All posts by Acupuncture Alexandria

Reflections on Acupuncture in Today’s Healthcare System

Acupuncture Provides Health and Wellness Along with Personalized Care that is unseen in the highly automated state of Allopathic Care.  Holistic Health And Treatment Sustains Life Through Herbal Medicine and the Comprehensive and Close Attendance by a Highly Trained and Caring Acupuncturist Robert Hoffman N.C.C.A.O.M. Florida and Virginia.  

At a time in America’s progressive health care history Acupuncture currently is currently being received warmly and receptively, a bright spot and shining light for those seeking personal and responsible natural-health-care.  Used as Preventative Medicine, Acupuncture assists people natural innate healing skills, innate knowledge and wisdom.  Acupuncture supports healing your personal issue. With guidance, acupunctures various treatments and herbal medicine helps to sustain long term health and wellness, while reducing or stopping the dis-ease process.

To maintain that health and wellness, ongoing support and care is provided on a personal needs basis as well as seasonal session work, timed with the four seasonal changes, acupuncture balances the mind body and spirit and strengthens immune system health.    Acupuncture and herbal medicine excel in the  reduction in stress, and is especially noted for improving nighttime sleep.  It increases energy, promotes longevity and treats the body in a holistic and natural approach and continuously improves, heals and strengthens the path toward daily health improvement.

Acupuncture and other oriental healing treatments are an effective approach in the healing process of Chinese Medicine.  Benefiting the body physically, emotionally and spiritually treatments are relaxing, immediately reducing the stress response in the body.  Acupuncture treats as assortment of complaints like  acute chronic and mysterious pain symptoms and stress.  As well as digestive, gynecological, seasonal respiratory disorders and many other issues.  The time taken to listen, advice and treat each person creates a personal and unique experience at each visit In most cases a thorough session is provided by treating the back and front sides (or both sides) of the patient in a single session.  This helps create an even better “balance” and holistic body treatment, supporting efficient therapeutic experience with optimal results.
Related Articles by Robert Hoffman

The Triune Brain and the Water Element

The water element and the P.F.C.’s deep interconnected neurophysiology personify the alchemy between the physical and emotional component of living within community, and the complex internal essence and connections toward the “self.”  Every conscious and unconscious thought or awareness is dealt with emotionally and physically at the same time; as psychosomatic and physiological response mechanisms. Hormones help the pre-frontal cortex(P.FC.) feed our thought process through neuropeptides that connect the body’s complex interaction of outside stimulus protecting  the body from dis-ease).

Specifically, the P.F.C. helps our physical/emotional aspect of living in the moment in a community or the larger context, though it also subordinates individual behaviors within the cultures expected behaviors and prior costumes, which exist deep within our collective consciousness. In contrast, it supports the individual thoughts that thrive within that culture with their own personal approach, feelings and life long pursuits and goals.

The 2nd area is the mid-brain area, it covers the reticular brain system and is believed to hold key behaviors and responses. This area, combines the P.F.C.  and the brain stem to forge the broad range of emotional connections used throughout everyday life.

The 3rd area is the brain stem. It stores survival mechanisms incorporated from very early primal evolutionary processes.  It holds these survival mechanisms and exchanges that instinctual information upward to the P.F.C. and the reticular brain mechanisms which engage us to be playful, and to work well together.  In turn the brain records your experience of life’s emotional up and downs and more basic flight or fight responses when you get into a stressful moment.  And then recalls that information again and again, building on the last “successful” experience of not being put into danger, hurt, or killed.

The brain stem is heavily dependant on the P.F.C and another part of the brain called the cerebellum to help create the physical actions that keep the brain consistently in balance.  The alchemy that exits within the brains physical and emotional component is held closely to the inherent connection of living within community.  We could not survive alone in the world without other people.  The complex internal essence and connections toward the self and other is the main key to how this complex circuitry of neurons we know as the brain coexist with outside forces.

 

Physiology and Spirituality; an Integration

The neurophysiology of the nervous system and the brain that commands that system can be fully integrated to include traditional oriental medicine (T.O.M.) Included here is an introduction to a broad view of brain physiology along with a description of 5 stages of thought including details of how thought interacts with the Eastern concept of brain-mind and Shen to alleviate symptoms and reduce disease states.

If thought could be temporarily paused and looked upon as one segment, it would manifest a full cycle through the 5 elements of  T.O.M.  Ideally, if it doesn’t complete the cycle, it falls into incomplete thought process which many contemporary therapies name as a source of dysfunction.  Here are the 5 cycles of thought as process.

The Water element is seen as relating to the Will or willpower, The Wood element as the process of Decision, The Fire element is seen as relating to the creation of Action, The Earth element is related to Response, or the ability to respond and lastly the Metal element is used as a metaphor to help the reader comprehend thought as a process for the Creation of outcome, or actionable thought-full process… (the full work is currently in edit review.)

 

 

 

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Let’s Talk Herbs (Herbal Medicine)

Greetings All. Today I will provide some brief discussion about herbal medicine in a general sense to familiarize people with this very “old,” yet “new” concept to some. For many people, hesitancy when trying new or unknown things is somewhat natural. This might not be based on any actual facts or reality, yet if a person is not familiar with a thing, there is quite often a resistance. I believe, not entirely, but much of the public has a hesitancy or sometimes even mild fear of the concept of Herbal Medicines. It seems to me that most of this comes from a lack of education on the subject, lack of exposure in our specific United States society, and partially some unsupportive bias from medical professionals of other traditions, outside of the Chinese medical realm. Therefore, hopefully, in this short time I will be able to begin to replace some confusion and skepticism of Herbal Medicines with facts and truth based on actual use, experience and the nature of reality.

To Start, Herbal Medicine is made entirely of HERBS. In other words, these are completely natural substances in their original form that grow out of the earth… Just Like Our Food! Roots, Stems, Leaves, Rhizomes, Branches, Flowers, etc. The composition of these natural medicinals are not altered in any way by man other then cooking, frying, boiling or techniques as these. This has a enormous importance as to why they are so good for people. Herbal Medicine, as opposed to western medicine, gives formulas of herbs in their natural form. This means a single herb can have a specific function, for example, stop or clear diarrhea, however, even though an herb can have a specific function, it is still composed of many chemical components, minerals, and healing energies in a very balanced way that is therapeutic and good for the body.

