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November 5th Breast Health Qigong class

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Last week I taught my Breast Health Qigong class to an amazing group of ladies at the Greater Glenville YMCA.  This Saturday I am teaching the same workshop at the Schenectady YMCA from 10 - 11:30 am.  I hope you will come!


My thoughts do create my reality (and it's not always good)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I do believe that our thoughts create our reality.    For me, I usually try to make my thoughts positive in order to ensure a more positive outcome.   Last night when I was tired, I forgot that negative thoughts creative negative outcomes.  Today I was clearly reminded that they do.

What happened at our house was this:  after attending their weekly Scouts and church youth activities, the children arrived home late.  The minute the two younger boys walked in the door from the Church, I was on their case to hurry to bed but they did not.  It took them far too long to get in gear and get to bed.  This mother was not pleased.  She kept repeating, “If you don’t hurry up, you will be grouchy in the morning and I don't want a rotten morning.”   After a late bedtime on Halloween the night before, the boys went to bed REALLY late, for the second night in a row and I just knew what was in store.

What happened in the morning?  A self-fulfilling prophecy:  both boys were grouchy just like I expected them to be and this translated into one of our most difficult mornings of the school year.  I was frustrated, they were frustrated.  One child left for school refusing to eat his breakfast and the other refusing to take his band instrument to school for his weekly music lesson.  As for me, I did not handle the whole thing well at all (I was tired too!).

After the bus picked them up and drove away, I realized that what showed up for me was exactly what I expected: a frustrating morning.   But I got the lesson that showed up with the challenges.  I recognized the smack on the head, the reminder that I could have created something different.  It was good lesson for me.  Tomorrow will be different, better.  I am so glad I can go to sleep tonight and start again tomorrow.   There is great hope in that rising sun, that fresh start and that chance to create something better.  Blessed be the new day.


What time does it hurt?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Have you ever wondered why you get a headache, a food craving, a cramp in your legs, sudden fatigue or some other health challenge at the same time every day?  When I was in college, I noticed myself becoming exhausted every day after lunch.  Not being a caffeine drinker - not coffee nor cola drinks - I have to admit that I used to be envious of my fellow students who, with a large Starbucks in hand, stayed perky through the most boring lecture while I dozed in the corner.  As a stay at home mother, I found myself craving chocolate every afternoon between 4 and 5 pm and kept a chocolate stash in the back of my cupboard to appease my sweet tooth.

What I did not understand then but am grateful I understand now is that these warning lights - the fatigue and the food cravings - were my body's way of telling me that I was out of balance.  I did not recognize these signals for what they were:  an opportunity to help myself find a healthier way to bring my body into balance.  

Dr. Nan Lu explains it this way in his book Traditional Chinese Medicine -  A Natural Guide to Weight Loss that Lasts:  "TCM theory states that Universal Qi changes every two hours.  The Qi in your organs also changes every two hours.  Like a giant gear, if your body's Qi cannot match or mesh with Universal Qi changes, then many different kinds of physical discomforts will develop.  TCM recognizes these conditions as biorhythm disorders.  For example, Qi changes start with the lung, which is "on duty" or in charge of the body, from 3 - 5 am.  If your lung's Qi has a prob em, then you might find yourself waking up during this two-hour window.  Or, you might wake up with a physical problem like  a cough during these hours."  (p. 71) 
These are the two-hour blocks of time when each organ's Qi is in charge.

Lung                           3 - 5 am
Large Intestine          5 - 7am
Stomach                    7 - 9am
Spleen                       9 - 11 am
Heart                          11 am - 1 pm
Small Intestine          1 - 3 pm
Bladder                      3 - 5 pm
Kidney                        5 - 7 pm
Pericardium               7 - 9 pm
Triple Burner              9 - 11 pm
Gall Bladder               11 pm - 1 am
Liver                           1 - 3 am

Now that I know this, I understand why I am sleepy after lunch.   Instead of having an afternoon nap, I realize my body needs Qi to feel balanced and my time would be better spent practicing Qigong.  I can also do the same when I feel a food craving hit me.   I realize now that the signal my body is sending me is to increase my Qi.  Whenever I do, I feel so much better. I am not fatigued and I don't crave anything.   What a great change this is for me!! I love Qigong.  


Balance is a good thing

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

One of the foundational tenants of Traditional Chinese Medicine is the idea of balance.  TCM believes that our bodies work better when they are in balance and harmony.  The purpose of The Dragon's Way program is to use Wu Ming Qigong to cultivate Qi and facilitate its even flow throughout the body, thus bringing the body back into a state of balance and harmony.   Once this happens, the body's self-healing mechanisms can function optimally allowing for weight to be lost, a full night's sleep restored, peace and calm to become the norm.

