also an emitter of these frequencies. Positive thoughts vibrate at a higher frequency which indicates a strong, positive and healthy thought. Thoughts that vibrate at a low level are typically negative, harmful or disempowering. The more attention you give a thought the stronger the vibration becomes thus becoming more stable and more able to attract other similar vibrations, hence why we want to have high vibrational thoughts. When you are operating with high vibrational thoughts your thinking is clear, positive and focused. People and situations react to you positively and you may experience more strokes of ‘good luck’. Operating with lower vibrational thoughts may have you feeling depressed, miserable and sorry for yourself and replaying past scenarios in your head. You may feel angry or fearful and people will not respond as positively to you and you may become a magnet for conflict.
“It is really important that you feel good. Because feeling good is what goes out as a signal into the Universe and starts to attract more of itself to you. So the more you can feel good, the more you will attract the things that help you feel good and that will keep bringing you up higher and higher”
How to Develop a Regular Practice of Gratitude
Robert Emmons, PhD, has a lot of exercises which are very helpful in cultivating gratitude:
1. Keep a Gratitude Journal. Establish a daily practice in which you remind yourself of the gifts, grace, benefits, and good things you enjoy. Setting aside time on a daily basis to recall moments of gratitude associated with ordinary events, your personal attributes, or valued people in your life gives you the potential to interweave a sustainable life theme of gratefulness.
2. Remember the Bad. To be grateful in your current state, it is helpful to remember the hard times that you once experienced. When you remember how difficult life used to be and how far you have come, you set up an explicit contrast in your mind, and this contrast is fertile ground for gratefulness.
3. Ask Yourself Three Questions. Utilize the meditation technique known as Naikan, which involves reflecting on three questions: “What have I received from __?”, “What have I given to __?”, and “What troubles and difficulty have I caused?”
4. Learn Prayers of Gratitude. In many spiritual traditions, prayers of gratitude are considered to be the most powerful form of prayer, because through these prayers people recognize the ultimate source of all they are and all they will ever be.
5. Come to Your Senses. Through our senses—the ability to touch, see, smell, taste, and hear—we gain an appreciation of what it means to be human and of what an incredible miracle it is to be alive. Seen through the lens of gratitude, the human body is not only a miraculous construction, but also a gift.
6. Use Visual Reminders. Because the two primary obstacles to gratefulness are forgetfulness and a lack of mindful awareness, visual reminders can serve as cues to trigger thoughts of gratitude. Often times, the best visual reminders are other people.
7. Make a Vow to Practice Gratitude. Research shows that making an oath to perform a behavior increases the likelihood that the action will be executed. Therefore, write your own gratitude vow, which could be as simple as “I vow to count my blessings each day,” and post it somewhere where you will be reminded of it every day.
8. Watch your Language. Grateful people have a particular linguistic style that uses the language of gifts, givers, blessings, blessed, fortune, fortunate, and abundance. In gratitude, you should not focus on how inherently good you are, but rather on the inherently good things that others have done on your behalf.
9. Go Through the Motions. If you go through grateful motions, the emotion of gratitude should be triggered. Grateful motions include smiling, saying thank you, and writing letters of gratitude.
10. Think Outside the Box. If you want to make the most out of opportunities to flex your gratitude muscles, you must creatively look for new situations and circumstances in which to feel grateful.
By: Glow Acupuncture and Wellness Center
Cultivate Optimal Endocrine Health
The endocrine system provides regulation of the body through hormonal secretions. Cultivating your endocrine health combined with proper nutrition and diet can boost energy, improve appetite, reduce insomnia, relieve depression symptoms, improve circulation, relieve muscle aches and assist in recovering from endocrine disorders. One of the easiest ways to look after your endocrine system health is to eat nutritious meals and have a well balanced diet.
5 Endocrine Supporting Nutrients
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein are part of any healthy diet. To directly affect your endocrine system, make sure your diet includes these foods.
Fish – Fish provides your body with Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9 oils. These oils are fats that directly affect cognitive function, cellular function and kidney function, all the things under the control of the endocrine system. Eating fish twice a week will aid in keeping a balanced endocrine system.
Garlic – Garlic boosts your immunity, increasing your ability to fight off infection. It also helps regulate blood sugar levels. One or two cloves of garlic a day is recommended. Include it in your cooking!
