Friday, July 27, 2007

Law of Attraction

Here's a bit of irony. After writing the latest blog post and telling various people about the benefits of acupuncture in quickly relieving a stiff neck, I woke up two days ago to a stiff neck of my own. Is it coincidence?

Most of us have heard about the Law of Attraction by now. In a nutshell, the Law of Attraction states that we draw into our lives what we focus our energy on. Then is it really coincidental that I should wake up with a stiff neck right after devoting a fair share of time and energy thinking and writing about it? In my mind, it was just another piece of evidence that Law of Attraction is as reliable as the Law of Gravity. Gravity doesn't work sometimes and not others. If you throw a ball up into the air, it will always - always - fall back down. So with the Law of Attraction. Whatever thoughts you dwell on and give energy to will always have an effect on what shows up in your life!

Sometimes not the desired effect, mind you, but that is where focused intention comes in. By intentionally directing our thoughts and aligning them with our desires, we can manifest just about anything we want into our lives! Now that's not to say you will wake up to a shiny new Ferrari tomorrow if you think about one today (though it's not impossible!). But practice makes perfect, and I highly encourage you to take inventory of your thoughts.

What kind of thoughts run through your mind on a daily basis? Are they negative? Critical? Self-defeating? If so, notice them, discard them, and replace them with positive thoughts. You'll be amazed at how quickly this can produce a turnaround in your mood and the way you feel! Spend more time thinking constructive, feel-good thoughts, and more good things will show up in your life!

As to my stiff neck, luckily I knew just what to do, and it vanished very quickly. More than a nuisance, I considered it a fun little reminder from the universe. A reminder of just how powerful our thoughts can be!

Monday, July 23, 2007

stiff neck?

Have you ever woken up with a stiff neck? You felt fine when you went to bed the night before, and you wake up and can't turn your head to one side. You're having a hard time pulling out of your driveway, because you can't turn to look over your shoulder. It hurts to brush your hair, and you're feeling generally quite miserable, not to mention cranky.

Have you been thinking for some time about trying acupuncture? If you haven't done so yet, this is the time! Did you know that acupuncture can help to drastically relieve a stiff neck and restore range of motion with just one visit?

There is a special point on your hand that your acupuncturist will needle, all the while having you gently turn your head and stretch your neck muscles. You will be surprised to find that, within minutes, you can turn your head much further than before the session started!

If you are unable to get to an acupuncturist, you can massage this point yourself while gently rotating your head left and right over your shoulders. The point is called Luo Zhen, which translates to "crink in the neck". You can locate it by forming a loose fist with your hand. Place the index finger of the opposite hand between the knuckles of the index and middle fingers, and then slide it about 1/2 an inch back, towards the wrist. Focus on the point on the same side as the affected area of your neck, but you can work the Luo Zhen point on both hands. When one side starts to get too sore, work the other side. Keep massaging the point and turning your neck, until you are able to rotate conisderably further. Then give it a rest and repeat later on.

If you can get to an acupuncturist, he or she will be able to stimulate the Luo Zhen point more strongly with the needle than you'd be able to do with pressure alone. He or she will also use additional needles - most likely in your neck and shoulder area - and maybe even do some
cupping in the affected area. Cupping helps to release the muscle spasm. Most patients describe the feeling as comparable to a deep tissue massage. It will leave some marks on your skin, and you may look like you've received a hug from a giant octopus, but you'll walk out feeling relaxed, relieved, and a lot less stiff than you walked in!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Allergies suck!

Well, the wind has been blowing and the sun is out here in San Jose. It is beautiful. Trees and flowers are in full bloom, and the air smells sweet with summer.

But you would think the plague has hit. Everyone is walking around clutching tissues with streaming eyes and runny noses. Why? Because the pollen is sending everyone's immune systems into hyper-drive.

How can acupuncture possibly help? Well, what the needles do is take the pressure off the nervous system so that it can recalibrate itself and start acting in a more appropriate way. When our bodies are responding to the allergens in the air, often our immune systems are over-responding to what it percieves as a threat. We help mellow-out the nervous system while at the same time strengthening the immune system. Using herbs we open up the sinuses and again work on strengthening that immune system. The result? a drug-free, non-drowsy answer to an annual or perennial problem.

Happy summer!

Friday, July 13, 2007

endless possibilities

After Anna had gone on vacation to Mexico at the end of May and I had taken over Lokahi Acupuncture in her absence, it was my turn to take a vacation at the end of June. It had been 6 months since my last vacation, and a little rest & relaxation was much needed.

I spent two weeks in various parts of New York State. I attended a retreat near Albany, New York with a group of 6 other women. The experience was life-altering, and I walked away from it with a tremendous amount of joy and feeling re-inspired to create the most fulfilling possible life for myself.

I spent some time with my in-laws, visited with old friends from the time I'd lived in New York many years ago, and took the train down to Manhattan to meet up with yet more friends.

The entire trip was very much about connecting and re-connecting with dear friends (especially fabulous women friends). I returned from my trip refreshed and uplifted, ready to dive head-first back into my life at home. Ok, ok, I will admit, there was a little bit of reluctance to end my vacation and get back to real life. But I was excited about it, as well. Excited about taking all the principles I'd learned at the retreat back into the real world with me and seeing how I could apply them to my life.

