Breathing is the rhythm of life: breathing into Autumn

The following article is adapted from the book Qigong Through the Seasons by Ronald H. Davis.

The practice of Qigong Through the Seasons is designed to harmonize the health of your internal organs with the seasonal energetic changes of nature.
Autumn is the time to give special attention to the Lungs. Breathing is the most important thing you do from moment to moment and yet most of us are unaware of how we breathe and have lost our innate connection to the breath cycle. We, therefore, often fail to completely benefit from the power of correct breathing.

The Source of Qi
Breathing stands out as our quintessential rhythmic interaction with the world; lungs function as a permeable interface between each of us and everything else. The lungs are yin organs that receive air from the outside world, extract its healthy components and send them downward to the lower dan tian, the primary energy center of the abdomen, to be combined with the nutrients of food. That fusion of air’s vitality and food’s energy produces our greatest quantity of qi. In ancient times, the word ‘qi’ primarily had the meaning of ‘vital breath’ emphasizing that our indispensable energy comes from breathing.

Astonishingly, the lungs eliminate seventy percent of the body’s waste products. This makes exhalation a hugely significant detoxifying activity. We must completely exhale so that the respiratory system can flush out toxins and debris; only then can we receive a full complement of fresh air on the next inhalation. Stress, fear, anger, and doubt are the main emotional states that interfere with a healthy exhalation. Many people subconsciously don’t let go of the breath—they feel like they must hold on to that last bit of air, otherwise they may expire. The ability to completely let go of the breath often relates to issues of trust and relaxation.

The correct practice of qigong creates mental tranquility and thus will profoundly enhance healthy breathing by relaxing the lungs and allowing them to freely function. The following exercise, White Healing Mist, is the most important qigong exercise to do during the autumn season. It uses mental intention, body movement, and regulated breathing to purify and strengthen the lungs.

White Healing Mist Exercise
This graceful neigong (internal qigong) exercise fills the lungs with fresh qi while cleansing them of turbid qi. The intent of the mind uses detailed imagery of pure and impure qi. The movement of the hands leads the qi into and out of each lung. The ‘white healing mist’ can be any personal image that conveys a sense of purity, freshness, tranquility and healing. The ‘toxins’ can be not only respiratory debris but also cloudy, unhealthy thoughts. As the interface between internal and external worlds, the lungs command our self-defense system. When doing this practice, you may want to identify those healthy and unhealthy aspects of your life. Then you can nurture the good with the white mist, and purge the bad along with the toxins. Do this exercise slowly with focused concentration on one lung at a time. The unilateral emphasis is unusual since most qigong exercises are done for both lungs simultaneously, but that special concentration on one lung at a time increases the concentration of qi, which makes this a very powerful healing exercise. You can do this for the common chest cold and for all serious diseases of the lungs.
Begin with feet close together, hands crossed and touching the chest over the lungs. The right hand is over the left lung and the left hand is over the right lung.

Take a slow, relaxed breath and think of your lungs there under your hands. Make a mental connection between your hands and your lungs.

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Step to the side with the left foot.

Inhale, shift weight to the left leg so that the left lung is lined up over the left knee. At the same time, open the arms and slowly, swing the hands forward and then laterally out until the arms are extended to the side with fingers up and the palms facing away from the body. Left knee is bent, right knee is straight.

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Think of inhaling a white healing mist into the left lung only.

Exhale, step back to center with the left foot, straighten knees, the hands return to the chest, cross them so that the right hand is touching over the left lung. The left hand touches over the right lung.

Think of exhaling grey smoky toxins from the left lung only. Although both hands are touching your chest, your focused intention goes to the left lung only.

Repeat for the right lung by stepping to the right, etc. Do 8 repetitions, alternating left and right.

The complete set of Autumn Qigong exercises, along with suggested foods and herbs for seasonal health, are fully described and illustrated in chapter 8 of Qigong Through The Seasons.

