Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Essential Oils - Tips on Good Books

People often ask me to recommend a good resource for researching and using essential oils. There are so many great books out there, but here are my top suggestions. These are also some of the main textbooks I recommend in my On-line Essential Oil Certification Course. I have no financial interest at all in any of these. Links are provided for your convenience.

For a total beginner, I like any of Valerie Ann Worwoods books, such as “The Complete Book of Essential Oils & Aromatherapy”. Her books are filled with exact recipes that let you begin to play around with making blends. Once you get the feel for it, you can change them a little to be more personal for you. I compare this to cooking – you get a great recipe out of a book and make it for dinner. Everyone likes it, but the next time you make it you add a little more of this and less of that, plus your own secret ingredient because that’s how YOU cook. But you have to start somewhere.

It’s very important to do research on the essential oils you are using. You should always know what they do, methods of use, cautions and contraindications. The main book I pull off my shelf for this is “Essential Oils for Healing and Ascension” by Kathryn Sharp. This book provides an alphabetical listing of essential oils with bulleted information on the physical, emotional, and spiritual properties of each oil, and the information applies to any brand of essential oils.

A great companion to this book is “Aromatherapy Guide for Healing and Ascension” also by Kathryn Sharp, also applies to any brand. This book gives an alphabetical list of symptoms, with a list of suggested essential oils for each one. In this way, you can look up – for example – anxiety. From the list of suggested oils, you can see which ones you already have in your stock to use, or maybe get an idea of one or more you want to buy and try out. You can go back and use the Essential Oil guide to read specific details about each oil on the list to help make your decision about which one(s) would be best to use.

Kathryn is my inspiration and original teacher in essential oils. Literally living an essential oil lifestyle, she has put many years of work, experience, and direct knowledge into her books and I can’t speak highly enough of them. Her books are self-published and well worth every cent! Click on the links above to order directly from her website, or if you’re local to Anchorage stop by Alaska Institute of Oriental Medicine. I try to keep a set in our bookstore.

For more advanced research, I like “Medical Aromatherapy” by Kurt Schnaubelt. I love his scientific background and strong attitude about health and healing. His book is a little more technical by going into the chemistry of essential oils, but this is great information you can use to back up many claims of effectiveness. He also outlines a number of important essential oils, and has a section on their application to a variety of symptoms. I have used his recommendations with great success. (UPDATE: 2012, his latest book, The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils is a wonderful reference.)

My newest favorite is “The Essential Oil Cookbook” (now re-named as “Weigh Less, Eat Like Royalty”) by Menkit Prince. The author is an Australian woman with a background in Oriental medicine. Her recipes are incredibly delicious! What a fun and healthy way to use essential oils.  If you want to really explore the many benefits of essential oils that go beyond putting them on your skin or smelling them, you need this book! 

Hope this helps you out!

Cynthia McMullen is a Master Massage Therapist, Internationally Certified in Aromatherapy, and teaches outstanding courses in Oriental bodywork, Five Element Nutrition, and Essential Oils at Alaska Institute of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture & Massage Therapy

Learn tons of great information from my On-Line Essential Oil Course series. You can study here at our school in Alaska from anywhere in the world!

Friday, August 19, 2011

How To Do an Energetic Reading for Oriental Bodywork

Want to listen to this post? Now you can on our Podcast Channel:

This is the type of bodywork I teach in the Oriental medicine portion of our massage program. First we turn symptoms into an energetic picture. Then we decide how to balance the energy in the form of acupoints, meridians and Qi by using Qigong, massage, acupressure, and various tonifying or sedating techniques. We modify all of this into an incredible 1-hour healing massage – specially tailored to our individual client.

It is my goal to make sure that the clients I work with – and those that my students work with - feel incredibly nurtured, cared for, and supported by this type of bodywork. My students are wonderful souls that grow and spread this beautiful art – they learn so much and never cease to inspire me!

Example 1: Client presents with a headache, wants massage which usually helps it go away.

This is an example of my thought process:
Q: Where is the headache?
A: (points to left side of head, occipital area)
My note: Gall Bladder-20 (Feng Chi) is blocked.

