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Your Holiday To-Don't List

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Although the holidays are supposed to be a time of comfort and joy, 90% of Americans report being stressed out between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  There’s an increase of colds and fatigue during this time, with people generally socializing and doing more, spending more, eating more and sleeping less.  Sometimes it’s easy not to feel wonderful during the most wonderful time of the year.  According to a Consumer Reports survey, the top 6 holiday stressors are:

Crowds and long lines
Weight gain
Overspending
Shopping for gifts
Traveling
Seeing certain relatives

So how can we alleviate the stress of the holiday season? The answer may be more self-care. This year, try adding some of the following self-care tips to make the season more enjoyable for everyone:
 
Be Intentional
For me, the true spirit of the holidays is gratitude, giving, connection and joy.  With these intentions in mind, I can more easily choose which holiday activities are in alignment with my priorities.  Spending time with close family and friends, caroling, baking, supporting a charitable cause, and going to a spiritual service support my intentions.

Knowing my priorities helps me turn down the things that are less important, without feeling guilty or pulled in a million different directions. This holiday season try writing down 3-4 qualities or emotions you most want to feel.  When you receive an invitation ask yourself if it matches how you want to feel.  It’s easier to say “no” to something if you know what you’re saying “yes” to.
 
Just say no
Which brings us to the next point-- how to say no? How many of you habitually say “yes” in the heat of the moment when you really mean “no” or need more time to think about it? I know I have.  While my enthusiasm has produced some great outcomes, more often than not it has left me feeling overcommitted and overwhelmed.   Same goes for the holidays:  saying yes to every holiday invitation, project or gift giving request can leave you tired and broke.
 
Saying no is the number one tool to cutting down holiday stress.  Once you become clear on your intentions for the holiday season, you will be able to more easily discern which activities and parties you want to participate in, and which do not align with your intentions.
 
So how do you say no to a holiday event you don’t want to attend?  Graciously thank the person for inviting you, and in as few words as possible, decline.  “I’m sorry, I already have plans that day.” Your plans may be to stay home and read a book, or take a bath or do nothing at all. If you need more time to think about it say, “I need to check my calendar.  I’ll let you know tomorrow.”  If it’s an invitation from someone you genuinely want to see but not during the hectic holiday season, you can suggest an alternative like, “I can’t make it to your party, but let’s have lunch after the holidays.”
 
In and Out
No, I’m not talking about the burger.  I’m talking about staying clutter free, or at the very least not adding to your clutter.  Here’s the simple rule:  for everything that goes in, one must go out.  Now apply this rule to gifts, clothing, even decorations.  Here’s a challenge: Try taking two things out for each thing that comes in.
 
Acupuncture
Come in for some holiday season acupuncture, and prevent those pesky colds, stress and feelings of overwhelm.  Even a short 30 minute session can work wonders and make you feel rested and ready to go.
 
Researchers at Georgetown University showed that acupuncture actually slows down the body’s production of stress hormones.  If you’re short on time, try pressing acupressure point He Gu for 30 seconds and taking a few deep breaths.  He Gu is located in the fleshy part between your index finger and thumb, and is great for relieving stress and tension in the body.
 
To A Stress Free Holiday Season,
Chalita and Amie

Did this happen to you last time you watched the news?

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A few weekends ago I was basking in the divine of a warm Indian summer with my daughters.  We created art together in our backyard, made chocolate-coconut smoothies, and watched the amazing Blue Angels roar over the Bay as we lounged in the sun with friends on a sandy beach.  It was one of those weekends you didn’t want to end.

And then we came home Sunday evening and turned on the debates.

Immediately I went from a place of feeling happy, connected with others, and loving where I live – to wondering what the hell is wrong with people in this country?!  My body was tense, my stomach hurt, I fired off a few heated texts to friends, and I didn’t sleep well that night.   In less than one hour my entire energetic state had shifted from bright and positive to dark, angry and pessimistic!
 
In the late seventies Dr. John Diamond created a discipline he called Behavioral Kinesiology. Diamond discovered muscles in a person would strengthen or weaken in the presence of positive or negative emotional intellectual and physical stimuli.  For example, a warm smile from someone will make you test strong; the statement, “I hate you” will make you test weak.  For those not familiar with applied kinesiology, the basic theory behind it is that all living things have an energy field that is interconnected- in short, we are all connected to each other in some close or remote way. Everything we say or do or that has been said, done or felt has an effect on energy around us and in our bodies.

There is also an energy record of the collective unconscious. In his book Power vs. Force, David Hawkins describes a measurement of collective energy vibrations, from fear and greed up to love and peace.   Hawkins calibrates his levels of consciousness (or energy fields) according to their measurable effect.  With each progressive rise in the level—the frequency or vibration of energy increases.   Higher consciousness radiates a beneficial and healing effect (love, truth, forgiveness, courage, peace) and negative energy fields weaken the life force (shame, guilt, confusion, fear, hatred, pride, hopelessness and falsehood).
 
In an interconnected universe where “birds of a feather flock together” we attract to us that which we emanate.  Every improvement we make in our private world improves the world at large for everyone.  So it becomes more important to look at the quality of your own thoughts and who and what you are allowing into your energy field.  A helpful exercise is to write down a list of those people and situations which are increasing/decreasing your energy vibration in your daily life and then implement one thing you can do now to step away from or into a higher vibration this week.  Practice shifting from low to high by reading and watching positive media (and avoiding mainstream media and news), dancing to your favorite music, and meeting up with friends and family who make you feel loved and don't draw you into stories of drama, hatred and fear.

I personally do not plan to watch the news until November 9th. 

To raising your vibration,
 
Amie

Why the Olympics loved Cupping

What has 19 gold medals and looks like he was kidnapped by alien leeches?

What has 19 gold medals and looks like he was kidnapped by alien leeches?

Cupping had its very own Olympic moment in Rio this year as many athletes, especially the swimmers, had what appeared to be circular bruises on their backs, shoulders, and sometimes elsewhere on their bodies.  “That’s been the secret that I have had through this year that keeps me healthy,” said American gymnast Alexander Naddour.   “It’s been better than any money I’ve spent on anything else.”  Although there's been a ton of hype around this modality, we want to make sure our patients know the real truth about cupping including its pros and cons.

