Despite my profession and calm demeanor, "calm" is not my base nature. It is something that I've learned and something that I've practiced through many years of martial arts, meditation and QiGong training.
Do you ever feel like it is hard to calm down and focus your mind? Like the hustle and bustle of the digital world is overwhelming you? Like you have too many obligations and not enough time, and like even when you DO have time to rest and relax that it takes a long time to quiet your mind and be present?
I still have times when I feel this way too. My dad always used to say, "We get good at what we practice, but most of the time we don't know what we're practicing." What are YOU Practicing today and in this moment? Happiness? Sadness? Joy? Overwhelm? Distraction?
If you want to make a conscious choice to practice calm and focus, Meditation is a true and time tested way to achieve this. Based upon Taoist meditation practices, the Inner Smile Meditation can have profound effects on your body and mind. This simple meditation suggests that you “smile” to all of your internal organs and glands. It is a way of saying “thank you” to your body for working 24 hours, 7 days a week!
Focusing your attention and smiling in this way can calm the autonomic nervous system, revitalize the internal organs, and increase the flow of blood and Qi.
Below is the Inner Smile Meditation for the main Meridian Organ Systems. For more information, please refer to Mantak Chia’s book, Taoist Ways to Transform Stress into Vitality.
It is ok if you don’t know the exact locations of your organs. Just bringing awareness to your organs is benefit enough. Your body will love you just the same.
Perform each exercise 9 times, twice a day. These exercises can affect your body and mind, so it is advisable to consult with your healthcare provider, but meditation is a safe way to practice calm and change negative thought patterns by connecting your calm inner center.
Want to know more or have questions? Contact me anytime. As a veteran martial artist and a certified Thousand Hands Buddha Qigong instructor, I'm here to help!
Do you ever feel kind of stuck in your body? Like you know you are eating (most of the) right things and you're (mostly) drinking enough water and exercising but your skin feels kind of bumpy on your arms and you just feel thick inside?
Energetically these are signs of stagnation in the body and sometimes the body needs a little extra help to keep things moving. My first recommendation is always Acupuncture, but my next one is an easy step that YOU can do at home in just a few minutes a day. It can help improve your circulation overall, enhance the natural detoxification abilities of the skin (our largest detox organ!), help to clear your skin and decrease those little bumps AND even shift cellulite. Oh, what is it you ask? Skin Brushing!
Truly, helping our bodies to detoxify is an important part of any wellness regime and caring for our skin is a simple and excellent way to stimulate our body’s natural detoxification mechanisms.
How To Skin Brush:
1. Starting from the feet, brush the soles as well as the upper side using a long-handled natural brush. Using long, sweeping strokes, brush up the legs, covering all of the skin’s surface area, concentrating on the thighs and buttocks.
2. Put one arm up in the air, allowing gravity to help drain the lymph to the armpit, and sweep down the arm with gentle strokes, drawing towards the armpit.
3. Brush the torso by brushing towards the heart, and when doing the lower abdomen, brush up the right-hand side, just on the inside of the hip bone, across the transverse colon beneath the ribs and down the left-hand side, then gently across the pelvic area to complete the circle. Repeat.
4. When working near the breast area, brush over the top of the breast, always aiming for the armpit – and remember, be gentle over sensitive areas.
Skin brushing should be performed once a day, preferably first thing in the morning or before a bath or shower and on a dry and naked body.
After brushing your body, rinse off in the shower while alternating temperatures from hot and cold. Alternating temperatures will bring more blood to the outer layers of the skin and stimulate blood circulation, further invigorating the skin.
We sell skin brushes in the office, or you can buy them on Amazon.com. Its important to get a brush that has soft natural fiber bristles, and my favorite are the ones with a detachable handle - little more versatile for different body areas.
I guarantee if you try it for 10 days you will be AMAZED by how your skin feels and by the renewed energy you experience due to increased Qi and Blood flow in the body. If you're looking for one simple thing to make you feel better and BE healthier, I highly recommend adding this to your regime.