Calcium – Calcium keeps nerves healthy and ensures their ability to communicate effectively. Milk, cottage cheese, cheese, leafy greens, dried beans and yogurt are all rich in calcium.
Vitamin B and B Complex – Directly influences the nervous system’s proper functioning and health and one’s physical and mental performance concerning the nervous system. Found in chicken, fish, eggs, whole grains, beans and nuts.
Vitamin C – Adrenal glands have a very high content of ascorbic acid (vitamin C). This vitamin helps stimulate adrenal glands into producing more of the disease fighting hormone cortin. A continued stressful environment depletes vitamin C reserves and increases the tendency for infection and disease. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits, melons, apricots, strawberries, berries, green vegetables, sweet peppers, and particularly tomatoes.
A few basic steps you can take:
Eat Slowly – Don’t rush through your meals. Allow your body to properly digest food reduces after-meal fatigue, boosts your immune system, and enables your endocrine system to properly process nutritional intake.
Exercise – Regular exercise boosts the immune system, improves cardiovascular health, muscle mass, and prevents bone loss. Stress reducing exercises such as yoga, qigong, or tai chi can also be beneficial.
Manage Your Stress – Another important part of maintaining a healthy endocrine system is stress management. Having a lot of stress in your life can cause the overproduction of hormones that can lead to the failure or malfunction of many endocrine organs. Acupuncture and Oriental medicine offers many tools and techniques that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in check and allow you to enjoy a more peaceful life.
Rest – Take a day out of the week for rest and rejuvenation allowing your mind and body recovery time. You will be more productive the rest of the week.
Sleep – Allow six to eight hours of sleep per night in order to reduce stress and keep hormones balanced. The combination of stress and a lack of sleep may cause some of the glands to malfunction. If you are experiencing difficulties sleeping acupuncture has shown great success treating a wide array of sleep problems without any of the side effects of prescription or over-the-counter sleep aids.
Massage Taixi When Fatigued
The root of the body’s energy in Oriental medicine is the Kidney meridian. Treatment used to strengthen the Kidney Meridian also restores nourishment to your endocrine glands. Taixi, or Kidney 3, is the source point of the Kidney meridian and an excellent point to massage yourself whenever feeling fatigued. To locate Taixi first locate the medial malleolus, that bone on the inner ankle. Then, locate the Achilles tendon that runs down the back of the ankle. Directly between them you will find the tender area when you press or Taixi. Massage the area on your ankle between the bone of inner malleolus and the Achilles tendon.
By: Georjana Shames LAc Dipl.OM CMT
Would you like to learn more about how acupuncture can help you? Call us today at 778-786-2517 A custom-tailored treatment plan will be created to suit your individual needs so that you can feel better quickly and safely!
Aging Well with Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
Oriental medicine has a long history of healing and rejuvenation that teaches us a great deal about aging well. Two thousand years ago, ancient Chinese scholars described the stages of aging in the Huang Di Neijing (The Yellow Emperor’s Internal Classic). They remind us that we cannot change our genetics, but we can change how we live to extend and improve the quality of our lives.
Acupuncture and Oriental medicine emphasize prevention over treatment. This makes a great deal of sense because treating an illness that has already damaged the body is much more difficult then preventing the illness from occurring in the first place. It is never too late. You can begin today.
Whatever your starting point, you can make positive changes to enhance the quality of your life. Supporting the different ways of improving your health and preventing illness, Oriental medicine promotes living a balanced life. A healthy diet, active lifestyle and emotional well-being are the basic components of Oriental medicine that help point you on the path toward a long and quality life.
Six Easy Tips for Greater Health and Longevity
Aging may be inevitable, but your later years can be vibrant and healthy if attention is given to supporting your physical, mental and emotional well-being. These tips are just a few of the ways that you can bring balance into your life. You don’t need to try doing all of them at once. Focus on one or two of them at a time.
Grateful people report higher levels of positive emotions, life satisfaction, vitality, optimism and lower levels of depression and stress according to Robert A. Emmons, a researcher and professor at University of California-Davis, who has authored four books on the subject of the psychology of gratitude. Dr. Emmons states that the disposition toward gratitude appears to enhance pleasant feeling states more than it diminishes unpleasant emotions. Grateful people do not deny or ignore the negative aspects of life, but they have a healthy attitude towards them.