Coming back to work at Lokahi Acupuncture, I was struck by just how much it means to return to a work environment you enjoy. So many people dread going into the office. Dread the interactions with their bosses, their co-workers, and the often unpleasant surroundings they work in. I felt so blessed to return to such a wonderful work environment. I love my exchanges and interactions with Anna, love our patient community, and love the beautiful space that Anna has created in this office.

The other day, I decided to treat myself to an acupuncture session with my first regular acupuncturist. When I started seeing her, she was still an intern at my school, and I was in my first semester. She graduated at the end of my second semester and moved away, but she is now back and practicing in Santa Cruz. Since I had been missing the ocean dearly, I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity to drive down to Santa Cruz to be treated by her and breathe in a whiff of ocean air!

It was so lovely to see her again, and I always get so much spiritual healing from my sessions with her. That's the part about acupuncture I am truly passionate about. The part that goes more than skin-deep and goes far beyond treating any physical ailments.

While resting with the needles in, I found myself reflecting upon how an experience at our office differed from an experience at the school's clinic in Santa Cruz. Although it's a nice clinic, it doesn't have that same warm, intimate feel that Lokahi Acupuncture has to offer. There is something very special about our small, family-oriented environment, and our patients appreciate that when they come here. And I, most certainly, appreciate working in this kind of environment! What a difference it makes!

I am a firm believer in the Law of Attraction, and I am always amazed to see how what we set our intentions to will show up in our lives. My current work environment is exactly what I had visualized before I met Anna, and I still am in awe at how perfectly things can fall into place in our lives when we are clear about what we want.

If you are less than happy with your current work situation (or relationship, health, living space, or any other area of your life), I encourage you to start spending some time, every day, focusing on what an ideal situation would look like for you. Visualize it as if it were already real. Be as detailed as possible. Write down what it is you want. And allow yourself to believe that you CAN have that.

Here's to endless possibilities of living the lives of our dreams!

with love,


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Michael Moore's new movie

Last weekend, my husband Jim and I went out on a date. It had been many, many months since we'd last seen a movie at the theatre, and so, after a delicious Middle Eastern dinner, we finally went to check out the movie theatre in our new home town, which we have now been living in for 4 months already. I'd say it was about time!

Although I often prefer the cheerful, lighthearted movies, as I feel we are bombarded with enough negativity throughout our days as it is, I certainly appreciate a movie that makes you think and raises awareness. Michael Moore's movie Sicko does just that! In watching it, I went through moments of thinking, I'm calling my friend in Canada as soon as I get home to see if she'll rent us out a room in her apartment!, or I'm moving back to Europe!, where I am from.

The state of health insurance in the U.S. is quite frankly appalling. Whatever happened to the notion of health insurance existing for the purpose of helping people to afford the medical treatments they need? Isn't the idea that we all pay into a fund so that, whoever's in need, will be able to draw from that fund to cover their costs? Wouldn't we all hope to receive that kind of support ourselves if we were in need?

It seems the sole purpose of health insurance in the U.S. nowadays is for the insurance companies to make a profit. They have no regard for the consumer, and they try, in every thinkable way, to deny the insured the requested coverage whenever possible.

Some of the stories covered in Michael Moore's movie were heart-wrenching. To loose a child because your insurance tells you they won't cover treatment at the hospital she was taken to by the ambulance and, by the time, you get your baby to the 'proper' hospital, the doctors regret to tell you that she has 'expired.' To have to choose between having your middle or ring finger re-attached, because you can't afford to pay for both. To leave your cancer untreated because you are in your twenties and the insurance company dnies your claim, as you are supposedly 'too young to have cancer.' Where is the humanity in all this? Can people really be so heartless as to care more about the bottom line of their year-end fiscal reports than the lives and well-being of fellow human beings?

With the United States ranking 37th on the WHO list of health care systems, Michael Moore is infuriated, and I believe rightly so. We have more wealth and technology than any other country, and, nevertheless, 50 million of our citizens are without insurance, 9 million of them children.

Admittedly, Moore glorifies the other countries he contrasts with the U.S. in his documentary, and, most certainly, those countries have their own host of problems. However, I truly believe that proper health care should be a right every citizen is entitled to, and we shouldn't have to worry about whether we can afford to take our children to the doctors or have our fingers re-attached.

No wonder more and more U.S. citizen are taking their health care needs into their own hands and setting up funds and flex spending plans to cover their medical costs. That's not to mention how many of us are paying out-of-pocket for alternative treatments not covered by our insurance plans.

Though I fall far short of proposing a plan to run the health care system in this country, I would wish that the big insurance moguls take a look at their conscience and take a moment, every so often, to listen to their hearts and consider the possibility of doing their part in helping humankind, rather than capitalizing on the poor.

Good for a laugh!

A Netherlands insurance commercial involving a guy getting acupuncture. Watch to find out what happens next!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

"Your body tells me all I need to know"

A good friend of mine, a chiropractor, has a saying: "your body tells me all I need to know".

It is so true, and yet we walk around so often denying the sensations or signals our bodies are telling us.

Last night, I was watching a PBS documentary on Sierra Leone. The people and their stories are both horrifying and inspiring, a testiment to both the capacity of brutality and compassion of humankind. After going to bed, I found myself tossing and turning, unable to sleep, and replaying images over and over in my mind. I got angry with myself for not "doing" more to help these people, and for having a comfortable bed and a roof over my head where I can rest without fear.

