Temporary blog with Chinese Medicine and qigong information for the time of the coronavirus pandemic

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Nuts, Beans and Barley Porridge


This is a nutrient rich porridge, and a real boost for the blood, the liver yin, the kidney qi and the spleen qi. For the elderly, young children, or people recovering from a serious illness, a small bowl (about 1½ cups) of this can be eaten most days as a breakfast. Otherwise, for healthy adults, 1½ - 2 cups of porridge eaten once per week is enough to get the medicinal benefit. 

You can also make this recipe as a dessert soup by adding more water - the taste is quite sweet, even with almost no sugar or other sweetener added. Eaten in this way, the portion is smaller, only about one cup.


Ingredients.

150g dried kidney beans 

50g peanuts (raw, or roasted without salt)

50g cashews (raw, or roasted without salt)

50g barley (uncooked)

1 teaspoons soft brown sugar 

1.5 liters water


Preparation.

Soak the dried kidney beans. To do this, bring dry beans to a boil, then turn off the heat and let them soak for about 2-3 hours. Discard the soaking water. Alternatively, you can soak the beans in a pot full of cool water overnight at room temperature.

Rinse the nuts and barley before cooking.

Bring 1½ liters water to a boil. Add nuts, barley and pre-soaked kidney beans and bring back to a boil.

Lower heat, cover and continue to cook on a low boil for 30 minutes. Stir, lower the heat and cover, continuing to cook for at least another hour, or until the beans and barley are completely softened. You will need to check the porridge as it cooks and stir as needed.

Once the beans and barley are softened, mash the mixture a little in the pan, to meld all the flavors. Add the brown sugar, stir and cook on low for another 20 minutes. Serve warm.


Note.

If dried kidney beans are not available, you can use canned. In this case, you first cook the barley with the nuts, about 45 minutes, until the barley is soft. Then add the rinsed, canned beans. Canned beans do not require cooking, so add them to the barley and nut mixture, mash the ingredients, add the sugar, and then cook for 20 minutes. This is not as “Qi nutritious” as cooking with the dried beans, but it is still a nutritious meal.

If soft brown sugar is not available, you can substitute it with maple syrup, barley malt, or white sugar. 

When making this recipe as a thinner, sweet dessert soup, add more water to reach your preferred consistency, and add a bit more of whatever sweetener you use.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Gouqi Fried Two Slices - 枸杞炒两片 Gouqi Chao Liang Pian


This is a traditional recipe, given to people convalescing from illness, elderly people who are feeling weak and tire easily from mental strain, women in the middle stages of pregnancy who find it difficult to concentrate, and anyone who feels mental strain from using their eyes too much for work or study - especially reading or writing on computers, smartphones, notebooks, etc.

All the ingredients in this food recipe, plus the style of preparation, make this simple recipe a home style food version of a classical Chinese medicine prescription to tonify the yang aspect of the Original/Source Qi (元氣 yuan qi) by supplementing the yin aspect of qi and blood.

The only herbal medicine substance in the recipe is Gouqi zi 枸杞子 (Lycii Fructus), known in the west as goji berries. It is one of the very few substances in the materia medica that is said to “tonify primal yin as a support to primal yang” - in other words, it is what we call an Essence Qi (Jing 精) tonic.

The rest of the ingredients in the recipe support this action, balancing yin and yang, nourishing the qi and blood, restoring the Original Qi and Essence. The gouji berries ensure that the action of the recipe will enter the qi channels of the kidneys, liver and lungs.



Ingredients.
200g boneless chicken breast (without the skin), sliced thin

200g white fish (such as cod, haddock, sole, halibut, Seelachs, Dorsch - it can be frozen if fresh fish is not easily available), sliced thin

100g spinach (frozen, if fresh is not available), chopped

50g goji berries, soaked in water for 5 minutes

1 spring onion, cut into 3cm lengths

4 slices fresh ginger (peeled)

2 tablespoons rapeseed or other cooking oil



Marinade for the chicken.
½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon soya sauce

1 tablespoon white wine, (or Sherry, or Chinese Shaoxing, if you have some at home)

1 tablespoon rapeseed or other cooking oil

1 tablespoon cornflour



Marinade for the fish.
½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon soya sauce

1 tablespoon rapeseed or other cooking oil

A dash of ground pepper, white or black



Preparation.
Mix the marinades in two bowls, and marinate the chicken and fish in their respective marinades for about 5 minutes.

