The Presence of Peace: Breathing Calmly Amidst Holiday Stress

Julie Dunlop, author of Ocean of Yoga: Meditations on Yoga and Ayurveda for Balance, Awareness, and Well-Being shares tips on breathing calmly amidst holiday stress.

Are you one of those people who tries to “get through” the holidays? What would it take for you to shift to “moving through” the holidays or “experiencing” the holidays rather than just trying to get through them? Although the difference in this wording is somewhat subtle, it can be significant as we shift from survival mode into a more holistic acceptance of the process of being present—mind, body, and soul—for the holidays.The glow of Christmas trees, menorahs, and Diwali candles, along with many other images and traditions from richly diverse cultures, light our way through the holidays each year. Along with the beauty of holiday decorations and celebrations, however, often comes a fair amount of stress. This could be financial stress or the stress of physical exhaustion from simply trying to keep up with all of the extra events. It could also be emotional stress due to an injury or illness, challenging family dynamics, or grief from the loss of a loved one. Pause for a moment and check in: On a scale of 1 to 10, what is your current stress level? Breathe. Look around you. Then, look within. Is there any crisis taking place in the current moment, or is the stress generating from within? Feel the soft rhythm of your inhale and exhale washing through you with grace.

Gifts are often a part of the holiday season, whether we are shopping for gifts, purchasing gifts, making gifts, wrapping gifts, mailing gifts, returning gifts, or all of the above. Sometimes the most valuable gifts, however, are those that are intangible, such as peace, fulfillment, acceptance, joy, balance, and well-being. Consider also “The Gift of Collapse”:

(from Ocean of Yoga by Julie Dunlop):

 The Gift of Collapse

There is a precision in the symmetry of ancient civilizations and the geometry of modern society. In both Yoga and Āyurveda, we focus on balance, praising it as a path to well-being. And yet, if there is over-focus on balance, we can veer into perfectionism, judging ourselves without mercy. If there is a priority on keeping everything together, this constriction can keep us from being available to the vulnerability, the softness, the openness of living authentically. Sometimes it takes a complete collapse—physically, mentally, or emotionally—or all three—or at least a wobbling, a wavering, a significant undoing of our balance—to humble us, to recalibrate our systems, to re-wire our way of looking at ourselves and others. 

So the next time you fall out of a pose, fall out of a relationship, fall out of alignment with the person you thought you were, see if you can see this as an invitation for transformation rather than as a failure. More valuable than the appearance of perfection is the impeccability of our willingness to encounter our full selves. Through each collapse, our humility deepens, opening our heart-mind to the wisdom of both the imbalance and balance as shadow and light intertwine.

Consider the first three words that come to your mind when you think of the holidays.  Are there things that you think or feel about the holidays that you do not express? The incongruity of feeling or thinking one way and feeling pressure to act in another way can be challenging and stress-inducing at any time, but especially at the holidays. For instance, perhaps you are part of a large extended family that expects you to visit each year but you prefer solitude at the holidays, or vice versa. Perhaps you have a different set of spiritual or religious traditions than the rest of your family or choose to eat or behave in a different way than your family members. If there is a lack of acceptance of these differences, all of this can cause quite a bit of indigestion at the mental and emotional level, sometimes manifesting at the physical level as well.

Lion Pose, where we open the mouth, extend the tongue, gaze upward, and exhale forcefully, can offer a very therapeutic non-verbal release at the throat chakra. Try it five times and see what you feel.

While we may often think of yoga as physical postures on a mat, yoga actually has eight limbs. The first two limbs (yama and niyama) offer us ancient wisdom for daily life.  Ahimsa (non-violence) invites us to be compassionate to others and also to ourselves.  Given the many habits we have developed over the years and the strength that many holiday traditions hold, it can feel daunting to modify a holiday in any way. Tapas (the fire of transformation) can help. Through self-discipline, we can choose to change a way of thinking, speaking, or acting that can bring our holiday experiences into closer alignment with our priorities and beliefs. For instance, we might replace money spent on travel with money donated to those in need—or we might replace money spent on gifts with time spent with loved ones. The options are endless, and once a spark of innovation begins, the flow of creativity can bring forth healing on many layers in many different directions.