What is cupping and how does it work?
Cupping is one of the oldest forms of Traditional Chinese Medicine, dating back to the 4th century. In a typical cupping session, either heat or air is used to create a suction in special cups that are placed on the body.   The vacuum that’s created pulls the skin and blood vessels in toward the cup, which is why they leave marks on the skin that can last several days.

The vacuum action created by the cups pulls blood to certain areas and helps improve circulation, loosening up muscles and joints, decreasing pain and breaking up obstructions.  It can have anti-inflammatory effects as well as aid detoxification.

Depending on the condition being treated, the cups will be left in place from 5 to 10 minutes. Several cups may be placed on a patient’s body at the same time. Some practitioners will also apply small amounts of oil to the skin just before the cupping procedure, which allows them to move the cups up and down on particular acupoints or meridians.

What are the benefits of cupping?  What does it treat?
The main benefits are encouraging the inflammatory response of the body and speeding up muscular and soft tissue recovery after injury and strain.  It's most often used for muscular pain in the back and shoulders and for respiratory conditions like bronchitis and asthma.  

Will it work for me?
If you are interested in adding cupping to your treatment or want to know if its appropriate for your condition, please schedule a private acupuncture session or contact us at tamacupuncture@gmail.com.  Those who bleed easily, have inflamed skin, or are pregnant should not use cupping.  It also may not be appropriate for certain types of pain such as a stiff neck, pinched nerve or chronic low back pain.  Your practitioner will be able to determine your best course of treatment.

To cupping, 

Chalita and Amie
 

Why I gave myself permission to sit on the couch this month

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When the text reminder came from my business partner yesterday that I still needed to write our September newsletter, I replied I know- just trying to find the time and energy.
 
Time and energy – two things we all seem to want more of, but lately I’ve been wanting more rest.  I’ve been extra tired this month- often in bed at the same time as my kids, sometimes before them.  Turning down social invitations to stay home and watch movies.  Feeling unmotivated to exercise and watching projects stack up around my house.   My initial reaction was full of worrisome thoughts that something must be wrong with me.  Perhaps I’m sick?  Are my hormones off?  Am I depressed?  Yikes- am I really getting that old?   After ticking through all the reasons and remedies for my fatigue, it dawned on me that maybe I just needed to surrender to it, stop looking for an explanation or cure, listen to my body and rest.  
 
In most places throughout the country autumn has arrived- leaves changing and a chill to the air- giving more formal invitation to spend quieter time indoors, cook warm soups and stews, and wind down for the winter months ahead.   Here in our California sunshine heat wave we haven’t truly experienced a change of season yet and I think my body and soul are rebelling a bit.   I grew up in the Wasatch mountains and lived in Colorado for many years, where the color and coolness of fall was eagerly anticipated and the first snowflake signaled the beginning of ski season for me.   Right now I feel like I want to be surrounded by piles of crimson and orange leaves, drinking spiced cider, baking cookies indoors, and wearing my boots and chunky sweaters.  Instead I’m wearing tank tops, flip flops, and trying to find popsicles and water-based activities to keep cool.  My kids keep asking me when they are going to see rain and snow.  They miss the seasons-so do I.  Maybe this is why I'm so damn tired?
 
What I have been doing this last month is more internal reflection.  When I’m not moving at a frantic pace, not absorbed in my busy-ness, and when I stop to rest more I tend to connect with my inner voice.   That voice may or may not tell me what I want to hear, but there are always important messages about what is real for me and what needs to shift.   I’ve also been reaching out to more friends and family for advice and the loving support that I need, and have had longer, deeper, uninterrupted conversations about life.   The shit that really matters.
 
I’m being reminded through rest you are more able to receive.
 
As we move into a new season, allow yourself to rest when your body asks for it.  Get more sleep.  Come in for acupuncture treatments when you need a respite.  Schedule an afternoon to just do nothing.   In Chinese Medicine we call this supporting your Kidney Qi.  It's kind of like giving your adrenals a vacation so they can better support you when you need their energy and vitality.  Rest also helps boost your immune system, just like acupuncture and herbs, so now is the time to take good care of yourself before cold and flu season begins.   Aren't you glad you were just given permission to relax?

As I write this I think the temperature just dropped 20 degrees!   Be careful what you wish for...

Shamans, broken teeth, opening and embracing

Shamans
Shamans

One of my teachers in the Amazon was describing how we become luminous warriors – those who shine the light of our souls in the world instead of holding back and hiding behind our fears.  First, we must go off the beaten path of the psyche, she instructed.  Oh, so this is why I’m here instead of that trip to Italy I considered booking this summer…

I recently returned from a 2-week adventure in Peru where I studied the energy medicine of the Amazon with six indigenous Shipibo shamans, explored sacred sites in the Cusco-Machu Picchu region, and visited local volunteer service projects.  The trip was an unforgettable journey on many levels- physical, mental and spiritual.  An unlikely fall early during my retreat resulted in a mild concussion, stitches near my eye, and three broken teeth!  Fortunately I was there with a community of healers and I recovered more quickly than imagined considering my injuries and the remote location.  The accident didn’t ruin my trip, but it certainly did slow me down.  It also revealed so much about my inner world as well as my outer experience.

Opening

In the jungle, through ceremony and study with shamans we practiced opening our minds and hearts to other dimensions of ourselves and to our soul’s inner voice.  I've always heard that answers to our questions lie within us and during the week I knew this to be true.  When I surrendered to a new awareness, answers and insight flooded in almost directly.  When I was open, relaxed and non-judgmental, I received many gifts- similar to a flower slowly opening up to the sunlight each day to receive its beauty and sustenance. 

I was also reminded what it feels like to be tense and closed off, and the resulting lack of information I would receive in this state.  All of this was felt in my body- not my mind. Even the pain from my injury kept me rooted in my physical body and my thoughts remained more present and simple.  To help us get more into our bodies and out of our heads, we dancedQoya every morning as a group.  Through movement and song it was amazing to watch even the man-ly men in our group open up!

Embracing

Every New Year’s Day I choose a new word to live by and this year it was embrace.  I love this word because it reminds me to look for the gifts- the people, places, and experiences surrounding me - and take them in with a grateful heart and open arms.   It also leads me through a process of accepting life’s twists and turns and bumps and bruises and what they are here to teach me.  

