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Name: Great Surge (Liver 3)

This point is on the top of your foot and helps address fatigue, headaches, insomnia related to “busy mind”, hangovers, eye issues (swelling, pain) and alleviates pain. It’s also helpful in energizing.  Some people feel a “great surge” of energy move from their feet, up their legs and bodies; hence the name.

Location: This point is on the top of your foot, in the “valley” at the point where your big toe and second toe bones meet, above the arch of your foot.  See where the dot is on the photo below.  (If you’re familiar with the Hoku point on the hand, you can think of this as the similar point on your foot.)
liverTop
As with all acupressure points except the ones that run down the center of your body, this point is bilateral, which means it’s found on both feet.

To hold: There are several ways you can do this.  It’s important that you are comfortable in your shoulders and arms, so experiment with different ways to hold the point, and see what is most comfortable.

You can sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, and bend down to reach the top of your foot with your index or middle finger.  Firmly press on the point with a steady pressure.  Hold first for 10 seconds or so, and then work up to a minute as long as it is comfortable.  As with holding all acupressure points, take deep slow breaths as you hold the point.

I find that it can be easier to hold this point by “sandwiching” it between one finger to top of my foot, and another underneath.  See the photos below where I use my thumb on top in one case; the index finger on top in another.

liver32    liver3 3

Often, this point can be tender; if it is, release the pressure if it is too uncomfortable.  This point, too, can take a lot of pressure, so experiment with different degrees of pressure. 

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

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Earlier this week I wrote about Earth imbalance in my Cookie Monster post.

Lisa commented on that post about her own experience with Earth imbalance.  And she wrote up a longer even more delicious description of her cravings for all kinds of scrumptious delights on her blog, which you can read here!

I got through the weekend, and this afternoon’s comfort-cookie crisis with Trader Joe’s Druid oatmeal cookies. As I was savoring the lovely chewiness of my third lovely cookie with tea, I had an “aha!” moment about the sweet-tooth comfort-food connection.

In the Traditional Chinese Medicine system, sweetness is associated with the Earth element. So when Earth element (associated with the Stomach and Spleen meridians) is out of balance, sweet cravings often ensue.

When might Earth element be out of balance?

  • The Earth is associated with home, the place we feel “homey”, so a move to a new house, or traveling could cause a tip in balance.
  • Or maybe you have too many ideas flying around your head, and you don’t feel “grounded.” You might reach for a cookie or ice cream.
  • Think about a plant; only when it is strong and grounded in the earth can it grow up and out.
  • For women, the Earth element is also related to the menstrual cycle, which helps us understand PMS sweets-cravings.

In my case, since I broke my ankle last week, my connection to the Earth has diminished. I can’t put both feet on the ground. I’m hobbling around on my right foot and two crutches. And even though I’m mostly stuck at home, it’s difficulty to feel homey. My foot is up in the air. My energy is way above the floor; I think it’s in my shoulder area because my shoulders are tired from using the crutches. Oy!

So, a few thoughts on balancing Earth energy:

  • First of all, it’s OK, I say, to eat my cookies! As long as I’m enjoying them, and in moderation. (I’ll run out at any rate, and can’t exactly run down to the store to get some more. That’s the silver lining.)
  • Now that I’ve identified this Earth-imbalance, I can be mindful about other ways to address it:
    • Enjoy healthier sweetness. Fruit. Dried dates. I’ve been eating fruit puree (frozen mangoes and blueberries) with yogurt.
    • Squeeze my muscles; the Earth element loves this. My right leg is working really hard, as are my arms, so I’ll give myself a little massage later.
    • Create routine, especially since I’ve had to adjust and adapt so much of the way I normally do things. I wrote about this, plus other tips in a post related to the Earth element.
    • Energize the Three Mile Point (Stomach 36). Sit down with feet flat on the floor. Make a light fist and rub vigorously along the outside of your shins, a couple of inches below your knee.

OK. So I now have a plan to help address my un-earthiness, and tame my cookie monster!

I’m feeling some anxiety about changes–real, imagined and expected–in my life now. I came across this article in the Yoga Journal, by meditation teacher Philip Moffit, where he talks about change and intention: The Dharma of Life Changes. Since intention is a key word in my own work with clients and with myself, I was curious to see what the author had to say.

I was especially drawn to these questions that Phillip Moffit proposes:

Diligently applying mindfulness allows you to answer three basic questions:

  1. What are your real motives?
  2. What are the possible effects of any change?
  3. Is the manner in which you plan to go about change skillful?”

These are seemingly simple questions, but how simple is it to “diligently apply mindfulness”? I find my mind wandering easily to worries and planning, so I remind myself of the benefits of spending a few minutes to do a self-acu mini meditation.

Whatever movement in your life that you are dealing with or working on bringing to fruition–managing your weight, improving your life balance, greater financial success, a new job, a growing family–try out these questions. Change is a part of life; it’s nice to have some guidance in how to navigate through those times.

After dinner last night, my friend asked for some advice for her insomnia. She has the kind where it’s hard to get to sleep. (The other kind is where you wake up during the night, and have difficulty falling back asleep. And of course there’s the combination of those two.)

There can be any number of reasons for insomnia, so I did what I always do, which is to learn more about that sleeplessness.

  • Do you have physical discomfort in bed, that could affect your ability to fall asleep?
  • Is you mind busy? Are you thinking lots of thoughts?
  • Are you feeling stressed? Do you have deadlines or other worries?
  • Does this happen every night? When is it not such a problem? When it is worse?
  • What do you typically do before you go to sleep? Do you have a bedtime routine?

