Just a short post to wish you all ‘Kung Hei Fat Choi‘ ….Happy Chinese New Year!
Today we leave behind the tumultuous Chinese Year of the Horse and welcome the Year of the Sheep (or Ram).
According to ancient Chinese astrology the next 12 months will reflect the sheep’s more docile nature and will bring a calming and settling of life energy. So let’s celebrate a gentler and more contemplative year ahead – breath deep and relax…
In this short teaching I’ll reveal the three fundamental lies that stop you from living a life filled with love.
You can listen to my ‘Overcoming the 3 Lies that Block the Flow of Love’ teaching and guided meditation here:
If the audio player above does not work you can alsolisten here.
You can read the full transcript of this teaching and meditation below:
The Taoist teaching on love
I received this teaching from the Taoist masters in the sacred Wudang Mountains of China. It’s many thousands of years old and yet it still holds true for humanity today and strongly resonates with the clients I work with on a daily basis at Peak House Practice, some of whom come to me suffering with among other things: stress, anxiety, hopelessness, lack of confidence or relationship difficulties.
Love is your natural state of being. Love is the energy that is all around you. It is the vibration and essence of every part of the Cosmos and every living thing. The Taoists refer to this energy as Qi.
You come from a place of pure authentic love, whatever you believe that source place to be, you will return to a place of pure love, therefore you are pure love.
So what stops you from living in this state of love and bliss, and enjoying loving relationships with yourself, your partner, family and friends?
Simply, you disconnect from who you really are – pure love. You start to question and doubt your own divine magnificence. You disconnect from the energy of love that is all around you. It’s an abundant and unlimited cosmic commodity that is right there waiting for you to receive it, if you choose to make yourself open and ready to receive.
Experiencing and enjoying deep and lasting self-love and loving relationships is something you were born to do. It’s part of your amazing spiritual journey. Love is NOT something you have to earn or ‘work at’. Love flows naturally if you allow it to.
So what stops the love from flowing?
You create the blocks that stop you from living a life filled with the higher vibration of love. You put in place the mental, emotional, spiritual and physical restrictions that create an energetic dam, which diverts the flow of healthy of Qi, energy and love away from you. You choose to reject this blissful state of being that is your birth right.
So what are these blocks?
They are what I refer to as the misunderstandings, illusions or more powerfully the lies that your Yang Ego Mind convinces you are the truth. They are the powerfully poisonous beliefs that you subconsciously choose to live your life by and which separate you from the flow of love.
Let’s expose these lies right now…
LIE 1: ‘I’m not good enough’
Criticising yourself, comparing yourself negatively with others and believing you are anything less than the divine being you really are, is a lie.
Your Yang Ego Mind wants you to doubt yourself because it creates the fear that keeps you going round and round a emotional carousel as a misguided form of safety and self-protection that will never work.
Conversely, your Yin Spirit knows that you are a unique precious gift to humanity with an unlimited capacity to give and receive love.
Criticising or looking down on others to make yourself feel better is also a destructive habit of the Yang Ego Mind. Perversely this does not generate self-love but self-loathing. And yet this habit can be like a familiar comfort-blanket that smothers the love and life out of you.
Your Yin spirit understands Oneness and knows that you can never be better or worse than anyone else. Within this knowing there is deep love.
You already have enough. You are enough.
LIE 2: ‘I can’t cope’
Your Yang Ego Mind convinces you that you are ‘empty’, ‘needy’ and unable to cope with life in some way, so you work hard at earning positive strokes from others to reassure you and make you feel whole.
You give out effort and love in the hope that you can receive it back. This is profound manipulation of the natural way and flow of energy and love. Any relationship based on this lie is doomed to failure.
Equally, you can never find ever-lasting love, comfort, reassurance, safety and fulfillment from overeating, overspending, drinking, drugs, gambling etc.
Your Yin spirit knows that your everlasting source of love, strength, resourcefulness and spiritual nourishment is from your source, the Cosmos, not from other people or things. Your Yin Spirit knows that you can give love freely but that there should be no expectation or need for anything in return.
Reflect back on your life. You have always coped. You will always cope. There is nothing beyond your capabilities.
LIE 3: ‘I am unlovable – loving myself is selfish’
In your darkest of moments your Yang Ego Mind may convince you that you’re not deserving of love. It may even tell you that being hard on yourself is a way to better yourself, a kind of perverse negative motivator to self-improvement.
Your Yang Ego Mind may trick you into thinking that being kind, loving and nurturing to yourself, in your thoughts and how you talk to yourself (your self-talk) as well as your actions, is not important.
It will tell you that self-love is secondary in quality to love from others. It will convince you that taking time to nurture yourself is being selfish, that there’s not enough time, that it’s a waste of time, or that other people or things must take priority.
These are ALL illusions that divert the flow of Qi, energy and love from the Cosmos away from you.
When you reject the practice of self-love in this way it’s like putting up an umbrella that redirects the downpour of love from Source onto someone or something else. You’re sending out a vibration to the Cosmos that says: ‘I don’t want this love’, ‘I’m not deserving’, ‘let the love rain down on someone else’. And then you wonder why you feel empty?!
Your Yin Spirit knows that, through the practices of self-respect, self-nurturing and self-love, you open your heart and mind ready to receive boundless love and support from the Cosmos. This is the Law of Attraction and what Taoists teach as ‘Yi Tao Qi Tao’.
You no longer reject what is your birth right. You become an energetic conduit for love. The love then flows into and through you. You can give love freely, nurture and cultivate authentic loving relationships, and yet you will never be depleted or needy of love. You are now connected to Source.
Letting go of the lies – a meditation
Can you now begin to understand how even just one of these three toxic lies or beliefs can create an energetic shockwave like a tsunami that pushes against the natural flow of love in your life?
The ancient Taoist teaching of ‘Ch’ang’ – self-love and self-nurturing, exposes all of these Yang Mind Ego misunderstandings for what they are. It reveals how the seeds of self-doubt often originate in your childhood environment and how practicing self-love can positively invoke the Law of Attraction. I have produced an extended Wu Wei Wisdom audio teaching on this profound subject.
For now I’d like you to spend some time quietly meditating on this subject. Find a comfortable and quiet place where you know you won’t be disturbed for the next 10 minutes.
Pause, drop your shoulders and breathe slowly, deeply and rhythmically. Allow your body to relax and just follow your breath. Allow your mind to calm and settle.
Have no expectations of ‘emptying the mind’, this is another Yang Ego Mind illusion. Allow thoughts to come and go like passing clouds, and instead just focus on the breath.
Breathe in with love, breathe out with gratitude.
Right now you are beginning the practice of self-love and self-nurturing simply by taking time to follow this teaching.
Now ask yourself:
Do I hold any Yang Ego Mind ‘lies’ within my thinking that are stopping the flow of love in my life?
Do I believe I am not good enough, unlovable, not worthy of love?
This is not the truth – LET IT GO!
Do I believe that comparing myself against others, criticising or finding fault in myself or others will make me love me more?
This is not the truth – LET IT GO!
Do I believe I need love and reassurance from others, or a better partner, income, house, car or wardrobe to make me feel whole or good about myself?
This is not the truth – LET IT GO!
Do I believe that being kind and loving towards myself, and treating myself with the respect I treat others with is time-wasting, self-indulgent and selfish?
This is not the truth – LET IT GO!
As you begin to question and reject these toxic Yang Ego Mind beliefs the energy of love will IMMEDIATELY begin to flow into your life. The Taoists teach this process as enabling the ‘cosmic helpers’.
Maintaining the flow of love
It’s likely that some of these beliefs may have been in place from your early childhood and so to fully and permanently root them out you’ll need to spend some time ensuring they don’t creep back into your subconscious thinking.
The good news is that now you are aware of these lies you can choose to reject them on a daily basis.
Here are few affirmations that will help you reconnect to love. You can use these as a starting point but feel free to create others that are more authentic and powerful to you.
I choose to say ‘STOP! NO! This is not my truth!’, when I hear the negative self-talk of my Yang Ego Mind.
I choose to mindfully weed out and reject all forms of criticism of myself and others.
I choose to trust that my sustaining source of energy and love is not from others or from material things, but is from my spiritual connection to the Cosmos.
I choose to practice self-love and self-nurturing every day as an unselfish act.