To compare, western/scientific based medicine use substances quite often that are synthetically made (man made), with few chemical components, and at large concentrations in order to target a very specific cell or organ or gland or hormone, etc. One can easily see that when medicine is in a plant form there are many natural components that physically and energetically balance the product, verses the lack of a balance in western/scientific medical drugs. This lack of balance is the reason why there are many side effects to consider when taking and prescribing western meds.

In addition to the balance a medicinal has within a single plant product, Herbal Medicine is mostly prescribed as formulas, which means multiple herbs in a single prescription. This further balances the medicinal as multiple herbs can act to mutually enhance each other, to balance each other, or to treat multiple disharmonies in the body at the same time, all the while without negative side effects. The Herbal Practitioner can usually treat all symptoms and disharmonies a person could possible have all in the same formula. This is why a thorough practitioner custom makes herbal formulas for the specific individual, because no two people have the same disharmonies at the same severity.

There are different ways people can practice herbal medicine. There is the raw herbal pharmacy, in which the patient is given a bag with weighed out, whole plant peaces that is to be boiled at home to create a tea, and drank 1-3 times a day. There is the granular pharmacy, which is the powered form, which is given to the patient in a bottle the size of most prescribed medicine. The granular form comes with a small spoon inside so the patient can scoop the herb into a cup and drink with a little hot water as a tea. There is the Patient form in which the patient takes the herbs in pill form, similar to prescribed medicinal drugs. There is also the Tincture form, in which herbs where pre-distilled, in alcohol usually, and taken as drops from a small glass dropper in some water. Lastly, there are various ways to prepare herbs for topical use for rashes and trauma. Personally, I practice in the granular form. This allows me to custom make my formulas for my patients at the specific combinations and doses I decide, but with less time dedication as the patient does not need to prepare or boil the herbs at home as with the raw pharmacy.

So how do you know if you need herbs or they will work for what you want treated? Firstly, herbal medicine can treat such a wide range of ailments. The chances are, if you suffer with a specific issue, there is probably a formula for you. Herbal medicine can treat everything from fatigue, anemia, allergies, nasal congestion, irritable bowel, infertility, head-aches, migraines, back pain, shoulder pain, stress, anxiety, rashes, flu, common cold and on and on. Herbal medicine can be used for very minor imbalances or also major life influencing ailments. Personally, when I get a little run down, it is common for me to take some herbs that supplement qi(energy), blood, and move stagnation from stress or poor dietary choices… and sometimes I take these on a daily basis. Now, I am certainly NOT anti-western medication. Western meds are very necessary at times when a disease has reached a point of severity by neglect or lack of awareness or hereditary reasons etc. However, not everyone needs these strong specific, chemical altering medications. There is a middle ground. It seems many people try acupuncture and herbs if there western therapies do not provide relief. I believe it would be more appropriate to try alternative medicines first (providing the condition is not life threatening) before strong western therapies. This is certainly the rational path. If there is a problem, one should try the most natural, least invasive approach first, and if no result, then proceed to a stronger therapy.

Allow me to provide one example of what I am talking about about – a more appropriate middle ground. A personal friend of mine suffered from relatively moderate headaches on a regular basis. She went to her primary care physician and was prescribed a contraceptive medication (The Pill). Now this type of contraception is necessary at times, however they very clearly adjust and control the chemical hormone levels of the body and very often women can take up to a year after stopping contraception medication to obtain a relatively normal menstrual cycle. Also, it is my opinion and experience that people that have headaches receive enormous benefit from acupuncture, and quite quickly. This is an example, of hormone alteration that can easily be avoided.

Is there anything to worry about with taking herbal medicine? If there is any concern to be had around taking herbal medicine it would be to remain clear with your primary care physician as to what you are taking, because the only concern comes from unknown reaction that herbs can have on a western medications function. Truthfully, most herbal medicine does not react badly with western medication, however, there are a few herbs that can effect the functioning of some western medications. However, this is usually avoided by taking the two medicinals at different times of the day. Yet always remember, the main concept of herbal medicine is that it is completely natural, and lack side effects with a competent practitioner. This is the main idea, to remain healthy and pure, physically and energetically. This allows actual healing from a natural way with actual resolution, and not simply a symptom mask. Dependance is not typical. Once a disharmony is fixed, the person is finished with that herb.

In closing I thank you for filtering through my immediate thoughts on this subject. I hope for you to have taken some insight from this small bit of information from a practicing herbalist, as this is a long and broad subject and can potentially require a good chunk of time. I will leave you with the hopes of increasing your awareness of the body, mind, and spirit integrated together to create true health. Pay close attention to your health, habits and thoughts so that any disharmonies that arise can be quickly and painlessly adjusted. As always, my email and phone are always open for specific questions and inquiries you may have into chinese medicine.

“Allergies” and Natural Medicine

Greetings All, Today I will provide a brief explanation as to if and how Traditional Chinese Medicine can treat “Nasal Allergies,” “Sinusitis” and/or “Rhinitis.” In Short, Chinese Medicine, to include mostly acupuncture and herbal medicine can provide significant transformations in people who deal with these nasal/sinus issues. Both Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine are quite affective at this from a healthy and natural approach.

There are Two ways we can talk about how acupuncture and herbs go about this. The basic division is first how they work to open the nose and remove the congested qi, which is called the “Branch” part of the treatment. The other way is how acupuncture and herbs work to correct the underlying cause or disharmony in the person that creates the possibility for particular people to experience allergies or congestion in the first place… this is called the “Root” cause.

The First part in which acupuncture and herbal medicine removes congestion and sneezing has a more simple explanation. Acupuncture and herbs work in this way by activating and moving energy in the channels or meridians that permeate the nose and sinuses to free up the blockage or obstructions that prevent the normal nasal breath, create excessive mucus production, and post nasal drip. One can look at this with the image of removing road blocks from a congested highway, or removing a clog from a drain to allow things to move and flow better.

The Second part of the treatment involves correcting “Root” causes or “disharmonies” or “imbalances” in the body that are the underlying cause of why a persons body responds and functions in this way. From this view there are a handful of causes that are common in people from a Traditional Chinese Medical perspective and each person can have varying severity and also combinations of these causes.

The First cause I will explain is a weakness or deficiency of the Lungs energy. The lungs provide the most external energy for the body, called Wei Qi. This is our external defense, or one can look at it as our immune system for acute sicknesses like the cold and flu. When this energy is weak then people tend to get sick more often, and also allergens such as pollen, dust, dander, mold, etc., create a more dramatic effect on these people then a person that would have strong Wei Qi or Lung Energy. This is a common cause in people that have classical Nasal “Allergies.”

