I’ve been a student all my life. When the opportunity first showed up a few years ago to start being a teacher, my inner voice shouted, “But I’m not ready!”
Turns out, I really was ready. That was one of many surprises along the way.
The most surprising thing I discovered about teaching was this: I was still learning.
In fact, I often learn more from my students when I’m teaching than I did when I was purely a student.
It was a question from a student that got me looking into herbal ways to cope with depression. That information was vital when I was dealing with the aftermath of deaths in my family.
Because I practice Energy Medicine, a lot of people ask me how to “fix” things.
The thing is, I can’t fix anything. However, I can teach you how to fix yourself.
And I can recommend two methods to get your energy flowing freely and keep your body, mind and spirit in balance.
QiGong (pronounced chee gong) is a Chinese “moving meditation” and a gentle, transformative practice to improve flexibility, strength and confidence.
Jin Shin Jyutsu (pronounced gin shin JUTE sue) uses light touch on acupressure points on your body to help relieve pain and stress by balancing and harmonizing your energy flow.
JSJ has been known to improve chronic conditions that didn't respond to conventional treatment.
Here are two opportunities coming up next week:
On Monday, February 17, a new 10 am QiGong class is starting at the Decatur Healing Arts ANNEX, 619B East College Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030. We will focus on internal organ health. We’ll also integrate QiGong and Jin Shin Jyutsu self-help to keep your Qi flowing and your body in balance.
There is room for a couple more students. Email me if you’re interested.
On Tuesday evening, February 18, I’m presenting an Introduction to Self-help Jin Shin Jyutsu from 7-8:30 pm at Antlers & Wings, 245 E Trinity Place #1210, Decatur, GA 30030. You will learn how to harmonize your body pathways using your hands as “jumper cables.”
Find out more and register for the class here.
I hope to see you at one or both of these events. In the meantime, here’s a simple Jin Shin Jyutsu exercise to help you find harmony when you’re angry. I call it “Putting your middle finger to good use.”
Here’s to health and harmony!
Jonathan Swift idealized the “Houyhnhnms,” the race of talking horses in Gulliver’s Travels who behaved with such “equine-imity.”
In reality, though, horses can be ferocious. Or moody, or scared, or the whole gamut of emotions we (in our anthropocentric view) consider “human.” The challenge for us is to learn to read the signs, to understand horse language.
The horses at Youth Villages Inner Harbour Campus have a demanding job: to be patient with the residents, who are emotionally traumatized youth. As the Youth Villages website explains:
Horses have the capacity to read human emotions with amazing accuracy. They sense trust, uncertainty, fear, happiness, and everything in between. It is in this relationship with a horse the children and adolescents at Inner Harbour begin to trust again and heal.
These therapy horses are trained to put up with displays of terror, rage, exuberance and other forms of acting out as the kids learn to work with them. They take it all in. But how do the horses chill out? How do they release their own tension and stress before it festers inside them?
That was the task that we, the Moonrise Sisterhood of energy healers, faced when we visited the horses on Sunday, August 18. Our teacher, Ellen Kircaldy Mathys, brought us there to use Reiki and other forms of energy work to set the horses — and resident goat, plus some chickens and a turkey — at ease.
But first we had to meet them and introduce ourselves.
They were a little standoffish at first.
But as we started giving them Reiki energy, they came around.
Clyde the goat even got into the act.
One of our members, Paula Linck, works extensively with animals and taught us how to find the chakras on horses to send hands-on Reiki energy
We used other shamanic healing methods as well. Tibetan bowls …
Tuning forks …
And chimes … after all, “music hath charms to soothe the savage beast.”
After we worked on everyone, it was time for treats.
I found the whole experience as transformative for me as it was for the horses. My favorite moment was when Reva and Hope were both nudging me to ask for more. The horses were so friendly at the end, it was hard to say goodbye.
How long do the good vibes last? Moonrise member Karen Triana got a report from Paulina, a Youth Villages staff member who works with the horses: “The staff mentioned how relaxed everyone was today, despite needing to be patient and quiet for long periods of time. So not just the horses trying to be more open to the students, but the area was more at peace. Stella connected with 8 students today, offering to take on relationships with them, which was awesome because we haven't asked her to do that in this way yet. Clyde actually accepted a lot more attention from the kiddos today, too. It was wonderful to see him bask in it.”
