Saturday, April 18, 2020

Magic of the Day

"If you've never been thrilled to the very edge of your soul by a flower in bloom, maybe your soul has never been in bloom."
~Terri Guillemets~

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Nourishing the Middle Jiao and Gu Qi During Times of Transition.

As we begin to understand more and more about our current pandemic, I feel more equipped  to write about how we can take care of ourselves during these challenging times. I study as much as I can now and I am learning from the doctors who are sharing their hands on experiences in China. Having access to this information has been incredible. I spend a lot of time processing what I am reading and hearing so that I may translate this information into meaningful and life affirming content for my patients, family and friends.
The current consensus is that this is a pathogen that moves through several energetic layers, from a Chinese medical perspective, and presents as a damp condition. Knowing that dampness is a key part of the presentation of the virus once it enters the lungs, it feels important to support our systems with exercise, regular meals and quality foods.
During this transition I have been advising everyone to lean into preparing their own meals, especially soups. The possibilities are limitless. I prefer to slowly make them in layers.
To begin, we start with the broth as a base and then add greens, other vegetables and toppings.
Soups warm and nourish the middle Jiao. This is the energy center of the core that includes the Chinese Spleen and Stomach. The energy that is created by the transformation and transportation function of the Spleen is called Gu Qi.
For many reasons, cultivation of Gu Qi encourages the manifestation of Righteous Qi, as part of a continuation of Qi through various organ systems.
If we are eating appropriately and at regular times, the Spleen will be happy.
It will then be able to nourish Blood and ultimately many other functions of the body that enhance a healthy Wei Qi or Immunity. When the Spleen is regulated we are less likely to create excessive phlegm. The lungs are particularly susceptible to dampness excess, especially for those of us who live near the ocean.
Having a healthy Spleen supports stability, nourishment of the mind, the heart and appropriate timing in the acts of giving and receiving.
Here are just a few ideas for creating nourishment during these swirly days. I hope that they inspire anyone who reads this entry to explore one's own capacity to create warmth and goodness in one's life right now.

The soup above, began with a chicken broth, and vegetable broth. Black rice, sea lettuce flakes, scallion, ginger and goji berries were added for releasing the exterior and building Blood.
After drinking this elixir I felt my skin open and the heat move Qi at the surface.
This was wonderful for a cold Spring day.

The ingredients photographed below include: goji berries, shiitake mushrooms, cranberries, lemon peel, and violet flowers. I cut the ingredients finely for the carrot, ginger soup. Additional ingredients include celery, onion, carrots, small golden potatoes, spinach flakes, sauerkraut, coconut milk, paprika, chipotle powder, garlic, topped with dandelion and parsley.

Below is a detail of the violet flowers sitting on dollops of coconut milk. Given the contrast of the opposing orange and purple, the beauty warranted its own special image. When soups are beautiful, they evoke a sense of curiosity and joy. Theses are important elements of digestion.
The ancients say that digestion begins with our eyes.

Below is another detail which includes, shiitake mushrooms. I soaked these in warm water twice and used the mushroom infusion as an addition to the soup. It adds an earthy flavor that gives it an added layer of musky beauty.

Below is the soup in its entirely.
The colors orange and yellow, belong to the Earth Element. I made this soup today after a cold and wild rain. It feels appropriate to have a warmer soup because of yesterdays wind and dampness. The gusts were so high that it felt like a hurricane. When we have this kind of unstable weather, the Earth Element enjoys special attention.

Lastly, this Spring green soup was made from asparagus, kale, parsley, cilantro, garlic, vegetable broth, sauerkraut, topped with lemon peel, carrot slices, asparagus shoots, goji berries and shavings of a savory Dutch gouda.
Sauerkraut is sour. The energetics of sour foods condition/tonify the Wood element in Spring. It is a small added ingredient to the soups that adds flavor and energetic support to awaken the detoxifying function of the Liver.
The green soup was pureed after the greens were sauteed in sesame oil. This oil is warming in nature but gives the fresh greens a nutty and earthy element. I like adding sesame oil to soups because it can soften the clawing nature of leafy greens.
Parsley and cilantro are excellent for detoxification and supporting the Liver in Chinese medicine.

It is important to remember that if we have histories of trauma, we may rush through meals, override that para-sympathetic function of digestion and forgot to taste the sweetness of life. Some of us may actually be holding the freeze response in the viscera. Paying special attention to this aspect of our physiology is a meaningful part of our unwinding and healing.
I find that after a nourishing meal, sitting for a bit with a hot water bottle over the stomach is wonderful for allowing the process of digestion to continue. We want to hear the peristalsis, this often means that we are digesting well and that the function of the Chinese Stomach is online. 
Hot herbal tea, a drop of peppermint oil on Acupuncture points Pericardium 6, slowing down for a little bit before resuming activity allows the Middle Jiao to reorganize and for our bodies to absorb the goodness of the meal that we just enjoyed. 
When we have appropriate time for digesting food, we are also digesting information in our lives that may be asking for time and integration. In Chinese medicine 'Yi' also known as 'thought', is stored in the Spleen. When we slow down to truly digest our food, we may also be digesting past or present thoughts, and appropriately allowing assimilation not only on a nutritive level but also on the physiological, psychological and energetic level of the Chinese Earth element. 

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Because the World Needs More Egrets

There are spacious days right now, ones filled with study, silence, beauty and observation of the natural world. I have seen nature come closer, to create more intimate opportunities for connection.
So many new birds are arriving, 

This beauty was photographed in the bright Spring light. Egrets are shy and in my experience difficult to photograph. They do not like people getting too close to them, they are elusive in that they appear to be still and willing, and in a blink of an eye they are gone. 

I love their layered feathers, large transparent wings and long necks. They always feel elegant to me. Graceful extensions of the skies. On warmer days, the skies are teaming with new life and I often wonder what they see looking down on us during this unprecedented time. 

On a walk yesterday a heron flew over the middle of Springs Fireplace road. It followed the yellow lines and swooped down so close to me,  I felt as though I could almost reach for its amazing wings. It was the closest that I have ever been to this magnificent bird. 
Watching egrets and herons are once of my favorite activities. During this pause, the greatest luxury and gift is the extra moments with nature and being the observer during different times of the day. 
The day began overcast and damp, followed by late afternoon sunshine and more rain tomorrow. To be able to pay such close attention to the subtle changes of the skies, the water and the new plant growth feels like a very special privilege. 
One that I treasure so close to my heart.