With a head injury and broken teeth in a foreign country I had no choice but to slow down, embrace, and trust that the entire experience was all a part of my journey.  My tendency is to move quickly and pack a lot of physical activity into my days.  Not this vacation.  With a leisurely, slow pace I was able to take more in, listen, and observe with a new perspective during my trip. I ate a lot of quinoa soup.  And I connected more with my environment and the people in Peru.

It was also interesting to witness how people looked at me as I traveled with 2 black eyes and a bruised face.  Vanity and confidence in my appearance went by the wayside.  I had to dig deep, hold my head high, and know it was still me inside and not look for external validation from others.  It was all a true test of surrender and embrace.

When I returned home from Peru I felt different.  Even my home didn’t look the same to me.  Something had changed and shifted inside me and my outside world also.  I still feel lighter.  My teacher in the Amazon told us that in order to evolve and bring more light into our being we needed to “crack open the coconut” – which is exactly what I did- in the most literal sense. 

I now call it my fall into grace.

How to Clean Up Your Energy

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We just finished some long overdue spring cleaning at our clinic. Not your typical clearing out the closets and dusting the cobwebs kind of cleaning though.

We cleared up our energy.

Every space holds energy and even though you can’t see it, you’ve probably sensed it. For example, you may have walked into a room that looked beautiful but somehow it just didn’t feel right. Or even a home or office that wasn’t decorated to your taste, but you still felt immediately comfortable and safe. In both instances you were tuning into the energy of the space.

When a place has a “good vibe” we intuitively understand that buildings and places can have a vibration or feel- they can hold the energy of events, emotions, people and activities that have taken place in the space- just like a sponge. In order to create harmony in our surroundings sometimes it's helpful to create a fresh start and clear the energy. In the same way a room can get cluttered with unnecessary items or our bodies can get toxic from a poor diet, negative emotions and the environment, bad energy needs to move and release on a regular basis.

A good time to clear energy is before moving into a new space, after remodeling, following a divorce or break-up, after an illness or a big argument, or anytime you feel that your enviroment isn’t feeling quite right and you need to bring in more positive energy.

Here are three simple steps to clear energy in your home or office:

  1. Chose a ceremonial tool, such as sage, incense, a bell, or water with essential oils to clear the space.
  2. Set an intention to release whatever stagnant or negative energy that may be present in the area.   State your intention out loud and move around the perimeter of each room with your ceremonial tool asking to let go of anything that does not serve your highest good.
  3. Open the windows and doors in your space and ask that it now be filled with light, love, joy, peace, health, creativity or any other quality to desire in your life. You can light a candle to call more white light into the space and bring in more positive energy.

Let us know if you sense a different energy at our clinic with the new look and feel of the private rooms and our community space.  We always love your energy-- so come visit us soon!

To your new vibe,

Amie

Living in Alignment: A Simple Way to Find Your Life Purpose

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What is my purpose in life?

Some, if not all of us ponder this question at least a few times as we age and desire a more meaningful existence.  Here’s a simple exercise that can help you find clarity around your life purpose so you can live more in alignment with what your soul truly desires.
 
Set aside at least 30 minutes alone, with no distractions, before you start.  Parents, I recommend you do this while the kids are either sleeping or not home.  Get a pen and paper or word processor and write at the top, “What is my Purpose?”
 
Consult with your inner self before you start writing.  Ask your conscious ego to take a nap during this exercise and request that your sub-conscious, your higher power, your guides, angels, or whomever you know is supporting your authentic self to come to the table with you.
 
Then start writing.  Write all thoughts that come to your mind- all of them- including the random ones that don’t seem possible or relevant.  Continue asking the question “What is my purpose?”
 
Keep writing until you finally reach the answer that makes you cry.  That’s it.
Remember, your purpose doesn't need to be something external.

Simple- right?  Discovering your life purpose isn’t a mystery because your inner self always has all the answers you are seeking.  It’s just a matter of talking directly to this part of your soul.
 
You may face difficulty, fear or resistance doing this exercise, so here are a few tips:

Write whatever pops into your head.  Don’t worry that the first few answers aren’t right.  You need to get them out first to get to the deeper answers from within.

Don’t over-think or filter the process.  What you write is not as important as giving your logical mind a break and inviting your intuitive wisdom a chance to speak up.

Include your fears and doubts.  These can often be directly linked to your true purpose.

Resistance means you’re getting somewhere. Halfway through you might get tired and want to stop and do something else. Press on- this means you’re getting somewhere.

Get to the core. If you are writing down activities, events or people- include how they make you feel, which is really what you are looking for.

Keep going till you hit the point of resonance. Keep moving in the direction of emotions. Get to the answer that resonates with the depth of your soul. It can take as short as 30 minutes or as long as 2 hours. Eventually when you reach the right place, you’ll know. When you reach emotional resonance, congratulations – You have defined your mission statement! Just refine it further until you feel everything about it is right.

The Art of Connecting

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I recently returned from a 7 day backcountry mountain biking trip in Colorado and Utah with six delightful women. It was truly an adventure- just us ladies with minimal personal items as we had to carry everything on our bikes and backs. We were out in the wilderness with no cell coverage or internet so phones served only as cameras and for an entire week there was no calling kids and family, no email, no texting, and definitely no Facebook!  We were truly off the grid and disconnected. And a fabulous thing happened during the trip----we all really connected.

I didn’t know most of these women prior to the trip, and signing up to do an intense week of travel with 4 strangers appeared to be a huge leap of faith. Yet as we rode up to 12,500 feet on that first day over a mountain pass- all of us huffing and puffing and wondering if our lungs might explode- we quickly became a team, supporting and encouraging each other.

Through long days in the saddle and cozy nights in tiny huts, we shared many laughs and stories; by the end of the trip we were confessing more about our private lives (and private parts) than we all have in decades! Without the distractions of life and technology it was easy to give each other the time and the presence to connect and get to know each other.  

This experience with six unique women --each with different backgrounds--  also revealed how similar we are in our base desires and needs. When we’re disconnected and looking at people on the surface through a superficial lens, it’s easy to assume we are so different. But strip everything down to the basics and we are all one. After many long days on our bikes together I only saw the things that we all need…shelter, sustenance, love and support from others.