Today, my head is fuzzy, my chest feels tight and my heart is beating faster. I feel anxious. It would be easy to deny that these sensations are to do with any TV program I watched last night, but I know in my heart of hearts that I would be lying to myself. As I mentioned in my last entry, we are social beings, and what happens to others in the world, happens to us too. Most of us can't help but feel compassion, even if that person is thousands of miles away. What a testiment to our sociability.

I need to sleep tonight, so I have emailed a friend who is working in the Congo to ask his opinion on how best to help, and for now, the sensations in my body are calming down. But I am taking note, and know that for me to be OK in this world, I must put my money where my mouth is.

My challenge to you, dear reader, is to check in with your body and see what it tell you.

In health,


Some links:
A friend's blog on human rights:
Another friend's photos from the Congo:

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Community connections

It has been a long time since I wrote, and this time it is not me on holiday, but Angie. Sweet, dear Angie, without whom Lokahi Acupuncture would be in disarray!

I have been pondering the importance of having community lately. My husband and a friend have gone on a surf trip, leaving me without a husband, as well as without Angie. The two people in my life whom I rely on to keep me on track, to whom I voice concerns, bounce ideas off and trust for feedback.

In all honesty, I have been thoroughly enjoying the quiet space and some alone time. But I think I might feel a bit lonely had I not known that I have a whole community out there upon which I can rely if something goes wrong or it I need a chat. And that feels so amazing. Just now, a client emailed saying that he had made a huge batch of guacamole, and did I want some? About 10 mins later, I had biked to his house, picked up the guac and checked in with him. How cool is that? And on the way home, I passed another neighbor who asked about the boys surf trip.

It is so important for us humans to have interaction with others. We are such sociable beings, and I wonder just how much of this stress-related disease we see is due to our lack of connection not only with ourselves, but also with others.

~ Anna

Saturday, May 26, 2007


It's been a busy last couple of weeks for me at Lokahi Acupuncture. Anna took a well-deserved vacation - and I have a feeling she will come back recharged, full of energy, and with lots of great thoughts to share on this blog!

Anna being gone left me treating both my own patients, as well as a number of hers, who were so kind to put their trust in me in Anna's absence. It's been a great and rewarding experience to be so busy, and our patients are all such lovely, dear, wonderful people that the interactions with them always leave me feeling uplifted and inspired. People come to us for their healing, but there is very much a mutual healing experience going on. I draw something of value from every patient I see. Some patients crack me up with their jokes. Others inspire me with their dedication to healing their body and spirit. Others yet take me on a mini-vacation by recounting their travels. Many share personal struggles, expanding my awareness of the spectrum of human experience and heightening my sense of compassion. Everyone, without exception, brings something that brightens my day or helps me grow in some way. It's beautiful.

The best part about this practice, for me, is when people walk in irritable, tense, frustrated, maybe angry, sad, or depressed... and walk out after the treatment with a smile on their faces, telling me how much calmer and more relaxed they feel. Oh, and, come to think about it, the pain is gone, too! They feel looser. Less tense. They feel like they can go back out into the world and deal.

Acupuncture puts you in a very deep and relaxed state. In my own experience of receiving acupuncture treatments, the sessions have often felt like an opportunity to reconnect with myself. Go within.

In the midst of the busy last few weeks - networking events and other appointments interspersed in my already busy schedule - I faced the need to maintain the connection with myself. Find the right balance, so that I would be able to give to my patients the best energy I could possibly give. Since my acupuncturist was away on vacation ;), an acupuncture treatment to achieve this goal wasn't an option.

Last weekend, my husband suggested going on a hike. I was reluctant at first, given that I had a long list of things which needed to be taken care of at home. But he talked me into it, and I was so glad he did. The hike refreshed my spirit. It was so invigorating and centering and left me with a sense of serenity, which I was able to carry with me through the week. I was reminded of the incredible power that nature has in helping us to reconnect. With ourselves, first and foremost. And, once we have established that connection with ourselves, it becomes that much easier to connect in a balanced and meaningful way with the world around us.

I know I will be going back for more of this wonderful, grounding energy this weekend. Back for another hike, maybe two.

Wishing you a relaxing Memorial Day weekend with plenty of time to reconnect - with yourself, with nature, with family and friends.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Taking my own medicine

Many of my postings have been focused on learning to "take my own medicine". I think that it is so easy for us all to get caught up in everything but ourselves that sometimes we forget to simply check-in with ourselves and see how we are doing.
Today it became very clear to me that unless I manage my schedule in a manner which is consistent with what I urge others to do, then I am not 'practicing' my medicine, in the most literal sense of the word. But it takes time and introspection to figure out that we might need to take a sick day for our mental health, take the evening off and go to the movies, or book a holiday! Yes, people, we all need holidays! We cannot be on our game for 52 weeks of the year. The Europeans have got it right, and have the philosophy that we can only be as productive as our minds and bodies are healthy .... rest is the ultimate healer.
So, go for it - take a few minutes and plan a holiday. It dosen't have to be a 2 week extravanganza - it can be as little as an afternoon walking in the park. The idea is to take a break.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Some days, I find myself overcome with a sense of gratitude for all the amazing people in my life. Today is such a day. I am flooded with a feeling of joy that makes my heart swell, and a sensation of warmth and expansion radiates through my chest. I feel blessed to have such wonderful people in my life, and I feel honored that they have chosen for me to be a part of their lives!

with love and gratitude,
- Angie

Thursday, April 26, 2007

laughing baby

smiles and laughther

As I was out running this evening on a beautiful, warm California April night, I pondered what to write about in my next blog entry. I asked myself what message I wanted to convey to my readers. The answer that came to me was that I wanted to post something which would make you smile. Something that would help you to reconnect with your joyful inner child. I remembered this video clip that a friend had shared with me in the past. How could this not make you happy? Laugh it up! Save the link to it, and watch it again whenever you are feeling down or blue.

