Zen Shiatsu Meridian Stretches

Greetings Dear Readers,

Where there is Qi flow there is no pain”. – Chinese proverb

I thought I’d share some excellent exercises to balance the body by focusing on releasing the meridians one by one.

5eThese stretches come from the Shiatsu tradition which is based on the five element system of medicine.  If you already know which meridians (also known as channels) are out of balance you can focus more on those ones.  For a general tune-up you can work through the whole sequence.  For the entire sequence, the exercises are performed in the order on the flow of energy according to the Five Elements as they are linked below.  You can incorporate these stretches into your daily or weekly routine for best results.

Please remember that the effect of these stretches, like acupuncture, is cumulative, meaning that each session builds upon the next so that the energy is building up in each organ system over time. It takes persistence but often one can start to feel the boost in energy after the first session.  Intention is important.  You can set an intention to increase the flow of energy in the body, to relax the channels, to strengthen the energy of the channels and organs, and the corresponding muscles, tendons and ligaments so that your energy is directed to flow in a smooth and unobstructed way for the relief of pain, to improve mobility and for general health.

 

Enjoy!

Yours in health,

Cynthia McGilvray, R.Ac.

Strengthening the Metal Element: Structure and Value

Greetings Dear Readers,

Here we are in autumn 2012. Already a year of great change as predicted by the Mayans, astrologers, numerologers and others. Will the world end? I believe the Mayans were actually predicting a change in the world-as-we-know-it. So the “end” just means change, big change, a re-birth. Ancient mythology has the phoenix who rises from the ashes, first there is the fire, destruction, things are ending then from the ash rises new life. This is the sense I get from the time period we’re in. We also have the Uranus-Pluto square transit which started this June and continues until 2015, we are looking at a lot of deep change, similar to how things were in the late ’60′s.

For many this has brought a lot of unsettlement, a feeling of not knowing the ground beneath you. If we study history, there’s never been a time of so much change happening so quickly. Over the last 100 years, massive changes to the way we live, from religious institutions which formed the backbone of most people’s existence at one time, to the structure, or should I say, de-structuring of the family unit and the core of our home life, and a loss of many of the reliable people in our daily lives who form the larger social unit, the community.

What this boils down to is that we have lost an important element of our daily, monthly,yearly life in all this, this being our experience of ritual. Rituals are activities performed for a specific purpose that have a sense of connection with a higher purpose. They provide a sense of meaning to our lives, giving our lives a richness of a connection with the divine. Some people think of rituals in terms of religious observances, sacred forms learned from spiritual teachers. Rituals can also be seen as daily routines such as the “morning ritual”: brush teeth, floss, take shower, style hair, get dressed, drink tea, read the newspaper, walk the dog.

The autumn season in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is governed by the Metal element
which is connected with ritual. It is a season when things become more calm and routine, there is more structure. This is a time of year when it’s especially important to have structure in our lives and some sense of ritual to connect us to the sacredness of daily life and the bigger sense of why we are here. Ritual allows things to become more refined and powerful. Buddha taught that the more times we perform an action the more powerful it becomes.

I remember when I first started a meditation practice. My teacher told me it was best to commit to something I could do every day, however small, that the daily-ness of the practice was what would bring about deepest changes over time. So I started small, a little shrine with Buddha and eventually some water bowl offerings and 10 minutes of meditation. Some days I really didn’t feel like meditating. My mind would feel so wound up from a stressful day working with severely autistic children running, screaming, scratching and biting. I made myself sit on my meditation cushion anyway. I learned to stop judging myself on the days that weren’t so great. I learned from my teacher to rejoice in myself, be happy for small accomplishments, for the small effort I could put in. It started out small but then the energy builds. Buddha said “Many drops of water fill a bucket. First there is one, then two, three, four, soon the bucket is over-flowing”.

Metal is sharp and solid, well-defined, as opposed to Water which flows all over. So when things feel chaotic, look for definition. When we define things we bring structure to them, things have boundaries and this allows what is meaningless to fall away. We cut the “dead wood” so we can focus on our true purpose. This is the opposite of wishy-washy. Define your values and create ways to express them in your daily life through ritual and you will feel stronger in Metal. Other benefits of strong Metal element include: better immunity (Wei Qi), improved skin, more oxygenated tissues from better lung function, improved bowel function (Metal element governs the Lungs and Large Intestine) and heightened intuition (Metal is about our gut instinct).

What do you really value? Are you living according to our values? Are your values finding expression in your daily life?

Love to hear you comments and questions.

Happy November,
Cynthia