Asian Medicine

The WATER Phase in Asian Medicine The Water Phase is the Time of Stillness

The Water Phase goes with Winter, the Time of Stillness

Water is a great healer.  Think of how peaceful you feel by the oceanside, or soaking at the hot springs . . . and how restored you feel at the end of your stay.

The Water Phase of Asian Medicine represents the ability to flow through life with ease and grace.  An easy, graceful, steadiness requires a tranquil nervous system and good quality rest as the ground for enabling that flow.

The WATER PHASE governs the KIDNEYS and BLADDER, as well as the hormonal and nervous systems.

The Asian medical classics say the Kidney energy (yin), which includes the adrenal glands, is that of a strong and capable minister of government who exhibits technical ability and expertise. The Bladder energy (yang) is like a local minister who works to adjust the supply and demand of water in outlying areas. In this way they work together like supervisors over all the various organs and functions.

The Water Phase of Asian medicine regulates the hormonal and nervous systems.  If you are a Water-type person, when you are in balance, you are calm and even, you enjoy physical activity and are well-coordinated. You possess the energy, strength and will to persevere in your endeavors. Although you may be tired at the end of the day from working hard, you will fall deeply asleep, waking up refreshed and restored.

When you are out of balance, you may tend to overwork, and yet never finish what you start because you have a hard time finding the perseverance required to stick with it. Or, you may tend to startle easily, be timid or fearful, or exhibit excessive nervous energy. You might even be hypervigilant, over-react to things and appear to be “on your last nerve.”

The Water Phase encompasses the element of water in all its states, from steam to water to ice. The most common complaint associated with the Bladder and Kidney meridians is low back pain and stiffness.  Your back “freezes up.” Headaches at the base of the skull or at the forehead are also typical. Shiatsu, or other bodywork, is an excellent remedy for such complaints. Acupuncture and chiropractic may also help. Find out what Shiatsu can do for you here.

In Asia it is common in winter to wear something warm around your belly and low back – called a hara maki – in addition to the scarf around your neck, as the low back is very vulnerable to cold.You can order then from Amazon. Check it out here.

If that does not suit you, try rubbing the area of your back around your kidneys vigorously before going out into the cold and again when you come in, just as you rub your hands together to warm them. Exercise that takes you inward and emphasizes low back health is excellent. Yoga, qigong and Alexander Technique are good choices. Or check out this YouTube instructional video on self-massage for the back.

Recommendations for the Water Phase In winter it is best to conserve your energy by staying warm, getting good nutrition, and keeping a harmonious balance between activity and rest.  And sleep is absolutely essential for maintaining health.  It is common to need more sleep in the winter, so go ahead and get that nine or ten hours you’ve been needing. It’s justified!

Two types of rest are important: one is recuperative sleep, as always; the other is just as important, especially at this time of year — it is the type that does not require sleep, but quiets your whole being. It restores your soul so that you can dream the dream your spirit yearns to realize. Winter is the perfect time to read, paint, write or journal, plan your garden, etc. Any quiet creative endeavor that helps you stay “in the flow” of your true self fosters a healthy functioning Water Element. This is a good time to start or give attention to your meditation practice.

Regarding foods that are good during the Water Phase: at this time of year, you can best maintain body heat by eating a diet of mostly carbohydrates and proteins. Hearty soups and casseroles with lots of root vegetables are wonderful. Red beans, black beans, lentils and split peas are also excellent. If you use whole grains, barley and buckwheat make splendid additions that support the Water Element in this cold season. Drink lots of water and avoid too many dehydrating and stimulant drinks. Also, cold drinks (especially cold beer or soft drinks with ice) are especially harmful.

So stay cozy, rest well, eat warming food, incubate your dreams, and cultivate your true self and deep nature. Remember, snow and ice are just water in one of its forms. The thaw is coming, so don’t lose your sense of fluidity, power and freedom. You are the flower blooming through it all!

 

 

THE EARTH PHASE in ASIAN MEDICINE

In Asian Medicine, the Earth Phase is also called Indian Summer or late summer, but it’s meaning is the time between seasons.  We commonly call it “the change of seasons.”

In late summer, the rhythm is still kind of lazy, though a vague and gentle stirring begins.  We remember something we have been procrastinating about, or something we have been planning to do but have not yet gotten to.  We feel like getting started on it.  We may think about getting back to yoga or taking a new class.  These thoughts are not pressing at this stage, but rather dreamy and pleasant in nature – the state of relaxed alertness, of perfect balance between rest and activity.  In this state, we know our true desires and what we want to do to achieve them.  Some, we finish harvesting now, at the close of summer; others, we sow seeds for, in preparation for the aspirations that will blossom later.  In the Fall, both aspects are equally present and poised in balance for our consideration.  In nature, this is clearly observed at the Equinox, when day and night are of equal length.

