An important station point in the year for me is the moment it’s clear Spring will not be held back. A tipping point, subtle to be sure, a tipping point nevertheless. Like transiting the apex of some hills, you may easily miss the watershed moment if your attention is elsewhere. Even though Gaia runs by other than anthropocentric rhythms, many of our various cultures have standardized these stations on the wheel of the year to help us mark time. Lunar New Year in Asian traditions is also known as Spring Festival; we’ve just entered the year of the Earth Dog. Perhaps you’ve noticed a difference in how the daylight appears (certainly when it appears), new birdsongs, a hint of scent in the air or other changes evocative of Spring and the awakening of life from hibernation. The heart lifts, doesn’t it?
Happy New Year! “Detox” is the sound bite: cleanse from wintertime’s sedentary nap and begin to refresh inside and out. Now is the time to set health in spring, New Year’s resolution and spring cleaning all wrapped up together! Create Heath through rehab: re-habit your life for good Spring planning and planting. I know you can, you do have the technology!
In the Chinese Five Element system, Spring is when Qi rises up from its hibernation deep in the ground, overwintering in a protected and restorative place. Little green shoots appear, days are longer and warmer, the impulse is to be out & moving freely. As winter wanes spring grows, both interweave along this process. It’s not always a smooth ride, is it?
Begin to be a bit more active outside, keeping cozy clothing at hand to ward off sudden chill. If you had the flu this season, take extra care, especially keeping head, neck, upper back and shoulders protected. Protect your growing strength. Enjoy the spring sky and sunlight (all the more appreciated on cloudy days), powerful therapeutics this time of year! Step by step you’ll arrive; enjoy the process of your journey. There’s a lot you can do for yourself (hints and suggestions below)! The really good news is we don’t have to do it all by ourselves. In fact, it’s reasonably essential to have help along the way, a second opinion if you will. Acupuncture and related modalities serve to regulate and balance your internal energetic environment.
Decluttering = detoxing Declutter your environment (outside), declutter your body (inside)! Pretty simple. A basic technique in Feng Shui is getting rid of excess and in-the-way stuff - it’s all speedbumps to free flow of Qi. Remember, Spring Qi is about rising up with new life. Do you really want to obstruct this process? Interested in more about Feng Shui? Get in touch with Cid Tamagno, she’ll take care of you in style (link) .
How about “inside” decluttering? In winter we eat heartier foods like stews and baked casseroles that bank our energetic furnace. Start to lighten up your food choices as spring seeps in; you’ll be able to move more freely. Include some more fresh fruit (see baked sour apple recipe below) and vegetables, especially green veg. Don’t dive into a predominantly raw approach, though, that’s better tolerated in the heat of summer. Another tip for easing into Spring by helping your digestive system has to do with simple food combining. Try animal-based protein with non-starchy vegetables and without carbs in your meal. Plant-based protein is ok with carbs and starchy or non-starchy veg.
Rehab your habits with some of these suggestions to get back to yourself, your true self. I can help and am ready to be part of your personal good health posse. One more internal decluttering tip: check out my 5 minute “Center Your Heart” guided meditation for a simple reset you can do anywhere you have a few minutes.
Recipes and Cooking Hints for Spring
Lighter soups, steamed and sauteed vegs, spring foods are more lightly and quickly cooked. Have a salad with warm soup or broiled chicken. Lemon water, so good for you first thing in the morning (you can substitute apple cider vinegar for the lemon, extra cleansing!). A cooked breakfast still the way to go, until winter is long gone. An easy crockpot vegetable soup, adapt as you desire: crushed tomatoes, shredded green cabbage and other vegetables and seasonings as the mood strikes. Here’s a little secret: I use frozen mixed veg for a variety and extra convenience. Finish with some sprouts and a drizzle of oil (olive, flax, coconut - whatever works for you!) for a clean meal.
Helpful herbs and seasonings include basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, onion, tumeric, ginger, cardamom, cumin, horseradish, mint. Grains good for spring are oats, quinoa, millet and wheat. I know wheat’s had tough times recently. If you do eat it, please get the best quality you can. Choose beets, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, celery, cucumber, asparagus and radish (including daikon) for some spring vegetables.