My friend said that she thinks her mind is busy with thoughts. So I suggested she try soaking in a bath before going to bed. When our energy is up in our head–with thoughts and worries–the body sometimes gets left out. A hot bath covers your skin all the way down to your toes, and reminds our heads that it’s not all about our minds. The toes want some attention, too. Some of that energy in the head can relax down into the body, helping in overall relaxation.

It turns out that my friend does take a bath. Every night!

She thought a little more, then asked, “What about reading before bed?”

It turns out that my friend reads a variety of material–magazines, novels, non-fiction–in the bathtub.

So her nightly bath ritual may relax her body, but the reading might be stimulating her mind. My suggestion to her was to leave the reading material outside. See what it’s like to let the bath be a blissful bath on its own. And to pay attention to her ability to sleep. I’ll check in with her later.

Bathtime Tools: Even though there’s a wonderul soaking tub in my home, it’s whoafully under-used. So I bought myself a jar of Ahhh…Bath Soak because I love how the aromatherapy helps to calm me, and also gives each bath a specialness boost. I’m not suggesting that you have to buy anything to make your baths more fragrant. But to pay attention to what makes it relaxing and appealing to you.

Are you feeling stressed or overwhelmed with shopping or hosting/travel preparations? Or worried about finishing up a project at work? Or maybe you just want to take a break from the buy-buy-buy atmosphere.

Meditation can be a powerful source of health and wellness, for both body and spirit. Even when we don’t have the time or inclination for a full meditation “practice,” a few moments of deep breath and holding acupressure points can be calming and relaxing.

The Self-Acu Mini Meditation takes just a few minutes, and can be done anywhere. At your desk, sitting in your car, or at bed-time. It’s easy to do, and gives you a chance to hold two important acupressure points: the Third Eye (between your eyebrows) and the Hara (below your bellybutton.)

Give yourself this gift, now or anytime.

Self-Acu Mini Meditation

For a moment of relaxation during a busy day, try this mini-meditation.

Stand or sit comfortably and close your eyes.
Gently place a finger on your Third Eye-between your eyebrows-and place the palm of your other hand on your Hara-below your bellybutton.

Take five … deep … slow … breaths.

Smile. You’ve just given yourself a wonderful gift.

Get a printer-friendly version, or check out beautiful cards printed with this meditation.

We’re on the homestretch before Christmas. Even if you’re not actively participating in the shopping/party rush, as my friend told me today, “it’s in the air.”

So for the rest of the week, I want to share some natural wellness tips that are easy and simple, but also very effective.

We’ll start with yoga. I am not a yoga teacher, but I study Anusara Yoga and apply my learnings with my clients and students. I like the Yoga Journal for its articles and online resources. The following description of “legs-up-the-wall” pose and the photo are from The Yoga Journal. legsupthewall

Viparita Karani: Legs-up-the-wall pose (click for detailed directions)

This pose is very calming, and I recommend it to my wellness clients who are suffering from insomnia, often from a “busy mind” that has a difficult time slowing down. Even if you don’t have the props suggested in the Yoga Journal article, five minutes with your legs up as part of your nightly before-sleep ritual can help your sleep. (Please read contraindications below.)

A modification to the pose, if your hamstrings are tight or it’s uncomfortable to keep your legs up, is to bend your knees and put your rest lower legs on the seat of a chair, or on your bed. The goal is to relax and quiet the mind; not to stretch the hamstrings.

Contraindications for this pose from the Yoga Journal:

“Many teachers maintain that Viparita Karani is an inversion, and as such should be avoided during menstruation. Others though recommend the pose even during menstruation. Check with your teacher before performing this pose during menstruation. As with any inversion Viparita Karani should be avoided if you have serious eye problems, such as glaucoma. With serious neck or back problems only perform this pose with the supervision of an experienced teacher. If your feet begin to tingle during this pose, bend your knees, touch your soles together, and slide the outer edges of your feet down the wall, bringing your heels close to your pelvis”

I keep thinking about a story last week in the New York Times about women with shoulder and back problems because their bags are too heavy. Apparently, there’s a trend to oversized bags–in the world of fashion-conscious–where women are hauling around so much stuff on one shoulder that massage therapists and chiropractors are seeing an increase in women with shoulder and back issues!

I was surprised to read that the women, and even some of the therapists, thought the physical discomfort was merely an unfortunate consequence of adhering to a fashion trend. This line of thinking is so alien to me, that I was dumbfounded. But then I thought, perhaps there are places in my life that I am a slave to “fashion.”

My commitment to sustainable choices, for example, sometimes stymies my making really sensible choices. For example, I might go out of my way to buy a box of recycled tissues (for my wellness studio.) Was that really sensible when I consider that the extra energy (fossil fuel and my personal time/energy) needed to do that may have cost more than the savings of using recycled tissues. But it’s the thought that counts! Well yes, but also the point is in weighing individual choices within the context of the larger goal.

So, I throw out this question (as much to myself as to you):

  • Are you a “slave to fashion” in some way in your life?

Be it handbag fashion, stiletto-heel fashion, or stubbornly-eco fashion. How can you make sensible choices around those? Making a habit of decluttering your purse every Sunday night; stretching and massaging your feet and lower legs after a high-heel day; or remembering the big picture for sustainable choices.