stress relief

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The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experiences. – Eleanor Roosevelt

What is empowerment? What does it mean to you? The Oxford dictionary defines empowerment:  “Make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights”.

How can we become stronger and more confident in controlling our life and claiming our rights? Because that sounds really good! Based on what we see every day in our practice and what we have experienced ourselves, we would like to share the ways that Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) can strengthen confidence and well being. Also, how it can help to remove some of the things that weigh us down so we are able to move with lightness and vitality towards our goals and what makes us joyful.

Stress Relief

There are numerous research findings that show how acupuncture relieves stress. One study showed that acupuncture regulates steroid hormones to reduce biochemical reactions to stress. It upregulates hormones in some areas, while downregulating in other areas to maintain balance within the body when it is exposed to stress. Amazing!

Other studies show that acupuncture significantly reduces depression.

We are all expected to juggle so much in a 24/7 world. Helping your body to regulate stress is a gift you can give yourself.

We wrote a more in-depth post about treating anxiety with acupuncture that you can find here if you’d like to learn more.

Confidence

Feeling grounded, alert, or more confident are qualities many of our patients describe as unexpected perks during their treatment. There are many reasons why this could happen but it often occurs when working on the Gall Bladder meridian. In TCM, the organs have distinct roles and qualities. The Gall Bladder is known as The Official of Decision Making and Judgment. It makes the decisions of when to break down, assimilate, and clear nutrients and waste. It secretes the potent bile fluids required to digest and metabolize fats and oils; it provides muscular strength and vitality; and it assists the lymphatic system in clearing the toxic by-products of metabolism from the muscular system.

The emotional qualities it governs are daring, decisiveness, and judgement. It also is an organ that spurs action—helping with courage and initiative. The word for daring in Chinese is is da dan (‘big gall’). In English, we have a similar expression. When someone does something bold, we might say, “They have a lot of gall!”  In ancient Chinese medicine, the names of acupuncture points describe the gifts they can bring. Acupuncture point, “Gall Bladder 37 Bright and Clear Junction (Luo Connecting) Point” has the spiritual connotation of bringing lightness to dark, so that we can see clearly.  Sometimes people describe feeling like all the cobwebs were cleared from their mind.

Pain Relief

We see many patients with chronic pain. Sometimes patients express surprise at realizing just how much the chronic pain was draining their overall energy once they experience some relief. Don’t suffer! Acupuncture can help alleviate and manage your chronic pain condition or an episode of acute pain. Pain relief from acupuncture is so effective, it’s being utilized in important ways around the world:  on-site in children’s hospitals, like Boston Children’s Hospital, to ease the use of pharmaceuticals for injured American members of the military, and quite poignantly, it was used by Iraqi doctors during drug shortages, to successfully treat mothers during caesarean section births.

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine are non-invasive, symptom-free tools available for you to use to better your life. In the next post we will show how TCM can empower you by giving you better sleep, by assisting you in making lifestyle changes and overcoming addictions, and simply by taking time for self-care!

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When was the last time you got full eating a meal by filling up your senses — noticing the taste, scents, texture and the feeling of nourishment good food can give you?

We often see eating as something on our to-do list unless we are going out for a special meal when we consciously set aside the time to really enjoy it. Recently, the New York Times reported on the Buddhist practice of Mindful Eating and how it is entering secular places, like the Google campus. Mindful Eating is a meditative practice that can quiet the mind and bring your awareness into your body.

How Can You Practice Mindful Eating?

The Center for Mindful Eating lists one of the principles of mindfulness as, “being aware of what is present for you mentally, emotionally and physically in each moment”. Mindful Eating is defined in part as “Choosing to eat food that is both pleasing to you and nourishing to your body by using all your senses to explore, savor and taste.”

Benefits of Mindful Eating
This movement might be gaining popularity because it counteracts two aspects of American food culture that could use some intervention. First, it focuses on pleasure which is a welcome change from punishment prone diet concepts. Second, it slows down our ceaseless rushing which allows time for reflection on our food choices — what we like, what agrees with us, and where it comes from — which can connect us to our community and environment. The main benefits are also twofold; by focusing on the pleasures of food and eating, we can feel true satisfaction and become more adept at noticing when we are full. In the New York Times article, Mindful Eating as Food for Thought, Jeff Gordinier writes, “Mindful eating is not a diet, or about giving up anything at all. It’s about experiencing food more intensely — especially the pleasure of it. You can eat a cheeseburger mindfully, if you wish. You might enjoy it a lot more. Or you might decide, halfway through, that your body has had enough.”

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Approach to Healthy Weight
This non-diet/enhanced awareness mindset is very similar to the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) approach to regaining and maintaining healthy weight.TCM looks to a root, internal cause rather than external reasons, like food, for weight gain. Usually deficient Qi (lifeforce) or Qi imbalance is the cause. If a body has sufficient Qi, it won’t experience cravings or excessive appetite. Alternately, if there is insufficient Qi, organs may not be able to perform their essential functions well, like eliminating toxins or maintaining proper metabolism. For example, the spleen and liver organ system is key for digestion. If there is imbalance there, you might experience headaches, digestive issues, weight gain, or allergies. Organ systems can become imbalanced for many reasons like viral infections, environmental toxins or emotional trauma. Stress is a common reason for imbalance in various organ systems. The Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation writes, “Perhaps the most profound aspect of TCM’s perspective on overweight conditions is its perception of the role emotions play in overall health.  TCM does not see and treat your body, mind, emotions, and spirit as separate, but rather as an interrelated whole…When TCM looks at digestion, it takes the broadest view:  digestion is the ingestion, absorption, and letting go of food, drink, and emotion…”

Chronically held emotions cause stagnation in the organs, creating an impasse for the flow of chi like a dam in a river. Acupuncture can relieve these blocks to restore the flow of energy and re-establish proper energy exchange. People often feel this immediately as relief, joy, settled nerves, or an energy boost. When the imbalances are righted, the body will ask for what it needs and normal weight will return.

Mindfulness can help us to recognize stress, allowing us to acknowledge it and act or let it go. It can also help us to bring more pleasure into our lives to keep in balance. Mindfulness eating is an enjoyable practice to help us tend to the gift of our bodies with greater care and pleasure.

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