I choose to align with my Yin Spirit nature.
I choose a path of love not fear
I hope these teachings have awakened the love within you, until we speak again,
As we usher in the New Year I’d like to share with you a powerful spiritual coaching method and mindfulness meditation that will rebalance, harmonise and empower you for the year ahead.
You can listen to my New Year teaching and guided meditation here:
If the audio player above does not work you can also listen here.
You can read the full transcript of my New Year teaching and meditation below:
A New Year Pause, Reflect and Review
This is the time of year when you traditionally pause, spend a few quiet moments reviewing the past twelve months and contemplate the year ahead by making your New Year resolutions.
This process can be very helpful and, if undertaken mindfully, mirrors a simple Taoist meditation technique that I use every day. A pause and review can be an invaluable way of connecting to your ‘Yin‘ spirit centre of authentic inner wisdom and insight, and the harmonious ‘Wu Wei’ balance of your Yin and Yang energy – this is the Way of the Tao.
Turning your attention inwards like this allows you to be more focused, creative and resourceful throughout the year. By pressing the ‘pause button’ and stepping back from the everyday busyness and immediacy of life all around you, you’ll be able to connect to a higher level of Qi and vibration within the Cosmos and tune into the abundance of positive energy and opportunities that are available to you.
I use this process as a powerful spiritual coaching method with many of my clients and I’d love to share and guide you through it now, so you too can benefit from it as you embark on the exciting year ahead.
A Taoist proverb says:
a journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step
… so try making this simple exercise your first little step in 2015!
It has the potential to energetically shift your life and signals to the Cosmos that you’re setting a positive intention (YI) for deeper self-nurturing and self-love, or what the Taoists call Ch’ang!
Meditation: The Yang Mind and Ego Illusion
Now, before we begin on this journey of inward reflection, I’d like you to be mindful of a common illusion that your human centred, Yang Mind may present you with, as this can seriously impact the success of this beautiful harmonising Wu Wei process…
Do you feel an internal resistance in any way to the concept or practice of meditation or mindfulness?
Perhaps you believe that is a religious or mystical practice that will somehow detrimentally affect your free-thinking or decision-making?
Well, if you buy into these misunderstandings you won’t even get off the starting blocks!
Scientists continue to measure the positive effects that meditation has on our mind, emotional patterns and general health and well-being. Meditation is a natural exercise that helps you gain a deeper awareness of your own inner wisdom, truth, life potential and the Oneness of your mind, body and spirit.
From this place of knowing you can begin to lovingly shape your own destiny, the Taoist teaching related to this is: “You can’t change what you don’t understand!”.
… Ok, so are you ready to begin?
The Taoist Mindfulness Meditation…
Step 1: Pause and Reflect
I’d like you to first find a quiet and safe place where you know you won’t be disturbed for the next 15 minutes or so. Have a pen and paper by your side so you can make some notes of anything that arises in your mind during this Taoist meditation exercise.
Now pause, drop your shoulders, breath deeply, slowly and rhythmically until your body begins to relax…. Taoist call this process ‘connecting to the quality of your breath’.
Close your eyes lightly… breath and relax…. Create space and allow the authentic Yin spirit centre and place of higher knowledge deep within you to open up.
Now allow your mind to begin to gently reflect on the past 12 months…
What images, sounds, situations and emotions arise?
What events or people enter your mind?
Let them to float in and out of your mindful awareness like clouds in a shifting sky…
Remember, you are now simply the observer…
The past is past… you have moved on from these events, good and bad, easy and challenging… and yet they may still hold valuable spiritual life lessons for you that require your love and attention.
You can spend 5 to 10 minutes like this….allowing your thoughts to come and go….
Step 2: Acknowledge and Affirm the Learning
Then, when you are ready to melt into the Oneness to ask yourself:
‘What has been my spiritual learning from the situations and challenges I have faced over the past 12 months?’
‘What have I learnt about my authentic spiritual truth and the nature of the Cosmos?’
Again, you can spend 5 to 10 minutes, allowing answers to these questions to arise from within your Yin spiritual centre… Always be truthful and honest.
Then, when you are ready to move onto the final stage of this reflective meditation, allow the images or thoughts to clear and settle again…
‘How can I use these lessons to help me connect to my authentic higher-self and my harmonious Wu Wei flow more often?’
‘What changes or ‘tweaks’ can I make in my life over the coming months so I can move closer to my divine potential?’
‘What can I now do NOW, each day, each week, or each month to allow me to live my authentic truth and stay on my Wu Wei path?’
Be loving and kind to yourself when making these meditative inquiries – listen patiently and carefully for any answers.
It may that only be one insight or idea arises, but that single suggestion, no matter how undynamic or obscure it may seem at first, may actually be the valuable signpost for your spiritual Wu Wei journey during the year ahead….
Slowly repeat these affirmations to yourself…
‘Nothing in my life is by accident, I am open to receive the blessing.’
‘All things are possible, and are available to me right now.’
‘By creating space I’m attracting new exciting energy into my life.’
‘I choose a Tao spirit-centred life and emotional freedom.’
‘I am complete.’
Now, when you are ready, bring yourself slowly and gently back into the present moment…
Open your eyes and take time to adjust to your surroundings…
Take the opportunity to make a few brief notes of anything that was revealed during your meditation, no matter how insignificant.
Step 3: Sidestep the Yang-Mind/Ego to Reveal the Blessing
The point of this meditation exercise is for you to access authentic and honest insights and suggestions.
A Taoist proverb says:
‘You already know the answer to any problem you have.’
…so it’s really important for you to connect with your Yin spirit centre, the place of your higher-self, when moving though this self-inquiry process, rather than letting your Yang Mind rush in and taint your thinking by avoidance and confusion.
As part of this process of mindful review remember to become aware of your Yang mind’s measuring stick and harsh comparisons. Never let it critically underestimate and belittle your unique life journey or blame and condemn you or others for past events. Always remember: humans only learn by making mistakes
Know and accept with loving kindness that, if you’d been equipped with the appropriate knowledge, understanding and skills to authentically deal with any challenging situation or person at the time, you wouldn’t now be left with feelings of internal disharmony.
So embrace any lingering uncomfortable feelings of imbalance and the situations or people they are tied to for what they are: opportunities for personal and spiritual learning and growth.
Embrace your emotional feelings as ‘blessings’ and with an honest heart and mind ask yourself:
‘How could I have acted differently?’
The Taoist teaching here is that there is always a spiritual lesson for you in any challenging, difficult or painful energetic situation, or else you would have flowed through the energy of that moment in balance and harmony – in your Wu Wei.
The Yang mind loves taking the easy option of punishing you for past ‘mistakes’ or ‘wrong’ decisions, and this can be an all too familiar and comfortable form of self-harm that allows you to avoid facing up to and authentically learning from these situations.
Just like they were on some kind of Cosmic carousel, the same lessons will always return to you until they’re finally acknowleged and understood. It may be with different people or events but they are still the same lessons!!
So, as part of your mindful reflection and meditation please be particularly aware of these recurring life situations and any patterns of behaviour, where you find yourself emotionally avoiding certain people or situations.
This will always point to a misunderstanding and illusion in your belief system (or what the Taoists call TE). Unless corrected this misunderstanding will block and stagnate your potential and self-worth as well and your general wellbeing.
Practicing this simple meditation technique will help you become extremely skilful in identifying and processing your life lessons. Your senses will become heightened to the same kind of situations or people reappearing, and the misunderstandings in your thinking connected to the energy of these events will become clearer.
So sit with your emotions and your thoughts about these events until the spiritual lessons are learned.
Step 4: Celebrate Small Awakenings and Check for Spiritual Authenticity
As part of your mindful meditation it’s important to also spend an equal amount of time celebrating your positive insights and awakenings, as this will undoubtedly mean that you have encountered a challenging situation and navigated your way through successfully.
Acknowledging these milestones is an energetic way of attracting more of the same success. This is what the Taoist call, Yi Tao Qi Tao, or in modern terms The Law of Attraction.
Once you have written down some review notes, here are some more questions you can use to interrogate them and check their spiritual authenticity:
‘Are my observations of the past and my plans and goals for the year ahead coming from a spirit centred place of love, trust, openness, self-acceptance and self-nurturing, or are they born from a Yang mind place of fear, self-doubt, comparing with others, and self-harm?’