There is a Qi Gong exercise called 'Laughing Qi Gong.' By making yourself laugh, even if you don't feel like it one bit to begin with, you can change the frequency of your energy. You can actually lift your spirits and turn your mood around! Remember this when you are feeling sad or depressed. Start with a smile. Smile at the next person you see. Or, if you are on your own, look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Close your eyes (or leave them open if you are driving!!) and feel the corners of your mouth and eyes soften and lift. Feel that smile wash over your body like a wave of positive energy. Then see if you can take that smile one step further and turn it into a laugh. If this seems too difficult to do, you can always reach for external 'tools' that will help. Rent a funny video. Listen to a song that makes you happy. Call up a friend who always makes you laugh. Read a comic book. Or do something really silly and laugh at yourself. Try out a new dance move. Jump up and down in the middle of your living room. Crack yourself up! The challenge is on!

with joy and happiness,
- Angie

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Our "rights"

Last night I was at a friend’s house when her mother came over to join in the girly gathering. I don’t know how it came to be, but we ended up talking about the taboo subject of gun control. In a somewhat dramatic display, the mother announced that it is “our right to bear arms and we should”. There was absolutely no coming back from that. It was not an argument, but a statement. Her sentiment, meant to be the end of the conversation. And it was. But I can’t really see it as a “thinking persons” argument. I mean, if we are going to talk about something, shouldn’t it be a conversation? Anyways, I am getting off point. Where I wanted to take this is that such vehemence about the “right” to bear arms surely would be better placed with an equal vehemence about our “right” to affordable, quality health care?

Is it not true that without our health, we would have nothing? Then why are we not standing up in more numbers and saying where we want our tax dollars to work?

In the meantime, let’s face it – we simply don’t get the face time we need with our doctors. Doctors are frequently over worked, and don’t have the time to talk about everything we might want to.

Enter Acupuncture. Because we spend so much time with our clients, we get to build up a bigger picture of their health. And because we have that bigger picture, it makes it a lot easier for us to say to a client “next time you are at your doctors, please ask him/her to do the following tests or rule out…”. There is a place for us as Acupuncturists to support and compliment the Western medical tradition. Not only that, but we also stand on our own as a viable, effective and holistic form of medicine that can help a range of disorders from headaches and migraines to allergies, neuropathy and chronic pain.

My message, if you are still reading after my rambling, stand up for your “rights” as a patient and get the health care you deserve. Advocate for yourself, and if you need help doing that, ask us.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

how Qi Gong changed my life

I was first introduced to Qi Gong five and something years ago during my first semester at Five Branches Institute. My first day of classes started with a Meridian Theory class. It was one of the most confusing classes of the entire program. All the concepts were so foreign and different from anything I'd ever studied. Even the way the material was presented was completely different from anything I'd ever been taught.

At 11 am that first Monday morning, with our heads buzzing from the first 2-hour lesson, my classmates and I patiently waited for our Qi Gong teacher to arrive, wondering what to expect from the next class. Little did I know then how much this class was going to transform my life! The practice of Qi Gong introduced me to a whole new way of approaching life. I learned how to be more centered and grounded. I learned how to live more consciously in my body. How to direct energy to various parts of the body. How to move energy when it gets stuck - and prevent it from getting stuck in the first place! How to combine movement with meditation. How to cultivate more energy for increased vitality. How to have a healing energy exchange with others.

After a series of more invigorating exercises and gentle stretches to warm up the body and loosen up the muscles, our teacher led us into a meditative flow. Slow, gentle movements, synchronized with the breath. Exercises designed to strengthen the body and bring energy to the various organ systems as outlined in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

We concluded the session with a short partner exercise, which involved massage of the neck and shoulders and knocking on the back. What a great way to end the class!

Anyone who has ever experienced acupuncture is probably familiar with the slightly light-headed and deeply relaxed feeling you often walk out of a session with, when the energy circuits in your body have been activated and you are 'buzzing' with Qi. Qi Gong leaves you with that same kind of feeling. After class, my classmates and I often felt like we were 'floating' out of the room, 'high' on Qi. It's not a surprise Qi Gong quickly became everyone's favorite and most looked-forward-to class! It was a welcome reprieve from the very confusing (and sometimes rather frustrating) first class every Monday morning and a great way to start the week! With the relaxation, centering, and stress relief that Qi Gong provides, I believe it is a great way to both start and end any day!

I took the mandatory Qi Gong II class in my second semester. Many of my classmates stopped there. But I was hooked! I took Qi Gong II again. Then Qi Gong I again. And Qi Gong Stretch (more similar to yoga). I went to all the Qi Gong workshops I could go to. Most of them taught by my teacher (
Lee Holden), and some by reknowned Chinese Masters travelling through the area. I did the Qi Gong teacher training, which included a weekend retreat that was mostly spent doing Qi Gong out in nature. Facing the moon in the evening after sunset, facing the rising sun in the early morning, and tapping into the energy of powerful trees in a beautiful redwood grove. It was amazing. Replenishing. Rejuvenating. I learnt a lot that weekend. About nature. About myself. About connecting with the earth and the universe.