Until next time, Be Well!
7/8/2015 0 Comments
Do you find yourself struggling to keep your skin clear? Moist? Balanced? Even though you feel like that should kind of be over by now? If so, you're not alone.
Skin issues can happen at any age. Whether you have dry, oily or sensitive skin, it can get complicated.
Although there are many products on the market that promise to “cure” your skin ailments, natural alternatives have proven to be effective and one of the safest options for skin treatment.
Here are 5 different oils that are easy to add to your skin maintenance routine and can help with some of the frustrations you may be facing:
Moringa oil has been around for thousands of years and was originally used by ancient Egyptians. This oil contains antioxidants and fatty acids that help prevent the skin from sun damage and aging while being a natural moisturizer.
Argan oil is used today as an effective anti-aging treatment. Regular use of argan oil can help tighten the skin and increase oxygenation and nutrients in the cells.
Because of its high content of Vitamin C and Omega fatty acids, rosehip oil is an excellent treatment for restoring the skin and helping heal scar tissue. This oil will help your skin feel replenished and brightened.
Hemp seed oil
If you struggle with oily skin and blocked pores, believe or not, this dry oil can help. Hemp seed oil has a high content of Omega fatty acids that can reduce pore size and eliminate acne. This oil is also used to treat psoriasis and eczema because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
Coconut oil has many uses and benefits. Not only is it used for skin treatment, but can also be used to whiten your teeth. If you spend a lot of the time in the sun and have dry skin, coconut oil can be used to replenish and moisturize your skin. If you’re looking to whiten your teeth, doing a coconut oil rinse has been proven to remove bacteria and plaque.
Beyond what you put On your skin, there are other alternative options to improving your skin below the surface that carry through to what you see over time. Here are some easy steps to add to your daily routine.
Alternative treatments for healthy looking skin:
Avoid food allergies: Most people who have skin issues also have food allergies that can worsen their skin. Common foods to avoid include gluten, dairy and artificial additives. You can eliminate each food group one at a time to test if it improves your skin.
Replace meat and dairy: By replacing these inflammatory saturated fats with unsaturated fats, you will increase your intake of nutrients that can aid your skin. Unsaturated fats to add to your diet include avocado, olive oil, nuts and flaxseed.
Probiotics: Taking a daily probiotic supplement has been proven to reduce symptoms of dermatitis, a disorder causing itchy, red skin. Probiotics add healthy bacteria to your gut and improve your digestive tract system, which in turn improves the overall health and function of your body.
Remove sugar: Remove sugar and processed foods from your diet. Besides not having a rich nutritional value, processed foods can affect and worsen allergies and skin disorders.
Herbal tea: Herbal teas have been shown to reduce inflammation that comes with eczema. Teas to try include chamomile tea, nettle tea or drinking Aloe Vera.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture can stimulate the production of endorphins in the body, which then can improve function of the immune and endocrine systems. Improving these systems can greatly affect the skin and restore it to better health.
Like most common health issues, a healthy diet, exercise and reducing stress can be of great help. Environmental factors can have a large impact on skin and overall health of the body. By following a daily routine that includes eating natural foods, exercising regularly and eliminating excess stress, you can see your skin start to improve as well!
I encourage you to ask questions and leave comments below if you want more information, or contact me anytime to ask more about skin health, Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture and more. Until next time, have a wonderful Summer!
I love my family to pieces, but this week I had one of those days where I just felt like I was running and running and running without a break all day. The kids, my business, my mom, cooking, cleaning, bills, dogs eating and destroying things they aren't supposed to - have you had a day like that recently? And have you ever finished a day like that and just felt like you can't wind down? If so, I can relate.
Luckily, I have some amazing Chinese Medicine tools at my disposal for dealing with the aftermath of days like this (and when I'm in my right state of mind, the during!) because chronic stress without a reprieve is less than ideal for your health.
Think about it this way - what do you think would happen if you kept your car in park and the engine revving at 65 miles per hour?
