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Last night, I just had to have a scone.  Just HAD to.  I found this post with recipe online, halved it, used regular milk instead of cream, and raisins instead of currants.  Wow!  Sooner than I would have imagined, I had amazingly fluffy scones. YUM!

This morning, in a fit of contemplation, I thought to myself, “What is this pastry–sweet and fatty–craving?”

AHA!  It’s about that time when I get my PMS symptoms.  Either I’m really tired or feel like I’m going to catch a cold, or want to eat lots and lots of butter.  I happened to be sitting cross-legged on the floor, so I put my index finger on the Three Yin Intersection acu-point, on my lower leg.  And immediately, I took a nice deep long breath.  Like a sigh of relief.  Ahhhhhh.

It’s so easy to forget.  I do all the time.  And if I took a moment to reflect and test out some acu-points, before reaching for the scone (or croissant or cookie), I might get some longer-lasting relief.

Anyway, wanted to share that with you.  But since I like to look for a silver lining in each cloud, I am thrilled that I’ve come across such an easy and yummy scone recipe!

 

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It’s hot hot in the Bay Area.

I was up early (for me) to volunteer at an energizer station for Bike to Work Day.  We handed out goodie bags, fruit, coffee cake, and WATER!

It’s a reminder for me to STAY HYDRATED.  This is a frequent mantra of mine, in person and on this blog.  But I think it merits repeating, a lot.

  • Are your lips dry?
  • Do you have a headache?
  • Are you feeling spaced-out?

Could be that the heat or dry air is affecting you more than you think.

If it helps to use some visual reminders from the Five Elements in Traditional Chinese Medicine, imagine this.  In the Five Elements, the relationship between the Water Element (associated with Winter, flexibility, energy, kidney, bladder, etc.) and Wood Element (associated with the Spring seaon, growth, creativity, planning, gallbladder and live, etc.) is not surprisingly, that water helps wood grow.

So if you’re feeling wilted, give yourself some water.

In addition to the tulips, the longer days tell me it’s really Springtime.  And while this makes me wnt to increase my activity, I find that I need to boost my energy levels.  What better time to talk again about energy-boosting.

When thinking about how to address low energy, it can be helpful to consider what is causing it. 
  • Is your ability to fuel your energy–for example, with nutritious food and water, restful sleep,  healthful exercise, or a favorite hobby–affected? 
  • Or is your energy being depleted in some way, for example with unhealthy foods and alcohol, allergies, stress or pain? 
  • Or a combination of factors?
Paying attention to how and when your energy flags, during the day and week, is the first step to addressing lowered energy.  Read this post for some tips to see if any of them works for you.

As some of you know, I live in San Francisco, and there’s been lots of talk and angst about the Olympic torch running here.  I have mixed feelings about China and its human rights violations, Tibet, Darfur… within the context of the excitement of the Olympics.

olympic torch 1

Well, I just jumped on the excitement bandwagon by running down four blocks to see the Olympic torch go by!

Fortunately I was at the beginning of the new “decoy” route, so was standing right by it.  There were some protesters shouting their cause and holding up signs, but mostly bystanders who were excited and supportive.

A couple of photos here; the torch bearers are wearing red/white running suits.  I think the woman with her eyes closed is blind; she has her left hand on the arm of the man to her left.

UPDATE: Based on info on all the torchbearers, I believe this torchbearer is Jessica Lorenz of Berkeley, who is “a blind person and 2008 Paralympian who has worked continually to improve her game and spread the Paralympic message of inclusion to disabled and non-disabled people alike”.

olympic torch 2

You can see in the second photo one torch bearer waving, and her partner (all the torch bearers are running in pairs) holding the touch with flame.  You can see the police on foot, motorcycle.

The Fire Element in Traditional Chinese Medicine is related to passion and joy and enthusiasm.  (The color of fire is red, so the red running suits are appropriate, too.)  Certainly my experience of this Olympic event has been on the positive side of the Fire Element.

But there are thousands of people–supporters, protesters, curious–who have been waiting along the official route who have been and will be mightily disappointed.  Some will no doubt be experiencing the Fire when it is out of balance: feelings of aggression and impatience.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Springtime is associated with the Wood element and the gall bladder and liver meridians.  It’s a season of cleansing and renewal, as new movement and growth start.
 
