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Learn the ancient Chinese art of yangsheng – nourishing life

yangsheng

Why yangsheng and the art of nourishing life is important

At the start of the Chinese New Year in February 2021, I listened to a webcast from one of my favorite teachers, Lillian Pearl Bridges. Lillian is an expert on Face Reading. She can tell what’s going on with a person’s health and wellness just by looking at their face. Lillian also has a broad knowledge of Chinese astrology and Feng Shui. I have taken a number of Lillian’s classes, and I look forward to the special Chinese New Year forecast that she presents to Chinese Medicine practitioners each year.

 

This year, when Lillian shared her thoughts about the year of the Ox, she stressed the importance of practicing yangsheng. The ox is a very respected animal, and it is valued for its ability to work hard and endure. This year will require patience and an emphasis on yangsheng. Simply put, yangsheng refers to the practice of nourishing life that has been in existence and documented for other two thousand years. “Yang” translates to nurture or nourish. “Sheng” translates to life or vitality. This is a practice of self-cultivation or self-care that is believed to be crucial to overall health and longevity.

 

How to practice yangsheng

Another favorite teacher of mine is Peter Deadman. He has written a number of books on Chinese Medicine and has delved deeply into yangsheng. He states that there are three main ways to practice yangsheng:

 

First, avoid behavior that causes harm. This includes consuming alcohol excessively, smoking, eating poor quality food, allowing emotions to damage our mental health, and not being physically active.

 

Second, engage in activities that promote health and well-being. This includes eating healthfully, exercising appropriately, fostering positive emotions and managing negative emotions, practicing good sleep hygiene, cultivating positive relationships, and spending time in nature. Follow this link to read my blog on how to improve your sleep. To help manage emotions, click this link to read a blog I wrote on how to manage stress and anxiety.

 

Third, practice exercises specifically designed to nourish life. This includes qigong, taiji (also known as tai chi), and yoga.  Other yangsheng-specific activities include meditation, mindful breathing, and practicing the relaxation response. Follow this link to read a blog I wrote on how you can practice the relaxation response.

 

 

Balance and moderation are key

In our American culture, we have a tendency to overdo things, and we can become unbalanced. To practice yangsheng we need to consider a balanced approach to life. For example, some of us may be great at exercising consistently but we don’t get enough sleep. Maybe we eat really well but we also worry constantly and experience stress and anxiety. In yangsheng, balancing exercise, diet, sleep, and mental health are essential. Everything in moderation. I deeply respect this approach. In fact, the name of the Chinese Medicine school I attended, Jung Tao, translates to “middle way”. Not too far one way or the other. The middle way is preferable.

 

Even though yangsheng concepts are quite simple, they can be very difficult to put into practice. Most people will want more of something that feels good to them. If a little is good, more must be better. This can give way to overeating, overexercising, even oversleeping.

 

Time can also be challenge with so many of us leading busy lives. It is often hard to find time to do all of the things we want to do. As I have been working on cultivating yangsheng for myself this year, I find that some weeks I am successful at including exercise, but I am not able to pay as much attention to healthy eating habits. Other weeks I eat really well and make time to meditate, but do not find time to exercise. Trying to squeeze everything in can create an imbalance of activity and can be counter to the principles of yangsheng.

 

Make time to rest

Balancing doing with non-doing, or rest, is key. Creating free spaces in your day are important to balance all of the activity. What I’ve discovered is most important for me is to be kind to myself and to be as present as I can with whatever activity I am engaged in. That in and of itself is a very important part of nourishing life.

 

Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help you? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

Acupuncture for stress and anxiety

acupuncture stress anxiety

Can acupuncture help with stress and anxiety?

Over the past few months, I have received a lot of calls and emails from new patients wondering if acupuncture can help with stress and anxiety. Given the current state of our world, it’s not surprising. COVID-19 continues to have a huge impact on people’s lives. I feel very fortunate to be able to work with these patients and help them start feeling better and find ways to manage their stress and anxiety.

