You and Your Qi

The Chinese Character of Qi, 氣 (pronounced /CHē/ ) means vital energy, life force. There are numerous qualities of qi in the body with specific functions. The overall functions of qi is movement/transportation, warming and transformation. Depending upon which organ the qi is associated too, will specify it’s unique property. What is most important to understand in the practice of Chinese medicine is that qi is the fundamental working principle to all aspects of this science, from; acupuncture, herbalism, dietary and body work. So, when a patient comes in the practitioner needs to understand the fundamental imbalance of qi in the body. Then, decide which modality will best be able to correct the imbalance.

What I would like to focus on here is how the body maintains overall energy levels. I will be discussing the dynamics of qi in a broad scope to avoid getting too technical. Essentially we derive energy primarily from from air, food and water, which is called Gu Qi (yes it’s a fabulous designer Qi). Which is transformed into Ying Qi, or nutritive Qi. It is used to replenish and nourish our body. We also have a quality of Qi called Yuan Qi, or original source Qi. Yuan Qi is a finite amount of qi that supports organ functions on a fundamental level. When you hear about a 30 yr old rock star that dies suddenly, it is more than likely due to their poor lifestyle of little rest, poor nutrition and too much sex, and drugs. Another way to think of this quality of qi is as a deep reserve that should only be used in case of emergencies, such as illness, extreme survival. With proper rest and nutrition this qi is only sipped upon appropriately. Instead of living like a rockstar staying up late, doing the whole sex, drugs and rock -n- roll thang becoming depleted and dying prematurely.

When a bodily function becomes impaired, it is usually about a qi dynamic that is out of balance. For an example, if the stomach is not breaking down food properly, then it’s qi dynamic with other organs is out of balance. It can be the liver/stomach dynamic, or kidney/stomach dynamic, even the liver/kidney/stomach dynamic. There are circumstances where an organ becomes deficient because due to an overall qi deficiency as well. When these imbalances arise it is usually a result from a life style, diet, and/or genetics. The qi can become stagnant, deficient or other substances (such as blood) in the body are impairing proper qi flow. The time of year, and regional climate are additional factors that can influence how one’s qi is performing.

Because the Chinese have done an amazing job understanding how the spirit, mind and body are interconnected, they see how the qi of the body is affected by on different levels. How fear affects the kidneys, worry consumes the qi of pancreas, or how anger strangles the heart.
It is through careful examination that the practitioner is able to find the breakdown of the qi dynamic. Questions about other bodily functions and life style give insight to how other organs are contributing to the breakdown in the qi dynamic. This is one of the reasons why Chinese medicine is so effective in places where western medicine fails, because the whole body is assessed. Once a proper diagnosis has been made, treatment may proceeded that will energetically support the imbalance.

What is most important to understand is that by addressing proper qi flow we can strengthen the body, reduce inflammation, slow the aging process, improve emotional well being and stability. Have you ever watched a video of Chinese people in the park in the mornings practicing Qi Gong and Tai Chi? Have you ever asked your self, why are they doing a practice that is thousands of years old? I was amazed witnessing this on my first trip to China. Soooo many people practicing many different forms. My favorite was a group of elderly women in matching outfits practicing Tai Chi sword forms (see picture above).

Through the use of regular exercises (Tai Chi/ Qi Gong), consistent acupuncture treatments, and an energetically balanced diet, you can be sure to have strong and vibrant body. I have even witnessed severely debilitated bodies rebound dramatically by fully embracing this life style, with minor changes to their current life. What is important to consider is, what is more important; a) a life that only nourishes your life on one level, or, b) a life style that accounts for you spirit, mind, and body? I have had great success guiding patients through this subtle path of qi dynamics to arrive in a place of greater health and vitality. Through careful guidance and planning on diet, lifestyle choices, and exercises your life can be completely changed into one with joy, ease, and grace.

To Let Your Life Blossom, Let your love Blossom

I saw a beer commercial the other week from the 50’s. It was about John, who works hard all week long, at the end of that week he gets to enjoy his well earned leisure time. Fast forward 60 years, such perspective has not changed, if anything the pursuit of leisure time is more prevalent. A definition by Thorsten Veblen states, “leisure, a non-productive consumption of time,”ever so the mind set in these days. So many of us dream of the “good life,” laying on beaches, toes in the sand, with tiny umbrella cocktails, all the while holding our beloved’s hand (can’t deny that it sounds real nice). The reality of the situation is humans need a purpose, need a passion or goal of some sort (well, most) to get up in morning. There are many studies that show having a purpose in life leads to a healthier, longer life. The barrage of messages from so many avenues selling the idea of leisure time, doing nothing, is paradise. Even the idea of Heaven has the underlining notion that you get to hangout and do nothing for eternity. I’m not advocating that we all need to be working to our last breath. However, I do believe it is in our nature to cultivate a passion, profession, a cause, or something that makes us better, helps one to evolve to a better version of ourselves.

