Monday, April 18, 2011
Acupuncture and Happiness
4:55 pm edt
As spring matures into summer, life continues to unfold. The cold, dark days of winter are behind us and we are able to enjoy
the weather before it gets too hot. This is a lot like the honeymoon of a marriage, at the beginning when everything is fresh
and new. It is easy to feel happy under these conditions, as there is much to look forward to and not much to regret. Nature
reminds us of this feeling every year for several weeks.
This is the season of the Fire element in Chinese
For better or for worse, what touches the Heart touches everything. It’s important
to note that joy is not always correct; too much of it can be as bad as too little. Mania is as much a sign of imbalance as
unending sadness. Out of balance, Fire shows up as distorted or lack of joy, lack of compassion, and disconnectedness, twisting
our relationship with others and ourself. The tears of the clown are the perfect illustration of this imbalance.
Acupuncture can help to balance the feelings of happiness by encouraging our Fire to thrive. The pathways
of the Fire element travel from the torso, covering the arms, tracing the imprint of a hug, where we embrace and are held
by loved ones. They end and begin at the tips of the fingers, covering the hands as well, where a handshake connects us with
an associate. When the Fire element is in balance, we feel a level of joy within us most of the time. This is not to say that
we are grinning from ear to ear, but we feel alive and connected as we go about our lives. True joy is
like a fire in the hearth that warms the home, just as the compassionate fire of the Heart warms the spirit. Using acupuncture
is one way to tend the Fire.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Acupuncture and Growth
4:07 pm edt
As spring develops further, we cannot help
but notice the changes. In nature, the trees are starting to bud, flowers are blooming, the wind is blowing, and the sun is
up longer every day. It is a time of hope, renewal, and putting plans into action. Lots of us made resolutions in January.
April is the perfect time to really get going with them. Acupuncture can help keep our energy smooth as we stretch and grow.
It is natural to start slowly with big plans. In fact, small steps are a good way to improve your chances
of success. The mighty oak starts as an acorn, then a seedling and so on. It is not taller than a house in just one year!
Our plans grow in much the same way. Moreover, when we make a commitment to steady growth, it is best to commit to the feeding
and nurturing of that dream, not just to what we imagine it must become. Therefore, it is best to focus on doing whatever
will nourish the dream. This allows maximum flexibility and increases the possibilities that can develop.
we place too many conditions and controls on our dreams at the outset, it cuts off the flow of enthusiastic energy that will
give it life. This is another way of saying that attachment to outcome is a qi thief. Having strong expectations and attachments
to how things will go steals our energy. Rather, putting a dream in fertile soil, placing it in the right spot, and watering
it as much as it needs, requires zero expectation. What it requires is patience and benevolence.
opens the channels and nourishes the qi; exactly as a gardener tends her garden. When we cultivate the qi without placing
lots of demands on how it manifests, we allow maximum growth.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Acupuncture and Anger
We are now at the beginning of a change in seasons.
3:09 pm est
This is now the
Chinese year of the rabbit and spring has begun its renewal of the Northern Hemisphere. Just as night must turn to day, winter
must turn to spring. Alas, this change can be uncomfortable, especially for someone with a lot of anger. Fortunately, acupuncture
can be very helpful with this emotion.
It is no coincidence that of the Five Elements, the Wood Element is
associated with spring and with anger, as well as hope and creativity. Interestingly, all these emotions feel the same:
they are vivid, strong, and upward. Remember that this surging, vivacious energy is coursing through everyone at the grocery
store checkout, in traffic, in the office, and everywhere else. It’s good to know that what we are feeling is nature
at work. Although it can feel like an all-consuming rush, it’s not personal.
The most significant changes
in life usually begin as barely noticeable, even trivial. When an underground seed begins to sprout, nobody knows. Yet, that
seed could be a mighty oak tree, destined one day to bring shelter, food, and beauty to the world. Moreover, a small spark
can turn a dry forest into a raging inferno in very little time. Minor irritation turns to rage in a person this same way.
The best thing to do in this situation is for that person to get away from other people and animals until he or she is safe
for others again.