Heat wok or frying pan until hot, add 1 tablespoon cooking oil and, when very hot and starting to smoke, fry the ginger and spring onion for about 10 seconds, just until fragrant.

Add the chicken (just the meat, not the marinade) and quickly stirfry for about 3 minutes. Then add the fish and continue to stirfry for another 2 minutes. Remove from the pan and set aside on a plate.

Reheat wok or frying pan with 1 tablespoon oil, until it starts to smoke, then fry the remaining ginger and spring onion until fragrant. Add the spinach (if frozen, it does not have to be defrosted first - just throw it in the pan) and stirfry for about 2 minutes, then add the goji berries and a few drops of soya sauce and a pinch of salt to season, stir frying another minute or so, until the spinach is done. Finally, add in the fish and chicken and fry another few seconds.

Serve immediately.


This can be eaten with congee (white rice soup), plain boiled or steamed rice (traditionally white basmati rice, but brown rice is also good).

The stir-fry method of cooking is very fast, using high heat and oil to seal in the flavors and other properties of the food. Therefore, it is best to have all your ingredients prepared and ready to quickly add to the pan, once the oil is hot.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Qigong Self-Massage: 10 Xuan Points


Here is another very good self-massage that you can do to maintain health: The massage of the Ten Xuan Points (shi xuanxue 十 宣 穴).  Xuan 宣 literally means disperse, and so one can translate it as the Ten Points of Dispersion/Drainage.

Just like the Ba Xie points, these are extra acupoints that are located outside the meridians. In this case, the Ten Xuan points are located on the fingertips.

In the video clips below, I show two simple ways to massage them - either by hitting them with your fingertips, or by pressing your fingertips one by one with your thumbnail.

Duration of the massage: preferably a few minutes.

When regularly practiced for a few minutes a day, this massage has a very good regulatory effect on your qi. Its function is to clear heat, to remove hot qi, fire or external pathogenic factors, and to awaken the mind.  It activates the flow of qi internally and protects the organs; but it also opens the flow of qi to the extremities, releasing the internal heat. Whenever it comes to removing heat or fire, you go all the way to the extremities, in this case to the fingertips. The old theory of qi describes that it is through the tips of your fingers and toes that nature's qi enters the body where it develops into an ever more powerful flow.

Here are the two video clips:





Qigong Basics - Regulate the Heart (Mind)


"The Way of Great Learning consists in manifesting one's bright virtue, loving the people and coming to rest in perfect goodness.
When you know to stop, you will have stability; when you have stability, you will be tranquil; when you are tranquil, you will be at peace; when you are at peace, you can reflect, when you can reflect, you will attain.
Things have roots and branches, affairs have end and beginning. When you know what comes first and what comes last, then you are near the Way." …


Tiao Shen 调神 - Regulate the Heart (Mind)

The second of the three guiding principles for entering into what is called the “qigong state” is a type of deep relaxation that unfolds from within. The body is “yin 阴” or visible, substantial form of existence; the mind and spirit, which in terms of qi are “yang 阳”, comprise the invisible activity, the inspiration of human existence. 

As you regulate the body, you are already beginning to regulate the heart qi; as tension is relaxed at the deepest physical levels, both the physical mechanism of breathing and the heart rhythm relax, allowing for a smoother flow of breath and blood to supply the body’s needs.  When more relaxed in the practice of qigong, both the pulse and blood pressure are better regulated according to your needs - if the pulse is regularly too fast, it slows down; if the blood pressure is regularly too high or too low, it adjusts to a healthier value. This is the noticeable effect of regulating the yang qi of the heart - circulation, pulse rate and blood pressure all begin to adjust in a more relaxed physical state.

Regulating the mind, the thinking and feeling aspect of the heart qi, means you enter into a deeply quiet state, a vast calm, stable inner silence that is unaffected by any type of sensory intrusions from outside (sights, sounds, smells, weather or room temperatures). The internal activity of mental pictures, feelings or emotional reactions, and the constant, chaotic stream of thinking begins to slow down as a clear lightness of mind and heart arises. 