Because Qi Gong had been such a life-altering discovery for me, I introduced my friends and family to it by teaching them the exercises I'd learnt in class. One day, several years back, Lee asked me to teach a class for him when he wasn't able to. This was my first professional Qi Gong class. When I started with Anna at Lokahi Acupuncture, I began teaching two Qi Gong classes a week in Willow Glen. I teach on Tuesdays at noon and Thursdays at 5:30 pm at
Halanda Studio on Lincoln Avenue.

Maybe you'll come join us for one of the next classes! I'd love to see you there and share my passion for Qi Gong with you!

Recently, my sister was in town visiting from Germany with her 3 kids. Here are some pictures of my 10-year old niece, Alicia, doing Qi Gong in our yard and my sister doing the partner-massage on her. Both Alicia and her 8-year old brother Leon came to my class and loved it! The other students were amazed to see the kids follow along with all the movements for a whole hour without getting bored or impatient!

I hope you'll discover the amazing benefits of Qi Gong as well - if you haven't done so already!

- Angie

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The yin & yang of headstands

Well, this has been quite a week of yoga-Chinese medicine enlightenment!
Last night's class saw us doing headstands and shoulder stands. I have to tell you that one of my deepest fears is going upside down - something to do with swinging on iron bars in the playground as a kid. Anyhow, as we were progressing through the class, I could see where the teacher was taking us, and it was indeed to the upside-down poses. But after last week and the Liver channel opening stuff, I felt myself able to cope with almost anything. All the folks in the class were happily flailing themselves up into all manner of headstands whilst I gradually plucked up the courage to go for it. Finally, with the help of both the teacher and an advanced student, I got up there, and stayed there for a good few seconds.
What a high! It was such an amazing experience being upside down with nothing supporting me but my shoulders and head (which was barely touching the ground as I was so paranoid about crunching my neck). It was definitely a slightly anxiety-producing position, but an exhilarating one at that.
The feeling of stepping completely out of my comfort zone was very important for me to do as it is something that I ask of my patients on a daily basis. Having acupuncture may seem like a very "normal" thing to do here in northern California, but it is still outside the boundaries of many of our comfort zones.
So, my message to you: get out there and push one of your boundaries ... see if it feels good to you! Happy Wednesday, everybody!

Friday, April 6, 2007

What in the world?

I admit it, there are times when even an acupuncturist doubts the wisdom of using needles and herbs where western medications would seem to deal with a problem quicker. But this week I was proven wrong in quite an astounding way...
The weather here in San Jose has been, lets say "unpredictable" - at best. Part of my journey has long been the dealing with frequent, debilitating headaches/migraines where changes in barometric pressure, more than anything else, trigger them. So, you can imagine living in San Jose is, for the most part, almost ideal - balmy, dry, sunny days. Heaven. Not this week!
So, my usual routine takes me out of the office on Tuesday evenings to my yoga class. I love it. It is my "non-negotiable". Last Tuesday, on a particularly muggy and unpredictable day, off I trotted to my class, and came out enraged! Absolutely beside myself with anger and irritability! I thought to myself "what in the world can have happened in that yoya class...?". I was telling Angie the story the next day (MAJOR migraine day, by the way), and was showing her that we had done alot of inner groin work that evening in yoga, when it hit me ... hard. We had worked on the LIVER meridian - the very meridian that is associated with this time of year, and often with anger, frustration and resentment. I think the yoga had allowed a very deep opening and done some unblocking. Hooray for me!
But why on earth did I have such a bad headache the next day? Rather than deal with another earth-shattering realization, I decided to try and nip it in the bud with an Imitrex injection (it was getting to be pretty bad, fast). That didn't help. A second injection didn't help either. An hour of cranio-sacral didn't do much, neither did the 4 avdil and a frappacino (I was getting desperate, and had a very full patient load). Finally, Angie came in to the office, and I was able to get her to do some cupping and gua sha (scraping) - these are techniques we use to release muscle tension and "ground" the body. Low and behold, within minutes, the headache was much reduced, and within the hour, totally gone!
What did I get out of this whole episode? A newly restored absolute faith in what I do; a reminder that while it is easy for me to see what is wrong and take care of others, taking care of myself is still a hard thing for me to do; and a whole new respect for my practitioner - Angie.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

continuing education

In order to maintain your license current as an acupuncturist in the state of California, you need to complete 50 units of continuing education every two years. Living here in the Bay Area, we are lucky to have a large selection of great seminars we can attend nearby without travelling. Acupuncturists living in more remote parts of the country are offset not only the costs of the seminars, but need to spend large amounts of time and money on travel, as well. I consider myself very spoiled to be living in an area that has so much to offer in terms of workshops, lectures and cultural events - not only in my field of study, but in so many other areas of interest!