Q: Does the pain radiate down your back or up into the head?
A: Up into the side of my head.
My note: Gall Bladder meridian is too full on that side. Excess Liver Qi rises up and affects the left side more strongly. I need to clear the Gall Bladder Meridian and open the Liver Shu Points on the back.

Q: How often do you get headaches like this?
A: Almost once a week. It’s been this way for probably 5 years – just work related stress, you know.
My note: Chronic Liver Qi stagnation from a frustrating job. I expect the Earth meridians (Stomach and Spleen) to be deficient, probably damp. Need to tonify Earth in the lower legs – will use the combination of Spleen-6 (San Yin Jiao) and Stomach 36 (Zu San Li).

This is enough information for me to start the massage. I’ll know more when I actually put my hands on the person and can feel what is going on.

Additional notes:
Lots of stagnation (knots) in the upper traps and levator scapulae – most noticeable energy blockage at Governing Vessel-14 (Da Zhui). This means to me that there is an obstruction of Yang energy. Sometimes in a female, this can mean that at some earlier point in life a man did something traumatic (physically, emotionally, or spiritually) to her. Forgiveness in some form is necessary – possibly forgiveness of the self first, and forgiveness of the spirit-being of the offender. Sometimes in a male, this can mean that there is a frustration and unfulfillment in the Yang energy – for example, feeling as if desired bold adventure that makes you feel alive is gone forever due to present circumstances. Some kind of outlet for bold yang is necessary – a martial arts class would be great. Of course, it could also be something totally different and very unique to the individual. (It is not my place to resolve the issues of forgiveness or unfulfillment that I have noted – I only note them as a reference point. It would be my intention to release the blocked energy and allow a natural flow of events to unfold from that – giving the client complete control over the experience and their own resolution or denial of the energy.)

As I am massaging the arms I feel an energetic tingling in my Lung and Large Intestine meridian. This is telling me that I need to address the Metal energy in the client. I add a Tui Na pain path using the acupoints: Large Intestine 11, 10, 9, and 4.

In the legs, as I suspected, the Spleen meridian feels deficient and empty. I hold Spleen-6 and Stomach-36 together while emitting Qi until I can feel an energetic pulse take form.

At the end of the massage, after opening the Liver Shu points and dispersing the accumulation at Da Zhui the headache is fully released, client leaves very happy.

Example 2: Client presents with anxiety attacks, receives regular massage because it helps.

In this case I will elaborate on the 2 main circumstances I noted and what they meant to me. Note that this is highly specific and individual circumstances may vary. This case study is for example only.

First, I always place my hands on a person’s abdomen to feel where in their body their breath goes – or doesn’t go. This is extremely valuable information and can influence an amazing number of health symptoms.

When I placed my hands on the client’s abdomen, their breathing dramatically changed. It went from being full and deep – very relaxed and almost asleep – to silent – superficial – completely still. This is a very alert and protective breath – fear related – has the feel of being intensely worried on a deep level. Hmmmm………Very interesting. When I release my hands and begin massaging their legs, their breath goes back to full and deep. The client seems completely unaware of what just happened.

On their back, the Spleen Shu Acupoints were stagnated to the size of golf balls. This is a huge blockage of Earth energy – energy of the Center.

When the Center is blocked, the kidneys and heart cannot communicate. On their own, the kidneys resonate with fear. When they communicate (are energetically connected) with the heart, everything is OK – the warmth and strength of the heart keeps the fear balanced. On the other side, the heart needs a strong anchor (kidneys) or it is so yang it floats away and you see things like heart palpitations and disturbed racing thought patterns. You get doom in the kidneys mixed with an out-of-control heart = anxiety.

The blockage of Earth is cutting off the communication between the heart and the kidneys. Whatever this is needs to be addressed first – then we’ll see if the line of communication realigns on its own or if it needs to be repaired. Both are do-able.

So what is it? Specifically I don’t know yet – but it will show itself when it’s ready to be resolved. On a more generic level I know that Earth has to do with how we feel about ourselves, our home, the people we live with, the geographical area where we live, our work, our relationships (on all levels), our relationship with the Earth – and especially the nutrition that Earth provides in the form of food, and even our relationship to the universe and our sense of purpose.