‘Would I encourage my child or someone I loved dearly to adopt these observations, goals and aspirations for themselves?’
If you need to make any further notes or adjustments to your original observations and ideas please do so now.
Step 5: Develop the Mindfulness Habit
With the benefit of having gone through this mindful meditation process once, I strongly recommend that you revisit the whole exercise again, or indeed several times, whenever feels appropriate to you. Never break promises to yourself.
Each time you enter into this process you will move closer to, and strengthen the connection with, your authentic spiritual awareness and learning. Your human centred Yang Mind will begin to feel more familiar and so more comfortable and safer with the process.
The Yang Mind sees familiarity as reality, so the layers of your illusions and misunderstandings will slowly begin to peel away revealing your spiritual truth within.
You can use this process whenever you like – don’t limit yourself to a 12 month review. Habits are so hard to break, so make sure your habits are good ones!
By developing a regular practice of ‘checking in’ with yourself and the Universe through mindful meditation and contemplation, say, every day, week or month, you give yourself the gift of celebrating the smaller accomplishments and realisations in your life.
You’ll also tune into and heighten your awareness of all the positive opportunities, people, information and occurrences that are in your life right at that moment and how they may align with your biggest objectives or dreams.
Following this process on a regular basis will bring profound and life changing results for you as you become more sensitive to your love and truth, not your fears and illusions .
I believe in you. You are amazing…
Wishing you a wonderful year ahead!
Yi Tao Qi Tao,
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I’d like to share with you some tips on how to keep healthy and harmonious during the Winter season…
You can listen to my teaching on Winter health here:
You can read the full transcript of my teaching on Winter health below:
In traditional Chinese medicine and Taoism the season of Winter is connected with the Water element and is physically related to the organ and meridian system of the Kidneys and Bladder, and the associated emotion is that of ‘fear’.
Winter is ‘Yin’ in nature – it is inactive, cold, and damp. The cold and darkness of the season encourages us to slow down and conserve and replenish our physical, mental and emotional energy in preparation for the outburst and growth of new life and energy in the Spring!
Taoists teach that you should always align and harmonise your energy with the current season, the translation of this concept is ‘appropriateness’. You can attune to the energies and qualities of the Winter season and the Water element through three virtues: your lifestyle, diet and spiritual health practices.
Nurturing the Kidneys and Bladder this Winter
So I’d like to first review some lifestyle habits to help support you this season…
Winter is all about balancing and harmonising your Water element and protecting and nurturing its associated organs – the Kidneys (which are Yang) and Bladder (which is Yin), in order to maintain good physical and emotional health.
When functioning correctly the Kidneys and Bladder hold onto and then appropriately release fluids. In traditional Chinese medicine, the Kidney is known as the ‘Minister of Power’, and is regarded as the body’s most important store or reserve of essential energy or Qi.
The strong health of the Kidneys is essential so any stored energy can be readily available for use in times of environmental or emotional change or stress, as well as to heal and prevent illness.
The Bladder is referred to as the ‘Minister of the Reservoir’ and is responsible for managing and excreting the urinary waste fluids passed down from the Kidneys.
During the Winter months it is important to nurture and nourish your Kidney Qi as this is the time where this energy can be most easily depleted. As you age, your Kidney Qi energy also naturally declines, so the older you are, the more susceptible you are to the impact of the Winter months.
An imbalance in the Water element or depleted Kidney Qi can affect the aging process, your hair condition, your ears and hearing, and your bones and joints. A Water/Kidney imbalance commonly manifests in a weak lower back, a dull aching pain in the lumber region, or being more prone to lower back, knee disorders and arthritic conditions. It can also lead to sexual and fertility disorders in both men and women.
As an acupuncturist I would always consider treating the Water element and the associated Kidney and Bladder meridians in any Winter treatment plan, especially if the patient is over the age of 45 when the waning of the Water element and Kidney Qi is a natural phenomenon.
Winter Lifestyle Habits: Balancing Your Water Element
So what can YOU do to balance and harmonise your Water element this season?…
Well… resting appropriately will help replenish your Kidney Qi and conserve your physical energy… but this is not an excuse for Winter hibernation!
Always remember that the benefits of resting well should be balanced with the need to simulate and move Qi around the body! So a brisk lunchtime or weekend walk is perfect for improving the circulation of Qi and blood flow, and is also great for topping up your vitamin D levels during these months of diminished sunshine.
You must try to keep your lower back and Kidney area warm during the Winter, and certainly leave any garden digging or general heavy lifting, which can easily put a strain on your lower back, until Spring!
Energetic health practices, such as Qigong or yoga, which encourage the flow of Qi energy around the body and the warming of the core area, are an excellent way to stimulate and boost your Kidney Qi.
Winter Qigong to Support and Boost your Kidney Qi
A simple and very effective qigong exercise for stimulating the Kidney energy that I teach in my classes and workshops at Peak House Practice involves the following steps:
Start in the opening qigong stance or ‘Wu Ji’ – this means standing with your feet shoulder width apart, softening the knees a little by bending them slightly and tilting your pelvis a forward. You should feel your centre of balance in this position.
When you are comfortable, lightly close your eyes. Ensure that your weight is distributed between your heel and the ball of your foot, so that it feels a little ‘flat footed’ – the powerful opening of the Kidney meridian called ‘Bubbling Spring’ is located at this middle point in the sole of your foot.
Now place your hands on your lower back with palms facing inwards. Gently move your hands from side to side, massaging and warming the lower back. If you can’t reach your lower back don’t worry. Rubbing your abdomen about 1-2 inches below the belly button will also work as it stimulates a crucial acupressure point and activates what Taoists refer to as the ‘lower Dan Tien’, which in turn stimulates the Kidneys.
As you gently massage, allow yourself to visualize a soothing ocean wave flowing over your hands. Imagine that this flow of water washes away any fears, tensions, pain or discomfort in mind and body.
Another variation on this exercise involves placing your hand as clenched fists on your lower back and rubbing this area more vigorously to stimulate the movement of Kidney Qi energy here. You can watch this particular exercise in my ‘Eight Silken Brocade Qigong’ video on my YouTube channel.
Winter Diet Tips to Balance Your Water Element
Ok, so let’s consider how you can adapt your diet to the Winter season…
Eating in a balanced way and keeping hydrated will prevent a stagnation of fluid in the Kidneys and Bladder and will help support your Kidney Qi.
Avoid raw foods during the Winter as much as possible, as these tend to cool the body. Warming food, such as soups and stews, root vegetables, beans, garlic and ginger, are perfect for you at this time of year.
Salty foods, such as salty fish, should be avoided as they have a diuretic effect on the Kidneys and Bladder. You should also reduce your consumption of chilli peppers, smoked foods or excessive amounts of alcohol if you can.
A healthy diet for strengthening your Water element this season would include:
Rice (especially brown rice), spaghetti and linseed
Beans, sprouts and tofu.
White cabbage, yam, potatoes and mushrooms.
Beef, chicken, lamb and mussels
Grapes, grapefruit, melon and strawberries.
Winter Emotional and Spiritual Health Tips
So finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’d like to review some emotional and spiritual health practices that are relevant to the Winter season…
Excessive fear damages the Kidney energy and causes it to descend, sometimes resulting in a loss of bladder control – this is why we often have a tendency to want to urinate when we get nervous!
The Taoist masters teach that if the Kidney energy is weak this also means you will be prone to experience chronic fear. Working on harmonising your emotions and emotional health is therefore the most important thing you can do to support your Water element and nurture your Kidney and Bladder energy.
Even if you ate well, and rested and exercised in a balanced way following the tips I have suggested, choosing to ignore any underlying fears, stress, anxieties or worries you may be holding onto will undermine the benefits of these healthy living practices.The power of your mind and emotions on your physical health and whole wellbeing should NEVER be underestimated!
Many new clients come to me at this time of year because they are affected by what is referred to in the West as ‘Seasonal Affective Disorder’ (SAD), or they suffer from symptoms of low energy, depression and mood swings during the Winter months.
In Chinese medicine this excessive introspection, or an increase in worry, fear and depression is very much associated with the Water element and an imbalance of the Kidney and Bladder energy, and for some people this can become much more acute right now.