The value of maintaining balance isn't difficult for us to understand.  Our empirical understanding of balance began when as infants we tried to sit and later attempted to stand.  As toddlers, walking was all about balance, as it was when we learned to ride a bike.  Sitting, standing, walking and riding a bike all were accomplished when we could find the point of balance and had the strength to maintain that balance.

As teenagers, finding an emotional balance became the challenge.  With hormones raging for both girls and boys, often times the swing from happy to sad to melancholy to jubilant was pronounced and noticeable.  Our college years gave us further opportunity to be imbalanced as we exercised our new found freedom to make choices about how much we slept, ate, exercised, studied and played.  Certainly collegiate success depending upon finding a balance.

As adults, perhaps balance has become all together illusive as we rush from one busy thing to the next doing all our 'have to dos' and 'should dos'.  The expectations we place upon ourselves to be 'super' in everything we do often leaves us emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally spent.  Without a doubt, we are living our lives completely out of balance but don't know to live any differently.  Imbalance is all we know.

What can we do differently?  Slow down, for one thing.  I know, it is a difficult concept to fathom when we find great accomplishment and, often times, our self-esteem when we are being productive and being seen to be such.  Breathe, for another.  Yes, a slow deep relaxing breath.  In his book The Healer Within, Dr. Roger Jahnke describes how to take the 'essential breath' which will immediately help to activate the self-healing mechanisms of our body:

"It is typical for people to become accustomed to breathing in a shallow way.  While our typical breathing allows for survival, it does not increase vitality or accelerate healing.

"First, adjust your posture so that your lungs, as well as your chest and abdomen, can expand freely.  This is best accomplished by standing or sitting erect.  You may also do this practice lying down.  Breathe in through the nose, filling the lower portion of the lungs first.  This will cause your abdomen to expand as the diaphragm drops down and compresses the internal organs.  Then allow the upper lobes of your lungs to fill.  This expands the ribs and chest cavity.  You will feel a tremendous sense of satisfaction when your lungs are completely full.  Then exhale slowly through the nose.  Repeat."  

In his book Traditional Chinese Medicine:  A Natural Guide to Weight Loss That Lasts, Dr. Nan Lu suggests that sitting quietly and gently breathing can go a long way to alleviating stress and imbalance in our busy lives.

"Start your day at work by sitting quietly with your eyes closed for two to five minutes before you do anything.  If you become nervous or stressed, take two to five minutes again to do the same thing.  Just sit quietly with your eyes closed.  Notice the difference this simple action makes."

Deciding to quiet your mind using the abdominal breath and closed eyes can become a habit when you plan for it in your daily routine.  Consider taking two minutes to do so when you get into your car to drive to work or pull into your parking stall when you arrive at the office, before you turn on the computer, when you sit down to eat your lunch, or before your brush your teeth at night.  Dr Lu calls this 'stealing some time for yourself'.  Give yourself permission to step back from the abyss of stress that is trying to pull you under and keeping you imbalanced.  Choose balance.  Choose to slow down and breathe.

How does this apply to me?  With five children at home and a busy family life, I find maintaining a balance in my life to requires concerted effort.   Practicing Qigong daily helps me a great deal to feel clear headed and energetic, optimistic and even tempered.  Slow, relaxed breathing is something I am trying to incorporate into my daily routine, whenever I remember, so I can utilize the breath to relax, refocus and maintain the flow of Qi.

In regards to this blog, I am finally feeling balanced enough in my life to start posting regularly.  It just isn't something that has felt do-able for a long time.   I hope I can share things I have learned that will help you find greater balance and thereby health and happiness in your life.  My goals is to also invite guest bloggers to share their perspective on gentle healing.  Please feel free to comment and lend your perspective to the conversation.  There is much we can learn from each other.

Peace to you,

Whoever can swallow the breath
like the tortoise
or pull the breath in and circulate it
like the tiger
or guide and refine the breath
like the dragon,
shall live a long and healthy life.

Master Ge Heng
2nd Century China


Join The Dragon's Way Family

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Thousands of people have participated in The Dragon's Way® weight loss and stress management program based on the book Traditional Chinese Medicine: A Natural Guide to Weight Loss that Lasts by Dr. Nan Lu.  It is the most unique program for whole body healing and remains as Amazon's top selling book on Chinese medicine and weight loss.