 

An increase in stressors

People are scared for their loved ones and their own safety and well-being. They’re worried about how to take care of their families. And they’re worried about how their kids are coping with these unprecedented times. The way people work has changed dramatically, and some people are re-evaluating their career choices. Then there are the teachers and parents who continue to deal with the stress of remote learning and concerns about having a safe classroom. People want to connect with their families and loved ones but are scared to travel. They feel isolated and alone. These are just a few of the things I hear from patients wanting help managing their stress and anxiety.

 

Making the best treatment choice for you

Sometimes people feel so much stress and anxiety that they don’t feel comfortable leaving their house. Others have challenges wearing a mask. I offer Telemedicine in addition to in-office treatments to address these concerns. Follow this link for more details about Telemedicine options. Through Telemedicine, I can prescribe acupressure points and teach people how to do acupressure on themselves, walk them through how to apply ear seeds, and teach qigong exercises, for example.

 

For patients who want to come into the office for their treatment, I share all of the COVID-19 safety protocols I have in place in the office. Masks are required for everyone. Screening questionnaires are performed and temperatures are checked at every appointment. Appointments are spaced to allow the treatment room to be cleaned thoroughly between patients, with linens changed and surfaces cleaned with an EPA-approved botanical disinfectant. A medical-grade filtration H13 true HEPA system runs continuously in the treatment room.

 

It’s important that people feel comfortable and safe when they come to see me. Someone who is experiencing stress and anxiety does not need another thing to feel stressed and anxious about! I take the time to address any concerns and answer any questions they might have.

 

Stress and anxiety from an acupuncture and Chinese medicine perspective

Every person is unique, and no two people will experience stress and anxiety for the same reason in the exact same way. Each of the primary energetic pathways and acupuncture channels in the body is associated with an organ system and has associated emotions and physical sensations. A disruption to any of these energetic systems can result in stress and anxiety.

 

Possible underlying causes

To start, someone who feels anxious and feels heart palpitations or discomfort in their chest may be someone who has too much nervous energy around their heart. They may need support for their Heart energetic pathways. Someone who has trouble with obsessive thinking or rumination often needs their Spleen energy supported. This person may have trouble sleeping at night because they feel like they can’t turn their thoughts off.

 

Another person may be feeling scared and shaky which is creating stress and anxiety. They might also feel cold, and their low back might even be sore. In this case, it’s likely that their Kidney energy needs support. In other cases, people may be feeling like they have to hold their emotions in and are getting headaches and migraines. Some people may even feel dizzy and experience vertigo. In this instance, supporting the Liver energy can be helpful. Others may feel overwhelmed with grief and the stress of losing a loved one. Here, supporting the Lung energy can make a world of difference.

 

Balancing energy is key

I work on balancing energy most often with acupuncture needles. I love to combine this kind of treatment with ear seeds. Ear seeds are great because they are something tangible that people can take home with them to continue the treatment. It also gives people comfort to have something to do if they feel anxious. By gently giving the ear seeds a squeeze, the body gets a subtle message to relax. I also have Stress and Anxiety-specific ear seed kits for people who want to apply their own treatments at home, and I am happy to customize them as needed.

 

What can you do at home?

In my practice, I tailor treatments to each individual patient. If this kind of treatment is not available to you, there are still things you can do at home that may help. Here are some ideas:

 

Reward yourself!

And now for the “dessert”. This is the metaphorical cherry on top to reward yourself for just being you.  Here it is:

Do one thing EVERY day that brings you joy.

If you can do this, you will at least have that time that is stress and anxiety free. The thing you choose needs to be something that brings you great delight and a smile to your face. What’s important is that it is meaningful to you. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It doesn’t have to be anything big or something that takes a lot of time. Here are some ideas to give you food for thought: snuggle with your pet, drink a delicious cup of hot tea, giggle with a friend, move to music in your kitchen, sing your favorite song as loudly as you can, walk outside and crunch through crisp winter leaves on the ground, or take a soothing essential-oil scented bubble bath. Involve the senses – sight, smell, sound, taste, and touch. What would FEEL good to you and bring you JOY?