All of the Chinese medicine elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water are interactive, mutually supportive and should be maintained within a loving balance and harmony. I do, however, have a particularly strong affinity to the Water element because of my day to day work as a therapist specialising in treating individuals suffering from emotional imbalances.
A high percentage of my clients have difficulty in balancing and harmonising their emotions of fear and stress because of the powerful and disturbing physical sensations it creates, including palpitations, tightness in the chest, churning in the stomach, dry mouth, headaches, sweating, panic attacks etc.
When you are fearful in this way it encourages the introverted nature that harms the Water element – a physical, emotional and spiritual state of ‘closing down’ and becoming guarded and isolated from the world around you. This imbalance in the Water element will in turn create a disharmony in the fine balance of the other four elements within your body and their associated organs.
The strong relationship between the Water element and its associated Kidney and Bladder organs, and the Fire element and its associated organs of the Heart, Pericardium, Small Intestine and Triple Burner, are particularly important.
The Fire ~ Water relationship is often closely connected to symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress and so, as a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner and counsellor, understanding and harmonising the relationship and balance between these two elements is often part of my treatment plan with clients.
Emotional Self-Healing this Winter
There are many things you can do to strengthen your emotional health and balance your Water element this Winter. As the season of stillness, Winter is a great time for personal meditation and reflection.
The colder weather encourages you to slow down and this opens up opportunities for making time for deeper thought and bringing to the surface any unresolved emotional matters. Acknowledging, owing and creatively addressing the origins of any stress, worries or fears that you may have reflects the Wu Wei process of self-discovery and self-healing that I work through with my clients: ‘Find It, Own It, Change It’.
So, when you next encounter external situations, issues or people that generate the physical ‘red warning lights’ that you may label as ‘fear’, you can begin to manage and eliminate these feelings by meditating on the personal beliefs and thoughts, what the Taoists refer to as ‘TE’, that are at the root of these emotions.
Christmas, with its changes of routine and the new expectations and demands it may bring, can be a particularly challenging time for many people. If uncomfortable and unwanted emotions or fears surface for you over the Christmas period, my message is for you to lovingly address these in a way that is truthful, honest and done with your highest integrity.
There is NO enemy inside, you have a choice, so choose your higher-self. This intention and action will nourish your Kidney, Bladder and Water element using your own Wu Wei Wisdom.
I’d like to share with you some tips on how to keep healthy and harmonious during the Autumn season…
You can listen to my teaching on Autumn health here:
You can read the full transcript of my teaching on Autumn health and harmony below:
In traditional Chinese medicine and Taoism the season of Autumn is associated with the Metal element and is physically related to the organ and meridian system of the Lungs and Large Intestine or Colon.
Metal can also be thought of as the small but essential material which, if missing, depletes the quality of the whole, and is often referred to in Taoist teachings as the as the ‘invisible air’, without which our life-force is depleted and vitality suffers.
Taoists teach that you should always align and harmonise your energy with the current season, the translation of this concept in English is being ‘appropriate’.
You can attune to the energies and qualities of the autumn season and the Metal element through three virtues: your lifestyle, diet and spiritual health practices.
So let’s first explore some lifestyle habits…
Autumn is the time that the Yang Qi of the summer transforms and becomes more Yin. The leaves, acorns and conkers begin to fall from the trees offering both seeds for the next generation and material that will rot into the soil and provide nourishment for new plants, as the ‘flow’ of life and energy continues, this is the ‘cycle of life’ that is so pertinent in Taoist teaching.
Many people may experience a sense of loss or sadness at this time of the year, because, after the thrusting of Spring, the growth of Summer, and the harvest of Late Summer, the Autumn is a time of decrease, slowing down, and getting ready for the Winter period.
Although your emotional state and energy levels at this time of year can be affected by the decreasing levels of sunlight and a change in weather (particularly the dampness), an awareness and harmonising with the nature of Autumn will help you manage the impact of this natural and beautiful transformation on your physical and emotional health. As the nights draw in, the temperature becomes cooler and the environment a little damper, you should open your heart and mind and embrace the season.
One way of doing this is by ensuring that you get enough sleep, which is particularly vital during this more Yin time of year. Sleep is deeply regenerative and it helps support and strengthens your immune system. You can attune to the arrival of the darker mornings and evenings by treating yourself to an occasional early bedtime or maybe a longer lie in at the weekend! Or perhaps try some mindfulness meditation or create time for yourself to catch up on some spiritual or personal development reading that you been promising yourself.
Maintaining regular exercise is also important during autumn and through into winter. Exercise promotes the flow if Qi energy around the body, strengthens the Lungs, and releases lots of ‘happy hormones’ to keep your mood balanced and stable. Qigong is a fantastic exercise to practice at this time of year to help move blockages of Qi energy in your Lung and Large Intestine, and to be at one with the powerful transformation of energy that is going on all around you.
If your energy levels decrease you could become physically sluggish and this is when stagnations and blockages of your Qi are much more likely to occur, which can in turn negatively impact your immune system, general health and wellbeing.
Never be tempted to use the more unpredictable colder, damper weather of Autumn as an excuse to become inactive, particularly when there are so many beautiful things to see outdoors with the abundance of Autumn colours all around you… So get out there and let your energy flow and transform, but remember to wrap up warm!
The Metal element is expressed and characterised by the qualities of ‘transformation’ and ‘preparedness’. Relating this to your physical, emotional and spiritual energy, this period can often usher in a stronger desire to reflect and discover who you are and to find greater value and meaning in what you do.
In order for you to be ready to fulfill and embrace this time of transformation you have to be able to consider letting go of old habits and patterns of thinking and doing, and often the physical reminders of the past that you may have been clinging on to but that no longer serve you well.
Having a good clear-out and ’de-clutter’ of your home or personal space can be a great cleansing exercise as part of the process of preparing for and allowing authentic transformation in your life.
‘Allowing’ and ‘Acceptance’ are very powerful spiritual teachings in Taoism and they mean being open and ready to receive Qi, without question or self-doubt, and the abundance of the Universe that is always flowing and is always available to you. Remember this is your birth-right: you do not have to earn love, YOU ARE LOVE.
So don’t wait for the annual ‘spring clean’ – do it now! Release and let go with gratitude the things you don’t need!
Through the process of physically de-cluttering your space you’ll also be making a conscious emotional decision about what should and shouldn’t be in your life right now, and this too can be very healing as the Qi fills the space you have now created.
This therapeutic practice signals to the Universe that you are embracing change and you’re mirroring the Universe by ‘creating the space’, both physically and emotionally. This natural process underlines that you are at one with the Cosmos.
Let’s now consider how you can adapt your diet to the Autumn season…
Eating in accordance with the seasons will boost your ability to ward off symptoms of ill health that may be more prevalent at any given time of year.
In Chinese medicine and Taoist tradition, Autumn has a downward movement, illustrated by the growth of root vegetables, and it’s important to begin to eat warmer, cooked meals, with plenty of seasonal vegetables during this season of change and transformation.
The taste of Metal is classed as pungent, which would be something like garlic, cinnamon and ginger, and eating lots of pungent foods is another great way to boost your health right now.
When a person develops a cold or flu at this time of year this can often be caused by an invasion of the Lung energy by what is referred in Chinese Medicine as wind cold or wind heat.
In both cases, the pathogen is stuck at the level of the skin and muscles and these blockages of Qi energy need to be moved to expel the wind and scatter the cold or expel the heat.
As a traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner, this is the time of year when I use the technique of ‘cupping’ the most – this means using small glass suction cups on specific parts of the body, as a quick, painless and effective way to move, expel or scatter the Qi blockages associated with the onset of cold or flu in my patients.
Eating food with pungent flavours, such as a curry or a chilli dish, will also begin to move the Qi in this way and can help produce sweating, which is another great way to release pathogens.
It’s worth noting that sometimes an individual can have ‘weak’ Lung Qi rather than ‘invaded’ Lung Qi, and this is often characterised by symptoms such as allergies and asthma.
For people with weak Lung Qi it would actually be inappropriate to eat excessive amounts of pungent food – so this is when the Chinese medicine principles of appropriateness and moderation should be heeded, and this is the practice of practical Wu Wei – finding the balance and harmony.
Dryness is another characteristic of Metal and this has to be balanced carefully particularly during the Autumn months. Many people can experience dry skin and lips at this time of year, and during the Autumn I treat many more clients with skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, along with a dryness in their lungs that produces coughs and colds.