Why is The Dragon's Way so successful? The answer is simple:
balance and harmony.  The components of the program have been designed to bring the body back to balance by reawakening its natural healing ability.  Once this ability is stimulated untold "miracles" happen because the body knows what it needs at any moment, at any time. We have simply lost the access key to this information. 

In September we will be offering a new Dragon's Way Instructor Training Program.  If you would like to join our growing team of instructors and would like more information, please join us for a conference call on Friday afternoon for an introduction to becoming a Dragon's Way instructor and the how's and why's of its benefits to you spiritually and financially.

Date: Friday, August 12, at 12:15 pm EST  
Dial in Info: 605-475-6350
Access Code: 467623
Please announce yourself once you enter. 

Let the power of the Dragon become your guide!
We look forward to sharing this wisdom with you,

Elaine Katen and Irma Jenne

Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation


The Dragon's Way® at the One Big Roof in Saratoga Springs, NY

Monday, April 25, 2011

Classes starting at the


Located in the heart of Saratoga Springs
at the Downstreet Marketplace 454 Broadway

Free Introductory Class:

Tues. May 3rd from 10 - 11 am

Wed. May 4th from 7 - 8 pm

Six-Week Sessions:

Tues. May 10 - June 14 from 10 - 11:30 am

Wed. May 11 - June 15 from 7 - 8:30 pm

Register by emailing Andrea at andrea@healyourselfgently.com

Restoring Balance and Harmony Brings Healing


Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Eating for healing can happen in every delicious bite when we choose the best quality ingredients. I particularly enjoyed the flavor of this Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup last night.  Carrots, which have a neutral thermal nature, strengthen the lungs and spleen, improve liver function and act as a diuretic.  Ginger, which is considered by Traditional Chinese Medicine to be one of the most powerful foods for healing, has a warm thermal nature making it ideal for helping the body to rid itself of cold conditions in the body.  

Dr. Nan Lu says:  "Too much internal cold can also slow down the movement of Qi.  Think of what cold does.  It causes things to constrict, or congeal.  With that in mind, it is useful to know that ginger relieves digestive problems, helps liver Qi flow smoothly, and warms the lung."

I hope you will enjoy this delicious healing soup!   

Creamy Carrot Ginger Soup

(Adapted from a recipe on Allrecipes.com)

1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup sesame or walnut oil
4 1/2 cups sliced carrots
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cups Rice Dream or other milk  (I often cook dairy free)
1 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In a Dutch oven, saute onion, carrots and potatoes in sesame oil until tender. Add ginger and chicken broth. Cover and cook over medium heat for 12 – 20 minutes.  Cool for 15 minutes.    Transfer to a blender or food processor in small batches; cover and process until smooth. Return all to the pan; stir in the Rice Dream, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cook over low heat until heated through.
Lu, N. (2000) Traditional Chinese Medicine:  A Natural Guide to Weight Loss That Lasts.  New York: Harper Collins Publishers.
Pitchford, P. (2002)  Healing With Whole Foods:  Asian Traditions and Modern Nutrition.  California: North Atlantic Books.  


I Can't Live Without My Walnuts

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Until I started doing The Dragon's Way ®  program I enjoyed WALNUTS but I didn't go out of my way to eat them.  Since then, I have learned that WALNUTS are an incredibly powerful healing food and I can't get enough!  For breakfast each day, I eat a handful of WALNUTS and a grapefruit (another wonderful healing food) and find that I stay full all morning long.  Additionally, my blood sugar levels are no longer on a roller coaster and my food cravings are gone.  

This is what Dr. Nan Lu says about WALNUTS in his book Traditional Chinese Medicine:  A Natural Guide to Weight Loss That Lasts:

"WALNUTS are one of the most powerful foods that you can eat whether you are participating in The Dragon's Way or not.  WALNUTS, like Chinese red dates, are used in Traditional Chinese Medicine as herbs as well as in foods.  Their essence is warm, and they are so healing for the kidney and the large intestine.  They can also help with lung problems and constipation, but are especially regarded in Traditional Chinese Medicine for their ability to strengthen and increase kidney Qi, as well as improve memory."

How to Toast Walnuts

In order to warm the essence of the WALNUTS and to eliminate any parasites in the raw walnuts, it is important to first toast them.
To do so, spread the raw walnuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put them in a 325 degree F oven.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Store in a covered container and enjoy!!

I think toasted WALNUTS taste terrific and are a fabulously convenient healing food.  I hope you will give them a try.  