I realized a week or two ago that I was still short about a dozen of CEUs for my license renewal deadline at the end of April. Because my weekends over the next month were already pretty booked up and there was no particular seminar nearby that struck my fancy, I decided to order a distance learning course from Blue Poppy Institute. These are live seminars that were recorded on CD and come complete with all the handouts and notes. I chose a course on Treating Chronic Digestive Disorders with Traditional Chinese Medicine. Given my own background with digestive issues, treating digestive disorders has always been of particular interest to me. Although a fair amount of the information presented in the course was a repetition of material I have already learned, I learned a lot more by listening to it. Some information was new to me, and some was old information that I just needed to be reminded of. Several passages caused little light bulbs to go on in my head and left me with the feeling of an a-ha effect. One section in particular struck a chord with me. Bob Flaws, the presentor of the course, was discussing abdominal distention and bloating. These symptoms indicate a deficiency of "Spleen and Stomach Qi." The Spleen and Stomach, in TCM, are of primary importance for a smooth and healthy digestion. When the Spleen and Stomach systems are out of balance, digestion becomes impaired.

What causes an imbalance in the Spleen and Stomach systems? Let's back up for a moment and talk a bit about the "Liver system." The Liver, in TCM, is responsible for the smooth flow of Qi, or energy, in the body. When the Liver is disharmonious, energy isn't flowing freely and things get "stuck." We call this pattern "Liver Qi stagnation." Signs of Liver Qi stagnation include depression, irritability, anger, frustration, flank pain (pain in the ribcage), distending pain, headaches, and PMS.

When the Liver is stagnant and in excess, it has a tendency to "overact on" or "invade" the Spleen and Stomach, causing the latter to become "disharmonious."

In Chinese Medicine, every organ's Qi has a direction in which it is supposed to flow. Spleen Qi is supposed to go up, bringing clear energy to the head. Stomach Qi should descend and lead turbidity downwards. When Spleen Qi fails to ascend, symptoms such as loose stools, diarrhea, water retention in the legs, fatigue, and foggy thinking result. When Stomach Qi rebels upward, one will experience hiccup, belching, acid reflux, nausea or vomiting. Additionally, the Stomach may fail to empty its contents properly, causing food to just 'sit there.' This is when we experience a feeling of bloating and distention. Appetite will likely be poor, and eating anything at all will make us feel worse, as the Stomach can't handle what's in it already, let alone anything we may be adding to it.

Liver Qi stagnation is the main cause of a Spleen and Stomach disharmony, and - here's what really struck me, as I hadn't heard it put this way before - according to Bob Flaws, the #1 cause of Liver Qi stagnation is unfulfilled desire! Wow!! Looking back at times in my life when my digestion was it its worst, yes, I would definitely say I was experiencing some unfulfilled desire!

When you get sick or experience physical discomfort, do you stop to think of the psycho-somatic connection? Do you see a correlation between what you are going through emotionally and what's showing up in your body?

Bob Flaws brought up another very interesting point in this course. He spoke about the importance of compassion and bedside manner. Those elements play such an integral part in the healing process. According to Bob, 40% of all healing is placebo! He remarked to his audience of acupuncturists that, if they weren't seeing at least 40% improvement in their patients, they might want to consider a different profession! I strongly believe in the importance of compassion in the healing process! I also believe it is crucial to find a pracitioner you connect with on an energetic level in order to obtain the greatest possible benefit from your treatments. Interestingly, oftentimes, seeing the most experienced or distinguished practitioner won't necessarily yield the best results. I believe the best results are achieved when you find a person you feel a healing connection with - whether it be a seasoned practitioner or a novice in her field.

To find the right practitioner for you, let your intuition guide you. Listen to your gut when you are considering a new healthcare practitioner. Talk to the person and feel them out. Sense whether their energy and their way of relating to you makes you feel comfortable and at ease. If you feel an uneasiness in your gut about that person, keep looking (just be sure you aren't confusing it with your own reluctance to take control of your health and seek out help!). If you feel a sense of calm around that person, explore how they might be able to help you further!

In health & happiness,


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Acupuncture weightloss

I saw this flyer posted in the window of a TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) Clinic. I thought it was great!

(In case it's difficult to see on the picture, the poor kid has an acupuncture needle pinned through his upper and lower lip!)


the little things in life

What is it that brings you joy? What lifts your spirit? What ignites your passion?

Here are just a few things that make me happy:

Waking up to sunshine in the morning. Walking along the ocean. Smelling the salty ocean breeze. Feeling the sand between my toes. Running in the woods. A smile from a stranger. A hug from a friend. Spending time with family and friends. Playing board games with friends. Laughing so hard my stomach hurts. Blasting my favorite songs while driving in my car. Finding an email message from a friend in my inbox. Curling up on the couch with my husband at night to watch our favorite TV shows. Making somebody smile. Making somebody laugh. Getting an acupuncture treatment and going into this deep, relaxed state, where I feel like my body is sinking into the table. That sublime state between wakefulness and dreaming. Doing Qi Gong on the beach. Doing Qi Gong anywhere. The smell of fresh-cut grass. The sun peeking through the clouds. Seeing a beautiful rainbow. Watching the sun set over the ocean. The list goes on...