Although Autumn is not a hot season, it’s still vital to keep hydrated to combat autumn dryness. Drinking tea, especially green tea, or room temperature water is a great way to help your body stay hydrated. Eating healthy soups and stews will also provide valuable extra fluid for your body. So now’s definitely the right time to dig up those allotment vegetables, dust off the pressure cooker and rediscover for some nutritious and warming treats for you and your family!
Ok, so finally let’s review some emotional and spiritual health practices…
Associated with the Metal element are the emotions of grief, sadness, reflection and “letting go”. If you’re a person favouring the Metal element you’ll need to be mindful of balancing your emotional energy to prevent excessive introspection or melancholy as you’ll be particularly sensitive to this form of imbalance right now.
The Lungs from Chinese medicine perspective receive Qi energy from the heavens and also govern respiration. Physically this is done through breathing, yet in a broader sense it also relates to your capacity to take in and adapt to new things, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
If your habit is to breathe shallowly you are not taking in you full share of vital energy. The Taoists teach that you should be mindful of the ‘quality’ of your breath. You should learn and practice mindful breathing so that it becomes natural for you again, just like when you were a baby! This will allow you to maintain higher levels of energy and be ready to adapt to whatever comes your way.
The mental and spiritual aspect of the Lungs is what is called the Po, and also referred to as the physical soul. As the Lungs are vulnerable to pathogens and infections they are called the fragile organ, and on an emotional and spiritual level you may be correspondingly ‘susceptible’ or ‘fragile’ to external energies.
People who have weak Lung Qi will almost always be more easily emotionally and physically affected or upset by their environment or those around them. Conversely a strong Po means that your physical sensations of vision, sound and body are alert and animated.
If you have a strong Po you’ll be high- spirited, enthusiastic, keen and positive in your approach to life – you’ll be a great person to be around and your vibrant energy will rub off on others!
The Lungs and Large Intestine have opposing but complementary functions – the Lungs are responsible for taking in pure energy and the Large Intestine for letting go of impurities. An imbalance in your Large Intestine energy can easily be recognised if you suffer from digestive or bowel problems but it can also be affect you emotionally and spiritually.
Many of my clients with this form of imbalance have a tendency to hold onto ‘emotional waste products’ in the form of unhealthy feelings and thoughts. Certainly Metal type individuals have greater difficulty in ‘letting go’ and ‘moving on’ from things that have happened to them in the past, particularly if they believe they have been hurt or mistreated in any way, and I have noticed that they also possess a very strong sense of injustice and unfairness.
As I mentioned earlier, a simple way to balance and strengthen your Large Intestine and Lung energy and boost your ‘Po’ is to practice mindful breathing, even if this is just for five minutes a day! Just drop your shoulders, close your eyes…. breath with love, breathe out with gratitude…
On a deeper level, the autumn months are a perfect time for you to work through any unresolved emotional matters attached to past injustices, or feelings of resentment, anger and grief. Can you let them go now? Just as the trees let go of their leaves…
It is not the way of nature to hold onto energy like this and it serves you no purpose or benefit. You are not built with an emotional storage system!
Instead, be at one with the transformative energy of autumn: BREATH DEEPLY….LET IT GO AND LET IT FLOW… THIS IS YOUR TRUE TAO NATURE.
Live in harmony with your divine energy and be at one with the Cosmos.
In traditional Chinese medicine there are five elements and each are connected to the seasons of the year – Taoists uniquely acknowledge the important transitional season of ‘Late-Summer’ that occurs around late August and September time.
I’d like to share with you some tips on how to keep healthy and harmonious during this Late-Summer season…
You can listen to my teaching on Late-Summer health here:
You can read the full transcript of my teaching on Late-Summer health and harmony below:
In traditional Chinese medicine there are five elements and each are connected to the seasons of the year – Taoists uniquely acknowledge the important transitional season of ‘Late-Summer’ that occurs around late August and September time.
This period is often referred to in the West as the ‘Indian Summer’ and it spans the end of summer and into autumn. This is when Summer with its extreme Yang energy, intense brightness and heat, yields and softens to the beginning of autumn, when the cooler Yin energy start to creep in.
Late-Summer in Chinese medicine and philosophy is associated with the Earth element, which is just one of the five Chinese medicine elements that also include: Metal, Water, Wood and Fire – each associated with one of the seasons of the year.
Taoists teach that you should always align and harmonise your energy with the current season, the translation of this concept being ‘appropriateness’. You can attune to the energies and qualities of the Late-Summer season and the Earth element in three ways: through your lifestyle, diet and spiritual health practices.
So let’s first consider some lifestyle habits…
The Earth’s energy is at its most dominant during the Late Summer period, with nature’s fruits being at their ripest and crops ready to harvest. You too should enjoy and take advantage of this absolute abundance by gathering and distributing all that Mother Nature has to offer during this time of opportunity before the colder and inwardly-focused Yin months ahead.
I’d encourage you to become mindfully aware of how you nurture yourself and your life force. The goal of this season is to return to your central core to re-generate and continue to allow your life force or Qi to flow, but in a more seasonal appropriate and balanced way.
Take time to care for yourself first, so that you can then nurture others. Remember: YOUR authentic and balanced well-being is of greatest important. Support others but without over-extending your own energy. Value and nourish yourself as the highest level of personal spiritual practice you can do, so that your love can then flow out to others.
Even though Late- Summer is a short season it can be marked by intense transformation within nature and you – remember: ‘you are part of nature, nature is part of you’.
For many, this is the time of returning to work or study after the summer break and making life plans for the working year ahead. On a mental and emotional level, the Earth element is in charge of ‘digesting’ your thoughts and cultivating your mind-set, and thus governs your learning, thinking and analysis.
The Earth element also symbolises your human need to be grounded and to firmly establish your roots in a solid base. Whether this is the place you call home, a family or community unit, or your work environment, your environmental or outer-world stability will always help create an inner stability and harmony within you.
Things in your ‘outer world’ will, however, always remain changeable, and this is why cultivating a strong and flexible inner-stability, through your daily personal routines and mindfulness practices, is also important.
The Taoists teach that you should be like the bamboo that can bend in any wind but will always remain firmly rooted! So how can you be more like the bamboo?… Well, inner calm and harmony can start with something as simple as being careful to not absorb too much negative news in the media, or by ensuring that you also spend time energetically digesting and nourishing yourself by reading, listening to, or watching positive and uplifting things every day.
Extending the need to be grounded to the Earth and your spiritual-self, you should also mindfully work at strengthening your connection with what I refer to as your ‘Spiritual Truth’.
This truth will be different and very personal for everyone, but essentially it means asking yourself: “Am I living with honesty and integrity, doing the things I love?...or…. ‘Am I settling for doing what others want or expect me to do, or am I being limited and blocked by my emotional feelings and fears?”
Simply by asking yourself these personal enquiry questions you’re acknowledging that you are an individual, divine spirit, and they will help you begin to re-connect with your spiritual truth and potential.
Remember: truth and love are one of the same.
You can also strengthen your spiritual and energetic alliance with the Earth and the wider Cosmos by spending time with and in nature, either by being outdoors in a ‘green’ environment, or by caring for nature’s plants and animals in some way.
So now let’s consider your diet…
The Late-Summer Earth element is associated with the Spleen, Stomach and Pancreas organ systems of the body and you can nurture your Earth element and these associated digestive organs through your diet.
In traditional Chinese medicine the Spleen is a central organ and any blockages or imbalances in its energy can affect the whole body. The Spleen’s role is to be the chief distributor of Qi energy from foods through to every cell of the body. All other organs depend on it for nourishment and health. The Pancreas works alongside the Spleen to control the extraction and assimilation of nutrients.
The Stomach’s role is to rot and ripen your food and, as the receiver of nourishment, it takes the energy from food for the Spleen to then distribute.
In Late-Summer the weather can remain warm but you should resist the temptation to have excessive amounts of cold drinks or raw food and salads as the stomach actually prefers warmer foods, which will help ease the digestive process (porridge is a perfect example of this).
The Earth element is also associated with the taste of ‘sweet’, and eating or drinking slightly sweet foods at an appropriate level will nourish the Earth element and its associated organs (a fruit such as a pear would be a perfect example of this).