The Second root cause I will speak on is the concept of dampness and phlegm. Either due to poor digestion, excessive ingestion of rich foods or drink, or other reasons, some people tend to accumulate dampness and phlegm in the body (dampness is like phlegm but less thick and more movable). This concept is slightly more easy to grasp because we can see it. It is the phlegm and mucus that is produced in excess in the sinuses and nasal passages as well as the lower lung organ as in asthma and cough. Mucus is a normal product of mucus cells in the body, but some people produce too much. These people tend to notice more congestion or phlegm in the nose and/or lungs when the diet is more rich, such as dairy, milk, ice cream, etc., and when the person is tired. Also symptoms tend to be worse in the morning and better with movement because the dampness or phlegm settles and accumulate when the person is not moving.

A Third common cause is a build up of heat in the body, especially in particular areas such as the liver, large intestine and stomach meridians. This is a slightly harder concept to grasp. Heat builds up in the body whenever there is excessive stress, high paced lifestyle, frustrations, excessive rich AND hot/spicey diet, febrile (fever) sicknesses, and things of this nature. When there is a certain amount of heat affecting the nose and sinuses this is what causes the sinus congestion that is stuck, thick, and yellow or green in color. The color (vs white or clear) is the indication of heat build up. People that experience this are the ones that have more chronic sinusitis with infection, or by means of an acute “cold or flu.”

These are only a few common examples of disharmonies that create the root cause of nasal allergies, or sinus issues. This was obviously a very basic description meant to give you a taste of how these things are viewed and dealt with in Chinese Medicine as much information and other patterns are missing. Another fact to consider is people rarely have one single pattern. Most people are a combination of multiple patterns at varying severities and acupuncture and herbal medicine are quite effective at making people feel better by taking care of the branch symptoms, as well as, and most importantly correcting the underlying disharmony which is the reason for the experienced discomfort. Again, as always I hope this finds you well and gives a clarity on this particular topic. Always feel free to call or email me if there are any additional, specific questions.

Acupuncture Sensation and Preventive Medicine Awareness

In today’s society, more and more people are becoming exposed to the idea of Acupuncture as a health system that actually provides many benefits for most people. It is being used for weight loss, smoking cessation, pain elimination, fertility, IBS and much, much more. It is for its diversity of uses, as well as the natural nature of the medicine that many are seeking its benefits.

Now some of you that are considering acupuncture might still be resistant because of the idea of needles. However, the entire resistance is only the “Idea” of the needles. During first treatment most people are at least slightly hesitant, yet after that first needle is inserted, I hear over and over, “OH?… that was it??” This is because people have been taught a knee-jerk reaction to the word needle. They think that needle equals hospital/hypodermic needle, which are a completely different. Most acupuncture needles are only the size of few hairs width. They are so small that as some might have a sensation, also many are not even felt when inserted. Now, once inserted the practitioner might want to create a slight sensation. This is call grasping the Qi/energy. When this happens, the person feels a slight dull, achy sensation, but not sharp. Also, quite commonly, the patient will report the sensation of the needle to be transmitted to another place in the body. For example when I needle a point in their foot, they feel it in their hip or when I needle a point on their leg, then feel it in their abdomen. This is very good, as it is the actual sensational experience of meridian activation. Also, this result is often independent of nerve pathway, as the transmitted area of sensation does not follow the nerve course but rather the Chinese meridian course. This yields great results. So these are the right qualities of a needle sensation. Once all the needling is complete, the person feels much relief and relaxation. As the body becomes balanced it can now relax, and this is felt.

Now lastly, acupuncture can certainly treat active problems or health difficulties, but this medicine also excels as preventative medicine. The Chinese medical practitioner is actually extremely sensitized to the diagnostic skills so that he or she can perceive an imbalance in the body just by feeling the pulse or looking at the tongue, even before any symptoms are present. This is why traditionally people were treated during the change of seasons, just to remain balanced and maintain proper health. The subtle diagnostics of the Chinese medical practitioner through the wrist pulse and tongue diagnostics are the essence of preventative medicine and excel in this field. Getting regular Acupuncture treatments throughout the year helps to keep the immune system strong, energy vital, removes stressors on the body, optimize health and minimize sickness, as well as keep the spirit lifted.

Our bodies are so amazingly created and maintained that we cannot even comprehend its countless intricacies that are continuously in motion. This being said, it only makes sense that we have a health system in place that is truly an actively supportive medicine that allows our bodies to heal and balance naturally.

Acupuncture – Grasp the Answer “What Does It Actually Do?”

Being that the majority of the population has reached a point of exposure to acupuncture in which most everyone is at least aware of acupuncture as a very possible health choice and has probably witnessed testimony of its many benefits, this article is geared toward one of the most common questions about acupuncture. If someone has never actually experienced an acupuncture treatment before, or even if they have, they may have several questions still in mind about how it is actually working.

Firstly, I hear quite often, “What does acupuncture actually do?” Now, there are several avenues one can take when explaining this question. From a western medical and scientific point of view there are many researchers studying this very question, and with many positive results at that. Many researchers have observed the body respond to acupuncture using several different methods. MRI studies have been used to show different brain centers activate and respond to corresponding body acupuncture stimulation. Other studies show how acupuncture can alter neurotransmitter or hormone levels in the body. Other studies still, have shown how acupuncture alters the shape of the collagen fiber matrix of the interstitial space (space between the cells), which creates a micro-alteration to the structural body, with the idea that this micro-alteration allows the body to respond and create a larger balance.

Lastly, motor point acupuncture is the insertion of an acupuncture needle into the center of the belly of a muscle, where the nerve enters the muscle, which creates a very physical muscle twitch that resets the affected muscle that was injured to its proper shape and length, while increasing the muscles efficiency and strength. These scientific studies all show observations of the reactions that the body undergoes during acupuncture, but they have yet to conclude an explanation of the modality itself as a health system.

As seen above, there are these scientific explanations and observations as to how acupuncture affects the body. However, the other way to describe the effects of acupuncture is from the traditional and actual use by the Chinese medical practitioner, using an “Eastern” perspective. Using the same concept that everything is interconnected and smaller parts create the whole, this is the way acupuncture should be viewed. An atom made of subatomic elements, the galaxy made of countless stars, an organ made of cells with vascular and nervous perfusion. The single human body also functions as a result of the many acupuncture meridians or channels. The acupuncture meridians are functional divisions of the body that hold specific purposes. The body functions as a result of proper meridian flow and balance. Everything is regulated by the meridians from digestion, to body warmth, the feelings of joy or sorrow, to physical movement and reproduction. The functioning, or lack of functioning, of these divisions/meridians create a healthy or unhealthy body and mind. So, when the body is “unhealthy” or “diseased,” it is these meridians that must be corrected, as there is not a single place in the body that they do not reach. Therefore, the Chinese medical practitioner inserts acupuncture needles into the meridians that are not functioning properly. Whether using meridians that control respiration, digestion, reproduction, cognitive ability, or physical functioning, they can all be treated using this method. Therefore, acupuncture activates specific points on these meridians that have specific functions to create a larger, functional response by the body.

