Today, Friday October 18th we have not only the pleasure of a Full Moon but a Lunar Eclipse as well! Add to the mix: Mars will be in opposition to Neptune on October 20th, AND Mercury will retrograde on Monday October 21st (some of us have already felt the shadow period leading up to the retro Mercury). So thanks to my dear friends, family members & the patients that I treat, I am reminded of what’s pressing on everyone’s mind today. Why do we need to pay attention to what’s going on around us – planetary wise, seasonally, or energetically? The
answer is simple: when we are informed, we can choose to move in harmony with Nature and the Elements around us, and this helps us get through whatever the latest “challenge” is. I say “challenge” but really I prefer to call them “catalysts” as they force us to shift, change and grow.
So how can Chinese Medicine help us in light of all these planetary shenanigans? For starters, since Acupuncture/Chinese Medicine is really
Mind-Body-Spirit medicine, as an Acupuncture Physician, one approach I use is to treat with the Seasons. Autumn started with the September equinox, and so now we are in October and full speed ahead to the transition from summer to winter. *Granted, here in St. Petersburg, Florida we don’t really have ‘winters’ as our winter consists of a random day with a transient dip in temperature for a couple hours until the sun warms us up again (hence why I fled New York and now call Florida home). In Chinese Medicine, Autumn is cool and dry, and everything is dying or retreating (think leaves falling off the trees…). It’s the season that is connected with the Metal element, and the Lung and Large Intestines are the paired organ systems that are most active and most sensitive. The emotions associated with this season vary anywhere along the continuum from valor and pride to grief, and so we often see patients complaining of dry, non-productive coughs, and – after further exploration – unexpressed grief or loss.
Physically you need to strengthen your immune system (Wei Qi) and your Lung Qi, and moisten Lung Yin (fluids) so that you have greater resistance to the nasty little flu bugs that become rampant this time of year. If dry, tickly cough is making you crazy this season, try including white mushrooms, bok choy, persimmons and pears in your diet as they moisten Lung Yin & relieve dryness.
If stress has made you susceptible to catching a cold, then try adding pungent, warm foods such as hot ginger tea, broth with extra scallions, garlic or a little turmeric and a couple sprigs of watercress. The aroma and warmth will help open your nasal passages, expel phlegm and relieve symptoms. The Thymus Thump as taught in energy medicine classes (a gentle tapping or thumping over the upper part of your breastbone in the middle of your chest) is an exercise that can be done to help wake up the energy of the (as an adult, now physically defunct) thymus gland to increase your strength and vitality while boosting your immune system to help fight off colds and flu. In Chinese Medicine, it is said that the Lungs “open to the nose and govern the opening and closing of the pores of our skin”, so if skin conditions are plaguing you, consider doing a gentle cleanse as it can assist the Lungs & Large Intestine to release toxic wastes (no pun intended) via the breath, sweating and defecation to function smoothly. And remember: you don’t have to resort to taking the flu vaccine if you are leery; in Chinese Medicine we have natural supplements and homeopathics that are effective in boosting, preventing and treating the maladies of the season. Your Acupuncture Physician can help you develop a nutritional plan, select the perfect Chinese herbal or homeopathic formula, or tonify Lung Qi/Nourish Lung Yin via acupuncture. Be kind to your body and give the gift of health to yourself this season.
