An A to Z of Traditional Chinese Medicine

To start the A-Z of Chinese Medicine…

A is for Acupressure

Acupressure uses the points on the meridian channels which circulate the body and relate to internal organs and energy (qi) flow. My tutor of 20 years describes it as being like the orbiting of the planets.

Acupressure uses palm and finger pressure to stimulate or nourish pressure points and energy flow. As with all healing where energy is considered, the practitioner must ensure they have a deep understanding of their own qi/energy to ensure they are giving healing energy instead of negative, while protecting themselves from sick or negative qi from the patient.

I started training in acupressure 20 years ago at the same time as qigong, as they work together. Qigong enhances your energy flow and understanding of how it works. I’ve been teaching many aspects of Chinese Massage for 19 years. If you’re interested in private classes get in touch.

B is for Balance

Every Traditional Chinese Medicine practice balances the body and mind – energy flow, the emotions, actual balance (as in how you stand/sit/walk), yin and yang (the complementary, opposing forces in all living things) and general health and wellbeing.

In TCM, balance is also about not overdoing (or underdoing) anything, including what we eat and drink, and how much we rest and are active. Not too much, not too little is the general rule!

C is for Calm, Choice and Creating

Maybe happiness is a choice. We will all have difficulties in our lives, but how you deal with life’s inevitable setbacks has a huge impact on wellbeing. Those close to me know I have many reasons why I could be unhappy. My Mum’s death in April 2019 is the 9th in my family in recent years, my sons both have additional needs and make life rather challenging. A lot of my time is spent just keeping on top of making sure their lives are as easy as possible. Although I feel sad, angry, frustrated etc from time to time, it passes fairly quickly, and I return to my usual calm contentment. I have to work at staying level, it doesn’t come naturally to me. Practicing qi gong, meditation and acupressure, as well as creating every day and eating nourishing food all help a great deal. I made the choice to improve my wellbeing when I realised I have to be ok so I can help other people authentically. I’m fiery by nature, so I’ve had to work hard to stay calm.

Create your own happiness. I chose the name Create Abundance because I’ve found it is possible and important to switch your mindset towards positivity and happiness.

C is also for Connecting, Compassion and Clearing

Practicing Traditional Chinese Medicine involves connecting with your inner strength and with the Universe and nature. Connecting with ourselves and our place in the world requires growing your compassion – for yourself and all other life.

Another benefit of TCM is that it promotes positive mindset and encourages us to clear any negative emotions, thoughts, feelings and general energy that is stuck and blocking us from being healthy, happy and more relaxed.

D is for Dan Tien

Meaning ‘sea of qi’ or ‘energy centre’, dan tien/dan t’ian/tan tian usually refers to the lower dan tien, four fingers down from the navel.

It’s useful to think of the dan tien as a reservoir for your original energy and a store for your inner strength.

Psychologically, the lower dan tien gives us a sense of stability and balance. Physically, it’s a source of inner power, sexual vitality and stamina.

In every qigong and meditation class I teach we focus on dan tien breathing to help us connect with our lower energy centre. When a person is connected with their dan tien, they have more vitality as well as emotional stability.

E is for Energy, Emotions and Exercise

Everything living or natural is/has energy – from the food we eat to a huge mountain. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, energy is harnessed to strengthen and balance the body and mind.

If your energy is out of harmony you can suffer with many problems including headaches, back pain, anxiety, diarrhea, short-temper…

Practicing qi gong, meditation and acupressure keeps your energy in balance, improving your physical and emotional well-being for good.

Learning to keep our emotions balanced often takes a lot of effort and practice. Meditation and qigong practice helps to strengthen your emotional resilience. I’m a naturally fiery person, but daily practice has made a huge difference to my ability to stay level.

Qi gong exercise is often slow, smooth and rhythmic, but can also be fast and forceful. There are thousands of different qigong exercises, which have been practised and passed down from guru to student for about 3000 years. I teach several different forms.

F is for Flexibility, Fitness and Fire

Qigong exercises keep your whole body fit and flexible. The flowing movements and stretches loosen up your joints to allow better circulation and energy flow When I first trained with my TCM tutor 20 years ago my physical (and emotional) health was in dire need of balancing and strengthening. It wasn’t long before my fitness improved hugely and by the time I became pregnant with my first son, 15 years ago, I felt fit enough to run a marathon. Now I’m 43, I still feel fit, healthy and flexible The fire element is very important in Traditional Chinese Medicine. In your body, fire corresponds to your heart energy. Qigong and acupressure balance this energy so it isn’t too strong or overabundant in the body. When we have too much fire energy we can be more quick tempered, have headaches and tension in our shoulders and facial muscles. Fire can be harnessed in a positive way too to encourage smooth energy flow – using the heat from your palms to nourish your body. I’m a naturally fiery person, so I’m very grateful to know how to remain calm in difficult situations. If you’re interested in learning more about the many details involved in acupressure, qigong or meditation, you can find classes in events above, or contact me to arrange private classes on Zoom.I also have a private group for classes on Facebook, £21 per month for at least 2 lessons per week, plus all previous lessons.