You guessed it—after a short time your car would break down. If you were lucky, a simple tune-up would fix the problem. If not, the engine might need to be replaced entirely.
Chronic stress without a recovery period is a revving engine that, if left unchecked, can wear out the body and mind. Stress in our professional, personal, financial and social lives can lead to a variety of symptoms and signs of ill health.
Stress increases our body’s production of cortisol and adrenaline. These body chemicals help activate the “fight or flight” response, a normal reaction that is designed to prepare the body to flee danger or fight an attacker.
Unfortunately, many modern stressors are chronic and end up activating the “fight or flight” response for weeks, months, or years at a time. This long-term activation of the body’s stress-response system can wear down the body and mind, setting the stage for illness and disease.
The good news is that acupuncture and Chinese medicine can be extremely helpful in reducing the symptoms, signs and effects of stress. In fact, treating and learning to manage stress and the aftermath of stress is a specialty in my practice, and I've helped hundreds of patients learn what to do to to decrease stress and improve health over the past decade. Some of the ways we can accomplish this include:
1) A customized Chinese herbal prescription to help restore internal health and balance, thus “slowing the engine down.”
2) Safe, gentle and effective acupuncture treatments to help “turn off” the fight or flight response and can enable you to feel calmer and sleep more soundly.
3) Suggestions for a healthy lifestyle, including proper nutrition, meditation, rest and exercise, towards enabling you to maintain health over the long-term.
One of the unique attributes of Chinese medicine is its holistic approach to health and well-being. Instead of masking, or only addressing a few symptoms and signs related to stress, an acupuncturist cares for the whole person, body and mind.
Stop revving your engine! If you or someone you know is experiencing stress, feel free to give me a call. For thousands of years acupuncture has helped millions of people cool their engines before they burned out and I've made it a mission of my practice to help people like you Be Well and Stay Well in every way despite the high stress times our modern world subjects us to day to day.
So if you're ready to downshift to a lower gear with Chinese Medicine as your guide, please book in for an appointment or consultation today. It would be my true joy and pleasure to help you!
There is a difference between being in top physical shape and holistically healthy. Some people may be in great athletic shape, but actually neglecting their body’s other internal health needs.
Sugar in particular has been implicated in many health issues in "thinner" healthier looking people of late. There have been numerous cases where professional athletes in the peak of their careers have died of heart attacks and other natural complications. Could these deaths have been prevented by taking better care of their overall health? Possibly.
A physically fit body is typically a body that exudes health and vibrancy, however, this doesn’t mean that underlying illnesses such as cancer or cardiovascular disorders are not underneath the surface.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture, when there are meridian imbalances in the body, our organs are not functioning to their fullest capacity.
Although you may feel in great athletic shape, when our body is out of balance, our organs are not getting the sufficient energy and blood flow they need to function properly.
The best thing to do is listen to your body. If something feels off or you feel low energy, these could be signs of an imbalance in your body.
The foundation of healthy living is a powerful free-flowing meridian system free to help the body without interference, this can be done through acupuncture.
By using acupuncture points on different meridians on your body, you can be restored to balance and better overall health.
They say the eyes are the windows to the soul. Did you know that the face can be the window to your health?
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), your face’s appearance can offer valuable information about issues that could be affecting your overall health. The shape of your face, the color of your complexion, and marks such as lines or lesions can all help us determine a diagnosis and treatment plan.
To get an idea of what we sometimes look for, take a look at yourself in a mirror under natural light. There are five colors that appear in the face: red, black, yellow, green, and white.
Everyone’s skin tone is different, and usually one color is dominant, though several other colors can be visible. What colors do you see? Do you have visible veins, and if so, what color and where are they? Is your skin moist or dry?
A healthy, lustrous complexion and normal color indicate a good balance and flow of Qi (“life energy”) within your body. If the complexion is off-color, looks lifeless or “withered,” or is too moist or too dry, it may indicate an imbalance of Qi.