I think of “cleansing” my body by making an effort to cut back on sweet and heavier comfort foods, like my beloved almond croissants, and increase greens and fruits.  Check out Staying Healthy with the Seasons, a book I’ve written about before, for more information on cleansing.
 
Also, cleansing my physical space with a de-cluttering, is a part of spring cleaning
 
As you move into this new season, consider these questions:

  • What new movement do I want to create in my life? 
  • What energizes me?
  • How can I clear out the blocks to growth?

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. 😉 )

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.

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)

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.

The thing I love about Traditional Chinese Medicine is that it’s based on nature and the world, so just about anything in the world can relate back to its principles.

Last week, I went to see (again) my favorite parts of an exhibition by the Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, at the SFMOMA. (Exhibit info here.) I didn’t know of this artist before this exhibition. They are big pieces. Color. Angles. Curves. And all kinds of materials, including water.

In one installment, (called Beauty), you walk into a darkened room where you see light passing through a misty “curtain” of fine water droplets, cascading down from above, onto the absorbing floor. The water drops reflect the light, so it appears like a wall, but really, it’s an illusion. We can walk through that “curtain”.

In another room is Notion Motion.  When we walk on squeaky floor boards in front of a screen, the screen shimmers in different patterns. Depending on the location of the floor board; the amount of squeak. It turns out there’s a shallow water pool on the other side of the screen, and the shimmering is a reflection of the ripples on the water.

Another work which I only peeked into was an ice-sculpture. Actually an ice-covered car. Both times I passed by, my inner-cozy won out over my experience-adventurer.

Anyway, I’m writing about these water-related art objects, because they got me thinking about the Water Element. Since Winter is the season associated with the Water Element, how a propos, I thought, that I was drawn to water in different forms.

The cool thing about water, is its flexibility. It can take so many forms. From fluid liquid water to solid frozen blocks; from refreshing cooling mist to dangerously scalding vapors. In each form, it has a beauty and a power.

So, when our Water Element is in balance, or doing well, flowing, as it were, then our flexibility should be good. Physically, especially along the spine. Mentally and emotionally. Being able to flow with the ebbs and flows that are natural in our daily lives.

By the way, boundaries are also an important aspect of this. Think of it: A river that is healthy is full and flowing within its boundaries. But one that gets out of bounds can wreak all kinds of havoc, as has been experienced in many parts of the world.

To support the Water Element, here are a few wellness ideas:

  • Support your energy. We know how grouchy and inflexible we can be when we’re running on too little sleep. Get enough rest whenever you can.
  • Keep your spine supple. Do some simple stretches.
    • Sit on the edge of a chair, with feet flat on the ground. Stretch your arms up alongside your ears, high overhead, and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, stretch forward and down as low as you can go with a nice stretch along your back. (Only go as far as is comfortable. Don’t strain if you have lower-back pain.)
    • Do some simple twists. Stand with your feet hip-distance apart, and swing your arms back and forth. Or, sit on the side of a straight-back chair (the back of the chair should be at our side), and raise your arms overhead, with a deep breath in. On the exhale, twist toward the back by placing one hand on either side of the chair back to help you get some leverage. Don’t yank into the twist!
  • Hydrate! Drink water. I hear/read so many conflicting reports/study findings about this. So I just tell people to pay attention. Most of us don’t drink enough. Are your lips dry? Do you get headaches? Is your mouth dry? Is your skin dry? Try increasing your water intake. Replace some other fluids, like coffee/tea/juice/cola, with water.

Name: Crooked Pond (Large Intestine 11)

This point on the crease of your bent elbow, helps address constipation , intestinal discomfort from diarrhea and cramping, fever, sore throat, and elbow issues. It’s also helpful in balancing the immune system.

Location: Bend your arm and look at the crease by your elbow. The point is at the end of the crease, closer to your elbow. See where the red dot is in photo below.LI11 dot 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 arms.

To hold: Cradle your elbow with your other hand, and use your thumb to hold this point. You can lightly touch it, or massage with a firm touch, in a clockwise motion. Try just one arm, or both, if it’s comfortable. Remember to keep your shoulders and arms relaxed.

LI11 hold

If you have constipation or intestinal discomfort, you may feel relief quickly; the clockwise rubbing might work especially well.

For fever and general immune system balancing, lightly touch the point and hold for a few minutes, as long as it’s comfortable. You can do this several times a day.

For elbow issues, be gentle, but firm as long as it’s not painful.

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