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 http://www.amazinghealing.com/), 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:
http://www.amazinghealing.com/blog/2007/01/listen-to-whispers.html. 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