Now, What can this treatment do for you? This is potentially a limitless question as this medicine is truly holistic. Very popular focuses for acupuncture in recent times are Fertility, Pain Elimination, Acute and Chronic Fatigue, Stress Management, Weight Loss, Emotional Balance, Allergy Control, and even Cosmetic Acupuncture to reduce facial wrinkles, dark areas, etc. I have seen tremendous results in all of the above areas. Athletes have improved performance, reduced and prevented injury. Persons claimed infertile have conceived. Persons suffering with emotional stressors become hugely relieved. All this achieved in the absence of chemical or hormonal alterations as seen in many prescription drugs that contain potentially negative side effects.

The growth of acupuncture continues largely for the reason that many people are attaining their health goals using Natural means and I urge you to consider the same. At this day and age we have many options with how to treat our bodies and being, and we do not all need major medications or surgeries to heal. Rather, a more natural intervention is often the more appropriate path. Supportive and Balancing is the essence of Acupuncture.

Spring Being

Greetings all. As we now are in the full blossom of the spring season, I believe it will be quite appropriate to discuss our “Being” during this time. I choose the word being, because the word “health” probably becomes most associated with lack of physical ailments, and here I am referring to all that makes up our current state of Living. Timing, is a variable that is quite important in Chinese Medicine and Chinese Culture. The more closely you pay attention to the environment and nature, the more you will notice the importance of a proper time for everything. Wether we like it or not, we are relatively limited in our existence according to the confines of the seasons. One cannot go swimming in the winter. One cannot plant a crop in the autumn. One cannot eat excessively hot foods in the summer, nor excessively cold foods in the winter. One cannot harvest the crop in the spring. In the wind and cold we need to protect our bodies, while in the cool, still weathered sun we do not. These very basic ideas we understand because we cannot survive without knowing this, however, the idea of proper timing is also permeated throughout all of life. This is what brings me to the “Being” of Spring.

In Spring, we were brought out of the winter, which is a dark, cold space. Winter is a space of slowness and lowness. A time to stay indoors and conserve energy and resources. But the Spring, is quite different. The direction of the energetics of the spring time is upward and outward for all living beings. Just as the plants grow up and out of their winter ground, us humans also become more active. We adventure out more often and become more active. Specific attributes such as planning and inspiration of new ideas and activities are most auspicious and heightened during this season. Other ancient correspondences to the spring include the liver organ, the color green, the taste of sour and the element of wood. Easily, this is the season of growth.

As always with Chinese medicine and Culture, the emphasis is on harmony and balance. The aim is to live life by balancing the yin and yang, and by doing so your deep energy and reserves are not wasted, your emotions do not control you, sickness is minimized, and life is maximized. There are many ways to maintain or correct balance, such as through diet, physical and mental exercise, proper rest, proper sexual practices, etc… The balancing way that pertains to the seasons is simply to live according to them. For example, if one does not rest and stay dormant enough during the winter period, then the exuberant uprising that occurs in the spring will not achieve its optimal manifestation. Therefore, understand the energetics of yourself by observing nature. Just as you witness the trees and vegetation blossom, the wind blow and the temperature rise, consider your inner workings as doing the same. To observe nature is the ultimate teaching of remaining balanced with the world. The ancient Taoists observed nature to extract all of its minute, yet miraculous wisdoms.

However, in addition to the suggestion of observation to remain balanced, I have a few tips for this time of year. Now, as most of us are not completely in-tuned with nature and our bodies, there are some health complaints that often arise as a result of the energetics of spring. In this society, for most of us, our schedule does not seem to care what season it is… rather people tend to be busy most of the time. Therefore, if one is consistently busy and highly active (with work usually), then the already rising energy in the spring can potentially become too much of a rise in an already heightened individual. When this is the case, common spring time symptoms include Headache, Dizziness, Sinus Infections, Allergies, Sleep Disturbances, and Aggressiveness. Now, to combat these symptoms of excess rising energies, there are a few things you can do to remain in balance. For these types of busy people, spring is an excellent time to begin a meditative practice. Meditation is just recently being studied for its immense beneficial effects on the mind and body. Yoga or Tai chi practices are also ancient techniques that are extremely good for calming and balancing. Great for people that might need a little more movement then a sitting meditation can offer. Also, even more basic advise is to make time to take breaks. Make sure on your lunch or break time you are actually taking a break, not running around, but allowing your body to sit still. When you do this and pay attention, you will actually feel a calm come over the body. Breath a little deeper and you will notice all the energy in motion become stilled. Sit a little longer and you will notice a sinking sensation and your muscles loosen where they where once tight. It is important that your body takes these breaks, otherwise the constant hustle and bustle will eventually create pains physically and emotionally. And as always, Acupuncture has specific techniques to adjust the body for the change of seasons, wether you are experiencing symptoms or not.

I wish for this to have given you a sense of understanding of the nature of life. There is and always will be consistent change, in seasons, in yourself, and on this planet. An ancient Chinese Text entitled the I Ching, or the “Book of Changes” is a text that reflects the understanding of change and is dedicated to revealing Truths behind worldly events. Within these truths are continuous references to time, and the correct timing of events. As humans, many do not often consider the correct timing for our actions, however, this is almost as important as the action or event in itself. So, I leave you with this simple advise. Try to become as observant of your surroundings as possible. The seasons, the weather, the people that surround us, and ourselves. The more observant of our surroundings we become, then we can deduce a way to create a balance. IN SPRING, BE SRING… IN SUMMER, BE SUMMER… IN AUTUMN, BE AUTUMN… IN WINTER, BE WINTER.