Further bodywork will involve a very nurturing touch, working to gently disperse the Earth stagnation, and ensuring that the heart and kidneys are communicating again. The details of how to do this are part of the “art” of healing bodywork and will vary from therapist to therapist. We might all use the paint of Oriental medicine, but we all paint with a slightly different style, and we can all create our own beautiful painting!

Cynthia McMullen, LMT, is a Master Massage Therapist at The Oriental Healing Arts Center, and is the Oriental Bodywork course instructor for our 800 Hour Massage Therapy Program.  She has been doing this type of energetic bodywork since 1999.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Statement on Accreditation

Hello Prospective Massage Therapy Student!

We hope that you are pursuing your interest in researching local educational opportunities in the Massage Therapy field. We are posting this to clarify some information about our school that we feel is very important in order for you to make the best decision.

It has come to our attention that another local massage school has been spreading incorrect and confusing information, and we’re here to set the record straight. It is important to us that you choose the school that is the best match for your educational goals and your financial needs. We appreciate it when someone comes in having done their research, and we hope you have taken the time to visit the various schools available.

About Us:
The Oriental Healing Arts School is authorized by The Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education. This means that the State of Alaska puts our school through a rigorous and mandatory evaluation on a regular and on-going basis to ensure that we provide valid and effective vocational education.

We meet and exceed State standards on a regular basis, and have a good working relationship with the Postsecondary Education staff due to our professionalism and high standards.

Because the State has authorized our school, students are eligible to apply for state student loans. Many Native corporations also provide tuition assistance to our students, and we offer in-house financing options.

Our graduates are welcomed at City Hall when they apply for a license. No graduate of our school has ever been denied a license. As an added bonus, 91% of our graduates are currently working in the Massage Therapy field.

What exactly is accreditation and why does it matter?

Unlike Postsecondary Education Authorization, which we have, accreditation is not usually mandatory – it is voluntary. One of the main reasons that a school will choose to become accredited is that it allows students the ability to receive federal funding for tuition. This can be lucrative income to a school. It is also lucrative income to the accrediting agency who is paid by the school for their stamp of approval.

So yes, accredited schools are held to rigorous high standards, however the State of Alaska Commission on Postsecondary Education also holds schools to rigorous high standards so that students are ensured a viable vocation.

The accrediting agencies spend a lot of money advertising the terms “accreditation” and “is your school accredited”. There is a degree of media hype to this, so do your homework on what this actually means to you before you blindly follow a term with a large advertising budget behind it.

The Oriental Healing Arts School of Massage Therapy is currently working with an Oriental Medicine and Acupuncture accreditation agency towards the goal of future accreditation. We are doing this because it is required for our acupuncture program, and we will do everything necessary to ensure the success of our graduates.

Massage Therapy Program Comparison:
Career Academy (Alaska Career College) offers a program that is 2 months shorter than ours and costs a little more, however you may qualify for federal funding on some or all of the tuition. Their program meets licensing requirements for basic therapeutic massage. Career Academy (Alaska Career College) also offers a large variety of vocations to choose from, and this is the main focus of their school – to provide you education that leads to a job in that field.

The Oriental Healing Arts School of Massage Therapy offers a 10-month program that costs a little less than Career Academy, and students may qualify for a state student loan or Native grant for some or all of the tuition. Our program exceeds state licensing requirements. The biggest difference is that we offer this education because we sincerely believe in Oriental medicine and natural methods of healing, and we want to move this specific information forward into our culture at large. Our instructors are passionate about this work and are also full-time professionals in the field.  We put our heart into our school and care deeply about the success of our students.

Our school also offers an abundance of related continuing education courses and programs so that a person can experience self-cultivation and growth on a very serious level not often seen in our Western culture. We treat our students like healers, and the courses that surround us show this – courses like:

Oriental Medicine Non-Needle Techniques: Auricular Therapy, Moxibustion,  Cupping, Gua Sha, Tuning Forks, Essential Oils, and Traditional Japanese Hot Stone Therapy

Medical QiGong Energy Healing

Tai Chi & QiGong for Personal Use or Certified Instructor

Tui Na Acupressure Massage

Thai Yoga Massage

Taoist Herbology

Taoist Five Element Nutrition

One thing we hear over and over again from professional massage therapists is “I WISH I had gone to your school!”

