Have you ever gone out in strong wind and later gotten a headache? Developed a jaw or neck ache after your ears got too cold? Chances are, you have experienced what Chinese medicine regards as a "Wind Invasion." The Wind, along with Damp, Dry, Cold, and Heat, are all considered harsh climate factors that can invade the system and create all kinds of discomfort.
Writing about it in Chinese Medicine for Maximum Immunity, acupuncturist Jason Elias explains how Wind is sometimes referred to as "the Chariot for One Hundred and One Evils," as it is believed to ride in through points--especially on the head, neck, and shoulders--"just as wind finds its way into a house through cracks in windows and doors" (173-4). Usually associated with the external environment, Wind issues can sometimes also arise from internal imbalances. Donna Eden has identified several other places, such as the low back, the palms and soles of feet, and special points on Liver and Large Intestine meridians, on the feet and hands, where Wind, Damp, Heat, Dry, and Cold can sneak in.
Contributing to everything from muscle soreness and spasms, to sweating, to chills, to sinus, skin and joint problems, Wind and the other four conditions can make you feel bad in a hurry. In fact, one sign that you've been invaded is that you start to feel crummy very rapidly, and for no readily apparent reason. Until you look more closely at what you've been "weathering." This happened to me in the fall, when I rode my bike to work on the first very cold day. My ears were freezing by the time I got there, and within a couple of hours, I felt like I was coming down with something. I was foggy headed, my energy was lagging, and I felt miserable all over. Then I realized--duh--better check my Wind points. Every one of them was out of balance. Getting them back in balance made me feel much better, very quickly.
The only other time I've had such an extreme experience was after flying. I got off the plane and began to feel toxic, with a dull headache and a sense of dread that I was about to be ill. Ironically, I had been on my way to an Energy Medicine class, and fortunately for me, our first lesson was about the Wind points. When we checked, they were all blown out, and fixing them basically fixed me!
Learning to work with Wind points can help you immensely this time of year. I've made the video below, so you can follow along for a quick and easy process of clearing and sealing up these potentially drafty points. And don't forget to wear your scarf and hat!
Solstice Meditation for Banishing the Winter Blues
Solstice, Gateway to the Sun
As we approach the longest night of the year, we can be cheered by the prospect of enjoying a few more minutes of light each day afterwards. The Winter Solstice is our gateway into the return of the sun. That still leaves a lot of darkness between now and spring, and many people struggle with this lack of sunlight. Finding moments to enjoy sunrise or sunset can be a nice way to honor this time of year, and helps us reconnect with the cycles of nature.
Sun tracking may not always fit our schedules, which are often already jam-packed during the holiday season. Plus, in my part of the country, overcast skies also contribute to our yearning for the sun. When covered by clouds, it is hard to tell whether the sun is even on the move!
This is where fireplaces and candles can have a helpful role. People in far northern countries wouldn’t dream of going through the winter without a supply of candles. They keep candles lit throughout the house, not just when entertaining, but simply to sustain their spirits.
Of course, we need to exercise good fire safety practices while keeping candles burning. For example, during a power outage in my house years ago, a badly placed candle flared up and actually set a toothbrush on fire. Toothbrush fumes are really nasty!
Speaking of fumes, choose your candles with care, looking for clean options with unleaded wicks. Cheap, foreign-made candles often contain lead and other metals, which can pollute your home. Avoid scented candles, as well, because they are liable to emit toxic fumes from synthetic chemicals. Even some that are made with essential oils may contain undesirable fixative chemicals (see “Are Your Candles Emitting Toxins?” on the Global Healing Center website for more). Your best bet are beeswax or soy candles, that clearly state what their wicks are made from. You may have to pay more for these choices, but it is definitely worth it in terms of indoor air quality.
Himalayan Salt Lamps
If candles just aren’t practical for your life circumstances, consider investing in a Himalayan Salt lamp or two. Their cheerful glow resembles firelight, and they don’t use much energy. Made of salt crystals, they exert a good influence in your environment: they are highly organized structures, capable of giving off healthy, negative ions when heated.
Visualize Your Bioluminescent Self
You can also celebrate light by doing an “inner light” meditation. You may have heard of bioluminescence—the ability of some organisms, such as fish and algae—to emit light. Well, it turns out we are also mildly bioluminescent, just not visibly so. I find this inspiring during the darkest seasons. We can expand on this understanding, to visualize ourselves as light beings, whenever we wish to shift our emotional and mental states. Any time we engage our imaginations, we also activate energies called the Extraordinary Flows, or Radiant Circuits, which contribute to our ability to experience joy, playfulness, and spontaneity. So, if you feel stuck in oncoming winter’s ice and darkness, or simply wish to amp up your inner light more, try out the following meditation.