Ronald H. Davis is an acupuncturist and chiropractor. He has been practicing Qigong since 1986 and is the founder of The Health Movement, a group of classes and educational materials designed to improve a person’s wellbeing through the use of traditional and complementary healthcare methods. Ronald offers classes in Qigong, Taiji and spinal healthcare and lives in Bozeman, Montana, USA.

 

My Transition from Practitioner to Teacher

Quayle_Mouses-House-Ch_978-1-84819-247-8_colourjpg-printby Susan Quayle, author of The Mouse’s House: Children’s Reflexology for Bedtime or Anytime, illustrated by Melissa Muldoon

If you are thinking of transitioning from a practitioner to a teacher I would definitely recommend it, especially if you have created your own beautiful course and have a passion to share it with the world. On the whole, the world is just waiting for you to share your vision with them.

As a maternity and fertility reflexologist I build powerful relationships with women at the most amazing times in their lives. Working with pregnant women is such an awe inspiring privilege with the therapist developing a connection to both mother and child. Very soon after making this career choice I realised that all too often the relationship ends abruptly after the child is born when really a whole new relationship should be starting. Babies absolutely love reflexology, whilst inside their mothers womb as well as skin to skin, so to speak!

For a long time after having this realisation I thought about how I could continue to see parents after their babies were born and the answer I came up with was to run a course for them. There was a problem with this idea though, what and how would I teach them? Just coming along for a session would be great but wouldn’t really be building any relationships or offering them the chance to bond with other new mothers. So the content needed to last for more than one session, be engaging, attractive and fun. I thought I might be able to create a course but there was a lot of work to consider and I really felt that without a proper concept it would feel a bit flat. I thought a lot more, for months, years even! As with all ideas they come after a lot of ground work has already been put in and one day in the bath an idea came to me of The Children’s Reflexology Programme, TCRP, and a lovely, simple story about a mouse that would visit all her friends and ask for help to make her new-found house cosy. The Mouse’s House and the development possibly for future courses were born. I have become a strong believer in the concept that if you work on ideas for long enough everything falls into place.

There was a lot of work involved in creating the book and finding Melissa Muldoon, the amazing illustrator, but after a year we self-published and shortly after that Lucy Buckridge, an editor from Jessica Kingsley Publishers, approached me and we now have the beautiful book that we see today. The Mouse’s House is a rhyming story of short verses where each of the animal characters represents one of the important reflexes and as you read the story to your child you work the reflexes as the characters appear. The result is a simple but complete treatment.

Almost two years after the creation of The Mouse’s House I started writing the first parent course to supplement the material in the book and help parents understand the reflexology better in a workshop style environment. The book with the animal characters had given me the concept that I had felt was missing from a course in the first place. I added a few more reflexes to the course which meant coming up with more characters. I felt that this would add value and would allow me to create specific treatments for a variety of minor conditions of childhood.

The first courses went out in the autumn of 2014 and I was a nervous wreck! I felt pretty exposed standing in front of an audience and teaching my course for the first time….but the mums loved it! I received messages from the very first day telling me how the reflexology had worked for a variety of conditions that their children were suffering and they couldn’t wait for the next session. I ran three courses for one hour a week over six weeks. The youngest we had on a course was four days old and he was suffering from constipation – but not for long! Everyone got something out of the course and all of them have continued to give their children reflexology since with the beautiful handouts that they received and their own copy of The Mouse’s House, which make up a parent pack and which the children loved.

The feedback was fabulous and inspired me to continue, so after Christmas I began writing an instructors course. I realised that if I wanted this to reach the number of people that I was thinking of I would need more than me out there teaching it to parents. I had already been thinking about the concept of a website that would link the instructors to their courses and allow anyone anywhere to find an instructor in their area. I had been asking my husband, who is a programmer, if he could design such a website for me and in January he started to work on what we have now. A large part of the instructor business is based online with lots of marketing materials and the Google Earth link to the site. So we had a way of instructors reaching their parents and telling the world that they were here.

