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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


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