Thankfully, you can use acupuncture to smooth the flow of qi. Wood in balance is benevolent
and flexible. Conversely, Wood out of balance is inflexible, unclear, irritable, and violent. When someone has to be first
in line, at the light, or wherever, this can be Wood out of balance, especially if he/she is willing to cut off others in
order to get “there”. If this angry, rushing person sounds like you, it might be a good idea to pay a visit to
your local acupuncturist. (It might also be a good idea to take some anger management classes or see a good therapist.) Anger
is a natural emotion. However, to avoid upset and even abuse, it must be handled with clarity and benevolence.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Winter 2011 - Seeing the Future
12:47 pm est
Winter 2011 - Seeing the Future
Resting is Wizening
it Here First
My latest article "Acupuncture and Immortality" is just now coming out in "Your Health"
magazine in January 2011. Since you are on my mailing list, you saw it here last month. Below is your special sneak peak at
The energy of the Water element acts just like water. It must sink to the lowest level
and cannot rise. It is the ultimate yin in nature: dense, cold, moist, and mysterious. See last month's article for the associated
taste, smell, and emotion. You can contact me if you have any questions.
Acupuncture and Insight
How Your Practitioner Can Predict the Future
Have you ever wished you could see what was happening
in your body? An ultrasound gives you a moving picture of structures, but what does it tell you about function? It is not
obvious to most people when their heart is struggling for oxygen from blocked blood vessels. In fact, 50% of heart attacks
are a complete surprise to everyone, even the person’s primary care doctor. This is because scans, scopes, and
blood tests are not very helpful in predicting morbid events.
After thousands of years of development and practice,
there are more clues available to the discerning eye of an acupuncturist. Through the effective use of traditional diagnosis,
a practitioner can assess the state of the internal organs and the prognosis for recovery or failure. Just as a good tracker
can look at the forest and tell you which animals have come through, when, what shape they are in, and what they have been
eating, a good acupuncturist can tell you how much rest you’re getting, what sorts of foods you eat, how your mind behaves,
and which emotions give you the most trouble. They also can tell you how healthy your internal organs are and how healthy
they will be in the future if nothing else changes (i.e., treatment and lifestyle). This is why an acupuncturist makes recommendations
for lifestyle changes. If you had a view of the future, wouldn’t you warn the people around you if they were making
trouble for themselves?
Regular visits to an acupuncturist not only will keep your organs and systems in balance,
it will give you insight into yourself. Acupuncture awakens a person’s senstivity to how they feel physically and mentally.
When you practice listening to your body, get regular treatment, and make the lifestyle changes that promote health, it is
amazing how ‘in touch’ you will be. .
Keep Yourself Balanced
If there is a secret to reading the future, deep listening is most certainly part of the equation. And, as I say every
time, keeping your energy in balance makes everything easier. In times of stress and recovery, receiving energy work really
comes in handy. When your energy is flowing unobstructed and the organs are in balance, the body and mind can handle routine
and release tension much better. With regular treatments, it is far easier to rest and relax without nervous energy. So my
advice: stay warm, go with the flow, and take care of yourself. You are welcome to give me a call and schedule one or more
Some ways to enjoy stillness in the wintertime:
1. Sit by the
fire and doze.
2. Sit by a window and watch the world outside.
3. Take a nice hot bath.
4. Stay home one day
a week and read.
5. Stop when you're tired.
6. Take an afternoon nap.
7. Eat hot food and drink.
9. Put a humidifier in the bedroom.
10. Replace the air filter in your heating system with a finer
Lamb, beef, liver, kidney, shellfish, soups, stews, roots,
tubers, sweet potatoes, beets, turnips, parsnips, walnuts, kidney beans, water fowl, water chestnuts, watercress, and small
amounts of salt (to name a few).
Monday, December 13, 2010
Acupuncture and Immortality
Rachel Sara Strass, MAc, LAc, Dipl Ac (NCCAOM)
3:35 pm est
Almost everyone wants to live a
long life, if not to live indefinitely. Many people believe that aches and pains, fatigue and loss of libido go hand-in-hand
with aging. According to Chinese Medicine, these concerns are evidence of imbalance, not age. Just like anything else, how
we age depends on how hard we run, how well we rest, how long we let problems go before taking care of them, and what we take
in for fuel. The darkest season of the year, between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, is a time for doing maintenance
and taking a break. This is one of the best ways to age more gracefully.
Until very recently,
it was crucial to keep the fire going all night in the winter. If the whole year were like a day, winter
is like the nighttime of that day. Therefore, it makes sense to bank our own fire in much the same
way. To bank a fire, the flow of air is restricted and the fire covered with ash until no flames are visible. This means sleeping
more, eating less, doing less, and letting things run themselves with minimal effort. In this way, we use the winter as a
period of rest and rejuvination. As a result, when the light and heat return to this part of the planet, we are fueled up
and ready to go, just like a well-banked fire in the morning. All it takes is some fresh air and kicking off the dust (a little
This time of year is critical to the aging (or anti-aging) process. With an
annual season of rest, we get the chance to heal from the stress of the year. It may take a little redesigning for some habits
and activities, but the benefits are endless.