One of the most important factors for me in creating TCRP was empowering parents. I wanted to bring the powerful effects of reflexology to them in a simple fun package that they could utilise anywhere and at any time. So now that I was writing an instructor course I thought about what I wanted to achieve from this course and again I wanted to be able to empower parents. I thought about the baby massage business model where there is no pre-requisite to be a massage therapist to train and I thought how wonderful it would be to be able to offer parents, mothers in particular, the option of having a sustainable, ethical business that they could work at alongside their parenting and which would be holistic and positive in supporting other families in such a beneficial way. Having seen mothers who’d had to go back to work, leaving their baby when they didn’t want to, it felt great to be able to give them another option, as a long term business plan or for a short time until they were ready to resume a career.

For me this was a huge thing. I felt that I was breaking many rules. As far as I was aware, in this country, all infant reflexology courses were taught by qualified reflexologists and mine would be the first to change this ideology. It wasn’t just parents that I wanted to offer this training to. Baby massage teachers, baby yoga teachers indeed anyone who worked or had a healthy interest in helping parents and their children would be able to train as an instructor.

By March I was pretty much done. The coursework was beautiful and there was lots of it! All the reflexology was wonderfully simple, clear and most importantly engaging. All the reflexology protocols had been carefully created by a professional reflexologist and the marketing material was all to a very high standard.

On a whim, in March, I published details of the first course – just to see what the reaction would be – and I got an instant response from several people. The first course ran in April and was a great success and a huge amount of fun. As I was aware that being the focus of attention wasn’t my favourite thing I built in lots of things for the students to do to draw it away from me. So much came out of this first course. Once you create something new it is often surprising how many different avenues can open up. The second instructor course ran in June and this enabled me to apply for approval from the Association of Refelxologists in the UK. I sent all the course work off, feeling very nervous about what they would say in regards to the not needing to be qualified to train. I have to admit to being quite flabbergasted by their response! They loved it and wanted to approve it but wanted me to make a couple of small changes – mostly in relation to teaching the reflexology to trained reflexologists, which was fair enough. I now have approval and the good news is that reflexologists only need to do two of the normal three days’ training.

I have lots of courses planned and have been in close contact with many wonderful reflexologists around the country who are helping me to set up all sorts of new initiatives with this concept. There are a lot of areas opening up that I had never really thought of and whole new concepts coming out of this one too.

I have also continued to write books and have written two more and am half way through a third for older children. Writing has become my passion and empowering parents through reflexology my mission. I really hope that infant reflexology can become as mainstream, accepted and appreciated as baby massage – but let’s not take forty years to make it happen this time!

Susan Quayle is an experienced reflexologist and complementary therapist who has developed her skills and qualifications to specialise in the areas of fertility, maternity, babies and children. Susan has created and developed ‘The Children’s Reflexology Programme’, which uses her guide The Mouse’s House. The course has been approved by the Association of Reflexologist. To find out more, including dates and venues across the UK, please visit www.kidsreflex.co.uk.

Susan lives in Devon, UK and her clinic is based in Exeter and at her home, she now spends much of her time empowering parents with reflexology through her innovative books and courses.

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Four day old asleep

Choosing Essences for yourself

Lilly_Essence-Practit_978-1-84819-250-8_colourjpg-printby Sue Lilly, author of The Essence Practitioner: Choosing and using flower and other essences

Many of us visit practitioners if we want essences, but some of us have our own essence collections and need effective ways to choose essences for personal use. For essence practitioners for instance there is always the question of how to best choose essences for yourself. Choosing for oneself is always an interesting exercise: trying to overcome the biases of our conscious mind and our underlying unconscious predilections so that we can actually choose essences that can be helpful for more than just superficial issues.

The traditional method of choosing, often called ‘pattern matching’ or the ‘logical method’, compares the qualities of the essences, as described by a producer or author, with the symptoms, emotions or thoughts that are being experienced. Depending on what has been written about an essence it may be possible to make a choice for an aspiration or a final goal. The advantage of this method is that anyone can work in this way. The disadvantage is that it relies on the capability of the individual to be able to identify – or reflect on – personal symptoms, emotions or thoughts without being influenced by his or her own judgment.