But it’s all about BALANCE! So too much sweet food can also overwhelm and damage the organ and meridian system and impact your energy levels. So, as always the case in Chinese medicine health care, moderation is the key. Listen to your body with truth and honesty, pause whilst eating, and NEVER eat to full capacity!
Ok, so finally let’s review some emotional and spiritual health practices…
The Earth element is associated with the emotion we described as ‘worry’ caused by over-thinking. If you’re a person favouring the Earth element you’ll need to be mindful of balancing your emotional energy to prevent excessive feelings, such as those we label as worry or anxiety, as you’ll be particularly sensitive to this form of imbalance.
I work with many clients whose Spleen energy is out of balance, because of lifestyle, dietary or emotional issues, and this will commonly manifest in digestive health problems and sluggishness in their physical energy, coupled with emotional problems such as: being stuck, stubborn or inflexible.
Similarly, I see many clients whose present an imbalance in their Stomach energy and this will also manifest in digestive health problems and the emotions they would describe as: loneliness, emptiness or abandonment.
Both types of imbalance can usually be treated and energetically harmonised relatively quickly in the short term through acupuncture and dietary changes. However, if the underlying cause of the imbalance is an emotional one, I would suggest talking therapy work, and I would spend time with my client to help them understand and harmonise their emotional energy so that the imbalance doesn’t reoccur in the medium to long-term.
The Earth element emotions described as worry and neediness are counterbalanced by learning trust and acceptance. Though a journey of a personal and spiritual self- enquiry and awakening, I would like you to think about how you can cultivate on a daily basis, a more open and trusting mind-set both in yourself and the Cosmos around you. Remember as a ‘child’ of the Cosmos, you are blessed and held, you are divine, and you have nothing to fear!
Taoist blessings for an abundant Late–Summer season
I wanted to devote this short introductory teaching to the extreme side of your Yang mind and its child-like energy, as it can affect all of us at some point in our lives.
I’ve observed that if not appropriately loved, guided and educated, your Yang mind in its extreme can negatively affect your general health and well-being, happiness and life potential in the long-term. In other words: your mind, body and spirit….
You can listen to my introductory teaching on your Yin Yang Mind and Inner Child here:
You can read the full transcript of my introductory teaching your Yin Yang Mind and Inner Child below.
P.S. I’m also producing an extended Wu Wei Wisdom teaching on the subject of your Yang Inner-Child, which will be available in September 2014. In this extended teaching you’ll learn:
How to identify when your Yang Inner Child is affecting you emotions, thoughts, words and actions and life purpose and potential.
How to uncover and explore the childhood circumstances that have created your Yang Inner-Child.
I’ll offer you a range of proven and practical spiritual tips and techniques to take control of your Yang InnerChild and your life.
You’ll also benefit from a range of powerful spiritual enquiry questions, affirmations and healing guided meditations to help you discover, reconnect to and manage your Yang Inner-Child for inner clarity, balance, harmony and peace.
TRANSCRIPT OF INTRODUCTORY TEACHING ON THE INNER-CHILD
……I’d like to step back for a moment to first consider the wholeness and oneness of your unique and authentic energy. You should understand that this can present itself with two very different characteristics. Although interdependent and mutually supportive, the nature of these two characteristics can at times create confusion and turmoil as they attempt to coexist and cooperate with each other within the wholeness or oneness of your energy.
On one hand your energy can manifest as the playful, joyful, spirited, open, non-judgemental, inquisitive and the expansive side of your nature. These are the qualities that reflect the softer, spiritually-centred and spiritually-connected ‘Yin’ part of who you are – this is what the Taoists teach as ‘Shen’.
There is another characteristic of your energy, more childlike and immature, that resides within the human-centred ‘Yang’ manifestation of your oneness. This arises strongly when the energy of your human Yang mind perceives itself to be under threat, exposed or facing the unknown. It becomes volatile, unbalanced and moves into its extreme as a form of self-protection.
In this extreme state your Yang energy is more disruptive and expressed most notably through your emotions of fear and self-doubt. The Taoists teach this as a ‘Shen disturbance’, a state of energy being far removed from your authentic, harmonious inner balance, inner peace and ‘Wu Wei’.
It is these two extremes of the same energy that people find so confusing and difficult to recognise.
In its extreme your volatile Yang energy behaves much in the same way as an unruly, immature and out-of-control child, and will create a sense of chaos and disorder in your thinking and emotions. This is why many people also refer to this energetic expression of themselves as their ‘inner-child’, another popular term for this out of balance energy would be ‘theEgo’.
The discomfort your extreme Yang mind causes you to crave to return back to the familiarity and safety of ‘how things were before’, even if this has never been successful for you. Your extreme Yang mind wants to be safe and secure above anything else!
I lovingly meet and greet my client’s extreme Yang energy on a daily basis in my therapy work at Peak House Practice…
The energetic diagnosis and subsequent harmonising and rebalancing of both their Yin and Yang energies, be it physical, emotional or spiritual, is what they come to me for guidance, help and support with – even though they may not necessarily fully understand or appreciate this when we first meet!
I also want you to know that this expression of energetic extreme is not just confined to the safety and comfort of my therapy room. I often observe it in action in my everyday life as I encounter people who exhibit the tell tale signs of their Yang inner-child whilst going about their business. I too am not immune and I’m pretty sure my wife would tell you that she also endures my occasional extremes of Yang energy at times!
Everyone will experience this energetic state of being at some point in their life. It is part of humanity’s journey and this is why it’s such a universally relevant and important issue to explore and make sense of today.
The key is to be able to recognise these extremes of energy and understand their trigger or cause when they arise, either within you or someone you love, so that you can learn to lovingly support and rebalance the energy as quickly as possible!
Your Yin and Yang energy will always ebb, flow and transform, as is the nature of all energy in the Cosmos. Guided by misunderstandings in your belief system it can swing into its extreme state because of the people, events and situations you encounter.
But never forget part of our journey is to understand how these two characteristics are not opposite, separate or at ‘warring states’. They have to coexist and cooperate, they are one. A Taoist proverb states “bees need flowers, flowers need bees” and this equally applies to the Yin and Yang characteristics of your mind.
So where does the extreme energy of your Yang mind Inner-Child come from?
Well… in my experience, your Yang mind energy is first moved to its extreme during your childhood or adolescence years, and this is normally because you’re sensitivity has matured much earlier than your cognitive reasoning, and so this creates an energetic imbalance within you.
What happens then is the familiarity of your experiences or environment can hold you into becoming ‘blocked’ and ‘stuck’ in this extreme energy. And so it is that your child-like traits of thinking and doing are repeated time and time again, almost like they are connected to an ‘emotional loop’ on constant replay.
This pattern can easily continue through your teen years and well into your adult life. Even though it is energetically unnatural and unhealthy to do so, it has now become familiar way of thinking. With your child-like misplaced determination and misguided beliefs you now perceive being familiar,safer or the ‘lesser of two evils’.
An extreme of Yang energy can arise during these important childhood and adolescent years. This is often when an emotionally significant, unfamiliar, challenging or traumatic experience or a series of events, trigger uncomfortable, upsetting and seemingly overwhelming feelings within you, and you believe it is beyond your capability to deal with these emotions.
At this young age it is understandable that, if you’re not appropriately guided by an adult, you will be left unable to make sense of and logically rationalise what is happening to you. So you’re left being confused, rejected, unloved, abandoned, guilty, ashamed, sad, or frustrated. The full spectrum of childhood emotions are being created by your misunderstanding and childlike thoughts and you can’t figure out or understand why this is, or even what’s happening to you.
And so the energy of your child-like Yang mind becomes paralysed, frozen and trapped in that scary moment of time. From then onwards you begin to question, doubt and blame yourself as being the only way out of this dilemma.
You begin to fear the world around you, perceive you are alone and a victim, “not enough” to be unable to manage or cope. You begin to reject and move away from everyone and everything including your divine spiritual nature and your ability to connect with and share in the magnificence of the Cosmos.
So how can you harmonise and rebalance your Yang mind and Inner-Child and take control of your life?
Well…. many people think that their Yang mind, Inner-Child or Ego is their enemy to be battled with or something to be ashamed of. I’d like you to understand that this is definitely not the case – it’s just the oneness of the energy of your beautiful mind in its Yang extremities, and it badly needs help, support and above all love.