More than anything, a calm mind creates a vast sense of space, and an experience of timelessness. Sitting in a cramped seat on a full train can feel like sitting comfortably alone in a quiet pasture; a journey of hours can feel like minutes. The sounds of machines and people can recede into the far distance, or come and go without making an impression or pulling you out of this rarefied state. This is the essence of what is called the “qigong state”, and even the briefest moment of entering into it is cultivating an ability to nourish life.

The Confucian “Great Learning“ describes how one can, step by step, develop one’s true nature as a human being in alignment with Heaven and Earth: Three of these steps are called Ding 定, Jing 静, An 安, which literally translate as “Stable, Quiet, Peace”. First there is “Ding”, becoming and remaining stable, or still; after stability comes “Jing”, becoming quiet, or a deeper type of stillness;  and finally comes “An”, peace, a rarefied state of true reality.  

“An”, or peace may not be possible to achieve in the course of “normal” daily life, especially in these uncertain times. But you can easily develop enough stability and stillness to be lead into the qigong state, a realm of deep inner calm and quietness, the source of profound health, regeneration and rest

Friday, May 22, 2020

Ba Xie Acupoint Massage Method


Here we want to show some simple, practical methods that are a kind of qigong self-massage as another effective way to regulate the Qi and protect your health.

Kerry and I had originally learned these 10 years ago from one of our teachers in Beijing, Jia Laoshi 贾老师, as part of a set of self-healing methods for qigong practitioners. In the meantime, we have seen that these methods, and other types of self-massage, are being taught to patients in the coronavirus wards of many Chinese hospitals to help activate their immune systems, improve their recovery, and protect their health from further mitigation of the disease.

There is no need for much theoretical understanding - one simply practices these massages in a very casual way. No special preparation is required, you can sit or stand or walk. Of course, it is better to have good posture, not slouching or leaning back if you are sitting. The main thing, as always, is to be completely relaxed.



Ba Xie Acupoint Massage Method.


The first method we show here involves a type of massage that involves knocking, or lightly hitting, eight special acupuncture points called Ba Xie 八 邪 ( which translates literally as the “Eight Evils“. In TCM theory, the term Evil stands for Xieqi 邪气 pathogenic Qi that invades the body from the outside, like a virus). In practicing this massage, you stimulate the acupoints to help clear the Xieqi from the body.

In general TCM terms, the medical effect is to Clear Heat and Toxic Qi, Eliminate Wind and external pathogenic Qi, and to alleviate pain. As we teach the methods here, they are also a preventative strategy to protect your health, and enliven your circulation. Practitioners of qigong have many such methods they use as an adjunct to support the effect of their regular practice.

The Ba Xie acupoints are located between the knuckles on the back of the hand. When you make a loose fist, you find them just above the crease in the finger webs, at the top of the knuckles as you look at the fist (see photos).

To do the massage, first spread your fingers, then knock your hands together with your fingers intertwined, so that the area of the acupoints are stimulated. You don’t knock very hard, but also not too gently. Do it just in a way that you can clearly and firmly feel the stimulus. 

This type of knocking massage with the fingers interlocked only reaches 6 of the eight Ba-Xie points. The remaining two, (between the thumb and forefinger on both hands), are separately massaged by using the same method, interlocking the thumb and forefinger only.

You can do the knocking of the points either 36, 50 or 100 times. This are traditional instructions, but the exact number of times is not that important…you can do it casually.

That's it! Very simple, very effective, do it once a day or more - whenever you think of it. As always, the more regularly you do it, the better the effect!



Friday, May 15, 2020

Qigong Basics - Regulate the Body


Qigong Basics: Preparation for practice

These notes are geared toward practicing the Liu Zi Jue Healing Sounds, as this is the main method we have focused on for the purposes of protecting our health in the time of Covid-19. However, the following information is not just for one qigong method, or for beginners to these methods; it applies to preparation for the practice of all types of methods of qigong, whether still or moving, and for all levels of practitioners. In qigong, it is always the case that the most simple methods and most basic instructions are the most profound and must be returned to, consistently, no matter how advanced a person’s skill or experience, or how many methods or forms a person has learned.