Pain and Acupuncture

There are still many people that are uncertain what acupuncture actually does or why it is good, however, if there is one thing that acupuncture is widely know for, it is for the treatment of pain. Regardless of how holistic or intricate the medicine actually is, most people at least understand or have been told how acupuncture has and can help with pain relief. In fact, it is my opinion (mind you I am an acupuncturist) that acupuncture is one of the BEST modalities or treatments for any type of pain. The reason for this is many fold. To start with, acupuncture is free of external, man-made medications and thus, essentially free of negative side affect. This is one of the big attractions to acupuncture as it does not have negative effects when used skillfully, only positive effects. Another reason is that it is very effective. I have seen many people suffering with pain, mild or severe, come away from acupuncture treatment with great relief and actual resolution of the causative factor. This brings me to my next point. Acupuncture works with the body towards actually resolution and healing, not simply pain relief. After acupuncture, the person feels better because the body actually begins to heal properly. So, the root cause of the pain resolves which results in the dissipation of painful sensation. Anything from carpal-tunnel syndrome, jaw pain, neck, shoulder, low back pain, headache, fractures, bulging disks, hip pain… anything from soft tissue and muscles injuries, to more structural problems, acupuncture is greatly effective. Also, not only acute injuries from accidents or exercise injures can benefit, but also stubborn, long term problems that have lingered can be relieved. Personally, I will apply acupuncture to myself as soon as I feel slight discomfort in any part of my body in order to prevent it from progressing.

In order to grasp how acupuncture relieves pain and heals the body I will describe its use in treatment. In one part of an acupuncture treatment the patient will notice the acupuncture points being used on or in the area of discomfort or the “problem area.” This is the more obvious part, because the needle goes where there is pain. Now, what this is doing is causing a reaction. As we all know, every action has a reaction. So, when an acupuncture needle is put into… let say a shoulder… a reaction is created. The patients own energy responds and reacts to the needle, which in turn was inserted using the practitioners energy. This creates a relationship. Two energies, the practitioner and the patient, respond to each other. (For a more western mindset, one can think of the reaction similar to an immune reaction in which chemicals released attract other healing chemicals and cells to the affected area.) Now, this reaction is a tremendous healing reaction, as the movement of the patients energy and blood to and through the affected area reestablishes proper blood and energy flow, thus proper function of the channels or meridians of the body. Now, once this basic function is restored, then more largely physical and structural problems begin to heal due to the proper profusion through the area that once was stuck, stagnant, old, and potentially toxic. This is true for all problems of pain… muscular, skeletal, vascular, and nerve. The needle reacts with all of these tissues depending on where it is placed. When used properly, patients of stroke can have restored function, arthritic patients have decreased swelling and increased relief, and shoulder tension that has been present for years is removed. For the second part of the described treatment, acupuncture points near and far from the area will also be used. This is because to restore proper function of a specific location, the entire acupuncture channel needs to be activated for restoration and balance. This is why for shoulder pain one will notice points at the area of discomfort as well as down the arm, the elbow and even hand and fingers. It is by knowledge of the channels and meridians that the practitioner can reach all areas of the body… even internal organs.

In closing, if there are any further questions as to the workings of acupuncture or treatment please feel free to contact me or send me a message via email or facebook. There is a saying in Chinese medicine. “Where there is pain, there is lack of free flow… Where there is free flow, there is no pain.”

Spirit Disturbances and Emotional Difficulties

This Articles purpose is to introduce the concept of Spirit or Emotional Disturbances and how it relates to health, the average person, and the Chinese medical practitioner. This will hopefully give you a new perspective and insight into the understanding of emotions, mental states, and the “Spirit.” Called “shen disturbance” in Chinese medicine, the closest translation being “spirit” disturbance is a very interesting, vast, and possibly limitless topic. From the most basic standpoint, what we are talking about is any disturbance of a persons mind or emotional state. A shen/spirit disturbance can be related to any disturbance of ones emotional or mental state ranging from mild to severe, such as relatively minor sadness, worry, anxiety, or frustration, or relatively major mania, depressive, or panic disorders. As Chinese medicine is extremely holistic, we will discuss how these “imbalances” in a persons life are directly related to health and a persons “being,” and not an isolated or separate phenomena considered to be purely mental or “IN YOUR HEAD.”

For some physiology, Chinese medicine takes into account the entire person and their state, regardless for what the person is being treated. Joint pain, headache, indigestion, fertility, or post traumatic stress disorder, the Chinese medical practitioner will take all things into account… physical, mental and emotional. This is because the Chinese medical practitioner views the person as a an integrative whole, physical and non-physical, material and energetic. (For those of you who have difficulty relating or understanding Qi/energy, if you think about it as all energy, including thermal, chemical, kinetic, potential, electrical… this makes the relation a little easier, as emotions are largely chemical and electrical responses in the brain from a western scientific point of view.)

For this reason, this medicine has an expanded concept of the spirit and emotions that extends beyond the central nervous system. Actually, each organ, in Chinese medicine, has its own “spirit” associated with it and thus its own influence and management of the different emotional and mental states. (This may seem far fetched if one has never been introduced to this concept before, but please keep the mind open as needed for new ideas.) Yes, Chinese medicine does acknowledge the brain, but, rather its functions are simply expanded beyond that single mass of material. The major organs that house the different “spirits” are the Heart, Liver, Lungs, Spleen and Kidneys. To remain short (mind you this is an extensive subject), in general, the spirit of the heart is named “shen/spirit” and major emotion is Joy. The spirit of the Liver, named “Hun” or etherial soul, manifests anger, frustration, and direction (nicknamed “The General” for similar attributes). The spirit of the Lungs, named “Po” or corporeal soul, processes grief and loss and provides universal righteousness.

Spirit of the spleen named “Yi” or intellect, processes worry and pensiveness, as well as digestive intellect, or processing mental activity. The Kidneys, “Zhi” or will, processes fear, fright and survival as well as providing the ability to stand upright, strongly (emotionally/physically). Therefore, when a person experiences anything that moves the person from a state of peace, to a state other then peace, the dominant emotion and mental state will have an effect on its associated organ that controls and processes this dominant emotion. Take the example of a young child that is obviously overexcited, maybe in a social situation playing with friends, maybe you add a bunch of sugar into the mix, maybe you add new surprises that the child is excited for, for example a trip that he/she has been awaiting. This builds a picture of a child that cannot sit still, becomes quite loud and active, who seems to be experiencing such an influx of joy that he can hardly stand it. According to Chinese medicine, he or she would experiencing a disturbance of the Heart/”Shen.”