You don’t need to head out into the wild to find connection; it can be found in your daily life if you allow it in. Connection requires showing your true self to another and allowing them to feel safe enough to do the same. You can do this today with a few simple practices:

1. Turn off your devices. Next time you meet up with a friend or colleague, put your phone away and give them your full attention. Listen with intention and see if you learn something new.

2. Ask new questions. “How are you?” does not always encourage true dialogue. Try asking something like “What has been inspiring you lately?”

3. Find something in common. Notice your own internal dialogue. Are you always looking at how people are different than you? My grandfather, a practicing surgeon into his mid-70s, once told me a secret to his success: he always tried to discover at least one thing he had in common with each patient who came through his door. His advice has stayed with me over the years and reminds me to do the same in my work and personal life.  

 Let me know how you connect!

Are You Too Busy?

This is a guest post by my dear friend and colleague Deb Blum. It's a topic near and dear to me...

Have you noticed that people talk a lot about being busy? It's pervasive. And, it's as if it has become a badge of honor, a status symbol.

There really does seem to be more to do, more email to check, more events to attend, more activities to schedule, etc. And yet, there is something more to this. It's as if we have decided that we are only valuable if we are busy and productive. Maybe it doesn't even matter WHAT we are doing, as long as we are always doing.

Being busy and telling people and ourselves how busy we are may actually be keeping us us from what we really need to be doing, that which will provide us with a genuine sense of belonging, connection, and self-worth. Is it possible that our real work is in getting less busy so we can be focusing on what matters most to our souls?

Maybe you are thinking “I like to be busy - it’s fun and I am doing all sorts of good things.” Consider, on the other hand, that you are so busy doing GOOD things that you may be missing the BEST things. Maybe you are so busy, you aren’t noticing what you are missing.

Some practical tips for creating more peace in your life:

1. Take technology breaks during the day. Set a timer and every 30 minutes take one minute to walk outside, stretch, breathe or do something else that you find to help you connect back to your body.

2. Take a technology sabbatical. Set a time period where you will unplug for a longer period of time - maybe a day or a weekend....or a month?

3. Stop saying that you are “so busy.” If our thoughts create our reality...what reality are you creating?

4. Ask for help. You don’t need to do it alone.

5. Change your thinking around sleep. Sleep IS a productive and useful way to spend your time. Try to get more of it.

“Sleep is one of the most important predictors of how long you will live — as important as whether you smoke, exercise, or have high blood pressure or cholesterol...Unhealthy sleep remains American’s largest, deadliest, most costly, and least studied health problem.” William C. Dement, MD, PhD, Stanford Center for Sleep Sciences

What’s wrong with doing nothing sometimes?

I think some people are secretly still relaxing, but there is shame in admitting that they put their feet up and watched Downton Abbey without simultaneously folding laundry or working. This shame and guilt just puts more pressure on us and we end up over-stressed - stressed if we are too busy and stressed when we decide it’s time to relax. Let's cut ourselves some slack!

Do you need permission to relax on the couch sometimes? Or to go to sleep earlier? Or not to check your email tonight? Or to leave work early?

Permission granted.

Deb lives in Larkspur with her husband and 9 and 10 year old boys. She is a life coach who supports and guides conscientious parents as they courageously move from frustrated, worn-down, and overwhelmed to inspired, engaged, and confident. You can learn more about Deb and her work at www.inspire4life.com.

How to Feel More Love

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“It is astonishing how little one feels alone when one loves.” ~John Bulwer

The following is adapted from tinybuddha.com

If there’s one thing we all want, it’s to feel loved. We want to feel deeply connected to other people, fully seen and appreciated by them, and secure in those relationships.

If you want to feel more connected to love, try some of these tips:

1.  Begin by loving yourself.  Each day, look in the mirror and say out loud, "I love you unconditionally.  You are perfect just as you are and the world is lucky to have you."   At first this may feel uncomfortable.  But just keep practicing and notice how you begin to feel.  Then start to expand on the statements, being more specific about what you love about yourself. When you practice the art of loving yourself, you set an example for others around you.

2.  Consider that love might look different than you visualized it.   Most of us tend to have an idealized, Hollywood version of what we think love is.  However, love can appear in many forms if we just open ourselves up.  Each day ask to recognize and receive love in all its different forms.  

It might not be from the person you want to be with romantically. It might not even meet the standards and criteria you defined in your head. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t there.  When a friend pushes you to reach your potential, it’s an act of love.  When a stranger smiles at you on the street, that's an act of love.  When a family member takes the time to listen to you, helping you form insights about your life, it’s an act of love.  See and appreciate the love all around you and it will surely multiply because you’ll approach relationships--new and old-- with a sense of wholeness instead of lack.

3.  Change your beliefs about the world and love.  When we tell ourselves the same things over and over again, we can end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you tell yourself that people don’t care, you’ll put that energy into the world and attract evidence to back it up. If you tell yourself you’ll never experience love, you can create mental barriers and then subconsciously repel love from coming into your life.

Why not tell yourself a different story?  There’s an abundance of love in the world, there’s plenty of love to go around, you deserve it, and it’s surrounding you every day.

4.  Give love when you're tempted to judge. Ultimately, this is how we all want to be loved: without judgment, pity, or condescension. Commit to giving this type of love--both in your existing relationships and in new ones.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t follow your instincts when you feel unsafe around someone. It just means look below the surface, give people a chance, and in doing so create the potential for more meaningful, mutually supportive relationships.

Make the conscious choice to be understanding and compassionate. While getting isn’t the intention of giving, this will likely set the stage for you to receive the same consideration in return.

5.  Recognize the love you're not giving. It’s far easier to pinpoint what we’re not getting than it is to be honest with ourselves about what we’re not giving. Perhaps you want people to check in with your more frequently. Are you checking in with them? Maybe you want people to ask more about your personal life. Are you asking them about theirs?

Give the type of love you want to receive. Give praise. Notice the little things. Offer help without it being asked of you.

This is not to suggest that you should always be the one giving. If it feels like a constant one-way street, then it might be time to reevaluate that relationship. But in most healthy ones, giving more freely creates an environment of consideration and generosity.

6.  Value the people that are there.  Sometimes we get so caught up looking for romantic love that we forget to appreciate the friends and family who are always there, offering their support. 

