Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Recipe: Sweet Potato Chowder, Earth Element

We had a lot of fun in last night's 5-Element Nutrition class on Balancing Your Earth Element.  One aspect of the Earth Element is that if you eat too much of the "sweet" flavor it becomes heavy and damp, so it's important to try and consciously incorporate some of the other flavors to balance it.  These are: salty, sour, bitter, and pungent.

Note that the energetic "sweet" flavor is not just sugar. Sugar is an extreme sweet, so less extreme examples are whole grains, fresh fruits, and veggies like carrots, peas, sweet potatoes, and others that have a natural farm-fresh type sweetness to them.  This category also includes simple carbohydrates that break down into sugar.

As promised, here is the recipe for the Earth Element food we tried. This recipe uses sweet potatoes which are energetically "sweet" and balances them out with celery and green peppers which are both "bitter".  It's super easy to make.  Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Chowder

Place the following ingredients in a crock pot, then turn on for 4-6 hours OR cook in a large pot on the stove top for about 45 minutes.  This makes about 6-8 servings, and yes - you can freeze it and take some to work for lunch here and there :-)

1-28oz can chopped, peeled tomatoes
1-15oz can garbanzo beans (chick peas) drained & rinsed
3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled & chopped
5 celery stalks chopped
1 beautiful green pepper chopped
2 Tbsp millet (I used millet grits)
2 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
Top off with water to cover vegetables
small spoonful quality sea salt
Spices: 1 tsp Turmeric, 1 Tbsp Cumin, 1 Tbsp Garam Masala (or to taste)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Way of TCM

Traditional Chinese Medicine has greatly shifted the way that I perceive health and the human body. The basic idea is that the body is part of a togetherness of mind, body and spirit. This trifecta has the innate ability to heal itself. Any 'symptoms' of dis-ease are considered to be the bodies way of helping itself  maintain a sense of homeostasis at that certain point in the persons journey. Rather than seeing the bodies 'symptoms' in a negative way, my way of thinking has changed to a  positive curiosity about the 'clues' of the inner workings of the self, including the 'trifecta' of the bodymindspirit. 

Five Element Theory incorporates this same type of thinking using Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood, which shows us that we as humans are nature. Our body systems correspond in a complex yet simple way to the way of nature. It's an interesting concept to link your preferences of seasons, climates, etc to a sort of body profile of the self. All of this information leads to an awareness of the self, which can help immensely on the road to self discovery and evolution. 

I appreciate this idea of health, especially in a world so full of prescription fixes. The goal is to know your body, your self, loving it throughout, so that you can be on the preventative versus the desperation of 'fixing' an already chronic dis-ease or 'condition'. In the case that you do venture on to an 'alternative' path at the point of disease, oriental medicine chooses to work with the body, rather than against it. Loving it versus, fighting it. In fact, invasive techniques are last on the list according to the Taoist Hierarchy of Methods of Healing, meditation being the first! :)

1)Meditation 2)Exercise 3)Nutrition 4)Astrology 5)Feng Shui 6)Massage 7)Herbs 8)Acupuncture 9)Surgery 

Of course to each her own and everything in life is situational. My favorites on the list are meditation, exercise in the form of a casual stroll, taichi/qigong & yoga, nutrition, massage (of course!), herbs and acupuncture (most recently). 

I am repeatedly amazed at the effectiveness of even the most seemingly simple things. Just breathing properly can do wonders for us humans, we love O2!  Meditation offers me a sense of clarity, peace and connection with my soul. Qigong is just the same with an additional plus of moving energy throughout the body or even storing it for later ;). Time is an illusion with both of these practices, can feel a difference in myself even after 5 minutes and can sometimes be there for an hour and feel like I've just gotten started. Breaking the cycle of the day to day rush and taking the time for the self is key...still working on that one. Massage has helped me to make a connection to my physical body in ways that previously I was completely unaware of. Massage also has a way of putting me in a sedative state where I intuitively know my body is working towards greatness. Herbs and Acupuncture though relatively new to me have brought me some experiences that are progressive towards positive change. 

Am always thoroughly excited to do any sort of Oriental Medicine technique. There is definitely a sense of safety and trust in the way that the person is treated. I really feel like that sense of trust/love is what allows the guards to come down and the real healing work to begin. Am a believer that the healing comes from the heart and soul. When you believe and love what you're doing in any method of healing, that can really make a difference in your health. Am grateful for so many things in regards to my journey at Oriental Healing Arts Center, now Alaska Institute of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture and Massage Therapy, but the perception of health and self really is life changing <3 

PS- Have to share...have been gaining a connection to my true intuitive self and of course the guides of the universe. Am so excited for progress in this department, that I love to share experiences! Have been reading all about flower essences and just started a journey with one of them. Last night I slept so peacefully and had a dream about this yellow flower with gorgeous little blooms. It had a long stem, that had tiny booms in clusters at the end of the stem that were almost flat looking. 

Just google imaged the essence that I'm taking, Golden Ear Drops and there it was...those yellow blooms, the exact description and image I had seen in my dream! It brought me to tears to have that strong affirmation that yes! you are in the flow of life, you are in exactly the right place at exactly the right time and I am here to help you on your journey of soul evolution! Just gotta say thank you and I love you golden ear drops! 

Lots of Love- Monica*

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Dancing Moxa

Recently, one Saturday morning, I woke up irritable and anxious, stressed out by life's everyday struggles of a busy life with family, school, bills, etc. Needless to say, by the time I arrived at the Alaska Institute of Oriental Medicine, Acupuncture, & Massage Therapy for my regularly scheduled clinic shift, I was barely able to hear myself think and wondering how I was going to touch someone else with this negative energy I was struggling to manage on my own. We had been recently introduced to moxa in our senior class, and I had positive results the first time I had used it, with a boost of energy, and an overall feeling of warmth and comforting. One of my instructors recommended I give moxa another try before beginning my interaction with clients, I agreed, but what I had encountered was amazing and unexpected. I layed down in the main class area, alone, and quiet, and placed a belly bowl of burning moxa, just below my belly button. Before, I had closed my eyes and allowed the warmth to overtake me, but this time I had an overwhelming urge to keep my eyes open. As I lay there I watched the smoke rise above my abdomen. I wanted so badly to become that smoke, flowing freely above it "all", able to maintain my "shape" and essence as the subtle wind blew me around, I imagined myself being that very smoke, not allowing any stress or any thing to keep me down, as I continue to float, dissipate, and reform. Then suddenly my smoke transformed into silouettes of women that appeared to be dancing, this drew me in even further and made me want to be the smoke even more. I watched for a few moments and then in my thoughts began to ask if my smoke could take specific form. In class we had been given individual treatment plans for bodywork and QiGong, so I decided to ask if it could do specific Qi Gong moves. First, I thought "Can you Wave Hands like Clouds?" and as the thought was complete, one would pop up and wave her hands one direction and then another would pop up waving her hands in the other direction. Awed and amazed I watched for a few moments more, then asked "Can you Draw your Bow?" as one by one they drew their bows one in each direction. Then, I asked "Can you Row on the Lake?" and again one by one they'd pop up each one moving as if they were rowing on the lake. I was overwhelmed with this gitty feeling from what I had seen, and had a revelation. My desire to become the smoke transformed into the realization that I was the smoke, able to control every move with my thoughts alone. It was empowering and enlightening, knowing that I could float above the stresses in my life, continuing to dance and move, rising above, until it passes, just by thinking it. An experience that I will never forget and can draw strength from whether I'm burning moxa or not. Hmmm, what an awesome feeling!