The irony these days is, even with technological advancements, it is harder and harder to find the time, money and energy to cultivate the self. The focus of life in our culture is to make money, to have things, to go out and have fun (if your fortunate enough, since there are so many just getting by these days). Societal focus on monetary/material possessions will not move society forward. For humanity to thrive, let alone survive, our focus must shift on personal development. If the economic moral compass remains on the prizing of leisure time and objects of status, strife and resentment towards one another will grow, as well as environmental decline.

To ensure a thriving economy is to invest in people. The true embodiment of yin and yang is about how we develop the self and then share it with the world. The yin is going to school, learning a trade or a profession. The yang is using that skill. When we learn something new, and practice it we grow. Our little world of a box becomes a little smaller. Growing, changing, evolving can be uncomfortable at first. This is how a country grows, by each individual growing, learning, developing. Not by depending on the how well companies turn a profit. The illusion that the harder I work, the more money I make, the more leisure time I get with the latest toys I can play with during that time will not make anyone happy for long. The proverbial carrot that one day “I too can have a life of leisure” is touted by the idea through reality TV , YouTube, Instagram stars becoming rich for being attractive, or acting like fools. Until that magical day comes, too many of us remain ensnared in this mirage.

We have become captivated into an illusion that there is “A LIFE OF LEISURE” to live. A life that we are living easy, with awesome fabric cleaners, $1 lunch menus, cookouts at the beech full of smiles, smiles, and more smiles. But, this illusion comes with a price tag of working long hours, at a job that is barely tolerable and exhausts our very soul.

“The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
H. Thoreau.

The gift of life and the burden of having a life are often at odds. I am reminded of the The Talking Heads song;

And you may ask yourself
What is that beautiful house?
And you may ask yourself
Where does that highway go to?
And you may ask yourself
Am I right? Am I wrong?
And you may say to your self, “My G-d! What have I done?”

If any of us are fortunate enough to stop in the middle of our daily craziness and reflect upon the what and why of our actions we can break the chains of the illusion of “a life of leisure.” Peering past the illusion that this is how I am suppose to live, and begin to live a life you want. Instead of working long hours at an office job that will only reward you with a warriors weekend at the beach, find your passion. Be a photographer or a baker and share it with the world. Yes, it will be challenging to transition, but that is what will make you a better person. Not only learning about taking pictures, but how to market your self and network, aspects to this job that you had no idea, will help you grow. You will be breaking the sides of your box, hell, GET RID OF THE BOX ALL TOGETHER!

Stop! Take a look around for some perspective. Take time to reflect for a little self inventory. Then you can see how your life is a gift, and like any gift we must show gratitude. This is what it means to stop and smell the proverbial roses. To take in inspiration, to cultivate the gifts and passions you were blessed with. That rose is your Love. Harvest your love allow your self to blossom. We need more love to blossom in these times

DON’T MISS YOUR LIFE!

The Year fo the Earth Dog

The Year of the Earth Dog

In Chinese astrology each zodiac year ( rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig) is not just associated with an animal sign, but also one of five elements: Gold (Metal), Wood, Water, Fire, and Earth…the year of 2018 meets the element of Earth, so 2018 is a Earth  Year. During the Year of the Dog the element of Earth is significantly more prominent because Dog’s nature strongly resonates with the Earth element. For people whose Earth element is predominant in their Chinese life horoscope, a particular stability through the entire year of 2018 should allow them to organize their personal and professional life more confidently and efficiently.

According to the precepts of Wu Xing, or the creative cycle of the 5 elements, Earth creates Metal. In order to gain joyful fulfillment throughout the year, it’s auspicious to show solidarity and brotherhood, so that the noble and vigorous righteousness of the Earth Dog is converted into material and spiritual wealth.
Dog Years are not conducive to waste and unnecessary expenses. For success, in love as in work, depends primarily on the quality of the communication between people, and learning that being selfless and generous can bring the promise of a more generous reward in return.

Even though the Year of the Earth Dog can be very good for financial aspects, but from a health point of view, can be precarious. Actually, in the year of the dog, all zodiac signs will want to pay special attention to their health. 2018 is an ideal time to start eating healthy, doing sports and getting rid of bad habits. Have a great year, and remember stay Chi-ful!