Choose friends who are joyous people. See these people frequently and you will find your spirits rise. The older you get, the more important it is to make it a priority to spend time with people who give you joy. If you have people in your life who are constantly unhappy, limit the amount of time you spend with them. Try it, and you may find that you perk up!
Make Exercise a Priority
People who exercise more are less likely to be stressed and more likely to be satisfied with life, according to Danish researchers. Compared with sedentary people, joggers are 70 percent less likely to have high stress levels and life dissatisfaction.
We hear it all the time and it’s true – if you don’t use it you will lose it! Exercise keeps our bodies and minds in good shape. Couch potatoes who start moderate exercise (the equivalent of 17 to 34 minutes a day) experience the greatest happiness lift.
If jogging is not the best exercise for you, go for a long walk or try a traditional exercise like Tai Chi or Qi Gong. Qi Gong and Tai Chi are non-impact exercises that focus on repetitive movements with attention to breathing. Tai Chi and Qi Gong use gentle movements and low physical impact, which are ideal for aging bodies.
The benefits of these exercises include a slower heart rate, lowered blood pressure, and drops in adrenaline and cortisol levels. Making these exercises a regular practice can lead to better health and vitality. The Mayo Clinic reported results from two studies on these ancient practices that concluded they can also alleviate chronic pain.
Take a Day of Rest
Take a day of rest per week from your regular schedule to recharge. Rejuvenation for the body and mind is worth its weight in gold and you will be more productive with the rest of your time!
Get Good Sleep Regularly
Your body repairs itself best at night so allow plenty of time for it to do so. Good sleep patterns follow nature. Morning is bright and the most Yang time of day, indicating activity. Night is the dark period, a time to slow down and enter the Yin phase of the day.
Poor sleep has been linked to high blood pressure, atherosclerosis, heart failure, heart attacks, stroke, diabetes and obesity. Research has shown that getting at least eight hours of sleep is needed for good heart health.
Acupuncture has been proven successful in treating a wide array of sleep problems by focusing on the root of any disharmony in the body. It gives those who take advantage of it a better night’s sleep and an overall improvement in physical and mental health.
Alleviate and Manage Stress Levels Stress is a normal part of life, but if left unmanaged, stress can lead to emotional, psychological, and even physical problems, including heart disease, high blood pressure, chest pains or an irregular heartbeat.
Humans were designed to handle short periods of intensely high stress followed by periods of relaxation. We were not designed to live with a constant low level stress that keeps us feeling overwhelmed. If you feel you have been under too many pressures for too long, stress reduction acupuncture can help you enjoy a more peaceful life.
Numerous studies have demonstrated the substantial benefits of acupuncture in the treatment of stress, anxiety and mental health. In addition to acupuncture, Oriental medicine offers a whole gamut of tools and techniques that can be integrated into your life to keep stress in check. These tools include Tui Na, Qi Gong exercises, herbal medicine, dietary therapy, meditations and acupressure that you can administer at home.
Address Health Concerns Quickly: Don’t Wait!
Many diseases can be cured easily if they are caught early, but people often put off seeking treatment. They ignore important signals that something is wrong with their body. We all get warnings about our health and well-being, but these warnings are like traffic lights. They tell us what we ought to do, but they cannot make us do it. Article by: Jennifer Dubowsky, L.Ac., Dipl.Ac.
Want to learn more about how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can can help you live a longer and healthier life? Andrea Lamont, R.TCM.P and partner Sabeeha Kurji, R.TCM.P are available for Lunch & Learns in your area!
Eating For Beauty
We all have the desire for beauty – this is not only good but it is also very natural. Beauty is a sign of health and therefore our primal instinct is to reproduce with other healthy humans. This gives the species the greatest chance of survival.
So, beauty is a natural desire on the outside – however it should also be a desire for us to be healthy from the inside out. Not only is it more ‘real’ it actually is more sustainable and good for you!
Featured Teacher: David Wolfe
For further information on David, visit: www.DavidWolfe.com and www.longevitynowprogram.com
Treating Anxiety with Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
Anxiety can be a tricky thing. For some people it seems to come out of nowhere and creep up at unexpected moments. For others, anxiety is predictable and associated with certain events, fears, or situations. Things like driving on the highway, eating in restaurants, and spiders all have the potential to create anxiety.
