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In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the concept of Yin/Yang helps us remember to think about the complementary sides of our bodies. I talked about the front/back connection in this post.

Today, I want to talk about left/right.

(That’s the right and left of your body, not the political spectrum. But the idea I want to talk about is not far off; without good communication and integration between the two, the whole doesn’t work as well. ūüėČ )

So, back to the body. Often, we’ll get some kind of ache or pain on one side of the body, and our attention goes to that side. In order to address that ache or pain, it is often helpful to give some attention to the other side.

For example, I broke my left ankle a few months ago, so naturally, my attention was focused on that left ankle. It’s the one that hurt and that I had to take care of and rehabilitate. But it turns out that my right ankle and leg had to work extra hard while my left ankle healed. And, I learned through my physical therapy that my right ankle is weak, too. So, as part of the rehabilitation of my left ankle, I’ve made sure to do the exercises on my right ankle as well.

Therefore, when you use acupressure points that you may learn on this blog, use them on both sides of your body. When you work on the tightness in our right shoulder, also work on your left shoulder. Sometimes you don’t feel the tightness in the left shoulder because the right is much more tight, and it’s hogging all your attention. But you may find that when your right shoulder gets some relief, the left one starts to bother you. It was tight all along; it was just being shy and quiet and waiting to speak up for some attention.

So remember, as with yin and yang, address the left and right, for a holistic approach to healing and wellness.

Yesterday, I was reborn.

It was my birthday, and as a perfect way to celebrate the anniversary of my birth, I received a gift of a Korean scrub and massage.

If you’ve experienced this before, you’re probably already off enjoying memories of your most recent scrub…

For the rest of you who have yet to experience this wonderful Korean wellness practice, let me start by singing the praises of the diversity of ways in which the many cultures of the world have developed systems and methods to sustain the health and well-being of their people. We’re so lucky that these diverse methods are traversing borders, continents and oceans, so we can experience them or take elements that we like and incorporate them into our own personal wellness practices.

OK. Enough big-picture stuff. What exactly did I experience in this Korean scrub and massage?

First showered and soaked in the hot tub, bravely dipped myself in the cold bath for oh maybe .4 seconds, and lay for a short while in the dry hot room. Then back in the hot tub. This was all prep for the main event, where I got on a table and a middle-aged Korean woman wearing the universal Korean spa uniform (black bra and panties) scrubbed layers of dead skin off me. I literally shed my old skin.

Then I was soaped and rinsed like a baby, with the care of a Korean scrub-masseuse, who wore the universal Korean spa uniform: black bra and panties. And then she followed with a bit of shiatsu-style acupressure and then oil-based massage that included stretching on the legs. And then there was the hair-washing. And the cucumber-face mask.

Ahhh.

I felt invigorated (thanks to all that hard scrubbing; great for the lymphatic system and circulation) and squeaky clean and taken care of by my Korean scrub-mother.

To another year of celebrating life!

(For a detailed description of the experience at the spa I went to, Imperial Spa in San Francisco, read this SF Chronicle article.)

Today (February 7, 2008) is the first day of the Chinese Year of the Rat.

There are 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, and the Rat won a race to become the first in the line. chinese zodiac 

So, not only are we starting a new year, but it’s the beginning of the cycle.¬† So the beginning of the beginning.A great time to begin anew.¬† (Again, if you want to hit “restart” after Jan 1.)

Also, why a brown rat?¬† Brown because this particular Rat Year is associated with the Earth Element.¬† And by the way, the Rat him/herself is associated with the Water Element.¬† So we’ll have an extra reason¬†to examine these Elements throughout the year.¬†

(image from http://www.chineseastrologyonline.com/2008.htm)