Moreover the descriptions of essences are limited to what the producer or author has written. No matter how many carefully written words, it is only going to describe a fraction of what the essence is capable of doing when interacting with a person or an animal. So this method of choosing essences for their own personal situation has limitations.

Another method of choosing essences for oneself is by pendulum dowsing or self-testing (muscle-testing). However, unless precautions are taken, the accuracy of these methods can be undermined and over-ridden by the conscious and unconscious parts of the mind. The power of these areas of our being can influence those choices that are often accepted gratifyingly by the conscious mind, as these choices appear to confirm our dominant beliefs and wishes. The types of steps that need to be taken to improve accuracy are grounding, or anchoring, personal energies and centring personal energies. Grounding can be simply imagining roots growing out of the feet, deep down into the Earth. Being dehydrated or very hungry can impair the ability to ground personal energies and to keep a good connection with the planet. The simplest way of centring is by ‘tapping in’.  Here the person does a firm, light tapping with the fingertips on the area of the upper chest just below where the collarbones (clavicles) meet the breastbone (sternum). This is the approximate placement of the thymus gland, an important maintainer of the subtle energy balance in the body. Whilst the thymus is being tapped, the other hand is placed palm open, over the navel. This allows the centring effect to last longer.

The methods above are adequate for choosing essences for oneself, but it is very useful, when treating someone close to you emotionally, to have a few more methods that can also divert the conscious mind and the other dominant areas of the brain.

Here are some examples. Make a list of numbers that correspond to the number of essences you have available. Then enter the name of those essences randomly to create a list. With the situation you want help with in mind this list of numbers can then be dowsed or muscle-tested for help with a particular personal issue without the list itself present and without input from the conscious mind. Personally I find this method works really well. The emerging essence or essence combinations brings surprising good results.

Another method is to create some small cards and write the name of an essence on each one. Then, placing them face-down, with the situation you want help with in mind, choose from the cards.

It could be easy to dismiss methods like these as having no use. However, it is easy for our conscious minds to ignore or belittle the depth of knowledge within us, and the access to knowledge of which our unconscious mind is capable. After all, our conscious mind is in charge, isn’t it? If we really want to get to the underlying causes of ill health, remove sabotaging thoughts or release toxic emotions we have to go beyond our everyday levels of consciousness and find ways to access the vast storehouse of knowledge of our unconscious mind.

When working as a practitioner, with a client, it is easier to stay detached and thereby have easy access to deep levels of consciousness. However, when working on ourselves or on those close to us, it is almost impossible to gain a similar level of detachment using methods we would use for clients.

I would suggest trying the ‘number’ or ‘card method’ without expectation and indeed, maybe with a playful approach for issues you want to resolve for yourself and see what happens!

Sue Lilly is the author of The Essence Practitioner: Choosing and using flower and other essences, she has been involved in many aspects of healing for over thirty years. She has a wide ranging experience as a therapist and  teacher – Flower Essences, Crystal Therapy, Astrology, Yoga, Meditation, Colour Therapy, Nutrition, Spiritual Development and Counselling. Sue is a qualified teacher and holds a Diploma in Clinical and Creative Supervision. She is an Advanced Practitioner and Tutor with the British Flower and Vibrational Essences Association (BFVEA), the Secretary of the British Association of Flower Essence Producers (BAFEP), joint Life President of the Affiliation of Crystal Healing Organisations (ACHO) and joint chair of the Japanese Crystal Healing Institute (JCHI). She has developed and produced Sovereignty Essences which complement the Green Man Essences created by Simon Lilly in 1991. She lives near Llangammarch Wells, Powys, Wales, UK.

Shōnishin – The Art of Japanese Acupuncture Without Needles

What is ShōniOppenheimer-Wer_Shonishin_978-1-84819-160-0_colourjpg-webshin?