New Dragon's Way Class Starts on March 4, 2011

Saturday, February 26, 2011


I Love Winter

Friday, February 25, 2011

The weather forecast says that it will snow all day.  And this isn’t our first big snow fall of the winter.  We have had lots and lots of snow.  For many, winter is feeling rather old.  Casual conversation at the gas pump and at the grocery store this morning was all about the “terrible weather” and “will winter ever end?” 

I have to admit that I felt differently as I walked outside this morning to brush the 8 + inches of snow off my car.  As I took a deep breath of the fresh winter air, I felt grateful that the air was clean (no inversions with terrible air quality like Utah) and the temperature hovered around freezing.  I looked up to see the branches of our stalwart oak covered with a fresh blanket of white and admired their beauty as large wet snowflakes quickly spotted my glasses.  And yet, I had to smile as I took in the silent beauty that enveloped me and thought to myself “I really like winter”.

Driving away through the unplowed roads, grateful I had four-wheel drive, I was reminded of a conversation I had last night with a friend.  For many years she has supported her hardworking husband as he went through medical school and more recently a four year residency program.   Happily, he is finishing his residency this summer and their cute family will move to a “real job” in another state.  

What piqued my interest about their family’s future plans was my friend’s enthusiastic recount of an important lesson she learned.   She told me she had come to understand how important it is to be happy at your current stage of life.  Instead of waiting to find happiness when some future mile stone is met, she now understands how essential it is to make the most of whatever life throws at you.  We both agreed that learning this lesson now was a valuable thing.   After all, It makes for a happier life.

This brings me back to the snow.   Today life is throwing snow at us, literally, and there isn’t anything anyone can do to change it.  I told my children that instead of grumbling, they need to make the most of it.  Happiness is a choice and today I am choosing to love the snow and love winter and I hope they will too.  Perhaps it is the Canadian in me but I really like winter.  But I might as well like it because it isn’t going away any time soon.



Friday, February 18, 2011

In our Dragon's Way class this week, we discussed how important it is to LET IT GO when we desire to heal our bodies.  Too often we hang onto hurt feelings, resentments, regrets, worries, self-doubt, self-criticism and so many other destructive emotions.  When we do, we bring further imbalance to our bodies which further exacerbates those negative emotions.  It is imperative that we LET IT GO by forgiving ourselves, those who may have hurt us intentionally or unintentionally, or painful experiences from our past.  When we do, we are better able to love others, to love ourselves and to feel the peace that we were meant to experience in this life.  

Said another way, LET IT GO  can also be DON'T LOOK BACK.  DON'T LOOK BACK on the hurts and regrets of your past.  Choose to begin again with a clean slate, forgiving and making peace with the pains of yesterday.  Let yesterday be yesterday.  Let go of the past and begin tomorrow with a fresh start. 


Your Thoughts Create Your Reality

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

In our Dragon's Way class last week, we discussed how our thoughts create our reality.   If we want to change any aspect of our lives, we need to first start by changing our thoughts. I like this video of Master Lu explaining this concept.

I like this quote too...

Whatever you hold in your mind will tend to occur in your life.

If you continue to believe as you have always believed, you will continue to act as you have always acted.

If you continue to act as you have always acted, you will continue to get what you have always gotten.

If you want different results in your life or your work, all you have to do is change your mind.

~ Anonymous ~


Roasted Cauliflower Ginger Soup

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cauliflower is one of the powerful healing foods described in Dr. Nan Lu's book Traditional Chinese Medicine:  A Natural Guide to Weight Loss That Lasts. (It is upon this book that The Dragon's Way program is based.)  Cauliflower is used by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine to increase kidney Qi, encourage weight loss and to help with constipation.

We conserve Qi for healing purposes whenever we eat cooked vegetables rather than raw ones so I really like this Roasted Cauliflower Ginger Soup recipe.  It is a family favorite!  (This recipe is adapted from Make It Fast, Cook It Slow by Stephanie O'Dea)

1 head cauliflower
5 tablespoons walnut, sesame or safflower oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 black pepper
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups warm water
1 diced yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 cloves minced garlic


Wash your head of cauliflower well and break into florets.

In a bowl, toss the florets with 3 tablespoons of the oil of your choice.  (I like using walnut oil because of its healing essence for the kidneys.)

Place on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with salt and black pepper and roast in a 400 degree F oven for about 20 minutes, or until the cauliflower has begun to caramelize.

Meanwhile, dice the onions and saute the onions and garlic in 2 tablespoons of oil.

Add the ground ginger, broth and water to the onions and garlic.  Then add the cauliflower.  Bring to a boil and then simmer until the cauliflower is tender.   The cooking can also be done in a slow cooker which is my favorite way to cook.

