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Cracks in the Earth

by Clark Zimmerman, LAc.

Years ago while traveling in Tibet, I was amazed by the dryness of the climate.  Though the mountains were covered with snow, and the rivers were raging torrents, the ground was largely a dusty wasteland.  There were sporadic fields, where the people grew barley, but much of the land reminded me of stories I had heard about the great dustbowl from the 1930’s. Growing up in the Midwest, I was a stranger to dry air.  The humidity  was so dense that it seems to saturate the skin and soak the spaces inside your bones.  There was a general heaviness in the summer air that felt oppressive at times.  

When life dries out, things begin to harden.  Leaves and stems become brittle; the ground mimics concrete.  In my 17 years in southern Oregon, I have begun to grow accustomed to the cyclical drying out of the land in summer.  What winter and spring have given, summer takes away.  Things grow in the summer, but there is a sense that everything is living on borrowed time.  As the season progresses, the ground loses its give and hardens into a protective shell.  This has a way of locking in the moisture that the ground still holds, but it comes at a cost.  Not only does the hardness in the soil keep some of the water in, it also prevents water from soaking into the ground when a big rain comes.  If you look at the ground when the first big storm comes in the late summer or early fall, you are likely to see a lot of the water running off into the creeks and rivers, instead of down into the earth.  It usually takes a bit of consistent precipitation to loosen up the ground so it can receive the water. 

With the ongoing drought in the west, I have noticed that the ground doesn’t just harden in the summer anymore, it has increasingly begun to crack.  It more closely resembles a desert than the forest floor that I am used to in western Oregon.  There is a sadness that I notice when I think of how much things are drying out, but I am also reminded of one of life’s truths:  When things are pushed to a breaking point, new opportunities arise.  The cracks in the soil allow the healing waters to more easily enter the soil, so not as much runs to the streams.  I witnessed this during the rain we had last week.  The soil had become so dry that it had broken open….it was ready to receive.  

It reminds me of how the past couple of years have broken most of us open.  We keep bending, withstanding, until we tend to harden up to minimize any further pain.  Yet, life has continued to push us even farther.  Most of us feel that we have been pushed beyond our limits.  The hardness of our shells has begun to crack, just as the dry ground beneath our feet has opened.  This splitting apart has created more space to receive life’s grace.

“The wound is where the light enters you.”

Rumi

The poet Rumi knew this truth.  That often we must completely crack open to heal.  We must truly fall apart to know authentic wholeness.  As I continue to do my healing work in the community, I am struck by the immensity of the suffering that have all endured the past couple of years.  I am also in awe of how that suffering can lead to profound change and acceptance.  People are still struggling, but new shoots of growth and understanding are sprouting.  We are coming back to find what is really important, what truly matters.  All we have to do is be willing to let life continue to crack us open and to have the faith that it is leading us somewhere better than we can imagine.  Then the light will enter our lives and illuminate our souls; the rain will nourish and soften our weary bodies.

Be well.

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

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.

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