Each color is associated with specific conditions, syndromes, and organ and meridian networks. White, for example, is associated with the Lungs, so a pale appearance could indicate a Lung Qi deficiency and breathing problems.
Another important factor in facial diagnosis is that different regions of the face, such as the nose, the eyebrows, and the mouth, correspond with specific organ and meridian networks. For example, the nose correlates with the Spleen, the brows with the Liver, and the lower lip to the Large Intestine.
Since the face and your overall health are so closely related, you may discover positive changes in your complexion as your body regains balance and harmony through acupuncture and TCM.
this guest post from Fix.com (thanks Lauren!) gets right to the point - simple things you can do right now to improve immunity and stay well. Check it out, put it into practice and if you add a little #acupuncture to the list you'll be as assured as you can be of a happy healthy winter season!
The common cold is the leading cause of missed time at work or school, and it is estimated that between 5 and 20 percent of Americans will experience flu-like symptoms this coming year. But have no fear, there are many ways you can boost your immune system and decrease the risk of falling victim to the 200-plus viruses that can cause colds.
The first thing you need to do to boost your immune system is to reduce your sugar intake. Drinking as little as two, 12-ounce cans of soda can reduce your white blood cells’ ability to destroy harmful bacteria in your body! This winter, skip the soda and hydrate on water, tea, and natural fruit juices.
Remember how your mom always used to tell you to eat your veggies? Well, she was actually giving you great immunity-boosting advice! Vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and chard help to boost your liver’s ability to flush out toxins! Try tossing an avocado into your next salad. Avocadoes contain amino acids and antioxidants, which help to balance hormones, support your immune system, and balance your adrenals!
In order to stay fit as a fiddle this winter, you may also need to change your lifestyle habits and boost your activity levels. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Movement stimulates the lymphatic system, which helps regulate your bathroom visits. Skip the late night talk show. Fatigue increases susceptibility to illness, so make sure you get your seven to nine hours!
Fix has even more immunity-boosting tips within this infographic! So read up and stay healthy this winter!
The old addage “you are what you eat” really is true. I don’t know if you recall the big stories that hit in 2007 about mass spectrometer analysis of human hair, but if you do you will recall that if we are what we eat, in the US we would mostly be Corn and Soy. In fact, a 2007 CNN story revealed an average of 69% of our hair in the US is derived from corn! Compare that to an Italian’s hair at the same time - 5% Corn.
Granted, in Italy today things are changing as young people shift away from their native Mediterranean diet, but what are we seeing today? More Diabetes, Obesity and Heart Disease - go figure…
Corn is not the killer, mind you, and neither is Soy but these mass spectrometer results reveal how insidious fillers are in our food - we give corn and soy to chickens and cows as feed and we use corn as a sweetener in almost every candy and condiment on the US market. Pick up a package of almost anything at your local grocery, read the ingredients and you’ll see - corn, corn syrup, soy - almost always in the first line or first 3 ingredients.
Luckily, however, we are awash with choice and if we can adopt the idea that food is medicine and perhaps apply a little of the K.I.S.S. principle (Keep It Simple, Stupid) to the way we eat, a few small shifts can go a long way towards optimizing your health and wellness.
9 Good Eating Habits for Ideal Wellness
I personally believe in an 80/20 principle when it comes to eating - if you can do great 80% of the time, you can relax 20% of the time and you’re going to be just fine. Now if you are eating a special diet to cleanse or heal, you must be strict and aim for 100% but hopefully you are eating to heal for a specific reason with a limited time frame and can relax somewhat (food sensitivities excluded) after a 2-4 week period.
So, that said, here are 9 general principles that will help you shift your diet to a healthier place:
Simple, Healthy Eating Habits Are the Best
Truly, what all the above amounts to is eating simple - its a very Chinese Medicine based principle. Simple, natural foods in reasonable amounts will serve you the best. Make vegetables the base of your diet, and let everything else be an additive.