I’m finding a baked Granny Smith apple to be intensely satisfying lately. Core the apple (skin on is my preference) and set in a ramekin or small dish to hold. Where the core was I layer in a pitted date, some walnuts, powdered cardamom and clove, a little coconut oil and another date to top off. Bake for about 45-60 minutes ‘til cooked through. it’s a fairly forgiving and adaptable recipe; play around with the fillings. How about fig, 5-spice powder and some grapefruit or orange zest (organic here, please)?
It started out as a silent sound in my sensibility: “tensile silence” was what I heard. What in the heck could that mean?!?
Letting the echo play out for a while to buy time, I was waiting for some meaning to filter down to my understanding. I thought of course if there is tensile silence there would be tensile sound. N.B. silence/sound: Yin and Yang in action! But what’s the tensile about? Tensile strength is how susceptible or resistant to stretching forces on a material. More resistance is greater tensile strength. In other words, able to stretch more and longer before breaking. Often discussed concerning properties of various metals but applicable to other materials and situations as well, including the human experience.
Speaking of playing, you must admit “tensile” has a sonic presence. Fun to say and hear “tensile silence.” “Tensile sound,” significantly less auditorily vivacious. Very soon thereafter “tensile resonance” showed up with its own sonic attitude and understanding blossomed.
So here’s where I ended up with this bit of passing ephemera heard out of the corner of my mind’s ear. Silence and Sound stand in yin-yang relation, polar opposites united in the condition of vibration we experience as sound or resonance. Tensile, as a capacity, is a type of durability, able to withstand stresses and strains without significant (or, goodness forbid, fatal!) injury.
Humming along at one’s unique fundamental signature frequency means all our parts are running well; it’s a state of vibrant health! Chinese Medicine historically recognizes internal and external roots to imbalance, leading to unhealthy states. Let’s face it, we live in a rich stew of stimulation for all our senses these days. I think in order to make it through, day to day, we tune out the vast majority of what comes to us through sound, sight, scent, touch. Perhaps even a good portion of what we say! That doesn’t mean we’re not being affected. How much of what comes your way harmonizes with you? How much of what comes up in your internal realm is harmonic?
Here’s where many of what are commonly called complimentary and alternative modalities come in. They aim to return you to your best self, to your own best resonance, to tonify (“tone up”) your Tensile Resonance capacity. My work is about helping You get back to Yourself, using a variety of tools and modalities, including sounds. One of the aspects I like about using sound is the dual nature of its effect. While your whole being is bathed in sonic restorative resonances and simultaneously your ears receive the same impulses and transmit that energy directly to your brain. Harmonics wash over and through, inside and out!
Can you hear your Tensile Resonance now?
Fodder or Feeder?
Clearly, times now are not as they used to be: it’s NOT like the “good old days!” Ofttimes it seems our singular and collective unfolding stories careen without route markers. You may rue the new or face toward the past, gauging absent good old days with an outmoded scale. Or do you pace just in front of a rushing fireball, heading to anywhere, as long as it’s out of the way, directed only by what you are escaping?
One of the foundational texts in Chinese Medicine (The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine) discusses in the first chapter how folks nowadays (keep in mind when this was written) don’t know how to live, not like folks in the olden days. Stay up late, drink, carry on and eat immoderately. Scholars don’t really know when this work was written (estimates range 220 BC-220 CE) but it is attributed to the Yellow Emperor who is said to have lived around 2650 BC. No matter the dates, my point is more to human nature and the human condition: we know better but we like to slack off!
Consider Living Well as the Best Revenge as a sociopolitical action as well as a suggestion for maximizing your time here on earth. Consider capitalistic Big Business (Eisenhower’s infamous Military-Industrial Complex bred with Wall Street and Madison Avenue) as feeding off the populace & Gaia by supplying particularly-engineered foods, superfluous material goods & activities, etc for profit of suppliers rather than benefit of consumers, no matter what is said in promotion and advertisement. How much and where do you buy in?
We are made and known by our choices more than our gifts.
“I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.” (Carl Jung)
Create your best self, best future, in all facets and dimensions:
Much is made of spiritual attainment, the higher self, these days. But where is Spirit without a vehicle incarnate? Honor Spirit by honoring Body. Cultivate Spirit by cultivating Body. Eat good food. Move your body. Rest your body. Keep yourself from being fodder for Big Business industrial “food” and Big Pharma profit over real health.
Eat the best quality food you can, the least processed to gain most nutrition so your bodymind operates at it’s best efficiency and minimizes depletion of innate reserves. Set your bodymind up to succeed.