Toxic thoughts, monkey-mind, unexpressed emotions, long-standing grief, feeling overwhelmed…. All these over time can consume Lung Qi and result in dis-ease. The planet Mercury rules communication so when Mercury goes retrograde (which happens 3-4 times per year), we are cautioned to watch our words as chances are we will be misunderstood. They say to hold off on signing contracts or any major purchases (especially electronic equipment), as the
potential for having to return products or renegotiate contracts is increased during Mercury retrograde period. I don’t get scared by Mercury retrograde. For me, I use this period to reevaluate where I am in life, who or what I need to release, in what way plans need to be revised, and how I communicate with others (think Charlie Brown and his teacher – it is often not intention but
perception, Young Grasshopper!). As if that by itself isn’t bad enough, we have a Full Moon to boot! A Full Moon - on its own - can make us feel like we are going to lose our mind. Since our bodies are made up of almost 80% water, we are very susceptible to the energetic pull of a Full Moon. It even brings out our animal nature (ask any nurse or paramedic who works that shift!), and can leave us prone to irrational mood swings. To compound the craziness of this month’s Full Moon, there is also a Lunar Eclipse. If you don’t know the effect of eclipses, be warned that eclipses bring change whether you want it or not! For those of you like me who believe in the law of impermanence, this is not a problem; change is good, and I am (most times) okay with letting go of control. To help you get through this Full Moon/Lunar Eclipse, try consciously breathing deeply from way down in your belly, and setting intention to release on the exhale ALL toxic thoughts… feelings… emotions… anything or anyone that no longer serves you in the highest and best capacity. Strive to stay focused and clear throughout the day. Eat balanced healthy meals & drink enough water daily so that our brain cells stay nourished and hydrated, as this will help keep your mind sharp. Adequate rest, guided meditations, being “present/in the moment”, and physical exercises are all ways you can help keep your mind functioning at its optimum. Talk with your Acupuncture Physician on your next visit if stress, fuzzy thinking, sadness or despair are all making you feel crazy and overwhelmed. You will be pleasantly surprised to find that we have acupuncture points that actually target those feelings and emotions, and can bring instantaneous relief (think Liver 3, Yin Tang, Lung 3, DU 20, GB 14) when included in your treatment protocol. We will also teach you how to do acupressure on those points so you too can “heal yourself” at home.
And finally, Spirit! With all the planetary shenanigans going on right now, it’s easy to get caught up in the emotions and chaotic moon energies of this month and this season. This past week, I have talked with many of my friends from up North, who are dreading the “barren landscape of Autumn” and living in future fear of the harshness of Winter. Perhaps to some degree, this particular change in seasons reminds us of our own mortality – going inward, declining, letting go…. The Chinese character for Spirit is “Shen” but it has several meanings depending on the context in which it is used. It can be used to refer to Yang energy - our sense of ‘aliveness’ and vitality as reflected in the eyes, the activity of thinking/consciousness (as in the heart-mind), and Divine Spirit above and within. In Chinese Medicine, Shen resides in the heart space and is reflected in the Spirit that shines from our eyes. When we are in turmoil, our mind is not at ease, or unsettled in our heart space, we are said to be have a “Shen disturbance”. Common symptoms may include insomnia, dream-disturbed sleep, anxiety, palpitations, inability to concentrate, emotional mood swings, feeling a sense of incoherence in life…. Any of this sounds familiar? Having a full moon, lunar eclipse and Mercury retrograde all at the same time can therefore really wreak havoc on one’s psyche, especially if we are not feeling physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually at our best. This is an emotional time; it can be trying… it will tax us to no end…. life-changing, even. How to survive? What to do? First seek to find balance and harmony within, and then extend that kindness and compassion to everyone with whom you interact today. Speak your truth, but be kind with your words. With this Mercury retrograde period, express yourself in ways that you won’t be misunderstood but will still honor your truth, such as journaling. On this Full Moon, write down your
intentions to release everything that has the potential to dim your Inner Light and dull your Spirit, and under the light of Grandmother Moon, with sacred prayer, burn, bless and release it all to Spirit. Sip your favorite decaffeinated tea; take a warm Epsom salt bath; practice “Earthing” by connecting the bottom of your feet with Mother Earth; take up Tai Chi or Qi Gong. Let your inner child come out to play – heck, get wild & dance by the light of the moon. If all else fails, call me. As your Acupuncture Physician, Reiki Master and Healing Touch Practitioner, I can help you realign, reaffirm and reawaken your Body, Mind and Spirit to its fullest potential.
I welcome any comments, calls, clarification or insights as you go through this period. Blessings as you continue on your journey.
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music” (Nietzsche)