We are dedicated to the art of healing, walk our talk, and are here for the students meant to find us – those on a special path that needs to cross ours for reasons above and beyond all of us.

Bottom Line:

If you are satisfied being a basic massage therapist, are not interested in Oriental medicine, just want a job, or you need federal funds to pay for tuition, another school is your best choice. There are local options to receive a viable education and get licensed.

If you are passionate about healing, Oriental medicine, the powerful aspects of bodywork that go beyond “just massage”, and you must do this in your life, then The Oriental Healing Arts School of Massage Therapy is your best choice. You will receive a life-changing experience that is more deep and meaningful than you can imagine, it will be exactly what you were looking for - and you can get licensed.

The Oriental Healing Arts School of Massage Therapy

Friday, August 12, 2011

Is Herbal Medicine Influenced By Aliens?

What’s up with talking to plants? Does your plant ever talk to you? Do you answer it back? An amazing number of people are convinced that this is possible and happens all the time. I’m one of them. Almost all great herbalists and 100% of shaman know (i.e. have an internal understanding, belief, undeniable experience) that we communicate with plants.

Wow – interspecies mind vibes, kind of like Spock and the Vulcan Grip mind-meld. You connect with the other being and KNOW truth. Imagine the implications of this. It’s also the way numerous “abductees” experience communication with little grays and such.

I read a fascinating book, “Primary Perception – Biocommunication with Plants, Living Foods, and Human Cells” by Cleve Backster 2003. The author is associated with the invention of the Lie Detector Test and Men Who Stare at Goats (the real thing, not the movie). How cool is that? This guy hooked up a polygraph to plants and did all kinds of thought experiments to show that plants react to what we think! AND he used his research in the military. (Any comments from conspiracy theorists out there?)

Then you have the South American hallucinogenic herb Ayahuasca. This plant is ingested by Shamans to communicate with the Spirits, and also by patients of the shaman (shamen? What is the plural of shaman?) in order to have a healing vision. It’s now popular to travel to South America to go on an Ayahuasca journey. A common vision people report is seeing reptile-type humanoid beings that have something to do with the beginning of the world. (See “Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice” by Mark J. Plotkin, Ph.D. 1993) Hmmmm…….

On a more conservative level, aromatherapy expert and scientist, Kurt Schnaubelt Ph.D., notes that when plants are introduced into our human body there seems to be a mechanism of communication that even shows intelligence on the part of the plant, as if it knows what needs to happen to help us. He goes on to explore the chemical makeup of essential oils and finds that at times there are compounds of “unknown origin” – we don’t know what they are. (See “Medical Aromatherapy, Healing With Essential Oils” by Kurt Schnaubelt 1999)

So we have plants communicating in our minds, being hooked up to electrodes and studied, associated with the military’s experimentation with LSD, lizard beings that may have started the world and humans, and unknown compounds turning up. I have to ask – is there alien influence going on here? I don’t know the answer to that, but I think its fun to consider the possibility.

Here’s what I do know. One of the best ways to learn about essential oils is to get to know the plant and the oil by talking to it and most importantly, LISTENING with your heart, to what it will tell you when you sincerely ask it. Another of my favorite authors and herbalists, Stephen Harrod Buhner, says “Anything will tell you its secret if you love it enough”.

Plants love to help us – it is their destiny to do this, and they have done a beautiful job of it for several million years now.

About a year ago I had a powerful recurring dream every night for a week. Basically, it was that there is a plant revolution going on now – it’s time – and they will speak loudly to those that can hear them. When I look at the state of our health care system, the greed that has placed “medicine” above human lives, and the mega bacteria we’ve created through our own mishandling of antibiotics, I know that there is an incredible force of nature that has our survival in mind and it’s reaching out. I’m listening. Are you?

Have an interesting plant communication story?  Comment and share it with us!

Learn tons of great information from my On-Line Essential Oils Course series, including exact methods of Plant Spirit Communication.

Herbal Recovery After Child Birth

A lot of women could use some herbal help recovering their strength after child birth.  The actual birth is the easy part.  After that is when you really go to work! 

Here's an e-mail I got from a new mom who was tired, overworked, and so busy she barely had time to cook for herself.  I did an Auricular Therapy (Ear Reflexology) treatment on her to help balance out her Earth energy and stimulate her appetite and Wei Qi.