Love is Self

Love is Self

Poems, songs, plays, stories of old speak of love as a wonderful, mysterious, elusive feeling that comes once in a lifetime when we find that special person or when we find passion in a skill or work that feeds our soul. Such imagery leaves one with lofty dreams that are dependent upon the kindness of a serendipitous moment that may or may not ever happen. Until then, are we left to believe that our lives are only to be filled with mediocrity with a general feeling of MEH?

Lies, terrible terrible lies! Such beliefs that have kept us living life under a horrible misconception that love is a emotion, which can only manifest in the presence others and/or under special circumstance, and, only if we are deemed worthy. It is vital that we understand that people, nor circumstance evoke love, because love is always present, it is your natural state of being.

Love is not a gift, nor a blessing, it is not an emotion, it is our natural state, or better, the foundation of our being. It is the source in which all emotions are built upon and emanate from. When we “feel” love, it is our natural state emanating. The mismanagement of emotions will either strengthen or diminish that feeling of “love”. Anger, fear, worry, grief, jealousy, will take us away from out natural state. Benevolence, courage, empathy, reverence, and joy will deepen our awareness to our natural state of being. When we fall in “love” with some one, it is usually misinterpreted for the emotions of joy and/or lust. True “love” is the allowance to be at complete ease, allowing our true sense of self to arise and shine, in the presence of another, without worry, fear, or any other emotional trigger that would diminish our true sense of being. Consider this, how many times someone tells you how great you look when you are “in love” with someone, or how you notice people noticing you more, even flirting more with you. It’s because the essential, real, you, you is actually shining! When an artist is playing an instrument or waving a brush they are tapping into their natural state, cultivating their essence and expressing it at the same time.

The concept of self love must be understood in a radically different way. Self love must been conceived as self acknowledgement, truly understanding who you are, peeling back the emotional layers of your being and life. We must remember we are not our house, our clothes, our status or jobs, nor are we are feelings or preferences. These are all part of the human costume we don through life, to experience life. When we die all these aspects of being human cease to exist. Such things and feelings are used all but to often on how we define our selves, which in turn define our lives, which in turn affirm how we define of selves (funny little circle we create).

Emotions, such as inadequacy, jealousy, envy, anger, resentment, etc will rule the roosts if not tempered. Dwelling in such a quagmire of feelings is painful, draining, and debilitating. It would only be natural to be guided to comfort such long standing emotional turmoil, wounds, through food, sex, substances, shoes, materialistic gains, or drive through status, power over others, lashing out, etc..Through mindfulness/ stillness meditation, sitting, breathing clearing the mind, connecting to deepest aspect of one’s being, we are then able to be aware of true self, surpassing through the emotional body, grounding awareness in one’s spirit. This is where freedom arises, we can be intentional towards circumstances and others, instead of having knee jerk reactions. Which always take us off balance, from center, away from true state of being.

-Kyle Chapin-

http://www.examiner.com/article/new-scientific-study-links-tai-chi-to-anti-aging-and-longevity

I have been practicing Tai Chi since 1988.  It has been the most life changing practice I have experienced.  Without doubt, it has given me many gifts of health; body , mind , and spirit.  I have also found it supportive of other physical and spiritual practices like running, yoga and simple sitting meditation. I took the picture above when I first visited China.  Eevery morning you will see groups and individuals practicing their tai chi and/or  qi gong forms in the squate athe the center of town.  It’s a way of life that I know all too well.  I practice every morning, it’s my cup of coffee, to get going and centering for the day.  Now, modern science has given another stamp of approval on how beneficial this practice can be for anyone.

 

http://www.examiner.com/article/new-scientific-study-links-tai-chi-to-anti-aging-and-longevity

Happy New Year!

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It is the year of the FIRE MONKEY! This symbol of the Chinese Zodiac is highly revered! Monkey is ingenious, sharp, extremely talented, entertaining, very charismatic, and a natural leader and is very quick and versatile to master any skill. Birth rates skyrocket in Asia during this time! The energy of this year brings great passion, play, insight, dynamism and fire to achieving goals! To channel this amazing energy one must maintain focus on the task at hand, or suffer the “Monkey Mind”. A Buddhist concept, where, a monkey jumps to a branch, peels a banana, takes a bite, drops it, then repeats. The energy of Fire can easily become scattered, judgement is clouded on what is realistic and unrealistic in what can be accomplished, consuming passion, drive, priorities, and ultimately leaving one aimless with no joy in their hearts. When consumed by the passions of the fire element, one can become self righteous, amoral, and feeling superior to karmic law. BUT, when a fire is tended properly, it will burn brightly, brining warmth and light to all those that bath in it’s presence. In order to make the most of the year of the Fire Monkey, we must be mindful not to loose focus on what is important and not give in to inclinations of cutting corners. Taking ones time, the cultivation of patience and connecting with peers, teachers and community can tame such foibles. Being heartful and clear with our speech is a must in order to be effective in communicating during this time. Without such care, we can come off sounding angry, bossy, and argumentative. Meditation is key to staying clear on prioritizing goals, and making sure that each task is completed before moving on to the next. Enjoy this marveling time of expressive play, insightful passion, dynamic spirituality and stepping into your power! It’s going to be a hot time!