And a couple of days later, Kimmy Yon, one of our Moonrise members who works at Youth Villages and helped coordinate our visit, said, “I went out yesterday afternoon and the space felt so peaceful, the barn was calm and most of the horses had their heads our of the stalls.”
It was so rewarding to be involved in something so needed, where the effects are so immediate and can lead to lasting change. We’re going back to visit again in a few months, and I can hardly wait!
Is there something you’ve been involved in that transformed your life or made a difference in more ways than you imagined? Send a comment and tell me about it.
How to get motivated for better health
When I went to the doctor in April, my first time under Medicare coverage (woo-hoo!), it had been 12 years since my last visit. I don’t recommend this, by the way. But I’ve always considered myself healthy, and I had herbs and healthy food to keep me that way.
So imagine my shock when the doctor’s office called me a week later and said, “You have diabetes.”
My first thought was, “Oh, no! I give nutrition advice to my clients!” I was embarrassed more than anything else.
You see, knowing about healthy foods and actually eating well are not the same. I knew how much chocolate I had been eating. I recognized how screwed up my digestive patterns were. I just didn’t recognize the symptoms of diabetes: I thought I had a UTI.
But when the doctor suggested I start taking insulin immediately, I balked. There are all sorts of health conditions and risks associated with diabetes, but the one that terrified me was the increased risk of dementia from insulin. Having lived through my mother’s decade-long decline into late-stage dementia, I vowed I would do anything to lessen that risk.
Anything? That’s where this disease diagnosis became an opportunity to get my body and my life back on track.
I told the doctor I didn’t want the insulin, but she insisted I would need it until I got my blood sugar stabilized. So I made a deal: I’d use it until I was stable, then would keep myself regulated through diet. (Turns out, exercise is a huge part of this as well.)
Okay, I was motivated. I spent hours researching the Glycemic Index of different foods, and — what turned out to be even more important — the Glycemic Load: how much sugar you are actually ingesting, depending on how much of a certain food you eat.
I found some surprises. Blueberries and raspberries, my favorite fruits, have a very low Glycemic Load (GL) if you eat just 4 ounces. Ditto for peanuts and most tree nuts at 1-1/4 ounces. But popcorn, my go-to snack, unbuttered, was off the charts — and so, off my new diet regimen. So is chocolate, of course, but I didn’t throw it away; it’s in the freezer, awaiting some future time when I can face my sugar demons with moderation.
So, eating low-GL foods and measuring everything, I became stable and could stop taking insulin after six days.
At my checkup visit one month later, the doctor said I was compliant enough to just measure my blood sugar once a day, as soon as I get up in the morning.
As of this writing, I’ve been on this new regimen for 3 months, and I’ve lost 22 pounds. That’s really helped to keep me motivated.
My next doctor visit is in October, and I expect it will go well. There is research showing that diabetes can be reversed — with regular exercise, adherence to diet, enough sleep, and keeping stress at a minimum. Oh, and some herbal supplements can help, too. I’ll keep you posted.
Let me also apologize in advance to my clients: I will probably be even more forthcoming with nutrition advice in the future.
If you’d like to find out how Reiki, Reflexology, Jin Shin Jyutsu and Herbal Medicine can help you reduce stress and improve your health, please get in touch with me.
When I was on a weekend retreat at The Mountain in North Carolina, I noticed several patches of the native plant we call Jewelweed or Spotted touch-me-not. What I didn’t see much of, fortunately, was its nemesis, poison ivy. Still, it gave me an opportunity to share my appreciation of this medicinal plant with the other attendees.
First, the taxonomy info (skip this paragraph if you don’t like technical stuff). Jewelweed (botanical name: Impatiens capensis) is an annual plant usually found in wet, shady soil alongside creeks, bogs and ditches. The leaves are oval with rounded tooth edges; the lower leaves are opposite but the upper leaves can become alternate. The flowers, bright orange with red spots (or sometimes yellow), bloom from June to September.