We may be able to change a lot internally and externally this holiday season, or we may not, given the complex constellation of factors in which we dwell. Santosha (acceptance) asks us to be content, to accept the current reality with truth, with grace, with authenticity. Given the nature of the translucent thread of impermanence woven through every moment, there may be changes awaiting our holidays that we cannot even begin to imagine. This is where the flexibility we may develop in yoga or another mind/body practice can support us, as we continue to adapt to the present—the gift of the present moment delivered to us in each unfolding breath.

Rather than pushing away any feelings of sadness, grief, loneliness, longing, or despair that may be conjured up by the holidays, see if you may be able to honor them, simply by acknowledging them as part of the journey. Taking the companion of a candle, sit with the warmth of its light, feeling in its glow the light that will return to your path.  Feel the flow of your breath, the rhythm of its presence that is with you always. Breathe in peace, forgiveness, love; exhale any hurt or anger you may harbor in your heart.

Then, placing both hands on your heart, breathe into all that you are feeling. After several minutes, then place your palms together, bringing to your awareness five things—tangible or intangible, small or large—that you are grateful for. Slowly unwrap each of these sacred gifts, taking time to appreciate the nuances of their origins, their abiding support. With appreciation for these gifts, consider what you may be able to give—to yourself and/or to others. In what ways might you offer an hour of your time, perhaps visiting with a friend or someone who is injured or ill, making a meal for someone, or sending cards, emails, texts, or photos with messages that resonate authentically with your heart?

Similarly, in what ways might you enhance your experience of the holidays through the gifts of the five senses?

Sight~

  • Consider FaceTiming or Skyping with a friend or family member you haven’t seen in a long time
  • Gaze for five minutes at a sacred image of a place, person, or object that means a lot to you, feeling the depth of your gratitude
  • Look inward, gazing at all the various pieces of yourself with acceptance, respect, compassion, understanding
  • Look up at night, taking in the luminosity of the moon and stars

Sound~

  • Call a loved one and enjoy the unique vibrations of this voice as it travels across the miles into the intricately designed curves of your ear
  • Listen to music—either an old familiar favorite or treat your ears (and soul) to a brand new artist, or even an entirely new genre
  • Enjoy five minutes or more of silence, feeling the gentle wave-like flow of your breath, experiencing the present of being present

Scent~

  • Bring fresh greenery, such as pine branches, into your home or office
  • Enjoy the scent of an essential oil, such as lavender, or choose a scented candle to light
  • Let the aroma of a traditional dessert baking fill your kitchen
  • Notice the aroma as you sip a cup of herbal tea, such a ginger, peppermint, or chamomile
  • Sit close to a warm crackling fire and enjoy the scents of the burning logs
  • Invite the scent of incense, such as frankincense or sandalwood, to waft through the home

Taste~

  • Make a favorite holiday food from your childhood and share it with someone (If you don’t have the recipe, look online for a similar one and approximate it as best as you can)
  • Try a new restaurant, or order something for the first time from a familiar restaurant
  • Treat yourself to ordering a new cookbook
  • Select several items from the produce aisle that you have never tried
  • Have a holiday potluck with your friends, neighbors, or co-workers

Touch~

  • Offer yourself the gift of massage, marma, acupuncture, or another form of bodywork
  • Go into nature and pick up pinecones, leaves, stones; touch the bark of a tree, the sand on a beach
  • Notice the feel of the touch of the wind as it brushes your skin
  • Enjoy a warm bubble bath or bathe with sea salt

Regardless of how you choose to explore or experience the holidays, know that while holidays can be a precious part of life, they are just one facet of the exquisite composition of life. Ultimately, every day is a holiday, a cause for reflection and celebration, when we take notice of each moment’s ephemeral nature and return to what resides inherently within:

Ocean Within
(from Ocean of Yoga by Julie Dunlop)

 Within you, an ocean of peace.
Within you, an ocean of love,
understanding, compassion flowing.
Feel its waves washing over you,
through you, washing every bone, every cell,
every feeling, every thought.

 An ocean of truth and beauty within.
The brilliance of sunlight dancing upon water,
and the gentle rhythm of the waves,
this beauty, this peace, alive and flowing, in you.

 You—an ocean of light.
You—an ocean of peace.
Your love, like the ocean, vast and deep.