How often are you running on "automatic"? We all rely on our ability to carry out basic tasks like driving a familiar route, while our minds are busy planning next steps or working out problems. With ever-mounting commitments and packed schedules, more and more of us are spending a great deal of our time in this automatic pilot mode.
But how long can we sustain this--our bodies engaged with actions in real time, while our minds flit from issue to issue--without creating a deep disconnect? In this splitting of our awareness, we may think we are simply being efficient. But the nervous system feels otherwise, and the energy system responds by rerouting power away from our Radiant Circuitry,
Like the meridians, the Radiant Circuits each carry out specific physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual tasks. But they also have a special, "on-call" status, that allows them to travel around the body when needed. The ability to feel joy in the present moment is one of their most brilliant contributions to our well-being.
But when we are too stressed, too desperately task-oriented, it is as if many of these energies have gone dormant. That's when whole chunks of our experience, of our world, begin to take on the character of mere "backdrops" to our to-do lists. If this dormant state persists, it can lead to a sense that life has become lackluster, too full of obligations that don't have enough meaning on their own to feed our soul.
This "backdrop syndrome" most often comes to my attention when I'm driving. If I have to remind myself to notice the surrounding landscape, it means my destination-orientation has taken over. The mind is out ahead of the body like a kite in a strong wind. As a child, I spent hours in woods and fields, immersed in the sights, smells, and sensations, along with my dog and pony companions. I even tried to maintain that connection to the land as a car passenger on long trips. Looking out the window, I imagined that I was on horseback, riding through whatever terrain we passed. These joyful interactions with nature--even the imagined parts--are Radiant Circuit activities, and boost those energies. Yes, adult responsibilities can dampen your spirits, but with intention and attention, you can re-awaken your Radiant Circuits.
Imagine a spectrum, with survival mode on one side, and joyful, radiant mode on the other. If you find yourself experiencing your surroundings, not as three dimensional, but only as a backdrop to whatever goal you are working toward, it's a sign you need to move the needle. The Radiant tracing exercise I demonstrate in the video below can help with that. So can a number of other fun approaches that I would be happy to share with you in my energy classes or in individual sessions.
You can barely make it out in this picture, but I had just finished dressing my strong-willed pony, Scout, in a garland of morning glory vines. Obviously, in my cutoff jungle pants, red, white, and blue knee highs, and black cowboy boots with multi-colored inlays, I wasn't concerned with making my own fashion statement. I was more enchanted by Scout's brown and white coat, its pattern shaped, in places, like continents and oceans.
Scout had a laid-back temperament and enjoyed being groomed, but he had his own ideas about what a trail ride was about. He had a habit of snatching at snacks of grass, and once, when I reigned him in to prevent it, he decided to simply lie down on the trail so he could eat. Being with Scout was always a lesson in negotiation--could I get him to take me around the field? Would he stand quietly to have his hooves picked if he had a bucket of oats? Maybe I could scramble onto his back while he grazed. Saddles were too much bother, for both of us. My nine-year-old self was in it for the fun, and if Scout wasn't having a good time, neither was I.
One of the things I love about Equine Advocates Rescue and Sanctuary in Chatham, NY, is that they respect each animal's individual character, recognizing that its behaviors will be grounded in that unique temperament, as well as in adaptations in response to life circumstances. The horses, ponies, mules, and donkeys living there have typically come from tough situations, ranging from overwork, exploitation, and physical abuse, to abandonment. The Sanctuary allows the residents a great deal of freedom, and is careful to match them with compatible pasture mates. Each rescued animal's story is highlighted for visitors, and there is often a remarkable contrast between their present good fortune and their previously dire conditions.
Visiting the Sanctuary can be a bittersweet experience, because for each happy horse or mule, there are many more out there still needing help. It's a great way to spend a beautiful fall day, though, and they still have two more Open Days left this year, on Saturday, October 14, and Sunday, November 12. You'll be charmed by the many animals you will meet there, from the smallest mini-pony and donkey, to the powerful Mustangs and stately draft horses.
This organization needs money year round to support their mission of improving equine lives and educating the public. However, I like to donate to Equine Advocates in the fall (see my 9/8/16 blog), because I know expenses for hay and grain add up in the winter.
With this in mind, Saturday, November 4 and 7, I will be offering special Equine Benefit Energy Sessions. Half of each $50 session fee will be donated to Equine Advocates. You can choose from 2 different one hour session offerings: a deeply relaxing Energy Medicine Black Pearl Sanctuary Session that works with neurovascular points to calm the nervous system and balance the emotions; or a Sonic Meridian Flush, which uses tuning forks to tone the meridian system. Please contact me if you would like more information about these sessions, or need help choosing which one may be right for you.
Give yourself a treat, while also giving a gift to these amazing rescue animals!