The seedpods are fascinating for kids of all ages. Tiny cigar-shaped pendants that grow fatter as they ripen, they will explode when lightly touched — hence the name, “touch-me-not.” You are actually helping the plant propagate by “sproinging" the seeds.
Jewelweed is one of the best remedies for poison ivy rash and mosquito bites. In fact, you will often find it growing near poison ivy, as if to say, “I’m here to help.” For immediate relief, you can pick and mash a few leaves (chewing but not swallowing them if you prefer) and place the green pulp directly on the affected skin.
You can even be prepared in advance by making jewelweed ice cubes and keeping them on hand. Here’s the recipe I learned from my herbalism teacher, Patricia Kyritsi Howell:
Gather 8 or 9 fresh jewelweed plants (with or without roots; if you include the roots, be sure to rinse the plants to remove dirt). Chop the leaves and stems coarsely and place in a blender or food processor. Add enough water to cover and process until smooth. Pour into a quart-size canning jar, cover and let the mixture steep overnight. Then pour it into ice-cube trays and freeze until solid. When it’s ready, you can pop the cubes into a freezer bag and store in the freezer. Whenever you have a rash, insect bite or abrasion, smooth the jewelweed ice cube over the area for instant, cool relief.
Native Americans of the woodlands and Southeast have been using jewelweed for centuries, and not just for poison ivy.
The Cherokee used jewelweed ceremonially as an ingredient in Green Corn Medicine for the annual corn harvest. Historically, the community would make an offering of the first green corn and other important plants to ensure the rest of the crop would be successful. They also used jewelweed:
The Iroquois used jewelweed:
The Meskwaki used a poultice of fresh plant for nettle stings. The Micmac prepared an infusion of the leaves for jaundice. The Mohegan made a burn dressing, compounding the flower buds with rum to use as an ointment, and also a poultice of crushed flowers, without rum, for burns, cuts and bruises.
The Ojibwa considered jewelweed an analgesic, and would rub the juice of a fresh plant on the head for headache. The Omaha made a poultice of crushed stems and leaves for eczema. And for the Potawatomi, an infusion of the whole plant was used for chest colds.
So next time you come across jewelweed in the fields or woods, take a moment to appreciate it — especially after a rain, when raindrops bead up on the leaves and shine like jewels (one explanation of the name). Say “thank you” for everything jewelweed does for us.
Sources: Medicinal Plants of the Southern Appalachians, Patricia K. Howell.
Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants and Herbs, Steven Foster and James A. Duke.
Native American Medicinal Plants: an Ethnobotanical Dictionary, Daniel E. Moerman
All photos from Wikipedia
It’s been said that when you’re angry, you create a loop of negative energy that does the most harm to yourself, physically as well as emotionally. But, you might say, some things are impossible to forgive!
Well, anything is possible if you break it down into manageable pieces. So let’s bring in two powerful self-help tools to harmonize your energy and allow forgiveness. Used together, they can help you scale the insurmountable, free your “stuck” energy, and maybe even reverse the course of dis-ease welling in the discontent of your body and mind.
Jin Shin Jyutsu is a Japanese hands-on energy medicine practice used to address health imbalances in body, mind and spirit. It is based on the principle that to heal your body, you must strengthen and harmonize the flow of life energy within.
I’ve talked about how simple it is to harmonize anger by holding your middle finger while breathing deeply.
Now add the potency of the Hawaiian practice of Ho’oponopono to focus on forgiveness. That is, speaking four simple sentences, out loud, to yourself, while focusing on a particular person in a particular situation that brings up anger for you:
Hmm. Not as easy as it looks, is it?
Still holding your middle finger, break this down some more. You’re not addressing a lifetime of resentment here. Pick one incidence where a person (an ex, a parent, a sibling may come to mind) did some thing you just can’t forgive. There are three aspects to this:
1. The situation:
This may include place (“I’ll never go there again!”), time (“You knew I was too busy for this!”), and event (“It was my birthday, damnit!”).
2. The person:
You may have years of baggage with this person. Concentrate on just this one thing, and ignore the rest.