Which is the compass for your life…your mind or heart?

The more I search, the more I get lost. The more I try to “figure out”, less I understand. My mind just loves to tinker, figure, explain, define, dissect, plan, define, and it is really great at it!! The downside to such mental gymnastics is that there is always a gapping void to satisfaction, which goads my mind to push further into trying to understand my self, my life further and further. They key word is TRYING, which leads to the inevitability of failure. It is far easier to think and/or reason what life is about. Feeling is the antithesis to reasoning. Feeling is not a faculty of the mind, but of the heart. Our culture emphasizes the use of the mind more so than the heart. Often referring to it as fools errand to follow such folly as listening to your heart.

The mind is an amazing tool, a set of cognitive faculties that enables perception, thinking, judgement, and memory. When the mind is the sole guide in the decision making process, it can prevent the heart from listening to the intuitive or spiritual side of our nature. In this state a person will look outside of the self for definition, purpose and approval. They will reminisce of the past or over plan for the future, sacrificing the present moment where one lives. “Worry never robs tomorrow of its sorrow; it only saps today of its’ strength (A.J. Cronin). In Chinese Medicine the Heart is considered the seat of consciousness, how we know ourselves from one another, what is our highest good and how can it be furthered along. When the Heart is obscured from information, making any and all decisions to fulfill our ultimate nature are hindered. A persons ultimate nature or Tao (path of life/purpose) or some refer to as dharma is imprinted in the DNA or residing in the Yuan Qi (original source qi).

Balancing the heart and the mind must be maintained in order to achieve our ultimate potential. It is only until emotional freedom has been obtained that such a balance can occur. If we navigate through life without “heart”, it is a life with no passion, or inspiration. When the mind is the sole navigator, it is like trying to find a path across a creek, looking for a stable enough stone to move onto. If every decision we took was a safe, dependable one, what kind of person would you be? The defining moments of our lives come from the unexpected turn of events that happen. A sudden death in the family, a promotion, winning the lottery, or being robbed, good or bad such events are life changing. It is how we “choose” to process such circumstance that defines us as a person. At some point through our lives some challenging moment(s) arise, leaving a “scar”, an emotional imprint. One that colors the way in which we meet life, an emotional theme that filters all circumstances in such a way that it creates a dispositional reaction.

In order to avoid the pain of this emotional imprint or wound, the mind navigates life like a mine field. Never engaging people or circumstances that trigger these seeds of pain. True emotional freedom is circumvented every moment, of everyday. The burden of protecting the emotional wounds prevents the heart from truly being open to experience life fully. Many chronic diseases stem from such patterned behaviors. There is a lack of drive, vitality, resignation, and despair that eventually develops, permeating into one’s life, which inhibits the progression of manifesting the fullest extent of their destiny’s potential.

When you hear someone say that woman has heart, they are actually saying, they have character, a depth because they have endured a hardship or if you will a heartship , an emotional event that required her to step beyond her limits, her normal ability to deal with life. Growth of character comes from transcending such emotional pain and/or taking risks that have uncertain outcomes. Much suffering can arise from patterned reactions in the processing of daily events. “Emotional manifestation can be worries. They also can be stemming from anger. This prevents the heart from maintaining emotional balance. Not able to pay attention, unable to unrecognized others for who they are… A moment of Qi that leads to the darkening of the consciousness.” (Elizabeth Rochat de la Valle’e).

So here is the obligatory self promotion. YES, acupuncture can be incredibly effective in helping heal emotional scars. One of the primary treating principles in Chinese Medicine is that “Qi follows thought”. The power of our thoughts have such powerful effects upon our bodies, and realities. There is an old Buddhist quote, “Mind your thoughts, they become your words. Mind your words, they become your deeds. Mind your deeds, they become your life.” An emotional scar has a tremendous amount of stuck Qi. Regular treatment can be highly effective in the healing/processing of such wounds. With the right practitioner, who can meet you where you are, who is an effective life coach and acupuncturist, your thoughts and feelings can shift in dramatic ways.

By: Kyle Chapin, L.Ac.