Then, if you are what you eat, you won’t be corn or soy anymore, you’ll be you! A beautiful balanced healthy you. And it WILL show - in my Facial Acupuncture sessions I always include a lot of diet and nutrition counseling as well because truly, how your skin looks is about 85% what you eat, how you live your life, how you hydrate and how your genetics have lined you up. Its about 15% everything on the outside - that is why Facial Acupuncture treats the whole body, not just the face. Some more food for thought!
If you’re looking for more resources about food and diet, check out these books - they are some of my favorites that I always keep on my shelf and home and recommend to others.
Until next time,
healthy eating habits, healthy fasting, healthy eating tips
Exercise and wellness are intimately tied together. Truly, after quitting smoking exercise is the #1 thing you can do to improve your health on almost every level. Exercise has so many benefits, it would be labeled as a wonder drug if you could refine it, bottle it and take it as a daily pill! It is a primary recommendation for moving blood and reducing pain in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Here, take a look at the short list of what exercise can do:
So yeah, that’s the short list. There is so much more, it is dizzying, but suffice to say again - exercise is the #1 thing you can do for your health and it can help you avoid a host of other medical issues over time such as heart disease, diabetes and depression.
Yet the world of exercise can seem daunting and overwhelming. There is so much out there, what kind of exercise is best for you and how much of it do you need? Here is a quick start guide based on what I tell my patients every day.
Exercise - How Much Exercise is Enough?
Truly, any amount of exercise is good. Even 10 minutes of regular exercise can make a lasting difference in your health as the effects are so long lasting. The measureable effects of exercise in the blood stream after just 10 minutes are STILL evident over an hour later!
Regularity is key, however. I always recommend my patients try to exercise at least 3 times a week, 5 would be better and while 10 minutes of exercise is generally what I consider to be a bare minimum, somewhere between 20 and 60 minutes of exercise 3 to 5 times a week is what I believe to be ideal.
The 20 to 60 minute range gives you enough time to enter fat burning zone if weight loss is a goal, and enough time to sink in mentally for calming and focusing benefits as well. An hour of exercise can create changes in the blood stream for several hours, making the most of your sessions physically and emotionally.
Exercise - What Kind is Best for Me?
There are so many kinds of exercise out there, there is no one size fits all. Most important is finding something you enjoy. If you like it, you are more likely to stick with it. From traditional gym workouts and Zumba classes to yoga, Taiji, martial arts and free on demand TV and online workouts - there is no reason not to find something you love.
The next important thing to consider is your physical fitness level and any physical restrictions/limitations/pains. It is important to stay out of pain so as not to injure yourself. Yes, it is good to feel the muscle burn, but not good to feel any sharp ache, pain or pull that makes you feel unsafe.
...if you have knee pain, stay away from running or impact exercises like high intensity aerobics - stick with the bike, the pool, or seated yoga.
...if you have back pain, prolongued exercise in a seated position isn’t going to be your friend so stay away from seated rows and recumbant biking, try gentle yoga and swimming instead!
Next is intensity - more isn’t necessarily better. Start with a low intensity and build up to a level that feels comfortable. When trying something new, especially if you are not fit or have a history of injury, I always recommend starting with 50% of what you really want or think you should be able to do. After 2 to 3 sessions at this level, assess how you feel and add 10-20%. Continue to increase until you find a level you feel comfortable with.
Last is variety. Just like eating a variety of foods (ever heard of eating the rainbow? And I do mean FRUITS AND VEGETABLES here) is best for your nutrition, a variety of different exercise each week is good for your health. For instance:
I am also a big fan of interval or peak training instead of classic Cardio. See the Dr. Mercola article about research into this type of workout HERE. That means moderate to high intensity for about 30 seconds, then low intensity for 90, and you continue to alternate for about 20-30 minutes instead of doing consistent high cardio. Like intermittent fasting, interval or peak training has many research proven benefits on almost every level.