There are a number of causes of anxiety. Traumatic events top the list. People who have been exposed to trauma, violence, emotional duress, or threats of any kind know the source of their anxiety. This includes unrelenting stress and worry over a life event or situation that’s not easily resolved.
Unfortunately, many people experience anxiety symptoms and don’t know why, which only makes the anxiety worse. These are the people who think they’re going crazy because they seemingly have no reason to feel anxious. However, it’s important to know that anxiety can be caused by physical problems, such as hormonal imbalances, digestive issues, heart problems, and drug side effects.
Anxiety can run in families. I have found that many of my patients who suffer from anxiety have either a parent or a child who also struggles with anxiety, too. This may be due to genetic makeup or how a particular family copes with stressful life events. Whether anxiety in families is due to nature or nurture, it’s not uncommon that family members will have similar triggers for their anxiety.
In Chinese medicine, there are three organ systems related to anxiety; the Heart, Spleen, and Kidneys.
The Chinese view anxiety as worry that has gotten out of control. Each organ system is associated with an emotion, and worry is the emotion associated with the Chinese Spleen. The Spleen is also your organ system of digestion. It sifts and sorts what you’ve eaten, takes what is useful, turns it into nutrients to fuel your body, and gets rid of what is not needed. While your Spleen primarily digests foods, it also plays a role in the sifting and sorting of ideas. While the emotion associated with the Spleen is worry, it is essentially the same as not being able to sort through and let go of unnecessary ideas. Worry is a kind of unhealthy rumination, and when it gets out of control, worry becomes anxiety and fear.
While your Spleen is the organ of digestion, your Heart is the Chinese organ of feelings. We intuitively know that the Heart is an emotional organ. We feel things with all our heart, have our heart broken, or thank someone from the bottom of our heart. Your Heart is home to the Shen, or your spirit, according to Chinese theory. Its function is similar to that of your brain in Western biomedicine. As such your Heart is the home to consciousness, memory, emotions, and thinking. Whenever someone suffers from any kind of emotional upset or condition, such as anxiety, the Heart is always involved.
Finally, the Chinese Kidney also plays a role in anxiety in a couple of ways. First, the emotion related to the Kidney is fear, which is the underlying component of anxiety. Secondly, the Kidney is the deepest and most nourishing of our organs. It’s responsible for how well you age, your underlying body constitution, and is the source of all the fundamental substances in your body, such as Yin, Yang, and Essence. Your Kidney is the organ system most damaged by stress and anxiety. The Western condition of adrenal fatigue (from stress, anxiety, overwork, etc.) correlates to a severe Kidney depletion in Chinese medicine.
Chinese medicine and acupuncture can offer a number of strategies to help someone suffering from anxiety. Your practitioner would work by first calming your Shen using acupuncture. This is an effective first line of defense, as research has documented the positive effects that acupuncture has on brain chemistry. It has been found that acupuncture increases the secretion of endorphins in the brain, the feel good substance associated with pain relief and runner’s high. This effect accounts for the relaxing and calming sensation patients feel both during and after their treatments.
A practitioner of Chinese medicine might also address your anxiety by nourishing your Spleen and restoring your Kidney health. Beyond acupuncture, there are a number of safe and effective herbal formulas that can help calm anxiety. Your practitioner can prescribe the combination of herbs that is most appropriate to your individual needs.
Food therapy and lifestyle changes may also be part of your treatment for anxiety. This may include at-home calming strategies, avoiding stimulants such as coffee or tea, dietary changes, and breathing techniques—all of which can be effective in relieving anxiety.
By Your Acupuncture Specialist, on March 30th
Contact Ryan today for more information
and to book your consultation at Glow Acupuncture & Wellness Center in Yaletown!
From Sweaty Workout to Mindful Meditation: Transforming Your Bikram Yoga Practice
“This is a 90-minute moving meditation….”
Have you ever heard a teacher say this, or something to this effect? Meditation?! C’mon, as if! What the heck are they talking about?