"I feel so much better after the ear treatment. Eating feels normal and I'm cooking better.  Was wondering if you had some good crock pot recipes with or without herbs that could help build me up.  I'm looking for inspiration."

I LOVE cooking with herbs!!  Here's a great recipe I'll share.  It uses one of my favorite Chinese Herbs, Huang Jing (Rhizoma polygonati - Siberian solomon's seal).  This herb is also safe to ingest while breast feeding. 

NOTE OF CAUTION:  # 1 Taoist Principle is  EVERYTHING IN MODERATION.  Take it easy and eat a little bit at a time.  More is NOT better.

Here's my e-mailed response:

Try making a stew with the herb Huang Jing (Materia Medica chapter 12 - tonfies Qi, nourishes yin, strengthens the spleen & kidneys, moistens the lungs) and tastes great!

Sample Recipe: (all organic, of course)

2 potatoes, unpeeled, chopped
3 carrots, unpeeled, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 small piece of red meat, cut into small pieces (optional)
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth + additional water if needed
1 cup tomato sauce or 1 can diced tomatoes
9 grams Huang Jing
1 spoon quality sea salt
Other spices to taste but keep it mild

Put it all in a crock pot with the Huang Jing on top, in the liquid. Cook 4-6 hours. Remove the Huang Jing - it will now be softened so you can cut it into small pieces and re-add it to the stew. Add a little corn or tapioca starch to thicken the juice a little. (In a glass, mix 1 heaping spoon corn or tapioca starch with about 1/2 cup water. Stir well, then add to the crock pot and stir. The heat from the liquid broth will thicken with the starch so it's more like a light gravy.) Stir it all up and eat 1 serving each day until it's gone. Let yourself feel the strength that Huang Jing offers, and listen to what it teaches you.

Where to buy Huang Jing:  Stop by The Oriental Healing Arts Center if you're in Anchorage, or ask you local acupuncturist.  If there is a Chinatown near you it should be easily available.  I'm not sure about health food stores, but you could try.  This recipe uses the whole dried herb.  Powder or tincture forms may be available as a last resort.
We teach these classes at our school
Ancient Healing Secrets - 4 Week Intensive Introduction to Oriental Medicine
Taoist Five Element Nutrition
Taoist Herbology

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Beets for Breakfast

Ahhh, a morning alone. If you’re a mom, you will appreciate the quiet luxury of this rare moment. Peering into the refrigerator for something that I like – rather than something we’ll all like – this morning is just for me. I see beautiful baby golden beets with lush green leaves, and thick whole wheat toast.

I pop on one of my favorite CD’s of all times – Eros by Chris Spheeris. Romantic Spanish/Mediterranean guitar to cook by. This day is starting out perfect!

1. Chop the beet green tops. Notice the bright green color and imagine how much my blood is going to love them.

2. Peel the beets and chop into small pieces. The topaz golden hue is like warm sunshine mixed with sunflowers and rich honey.

3. Warm the pan, then add some organic Olive Oil from this little farm in California plus a smidgen of butter because beets cooked in butter taste SOOOO GOOOOD.

4. When the oil is hot, add the beet tops and chopped beets. Stir it around and pop that thick whole grain bread into the toaster oven where it belongs.

5. After about 3-4 minutes, add a dash of red wine vinegar to the beets, sprinkling it on like spring rain. Stir everything around and turn off the heat.

6. When the crunchy toast is ready, put it on a plate, add the scrumptious beets and a dash of pepper, dance over to the table (you have to dance to Chris’s deeply emotional guitar music), and savor every bite.

Cynthia McMullen is the instructor of the Taoist Five Element Nutrition Class.  She loves to passionately enjoy her organic food!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Essential Oil Certification Course - Need Your Input!

As many of you know I have been working hard on putting together an Essential Oil Certification Course for our school. In the initial planning stage, I am asking for your feedback – input – ideas, from a student point of view, as to what is really important for you to get out of a course like this. I would also love your ideas for naming the course!

My main goal is to provide solid (and fun!) information in a well-organized manner, and make sure that students don't just read a book - they have to really use the oils and play with the information.  I want someone to be knowledgeable, confident, and effective when they complete the course.  This is what I want, but I want to know what YOU want also.