Puree the broth and vegetable mixture.  I used a stick blender but it can also be done carefully in a blender or food processor.

I love this soup because I know I am eating for healing whenever I do.  



Qigong at the Bus Stop

Monday, February 14, 2011

Recently, our youngest son began complaining of headaches when he awakens and also throughout the day.  This morning, his head was particularly sore and he asked if he could stay home from school.  When I reminded him that today was his class’ Valentines Day party, I suggested instead that he try doing some Qigong, something he sees me practice all the time.   While I finished frosting some cupcakes for our older son’s class party, he practiced two Qigong movements.  Before he walked out the door to go to school, I suggested he do Qigong whenever he is waiting for the bus or is in line at school. 

A few minutes later, I had to smile when I looked out the door to see him doing a Dragon’s Way Qigong meridian stretch while he waited for his school bus.  This particular movement, which is powerful for unlocking trapped energy in the upper body, particularly in the upper back and neck, was a perfect way to help with his persistent headache problem and a great way to facilitate self-healing.  I couldn’t get my camera out quickly enough capture him doing this Qigong movement but I did get this photo of my two cute boys. 

I told my son that we will do more Qigong when he gets home from school in an effort to bring further balance to his body.  Finding this balance will help him, I believe, to eliminate his headaches and the gripping fatigue that has been plaguing him.  The Dragon’s Way can help even a seven year-old boy to feel better and that is a good thing.  Happy Valentines Day everyone!!!


Baby it's cold outside!

Friday, February 11, 2011

The two main goals of The Dragon's Way program are to conserve and to increase Qi so we can have the Qi we need to heal our bodies.  In the winter, we expend Qi unnecessarily when we are constantly defending ourselves against the cold.  Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine advise that we take particular care to keep our upper back, neck and chest covered and warm.  Doing so will help to keep us from "catching cold" when it's blustery outside.  So come what may, stay bundled up but don't forget to find JOY in the season because winter is FUN.  At least that's what we say at our house.



Thursday, February 10, 2011

Several years ago I read an anecdotal story of a rural farmer whose family survived the 1918 flu pandemic while many around them, including 40 million people worldwide, died from this terrible illness.  A doctor, who visited the family, was curious to discover the reason for their good health: an unpeeled onion placed in a dish in all the rooms of the home.  Surprised, he asked if he could have one of the onions to examine it under the microscope.  When the doctor did so, the he discovered the flu virus in the onion.  Apparently the onion had absorbed the virus thus keeping the family healthy. 

With children of my own to keep healthy during the cold and flu season, I was curious if this story could be true so I gave the onions a try.  After all, what could an onion hurt? Happily, the onions seemed to drive away the sicknesses from our home and we not only got over colds and flu more quickly, we started having fewer brushes with seasonal illnesses. 

Since then, I have been a diligent consumer of onions during wintertime.  Just last week my youngest daughter started to come down with a cold.  Immediately, I filled her room with onions and within a couple of days, all her cold symptoms were gone.  Was this a coincidence?  Perhaps, but just in case it isn’t, I am going to keep buying onions.


Healing Journals

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The best way I have found to make BIG CHANGES in my life is to stop to notice and record the little changes as they occur. As I participated in The Dragon’s Way program, I wrote a Healing Journal. At times this journal was a bound notebook. Other times this journal took the form of a private Blogger blog when it was easier to punch away at my computer. Either way, a Healing Journal helped me to keep track of my thoughts, observations and experiences as I progressed in my self-healing journey.

As I was reviewing my Dragon’s Way Healing Journal, I smiled when I read this entry from back in October:

Changes? What is changing? I am changing, I know that. I am still feeling calm and, for the most part, quite collected, even during stressful times. A HUGE change for me happened on Saturday after the Halloween Trunk or Treat party. Each of the five kids came home with a large bag of candy and none of it appealed to me at all. This has never happened to me in my whole life! I have NEVER been unable to resist Halloween candy or candy (especially chocolate!) of any kind. On Saturday, my son handed me an Almond Joy, one of my favorites, and I didn't want it. It didn’t sound good to me at all. The Dragon's Way is working! All the kids offered to share their candy with me but the thought of it was unpleasant. This was SO COOL! What’s more, my appetite has evaporated and finally, for the first time, I am eating “just when I was hungry". I love Qigong!!!

Taking the time to jot down a few thoughts about how I am feeling, emotionally and physically, what foods appeal to me, what I am thinking or what I am no longer craving is a powerful healing tool that I highly recommend.


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