How much guilt, shame or regret does this one incident bring up for you? Can you forgive yourself for feeling this way?
Pick 1, 2 or 3—start with whichever feels easiest for you. Take a deep breath, and drop your shoulders (which may be tensed up around your ears by this point). Remember yourself in that fraught situation, and feel all the feelings that come up.
Hold your middle finger, and repeat the Ho’oponopono phrases until you feel a shift in your energy.
It may be that you can finally take a deep breath without a hitch. Your finger may be tingling. You may finally be able to release the tears that have been held back.
You’ve now brought forgiveness to one aspect of the situation / your relationship with that other person / yourself. There’s more to do.
Creating forgiveness is an ongoing process. But it does get easier the more you practice.
I love you, and thank you.
Today we embark on a new year, 2018, and if it’s anything like last year, we’re in for a bumpy ride. Wouldn’t it be nice to have one sure thing to look forward to?
Here’s an idea I found while looking through the We’Moon 2018 Calendar: La Luna. This is an annual book published by Mother Tongue Ink that tracks all sorts of astronomical and astrological events and puts them into an easy-to-understand context. And it was talking about your Lunation Birthday.
Let me stop here and explain my love-hate relationship with astrology. I never really “got” astrology because there’s way too much math involved. And yet … I’ve had readings done that were chillingly accurate.
It wasn’t until I learned that astrology uses archetypes, patterns of behavior in our collective unconscious, to “predict” our responses to people and events, that it started to make sense. If we get stuck in the behavior of a particular archetype, it’s more likely that we will respond according to the pattern that astrology sketches out. If we’re more mindful, we can choose to respond differently.
Okay, back to the moon. The We’Moon calendar states:
“When the Moon returns to the same Sun/Moon angle or phase as at our birth, our receptivity is enhanced,
In other words, for two to three days each month the moon phase is “home,” and we can breathe a little easier and feel more in tune with nature and the rhythms of the natural world.
Sound good? But what’s my moon phase, you say. I’m glad you asked! You can find out by typing your birthdate into either of these website calculators:
Stardate - shows you a day-by-day progression of the moon during the month you were born.
AstroCal - offers a character description of each moon phase.
So now that you know what phase the moon was in when you were born, how are you going to celebrate your lunar birthday?
Depends on the phase, you know. The Waxing moon phases are for planting seeds and watching our vision grow. The Waning moon phases are for sharing the harvest and preparing for a new cycle. Here’s how We’Moon describes them (your personal archetypes may differ):
New Moon – Keeper of the Vision
[Waxing] Crescent Moon – the Pioneer
First Quarter Moon – the Decider
[Waxing] Gibbous Moon – the Teacher
Full Moon – the Benefactor
Disseminating [Waning Gibbous] Moon – the Crusader
Last Quarter Moon – the Alchemist
Balsamic [Waning Crescent] Moon – the Seer
What archetypes best describe you? Your Lunation Birthday could be an opportunity to actually be the person you were born to be. And that’s something to celebrate.
Recently I held a series of lunchtime Qi Gong sessions: 20 minutes for “vitality and optimum health,” with time left over for lunch.
It sounded like a good idea, yet attendance was sparse. Was it the time? The place? Do people not want vitality and optimum health?
Who knows? What I can answer is this: What was the teacher’s intent, and was she focused on that?
I admit, I was focused on making Qi Gong convenient. And that doesn’t exactly resonate with health and vitality.
It reminds me of the adage: Teach what you want to learn.
And I realize that what I want to learn has everything to do with the current political climate: how to survive and overcome the hate, fear and domination poisoning our most basic human interactions.
Also, what I want to learn can’t really be learned. It can only be practiced. Over and over, until it becomes a more natural way of being.
Central to Chinese philosophy is the idea that yielding overcomes force. The Tao-te Ching says:
I love Qi Gong because it is a calm, relaxing way to practice everything I want to learn. Which brings me to yet another adage:
When the student is ready, the teacher will emerge.
Even if it’s your inner teacher.
I will be starting Qi Gong classes soon to explore learning serenity, focused intention and “see and not see.” Will you join me?