Shōnishin (from Japanese shōni = little child, shin = needling) is a non-invasive method of acupuncture which was developed in Japan for pediatric treatment around 100 years ago. Instead of using needles there are different tools and instruments. They are used for rubbing and tapping on certain reflex zones and meridian areas, as well as on acupuncture points for gentle stimulation along the torso and the extremities.

The therapeutic effect of Shōnishin is to regulate and support the specific development of children, especially the central and autonomous nervous systems. Therefore the treatment is very effective, especially for children with different disharmonies or illnesses from birth to school age. As Shōnishin has no side effects and is absolutely painless, this kind of treatment is made-to-measure for the needs, complaints, and illnesses of babies and children.

Other client groups who can benefit from Shōnishin

Shōnishin is being used as an alternative to acupuncture in women’s shelters, mother-child facilities and nurseries. This aids women and children, who are in difficult social or monetary situations, abandoned and without any obvious way out. This includes traumatized women and children (e.g. survivors of rape), who are only able to permit touching via the “interposed” Shōnishin instrument where no skin-to-skin contact happens.

Another field of application for Shōnishin will be in the treatment of older adults. Particular parameters like skin conditions and mental conditions seem to show retrogression into childhood. First experiences with Shōnishin in homes for the aged show promising treatment approaches. Even here it becomes obvious, that treatment with a Shōnishin instrument is advantageous as older adults often suffer from a shortage of caring touch. With Shōnishin the contact doesn’t take place directly, but indirectly with an instrument. Thus, older adults have no fear of contact and are willing to allow the treatment. Yet another advantage of treating elderly people with Shōnishin is that as many of them have to take blood-thinning medicines, with the non-invasive and gentle treatment technique with Shōnishin, there is no contraindication.

Training in Shōnishin

Training in Shōnishin varies a lot in the way it is done outside Japan. In Germany there are trainers who offer one-day courses. This, of course, entails the risk that therapists with minimal training could bring Shōnishin into public disrepute if they treat children outside their own household.

As a member of the Japanese Scientific Association of Acupuncture for Children (Nihon Shōni Hari Gakkai), my main aim in running courses is to set a high quality standard in the interest of both small and older children. My courses are based on current traditional Japanese medicine research and on Western health sciences on the other.

Knowledge on child development from both Western and Eastern points of view are an essential lesson of the course. Shōnishin training is best acquired after a basic training in a meridian therapy (e.g. acupuncture, Tuina or Shiatsu) and a minimum six days course. Since, ultimately, children are going to be treated, the motor and sensory aspects of child development in the first 12 months of life are taught, as is energetic development. The most important thing is to understand how the meridians develop, and their influence on child development and development in later life.

Theoretical Basics of Shōnishin

I have based my training of Shonishin upon my nearly 30 years’ experience of working with children. My wife, Karin, initially trained as a physiotherapist and and went on to study shiatsu in Japan. In 1985, she and I founded an institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine just outside Frankfurt, Germany. Karin teaches baby and child shiatsu internationally and is a Founder of the German Shiatsu Society. She has written a number of books on the subject, including Children at Their Best and Baby Shiatsu.

Together, we have developed a modShonishin2el of energetic development that can serve as the theoretical foundation for Shōnishin. It is the basis for understanding child development in its energetic aspect, and ultimately for diagnostic and therapeutic processes that depends on the stages of development.

The model of energetic development is an attempt to bring the knowledge of modern neuroscience, developmental psychology and developmental physiology into harmony with the knowledge and experience of oriental medicine.

The model states that each energetic stage of motor and sensory development builds on the previous developmental stage. The meridians play a primary role in this and represent a communications network connecting the child with her external world. They are then also responsible for the child’s development of posture, movement, patterns of behavior and personality.

Knowing about the ways motor, sensory and energetic functioning are interwoven, opens up new perspectives on child development, resulting in specific treatment approaches. Ultimately, it is the knowledge of meridians in developmental stages forms the foundation for treatment of children of all ages with Shōnishin.