Most, if not all, people who begin practicing Bikram yoga experience it initially as simply a hot, sweaty workout. It’s like a jacked-up aerobics in a sauna. You’re locked in a room with a bunch of other drippy masochists, struggling to survive while a teacher shouts at you for an hour and a half and makes you contort your body into weird formations. So, where’s the peace and tranquility? How can one possibly meditate under such conditions?
Bikram has a wonderful way of addressing this in his most recent book:
‘Imagine that you are stuck in rush-hour traffic in the middle of the summer. It’s about 102 degrees outside, your air-conditioning is broken and your window rolls down only half-way. You’re 45 minutes late for the most important meeting of your life, the same wonderful human being in the blue van just cut you off for the third time, and you really have to pee. Now, if you can find peace under those conditions, then you can meditate anywhere.
My yoga class is that sweltering day. It’s one long, hot meditation. We put incredible pressure on you to teach you to break your attachment to external things and go within. Instead of blaming others for your own weakness, fear and depression, you will learn to take responsibility for your own life. You’ve got to face yourself in the mirror, every part you don’t like, every mistake you make, every excuse your mind creates to limit your potential liberation – there’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. No escape from reality.
With these kinds of demands on your abilities and attention, you will soon forget that there is anyone on the next mat in the classroom, much less notice what they are wearing. After you learn to discipline your body and mind under these conditions, you will truly be able to concentrate; no external distraction will be able to break your powerful focus.’ – Bikram Yoga, pp. 75-76 (Orange Book)
Ok, so how does one begin to transform their Bikram yoga practice from ‘hot, sweaty workout’ to ‘moving meditation’? While it will undoubtedly take consistent and sustained practice, there are some key strategies and techniques which can be applied before, during and after the class to help you embrace the meditative aspect of your Bikram yoga practice.
Before the Class
- Check your baggage
Start to treat the yoga room as a sanctuary from the rest of your life. Once you enter the studio, do the best you can to leave the rest of your life outside – this includes your stresses and worries, your to-do lists, your distractions and daydreams, and so on. Recognize that none of these things are needed or helpful for the 90-minute class you’re about to take, so let them go. If it helps, visualize all of this stuff as your baggage, and park it outside the studio door, with your sandals. No one is going to take it; it’s safe there. And if it’s really that important and useful to you, you can pick it up after class when you leave. You may just find that after class, a lot of that baggage suddenly doesn’t seem so necessary to carry around anymore…
- Ready, set…
As you focus on yourself in the mirror before beginning pranayama breathing, take a moment for yourself. Take a couple of deep breaths. Remind yourself why you have come to class. What are you here for? What do you hope to get out of the next 90-minutes? And how do you plan on achieving that? Use this opportunity to set your intention for the class. This will help you bring awareness to your practice from the onset, and create a foundation for a strong, productive class.
- What time is it?
Right from the onset of the class it is important to bring your focus to the present moment, and to work to keep it there. Are you thinking about your class from yesterday, or last week, and how you hope today will be better? Or perhaps you’re already looking ahead to that bloody triangle posture which you’ll be sweating through in about 45 minutes? Maybe you’re even already making plans in your head for what to do and where to go after class. Whatever you might be thinking about, if it’s anything other than breathing and staying aware of and within the present moment, then it’s time to remind yourself of what time it is: The time is now. The place is here. That’s it.
‘Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.’
– Alice Morse Earle (1902)
During the Class
- United we stand
You would never exercise your body, non-stop, for 24 hours a day, day after day. Yet this is the kind of workload we typically impose on our minds. Even at night, while asleep, our mind works tirelessly for us, thinking and dreaming and scheming. Fortunately, a 90-minute Bikram yoga class is an opportunity for you to rest your weary mind. You don’t have to think about anything at all. Simply listen, and let your body respond. This is why Bikram refers to his instructions as a ‘dialogue’, as opposed to a monologue. His mind, your body. His voice, your actions. During the class, it is important that you learn to let your thoughts go, and to relax your mind. Give it the break it deserves. Let your Bikram teacher guide you with their commands, and just follow along. There’s nothing else to think about, other than breathing. Embrace the meditation.