In the news recently was this item from Auburn University, Alabama: using a high-resolution microscope, Professor Vitaly Vodyanoy has been able to see and actually map a system of nodes and vessels — that appear to follow acupuncture meridians.
Dr. Vodyanoy calls this the “primo-vascular system,” and he has seen evidence of it in “blood vessels, organ tissue and the lymphatic system.” Now, he’s only been working with rats so far. But he says that’s just the first step before validating this research in humans.
Explaining acupuncture: the primo-vascular system hypothesis
“Even with our microscope, you cannot see the vessels until they are touched, because they are transparent, but they turn a yellowish color when touched,” says Dr. Vodyanoy. He says the nodes are filled with microscopic stem cells — those primary building blocks that can be used to regenerate tissue and heal diseases.
Dr. Vodyanoy is testing his theory “that the nodes, when activated by acupuncture, osteopathic manipulation, pressure or laser, release stem cells that flow to organs where they replace injured cells and become organ cells.”
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) explains “Qi” (pronounced “chee”) as the primordial energy that flows through all living things, along the meridian pathways outlined in acupuncture. Now scientists like Dr. Vodyanoy are attempting to identify and isolate Qi as actual microscopic stem cells.
For example, stimulating an acupuncture point below the knee is thought to send stem cells to the pancreas, where they can repair and even regenerate the organ.
This research could have a major impact on “pain management, tissue regeneration, organ reconstruction and diabetes and cancer prevention and treatment.”
You can read more about this research here:
While we (the public) are waiting to hear the results of these studies, I’d like to point out that energy medicine workers already know how well it works. Reflexology, Reiki, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Therapeutic Touch and many other modalities have effected profound healing. We may not know why — and even Dr. Vodyanoy’s research may not be the complete answer.
If you haven’t yet experienced the healing energy of Reflexology, Reiki or Jin Shin Jyutsu, please give me a call at 404-406-5204.
It’s no coincidence that in Jin Shin Jyutsu (JSJ), as in life, the middle finger is related to ANGER. That’s why holding that finger is a way to harmonize feelings of anger and rage.
By “harmonize,” JSJ doesn’t mean tamp down your anger or ignore it. Rather, it’s a way of expressing your anger in an assertive way that doesn’t harm you or anyone else. Because anger can be a healthy motivating force when it isn’t used to lash out indiscriminately at others (rage) or to undermine your own self-worth (depression).
Here’s an easy exercise to harmonize your anger in just two minutes:
While you are holding your finger, focus on exhaling and inhaling slowly, through your nose. When you exhale, you are releasing stress and tension. When you inhale, you are drawing in more life-giving energy (known as “Qi” in China; “Ki” in Japan; “Prana” in India.)
Notice: when you inhale, do your shoulders feel tight? Drop them as you breathe out, and you’ll feel even more relaxed. You can do 9 rounds (or more) of exhales and inhales while you’re holding your middle finger, and feel both calm and energized when you finish.
I’m finding this Harmonizing Anger exercise especially useful these days, when so many current events seem to trigger my anger reflex. I hope you find it helpful.
One of the beautiful truths of Jin Shin Jyutsu is, because everything is connected, one simple exercise can be healthful on many levels.
For example, JSJ shares several tenets with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The middle finger is related to the Wood element in TCM — the driving force that makes everything grow in Spring. The Wood element, in turn, rules the Liver and Gallbladder in the body. And the Liver in TCM “opens to the Eyes.”
This means: holding your middle finger helps harmonize any physical or emotional dis-eases related to the Liver and Gallbladder systems [in TCM, these are more than just the physical organs] and any complications of the Eyes. One activity that stresses the Wood element is Reading too much. It can result in red, irritated eyes; blurred vision; even headaches. Holding your middle finger is a simple way to help address these eye discomforts.
But there’s much more that holding your middle finger can do.
The middle finger relates to several vertebrae on your spine: Cervical vertebra 2, Thoracic vertebrae 3 and 9, and Lumbar vertebra 3. So when you hold your middle finger, you’re energetically helping relieve back strain and keep your spine in alignment.