You might think that friendships aren’t the same as romantic affection, but we don’t attract romantic love into our lives by focusing on what’s missing. We attract potential partners by radiating love to others around us.

Take an inventory of all the people who care. There are likely far more than you realize.

Big love,
Amie

7 Ways to Get Out of Your Rut

We all know what it’s like to feel stuck: paralyzed about a decision, unsure what choice to make, or resentment or disappointment we can’t quite recover from. Stuck in a plan that’s not working as anticipated. Stuck in a destructive, repetitive dynamic with family members, coworkers, or friends.

When we’re stuck, things feel immovable, entrenched, and even hopeless. The good news is, they aren’t.

Humans are actually extremely adept at seeing the same thing in new ways, discovering new insights and changing our attitudes, however we may need some tools to create that movement- just like an acupuncturist uses needles to unblock your stuck energy.

Here are 7 of my favorite approaches to getting unstuck. Experiment with all to see which ones work most powerfully for you.

1. Surrender, completely.  The feeling you are banging your head against a wall or that those walls are closing in signals a need for surrender. Surrendering doesn’t mean endorsing or even tolerating what is happening; it just means accepting what is. Make peace with it. Take five deep breaths, breathing in what is. And then let go. Notice what new possibilities or insights appear over the next few days.

2. Find the reasons why it’s all just perfect.  Perfect? This dreadful, annoying, not-what-you-planned situation is perfect? Yup. It is. Your mind will figure out how if you point it in that direction. Say this situation is perfect because… and brainstorm five reasons. Find the truth in each of them. Now what looks different?

3. Look for the pattern.  Something feeling familiar about this situation? Another jerk in authority? Another person betraying or abandoning you? Look for the pattern: When in your life have you felt this way before? That will point you towards your part in creating the situation, your own issues and side of the street. Once you are looking there, your understanding of the situation will shift.

4. Ask yourself, What would make this fun?  Can you imagine what a world we could create if we asked ourselves this more often? Remember back to what you loved to do as a child- it was probably really fun. Re-connect with that hyper-passionate little kid inside and incorporate more joy into your activities. I crank the tunes and dance with my kids while making dinner to bring some fun and silliness into our daily routine.

5. Write out a day in your ideal, fantasy life. This always gets those possibility juices flowing. Write out a day, from morning to night, of the absolutely best day you could imagine. Who are you with? Where are you? What are you doing? What elements can you start to incorporate into your life today?

6. Create your dream life-visually. One of the first steps toward manifesting the life you want is to have a clear picture of what that life looks like. Instead of focusing your mind on what you don’t want, create a vision board with images, words and affirmations that represent what you do want in your ideal life. Place your vision board in a conspicuous place in your home where you will have daily inspiration to take action steps towards a new path.

7. Take care of yourself.  In difficult situations, we typically focus on how they (those other crazy people) should be different, how they are wrong. Bring your attention back to yourself. What do you need to do to take care of you? What do you need to protect your sanity, act in alignment, and be the happy camper you want to be? Take care of your needs, and watch your relationship to the situation change. On that note, get regular acupuncture treatments to help your mind and body flow in balance.

 

What Scares You?

One of my favorite quotes (among many) by Eleanor Roosevelt is “Do one thing every day that scares you."  Do you live this way?  Throwing caution to the wind--branching out--taking risks--trying new things--facing your fears?  Perhaps, but not likely.  We humans are creatures of habit and tend to avoid our fears by sticking with routines  - some which serve us, other that don’t.
 
Many of your ongoing health concerns- mental and physical- may be the direct result of playing it safe.  By this I mean that continuing old patterns in your diet, exercise, relationships and other daily routines have inherent flaws that can sabotage your wellness- and happiness.
 
Eating different foods is a great example. Many of us reach for the habitual carbohydrate and caffeinated breakfast – which usually leaves you hungry and tired around 10 am, right?  But when you replace that bagel and coffee each morning with something non-traditional and healthier…like grilled salmon, quinoa or a kale protein smoothie…you feel fantastic and maintain steadier energy levels throughout the day.  Yes, it can take more time planning and preparing -but not if you eat leftovers!
 
Try to modify your exercise routine.   Sticking with only one type of exercise, one class, one instructor may be what you need initially to jump start a healthy lifestyle, but it moves your mind and body in only one direction. Try new and even sometimes uncomfortable ways of gaining strength, flexibility and a svelte body.  If you’re a avid cyclist- take a yin yoga class to unwind, stretch and deeply breathe.  If you’re a devote yogi- try expanding your talent and face your fears one day at a rock climbing gym.  And if you hate exercising, a hip-hop class at the dance studio might be just what you need to shape up and liven up.  Don't worry about looking uncoordinated or goofy doing something outside your comfort zone...that's part of the process of growth and expansion!
 
Bold communication in relationships is another way to face your fears.  How many of us are holding grudges and keeping our opinions and offerings to ourselves, in order to “not rock the boat”– and yet that boat is already in full tilt?  If your personal, family or work relationships are not what you'd like them to be, try talking more openly and honestly with others- with compassion- about your needs.  They key is to focus on what you want- and not what you don’t want.  Take more risks, ask for help, and you’ll be amazed at what you can manifest.
 
So in honor of Halloween, face your ghosts and fears and do something today that frightens you. Then tell me about it at your next acupuncture treatment!
 
Boo,

Amie

Creating your Dream Life- Visually

One of the first steps toward manifesting the life you want is to have a clear picture of what that life looks like.  I have been using a vision board (or dream board as it is sometimes referred to) for years now and I refer to it often- especially during times of frustration and self-doubt. My vision board organizes my thoughts and dreams and reminds me why I wake up in the morning and continue on my path. And when I do look at it, I feel enthused, charged, positive and proactive.

Do you have a vision board?

If not, I would like to inspire you to make your own. There is no better time than now. In case you have dismissed the idea, thinking it is just a giant poster board of images of fancy cars, clothes, jewelry and skinny women, think again. While a sports car may need to be on your dream board, I urge you to DREAM BIGGER. Think more about what you really want in your life that is even beyond the material world!