‘The hardest part of the class…is listening.’ – Bikram
If everyone in the class succeeds in listening to and following the teacher’s instructions, then everyone should be moving together, as simultaneously as possible. If you ever find yourself out of synch with the class – either getting ahead of the teacher, or lagging behind – you need to ask yourself, ‘who’s voice am I listening to?’ Chances are, you’re stuck in your own head and your mind is not getting the break it needs. Also, as many of you have surely experienced, there is something special about a class that works together and moves together – the group energy can be tremendously powerful and enabling. The onus is upon each of us to cultivate this group energy by playing our part and following along in unison.
- Minimize the masochism
As we all know, a Bikram yoga class can be extremely challenging at times. And the more challenging it becomes, the harder it is to keep our focus. And as we lose focus, our mind starts to wander, we forget to breathe…and the class becomes even more challenging still. This is not a fun cycle to find yourself in as it’s a fairly fast-track to misery. Fortunately, the remedy is fairly easy – at least in principle. Just breathe. This sounds simple, of course, but requires a consistently strong focus. In challenging moments during the class, such as when your heart feels like it’s exploding from your chest during locust pose, or your legs are on fire during triangle, remind yourself to breathe and you will recover and find renewed strength. It is just as important, if not more so, however to breathe in between postures. In order to focus on breathing you need to…focus on breathing. And nothing else. If, in between postures, you’re re-arranging your mat, wiping your sweat with your towel (why?! You sweat to cool down! Are you trying to feel even hotter?!), scratching your itch, fixing your hair, grabbing a drink or doing anything else other than standing still or lying down in savasana and breathing, begin to ask yourself if your movements are really, truly necessary. Is this something you need to do, or are you just trying to distract yourself from your misery? Your answer may lead you to greater stillness…and an easier class!
- Don’t waste your death
Savasana….dead body pose. Your mission, if you choose to accept it – and you really should – is to do nothing. Complete stillness. You’re dead. Deal with it, embrace it, and take advantage of these moments to maximize your recovery. Get into savasana as quickly as possible in between postures, find your stillness, and focus on breathing deeply and slowly. When your mind starts to wander, which it will, consciously bring your attention back to your breath. Without this attentiveness you risk spending an entire savasana lost in space, and your breathing will remain shallow and inefficient. Instead, learn to relax your mind. This doesn’t mean fighting your thoughts and struggling to empty your mind, rather, as the thoughts come, acknowledge their presence and then let them float by, always returning to your breath. With practice, this will become easier and you will spend more time breathing deeply and less time thinking about cotton candy, reality TV and other irrelevant things.
- Mind the mind
Bikram often says ‘A yogi’s mind is his friend…his slave.’ Your goal is to tame your mind, thereby preventing it from creeping up on you and generating unwanted and unhelpful thoughts. Remember, during the class you are striving to quiet the mind, and to give it a break from working so hard. You’re trying to let the teacher think for you, to listen and follow the instructions, and to stay present. This, of course, is tremendously difficult to do, particularly when you’re suffering during a class. Paying attention to your thoughts during class is the first step towards controlling them. At regular intervals throughout the class, particularly when you feel like you are dying, conduct a quick mind check. What thoughts are running through your mind? Are you suddenly hating how hot it is, and the way the teacher is calling you out, and the sweaty, noisy dude beside you? If so, you have to remind yourself that all of these factors are beyond your control. Let them go, and return your attention to your breath.
“When you’re going through Hell, keep going.” – Winston Churchill
Or perhaps your thoughts are directed more inward. If so, what are you telling yourself? Are you throwing yourself a little pity party? Feeling sorry for yourself because you couldn’t quite keep your balance as long as you think you should have during standing bow pulling pose? Or perhaps you’re drafting a list in your head of self-justified excuses for why you can’t/shouldn’t/won’t do that second set of camel pose which is coming up. Or are you simply lost somewhere in time, stuck in the past or escaping into the future? Regardless of what your thoughts might be, work to become aware of them, and this will eventually help you control, and then change them for the better. With practice your mind can become your best friend, not your enemy.
‘Are you walking the dog, or is the dog walking you?’