There are three guiding principles as a preparation for entering what is called the “qigong state”. Furthermore, these principles are adhered to throughout all qigong methods, to bring yourself into a deeper state while practicing. The deeper the qigong state, the stronger and more freely the qi flows, and the more open you become as an organism to the subtleties and sensations of this flow.



The first of the three principles is:


1. Regulate the Body.

Before beginning your practice - whether it is a moving, standing, sitting or lying down method - it is essential to be deeply, physically relaxed. When we speak of relaxation in Qigong, we mean not only the body, but primarily the Qi itself. Relaxation means opening the Qi, allowing it to achieve a better flow in the body, to better penetrate and reach all areas of the body. Of course, this relaxation has to start at a relatively superficial level of the body - the level of the tendons, muscles and interconnective tissue. This is the starting point and, consequently, you learn to relax at even deeper levels. This requires more practice.

Moving from this superficial level inward, the large joints begin to relax - the shoulders, hips, knees. With more relaxation, the smaller joints loose tension and relax - the jaw, top of the spine where it meets the base of the head, the elbows, wrist joints, the upper spine and rib cage, the base of the spine where it meets the top of the sacrum (which sits between the back of your hip bones), the ankle joint.

When scanning through the body as a technique of relaxing from the outermost to the innermost, level of the body, and through the largest to the smallest joints of our skeletal framework, it is best to start at the top, and work down to the bottom - from the head through the neck and shoulders, the arms through the hands and fingers, the chest and upper back, the abdomen and lower back, the hips, buttocks and pelvis, the legs through the feet and toes.

As you are able to relax the smallest joints, areas of the face and scalp noticeably loosen and relax. Relaxing the tiny joints of the fingers and toes, the tailbone, and all the vertebrae of the spine will allow a more full and open flow of the qi and blood from the tips of the fingers and toes to the face, head, the brain and throughout the whole body.

Our vital organs are all located near the spine, so it is especially important to develop your technique of relaxation so that all the vertebrae and, at a deeper level, the spinal cord hold no tension (here it becomes obvious that we talk about Qi and its flow through the spinal cord). Even with underlying conditions, such as arthritis, back or joint injury, it is possible to reach this deep physical level of relaxation that opens the flow of qi and blood, and strengthens the entire structure of the body.

With any outer tension in the body, or inner tension of the emotions or thoughts, the rest of the body reacts - if you make a tight fist, it creates tension in the body; if you are tight in the shoulders or jaw, it creates tension; if you try too hard to have perfect movements, or bend lower than your muscles are used to, or in any way push yourself to go beyond your current physical limits, you create tension. Any tension in the body is reflected as tension in the mind, and vice versa. If you hit your thumb with a hammer, your body tenses and your emotions react as well. If you think you can’t stand the cold, your shoulders hunch and the body becomes tight and literally freezes. 

The body is a solid, visible form; it is the structure of our existence that transforms through the life stages of growth and decline slowly. The mind and emotions are formless, invisible and without substance; thoughts and emotions move quickly, coming and going, connecting our outer and inner existence, transforming and creating our perceptual reality. The mind and the body work together to integrate the deepest levels of human existence with the most outermost boundaries of physical form. 

That part of our existence which is both visible and invisible, which has a physical and a non-physical quality, is the breath. It is air, it is moist; it energizes and moves qi and blood throughout the body; it arises when we are born, and ceases when we die.

So, when learning to relax at the deepest levels needed for the practice of qigong, it is important to allow the breath to release tension in the body (and the mind). By simply breathing naturally, easily, and with a smooth and continuous flow between in and out breath as you take time to relax through all the large and small, innermost and outermost parts of the body, you will develop your skill in any method of qigong. 

Regulating the body is useful as a first step in the practice of all qigong methods. But it is also a useful method in itself for our normal, daily activities - to remain relaxed in the body is to always ensure we remain comfortable, no matter what situation we find ourselves in, and do not waste our physical energy on holding tension within our bodies. To be comfortable in the body means we have a greater ability to remain comfortable in our minds, which is certainly a benefit to our health and our ability to enjoy life!