G is for Gratitude, and Gong

Something that noticeably grows in you when practicing qi gong and meditation is your awareness of everything that’s going on around you and in you. With this increased noticing comes greater gratitude. Gratitude for the details and beauty of nature for everything you have already within you, and for the people and circumstances that contributed to where you are now. The ‘gong’ in qigong means accumulate or gather – qi gong=accumulating vital energy.

H is for Healing

Helping people to heal is my passion. Not only is it possible to heal yourself, in my opinion it’s deeper and longer lasting than what someone else can do for you. I may teach and guide people in how to heal, but the real work is done by the individual.

Qigong, meditation and acupressure are all healing practices. As are clearing clutter, improving your mindset and creativity.

What would it mean to you if you could learn to heal yourself? (p.s. you can!)

I is for Intuition, Imbalances and Interconnected

Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners can see and feel imbalances in the body intuitively, through experience and understanding of the complex theories involving the organs, bones, blood and qi. Being tuned into your intuition means quietening the noise of distractions around you, allowing you to experience the world more actively.

In TCM we look at the interconnection between mind, body and environment in order to improve our physical and emotional health. Imbalances in any area of the whole of a person’s life will affect the others.

J is for Joints and Joy

Qigong exercises are low impact and therefore don’t damage your joints. In fact a lot of the fundamental teachings about how to properly perform the exercises specifically talk about being aware of how you’re standing in order to protect joint damage, and many of the exercises target certain joints to help soften and loosen them up.

Joy is a big word. It’s something that many people equate to something hard to obtain or even unobtainable. The truth is, joy can be found inside your heart as well as outside of us. In meditation and qigong practice there are many ways to unlock this awareness of joy… because that’s what it is, it’s there already, but most of us aren’t aware of it because we’re bogged down with anxieties and clutter. Learning to peel away the layers of tension and the weight of our chaotic thoughts is something I love helping people to achieve.

That’s the point of the name Create Abundance, everything I teach is about finding your joy. Even though you have difficult experiences, you can still find joy. For example, I have struggled with my sons’ difficulties for years (mostly with getting others to understand them), my Mum is the 9th person in my family to pass away in recent years, and I have a couple of debilitating illnesses. But, I find joy every day and want to help others do the same. I can only show you how, the work is up to you.

What does joy mean to you?

K is for Kindness and Kidneys

Kindness plays a major role in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s where all healing originates. Without kindness towards yourself there would be no impulse to self heal in the first place. Without kindness to others there would be no acupressure, acupuncture and distance healing practitioners.

The health of the kidney meridian is regarded as the foundation of good health in TCM. Due to chronic anxiety and sleep deprivation several years ago, I was diagnosed with kidney disease just before I turned 40. Even in Western medicine the connection has been made between high blood pressure and it’s affect on kidney heart. Cue lots of trips to the hospital for a couple of years for multiple blood and urine tests, but eventually the doctors realised there was no need for me to keep attending so often because it was under control. I just have a yearly check now and there’s never anything to report.

In all my qigong and meditation lessons we focus on nourishing the kidneys. It’s where our original energy emanates from, according to TCM. Over working, over drinking, too little sleep, not drinking enough water/warm nourishing drinks, too much cold food and drink, all damage and weaken kidney energy. Lower back ache is very common, as we get older especially, and particularly in women as we use up a lot more energy and iron from menstruating, having babies and not resting enough. Be kind to your kidneys!

L is for Longevity and Life Force

Unlike in the West where longevity tends to refer only to the length of a person’s life, ‘Chang Shou’ – longevity in Chinese, takes quality of life into consideration as well. Some very affective and  interesting self-care practices were developed at least 2,200 years ago. The ancient emperors were particularly interested in learning ways to stay healthy, prolong life and maintain virility. A wide range of anti-aging herbs were developed to enhance the immune system and strengthen health (still used today and now integrated into Western health care too). Astragalus is a main ingredient in anti-aging as it can lower blood pressure and reduce proteinuria in the kidneys.

Ancient Taoist philosophy views a person as an energy system where body and mind are unified, realising the importance of learning to remain as relaxed and level-headed as possible through meditation and qigong practice. The belief that there is a universal life force, ‘qi’, that exists in all living things. Qi gong and acupressure and many of the meditation practices I teach restores balance to the body and mind, promotes the flow and strength of this life force, and stimulates our natural healing system.