The Yang mind can be very misguided, needy, fearful and scared, but never underestimate its strength of determination and stubbornness. What it craves is some loving, calm, authentic and logical spiritual guidance that will help it develop and mature into its majestic beauty and fullness. Although you shouldn’t be surprised if it rejects this in the first instance! Remember it is childlike and very stubborn!
Many people believe that this energetic transformation and rebalancing is something that will take years or a whole lifetime to achieve but this is not true!
Once your Yang inner-child begins to trust this process and feels loved and supported, it will start to enjoy the emotional education process and participate openly and freely. The Taoists teach this as a “blessing” and when you feel able to receive the blessing, changes will happen surprisingly quickly.
You’ll be amazed how swiftly the energy of your mind, your thoughts, your actions and therefore your life re-balances and re-harmonises in a very positive way as you regain your authenticity and life’s purpose. This is Wu Wei or ‘effortless effort’.
You can subtly attune to the exuberant energy and bountiful qualities of summer and it’s associated Chinese medicine element of Fire through your lifestyle, diet and spiritual health practices.
I’d like to share with you some tips on how to keep healthy and harmonious this summer, and offer you a guided meditation to nurture and support your heart, which is one of the most important organs of the traditional Chinese medicine summer season…
You can listen to my teaching on summertime health and harmony here:
To complement this summer health teaching, you can listen to my ‘Taoist Inner Smile Meditation’ recording here:
You can read the full transcript of my teaching on summertime health and harmony below:
Summer in traditional Chinese medicine is associated with the Fire element. Fire is the element of enthusiasm, drive, desire, joy and passion. If you are a person favouring the Fire element you will be lively, dynamic, outgoing and enthusiastic.
Taoists teach that you should always align and harmonise your energy with the current season, the translation of this concept would be ‘appropriateness’. The Fire element in Chinese medicine is associated with Yang. Unlike the deeper, darker, calmer Yin element of the winter months, Yang is all about excitement, assertiveness and exuberance.
This is a season when all of nature is in full bloom and the same should be true for you. But, as with any other time of the year, it’s all about finding the harmonious Wu Wei balance, so remember: if your Yang energy becomes too volatile this can also create problems too.
You can subtly attune to the energies and qualities of the summer season and the Fire element through your lifestyle, diet and spiritual health practices.
So let’s first consider some lifestyle habits…
As a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner I always recommend that, where possible, you take advantage of the long summer days by rising earlier in the morning, perhaps going to bed slightly later at night and getting in some rest at midday. This rest period could be a 10 minute power-nap or sitting quietly with your eyes closed somewhere private. Of course, as you would guess, I would strongly recommend a 10 minute meditation and there is mounting evidence that even a short period of meditation has many beneficial effects on your mind, body and spirit.
Be careful to avoid the temptation to over exert yourself and do too much during this more active period of the year, as this will also create an internal imbalance. For instance, a lot of clients have difficulty sleeping during hotter weather and this can also affect the balance of their energies. So ensure you make the appropriate adjustments to your bedroom environment or your rest patterns to help with this.
Nature reaches is fullest potential during the summer months and so, as you too are part of the Oneness of nature, it’s a perfect time for you to also focus on your potential, changes in your life, on growth, joy and spiritual awareness.
Think about how you can develop your creative or spiritual self. Perhaps try a new hobby or experience, something that might push you out of your comfort zone. Do it now, don’t procrastinate, this is absolutely the time of year just to get out there and do it! You should also make it a priority to devote some time to doing the things you really love. Simply make an effort to get more joy and laugher in your life this summer.
The next thing I’d like you to consider is your diet…
In summer, indigestion can easily occur, so I always recommend a light and less-greasy diet at this time of year.
So that your Fiery Yang side does not overheat, now is perfect season to introduce some cooling ‘Yin’ foods into your diet. Food with cool and cold properties will clear excess heat, reduce toxins, and generate vital body fluids.
In general, cooling foods tend towards the green end of the spectrum, so things like lettuce, cucumber, and watercress, for example. Fish and seafood are also very cooling, in contrast to most meats, which can be warming.
It may be common sense but do also remember to drink plenty of water. Although it can be tempting to enjoy that extra glass of chilled wine or beer as a cooling summer treat, do be aware that alcohol is very Yang and heating, which can easily upset your inner balance – so as always, enjoy…. but moderation is key!
So what are the spiritual and health practices that can nurture your health during the summer season?
Well, in Chinese medicine the summer Fire element is associated with the organs of the small intestine, pericardium, triple burner and, most importantly, the heart.
The Taoists describe the heart as the ‘supreme controller’ and teach that the ‘Shen’, or spirit, resides in the heart. Any imbalances of the heart mean that the functions of the Shen will be impaired. This is why supporting the heart energy is absolutely vital to your emotional and spiritual health as well as your physical well-being.
According to Chinese medicine, when the summer element of Fire is out of balance, a person’s joy, the emotion associated with the heart, can go haywire, and when their Fire is deficient they can feel totally ‘flat’ and ‘burned out’.
Many people come to me for an acupuncture treatment during the summer months suffering from excessive yang energy or a heart energy imbalance. Typically they can feel restless, irritable, tense, or tend to be more argumentative. They may be suffering from poor sleep patterns or have allergies such as hay fever, skin irritations, rashes or eczema that have suddenly flared up. All are symptoms of an underlying excessive yang Fire, which can be rebalanced naturally with a few acupuncture treatments and slight tweaks in their lifestyle or eating habits.
Finally, for those of you who like to practice self-nurturing and self-healing, the Taoist ‘Inner Smile Meditation’ is a wonderful meditation to support and lift the heart fire energy at this time of year. I’ve recorded this meditation for you, which can be found on my website [the audio link is at the top of this post]. I hope you enjoy practising that inner smile…
The month of June has seen both Father’s Day celebrations and National Men’s Health Week in the UK. This has prompted me to share some teachings on my work supporting male clients and their physical, emotional and spiritual health.
In this interview I offer practical advice for men wanting to nurture their health and happiness, and for women seeking to understand the emotional mind-set of the men in their life. I also explore the relevance of a spiritual approach to resolving the everyday problems and challenges that men are faced with.
You can listen to my teaching on men’s emotional and spiritual health here:
You can read the full transcript of my teaching on men’s emotional and spiritual health below:
I wanted to share with you my experience and thoughts on men’s health and their physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing…
In my practice I’ve traditionally treated men mainly for physical health issues, such as pulled muscles, difficulty with their joints etc. but I’ve also noticed that more recently, men in general seem to be much more open to addressing their emotional issues and are grasping the fundamental connection between their emotions and their physical health. Men are now more happy and comfortable to use the emotional label: ‘stress’ in relation to their feelings and this is now often the first reason why they come to see me.
A lot of men feel stressed trying to meet the demands of the workplace and home and balancing the two together. This is particularly true since we’ve been through this recent very difficult economic and financial time and a lot of men have been either under the threat of redundancy or their own company has been under extreme financial pressure.
For many of my male clients these sorts of situations are very difficult to reconcile and balance and a lot of them feel that they have no one they can talk to or relate their concerns and fears without being perceived as ‘being weak’. As a result they experience the uncomfortable and often seemingly overwhelming physical feelings that we commonly call ‘stress’.
Learning how to lovingly control and discipline your mind and your thinking when going through very testing times and life situations is one of our greatest challenges as human beings. If, as a man, you hold the belief that you must always be strong, successful and unflappable in any situation, because everyone else depends on you, this misunderstanding can make life very difficult for you at times. Ironically such beliefs block your flow of energy and will stifle your inner creativity and resourcefulness when you actually need it most.
Of course, if as a man you’ve never been taught how to question your beliefs and control any unbalanced and unhealthy thinking or negative self-talk that may arise from these beliefs, it can seem difficult or time wasting to do so at first.
So a normal session with a male client would be something like them coming to me wanting to talk about their ‘stress’ in whatever form, and then hopefully we can quickly move to a place where we can explore what is at the root of these feelings. I show them how, by choosing to reject any unhealthy and unhelpful beliefs and take control their thinking they can easily and quickly neutralise and balance their emotional feelings. This is the most efficient and effective way to control your emotional feelings.