 

Want to talk about how acupuncture and Chinese medicine can help your stress and anxiety? I’d love to hear from you. Reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

Start the new year with some Acupressure!

acupressure

Set the tone for a healthy new year with Acupressure

Acupressure is the application of gentle pressure to acupuncture points. It is a great way to give yourself an at home treatment that can be done simply and easily using just your fingers. In this blog, I’ll provide instructions for how to perform acupressure and share information on some points you can try at home. I’m including a variety of points that can help with issues like anxiety, congestion, constipation, cough, depression, grief, headaches, inflammation, insomnia, irritability, menopausal symptoms, menstrual pain, nausea, PMS, stress, and tension.

 

How to perform acupressure

  • Use your index and / or middle fingers to apply a downward pressure with small circular motions (about a quarter of an inch) to the acupuncture point.
  • Feel for painful areas or areas of tightness or emptiness.
  • Massage for at least ten seconds, and up to a few minutes.
  • Stimulate points at least two times per day, for example, once in the morning and once at night.

 

Try acupressure with these acupuncture points

 

Yintang

Yintang means “Hall of Impression”. It is located between the eyebrows and is in the area referred to as the “third eye” in many cultures. This is a wonderfully calming point.

  • Location: Place a finger at the glabella, which is the skin above the nose between the eyebrows.
  • Uses: nasal congestion, runny nose, headaches in the forehead region, anxiety, insomnia.

 

Lung 1

The Chinese name of this point is Zhongfu. It means “Middle Palace”. It is the first point on the Lung channel. People often find this point to be tender when they have grief that has not been released.

  • Location: Slide the finger below the clavicle from the sternum towards the shoulder, stopping at the shoulder .  Then move your finger down and slightly out about a finger width to find Lung 1.
  • Uses: cough, wheezing, asthma, shoulder/chest tension, grief.

 

Ren Mai 17

The Chinese name of his point is Shanzhong. It means “Chest Center”. This point is the 17th point on the Ren Mai channel. This channel runs up the front of the body and is also known as the Conception Vessel channel.

  • Location: Place the finger(s) on the center of the chest at the level of the fourth intercostal space which is located at the natural line of the nipples.
  • Uses: stress and anxiety in the chest region, relaxes the chest and releases the diaphragm.

 

Pericardium 6

The Chinese name of this point is Neiguan. It means “Inner Pass”. It is the 6th point on the Pericardium channel. Motion sickness bands target this point, and it can be great for relieving nausea. It is also a primary point for anxiety.

  • Location: On the inside of the wrist, place the finger two finger-breadths away from the wrist crease in between the two tendons (palmaris longus and flexor carpi radialis).
  • Uses: anxiety, motion sickness, nausea, insomnia, carpal tunnel syndrome.

 

Large Intestine 4

The Chinese name of this point is Hegu. It means “Joining Valley”. Hegu is the fourth point on the Large Intestine channel. It is a principle point used with any issues of the head and face, including headaches.

DO NOT USE THIS POINT IF YOU ARE PREGNANT. This point has a strong downward action and is contra-indicated in pregnancy.

  • Location: Slide the finger from the joint of the index finger towards the wrist stopping in the depression where the thumb and index finger bones meet.
  • Uses: headaches in the front of the head, toothaches, pain, cold symptoms, constipation.

 

Liver 3

The Chinese name of this point is Taichong. It means “Great Rushing”. It is the third point on the Liver channel. This point, combined with Large Intestine 4, is referred to as part of the “four gates” which help circulate energy through the body.

  • Location: Place the finger on top the of the foot in the depression between the big toe and second toe and slide the finger toward the ankle into the most tender part of the depression between the two bones.
  • Uses: PMS, menstrual pain, anger, irritability, stress, headaches, anxiety.

 

Kidney 1

The Chinese name of this point is Yongquan. It is the first point on the Kidney channel. It means “Gushing Spring”. This is an excellent point for grounding energy.