The beauty in creating a vision board, is that it’s entirely your own. It consists of every image, or word or sentence that you envision for yourself in your life. Perhaps there is a picture of an open door, symbolizing you leaving your current job, and opening the door to new possibilities. There could be a picture of an ocean, there to remind you to take a walk by the seaside every now and then to clear your mind. Or a piggy bank, reminding you to save more money. Perhaps there is a cozy table set for two, to remind you to inject more romance into your relationship. What visuals INSPIRE YOU to live the life you desire?

Last year I did my vision board with a few girlfriends at a tea and cookie party. It turned into a huge giggle-fest as we flipped through magazines, talked about our dreams, and ate way too many shortbread cookies!  I cut pictures, words and quotations out of magazines and also included a few photos of my joyful self and pasted them on a large posterboard that I added to throughout the year with new visuals and inspirations.  I also recently created a video vision board that plays images and affirmations on my computer screen...so high tech, I know!  I know others who use a white board with a dry eraser and they write and erase as their goals and visions change.

On a side note, we can all dream the dream, but the difficult part is making those dreams come true– actually implementing what’s on that vision board. But visualizing clearly what you want is the first step. Daily action steps will follow when your mind, heart and soul are firmly rooted to your vision.

Here’s how to create your Vision/Dream Board:

1. Buy a bristol board or poster board – any color or size works. Also a box of markers and a glue stick.

2. Collect your visuals. This is the fun part! Start browsing through magazines and newspapers and cut out images and pictures that symbolize your goals and dreams. Print images or words from the Internet as well. Keep them all in a folder as you collect. There are fantastic images online if you use Google Images, for example. Don’t be shy to put in pictures of yourself. This is your board – think big and outside the box, especially if you are looking to make big changes in your life.

3. I like to have one sentence – the overall, big picture dream written out in the middle, or at the top. In essence, the big vision for your vision board. Think, WHAT DO I WANT?

4. Once you have collected all your images, place them on the board. Feel free to organize the board in THEMES, eg, health, romance, career, money, family, etc. If you know a bit about the Feng Shui bagua, use it to organize your board.

5. Grab that glue stick, and start making your dreams permanent on paper. You’re now putting it out there! Start gluing!

6. Now it’s time to place your vision board. This is key to your success. It has to be VISIBLE– a place you physically go to frequently– your office, your den, your kitchen are all great choices. Hey, you can even hang it in your bathroom– something to glance at while you take a nice relaxing bath!

7. Congratulations, you made it, and it’s now on your wall! Now, you have to LIVE IT! Visit your vision board frequently, at least twice per week. Look at all your images, your words. What are you doing to make them come to fruition?

In support of your vision,

Amie

 

Natural Pain Relief through Needles

My patient Brian came in with pain in his foot and heel that limited his ability to run, bike or even walk without discomfort.  Plantar fascitis is a common injury I see frequently in the clinic, particularly in active, athletic people with jobs requiring they sit for hours at a time.  Brian came in at the early stages of his injury and committed to twice weekly acupuncture- so it took only 4 sessions for his pain to completely disappear.   He was thrilled and is now an acupuncture convert, scheduling monthly  “tune-ups” even when he’s not in pain, as he leaves the office feeling more balanced and better able to sleep at night.  “I’m convinced acupuncture helps me prevent injuries and illness now,” Brian said recently after running his second Dipsea race.  “I’m also amazed that a needle in my hand can stop pain in my foot!”
 
Many ask us how a needle inserted into one body part can stop pain in another area and heal the body.  Some think it must be a placebo effect or “all in your head”.  However numerous clinical studies have shown that acupuncture affects the body in measurable, scientific ways — reducing blood pressure and inflammation, for example, and increasing the circulation of endorphins- our body’s own natural pain-relieving chemicals.  Scientists have identified many of the physiological mechanisms at work, and there's evidence that the insertion of needles into designated acupuncture points speeds the conduction of electromagnetic signals within the body. These signals may increase the flow of hormones and other pain-relieving chemicals, as well as immune system cells, which aid healing.
 
So the next time you or a friend is in pain, think acupuncture!
 
Other Natural Pain Relievers

Hops.  The hops flower, which has been used in Western herbal traditions for inducing relaxation and sleep (and making beer), seems to have significant potential for pain relief that rivals some medications, and with fewer side effects.
 Capsaicin. Derived from hot chile peppers, topical capsaicin may be useful for some people in relieving pain. Capsaicin works by depleting substance P, a compound that conveys the pain sensation from the peripheral to the central nervous system.
 Ginger.  Ginger extract may help with joint and muscle pain because it contains phytochemicals which help stop inflammation. Few side effects have been linked to ginger when taken in small doses.
 Feverfew. Feverfew has been used for centuries to treat heatdaches, stomachaches, and toothaches. Nowadays it's also used for migraines and rheumatoid arthritis.  Pregnant women should avoid this remedy.
 Turmeric. This spice is used to relieve arthritis pain and heartburn. It contains a chemical called curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is usually safe to use, but high doses or long-term use may cause indigestion. Also, people with gallbladder disease should avoid using turmeric.

To your pain-free summer,

Amie

Cleanse for Better Mood, Sleep and Weight

10 Day Bio Detox Cleanse
25% Off retail price of $256. You pay $192.

Are you ready for improved digestion, mood and sleep? Cleansing helps to rid the body of toxins in order to promote general health and well-being. The 10-Day Bio Detox Cleanse is a unique physician grade program designed to restore balance to the body by 1) Reducing inflammation 2) Metabolic Cleansing and 3) Regeneration and Repair.

Patients follow an “anti-inflammatory” diet (included with the cleanse) while consuming the 10-day bio detox kit as follows:
Breakfast: 2 scoops NutriClear®, 1 scoop Protein Isolate (whey or rice), and 1 packet Bio-Detox Packs™ (including fish oils, digestive enzymes, vitamins and minerals)
Lunch: Light, healthy lunch with greens and lean protein (salad with olive oil and lemon recommended) and 1 packet Bio-Detox Packs™
Mid-Afternoon Snack: 2 scoops NutriClear® and 1 scoop Whey Protein Isolate
Dinner: Healthy dinner with green and lean protein and 1 packet Bio-Detox Packs™
Basics of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet:

No Gluten–eat brown rice, millet, quinoa, amaranth. Focus on small amounts of unprocessed whole grains instead of gluten free breads which can be full of sugar and fat.