 

Shonishin Training with Thomas Wernicke in the UK:
3 day course as part of the 6 day Shonishin Training with Thomas Wernicke:
When: Saturday 30th May to Monday 1st June 2015
Where: Edinburgh
Cost: Early Bird booking by 31st March 2015 £235, full cost thereafter £260
For more information and to book your place (places limited to 12 people) contact:
Svenja Schaper, Shiatsu Practitioner, Dip. BSS, MRSS, PGCE
svenjashiatsu@movingtouch.co.uk mobile: 07842 563 298

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Thomas Wernicke is a licensed General Practitioner with qualifications in complementary medicine, Chinese and Japanese acupuncture, as well as manual therapies including craniosacral therapy and osteopathy for adults, children and babies, psychosomatic therapy and homeopathy. He is a member of the Japanese Scientific Society for Shonishin, and since 2004, he has been the Training Manager for Daishi Hari Shonishin in Europe. Thomas is also Founding Member and President of the International Society for Traditional Japanese Medicine. He lives in Hochheim, Germany. He has written Shonishin: The Art of Non-Invasive Paediatric Acupuncture publishing by Singing Dragon.

 

How to develop Chinese massage techniques

9780956293008This extract from Chinese Massage Manual by Sarah Pritchard shows how to practice some of the key techniques of Tui na. Beginners should try out the movements on a rice bag before attempting to use them on patients. The author took 3 months to learn the first technique and a further 6 months of daily practice before she was competent to use it on the human body!

Read the extract…

Sarah Pritchard was one of the first Westerners to practice Tui na in the UK. She trained in both the UK and in Nanjing, China, and has been working as a professional Tui na practitioner and acupuncturist since 1994. She is the Tui na course co-ordinator and senior lecturer at the City College of Acupuncture, and the founder and director of Blackheath Complementary Health Centre, London. She is the chair and a founder member of the UK Register of Tui na Chinese Massage.

Emotional Freedom Techniques – an interview with Lawrence Pagett

When did you first become interested in EFT?

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Many years ago I witnessed my next door neighbour in his garden tapping furiously on top of his head and I wondered what on earth he was doing. He enthusiastically told me about Gary Craig the founder of EFT and rushed us into his house to give me one of Gary’s introductory training DVDs explaining the EFT basic recipe and how to conduct an EFT round. In fact, he insisted that we watch the DVD together there and then.  I was impressed by Craig’s presentation. I was also fascinated that this simple tapping procedure was said to be able to treat a wide range of serious conditions such as traumas in a matter of minutes. Sometime later I visited a fellow hypnotherapist friend who told me that he was a big fan of EFT and he successfully used tapping to treat all his clients’ fears and phobias.

What inspired you write a book about EFT?

In 2012 I had the opportunity to train with Dr Silvia Hartmann in Advanced forms of EFT and to gain the Master Practitioner in EFT I ended up writing a staggering 60,000 words. Additionally, I did plenty of hands on EFT on myself, my family, friends, my cat and clients. To write a book about EFT seemed the most natural next step so I approached Singing Dragon and within two hours they had accepted. I was excited because it had always been a lifelong ambition of mine to be an author. To get a book deal from a highly acclaimed international publisher like Singing Dragon seemed fitting and miraculous. I was overjoyed!

Why did you co-write it with Paul?

For lots of great reasons. If I had written it solo, then it may have turned out as a subjective account – EFT according to Energist Lawrence Pagett; whereas bringing in a writer, like Paul from a non-therapy background, to my mind gives the book depth bringing with it a wider perspective.

Paul, how did you first hear about EFT and why did you want to help write this book?

It was when Lawrence was doing his course. He came round one evening to try doing some EFT with me and within seconds of my first round of tapping I was in a state of ecstasy and bliss! It was then that I realised how incredibly powerful and amazing EFT could be. I wanted to write the book with Lawrence because I could see from my own profound experience how life changing EFT can be and it seemed to fit so well with my own personal spiritual beliefs.