Thursday, May 14, 2020


Healing Sound Method for the Kidney Qi

In traditional Chinese medicine, the organ of the kidney, Shen Zang 肾脏, is unique in that it is seen as both the yin 阴 foundation for our substantial existence, and the fundamental yang 阳 motivator for our active existence, i.e. all our life activities.

The most important yin function of the kidney qi is that it contains or stores Jing 精, also known as“essence qi”, which we acquire at the moment of conception, and that determines all our potential to develop, on all levels, as a human being. This qi is inherited from our ancestors and unfolds slowly throughout all stages of life, most apparent during “life gates” such as birth, puberty, or the beginning and end of the menstrual cycle in women. It also is responsible for our ability to heal from physical or psychological trauma, and it determines how gracefully we age as our resources decline, until we die. It expresses itself in both yin substance and yang function – in our physical bodies, seen in the strength of the bones, the functioning of the brain and nervous system, the keenness of hearing, the ability to procreate. Mentally and physically, it is motive power, the spark needed to activate ideas and physical movement, to have an abundance of creative and physical energy, and to produce work, children, art, and so on.

As I explained in my text on the method for the spleen qi, it is the foundation of our acquired health, the nourishment we need to survive on a daily basis. It is the yang qi of the spleen that transforms food and drink into various aspects of qi energy that we use on a daily basis. However, it is the underlying, essential yang qi of the kidneys that ignites and motivates the qi of the spleen, (and all the organs), so that it can carry out this function. For this reason, the kidney yang is known as the Xiang Huo 相火, the “Minister Fire” - it is the fire needed throughout the span of a lifetime to keep all the engines going, to motivate all the various qi functions that occur in the space of time between heartbeats, between breathing in and breathing out. It not only motivates these functions, it allows things to come to fruition, it completes cycles of activities so that they can begin anew, over and over.

The quality and amount of Jing is finite, predetermined at the moment of conception, and cannot be replaced. The aim of all traditional Chinese health practices, medicine, qigong, martial arts and even religion is to preserve, and not waste this essence qi. In this way, when there is the need to really call upon all our resources in order to survive any extreme* situation or illness, we have a plentiful supply of Jing in reserve. Jing is used, naturally and slowly, throughout the course of our lives; to waste it, through indulgence of extreme behaviour or habits, means to shorten the span and/or the quality of our lives.

Although Jing cannot be reproduced or replaced, we can bolster it, shore it up with an abundant supply of acquired qi gained through breathing, eating, exercising, sleeping and, most essentially, calming and quietening our over-active minds. In this way, our normal daily habits are not only what keep our organs healthy, our muscles and flesh firm, and nourish our supply of energy; these habits determine whether or not we have to dip into our reserve of Essence Qi.

All of the Healing Sounds Qigong Methods bring every phase of our life processes into a better balance, but the emphasis on the particular method for the kidney qi is to condense the strength of qi where it is needed, in the area of the Dantian 丹田 and Kidneys, where the Jing is stored, and the lower back, where the Mingmen 命門, the “Life Gate” opens and stimulates the flow of kidney yang qi at the deepest levels of the body. It helps to pull down “excessive fire” from above (in the heart and mind), and warm up “excessive cold” below (from weak spleen yang qi or general exhaustion). 

To achieve all this, I finish with a hint – all of the Healing Sounds for the Qi methods need to be practiced regularly, in a relaxed manner, with a positive and quiet mind, with a smooth and fine breath. But the method for the kidney qi, especially, should be done easily. It is important not to exhaust the qi while trying to build it up. This means, practice naturally, without any mental or physical tension, staying well within your limits with the sinking down move and the amount of times you practice it. You will not only enjoy the practice, you will reap the greatest benefit from it!


* ”extreme”, in TCM terms, means anything that can unbalance health, whether caused by external circumstances or pathogens, internal pressures or desires, or inappropriate or excessive diet, exercise, work or sexual behaviour. It is further qualified by arising either too suddenly, too strongly, or is too long lasting (like weather, viruses, enforced isolation, etc.).

Healing Sounds - Exercise, for the Kidneys


Here is the next ancient Chinese Healing Sound exercise, for the Kidneys, which in TCM understanding is the "root of the original qi" which is your reservoir of esential energy that underpins all of life's processes.