I had the most heart-warming experience the other day. I started for a run from my house. I was still fiddling with my iPod when, a few houses down, a little girl stopped me in my tracks. She said, very non-chalantly: 'What's your name?' I replied: 'My name is Angie. What's your name?' Her name was Emi. She was on a little pink scooter with a wicker basket on the handle bar, which contained several bone-shaped dog treats. A few feet away was her dog, basking in the sun. She told me all about her dog. Her mom finally came out, wondering what she was up to. Emi exclaimed with enthusiasm in her voice: 'Mom, this is Angie!' I felt warm around my heart. I chatted with the mom for a few moments and told her my husband and I had just moved into the neighborhood. She welcomed me to the neighborhood and I proceeded to continue on my run. At this point, Emi walked up to me and wrapped her arms around my legs. My heart melted! This experience brought me so much joy. I walked away with a bounce in my step, a smile on my face, and a boost of energy that carried me through my run and made it feel effortless! There is something so refreshing about little kids who are still so uninhibited and wonderfully, authentically themselves!

It's the little things in life that matter, isn't it? I hope your day is filled with magical moments!


the external environment within

In Chinese Medicine, we often talk about “harmonizing” our bodies with the external environment. It sounds very poetic, but to most it stops right there. But if you talk to anyone who suffers from osteoarthritis or migraines, they might give you a very different perspective on things. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), we see that what is going on in the environment often becomes reflected in the body; hence a sudden cold, damp snap will kick up arthritic joints, and sudden changes in barometric pressure often trigger migraines.
So, how can we try and address these imbalances? Obviously we have no control over the weather, but we can tune in to what makes us feel worse and try and take preventative measures so that we don’t react quite so dramatically to the environment. One way is to take herbs that work to counteract the imbalance, and another is to use acupuncture to strengthen the internal systems that are weaker and cannot quickly adapt to what ever is going on the outside. In extreme circumstances, we may even suggest someone moves to a climate that is better suited to them.
As the seasons change, most of us find that our sleep patterns are affected, and we want to eat different foods. Typically, as we move into spring, we will find ourselves sleeping less and craving nutrient-rich vegetables. Go with those changes, and if you find you are out of sorts, don’t forget to seek help.
~ Anna

Sunday, March 25, 2007

our bodies' subtle messages

Yesterday, I was perusing the blog of two fellow acupuncturists in New York City - Juliette Aiyana and Jessica Silver. I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica in person last winter during a visit to my in-laws in upstate NY. In addition to working at Juliette's clinic in New York City (see, Jessica worked a few days a week at the office of my mother-in-law's acupuncturist, Mr. Wolf, in Poughkeepsie. She and I were at similar stages in our acupuncture career, and I really enjoyed connecting with her and hearing about her experiences with the school she studied at and starting out in this field.

Back in January, Jessica wrote a blog post entitled Listen to the Whispers. You can read it here: Her post really resonated with me and struck me as something I would have liked to have written myself. She wrote about the importance of listening to our bodies' subtle messages - those little whispers - before they turn into full-blown screams and debilitating conditions.

It reminded me of this week's episode of Grey's Anatomy, in which a man came to the clinic with pain in his foot. He demanded painkillers, and presto!, because he wanted to leave again as quickly as possible in order to get back to work. His workers needed him! The attending intern, Cristina Yang, asked him to remove his sock, so she could take a look at his foot. The patient refused. He just wanted to get his painkillers and be on his way. In essence, he sought just to drown out and override any signs his body might have been giving him to signal that it needed attention. His foot had been bothering him for some time, but he had refused to take the time out from work or even acknowledge that there might be something wrong. This particular patient had Type II diabetes, and, as it turned out, the sores on his foot had progressed to such a severe state that the whole foot needed to be amputated! You can imagine that, upon receiving these news, the patient wished he had listened to the signs his body had been sending him sooner!

This is a very drastic example of what can happen if we ignore our bodies' subtle messages. Oftentimes, what is happening in our bodies will also reflect what is going on on an emotional level. For instance, I used to get recurrent bouts of tonsillitis. The throat chakra has to do with having a voice. I realized at one point how much my sore throats had to do with not feeling that I was able to speak my truth. I could be sure to get an episode of a raging sore throat whenever I was going through a difficult time with my family and I had resentment build up internally. Instead of giving voice to these feelings, they would get stuck in my throat and cause me physical discomfort and pain. I started focusing on releasing these emotions. That didn't necessarily mean expressing my feelings to someone else's face. Rather to just acknowledge them to myself and realize there was no need for me to hold on to them and internalize them physically.

Emotions are a form of energy, and energy can be transformed into matter. Thus, if we experience an emotion repeatedly and over a long period of time, eventually, it will lodge in our body in some form or another. In Chinese Medicine, every organ system is associated with a particular emotion. The Lungs are associated with grief or sadness, the Kidneys with fear, the Liver with anger, frustration, or irritability, the Heart with excessive joy, hastiness, or impatience, and the Spleen with over thinking or excessive worrying. An imbalance in any of the organs can bring about a particular emotion, and, vice versa, an emotion in excess may weaken the organ system pertaining to it. For example, in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), we speak about the classic "student syndrome," where students, due to their excessive thinking and brain work, will suffer from poor digestion, as their Spleen system (which, in TCM, is primarily important for digestion) becomes impaired. Another strong example is the story of Christopher Reeve's wife, a non-smoker, who died of Lung cancer at the young age of 44, less than a year after her husband's death. The grief she was stricken by materialized in her lungs in the form of cancer. On the flipside of this, people who have an inherent deficiency in their Lungs (those suffering from conditions such as asthma and chronic respiratory diseases) often have a stronger tendency towards depression.

