“If Yin is a noun, then Yang is a verb, and life is a complete sentence.” – Between Heaven and Earth: A Guide To Chinese Medicine, pg. 52
We recently started a discussion about the Autonomic Nervous System and I explained the breakdown of the sympathetic nervous system versus the parasympathetic nervous system. That was all a Western/conventional/allopathic understanding; now let’s discuss the same concept from an Eastern/alternative/holistic perspective.
People often ask me about the science/logic/reasoning as to how the services that I offer (i.e. massage, acupuncture, yoga, etc.) promote health and wellness in the body. I could answer this question from many different angles; we could talk about knots, trigger points, reflex areas, fascia, lymph, inflammation, circulation, endorphins, energy/qi, and so forth. Today, however, I want to go a little deeper with my answer.
Throughout my thousands of hours of training in alternative medicine, I’ve had the privilege to learn from some pretty phenomenal practitioners of both Western and Eastern medicine. What I’ve noticed is that people generally tend to have a great Western/allopathic understanding of health, or they have a good grip on the Eastern/holistic perspective; only a small number of people have studied both. Not only have I actively pursued studying health from both a Western and Eastern approach, but I’ve been building bridges between the two for the last several years. In this newsletter, I’m going to explain what I do from a Western point of view and then next month I’ll explain everything from an Eastern outlook (and I’ll show how the two perspectives parallel and are really one and…
We’re in the middle of a discussion about meditation. I’ve been setting you up for this for months, explaining the various health benefits of meditating and becoming parasympathetic. Now, are you ready? Below I’ve explained the fifteen most common exercises I practice on my meditation cushion. I recommend choosing one and sticking with it for five to twenty minutes. Like I always say, start on the short end and gradually work your way up to longer periods of meditating.
Breathe in and out through your nostrils and keep your eyes gently closed (unless otherwise specified). My meditation instructor, Victor Parachin, recommends doing yoga and meditation in a two-to-one ratio; for example, stretch for twenty minutes and then meditate for ten. Typically when I meditate, I start with a simple phrase, such as saying to myself “in” as I inhale and “out” as I exhale. After a few minutes of that (once my mind has calmed down a bit), I then transition into a different meditative exercise. There are thousands to choose from, but here are just a few of my favorites:
- Count your inhalations/exhalations: Take a nice, long, deep breath in and out through the nose and then…
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“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” – Babatunde Olatunji
“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Teresa
What Does “Living in the Moment” Mean?
In everyday life we rarely pay full attention to anything. When we’re at work, we dream of vacation. When we’re on vacation, we stress about the work that’s going to be awaiting our return. Our society has all but lost the ability to live in the moment.
You frequently hear me talk about “being present”, “living in the moment”, and “practicing mindfulness”. These phrases are all used synonymously and were a core part of Buddha’s original teachings. If you aren’t familiar with this concept of mindfulness or living in the present, I highly encourage you to watch one of my favorite movies: “Peaceful Warrior” (it’s available on Netflix Instant).
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha)
Don’t let the…
As someone who combats stress on a professional level, I have quite a bit to say about the subject. I could easily fill this newsletter with a dozen very practical, very helpful tips on learning how to unwind, de-stress, and relax. This is such an important topic because it’s been estimated that stress is responsible for up to 80% of disease; that’s a pretty staggering statistic.
Dr. Don Colbert says in his book Deadly Emotions, “Stress is not about events and experiences nearly so much as it is about a person’s perception of the circumstances that occur in his or her life. A person’s stress level has to do with what a person believes.” (pg. 22). One of my gurus (Dr. Wayne Dyer) says, “There is no stress in the world, only people thinking stressful thoughts.” Minor stress symptoms, such as headaches and heartburn, cannot be ignored. Before long, you may experience major symptoms such as heart failure or stroke. At that point, it may be too late to turn your life around. Now that we see the link between our mind (which dictates our stress level) and our physical and emotional health (which is tremendously affected by stress), don’t…
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Jesus Christ
Living in Tulsa, it’s no surprise that I’ve faced some opposition when it comes to teaching yoga. Most of this resistance, however, comes from people of faith that really aren’t educated about yoga. They have no personal experience with it. Perhaps their pastor has spoken against it or they’ve read an article online saying that it is “bad” or “pagan”. This month I will be defending practicing yoga in the context of Christianity. I understand that this topic will greatly intrigue some, and leave others shrugging their shoulders saying, “Who cares? Why is this such a big deal?”
I don’t bring up religion or politics very often, for obvious reasons. I want to unite, not divide. Although I presently consider myself much more “spiritual” than “religious”, the fact is that I was raised in the Christian church. I went to a private school from K-12 and even for several semesters of college. I was in church every Sunday (sometimes for multiple services) and Wednesday. As I grew older, I attended every time the doors were open….