The autumnal change of seasons is most indicative of the Earth Phase because it is the time of the great harvest.  Mother Earth gives us food, shelter and clothing and is the support we stand on.  So, you may already have correctly presumed that the Earth Phase is all about nourishment.  It is associated with the stomach and “digestive juices” (acids, enzymes, and the like).  Its main functions are digestion and nourishment.

Shiatsu is a recommended treatment strategy for digestive difficulties.

On the emotional level, it includes nurturance – the balance between nurturing and being nurtured.  If you are person who gives more than you take, or who takes more than you give, you are probably out of balance or not in harmony with your personal Earth energy.  You may be able to remedy this simply by trying to remember what it is meant to be is: “the one who tends the fields reaps the harvest.”

When balanced, Earth-type people have the capacity to exhibit great compassion.  They can have empathy and sympathy without over-identifying or giving away more energy than they have.  They have good relationships with family, friends, neighbors and co-workers.  If they have given loved ones in need a lot of time, attention and energy, they have people to turn to who will lovingly replenish it with caring support.

Just as the Earth Phase expresses itself physically by the digestive process, it is expressed mentally by digesting information and by a certain keenness of mind – the ability to think clearly, to concentrate or study, and generally process information.  Consider everyday expressions like “food for thought,” “a lot of information to digest,” or “let me chew it over for a while.”

Exam time is a good time to seek Shiatsu treatment. It helps increase mental capacity, improve concentration, relax the mind and ease anxiety.

Recommendations for the Earth Season Earth is all about nurturance, including the balance between nurturing and being nurtured.  We nurture our families, our friends and ourselves by the food we eat and the thoughts we think.  What about getting nurtured?  Asian medicine recognizes that the transition between seasons is known to be a time of delicate balance for health.  Customary recommendations for the season are to eat well, rest deeply during sleep, and receive a shiatsu or acupuncture treatment aimed at maintaining a harmonious balance of body, mind and spirit.  Asian bodywork (shiatsu, tuina, etc.) is considered one of the most beneficial treatments for health maintenance.

The common wisdom of Asian medicine recommends getting a Shiatsu treatment at least four times a year at the change of seasons.

How Shiatsu Can Positively Enhance Your Life About Shiatsu & A Case Study Explored

lindy1Shiatsu, meaning “finger pressure,” is the practice of applying thumbs, fingers, palms or feet to pressure points, or meridians, as they’re called in ancient Asian medicine. Aside from the pressing, this type of treatment also focuses on stretching limbs and opening joints. As a type of healing therapy, it produces an effect of deep relaxation, increases energy levels and brings a state of balance to the body, among many other things. As several clients say, it helps them feel more “grounded, centered and self-aware.”

Shiatsu is a practice based on the traditions of ancient Asian medicine. The theory behind Shiatsu is that our bodies are made up of energy, called Qi, and this energy can get blocked and cause suffering within the body and mind. Shiatsu helps to remove blockages by clearing channels and acupoints, which balances the Qi and eases the body and mind. When Qi is balanced, healing occurs. The applied pressure stimulates both the nervous and immune systems, providing relief, while also restoring the circulatory system, improving blood flow.

lindy2A current client, named Christina G., has been receiving Shiatsu for approximately 18 months, at a rate of once every two to four weeks. At the start of her treatments, Christina was seeking the following:

  • Regularity in her menstrual cycle,
  • An increase in energy and stamina,
  • A decrease in daily anxiety and stress, and
  • An improved awareness and connection to her intuition.

Here are the results she experienced over the course of the first few months working together and then ongoing over the last 18 months:

  • Menstrual Cycle: Christina experienced better regularity and less blood clotting in the first few months of treatment. Within four months, she experienced a brighter, healthier color of blood and better flow in general, which she hadn’t experienced in years.
  • Energy and Stamina: Christina experienced more energy immediately following each treatment along with a “sense of calm and strength” that would endure for several days following treatment. In conjunction with her bi-weekly meditation and daily supplementation, she has experienced an increase in energy and stamina over the last 18 months and “it continues to improve everyday.”
  • Anxiety and Stress: Within the first few treatments, Christina experienced less anxiety and stress in her daily life. She also worked to manage her anxiety and stress on her own based on suggested exercises and regular reassessments, including identifying areas for
  • Intuition: After the first year of treatment, Christina wanted to connect to and be more aware of her intuition. In each session we reviewed progress she made, and feedback in the form of exercises was given for further improvement. She now says she “feels more connected to her intuition and is now able to look inside for answers to questions and for direction.”