Retain your own power and take responsibility for yourself. Did you really sign up for Big Pharma’s subscription plans? How like Indulgences of old: have your cake and eat it too!
Don’t get me wrong, we live in a time of great option. There are powerful health tools and resources available from cutting edge innovation to ancient wisdom.
You get to choose! Live Well.
Do your own thinking.
From The Dalai Lama: “I’ve learned that peace of mind is not just a matter of dullness, but of being alert & using my intelligence to the full. If we only look at problems we face close up they seem grave, but looked at from different angles our attitude becomes more realistic. The mind remains calm, which we need if we’re going to be able to exercise our intelligence."
He’s talking about the balancing yin and yang. Maintain supple and well-conditioned cognition through “use it or lose it” and rest from mental activity. Be judicious with media and electronics and engagement in current events. It’s almost 70 years since George Orwell’s “1984” was published. He wasn’t wrong, Big Brother is deftly in place (hmm, Big Business, Big Brother: same monogram. Kinda cute, yes?). Where are the interstitial places, the places to rest out of BB’s sight? How to use media for maximum benefit and minimal detriment? Cultivate creativity & wiles. Any artist of any medium will tell you their creative process is dependent on open, undirected, unstructured time and space to invite inspiration. It’s the basic mechanism described in creation myths: out of nothing comes something.
Give yourself the gift of undefined time and space. Live Well.
Chinese Medicine roots the mind in the Heart. Heart mediates all emotions. We develop narratives of our perceptions and encounters; also known as the emotional stories we have of our experiences. Can you work your way back in to the original event and see it, hear it, understand it from an alternate (and equally valid) perspective? How does your emotional state adjust in response? Is there relief from an oppressive memory, confirmation of yourself or another outcome? What was it The Dalai Lama said?
Common thinking may want to separate Mental and Emotional worlds. While they are not exactly the same, I think we all know there’s a great deal of overlap. And here’s a key to the Advertising component of Big Business: the cult of fads. Packaging (psycho-sell) telling you how and what to think, what to feel. Actually, preferring you don’t really think or honestly feel.
Here we are with the Heart again! Heart is the abode of spirit (shen) in Chinese Medicine. So we see Heart as home base for mind, feelings and spirit; in fact, the concept of shen encompasses all three.
What is your true heart’s desire? For what does your spirit long? What is your own curriculum in this life? How do you embody and enact your spirit’s purpose? What pulls you on toward your best self, your best future?
Ah, not simple or easily-answered questions. How to discover the answers? Recognize your innate unique guidance system. Honor the wisdom of your internal Heart compass. Pay attention! Be mindful and do your own thinking.
Live Well to be true to yourself!
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” M. Ghandi
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.” A. Einstein
Find (develop!) your communities of like-minded, like-hearted, like-spirited. Reach out, support one another along the way. Remember those who have gone before, upon whose shoulders we stand. Nurture in to the future in recognition of those who will come after us. If you go back far enough, we’re all related. Community extends beyond the here and now. Technology brings us innovative forms of community.
Live Well on purpose.
As foundational context for life as we know it, is not our parent Earth the ultimate community?
Live well to care for Gaia. Conserve and cultivate natural resources on, in and around earth as well as on, in and around each of us. We’re all in this together, from the microcosm of self through domicile to macrocosm of Earth.
Be kind to your self, it is only one
of many on the planet…
(1965, Allen Ginsberg, “Who Be Kind To”)
I’ve been mulling this idea for quite some time now. I have to, it won’t leave me alone. What can Living Well is the Best Revenge mean? “Living well” is easy to understand. Paired with “Revenge?” Dissonance roiling in my mind! How do we justify “living well” and “revenge” in the same thought and in the face of the Golden Rule? Doesn’t this mindset shackle us to the past in an on-going destructive cycle? Revenge on what? How revenge? Why revenge? Really, an eye for an eye and so on? How to administer cyber crime in this context? Accidental vs intentional transgressions?
So I cultivate tactics and perspectives to bring something into focus and sense I can grasp within this miasma. All the while, myriad eddies and streams spin off out of the chaos, each leading to a distinct facet of the whole concept. It was at a memorial service for a dear sweet friend, suddenly departed, I found a foothold and the path forward. The path is long and winding; here’s the first report from the road.