Here’s my general draft outline and course setup:

Length of course: 1 year (or 12 parts that must be completed within a 24-month period max)

Textbooks/required reading: To be determined, but will definantly include information by Kathryn Sharp and Kurt Schnaubelt

Class meets one day each month for 3-4 hours. Each class will be videotaped so that distance learning is an option.

In class, we will discuss the topic for that month, be given a reading assignment for the next month, and go over hands-on techniques.

For each month/topic, students will be responsible for:

  • completing the reading assignment
  • providing a written outline to demonstrate satisfactory understanding of the material
  • purchasing assigned essential oils (approximately 4 per month) – there is no specific brand required. Students may use essential oils of their choice provided that they are of adequate quality.
  • completing and documenting case study assignments using the essential oils
 12 Monthly Topics, with applications to adults and children:

1. Introduction, history, methods of extraction, general safety guidelines, connecting with the spirit of the plant

2. How to research each essential oil, variations of plant species, importance of where an oil is grown, basic chemistry – what it means and how to apply this information to acquire desired results

3. Topical methods of application, carrier oils

4. Diffusion methods

5. Internal/oral methods

6. Suppositories, dental care, using essential oils with pets

7. Making blends

8. Flower essences (I really want to include a section on this because so many people have asked for it.)

9. Hydrosols

10. Making beauty products

11. Boosting the immune system

12. Treating colds and flu

I am also looking at doing a future Advanced Certification specifically in Chinese Medical Aromatherapy, which will be much shorter in length, and will have the minimum pre-requisites of the following courses currently taught at our school. Basically, someone will need to have an understanding of Oriental medicine and herbs in order to understand and use the information in the Advanced Course:

  • Essential Oil Certification (above)
  • Theory of Oriental Medicine
  • Meridians & Points
  • Taoist Herbology
  • Preferably, but not required: Acupressure & Meridian Massage Lab and/or Medical QiGong Practitioner

    UPDATE: The super popular Essential Oil Certification Class is now available On-Line. The Chinese Medical Aromatherapy classes are being taught live at Alaska Institute of Oriental Medicine and will be available on-line in the future.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Energetics of Smiling Heart QiGong

Turn To Accept the Moon Qi
Preparation: The focus of this Qigong form is to bring your heart into a state of happiness and gratitude. This promotes an experience of heart congruency which is an essential part of mind-body-spirit growth and harmonization.

1. Rippling Pond
Feel your heart center energy expand outwards. Lightly ripple your fingertips through the energy to create pond-like ripples, spreading your heart qi around.

2. Gathering Sunlight
Open your arms and imagine drawing the warmth of the sun directly into your heart, warming you and also making your heart feel warm to others.

3. Bending the Rainbow
Feel a ball of energy between your raised hands. As you stretch it, imagine that each finger has a rainbow color of energy. Try to maintain the feeling of qi connection between your hands. This exercise builds and refines sensitivity to feeling qi.

4. Bathe in Earth Energy
Gather yellow energy from the Earth. Draw it up through yourself, then surround yourself with it while circling back down. This exercise strengthens the primal connection between you and the Earth mother who provides everything you need to be nurtured and cared for.

5. Share Smiling Heart
As the front hand holds your heart qi, your back hand moves and pushes it, sending your heart qi out of your fingers like rays of the sun, to share with everyone.

6. Rowing on the Lake
Embody the feeling of being on vacation, the sun and sky are perfect, you are lazily rowing a boat on the lake, you haven’t a care in the world. Feeling this sense of ultimate relaxation at the same time you loosen your shoulder girdle lets your body release the most common area of tension (upper shoulders and neck) to let Yang qi from above flow into your body with ease.

7. Toss the Ball
You feel so happy and so good, if there is anything in your being (dan tian) that is negative or toxic, toss it to the wind – you don’t need it. It often helps to actually say in your mind what you are releasing, such as “I toss away pain. I toss away frustration. I toss away disease, etc.”

8. Push Palm
The push forward emphasizes stretching the heart meridian, and focuses on the Heart-7 (Shen Men, Spirit Gate) acupoint in the wrist area. The push/pull of the opposite arms stretches open the heart center.