lindy6Christina G. experienced the benefits of Shiatsu in every area that she was seeking assistance and vitality. It is through client experiences like these that Shiatsu proves time and time again to be a viable and effective treatment for those experiencing many types of mental or physical suffering. What once began as a treatment for simple muscular tension when it was first introduced to Western medicine has become something much more integrative. The benefits of Shiatsu have become more apparent, and it is now used for treating a variety of ailments and issues. These include the following:

  • Overall Weakness & Fatigue: Shiatsu can restore and maintain the body’s energy, helping those who suffer from overall weakness and fatigue.
  • Muscle Pain and Rheumatoid Arthritis: Shiatsu is frequently used to alleviate the muscle and joint pain associated with arthritis.
  • Injury Recovery: Shiatsu can aid in the recovery from sprains, fractures and other injuries.
  • Migraine Headaches: Shiatsu helps relieve headaches and migraines by relaxing the body and increasing blood flow and circulation throughout.
  • A Stiff Neck & Back: Shiatsu can reduce problems with the neck, shoulders and back, including sciatica.
  • Stress: Shiatsu can do wonders for a body and mind that is stressed. It can reduce stress and tension as well as anxiety and depression.
  • Reproductive Issues: Shiatsu can be used to aid women during their monthly cycles, especially to alleviate menstrual cramps and regulate blood flow.
  • Pregnancy: Shiatsu has been known to help women in labor and also to help babies turn in the womb. It can also help ease morning sickness and swelling.
  • Circulatory System: Shiatsu can help to improve circulation throughout the body, improving blood flow.
  • Digestive Disorders: By allowing food to digest more easily and aid in the elimination of waste, Shiatsu can benefit and improve your digestive system.
  • Skin: Shiatsu can stimulate circulation in the soft tissues of the skin, helping to keep skin soft and moist. This can in turn can give the skin a glow and prevent wrinkling.
  • Immune Support: Shiatsu can reduce the severity and frequency of coughs and colds, along with other sinus and respiratory problems.
  • Combines with other treatments: Shiatsu works well with other treatments like acupuncture, chiropractic, physical therapy, chemotherapy, herbs and supplements.

lindy4A shiatsu treatment can last anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. It can be administered on a padded mat on the floor or on a massage table. Typically, the treatment begins with gentle stretching and pressing to relax the muscles and stimulate the flow of energy. Depending on the needs of the person receiving the massage, it can be very gentle and calming or used with high pressure. However, it should never be painful. For more information regarding Shiatsu and to receive a treatment, contact Lindy Ferrigno here.

Do You Have the Personality of the FIRE ELEMENT?

polar bear flowersSummer is the time of the Fire Element. It is a time of celebrating and rejoicing in the beauty, fullness and fruition of life. The climate is hot and dry and the Earth is abundant in this season of maturity when plants blossom and bear fruit. It is a time when we relax and enjoy the bounty.

In Asian Medicine, Heart is the main organ of the Fire Element. It goes not only to the ability of the muscle in our chest to circulate blood, but also to the quality of our mind that finds joy in being calm and quiet. When it is in harmony, Heart displays an active body and a peaceful mind.

volleyballFire is very active by nature. Likewise, summer is naturally a season of peak outdoor activity. Hiking and swimming are great cardiovascular exercises. Asian medicine considers exercise to be as good for anxiety and depression as it is for circulation.

Fire represents a joyful and content spirit able to regulate and balance our emotions. When the Fire Element is balanced in us, we feel content. Even when our joy escalates to exuberance, we can act appropriately, always remembering to honor and respect our Mother Earth and fellow human beings. The Fire Element corresponds to the emotion translated as “Joy.” The concept of joy once was quite different from what we think of in these current American times. In ancient Asia it meant a sense of inner peace, which included harmonious relationships with family, friends, community, ancestors, nature, spirit, etc. A healthy Fire Element produces a powerful, yet gentle, inner strength that delights in being “spiritually fit.” Spiritual fitness means that we have enough heart, enough spirit, to develop and engage our whole self. That is why the recommended activity for tonifying the Fire Element is meditation.

girl meditating

Meditation makes it possible to perform the general functions of the Fire Element, namely, receiving, responding and adapting to life’s stimuli from the center of our core of peace. When we understand the Fire Element in this light, a more appropriate translation than “joy” might be “contentment.” This contented kind of joy arises from an inner awareness and appreciation of the beauty of our true Self. joyful meditating

The Fire-type Person – In balance, the Fire Element creates a person with a pretty good sense of who he is, and a personality that is generally compassionate and friendly. People with strong Fire energy dominant in their personalities may be quite charismatic. They are energetic and expressive, and excel at commanding others to action. They may love talking and socializing. They don’t like to be alone and they seek out the admiration and attention of others. Many are artistic. Fire personalities are also polite and easily able to reach out to others. They love pleasing others and are good at giving compliments.