– Anonymous but buff and brilliant teacher
- Credit where credit’s due
Final savasana is an integral and essential part of your Bikram yoga practice, as it provides you with an opportunity to slowly bring your 90-minute meditation to a close. Take advantage of this opportunity to acknowledge the tremendous mental and physical effort you expended during the class, and enjoy the wonderful sense of peace and well-being which you have worked so hard to attain. Note that this is not a moment to critically reflect on your class and evaluate your effort or ‘results’. The credit you give yourself does not hinge on performance – it is unconditional and borne from the present moment. You may have just completed the ‘best’ or ‘worst’ class of your life. Either way, it’s over. But you’re not. Detach from your performance, be kind to yourself, sink into the bliss of the present moment, breathe…and smile. J
‘I never said it would be easy. I said it would be worth it.’ – Bikram
And then come and do it all over again tomorrow.
Happy sweating, and see you in the studio…
Colleen graduated from the 3000 hour program at the West Coast College of Massage Therapy in 2008 and has been practicing in the Yaletown area since. She has broadened her knowledge in the field by taking continuing educational courses in Myofascial Release, Sports Massage, and most recently, to further her understanding of human anatomy, she has taken a series of sectional cadaver dissections. Colleen is also currently working towards her degree in Health Sciences through Thompson River University.
Her passion and dedication to helping people through massage therapy has given Colleen success in treating many conditions, most commonly, postural dysfunctions, sports injuries, headaches, pregnancy, chronic pain disorders and whiplash. Colleen takes each client case individually and through a thorough history and assessment, she is able to choose an appropriate treatment plan for each client.
During her treatments Colleen will use a combination of the following techniques:
*deep tissue massage
* myofascial release
*trigger point release
*neuro-muscular techniques (NMT)
*muscle energy techniques (MET)
*passive and active stretching
Along with what is done during the treatment, Colleen will provide each client with specific ergonomic adjustments, muscle stretching and strengthening regimes to prolong and maintain their progress outside of the treatment room.
Outside of the clinic Colleen works as a clinic instructor with Utopia Academy, where she currently supervises and evaluates students at an outreach setting, working with people who have HIV/AIDS, or living with a terminal illness such as Cancer. She is also dedicated to the local sports community, previously having worked with the Vancouver Whitecaps, she loves to be on the scene providing pre and post event massage therapy, so you can find her at many of the running events around the city, if she is not participating in them herself. On her days off colleen enjoys being around the city, going for a run on the sea wall, enjoying good food and company, going for a hike and hanging out at the dog park with her favorite companion.
To book an appointment, do so on-line or contact Colleen directly:
Emotions: Anger, Stress, Resentment, Pent-up emotions, ability to control all of the emotions
Related organs: Liver (yin)/Gallbladder(yang)
Body tissue: Tendons
Climatic Qi: Wind
Sense organ: Eyes
Move Your Qi
When our energy does not move, it becomes stagnant. This is true for the body, mind and spirit. Patients always seem surprised when I inform them that the way that we think and feel predetermine the health of our bodies. Somewhere in our lives many of us lost our innocence and forgot how tightly intertwined we are, physically, mentally and spiritually.
When I studied Comparative Medical History, I learned where in history western medicine took on a different path of the world’s other medical practices, including Chinese medicine. The body had become separate from the mind and spirit. This was due primarily to newly instated religious doctrines. The beauty of Chinese medicine is that the body, mind and spirit have always been revered as one entity; never separate entities.
I named my website MOVE YOUR QI because that is what EVERY practitioner of Chinese medicine does. Acupuncture moves qi. Herbs work on qi also, but it also has a more profound effect on the fluids of the body, such as blood and phlegm.
Why is moving qi extremely important? Because qi = energy, which is a very loose translation from Chinese to English. We do not want qi to become stagnant. Stagnant qi is one way for the body’s health to decline very fast.
The standard emotion for the wood element is anger. In my practice, I include the other emotions stated above. It was what my teachers had taught me and what I have observed over the past nine years in practice.
I understand anger, pent-up emotions, stress, resentment, which end up causing me to be unable to control all of my other emotions. I was raised in a home of domestic violence. I read a bumper sticker the other day that stated, “THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.” The statement, driven by a man in charge of his large street-cleaning machine, brought me to grateful tears. I survived my horrid past. My life is pure alchemy. Like a lotus, I have grown and blossomed from the mud that life had dealt me from birth. I trudged in that mud well into my 20s. For those who can relate, we all must know that the only way we can live without stagnant qi is by forgiving the past, EVEN when the person(s) who abused us does not feel that they need or want forgiveness. The only person one requires to accept completely in order to live in good health is one’s self.