As Jessica points out in her blog post, an acupuncturist can help greatly to bring the body back into balance when we first start to feel those subtle signs of imbalance. Western Medicine may not detect anything wrong with diagnostic tests, but your body will tell you when it needs your attention. Listen to your body and allow it what it needs to rest and rejuvenate. Go for a walk out in nature. Dance to your favorite music. Play with your kids or your dog. Take a bubble bath. Get a facial, manicure, or pedicure. Drink a hot cup of tea and put your feet up on the sofa. Do some Yoga or Qi Gong. Go for a run. Watch a funny movie. Read a good book. Sit and meditate. Schedule a massage or an acupuncture session. Whatever it is that makes your body and soul feel refreshed!

with love,


Saturday, March 24, 2007

laughter as medicine

So, last evening started as Friday evenings tend to in our house - Dave (my husband) and I decompressing at the local pub. We ride our bikes into downtown San Jose to have a pint of beer, sit, chat and check in with one another. Not that I am promoting beer as something that could be categorized as "good" for your health, but I think that the overriding benefits of proper decompression, some sense of ritual, and the social aspects of it out do the negative's of our pint-a-week drinking habit. So, anyways, a friend joined us last night. We met him 11 years ago while living in Japan. We caught up, chatted, laughed and proceeded to a fabulous Japanese joint that serves the equivalent of tapas, Japanese-style. Another few hours of talk and laughter ensued, and a beautiful evening happened. This morning, the sun is shining, I am tired, and my body dosen't feel 100%, but my soul is rejuvenated. What a blessing! Happy weekend all...
~ Anna

Thursday, March 22, 2007

doing what you love and loving what you do

To pick up where Anna left off... though, wait, I ought to introduce myself, as well! I'm Angie, the second acupuncturist at Lokahi Acupuncture. I had the pleasure of joining Anna in her practice in September of 2006. It was one of those cool synchronicities, where the universe led us to each other and we instantly clicked! Like a "business love at first sight!" ;) I am loving every moment of working and interacting with Anna and all the wonderful patients here at Lokahi Acupuncture!

So back to Anna's train of thought... When I left my networking group today, I ended a conversation by saying I needed to head to the office. The response I got was something along the lines of "Yeah, don't we all know that...," and it was delivered with a hint of a sigh. I realized at that moment (once again) that I, unlike many others, very much look forward to going to the office/to work! Anna set up the office beautifully long before I joined her, and it has a very calming and relaxing feel to it. Our patients and visitors often comment on it. They say that, as soon as they step in the door and smell the subtle fragrance of the aromatherapy lamp we keep going in our office, hear the soothing sound of trickling water from our fountain in the waiting area, as well as the soft music we play in the background, they instantly feel a sense of relaxation. They find themselves taking deep breaths and letting go of the worries, stresses and tension of their day. In fact, some patients have said that maybe they ought to just come and sit for a while on days they don't have appointments scheduled, as being in this healing environment alone helps them to feel better.

The environment, of course, only sets the stage for the magic that takes place inside the treatment rooms. That's where the real healing and relaxation happen, and people walk out at the end of a session refreshed, revitalized, and ready to face whatever the challenges the world may throw their way!

The other day, as I was treating a patient, she commented: "You really seem to enjoy what you do and care about the outcome!" She sounded surprised. Yes! I absolutely love what I do! And you bet I care about the outcome! Otherwise I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing!

To some people, doing something you love for a living seems to be a novel concept. For generations, it has been hammered in to us that work should be hard. Not fun! More and more, people are discovering that they actually can make a living doing something they love! I encourage everyone to follow their passion and choose a profession that brings them fulfilment and joy. If changing jobs isn't an option at the moment for whatever reason, consider rethinking your attitude towards your work. Could your job become something you love? At one of my first jobs as a waitress back in NY, there was a window cleaner who came to our restaurant every week. Now, most people wouldn't consider window cleaning a job they could be passionate about. But this man brought his passion to everything he did, and he always had a smile on his face and hummed a cheerful tune whilst doing his work. He had a friendly word for everyone he met, and he loved his job!

Here's to loving the work we do and contributing to the world in a meaningful and rewarding way - no matter on how small a level! We all have something to give to the world, and nothing is more fulfilling than tapping into our potential and letting our light shine!


Acupuncture versus...?

Becoming an acupuncturist is not generally something we in "the west" grow up thinking we are going to become, and yet more and more of us are doing just that. I often wonder what people's perception of us acupuncturists is. There is absolutely a certain degree of intrigue and mystification - "why would you spend all that time and all that money to stick needles in people for a living?", "can you make a living?", "does it work?". And yet I find myself here.

But, stop! Let me introduce myself. I'm Anna. I started Lokahi Acupuncture here in San Jose, California. And let me introduce Angie - acupuncturess extraordinaire! Together we spend our days dealing with aches and pains, periods late, missed or just plain strange, hot flashes and insomnia and general stress. We love each and every one of our patients for they make us laugh, light up our hearts and make us feel needed.

I was pondering whilst driving the other day. If I was not an acupuncturist, what would I do? I couldn't come up with a single alternative that appealed ... teaching - a definite possibility, nursing - maybe, but at the end of the day, my job rocks! Sure, there are days when it dosen't rock quite so much, when I doubt myself and doubt the wisdom of doing something for a living that almost inevitably elicits some question of it's efficacy, but it is still worth every moment of it.
Wishing you a fabulous day, and hoping that you too love your groove,
~ Anna