Two things have been clear from the outset. I wasn’t going to get away without really understanding what the word revenge means. I think we all have a sense of it, but what are its language roots? What is the fundamental energy template encoded in that word? In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) parlance, what is the Original Qi (Yuan Qi, or prenatal qi) signature of the word? All etymological roads here lead to Rome: Latin vindex, vindicare, vindico all have to do with the idea of avenge and relate to our word revenge (look up difference between revenge and avenge on your own time please). From back over a couple millenia there comes a sense of not only defending against injustice but also restoration after injury at the root of revenge. Not wanton aggression or disproportionate blind rage. Justice in a return to balance and liberation from an injured state, for oneself or another.
The other thing was understanding where the phrase came from. Again, looking for foundation. Who said it and why? What did George Herbert (1593-1633, English poet) mean? Was he imagining a hedonistic 3 year old prince? Was this a poverty pipe dream of the oppressed? Was he a stone misanthrope, stepping on anyone and everyone to get ahead to get his? Have we totally co-opted an older sentiment to fit contemporary purposes?
Looking back at Herbert’s life (Poetry Foundation.org Bio), we see words like contemplative, humility, local, devotional used to describe the man. It seems Mr. Herbert was operating from a place of integrity and generosity of (Christian) spirit. I’m put in mind of the Chinese word zheng 正, simply translated as upright or correct. This online citation includes the meanings “centrally-located” and “pure.” We see zheng in TCM as zheng qi, the aggregate of processes keeping the person whole, well and functioning correctly. That includes the condition of your Yuan Qi, among other aspects. As TCM is more about relationships than absolutes, we must consider here xie qi as well, usually thought of as disruptive or pathogenic influences. Ah, it seems Herbert was saying a life righteously lived was the best response to the inevitable slings and arrows of human experience.
Ok. So what was it about this gathering of people from the many iterations of my friend’s life? It was this: each story told in rememberance was the same one. Of course the particulars varied. Gosh, that’s exactly what makes it all so interesting! The story was of her love and elan for each of us. Well, yes, I know what you’re saying. Yes, everyone is “zheng” at their memorial. But you know people like her: “good” people, ones who make you feel grand and special and joyful and even healthy. They’re not a dime a dozen and we’re lucky to know them. But what finally clarified, crystallized was the understanding she embodied and lived “Anti-Pain” even though she herself had more than her share of on-going Pain. It is the ability for each of us to hold opposites within that makes us whole. In fact, death comes when our own Yin and Yang separate. Pain was one thing with which she seemed to be stingy; she did not share and put it off on to others. This was the story told over and over: her generosity of spirit, enthusiasm, joy and love. One of the definitions of vindico is to liberate and deliver. It is through friendship and sharing of our true spirits we protect (by nourishing the zheng qi) and restore one another. Is that not a good way of revenge? How can we not?
“Friendship is a sheltering tree” (Samuel Taylor Coleridge)
C'mon!?! No, really, they all walk into this moment in March between St. Patrick’s Day and the Vernal Equinox. A story can be told of this powerful time of year, especially 2017's Fire Rooster year. Hold on to your hats and get ready to go!
2017’s Vernal Equinox (March 20), as one of the balance points in the year (Yin & Yang are balanced, equal day & night), is definitely not static. I'm sure you sense that. It’s dynamically balanced as the moment between breaths is balanced: vital with all potential. As we tip our way toward new growth and re-generation, Yang is rising, Yin is waning; the time of action develops and grows. Energy rises up out of winter’s hibernation to be born again into manifestation and action in a new year, a new cycle. Spring belongs to the Wood element within Chinese cosmology, the sphere of initiating, growing, rising up, as well as the attribute of justice. Wood element cannot be held back from being born and transitioning to the next cycle, the next incarnation any more that spring or new babies can be held back.
Move into this season of renewal, harness the inherent Power and Strength of Mars. Roman god Mars, ruler of March (first Roman month), originally governed fertility and agriculture, new growth and procreation: life! Ride this wave of natural and powerful vitality, dedicate to your unique vision (passion, path, life’s work) in the way St. Patrick did, dedicated to spreading the truth of his own vision.
Now more than ever, what do you have to say? What moves you to action? What is ready for birthing?
EVERYTHING IS WAITING FOR YOU
Your great mistake is to act the drama as if you were alone.