This example demonstrates the acute emotional “attack” or disturbance that shifts the individual from a place of peace, to a place of imbalance (even though joy is a more “desirable” experience). You can take this idea and translate it to all the other emotions. Anger to the Liver, Worry/Pensiveness to the Spleen, Fear to the Kidneys, Grief to the Lungs. Now, to a certain extent, these states occur somewhat naturally. When they are over, the person will adjust and come back to a place of balance. However, it is when these imbalanced states become extreme in events, or chronic, occurring over and over, that the body accumulates a certain karma, or physical and emotional response to the causative emotion. It is possible that following these states, the body does not completely rebalance itself. Rather, it stores these accumulated emotions or Qi/energy, in a way that the stressors or imbalances may or may not be perceived consciously, until one day a physical/mental/emotional event resurfaces the same issue to manifest in another way. A common physical example is abdominal pains and diarrhea due to chronic anxiety/stress. A common emotional example is phobia of any new situations, because an isolated situation or many situations in the past has been upsetting for any reason. Therefore, an anticipation is putting non-realistic or non-reality borders on the future. There are many examples that all lead to the same point, that emotional imbalances or “shen disturbances” are very much as important and an integral part of our health as the purely physical realm.

So, how can Chinese medicine, Acupuncture, Herbs, or Body work help?? I feel that one of the easiest ways to explain this is to describe treatment. As an acupuncturist and herbalist I would use both modalities in a similar way. If a person comes to me, and has been effected gravely by long term grief over a relationship breakup, a death of a loved one, or a life change that is in need of a letting go of something, someone, or somewhere, then as a practitioner, one of the primary treatment protocols I would apply would be to use acupuncture and/or herbal medicines to treat the physical and spiritual aspect of the lungs, as the lungs are the primary organ that will process grief. Yet another example. If a person comes to me suffering from difficultly controlling his/her temper with bouts of explosive anger, OR much frustration that is internalized, rather then being expressed, it is held in to cause silent suffering in any way, then in this case I will primarily focus on treating the liver though “sedation,” “regulation,” or “pacification” of the physical and spiritual Liver. Now, treatment is always multifaceted and complex depending on the individual. In many situations, there are multiple emotions and multiple systems in play, but this gives you an understanding of some very basic Causes and Treatments of disease or “imbalances.” Also, this is the basic understanding and treatment of emotional causes of disease that range from mild, “every day” experiences, to extreme debilitating mental illnesses.

If this is a little difficult to grasp for some, you can think of the studies that have been done using MRI imaging on the brain during acupuncture treatments. During the treatment of different acupuncture points, the brain has been shown to be illuminated in different regions corresponding to different points treated. This shows an obvious physical connection between needling an external acupuncture point, and the increased chemical and electrical activity in the central nervous system, demonstrating integration and importance of the physical and mental realms.

Before I conclude, I think it is appropriate to end with some optimistic and helpful Healthy Living Advise. So just to reiterate, emotions are natural. It is a part of being human and we all experience different levels of joy, happiness, anger, sadness, grief, fear, fright and worry. It is when these states accumulate over time or are so strong that it affects or accumulates in the body and mind. Acupuncture and Herbal medicine are great ways used to correct the persons imbalances or used in preventative medicine. However, in addition to treatments, there are things people can do on an every day basis to remain healthy that I will list out.

1) Diet: a “balanced” diet is important to keep a persons being balanced. if someone suffers from anxiety, then smoking, coffee, caffein, and sugar will increase anxiety, even if there is an addiction. For depression eat acrid foods such as citrus and spices to spread the energy and lift the spirit, and stay away from heavy foods and dairy that will weigh a person down.

2) Breath Properly: As in meditation, focus on deep, relaxed breath courses the energy, especially cleansing and soothing the lungs for cases of anxiety, grief, and almost any other excess emotion. For more in depth discussion on breathing see the article “BREATH” on this same site.

3) Balance Life: Keep life balanced. Do not over work. Make sure you balance rest with exercise and leisure fun. If you start to feel tight, stressed, or lacking joy, change what your doing, at least for a day or two. Rest, or catch a movie and get to bed early. Yin and Yang, Yielding and Action should be in harmony.

4) Stay Happy and Healthy: Happiness in a sense is a choice. Some of the most impoverished regions are the happiest because the only thing they have is the connection with themselves and the people around them. This puts an emphasis on spiritual connection and personal connections and keeps their spirits high. And when your spirits are high you are healthy.

5) Learn to Let Go: Many times people get stuck on emotions or events. Things that bother them that they cannot change. When you stay at peace and keep a rational mind, it is easier to let go of certain situations and states of mind. Make appropriate choices, take appropriate actions, then let go of the rest as it does not resolve anything when you hold emotions.

For more in-depth treatment or preventative treatment of any emotional difficulties or “Shen disturbances” seek a practicing holistic professional. As always, I wish new understanding of the importance of Mind/Body/Spirit Oneness to you all in the direction of the healthiest life one can live. In closing, live a happy, healthy life, full of experience and emotion, however, do not let the emotions move you from yourself, your state of peace.

Breathe!

In this next segment I will discuss the utmost importance, physiology, and health benefits of the action of breathing, as well as how the breath ties in with Acupuncture Treatments. One part of the inspiration of this article is the education of Acupuncture patients as to why we coordinate acupuncture needling with the breath, and the other part an education of such a vital action that is taken for granted.

BREATHE! The Breath, sense the instant we were born, is something we do every second of every day. It is so vital to our existence. However, living in a culture that has become quite busy and outwardly focused, we have not maintained the importance of breathing. Thus, unfortunately, many take breathing for granted as it is always happening regardless of our consciousness. So, if this very important thing happens without effort, why pay attention to it??? The answer to that is that it is of utmost importance to use and connect to the breath for the benefit of our ultimate health. Just like the digestive system, the respiratory system must take attention and proper use. For example, when you eat to much, don’t eat enough, eat at inconsistent hours, eat late at night, eat improper foods, then as a result your digestion becomes disharmonious. Maybe the person experiences reflux, loose stool or constipation, fatigue, lethargy, indigestion, etc. This is true also for the breath. As a result of sedentary life, stress, over-taxation, emotional stress, etc., the breath may become hindered, more shallow, less deep, less full, some may feel chest pains, shortness of breath, fatigue, etc. This is because it IS a system that should be maintained, consciously recognized and a system that we need to respect and use the breath properly.