 Flowing through you, the loveliness of the sea.

 You, the ocean.  You, the waves.
You, the light on water.
You, the peacefulness washing upon every shore.

 ~

For more information on Ocean of Yoga, please visit our website.

 

 

A Tip for Practicing Meditation to Improve Physical and Mental Wellbeing

The below video tip is taken from Practical Zen: Meditation and Beyond by Julian Daizan Skinner, Foreword by Shinzan Miyamae

Using a system established by the ancestors of the Rinzai tradition of Zen, Practical Zen presents specific meditation practices in a practical and engaging way that will enable readers to live a grounded, strong, energetic life:

To learn more about Practical Zen, visit our website.

 

‘The Spirit of the Organs’: Extract

John Hamwee’s The Spirit of the Organs contains 12 stories each depicting a different organ of the body and illustrates how they are traditionally understood in Chinese Medicine. Hamwee explores the spirit of each organ not in analytical, rational, summarising language but through life stories that express the nature and tendencies of the organ at a deep level.

We have an extract from the book which explains why a practitioner’s appreciation of the spirit of an organ can lead to more effective treatments with patients. You can read the extract here.

Click here to read more about the book.

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


More books by John Hamwee

Intuitive Acupuncture

An incisive and wide-ranging exploration of the role of intuition in the effective treatment of patients through acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The author explores theory, clinical experience, and best ways to develop reliable intuition through rigorous interrogation and self reflection.

Click here to read more about the book.

Zero Balancing

The classic, definitive book on Zero Balancing, an increasingly popular therapy that can be easily practised alongside other complementary therapies. Descriptions of particular sessions and client experiences are accompanied by a wider discussion about the nature and behaviour of energy and its use in healing.

Click here to read more about the book.

Acupuncture for New Practitioners

An invaluable guide for anyone beginning a career in acupuncture, this book offers insights into likely challenges and pitfalls of the first years of practice. It addresses styles of working, common mistakes, confidence with patients, and success and failure in the treatment room, helping novice acupuncturists to reflect on their practice.

Click here to read more about the book.

 

Essential Resources for Chinese Medicine Students

We have all the books you need for your Chinese Medicine course, from comprehensive textbooks to fun and engaging learning tools such as our acupuncture colouring book and a comic covering the diagnosis of 78 syndromes of Chinese Medicine.

Read more about our books for students below. To view all the books in our Books for Students collection, please click here.

Basics of Chinese Medicine

Principles of Chinese Medicine by Angela Hicks is a a definitive introductory guide to Chinese medicine, and is a great starting point for those just beginning their studies. You can read more about the basics of Chinese Medicine, including an examination of yin and yang in this extract from the book.

 

Principles of Chinese Herbal Medicine by John Hicks is an authoritative introduction to the fundamentals of Chinese herbal medicine. We have an extract from the book here, which details the characteristics, processing and properties of the herbs used in Chinese Medicine.

The Yellow Monkey Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine is a truly unique learning tool. With this graphic novel, you can learn and remember the syndromes of Chinese medicine, their causes, symptoms and treatment protocols with these witty cartoons, rich with Daoist in-jokes. We asked Spencer Hill for a glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ of working on the book, and in this blog piece, Hill recalls the process of drawing the cartoons for The Yellow Monkey Emperor’s Classic of Chinese Medicine and how he met and came to work with Damo Mitchell.

Also of interest

Acupuncture

The Fundmentals of Acupuncture by Nigel Ching is a fantastically readable guide to Chinese Medicine, and you can read more about acupuncture points, and yuan source points in particular, in the extract here.

 

 

Rainy Hutchinson’s The Acupuncture Points Functions Colouring Book presents a fun and practical way of learning the functions of acupuncture points on the twelve primary and eight extra channels. This colouring book is an essential learning resource for students of acupuncture, acupressure, shiatsu and massage, and is ideal for revision and self or paired testing. We have an exclusive colouring page from the book here.

 

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine by Charles Buck is an authoritative and accessible account of the history of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. The book provides an accurate overview, focussing on the key developments that are of most practical relevance to the students and clinicians of today. In an extract from the book, you can read about medicine in China prior to the Han Dynasty.