The sound associated with this exercise is "CHWAY", which we only think in our imagination while we're exhaling the breath through the mouth.




The Healing Sounds exercises are now complete. If you want to practice all of them together, then do so in this order:  Lungs, Liver, Spleen, Kidneys, Heart, San Jiao.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Stir-fried Beef, Green Onion and Ginger to Nourish the Kidney Qi and the Blood


Qi wei xue zhi shuai, xue wei qi zhi mu 血之帅血为气之母”, which translates as “Qi is the Commander of Blood, Blood is the Mother of Qi”, and is one of the most fundamental lessons a TCM doctor must learn in order to understand the interconnected relationship of the qi and the blood. On the face of it, this is a simple concept that means that in order to move or circulate the blood, you must first move the qi and, in order to nourish the qi, you must first nourish the blood. In practice, it requires a sophisticated understanding of what aspect of a person's health must first be addressed in order to bring about balance. Is it the case that something first needs to be moved, unblocked or dispersed in order to then build up their resources? Or, do they first require more nourishment and tonification in order to be able to then activate their life processes?

These are the types of questions a TCM doctor must be able to answer when diagnosing a patient's state of health, and then determine an effective treatment strategy to restore balance. In our everyday lives, as we try to stay healthy and balanced, it is always a good idea to realize that movement and nourishment go hand in hand, just like activity and rest, whether physical or mental.

In traditional Chinese medicine, in order to tonify the kidney yang qi, you must have a strategy that nourishes the essential yin aspect of the body, which means it must enter the qi system of the blood. You cannot simply boost the yang qi – you must balance the warming and activating aspects of a kidney yang qi prescription with tonics for the blood and the yin qi. These two food medicine recipes (one vegetarian, one with beef) are based on that strategy. Through a combination of blood nourishing and qi moving ingredients that have a special emphasis on the qi of the kidneys, these recipes are suitable for all ages and all conditions of health.

The is a traditional recipe is made with beef because it is seen as the most efficient “blood building” ingredient to tonify the kidney yang qi. However, for qigong practitioners and, in TCM terms in general, it is considered more balanced to eat less meat than those who eat a normal western diet. This is a recipe for two portions, so only 100g meat per portion.

For those who are strict vegetarians, a dish that includes black beans, kale, tofu, fresh ginger, sesame oil, fresh coriander, goji berries, soya sauce and shaoxing wine would approximate this recipe (although spring onions would not be included). I am currently working on just such a recipe, but have not had the time to test it. However, if you have some experience using the traditional stir-fry technique, do try your own hand at cooking up your own kidney yang qi tonic!


Stir-fried Beef, Green Onion and Ginger

Ingredients.

200g beef steak (any lean cut), sliced across the grain into very thin strips
5 spring onions, cut into 5cm lengths (white and green parts)
30g fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thin
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon goji berries (pre-soaked in cold water for 5 minutes)
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds (or white, if you cannot get the black ones)
oil for cooking (any cooking oil like rapeseed or canola)


Marinade for the beef.

Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon soya sauce
½ teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 tablespoon Chinese shaoxing wine (or dry sherry, or white wine)
1 teaspoon cornflour starch
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (rapeseed, canola, peanut, sunflower)


Seasoning.

Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon Chinese shaoxing wine (or dry sherry, or white wine)


Preparation.

1. Mix all the marinade ingredients in a bowl, and add the beef. Let sit for 15 minutes.

2. Heat a wok or frying pan over high heat, and when warm, add 2 teaspoons of oil until it begins to smoke. Quickly add the beef (but not the marinade), and stir-fry briskly for 30 seconds. Remove beef from pan and set aside on a plate. Drain off the excess cooking oil.

3. Reheat pan (or wok) with 1 tablespoon oil, and when smoking again, quickly add the spring onions, garlic ginger and the seasoning ingredients. Briskly fry while stirring for about 1 minute.

4. Add the beef back into the wok, plus the goji berries and black sesame seeds, and continue to fry and stir for 30 seconds over a high heat.

5. Turn off heat and serve immediately.
This dish is best served with a grain, such as brown rice, millet, amaranth or buckwheat. Also, a side dish of a dark green vegetable, such as simple steamed kale, chard (mangold), or broccoli. These dishes should be prepared before starting to cook the stir-fry.

