When the Storm Settles

by Clark Zimmerman, LAc.

My grandmother used to collect snow globes.  As part of her seasonal decorations, they made their appearance for the month of December and then found their way to a box once the new year rolled around.  As a child they always seemed so magical:  A microcosm of the chaos of the winter holidays.  They were mostly encountered in their resting state, their various scenes unperturbed by a storm that was always only a few shakes away.  But inevitably the storm would come and the flying flakes would transform the environment.  I sometimes wonder about the desire to take a serene moment and shake it up a bit.  

If you were to ask nature about the purpose of winter, I’m certain that she would tell you of the importance of dormancy.  Hibernation is an extreme sort of dormancy in which certain animals slow down their heart rate and metabolism, and lower their body temperature.  Though we don’t sleep away our winters as a bear might, as a part of nature we are subject to its same suggestions.  Winter is the opposite of the intense activity of the summer, but somehow we have become enamored with the promise of light.  We crave the warmth, the comfort and the pace.  Before the discovery and wide scale implementation of electric lights, night time was a non-negotiable invitation to rest; Winter with its longer and colder nights was a insistence that we find our own sort of dormancy.  For most of us however, we can’t resist the temptation to shake the snow globe…to stir up a little more chaos when the environment is asking us to slow down.  There is a part of us that seems to thrive on disarray.  We believe that if there is a lack of agitation things will wither and atrophy.  Or perhaps they will fall apart completely.  I have the sense that we subconsciously view our lives as Velcro.  We feel the need to encourage our rough edges so that things will remain fastened together and stable:  A sort of hyper vigilance.  While summer may call for more texture and more stimulation, winter actually asks us for the opposite.  Winter is a time for smoothness and calm; more the smooth surface of a frozen lake than the choppy cacophony of a summer barbecue.  We may have a suspicion that without the frequent agitation of intervention that things may fall apart.  If left unattended chaos will unravel all of our hard work. But winter has its own song.  It is more like a smooth set of magnets that work best with unperturbed surfaces. The smoothness helps them function properly.  This is winter’s  invitation.  

Most of us are still a little afraid of the dark, just as we are afraid of the quiet.  There are some demons that only tend to show up when the light wanes and there is less noise.  I think that the winter holidays, as they are commonly celebrated in the west, are as much a frightened refusal to dance with the darkness, as a jolly celebration.  We shake winter up to create enough a diversion that we don’t have to listen to the darkness as it shares its secrets.  Winter offers its gifts freely, we have but to accept the wisdom it offers.  We are meant to make the most of this time.  Eventually the sun will regain the reigns and the snow globes will go back into the box until next year.

Summer turns to autumn

by Ann Zimmerman, LAc.

 

After spending the day at Talent Harvest Fest,  my heart was warmed by community and my body was exhausted. The festival happened on a perfect sunny day following our first stretch of cool rainy weather. Everyone was so happy to be savoring the last days of summer. I chatted with many people about how they just wanted to be outside; prolong going home to laundry, work related projects, and making dinner. It felt like as a community we were eager to harvest every drop of “fun” from summer, yet there was a tangible taste of fall in the air.  After the festival, I realized my heart  was in summer and my body was ready to rest in Autumn.  

My personal experience speaks to why the change of season tends to make our health unstable.  Switching from the “expansive” spirit of summer (think travel, going out more, and staying up late), to autumn a more “contractive” time of  going inward, being at home, and sleeping more can be a challenge.  Adjusting our lifestyles to the changing needs of the season is something most people do not consider, it simply is no part of our cultural consciousness. However, learning to honor the changing needs of your health in relationship to the season is a wise way to improve your health.

Traditional Chinese Medicine associates autumn with the metal element and the Lungs. This season governs organization, setting limits, and protecting  boundaries.  The energy of the lungs is “letting go”,  autumn is a perfect time to let go of anything that you may be holding on to. Special attention is given to Lung health as they are the most vulnerable during this season. Emotionally, the lungs coincide with feelings of grief and sadness. Unresolved grief, sadness, and difficulty with letting go will stagnate the lung meridian and make one more susceptible to illness, often causing symptoms of chest tightness, cough, or low immunity.

Awareness is the first step in making changes to your health. 

The practice of cultivating  awareness that your lifestyle needs to adapt to the change of seasons is a huge step for your wellness and quite intuitive when given attention.

5 ways to stay healthy this Autumn

1. Breathe deeply

-take the time to breath deeply and fully exhale…letting go all the way of the breath. Come back to deep breaths all day long.

2. Forgiveness 

-take advantage of Autumn’s energy of letting go to forgive others and yourself

3. Purge /Give away

-purge what you do not need in your closet, shed, heart…relocate things to friends. Make room for  your inward work.

4.Sleep 

-the ultimate letting go. Aim for 1 more hour of sleep per night.

5. Take immune tonics

-Recommit and stock up on your immune tonics; Vitamin C, D, Tonic herbs, medicinal mushrooms, etc.

Cheers to gracefully transitioning from an external to a internal focus, to letting go of what you don’t need anymore, and to embracing Autumn.

Healthy Herbal Coolers

Healthy Herbal Teas That keep You Hydrated in the Heat

Here in Southern Oregon the heat is upon us and the summer is just getting started.  In this post Oliver Leonetti L.Ac,  the owner of Inner Gate Acupuncture in Portland Oregon, shares two great tea recipes that use Chinese herbs to help keep you hydrated and healthy this summer.

Summer is a great time to be outside enjoying the landscape and beauty that Southern Oregon has to offer. Here are two natural recipes with Chinese herbs for real thirst quenching. These herbs have heat relieving and hydrating properties that are far better than over-sweetened commercial products.

These teas are great for hikes, workouts or just as daily thirst quenchers. These can be brewed at home and transported in reusable bottles to limit the environmental impact of plastics. These teas also provide electrolytes and minerals to replace those lost through perspiration and activity.

Mint and Chrysanthemum Tea:

Ingredients:
1 cup – Mint leaves – Dried or fresh.
1 cup – Dried Chrysanthemum flowers

Directions: 
Bring 4 cups of water to boil and remove from the heat.
Add herbs and steep for about 10 minutes.
Strain herbs
Add 6 cups of water or ice.
A natural sweetener or fresh mint can be added for taste.

Notes:
Mint is traditionally used to clear heat from the head and eyes. Its cooling nature helps relieve heat rashes and headaches.

Chrysanthemum is traditionally used to lessen allergy symptoms, reduce fevers, headaches and relieve red swollen eyes. 

Goji Melon Cooler:

Ingredients:

1 cup     Goji berries 
2 cups – Watermelon juice
2 cups – Aloe vera juice

Directions:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer
Add goji berries and simmer for 10 minutes
Strain herbs and allow it too cool fully
Add Aloe juice and watermelon
Add 5 cups of water or ice
A natural sweetener or fresh mint can be added for taste.

Notes:
Goji Berries are a great all-around tonic. They have been used traditionally to strengthen the body and the eyes and they are full of vitamins and minerals.
Watermelon, especially the white rind part, has great cooling and hydrating properties. It is used traditionally to reduce heat stroke.
Aloe Vera Juice has been traditionally used for cooling the body and skin. It’s also great for constipation, and red eyes.

Enjoy!

Click Here to learn more about Oliver Leonetti L.Ac. and Inner Gate Acupuncture

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Talent, Oregon 97540

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