  • Location: Place the finger on the bottom of the foot in the depression near the upper middle portion of the foot.
  • Uses: insomnia, palpitations, anxiety, anger, poor memory, hot flashes, night sweats.

 

Ear Shen Men

Ear Shen Men means Ear “Spirit Gate”. It is the most widely used point on the ear.

  • Location: At the apex of the triangular fossa in the upper third of the external ear. This is the triangular shaped depression at the top of the inside of the ear.
  • Uses:  Pain, stress, anxiety, depression, inflammation, addiction.

 

Questions?

If you have any questions or trouble locating any of the points, please reach out and email me through our website or call or text 910-622-6960. I’d love to hear from you!

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine has moved! And other holiday news…

acupuncture

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine has moved!

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is now located at 1133 Military Cutoff Road in the Lifeline Chiropractic office suite #110. We’re right behind the Chicken Salad Chick restaurant in The Forum shopping center across from Mayfaire. Our phone number is still 910-622-6960.

 

Open during the holidays

Needing extra support this holiday season? We’re here for you! We have COVID-19 protocols in place to help you stay safe. Masks are required, screening questionnaires are performed, and temperatures are checked at every appointment. Appointments are spaced to allow the treatment room to be cleaned thoroughly between patients, with linens changed and surfaces cleaned with an EPA-approved botanical disinfectant. We have upgraded our air purifier to a new medical-grade filtration H13 true HEPA system that removes 99.97% of particles down to 0.1 microns. For reference, the average size of the SARS CoV-2 particle which causes COVID-19 is about 0.125 microns.

 

Gift certificates & stocking stuffers available

Looking for a unique gift? We can customize a gift certificate for you. We also have a variety of ear seed kits that start at $24.99. Kits in stock include: Acne, Allergies, Anxiety, Back pain & Sciatica, Depression, Fertility, Headaches & Migraines, Insomnia, Menopause, Motion Sickness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Stress, and Stop Smoking. You can read more about ear seeds in the blog entitled All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy. Another great stocking stuffer is our popular Chinese herbal lip gloss for $6.50.

 

Wishing you and your family all the best!

As this year comes to a close, we hope you are able to take some time for yourself to rest and relax. Sending you and your family best wishes for a safe, healthy, and fun-filled holiday season!

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.

Improve your sleep with acupuncture

acupuncture sleep

Acupuncture research on sleep disturbances

An article published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine titled Acupuncture for Treatment of Insomnia: A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials discussed the prevalence of sleep issues and insomnia in adults. Estimates show that 40% of adults experience insomnia. Of this total percentage, 10-15% is identified as chronic, and 25 – 35% occurs on an occasional basis. Sleep disturbances generally involve difficulty falling asleep, and / or difficulty staying asleep. In Chinese medicine, we also consider excessive dreaming and the types of dreams that occur. Sleep deprivation can be very detrimental, with consequences ranging from delayed reactions and cognitive responses, distractedness, and headaches, to the development of mental illness.

 

Importance of sleep

An article from Harvard Medical School called In Search of Sleep shares that high-quality sleep is vital to good health. A lack of sufficient sleep has been linked to weight gain, cognitive decline, and an increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.

 

We do some of our best healing while we sleep. In fact, the Harvard Medical School article shared a scientific discovery of an important brain cleaning function that occurs during sleep. Scientists discovered a waste clearance system called the glymphatic system. The cerebrospinal fluid in the glymphatic system washes away harmful proteins that can build up without proper rest.

 

In Chinese medicine, the optimal time to sleep is from 10pm to 6am. This allows enough time for a person to enter a deep sleep by 11pm when the Gall Bladder is at its peak functioning time from 11pm to 1am collecting and processing bile which helps with digestion and breaks down fats. Then, the Liver reaches its peak between 1am and 3am. This is when the Liver processes and detoxifies the blood. The other two organs that reach their peak on the Chinese organ clock during optimal sleep hours are the Lungs and Large Intestine.