Chinese Medicine – Techniques

Nigel Ching’s The Art and Practice of Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine is a complete diagnostic manual for students of Chinese medicine. It covers how to collect and collate the relevant information needed to make a diagnosis and clearly describes the various diagnostic models in Chinese medicine.

We have an extract from the book which includes a detailed discussion of interviewing techniques, including suggestions on what questions to ask your patients.

 

Clare Stephenson’s The Acupuncturist’s Guide to Conventional Medicine is a comparative textbook which provides everything students and practitioners of complementary medicine need to know about conventional medicine. You can read a sample from the book on the processes of disease, examined from both a conventional medicine perspective and a Chinese medicine perspective here.

We also sat down with Clare Stephenson to talk about Eastern and Western medicine, acupuncture and complementary therapies in practice. Read the interview on our blog.

Classical Chinese Texts

Grasping the Donkey’s Tail by Peter Eckman is an in-depth examination of some difficult, often misunderstood classical texts of Oriental medicine, and is an essential text for students of Chinese Medicine. You can read about the Yi Jing in this extract from the book.

 

Richard Bertschinger’s Essential Texts in Chinese Medicine is a commentary and translation of the key writings for students and practitioners of Chinese medicine in the 21st century from the ancient, definitive set of books on Chinese medicine, the Huangdi Neijing or ‘the Yellow Emperor’s Medical Classic’. You can read an extract from the book here.

 

 

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Nora Franglen: Q&A

Following the release of Blogging a Five Element Life, we caught up with author Nora Franglen to ask her some questions about her life as an acupuncturist and what people can expect from her new book.

 

Your book documents the period between 2014-2017, and touches on significant events from these years. What changes in the world have most influenced you during this time?

Undoubtedly the referendum vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump dominated the last year. These two events had a profoundly depressing effect on me and on many other people, including my patients. I was made even more aware of how important it is to accept the differences between people, which a knowledge of the five elements helps us towards. I hope, too, that it can make us more tolerant in an increasingly intolerant world.

Continue reading

Reflecting on a Lifetime’s Practice of Five Element Acupuncture

Nora Franglen’s latest book, Blogging a Five Element Life, shows the holistic nature of life as an acupuncturist, and is a must read for anyone interested in acupuncture or Chinese medicine.

We have an extract from the book, which features advice on treating patients effectively, guidance on acupuncture techniques and her thoughts on the elements and how they can be applied to public figures.

Click here to read the extract

Click here to read more about Blogging a Five Element Life.

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Books By Nora Franglen

Blogging a Five Element Life

The follow-up to Nora Franglen’s first book of collected posts on the holistic life of an acupuncturist, this provides further insight into the everyday musings of a master of her craft. From her love of London’s cafes to challenges she has experienced in her clinic, it reveals how acupuncture can enrich and balance all aspects of our being.

Read more about the book here.

 

On Being a Five Element Acupuncturist

Based on her well-read blog, Nora Franglen provides a rich insight into the inner thoughts and feelings of a master acupuncturist. Covering everything from her love of coffee shops to how to treat patients effectively, it is reveals the holistic and rich nature of acupuncture.

Read more about the book here.

 

The Handbook of Five Element Practice

A companion for practitioners of Five Element acupuncture that strengthens the foundation for practice. With detailed outlines of the different components of Five Element diagnosis and treatment, this complete manual will support and invigorate practice. It also includes a Teach Yourself Manual.

Read more about the book here.

 

The Simple Guide to Five Element Acupuncture

This accessible guide explains the history and philosophy of five element acupuncture, and shows how it addresses specific health needs and general well-being. With case studies throughout, the guide explains how an acupuncturist diagnoses and treats patients, and looks at the character of each element.

Read more about the book here.

 

Keepers of the Soul

With profiles of well-known figures, the book explains the spirit of each of the Five Elements of Chinese medicine, and what they look like in different people. The philosophy behind Five Element acupuncture is explained, including what it means to live in harmony and how the Five Elements help shape our body and soul.

Read more about the book here.

 

Patterns of Practice

Considering acupuncture in its wider context, this book contains Nora Franglen’s reflections on her practice and explores how the search for acupuncture points can lead the practitioner deep into challenging areas of existence.

Read more about the book here.