Once they understand this teaching and how to return to their most authentic, open and creative state of Wu Wei – that place of authentic inner balance and harmony, they can easily apply it to any life situation for themselves. This process of self-discovery and self-mastery is very practical and straightforward (which men love!), and can be incredibly liberating and powerful for any man who has otherwise been used to ignoring, withholding, and suppressing their feelings or being overwhelmed by their emotions.
It can be used and perceived as an emotional toolbox!
So what are the consequences of not dealing with the underlying cause of ‘stress’ for a man?
Well… the suppressed energy of a man’s emotional avoidance has to go somewhere – the nature of all energy is that should flow. It cannot and should not be held in one place, and so it will manifest in other out– of -balance elements of their life or health.
Blocked emotional energy can present itself physically in many ways but it would normally be something like a stiffness in their neck and shoulders or lower back, digestive or sexual health problems, or an inability to have a good night sleep. In terms of their lifestyle a man may be drinking and smoking too much or gambling as a form of emotional avoidance. They may be pulling themselves away from their family and home life, or creating a sense of isolation by working long hours in the office or bringing their work home with them and not be able to switch off.
Again, all these physical health or lifestyle issues are the type of things men often find easier to talk to me about in the first instance before we can comfortably move on to explore the much deeper or root emotional issues that need to be resolved.
In actual fact, some men may NOT initially consider their problems as emotional because they do not want to admit to it themselves. Many men are fearful that their emotions could be seen as a weakness or failure within them and so they are much happier to talk in general terms about ‘stress’ or ‘not been able to sleep’ or ‘smoking or drinking too much’.
I believe that emotions are a Universal and natural feature of the human condition and that we are all part of this Oneness. When a man can grasp that emotions are not a weakness at all, but are actually a great strength, asset and powerful ally IF understood and used correctly then their whole outlook changes.
Occasionally a frustrated female client will ask me if there is merit in giving their partner or husband a copy of the popular book ‘Men are From Mars – Women Are From Venus’ by John Grey, in order to help their men work on their emotions …but there’s definitely no one-size fits all solution I’m afraid!
Some men could enjoy the book and they will see themselves in it and can relate to what is written… but I also think a lot of men would have difficulty in reading the book and would find it even more confusing.
The reason for this is that many men are looking for a practical fix for their problems and don’t want to identify or associate with other men’s ‘issues’ and the deeper emotional psychology of mankind!
Having said that, the concept presented in the book of a man ‘going into his cave’ is certainly something that I see men do a lot. When encountering a difficult or threatening situation a man will often isolate himself in order to focus on the perceived problem at hand. This is often done because they believe that they can’t rely on or trust anyone else to deal with the situation, and so they become very single-minded and narrowly focussed on the problem. But this also means they start to overlook and limit all of the possible scenarios, solutions and outcomes to a situation.
In these situations I would encourage them to learn to trust that venturing out of their ‘emotional cave’ can be a good thing! Being more open and talking to someone else can often open up more possibilities and bring about a swifter and more positive resolution to life’s challenges.
It’s for this reason that some practical one-to-one coaching and guidance can really help men in these sorts of situations. I often refer to it as ‘sitting with it’. I like to sit in the middle of the problem or issue with my male clients, whether it’s in a face-to face session with me at Peak House Practice in Derbyshire or a Skype session with a client someone 1000’s of miles away. We then drill down and shine a torch-light on the route strands of the situation in hand and then kick around several ideas and solutions until we find one that feels right for them.
I always remind them that if you have only one solution, you have a problem. Two solutions you have a dilemma, three or more solutions you have authentic choice!
These tailor made outcomes are bespoke to each client and this can feel more comfortable for my male clients who don’t want to be offered a generalised stereotype or a mass market solution to an problem that is very personal to them.
They can then go away try out and test some of the practical steps, then come back, give me their feedback and we can tweak and adjust the next steps and actions accordingly to make it good fit for them.
By using this process, their emotional intelligence and emotional mastery skills become honed and crafted into a balanced, harmonious and well-oiled-machine that serves them well for many years to come!
So what place has spirituality within men’s practical health and life issues?
I believe all matters of emotional and physical balance and harmony are spiritual issues… I think a lot of men have great difficulty in embracing the idea of their own spirituality, compared to women who often find exploring their spirituality far easier.
Many men have been bought up in an environment and taught that they ‘should be tough‘, that ‘boys don’t cry‘, that ‘they should pull themselves together‘ and ‘not be a sissy‘ etc.
So I think that one of the greatest challenges I have with my male clients is to explain to them that, no matter how well intentioned, these are poor and even incorrect teachings, and that connecting to their spirituality means having integrity and being truthful and honest with themselves and how they life their life.
Being spiritual is not about being religious, nor is it about what many people think of as New Age mumbo-jumbo, it’s actually about believing, thinking and doing what feels authentically right for you, NOT what is or was right for your parents, teachers, peers or significant others your life.
Taoist’s teach that the male energy is naturally is more Yang than that of a female – taken to its extreme this means a propensity for being loud, boisterous, extroverted and showing off, or of course the direct opposite. But this too can be a generalisation and stereotype and so this is why I prefer to diagnose and treat each client on an individual basis.
It can, however, be useful for some of my male clients to understand the qualities and characteristics of Yang and to teach them how not to overstimulate this energy but instead bring it back into a balance by encouraging them to cherish and explore the softer and more thoughtful and loving qualities of their energy.
This teaching has also been useful for many of my clients who are parents to boys. Many parents will ask me for advice on nurturing their children’s spirit and energy and I believe the key, whether it be for boys or girls, is to encourage their individuality and self-expression.
Every human being has an element of self-doubt so as early as possible a parent should try and deal with this seed of doubt. Talk it through with your child… help them understand they will make mistakes, they don’t have to be perfect, and that above all else they are divine! Remember: expectations or criticism never motivate and will only serve to inflame their self-doubt.
Empowerment for many men comes from freeing themselves from the heavy shackles of the male stereotype which has been forced on them from external sources throughout their life and allowing themselves to reconnect with a much more powerful force within: their true spiritual nature.
This spiritual nature is the Yin part of all of us. It is the most dominant, resourceful, creative and creative force within – it is who you REALLY are. The rest of the fears, comparisons, achievements, are is merely an illusion constructed by the human Yang mind or what some people call the Ego – this is what separates you from the Oneness of everyone else and the Cosmos and makes you fearful and insecure.
When a man can reconnect to his spiritual nature this will provide him with an unwavering and a solid anchor and guide during any uncharted and challenging times in his life. Their Yin spiritual nature is soft and yielding, it does not shout, scream or push excessively or aggressively like the Yang mind does, yet it get things get done! Remember softness does not mean weakness – the Taoist teaching is the Yin part of us is ‘the iron fist in a velvet glove’!
Many men ask me how can being spiritual help with the practical, real life problem they are facing right now?
Well…. when I counsel and coach men on finding the healthy and harmonious Wu Wei balance in their life situations, whether it’s dealing with a particular family or relationship matter, or resolving a cash flow or staffing problem in their business, we are also dealing with a practical spiritual matter!
We are working at first unblocking and defining their spiritual energy or Qi (Chi) and balancing and harmonising this with the spiritual energy of their partner, other family members, their business, its assets or staff.
This means that the spiritual energy and intention they put into their relationship or business should be a true and authentic reflection of who they are and what they are passionate about. Once this is in order we then working towards nurturing the dynamic energy of the relationship or business so that it flows as smoothly and harmoniously as possible. This is what I refer to as Wu Wei, the state of effortless-effort.
I’ve just held my first Spiritual Sunday Retreat in the UK, which was a wonderful sharing experience for everyone who attended. To mark the occasion we’ve just created a new video that captures some of the moments of the day – you can watch it here:
I’ve also just set up a new YouTube video channel where I’ll be posting future Wu Wei Wisdom video teachings and meditations – please subscribe to this channel if you’d like to receive these videos as they happen.
I’ll be running two more special retreats this year and more information on these events can be found on my Peak House Practice website here.
David James Lees is an ordained Taoist and a multidisciplinary therapist, Chinese medicine practitioner, spiritual author and broadcaster. He enjoys sharing his unique message of practical, no-nonsense spirituality and inspiring people live their truth, reconnect to their authenticity and reach their fabulous potential.
Skype Sessions with David are now available for national and international clients!