What is so special about this book?

That’s a great question: The book is a must read for anyone who is genuinely interested in learning about, or advancing their EFT skills. Principles of EFT works on many levels. It is written by two writers, one from an educational and therapy background, the other from a more left brained orientation (Paul is a qualified accountant). Both are on the frontier in terms of spirituality. The book is well researched and has a plethora of tapping techniques for the reader to try EFT out for themselves – It is also humorous in places and contains within its pages an energy that lovingly takes the reader by the hand and leads them throughout their EnergyEFT adventure.

What do you consider to be the most important part of the book?

Chapter two is our “tour de force”, it is Pagett and Millward’s take on the deficiencies of the western scientific world view and why the West has been so doggedly slow at grasping Eastern energy concepts like EFT. Our notions around spirituality seep deep within Principles of EFT and serve as a backdrop for the spiritually aspiring reader to grasp concepts of Enlightenment. We suggest, as Dr Hartmann asserts, that EFT can be used to help take mankind to the next level of development and beyond. If Dr Hartmann’s contribution to EFT is EnergyEFT, then our contribution is SpiritualEFT.

That sounds fascinating, if not a little highbrow?

Whilst Principles of EFT is accessible to everyone, those that will appreciate it the most are likely to be more spiritually discerning. Some of the concepts might be challenging for the western mind to fully grasp; yet as we have already mentioned it’s a fun and easy read too. As Silvia Hartmann says “EFT should never be dour!”

Finally, what is the future for EFT?

It is our hope and prayer that people will enjoy and gain tremendous value and insight from Principles of EFT. EFT has traditionally been concerned with remedial EFT. The future lies with Silvia Hartmann’s positive EFT and a further exploration of what we call spiritual EFT – moving people into the bliss and bringing people to enlightenment.

To find out more about Principles of EFT, visit the Singing Dragon website.

Osmanthus – the Scent of an Oriental Autumn

 

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In Scotland, we have just enjoyed an uncharacteristically glorious summer, full of beautiful scents. Autumn can be wonderful too, but then it is more the rich pallete of colours that we appreciate – our visual sense tends to dominate the season. Here, if we are asked to identify the scents of autumn, we might think of fallen leaves, damp earth, pumpkins and gourds, bonfires, wood smoke, maybe coniferous forests. However, there is one beautiful scented flower that, in China and Japan, is very much associated with autumn, and that is osmanthus.

Osmanthus fragrans is a woody, evergreen flowering shrub. In China it is known as kweiha, and the scent of the blossoms is loved and renowned; and indeed has been described as the quintessential scent of China.  It has been cultivated for hundreds of years, and is often found at Buddhist temples, where it is planted in groves. Osmanthus is very much considered to be an autumn flower, despite the reality that some varieties bloom all year round, hence the name ‘osmanthus four seasons’.  The flowers range from silvery white to reddish orange, but the most fragrant are the orange-yellow varieties. Osmanthus blossoms fill the air with their diffusive, floral-fruity fragrance, and when they fall from the shrubs and carpet the ground, the scent persists for many hours (Kaiser 2006). It is no wonder, then, that they grace such special places, and are held in such high regard.

Traditionally, like jasmine, dried osmanthus flowers are used to flavour both green and black teas, however the scent is very different, and quite distinctive. An absolute can be extracted from the flowers. This is very costly – it is an amber or greenish, thick liquid, with a complex, rich, sweet, honey-like, floral scent with prominent notes of plums and raisins, and apricots (Warren and Warrenburg 1993; Kaiser 2006). Because of its complexity, and the unique relationship between its floral and fruity notes, the absolute has the qualities of a perfume, in that its scent has many dimensions. It is impossible to attribute its scent to a handful of constituents, however it would be reasonable to say that β-ionone (woody, floral, violet, slightly fruity, with cedarwood, raspberry nuances) and dihydro-β-ionone, γ-decalactone (powerful, peach-like) and related lactones, linalool (light floral, woody), nerol (sweet, floral, seaweed-like) and geraniol (sweet, rosy) have a major impact (Kaiser 2006).