 

What is Five Element Acupuncture?

by Nora Franglen

You can see from the title of my six books published by Singing Dragon that I practise and write about a branch of acupuncture called five element acupuncture. All acupuncture is based upon an understanding of an ancient Chinese philosophical concept which describes the universe and all who live in it as created by the Dao, the All, the infinite, what we can think of as the universe before the Big Bang.

 

The Dao itself is divided into two forces called yin and yang, positive and negative forces created at the time of the Big Bang, which always counterbalance each other and make time and motion possible. Finally, yin and yang split into what the Chinese call the five elements, each with simple, everyday names of Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water. In geographical terms we can see the elements as being like the four directions of north, south, east and west, with the fifth its centre.

Continue reading

What is Manipulation Therapy?

To mark the publication of ‘Osteopathic and Chiropractic Techniques for Manual Therapists: A Comprehensive Guide to Spinal and Peripheral Manipulations‘ by Jimmy Michael, Giles Gyer and Ricky Davis, we have an extract from the book detailing what manipulation is, the types of manipulation and the mechanism of action of joint manipulation.

Click here to read the extract

Click here to read more about the book.

 

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


More Titles Like This

Dry Needling for Manual Therapists

A comprehensive and practical handbook to medical acupuncture for treating musculoskeletal (MSK) problems. Perfect for use in clinic, it includes fully-illustrated instruction on MSK medical acupuncture and electro-acupuncture points and techniques, guidance on safety and treatment planning and overviews of the theory behind the practice.

Click here to read more about the book.

What do your palms reveal about you?

To celebrate the release of Andrew Mason’s most recent book, Vedic Palmistry, we have released an extract from the book. In the extract, you can read about the lines on the palm, the difference between astrology and palmistry and what to expect from the book.

Click here to read the extract.

Click here to read more about the book.

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Titles by Andrew Mason

Rasa Shastra

An authoritative account of Asian Medical Alchemy, this book explores the herbo-mineral-metal based medicines used in these ancient healing traditions. The first resource of its kind, it provides exhaustive insight into the history of alchemy’s search for immortality, the variety of minerals used, and production methods.

Click here to read more.

 

Jyotish

A complete introduction to Jyotish, or Vedic astrology, with sample charts and clear explanations. Mason provides all the information needed to be able to understand this system of astrology. He also introduces Jyotish’s sister sciences, Ayurveda and Vaatsu, and shows how they interact.

Click here to read more.

 

Vedic Palmistry

Compact and concise information on how to determine health implications and life events using palmistry and Vedic wisdom.With a discussion of introductory level astrology and its integration with palmistry, no prior knowledge is required. An essential guide for anyone interested in Vedic wisdom, Ayurveda or yoga.

Click here to read more.

Andrew Mason Explains ‘Vedic Palmistry’

Andrew Mason, author of Jyotish, Rasa Shastra and the recent title Vedic Palmistry, explains the concept of ‘Vedic Palmistry’ in the video below.

In the video, Mason explains hand topography, all the lines on the palm and what to expect from the book.

To view Andrew Mason’s video on ‘Rasa Shastra’, please click here. Click here to watch Mason’s video on ‘Jyotish’.

If you would like to read more articles like this and hear the latest news and offers on our books, why not join our mailing list? We can send information by email or post as you prefer, and please also tell us about your areas of interest so we can send the most relevant information. You can unsubscribe at any time.


Titles by Andrew Mason

Rasa Shastra

An authoritative account of Asian Medical Alchemy, this book explores the herbo-mineral-metal based medicines used in these ancient healing traditions. The first resource of its kind, it provides exhaustive insight into the history of alchemy’s search for immortality, the variety of minerals used, and production methods.

Click here to read more.

 

Jyotish

A complete introduction to Jyotish, or Vedic astrology, with sample charts and clear explanations. Mason provides all the information needed to be able to understand this system of astrology. He also introduces Jyotish’s sister sciences, Ayurveda and Vaatsu, and shows how they interact.

Click here to read more.

 

Vedic Palmistry

Compact and concise information on how to determine health implications and life events using palmistry and Vedic wisdom.With a discussion of introductory level astrology and its integration with palmistry, no prior knowledge is required. An essential guide for anyone interested in Vedic wisdom, Ayurveda or yoga.

Click here to read more.