No dairy, sugar, caffeine (some green tea ok), alcohol, corn or soy
Sample Healthy Meal Ideas

Lunches: Green salad with lean protein (chicken, salmon, turkey, etc.) and lemon and olive oil dressing

Dinners:

Turkey, sweet potato, asparagus

Salmon, roasted vegetables

Pinto beans, brown rice, steamed vegetables

Rotisserie chicken, quinoa, avocado
Tips for a Successful Cleanse

Plan ahead. Look at your calendar and block out 10-12 days for your cleanse where you do not have social or work commitments that involve eating out.

3-4 days before your cleanse, begin to limit or eliminate gluten, dairy, sugar, alcohol, caffeine, soy and corn.

Find a cleansing buddy. Cleansing with a friend can give you support and help keep you accountable.

Acupuncture. Receiving an acupuncture treatment can help support your body’s detoxification process by improving digesting, reducing stress and cravings and supporting the liver.

Set a post cleanse goal. Have a plan for after your cleanse. Are you going to continue eliminating or limiting inflammatory foods?
How to Order

The cleanse is simple, easy to use, and effective. To order, call Biotics Research at (800) 231-5777. Please use the customer account number 05-TD7896 when ordering to receive 25% off retail prices. If you’re sensitive to dairy, request the Rice Protein Kit (not whey protien).

Balance Your Home Energy with Feng Shui

Do you want more harmony and balance in your life? Desire better health? Are you frustrated in your relationships?  Do you wish money weren’t such a struggle?   Most of us are nodding our heads YES!
 
Believe it or not, the inability to have what you are seeking in life could be partially due to negative energies in your home or work environment.   This energy can be shifted and improved through a practice called Feng Shui.
 
Feng Shui (pronounced fong schway) is the ancient Chinese art and science of placement that is over 4000 years old. It is a very useful method of understanding how our home and work environments directly affect our physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  Feng Shui is one of the Eight Branches in Traditional Chinese Medicine and shares the same basic principles as acupuncture. It works in a similar way to help qi (invisible energy) move more freely throughout a space to create greater balance, harmony, and allowing for new possibilities to appear in a person's life. Classical feng shui takes into consideration the physical aspects of an environment (geography, direction, form) within the context of time (cycles of nature, astrology) to determine adjustments that maximize the potential for each individual space and person.
 
If some aspect of your life feels “stuck”, you might want to consider using Feng Shui principles to shift energy in your living space, similar to the way acupuncture needles move energy in your body. There are different methods to Feng Shui but each maps your living or workspace according to eight sectors of your life and then uses the power of placement and intention to enhance an area you wish to improve.  A few examples of simple Feng Shui “cures” include:
 
~To activate energy in your wealth and money area of your home, place art or objects that express what wealth means to you, like photos of what you wish to attain, gold coins or statues, or money in a red envelope.
 
~To improve energy in your love and marriage section of your home look first to your bedroom and make sure all objects in the room represent what you want for your relationship.   Images of happy couples, red candles and pairs of objects can enhance the intention for more love in your life.
 
I have successfully used Feng Shui principles in each living space I have moved into.  Recently, we had a consultation here at TCA by one of our very own community members.  Have you noticed a few changes in our treatment rooms? Feel a different energy in the office?

There are many books, websites and Feng Shui consultants available to help guide you through the process.  We personally like our very own TCA client Lauren Dyer.   For more information about feng shui or to schedule a consultation, contact her at designwithfengshui@gmail.com.   
 

Why I Recommend Tea over Coffee

For many of my acupuncture patients, especially those who have weak thyroid and adrenal conditions, I recommend switching from their daily coffee routine to tea. When choosing a beverage you consume once or even multiple times each day, the energetics of tea and coffee are important to understand--in other words, the internal effect each has on your body.

In Chinese Medicine we understand coffee to be more Yang. It’s internally warming and it disperses and scatters energy (or Qi) in the body. Coffee consumption causes the kidney’s adrenal glands to release adrenalin, producing a temporary increased energy high, but eventually a down-cycle of fatigue later in the day. Over time, excess coffee can over-work and deplete your adrenal energy, or Kidney Jing as we acupuncturists call it. I like to describe this as borrowing money from a bank account (your adrenals) daily without making any new deposits. Pretty soon, you’re experiencing major debt (adrenal burnout).

Coffee is also a diuretic, and diaphoretic, causing the body to lose excess fluids or Yin, and can create symptoms like night sweats, hot flashes and urinary dysfunction.

The energy of tea, on the other hand is more Yin. It is cooling and astringent by nature. Tea can help consolidate energy in the body rather than scattering it. When you drink caffeinated tea you will typically experience increased energy, but a smoother, more even-keeled flow without the highs and lows. I find that drinking tea during the day gives me the level of alertness I’m seeking without the racy feeling or late afternoon crash of coffee.

The Chinese believe that Puer tea has greater health benefits than other teas. Puer tea goes through a special fermentation process that makes it very beneficial to the digestive system, or Spleen as we describe it in Chinese Medicine. Many people in our culture have very weak digestion and excess weight and it has everything to do with food and drink that create “internal dampness” in the body. In Chinese medicine, “dampness” refers to the build up of negative, sluggish energy in the body that results from consuming excessive processed foods, sugars, dairy, alcohol and other substances that slow down digestion and nutrient assimilation. Pu-er tea has the ability to reduce this internal dampness by invigorating the Spleen and the Stomach to work in harmony, aiding proper digestion and elimination. It is often used medicinally to lower cholesterol, remove toxins from the body, cure dysentery, induce weight loss, improve eyesight and promote blood circulation.

I have found Pure Puer Tea to be of the highest quality and smoothest taste, and this is why I carry it in my clinics, Bay Acupuncture Center and Tamalpais Community Acupuncture in Mill Valley, CA.

My patients I have introduced to Pure Puer Tea all agree they have never felt better and don’t even miss their coffee!

My 7 New Year Commitments

2012 is here and most of us look ahead with great intentions for a new year of positive change.  For many this includes a commitment to having a healthier body.  We’ve all made those resolutions to “eat better” and “work out more,” but what if I told that you a healthy, vital body has less to do with what you eat and how many times you visit the gym, but is much more dependant on healthy relationships, spiritual connection, a good sex life, professional satisfaction, and creative expression? The body is really a mirror for how we live our life.