If you haven’t tried it yet, take a look at the free Energy Boosting Qigong practice I shared a few weeks ago.

M is for Meditation, Mindfulness, Mindset (and massage and meridians)

Meditation is one of the foundation practices in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Practicing meditation benefits you in many emotional, physical and spiritual ways – improving your breathing, digestion, posture, ability to focus and remain calm in challenging situations, optimism, clarity of thought, connection with your inner peace and the outer world, to name but a few. If you’ve never tried meditation or have and you found it difficult, try my podcast – ‘Starting to Meditate’

Mindfulness practice originates in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, and possibly also has roots in Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Most modern practitioners learned mindfulness from the Buddhist tradition, like me. Mindfulness, or ‘Sati’ in Sanskrit is considered to be the first step towards enlightenment. Western science has now caught up with the benefits of being mindful, and the practice is used widely. All of my meditation, acupressure and meditation classes involve practicing mindfulness.

Mindset has everything to do with whether you feel you deserve to and are able to improve your wellbeing. Thinking negatively or listening to our unhelpful views of ourselves holds us back from achieving real happiness and inner peace. Again, this is a large part of my lessons, especially the four week ‘Clear the Clutter Challenges’ I hold every couple of months (next one starts 5th April).

Acupressure massage uses the meridian points, the same as acupuncture (see ‘A is for Acupressure on 1st February). Massage also comes into qigong, one of the forms I teach to more experienced students is Washing the Bone Marrow Qigong. The massage techniques I teach in of my classes are usually people’s favourite part of the class! The belly massage especially con be very comforting and often remind people of being soothed as a child.

N is for Nutrition

Like everything else in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the main goal with food is to achieve balance and harmony within the body. Food is used both to preserve good health and also to treat sickness. TCM focuses on spleen and stomach and small and large intestine health, as well as how different types of ‘tastes’ affect other organs in the body. The energetic properties of foods are the guiding principle (see chart). The point is to nourish the organs and maintain the free flow of qi by eating supportive foods.

Major principles of TCM nutrition include not ingesting raw and cold foods (as these are extremely yin and therefore weaken the body system), and not overindulging in fatty or sweet foods.

If you’re interested in learning more about balancing your body and maintaining your energy levels with nutrition, comment below.

O is for Orifices and Organs

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, internal organs are associated with orifices in the face. For example, imbalances in your kidney health shows up in your ears – listening skills, ear pain etc. To illustrate this, you might notice when you’re run down and over tired (which puts strain on your vital energy, emanating from the kidneys), that you get earache or blocked ears. Another one is the liver and eyes, one that we know in the West, thinking of yellow eyes and jaundice.

The focus is on the five main yin or ‘Zang’ organs (heart, liver, spleen, kidneys and lungs), which have corresponding yang or ‘Fu’ organs (small intestine, gall bladder, stomach , bladder and large intestines respectively), and their function rather than anatomical position. Keeping these all in balance is the basis of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Organs are associated with emotions, different times of day, different seasons and different elements.

P is for Practice/Practise and Pregnancy

When I started training in Traditional Chinese Medicine, I had two two hour classes per week. There is so much to learn and in order to become healthy and strong enough to start teaching and passing on the practices that straight away I practised the exercises, as well as the meditations and basic acupressure principles every day. Practising the holistic approach to health and well-being daily means strengthening and healing yourself physically and emotionally.

A particular benefit of practising TCM is the focus on nourishing the body as well as detoxifying. Clearing is always followed by strengthening, balancing the body and preventing weakness and loss of health. There is a whole set of practices surrounding pregnancy, labour and particularly the first four weeks postpartum. This includes diet, rest, nourishing practices and acupressure massage.

If you are interested in learning more about any aspects of Traditional Chinese Medicine, check out the events tab at the top of the page. Or get in touch for one-to-one sessions.

Q is for Qi

Qi, pronounced ‘Chee’, means energy. It is also spelt ‘Chi’ in Chinese or Ki in Japanese. Qi is the energy in the body, the universe, in food and the meridians. Withing the body there are two basic types of Qi – congenital Qi (the Qi we’re born with), and acquired Qi (derived from the food we eat and the air we breathe).

It’s quite complicated, but the basic details are:

Congenital Qi is inherited from you parents; gathered and formed at conception; stored in the kidneys; determines your basic strength, constitution and vitality; cannot be replenished but can be conserved; is essential to development and growth. It is composed of Jing (essence) and Yuan (original Qi).

Acquired Qi can be stored and replenished (by practising Qi Gong, for example), and is post natal Qi. It is composed of Kong Qi (air Qi), Gu Qi (essence of food and grain Qi), Zong Qi (gathering Qi), and Zhen Qi (true Qi) – which is composed of nutritive and defensive Qi).

R is for…more to follow


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