BREATHE! Now to give some Chinese Medicine Physiology so as people can realize some of the functions of the breath and lungs. Qi is the life force energy. It is all energy (kinetic, chemical, thermal, electrical, etc.), everything that is non-material. The body has energy in every aspect. The way, after birth, that the Qi of the body is maintained and refreshed is 1) through digestion and 2) through the breath. The energy extracted through the digestive process is called “Gu Qi.” The energy extracted from the breath and respiratory system is called “Da Qi.” The energy created through digestion (Gu Qi) is sent up to the chest area to meet with the energy extracted by the breath (Da Qi) and together the combine in the Heart, after which, the heart refines and pumps the energy to the rest of the body with the aid of the lungs. So, from this process it is easy to see that “PROPER” BREATH is as important as proper digestion to sustain our bodies to optimal health.

BREATHE! The importance of the breath is not just a Chinese Medicine Concept. The breath has been a vital focus of many practices from many cultures for thousands of years (that we know of). For example practices in Taoism, Buddhism, Yoga, Tai Chi-chuan, and countless Meditations use the breath to dynamically effect, maintain and heal the body. Yoga practices tend to use a forceful and very specific type of breath to increase prana (energy) and arouse your inner energies. Buddhism uses conscious focus on the breath during meditation to connect your mind to your true self and your true heart to experience true reality. Tai Chi coordinates the breath with the movements as to add an subtle element to the posture that will enhance its effectiveness and increase energy levels and flow. If you are having a hard time relating to this subject because of a lack of exposure to it, you can also view it from a western medical perspective. The force, rapidity, and volume of air by which you breathe physically changes the quality of the blood to be more acidic or alkalitic by adjusting the levels of CO2, thus adjusting levels of Carboxylic Acid (H2CO3). This is a basic example to show how the breathe can create physical changes within the body, not to even mention the energetic and spiritual changes.

BREATHE! Acupuncture uses the breath during treatments. Often the practitioner will tell the patient to breathe a certain way with the insertion of a needle. This reason is many fold. Most people believe it is just to relax the person before a needle is inserted. However, this is a very specific and taught technique. Inhaling and exhaling are specific functions. When a person inhales the chest is filled with air energy (Qi/Prana) and the body absorbs this. When the person exhales, the extra air energy is released, but also the collected energy is dispersed to course throughout the body. Think about it and try it. When you breathe in you literally feel your body, rib cage, neck muscles, diaphragm expand… Hold IT… and when you release you feel a big relief, relaxation, and a sense of melting. This is because when things flow freely, there is true relaxation. In contrast, when things stagnate due to… lets say stress… things tighten… muscles, nerves, breath, etc. So, to needle as the person exhales is in general a tonifying or strengthening effect. To needle on an inhale is a dispersal effect. This is the most basic concept or way to use the breath in chinese medicine.

BREATHE! In addition to the concept of energy, the lungs have many roles in chinese medicine. They are the most superficial organ in the body and also referred to as the delicate organ. The lungs, thus, connect us to our outside environment as any worldly experiences are absorbed through the lungs. It is almost as breathing in your experience. Due to this, in chinese medicine, the lungs are said to store the spirits called the Po or corporeal soul. This may be a difficult concept, but it is easier to just think of this as a body “function.” Therefore, in chinese medicine, the spirit of the lungs handle many of the “worldly” functions of the body, such as taking care of physical needs and worldly experiences that nourish and support (or in some cases not) the self. To add an element, it is the lungs that have much to do with the processing of grief. Either grief from a loss of a loved one or separation from a person, but also separation from a place or other things that could cause worldly attachment. Other functions of the lungs in chinese medicine include defense against external illness as the common cold or flu, and regulation of the body hair, pores and skin. The lungs are a very sacred element.

BREATHE! In closing, I hope this gave a sense to the utmost importance of the breath. In addition, I leave you with some inherent breathing tips. Sit, and notice your breath. The ideal breath is consistent. The inhale and exhale are slow and steady. The time it takes to inhale matches the same time it takes to exhale. The breath should not stop in the chest, but should fill all the way to the belly, as the abdomen should expand with an inhale as it is filling, and contract as you exhale. If you watch a young child or infant, their abdomen is constantly moving with the breath. As we get older we tend to loose this technique if it is not maintained. The breath should fill the lower belly first, then the ribs, then the chest. Slow and steady is key. Some teachers say, the slower the breath, the more heavenly you become. So in conclusion, Slow, Consistent, Full, reaching the lower, middle, and upper body. An example of using the breath is, if you breath rapidly into your lower belly, through your nose, you can increase your energy in that moment. By contrast, if you steady your breath, making it full and slow, this will decrease your heart rate, reduce over excitation and reduce blood pressure.

Breathe! I hope this article enlightened some as to the ancient technique of utilizing the breath for health. If you have any further interest in learning or using your breath for health, proper instruction should come directly from an instructor of some kind. Yoga, Tai Chi-chuan, Meditation all have their uses of the breath. Breathe, and Be Well.

Acceptance and Nature of Traditional Medicine

In recent years, Western populations have begun to recognize the Traditional Medicine of East Asia and China as effective. More and More, we see news articles and journals and educational videos of this supposed “foreign” and “ancient” medicine for various health benefits. From a western perspective there has been some standoffishness by certain people, scientists, or western medical doctors to the acceptance of Traditional Chinese Medicine. Some completely denounce and deny its validity, as others are more excepting.

 Some reasons for the lack of confidence in TCM from a “western” “scientific” perspective, is 1) that it holds theories and ideas that ARE completely foreign from any western knowledge, 2) results are not ALWAYS immediate, or over night, 3) ample, DECENT and PROPER research studies are lacking. To answer to these, 1) Ideas that are not an inherent part of a culture are discarded as non-truth, as in other cultures in which people accept these same ideas from the time they were born, it is obviously easier to accept and embrace them as truth. The most basic example of this is of the concept Qi or energy. I have heard people say, “oh, i don’t believe in Qi, I don’t buy that.” But if you say, Qi is energy, and actually all energies to include potential, kinetic, chemical, thermal, electrical, then the person says “well, i guess I do believe in those energies, so now maybe I accept the concept of Qi.” This is the most common example of how peoples view as to what is TRUTH can change simple because of their “perspective” on the matter, or “wrapping their mind around the concept.” Nothing actually changed, it was simply a perception. So, when we are presented with new ideas, it is important to be very careful, to honestly consider the idea, before denouncing it. This is easily seen now, as in the past, scientists and medical doctors discarded Traditional Chinese Medicine and now they are beginning to accept its methods, some completely, and some to a certain extent.

