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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.
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.
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”.
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?
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.
I’ve seen signs for flu shots already. It’s that time of year again.
And according to TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), Autumn is the time of the runny nose, since the Nose and Mucous are associated with the season.
So, a couple of common sense ideas to stave off getting a runny nose (and catching cold):