One of my first classes in college was a class on building self-esteem. It was a mandatory class required by my university. My homework every day was to look at myself in the mirror and state:
“I LOVE MYSELF FOR WHO I AM. I AM GREAT.”
Because I usually was a very good student, I did my homework. This one, I did not like. I lied to myself every day. I felt angry and ashamed of my past because of too many memories that should never be spoken out loud. My broken heart felt empty. The ruins of my past haunted me every moment and though it looked on the outside like I kept everything together, I did not even know myself well enough to realize how much I allowed my childhood to depress me more and more every day. This simple homework activity was my first exposure in moving my qi. I said that statement every day, initially lying to myself, until I finally believed how much I must love myself if what I really want to do in life is to thrive. My anger and depression began to lift, though at age 18, there were many more years of work to do in order to become completely healthy.
Being a devout child to religion helped me to survive, but it did not cure my hidden insanity. My religion and my faithful practices did not bring me into conscious awareness. God taught me outside His house and worldly doctrines how I would grow into the individual that He had meant for me to become. The people that I had begun to attract into my life moved my qi. Their inspirations showed me the beauty of God’s creation. The moment I decided to let go of all stagnation in my life, the right people at the right time in the right places came to me. Chinese medicine came to me. There was something in Chinese medicine that made me whole. There was nothing wrong in my personal religion and there was nothing missing in my worship. What was missing was a complete understanding of how only I can allow my qi to move. God can only give a person the tools to heal. It is up to the individual to use her freedom of will to allow herself to heal.
I mention religion because people come to me for help with their health issues and I ask them, “What do you think is the lesson to learn from this issue? Why do you think life is teaching you this lesson?” The natural response for most devout religious worshipers is, “I don’t know. I have no clue why God is doing this to me. This must be what He wants me to go through.” It is as if many of us succumb to the idea that God wants us to suffer without trying to think outside of the box to help heal ourselves. I believe that God gave us many languages to make us a more colorful world. I believe that God gave us many types of healing therapies as a way to help us work together in order to find the different keys that open up the pathways to authentic healing. I do not believe that when we are afflicted with a disease, no matter how slight or severe, that we are meant to surrender to our bodies’ afflictions. I believe that when disharmony happens in our bodies, it is God saying to us, “Listen to what I am telling you. There is a lesson to learn from this. I am giving you an opportunity to learn, grow and transform.” So many of us push ourselves emotionally and physically to the point that we are helplessly exhausted. The law of detachment does not resonate with some of us. When someone offends us, we take it so personally that the initial offense causes us to create unnecessary resentment. Unchecked resentment easily leads way to anger. Anger, like fire, can move so fast and affect every aspect of our lives. Fire diminishes water. Yang consumes yin. There is no more balance in a person’s body. The origin of the disharmony began with the emotions being unchecked. It would be ideal if before our health declines, we ask ourselves if being angry is worth the suffering that we may eventually experience. Why do so many of us behave self-destructively? We see this on an individual level and as a behavior of empires. In the midst of chaos, we rarely see clearly that self-righteousness is the nemesis to humility. Which is more important to you? Is it more important to be justified, while holding on to anger, resentment and an air of self-righteousness or to develop healthy and happy relationships with those you care about most and possibly with people who may end up becoming good friends?
We can fight for a cause without letting anger consume us. Diplomacy is the key. We can practice this in our daily lives, make our point and live more healthily than if we argue to a point where it causes headaches, migraines, indigestion, menstrual issues, miscarriages, fertility issues, hypertension, congenital heart disease and a myriad of other serious health issues. We do not always have to be right. This is not an ideal world, though hopeful people like me believe that trying is better than full-speed destruction. There are people like me, even if few, who believe that letting go of anger and resentment brings a dichotomy of ideas together and can eventually lead to peace of mind, freedom of the individual and ultimate healing of the spirit. The spirit leads the mind and the mind leads the body. The body shows manifestations of disharmonies in the spirit and mind.
Imagine a world where our spirits are detached from anger, resentment, depression and the inability to control our emotions. It is a healthier world. A happier world. A world where qi moves freely and nothing is stagnant. And it could only happen with one person at a time.
Move your qi. It is the healthy way to live.
~By Anna at Elements In Harmony