Morning Practices

 
by Ann Zimmerman, LAc.
 
How we start the day makes a huge impact in how we experience life. My ideal morning starts early, rising at 5:30 to meditate. I wake before the rest of my family to have “me time”. Time to rise slowly from the peace of sleep. Admittedly, I typically wake a little cranky, still wanting more sleep and to remain in the freedom of the night, without the responsibilities I hold by day. I have a 7 year old daughter, 2 dogs (1 of them an energetic puppy), multiple jobs, property to take care of, and all the chores/duties of an adult in American culture. Still I wake early to tend to me and have been for 25 years. My higher self knows that when I tend to my needs at the beginning of the day, I am able to bring my best self into the world. I often compare it to tuning an instrument before playing it. We know that the wisdom traditions around the world recognize the early morning as the most conducive for meditative endeavors. A wise qigong teacher of mine once shared that morning practices are more beneficial than sleep (a hard truth when the alarm goes off). There is a tangible shift in the tendency for martyrdom when personal needs are met before serving others.

After morning meditation, I drink tea while reading or writing, it’s my contemplation time. I use this time to indulge in the books that I do not have the bandwidth for after a long day or to write about my feelings in my journal. Having grown up in a Midwestern family that did not talk about their feelings, I learned early on that my journal was a place to explore my emotions and to uncover the messages they were communicating. This brings me to about 7am when my daughter wakes up. Next is one of my favorite times of the morning….snuggling. Typically she opens her bedroom door and loudly says, Mommy! I grab a blanket, greet her with enthusiasm and we snuggle in our breakfast nook. This is a precious time and fleeting, so I make it a high priority to indulge in the cuteness of holding her and smelling her hair as she mumbles into her awake time. At some point, the morning BM calls and it’s time to get my daughter breakfast. This gives way to my stretching practice and morning exercise. These days I alternate between a home video workout for 20 minutes and jogging with the dogs. Then on to breakfast and the business of the day.  I share my routine as one example of how a morning can go. After 16+ years of listening in the clinic, I am well aware that not everyone is a morning person or seeking such an elaborate routine.

However, I can say with conviction, that the manner in which someone awakes into their day matters. We are all familiar with the groggy wake up, shuffle to the coffee pot, and rush out the door version. This is a very common routine for many people and the thought of deviating from it seems radically impossible. The mere suggestion of creating more time for oneself in the morning is often met with resistance and a long list of reasons why this is absolutely not possible. I have come to challenge this in others. Really, there is no way you can make your life more easeful before your day starts? Sometimes a good place to start is by giving yourself an extra 20 minutes to just sit with your coffee or tea and stare out the window or meander around the garden. If doing morning dishes or chores brings you peace, then do it with ease and consider it your morning routine. One important recommendation is to avoid taking in the news and media until you are ready for the “doing” part of your day. Having the mindfulness before bed to put your phone/device on airplane mode and leaving it off until you consciously are ready to engage with the outside world is a huge relief and an often overlooked CHOICE you have. 

This inquiry here is to honestly evaluate how you start your day. Do you start out rushing and in resistance? What can you shift to allow for more ease?  Morning routines are an easy, free, and powerful way to enhance your health and state of wellbeing. I wish this gift for you.

Women’s Health and Jade Woman Qigong Classes with Lauri McKean, LAc.

Women’s Health and Chinese Medicinegynecology for all stages of womanhood

On Thursday, March 11th, Lauri  will be offering an online class outlining the Chinese Medicine applications for gynecological health and well-being.  The presentation will include a number of simple techniques that can be done at home (including acupressure points) as well as lifestyle recommendations. There will also be time for Q&A as well as instruction in some very simple Qigong exercises.

Lauri is the newest practitioner at our clinic and has 16 years of clinical experience.  She is passionate about empowering women with knowledge and self-care tools to aid them in smoothly transitioning through their unique phases of life (menstruation, child bearing, peri-menopause and menopause). The class will take place from 6:30-7:45pm.  The cost is only $5.00 and pre-registration is required.

Register Now 

Womens' Qigong

Jade Woman Qigong Class

Are you a woman who is looking for a unique way to boost your health and well-being this spring?  Join Lauri McKean, LAc to learn a powerful energetic routine that was designed specifically for women. 

The Jade Woman form has positive implications for any gynecological issue (including painful periods, PMS, masses and tumors, fertility challenges, as well as menopausal symptoms.)  Additionally, because the form promotes the movement of energy (qi), it is also helpful for headaches, insomnia, many digestive issues, and states of anger, frustration, overwhelm, anxiety, and/or depression which can flare up in the spring. 

This online, 6-week course will start on March 18th and continue each Thursday from 6:30-7:45pm. For more detailed information and to register,

Register Now for Qigong

Harmonizing With Spring Energy

By Lauri McKean, LAc.

Spring! Spring has always been my favorite season.  It feels like a celebration of new life and new possibilities – especially given that I’ve lived much of my adult life in places where winter is colder and darker than the Rogue Valley.  Who doesn’t love the plant kingdom coming to life with flowers beginning to appear, trees budding out, and green spreading through the landscape?

However, I know that the season can also be a bit tricky.  For example, with the increase of Yang energy (active and outward) after the winter’s Yin energy (passive and inward) many of us have a tendency to get too busy and active too quickly.  Perhaps we’re working in our gardens and yards, starting projects, and/or doing more outdoor activities.  Sometimes our bodies aren’t ready for the sudden demands placed on them and it’s helpful if we remember to ease into those first sunny, warm days so as to avoid strain and injury.  

Within the framework of Chinese Medicine, we also recognize that Spring can be tricky in another key way.  This has to do with the fact that this season is associated with the energy of the liver.  Given our fast-paced culture and the high levels of stress that most of us experience, our liver energy tends to be chronically constrained.  

In the clinic, we commonly see liver constraint manifesting as a variety of symptoms including: headaches/migraines, insomnia (especially waking between 1-3am), PMS, menstrual pain, hot flashes, tight tendons and muscles, as well as an increase in feeling frustrated, irritable, stressed and/or angry.  Because the liver energy is so heightened in the spring, these symptoms often appear now or get exaggerated.  Additionally, it is a time when what Chinese Medicine refers to as issues with “wind” get exacerbated.  Seasonal allergies, dizziness and tremors and spasms are examples of “wind” problems.  

Luckily, there are many ways to smooth out the liver energy, calm wind and thus reduce any of the above issues.  Of course, acupuncture treatments and Chinese herbs can be incredibly helpful.  Some “liver-y” people may want to increase the frequency of treatment during this season and changes to herbal formulas might be necessary.  

Additionally, there are many lifestyle changes that can also help with this seasonal transition.  Here are a few that I often recommend.  

  • Exercise regularly.  Although this is important at any time of year, it is especially pertinent in the spring.  Be sure to increase the intensity and amount of time gradually.  
  • Adjust your diet.  Eat lighter amounts and foods than in the winter (ie more greens and sprouts than root vegetables) and be sure to get plenty of water between meals.  
  • Reduce any intake of alcohol.  Alcohol often increases problems with the liver energy.  Reduce or eliminate it – especially if you are waking up in the middle of the night.  
  • Create outlets for releasing frustration/anger.  Allowing frustration/anger to move through you and be expressed has immediate health benefits.  Involve your voice/sounds along with movements.  I recommend this as a practice without other people involved.  Movements might include stomping, pounding a pillow or bouncing/shaking your body.  Sounds might include shouting, moaning or even growling.  (I know this might sound strange but it really works!)

Want to know more?  Check out our Face Book page for upcoming posts about Spring

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