Out of balance, you may find someone who is self-involved, tossed to and fro by the emotional ups and downs of life’s dramas (big or small, real or imagined), unable to find a moment’s peace of mind. The negative qualities associated with an excess of Fire in the personality include mood swings, restlessness and manipulative behavior.

heart, hands, sunsetOf course, anyone who endeavors to live up to his/her fullness will probably exhibit moods, at times, that are difficult for the people around them. At these times, we may have to ask: “Is this a situation where it is more appropriate to inhibit my response, or is this a time when I should ‘go for it’ and risk the consequences?” The answers need to come from a deep place of self-awareness – a place full of heart. That’s why meditation is considered the appropriate tonifying activity for Fire.

Common Fire Element complaints are: neck and shoulder pain, morning stiffness in the neck or low back, certain kinds of headaches, insomnia, easily overwhelmed, lack of concentration, obsessive thinking, anxiety, palpitations, poor digestion, poor circulation, and tingling in the fingers.

Common illnesses include: palpitations, hypertension, heart problems, and sores on the mouth and tongue.

When the Fire Element is weak in a person, they may stutter, talk too much and too rapidly, or laugh nervously. They may suffer from anxiety, restlessness, and insomnia. They may be too excitable, easily stimulated to excesses, and/or they may be emotionally cold and unfeeling.

People strongly influenced by the Fire Element may be vulnerable in very hot weather, and may be calmed and centered by walking. The flavor that goes with Fire is bitter. Coffee is a bitter flavor, but its effects may aggravate the Heart. The healthy bitter flavors include dark, green leafy vegetables.

Treatment for the Fire Element

Shiatsu techniques for neck, shoulder and back pain, and headaches are amazingly effective. If you see a chiropractor, they will also increase the benefits of your treatment. For those of you who suffer bouts of insomnia, there is a special technique developed especially for calming the mind and spirit that really helps with sleep. Several clients have reported being able to decrease the dosage of medicines taken for high blood pressure, anxiety and heartburn with regular Shiatsu treatments. Others have needed the combination of Shiatsu and herbs. I can recommend an herbalist for you.

Shiatsu relaxes and strengthens the mind and body, making it easy to create and maintain healthy, positive energy. It promotes a balanced “self,” able to assess, interpret, and respond from the heart to life’s events. The purpose of my work, besides relieving pain, is to foster this expanded sense of self that sees the beauty in our own being and in everything around us.

Chakra Development offers a moving meditation that increases both yin and yang energy and nourishes our central core.

DNA Activation frees up and increases physical and mental energy. It restores the divine blueprint of perfect health and clears our thoughts and emotions.

Recommendations for the Fire Element Season of Summer

* Millet is the most beneficial grain for the Fire energy. It is light, very quick and easy to fix, and even kids like it!

* Eat fruits with red flesh, like berries, plums and especially watermelon.

* Summer is a great time to soak in the sunshine vitamin: Vitamin D. Studies show that 70% of American children and adults seriously lack Vitamin D. Low Vitamin D levels leave us at risk for skin cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, osteoporosis, and even rickets. Milk and dairy products are not enough to fill in the gap, so consider vitamin supplementation and/or get your 10-15 minutes of sunshine a day – without sunscreen. That is all you need. After that, rub on the sunscreen for the rest of the day.

sunsetHealth Tips for Summer

* If you apply Asian medical nutrition to local American foods, watermelon not only tastes great and is refreshing, it also helps prevent heat stroke and keeps you hydrated. Now you have even more reasons to appreciate and enjoy this wonderful summer delight!

* Just a reminder about leaving bottled water in the car: the amount of heat that accumulates in the car when the sun is streaming in through the windows causes chemicals from the plastic to leach into the water. These chemicals are especially dangerous to women, as research indicates a link to breast cancer. Sheryl Crow made many public appearances after her bout with breast cancer to educate the public about this fact. You will give a great gift when you share this information with you mother, daughter, wife or girlfriend, and any women you know.