 

Sleep hygiene

Sleep hygiene is a term used to refer to sleep habits. “Good sleep hygiene” means that there are good habits around sleep. “Poor sleep hygiene” means that the habits are not conducive to sleep. Developing a set of good habits is key to promoting healthful sleep. Here is a list of positive habits to consider:

 

  • Establish consistent sleep and wake times.

    Go to bed at the same time every night. Wake up at the same time every morning. Try to stick with this schedule even on the weekends. The body craves consistency and a predictable sleep schedule. Most people need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep every night.

 

  • Create a quiet and dark environment.

    Close the shades and turn off all lights. This includes any blue light from electronics, including the TV, tablets, and smart phones. The bedroom should be as dark as possible. From an acupuncture perspective, the first point on the Bladder acupuncture channel is called “Bright eyes”, and it is located in the inner corner of the eyes. When the “Bright eyes” point and the eyes experience light, they send a signal to the body to wake up. This is why a dark room is so important to achieve restful sleep. The room should also be quiet, unless soft music or a sleep guided visualization is being played. The temperature should be comfortable and cool.

 

  • Do not eat before bed.

    Large meals should be avoided before bed. The stomach needs time to digest food after a meal. Ideally, food should not be consumed after 7pm. In Chinese medicine, the peak time of the stomach’s ability to function is between 7am – 9am. Conversely, the low point of the stomach’s energy occurs between 7pm – 9pm. This is the time that the stomach is slowing down and is least able to digest food effectively.

 

  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bed.

    Most people would agree that caffeine should be discontinued several hours before bed. While it may seem like alcohol can help people fall asleep more quickly, it actually results in poorer sleep. When alcohol is consumed before bed, the liver has to deal with processing the alcohol instead of restoring and regenerating itself. This derails the healing that would normally occur during sleep.

 

  • Exercise, though not right before bed. 

    Exercise has many benefits, including improving sleep. An article from Johns Hopkins Medicine called Exercising for Better Sleep details why it may be better to complete exercise several hours before bed. Essentially, exercise causes the body to release endorphins that can increase brain activity and make it hard to fall asleep. Exercise also increases core body temperature which gives the body the message that it is time to be awake.

 

Acupuncture for healthful sleep

There is no one-size fits all acupuncture treatment for sleep.  This is because there are many potential reasons why a person may have trouble sleeping.  Some of these possibilities include excessive thinking or worry, poor digestion, hormone imbalance, hot flashes, and pain. A Chinese medicine diagnosis and treatment is tailored to the individual, and a variety of questions are covered to identify what is going on from a Chinese medicine perspective. For example, if a person wakes up frequently during the night, knowing what time this occurs is extremely helpful to correlate this to the time on the Chinese organ clock.   The Chinese medicine diagnosis and acupuncture treatment focus on the energetic imbalance that the practitioner identifies in the patient. The overall goal is to balance the patient’s energy, which allows the body to heal itself.

 

Ear seeds

Ear seeds are a great option to include with an acupuncture treatment. They can also be used as a standalone treatment for people who are afraid of needles or are not able to see an acupuncturist. The points chosen on the ear depend on the Chinese medicine diagnosis. The practitioner selects the points that most effectively promote healthful sleep for the patient and their specific needs. Read more about ear seeds in the blog entitled All about ear seeds and auriculotherapy.

 

When to see a doctor

It’s a good idea to see a doctor if you are regularly tired upon waking and have trouble staying awake during the day. Additionally, if you have been told that you snore loudly or it sounds like your breathing stops at times, it is recommended to seek medical attention to rule out conditions like sleep apnea.

 

About the Author

Ericca Burke is the owner of HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine where she provides acupuncture and Chinese medicine treatments in Wilmington, NC. Click this link to read more about Ericca. 

 

About HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in Wilmington, NC

HAVEN Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine is an acupuncture and Chinese medicine practice located in Wilmington, NC just minutes from beautiful Wrightsville Beach. Click this link for contact information and directions. Click this link for a listing and description of services offered.