Through its connection with the Liver system of TCM, the middle finger helps with the smooth flow of Qi energy throughout the body, balancing the emotions and regulating the hormones.
When the TCM Liver system is out of harmony, it can affect the digestion, leading to abdominal pain, nausea, heartburn, indigestion and other complications.
When the TCM Liver system is not “lubricating” the body with enough fluids, it can lead to dizziness, jaundice, brittle nails, spasms and tremors, numbness in the limbs, and difficulty bending and stretching.
When the TCM Liver is “stagnant” (the Qi energy is not circulating properly), it can result in menstrual irregularities, mood swings, insomnia, skin eruptions, fatigue, and a host of other dis-eases that are all interconnected — even if Western medicine has so far failed to see any correlation.
Holding your middle finger is not going to “cure” these issues, of course — especially not in two minutes! But if you get in the habit of harmonizing your middle finger and your anger every day, you are creating a space of balance which your body can use to heal itself.
There is so much more that the middle finger can do to promote healing. Let me know if you want to find out more.
People in Western culture seem pulled in two directions whenever fall rolls around. We see Nature around us doing that last hurrah before winter: the main harvest is in, the leaves are turning, squirrels and other animals are stockpiling food supplies.
Yet we are gearing up for all the frenetic activity that will take us from Halloween through to New Year’s Eve. Parties. Shopping. Making plans to get together with friends and relatives we’ve somehow avoided all year.
Consider instead the wisdom of discernment, as practiced by many ancient cultures more directly attuned to the earth. Fall was the season for letting go. Whatever did not serve you, whatever was not essential for survival through the winter, was cut. Tossed. Released.
It’s so important to exhale. In yoga, exhaling is considered more important than inhaling! Breathing in creates tension; breathing out allows relaxation. Likewise in Jin Shin Jyutsu (JSJ), exhaling allows stale air and stagnant energy to leave the body, creating space for fresh air and vibrant energy to enter.
In JSJ, energy moves down the front of the body (exhale) and up the back (inhale). It passes through specific Safety Energy Locks, similar to acupuncture meridian points. In fact, the Prime Mover, SEL 1, is the initial mechanism for exhaling and letting go.
(To feel how this works, sit and hold the two points at the inside bend of your knees. As you breathe, do you feel tension leaving your neck and shoulders? Your stomach area? Anywhere else that was tense or anxious? Just two minutes is a great restorative!)
Letting go of the gut
Hard to imagine with all those holiday feasts coming up, but fall is also an excellent time to let go of excess weight. I’ve been subscribing to the “Healthy Gut Summit,” an online series of interviews with doctors, naturopaths, nutritionists, and other experts on how to heal such all-too-common abdominal disorders as leaky gut, IBS, acid reflux, and more.
These interviews will be available to watch again free of charge for a limited time only, from October 30 – November 2. Here’s the link: http://www.margaretledane.com/healthy-gut-thinner-summit-speakers/
An important takeaway from the series for me was the importance of chewing your food. “Chew it till it’s liquid,” said one presenter. Digestion begins in your mouth, mixing food with enough digestive juices so the stomach is able to finish processing it. (Chinese medicine says, “The stomach has no teeth.”) As I practice this, I’m learning all over again how much less food it takes to feel full. And how much easier it can be to start losing weight!
These days so many of us barely chew anything before we swallow it — and our compromised digestive systems show the results. It wasn’t always that way. When he was a child, my father wrote to his great-grandfather, Charles Seton Henry Hardee of Savannah, declaring, “I chewed my milk one hundred times.” This may sound like overkill, but great-granddad sent him a dime every time, and a dime went far for a youngster in the early 1920s. My dad wrote a lot of letters.
One of the bonuses of the summit is free access (for a limited time) to a documentary about GMO foods, “Genetic Roulette.” This powerful and disturbing film will have you rethinking where you get the food you eat. The link is: http://responsibletechnology.org/free-gift-genetic-roulette/. Enter this password: protectyourhealth.
Christin Whittington is a practitioner of energy medicine – helping people restore balance in their bodies, their health and their lives using a combination of Reiki, Reflexology, Jin Shin Jyutsu, Qi Gong and herbal medicine.