Check Out My Pinterest Page for More
I maintain a board of exercise tips and links on my Pinterest page - check in out if you’d like to know more! If you need more specific recommendations, please come in for a tune up. I am happy to assess your specific physical needs and suggest an exercise plan that will work for you. I have 23 years of dance, martial arts and cardio kickboxing instructor history, and also hold certified QiGong instructor status. These are combined with a storied injury history and it gives me much insight into proper exercise techniques! Please book online or email Rebecca via the Contact link at the top of the page.
Until then, enjoy the beautiful Fall weather!
#Exercise, Exercise and Wellness, How Much Exercise is Good, Exercise to Reduce Stress
One of the most common things all my facial acupuncture patients tell me is that they get complimented on their complexion. Co-workers and friends will ask, “Did you go away over the weekend? You look so well rested.” Or, “Something is different about you. I can’t say what it is, but you look like you glow.”
Indeed, Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture is commonly referred to as a Botox Alternative and is sought by people looking for a natural anti-aging treatment, especially to reduce lines and wrinkles, but it truly does so much more. It works both from the inside out and the outside in to brighten and improve your entire complexion.
Facial Acupuncture Balances and Brightens the Skin
Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture is highly effective in balancing and brightening the skin because in Chinese Medicine, we can’t divorce the face from the rest of the body and your overall constitution. Our focus in facial acupuncture treatment is the face, to be sure, but the channels that traverse the face traverse the entire body so we cannot treat one without the other. Furthermore, the appearance of the complexion is a reflection of your internal Qi - the face is dominated by the Stomach channel which in turn is dependent upon the health and function of the Spleen (indicating digestive function), and aging in particular is governed by your Kidney Qi.
To successfully slow the hands of time and improve your skin, all of these energies must be balanced and addressed through the combination of facial and body acupuncture treatment. The result is not only a brightening effect on the face, but an overall improvement in health and wellbeing that is often palpable, even if no other specific complaints are present.
As the overall health of your Qi improves along with the increase in Qi and Blood flow to the face specifically, we address a number of skin issues. Among them:
All of these things combine to create a truly beautiful picture and noticeably improved facial appearance. Especially during hormonal shifts, when your skin can change from dry to oily or even to combination, facial acupuncture is an incredibly powerful tool because of the concurrent treatment of skin concerns and hormone balancing.
Facial Acupuncture - Not Just the Face
Remember that there is more to your face than just the face itself as well - your neck is very important. In Chinese Medicine the neck is referred to as the “Celestial Pivot” since it is very important to the communication between the body, the brain and the heavens. Ensuring that your neck muscles are relaxed so that flow between the head and body is smooth is essential. Neck pain, therefore, is very successfully treated along with facial concerns. Furthermore, neck lines and wrinkles can also be addressed, especially with cupping therapy.
Facial Acupuncture for Treatment and Prevention
Facial Rejuvenation Acupuncture is an amazing anti-aging therapy because it can be used both actively, for the treatment of lines, wrinkles, sagging, uneven skin tone, eye concerns, etc. and passively as prevention. Indeed, Facial Acupuncture as a maintenance treatment to reduce the formation of lines and wrinkles is traditionally how the Empress of China began using this technique - Facial Acupuncture plus tonic herbs and facial massage using a jade stick or roller was part of a regular longevity regime for the royal family.
The ideal time to start monthly facial acupuncture treatments for prevention, is actually between 25 and 30 years of age. 25 is often when we see our first fine lines and wrinkles appear, and by 35 most people have 1-2 lines that are noticeable and beginning to deepen. It is ideal, therefore, to add facial acupuncture into your regime at this time to maintain the most youthful appearance.
I have successfully reduced deep lines and eliminated fine lines in women all the way up to 60, however, and in women 70 and older I have been able to remove new lines (that formed within the last 2 months before treatment) and slow the aging process significantly. Between 60 and 70 line removal is less predictable due to genetics and lifestyle factors, but prevention of anything new is still very strong. Regardless of when you start, the results of facial acupuncture treatment can be maintained 2-5 years with regular monthly treatment after a full facial series.
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