As if life were a progressive and cunning crime with no witness to the tiny hidden transgressions.
To feel abandoned is to deny the intimacy of your surroundings.
Surely, even you, at times, have felt the grand array; the swelling presence, and the chorus, crowding out your solo voice.
You must note the way the soap dish enables you, or the window latch grants you freedom.
Alertness is the hidden discipline of familiarity.
The stairs are your mentor of things to come, the doors have always been there to frighten you and invite you, and the tiny speaker in the phone is your dream-ladder to divinity.
Put down the weight of your aloneness and ease into the conversation.
The kettle is singing even as it pours you a drink, the cooking pots have left their arrogant aloofness and seen the good in you at last.
All the birds and creatures of the world are unutterably themselves.
Everything is waiting for you.
Everything is Waiting for You
From RIVER FLOW: New and Selected Poems
from EVERYTHING IS WAITING FOR YOU Poems by David Whyte
Let’s face it, between interesting passions and myriad responsibilities, who’s got time?
That’s the paradox, relaxing can “expand” time, or rather our perception of time so we lose that personal atmosphere of feeling constantly compressed and behind.
Herbert Benson, MD, forged the mind-body link in contemporary mainstream awareness with “The Relaxation Response” (1975), showing the benefits of calming the neurological sympathetic cascade of physiological processes, which when experienced chronically over time become harmful and debilitating. In other words, getting out of a predominant fight, flight or even freeze state and allowing return to homeostasis, or natural bio-functioning, balances out the detrimental effects of contemporary life. This is where we’re designed to be, not in constant high-alert mode. Modern science confirms what the Ancients knew to be true.
A lot of discussions around this idea center on meditation and mindfulness practices as relaxation techniques. Yes, very useful and effective! Not the only options; there are many little tricks you can learn to cultivate this natural state. The good news is you don’t have to do it all by yourself, even though we’re each ultimately responsible for our own selves. My practice is founded on helping folks get out of their own way for a while, giving their systems a chance to let down and reboot.
How do I do this? It’s different for each person and may vary from time to time. I call on any number of techniques and tools (see Services) based on my own clinical experience but more importantly based on what’s salient for the individual in the moment. Although it may often not feel this way, we’re each the authority on ourselves. I rely on that Wisdom that comes from You. Acupuncture and Healing Sound are two of the strongest methods in my clinical opinion.
Here’s a couple things you can use to help answer “why relax?” for yourself
Long, Slow Deep Breathing
Simple, you already have all the equipment, and you can do it anywhere, anytime you need. Use the image of your inhale coming all the way into your whole torso, filling your internal self up as water fills a glass, from the bottom up. Let the exhale return from the top down. Fill up your torso front to back, side to side, bottom to top, letting your breath flow with ease, without effort. Keep your mental presence on the process. Use this gif to get started. Once you really have it, feel free to lengthen and deepen your breathing on your own. A little bit every day is better than trying to do a long session if and when you get around to it. Results are cumulative!
Guided Meditations with Singing Bowls
Sound used in therapeutic settings is another potent ancient tool enjoying a renaissance in modern times. Certain sounds and instruments combined with voice bring the listener to a place similar to deep meditation.
I've joined the ranks of recorded practitioners, guiding the listener into profound relaxation from the inside out to the sounds of singing bowls and other sacred instruments. “Opening to Yourself” download available at CD Baby. Contact me to purchase a CD. Seek out sources that "speak" to you; try field recordings of natural sounds, especially Gordon Hempton.
From CD Baby Album Notes:
“Find your way back to your true self, as you are intended to be! Open into your original energetic blueprint to re-balance and re-set accompanied by the sacred sounds of singing bowls (both Himalayan and crystal) and other acoustic instruments. Linda's soothing voice brings you deep inside to profound relaxation. Let the healing power of music and sound wash through your very being, recalling and evoking your connection to all-that-is.”
I’m ready to help!
The Tai Ji icon (aka Yin-Yang) concisely answers “Why Relax” for me. This symbol represents an organizing principle that makes sense of this manifest life, how we are in our perceived universe. Yin and Yang are about relationship rather than absolutes. Energy/matter. Inside/outside. Hot/cold. Doing/not-doing. Not-doing as a form of relaxation. It’s by knowing hot we understand cold. It’s by not-doing we balance doing as night balances day. I’ll probably talk more about Yin & Yang at some point.