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Turin and Sanchez (2009) discuss the use of osmanthus in perfumery; they suggest that it is actually a ‘ready-made’ fragrance, and that the perfumer’s skill is in reviving it after the solvent extraction process! They illustrate this with two fragrances composed by Jean-Claude Ellena – Osmanthus for The Different Company (2001), which is true to its nature with peach and lemon top notes, and the uplifting Osmanthe Yunnan for Hermès (2005) which pays tribute to its traditional uses by including Yunnan smoked tea notes alongside freesia, orange and apricots. Other well known, ‘mainstream’ fragrances that claim to include osmanthus or an osmanthus ‘note’ are Eternity (Calvin Klein 1988), Escape (also Calvin Klein 1991, but since reformulated), and Sunflowers (Arden 1993). The artisan perfumer Alec Lawless, who worked mainly with natural raw materials, commented on his experience working with osmanthus absolute when composing Kuan Yin (Essentially Me); it produced an unexpected, delicate note of peach blossom (Lawless 2009).

It would seem that the fragrance of osmanthus has, for a long time, been regarded as uplifting. A study on the mood effects of fragrance conducted by Warren and Warrenburg in 1993 included a synthetic version of osmanthus. It was shown to increase feelings of stimulation and happiness, decrease feelings of irritation and stress, and prominently decrease depression and apathy; it had no significant effect on feelings of sensuality or relaxation. So, in the west, where we cannot readily access the fragrant flowers, we could consider using the scent of the absolute to lift our spirits. As autumn progresses, and after the equinox the days grow shorter and darker, many of us experience low mood, lethargy or even ‘seasonal affective disorder’. Osmanthus can offer us a beautiful, safe way to restore balance.

Jennifer Peace Rhind is a Chartered Biologist with a Ph.D. in Mycotoxicology from the University of Strathclyde. Her long-standing interest in Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) has led to qualifications in massage, aromatherapy and reflexology. She co-founded the first professionally accredited CAM school in Scotland and remains involved in scent education. She has written several books on aromatherapy, published by Singing Dragon, the latest is Listening to Scent, a guide to training your olfactory palate. She lives in Biggar near the Scottish Borders.

References

Kaiser, R. (2006) Meaningful Scents around the World. Zurich: Verlag Helvetica Chimica Acta & Wiley VCH.

Lawless, A. (2009) Artisan Perfumery or Being Led by the Nose. Stroud: Boronia Souk Ltd.

Turin, L. & Sanchez, T. (2009) Perfumes: The A-Z Guide. London: Profile Books Ltd.

Warren, C and Warrenburg, S. (1993) Mood benefits of fragrance. International Journal of Aromatherapy 5, 2, 12-16.

 

An Introduction to the Bowen Technique – extract from Using the Bowen Technique to Address Complex and Common Conditions

Wilks-Knight_Using-the-Bowen_978-1-84819-167-9_colourjpg-printIn this extract, John Wilks and Isobel Knight provide an introduction into the history and general usage of The Bowen Technique using a very unusual metaphor.

Read the extract…

Using the Bowen Technique to Address Complex and Common Conditions is available from the Singing Dragon website.

Singing Dragon New and Bestselling titles Autumn-Winter 2014 and 2015

This fully interactive brochure has all of the new Singing Dragon titles for the Autumn and Winter of 2014 as well upcoming titles for 2015. In here you will find books on Chinese medicine, complementary therapies, martial arts, nutrition, yoga, ayurveda, qigong, Daoism, aromatherapy, and many more alternative therapies and ancient wisdom traditions.


Click on the covers or titles to be taken to the book’s page on the Singing Dragon website. If you would like to request hard copies please email hello@singingdragon.com with your details and the number of copies you would like.