To Respond to reason 2) in Chinese medicine, results are not always immediate. They can very often be immediate, however, sometimes things take time. Some longer then others. This is because this is a very natural medicine. Literally referring to nature. People don’t just wake up one day and the season has changed, or they have aged 10 years in one night, or a seed has turned into a tree in 1 week, or a trickle of water into a raging river in 1 month. Nature takes time to correctly bring about beautiful things. Many people have been trained to expect immediate results from a western medical concept, mainly because the methods and medications are very extreme and powerful, such as surgery or corticosteroids. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes this is very necessary in more extreme cases. However, from a nurturing, natural life course perspective, sometimes things take time… days, weeks, months, or even a life time. This obviously depends on the condition, chronicity, and individual. Reason 3) is quite interesting. The lack of PROPER research. This is beginning to change as in general, simply MORE research is being done. However, besides, lack of the quantity of research, it is also very difficult to create research on acupuncture or chinese medicine based on the scientific method and double blind studies for several reasons. For example, it is hard to create a “sugar pill” equivalent for a placebo effect for acupuncture. Some ideas are just needling different points, or needling less deep, etc. However, with acupuncture being so dynamic and frequently changing the bodies energetics it is difficult to needle a person, and not create ANY effect. Not to mention the numerous variables and differences that occur in each person and in each study situation. In addition, blind and double blind studies are not 100% correct ever time.

To Conclude: I sat down with the intention to write about something completely different, like fertility or something, however this is what manifested as my fingers got typing. This is a brilliant example of the nature of things. Just as this article was written, I see quite often in my patients, that while we are both working to resolve one issue, that issue remains but other issues resolve. This is an example how how nature takes its course as long as you sit with good intentions. Good is always being done regardless of the perception. Even though our “desire” was to resolve one issue, another issue was resolved. In comparison, when it is winter we may desire for summer, however, we need to respect nature and realize that we may have to wait. Every thing in its proper time and proper place. Once the person realizes the nature of life and artfully practices life in this way, he or she becomes closer to harmony with nature. Can Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture work quickly? Absolutely! Some people see the “desired” results in 1 treatment, some after treatment 5 or 7, and some after a few months. However, if it is more of a process, realize this reason why it is a process – because you are being kind and nurturing your body in a natural way. Sometimes Chinese medicine is trying to correct or balance a life long of events that brought a person to a specific place or state. Everything is constantly changing, Bodies, Lives, The Planet. Simply observe, respect, and with good intention, nature will take its course.

Peace, Blessing and Happiness to All

Christopher Grodski, L.Ac., Dipl. OM

www.acupuncture-alexandria.com

Asthma and Chinese Medicine

Asthma, fairly recently, has been a disorder that has drastically increased in modern times. A significant amount of the population experiences this stubborn condition from children to adults. Some develop asthma over time and others seem to acquire it from early childhood. Also, not everyones asthma is the same asthma. Some people seem to suffer most from exacerbations caused by allergens, others exercise, others unknown random attacks. Regardless the cause of the attack, this can be experienced from relatively mild discomfort to actual severe acute or ongoing episodes. If there is any question to the severity of the issue, all you need to do is talk with someone who has asthma and they will tell you how dependent they are to their prescribed medications.

So, Chinese Medicine for Asthma? Western conventional medicine does a great job at suppressing the distressing symptoms of asthma in order to enable the person to live a relatively normal life. In general, this is done by QUICK acting steroids and beta adrenergic agonists, usually, and LONG term anti-inflammatory medications. This varies on the severity and takes care of suppressing the symptoms from occurring. However, people do have other avenues and options to approach this breathing disorder as life long therapy of these western agents can have negative side affects on the persons body such as creating a dependence for the medication, tachycardia and insomnia as well as not actually riding the body of asthma. To aid the population in this difficulty it is good to know that the Chinese Medical Practitioner has been treating conditions such as cough, wheeze, and respiratory distress for thousands of years through Acupuncture and Herbal Medicines.

The Chinese Medical Practitioner uses Acupuncture and complex natural Herbal Formulas to “down bear” and “disperse” the Lungs qi (energy) while increasing the lungs functional strength so it does not over-respond to things like allergens and exercise. The Lungs are only one part of asthma according to Chinese Medicine, as the imbalances in the body that can cause asthma can become quite complex. However, the practitioner is to diagnose and treat the individual person as everyone is treated as unique. This treatment can be effective for long term help as to slowly allow the person to decrease medications and dependency on medications, as well as decrease the frequency and severity of each exacerbation or attack.

Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine is undoubtably growing in the west, in addition to the thousands of years and thousands of hospitals in the east that are practicing this medicine. Look up your local acupuncturist for any inquiry. I am sure they would be more then pleased to speak to you and answer all of your questions.

Valentines Day… Reminders of Our Own Heart

Greeting and Happy Valentines Day,

Chinese Medicine is so Diverse that you can almost talk about any idea and relate it back to health and balance using Chinese medicine Ideals. Today being Valentines Day 2011, I will not speak of this tradition or origins, however I will speak of the concept that is most associated with this day… Love. On this day, advertised everywhere are Hearts and the word Love. Some people embrace this day and some despise it. (This reaction usually has to do with the “Relationship Status” that the person is in.) However, I suggest and strongly believe that we can all appreciate the concept of this day, not on the infatuation of a single other human being, but rather on the universal concept of Love and what it Should represent. In Chinese Medicine the Heart is considered the Emperor. It controls the energy of the chest and cardiovascular system, its positive emotion is Joy and it expresses love. Knowing this, the Heart is the most important organ and spirit of our body. It controls all emotions and all the spirits of the other organs. From a healing sense, healing from the heart is one of the most important places to start Regardless of the location of the disease, as said before the heart is the emperor of all other organs and your being. So on this Valentines Day, regardless of the status of your “Relationships,” make sure you at least take a moment to appreciate your Own Heart for all the endless effort it is providing for you. Appreciate its constant work, and show it Love. In Return, this allows you to appreciate yourself, and love yourself with the knowledge that you are perfect exactly in the current state that you are in physically, emotionally, situationally. From here, once you have shown your Own Heart and Yourself Love, you can now begin to share that same love to other people. For if you are to give love, you must have love in your heart, created by yourself. To yourself, From yourself. There are many people suffering in this world from self image disorders. People believe themselves to be not perfect, not attractive enough, not fit enough, not smart enough, not GOOD enough! In short, this is simply and illusion and one very important way to overcome this is to respect your own inner being by showing yourself love. A common Buddhist image is the love of a person should shine as the sun does, not discriminating who receives this love, including yourself. So Today, appreciate this concept that makes us all human, embrace it for yourself, and for all other sentient being.