For me personally, this past year was not an easy one– emotional endings, new beginnings, and a healthy dose of fear and anxiety thrown in to keep me on my toes.  I experienced intimately what stressful situations can do when they disrupt your flow of energy (called Qi) through your body, causing sleep disturbances, digestive issues and other health symptoms.  I also know over time these stressors-- if ignored or numbed by drugs and alcohol-- can wear out the body's reserves, leading to pain, fatigue, depression, a weakened immune system, and a host of serious physical and psychological ailments.

During this highly challenging time in my life, I have actually felt stronger emotionally and physically than I have in years.   Why?  My simple answer is I have focused on practicing all that I preach to my patients (off course, as much as humanly possible and not without a few peaks and valleys along the way.)

Yes, I do eat well, take herbs and exercise.  But what I really attribute my vital health to is receiving regular acupuncture treatments, professional satisfaction, girlfriends, boyfriends, my kids, meditation, and continually reaching out to my family and community for support and guidance.  Oh, and dark chocolate and the occasional pint of amber ale also helps :-)

Here are seven tips that help me through stressful times and keep me strong in body, mind and spirit.  I like to call them New Year’s Commitments:

1-  Find a healthy release valve for your stress

My personal favorite is outdoor recreation.  When I’m on my bike or a trail I feel a connection to nature and the divine- not to mention the benefits of breath and blood pumping through my body and clearing out negative energy.  Find activity that delights you, is not a chore or a burden, and is not detrimental to your health (like drugs, junk food or alcohol) – and try to do it on a daily basis to help release your worries back into the universe.

2-  Change your thought patterns

“When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."  -Wayne Dyer

You can’t expect shifts to occur in your life when you retain your old ways of thinking. Treating the root cause of a problem requires a change in vision—a spiritual change from the inside out.  Daily meditation and journaling (even in short intervals) are methods of re-framing your thoughts and calming the mind so you can view problems through a different lens. I usually find each of my challenges are blessings and opportunities in disguise.

3-  Listen to intuition

Intuition is your inner pilot light- that voice that tells you what you really want and what you really should be doing- not what others expect or want you to do.  When you stop only doing what you think you SHOULD and do more of what you deeply FEEL, you are acting more in accordance with your true nature.  Tuning into your gut alleviates internal battles and restores energy to your body and mind.

4-  Allow yourself to be vulnerable

This is a tough one.  Our culture prides itself on getting things done, being resourceful, independent and having all of the answers at the click of a mouse or smart phone.  But at what cost? As we lose our humbleness and vulnerability we often prevent the human interaction with others that provides us with depth of relationships and co-creation. Research has confirmed that connection with others is one of the primary indicators for happiness.  Ask for help.

 

5-  Take off the mask

Masks…we all wear them—“the hard worker” “the devoted mother” “the social butterfly” “the superstar father”.  These ideals define us and that’s OK as long as it’s who we truly know ourselves to be.  When we show our friends, family and neighbors our “real self”- you know, the one with the unmade beds, dust bunnies and laundry on the floor, crazy relatives, incorrigible children, strained marriages, lonlieness and overwhelm—we remind ourselves and others that no one is perfect and chaos is part of the human condition.  It helps to laugh more at yourself and don't take your roles too seriously.

6-  Practice daily gratitude and forgiveness

You’ve heard it before, but it’s still an important reminder that what we focus on becomes our reality.  A daily ritual of counting all of your blessings is not only good for the mind, but it energetically draws in more of these good things into your life. Forgiving others also restores more positive energy into your world and opens the heart to more light, love and abundance.

7-  Laugh more

Laughter is still the best medicine and is best administered in daily doses.  The older I get and the more stressful and serious life becomes, I surround myself with silly people who know how to look at the absurdity of situations and laugh at themselves. Instead of the depressing news, for years I have watched Seinfeld or The Daily Show before bed for a good chuckle…it works wonders for sleep!

Treating Children with Acupuncture

Most people have heard about acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine for adults, but few are aware these health therapies are also effective in treating children--from babies to teenagers. Pediatric acupuncture is somewhat of a misnomer, as acupuncture with needles is not the usual, or only treatment option for children.  For example, the Chinese have developed a medical massage for children called pediatric Tui Na-- a series of acupressure and other manipulations that support healthy functioning of the immune, circulatory, digestive, and neurological body systems in children. The Japanese have also developed a needle-less pediatric system for treatment of children called Shoni Shin, which utilizes small metal tools that are rubbed or tapped along meridians and acu-points with essentially the same effect as needles. It is helpful for parents to know that nearly all children 4 years and older can withstand a few needles.  Often, even younger children do well with them and are fascinated by the entire process.  Acupuncture needles are considerably thinner than the hypodermic needles that tend to scare most kids-and adults.  The specialized pediatric needles I use on my youngest patients are even thinner than normal and I use them regularly on my 8 and 4 year old with little discomfort…in fact they both request acupuncture now when they are sick!

Your acupuncturist may also prescribe herbs or supplements to support your child’s health. It’s important to get sound professional advise before giving your child any herbal remedy.  Acupuncturists are one of the few licensed healthcare providers in California who are trained in herbal medicine, so ask if yours if he or she has experience working with children.  A good pediatric practitioner will also offer nutritional consultation with parents, as the modern American diet is the primary cause of most health problems in children. When looking for a Pediatric Acupuncturist, you should interview the practitioner about how they work with children.  What techniques do they use?  How do they negotiate treatments with children? What forms of herbs do they prescribe? Are they easy to administer? Do they offer education and remedies that you can use at home? I believe giving parents protocols to support their child's health at home is essential.  I think it helps if your practitioner has children of their own so they have a realistic perspective and practical experience communicating with kids.  My own children have always been my best teachers.

The following is a partial list of situations where you may want to utilize a Pediatric Acupuncturist to assist you with your family health care needs:

allergies, acne, asthma, attention issues, bed-wetting, colds, constipation, coughs, depression, diabetes, developmental delays, diarrhea, digestive problems, ear infections, eczema, failure to thrive, hyperactivity, headaches, immune health, menstrual issues, obesity, physical injuries, seasonal cold and flu prevention, and sleep problems.

If you have any questions about pediatric treatment and Chinese Medicine, please give me a call!

To your child's health,

Amie