9. Turn to Accept the Moon Qi
Imagine drawing the light of the moon into your raised hands, then drawing it down and placing it in your dan tian. This move is strongly Yin in nature, which helps to balance the overall Yang focus of the QiGong form.

10. Wave Hands Like Clouds
The legs are strong, solid, yin. The hands are light, airy, yang. This is a classic movement for harmonizing the Yin/Yang of the whole body.

11. Reaching Into Yin & Yang
12. Push the Ocean Wave
13. Fly Like a Dove
The first 2 of these movements together stimulate the Wood Element (Liver qi) through the free and easy flow, the physical stimulation of the liver meridian in the big toe and legs, and the focus of bringing the ocean wave hands up to the eyes. Wood feeds Fire, so the last movement – Fly Like a Dove – emphasizes very softly expanding and contracting the energy of the heart center.

14. Turtle Pokes Out Its Head
The extended hand is stretching the Small Intestine meridian, and you should feel it from your shoulder blade area to your hand. The legs are being strengthened in the pumping movement. Strong legs are very important to strong qi flow throughout the entire body.

15. Fly Like Wild Geese
Like wild geese, honor the Way of Nature, where everything happens exactly when it is supposed to. This is freedom.

16. Painting the World
Circling 3 times to the left honors the Yin energy of the 3 dan tians. Circling 3 times to the right honors the Yang energy of the 3 dan tians. The extended open hands stretch and tonify the Perciardium meridian.

17. Bouncing the Ball
The Green Dragon of the wood element is on the left side. The White Tiger of the metal element is on the right side. Both sides should be strong and stable to show balance between these 2 powerful energies.

18. Press Palms to Settle the Breath
Promotes connection and harmonization within the central meridian (Taiji Pole) which includes the lower dan tian, the heart center, and the 3rd eye. Settles the breath back to the dan tian, the foundation. Provides a sense of calming closure.

Always end your QiGong with several moments of silence and experience how you feel. Shaking all over or tapping your meridians at the end is appropriate to release any stagnant qi and obtain optimal flow.

See the video of Smiling Heart QiGong movements here:

If you are interested in QiGong, you may also like our DVD of Taoist Temple Seated QiGong, available at: or watch it on YouTube

Please Help My Scraggly Bird!

Chicken Boo
My sister has 2 cockatiels.  Over the past 18 months, Chicken Boo had become itchy and was losing patches of feathers.  She went to several local vets who prescribed topical sprays, vitamin supplements, and made dietary suggestions.  None of this helped and Chicken Boo continued to get worse.  She was looking pretty scraggly and wasn't her normal vocal self.

This is often the point when my friends and family will ask, "Cynthia - can you help me?"  If you're human, of course I can help you!  If you're a bird, hmmmm......  I'll see what I can do.

I look at the poor scraggly bird, close my eyes, and breathe.  Meditation is so wonderful at clearing the mind and opening the door to Nothing, where the answers to Everything lie.

When finding the answer in the realm of Nothing, if I think it, that's not it.  I have to feel it.  First I feel it in my heart, then it hits my mind and I know it's right when I understand the feeling - not the logical details.  I want to mention that whenever I do this, I always research the logical details before moving forward.

So I felt in my heart "Sea Buckthorn Berry", a new essential oil I've recently been playing around with.  It's ingestible and packed with a huge number of vitamins, minerals, and other great things.  Looking at a picture, it's a beautiful orange berry - it makes me feel happy!  Yes!  This is what I want to use.  The essential oil I have is small organic farmed, pure & genuine, therapeutic quality.

I made up a very mild dosage: 
  1 oz. dropper bottle of filtered water
  several drops of vegetable glycerin as a preservative
  1 drop of Sea Buckthorn Berry essential oil
   Shake it 100 times

I had my sister add 1 drop of this highly diluted blend to the birds water each day, 6 days a week with 1 day off.  I figured it couldn't make the bird any worse than it already was.

Chicken Boo started to improve immediately.  Within 2 weeks she has full, lush feathers again, and is happily singing and hopping around all over the place!  She looks great.

I'll make sure she's stable, then we'll gradually decrease the dosage to find a good minimal maintenance dose.