Also, black sesame seeds and goji berries are special medicinal substances in TCM, and are commonly added to food medicine recipes that are tonics for the jing, or essence qi. If you do not have, or cannot easily get these two ingredients, it is fine to leave them out. Also, you could replace black sesame seeds with normal sesame seeds, which are a good tonifying ingredient for the qi.

Monday, May 4, 2020

The Healing Sound Method for the Heart Qi


Xin Zang 心藏, the Chinese name for the organ of the heart qi, is considered the Monarch of our physical, emotional and mental landscape of our existence.

On a more physical level, the yang qi of the heart is said to “rule the xue ” (blood, and the qi aspect of blood), creating the pulse by its rhythmic circulation of blood (and qi, in partnership with the lung qi) to every part of the organism. Just as with breathing, this circulation is continuous, every second of our lives. But circulation of blood is not just a physical mechanism; the heart is not merely a muscle that pumps blood. The yang qi of the heart also controls the natural balance between all physical movement and rest, allowing us to “switch off” the mind so that we can fall asleep, stay asleep throughout the night, and awaken rested and refreshed at the start of day.

The yin function of the heart is that it “stores”, meaning it contains and safeguards our Shen , our mind and emotional heart. Xin Shen 心神, sometimes translated as “heart spirit”, is the mental, overall emotional feeling, and spiritual aspect of the qi that vitalizes all our functions and our very existence. This vitalization is like the spark of inspiration that shows in everything we think, say and do; it is the ability to express ourselves with conscious intent and awareness. It is mirrored in our face, in our eyes, in our outlook, our movements, our reactions, our moods. It is our inner life, and our outer response. In health, it first and foremost governs our correct stance between Heaven and Earth, throughout our lifetimes. It is our ability to react appropriately, with empathy and understanding, in all encounters and relationships, no matter what the situation; to think clearly, with a vast capacity to memorize, recall and use information as needed; to stand in the middle and not act or say things without thinking, or that are unnecessary or unhelpful, being in any way an inappropriate response; and most of all, it is our ability to remain steady, calm, with the mental, emotional and spiritual space to allow all things to enter without disturbance, and to react in the right way, at the right moment, in a fully humane and conscious manner.

In reality, though, our greatest strengths are equally a reflection of our greatest weaknesses. The steadiness and calmness of the heart qi, that places us in a righteous position between Heaven and Earth, is easily and suddenly knocked out of kilter in situations that are excessive, such as emotional or physical shock or trauma; when we are in a deficient state of health, whether through regular lack of a full sleep, chronic illness, or an irregular lifestyle; or, from external factors that are excessively intense or last a long time, such as the isolation, uncertainty, worries and fears we are experiencing now, during the global pandemic.

Regulating the mind is the same as regulating the heart. It is done in silence, by drawing in the senses to create a vast field of inner clarity and light, undisturbed by the incessant and needless chatter of an easily distracted mind. This brings us into accord with our true inner nature, and allows us to act appropriately, humanely, in all situations.

The Healing Sound Method for the Heart Qi creates the physical conditions needed to open this vast field. First, the channel of the heart qi is activated by the opening and closing movements of the arms and hands.

Then, through movement, imagination and breath, we expand the upper chest, thinking the sound “haaah” as the breath is expelled through the mouth, lifting the palms and face to heaven. This allows a release of any excessive “fire qi” that may disturb what the Chinese call “the palace of the mind”, where our Shen-spirit resides in comfort. It is literally a safe space, a home for the heart and mind to ensure equilibrium is maintained, on all levels, so that we may act quickly, naturally and appropriately in all situations, at all times.

Next as we bring our hands back to lightly support the base of the head, the touch of our fingers naturally activate the qi in the area of the brain stem, the head and face move back just a little more to open the qi channels in the area of our senses and our brains, literally awakening the qi of the mind.

The closing of the method for the heart qi is the same as for the other Healing Sound methods, in order to return and consolidate the qi in the area of the kidneys, where the essence qi resides.


Sunday, May 3, 2020

Healing Sounds - Sound for the Heart - Video


This is the next ancient Chinese Healing Sound exercise, for the Heart, which in TCM understanding is understood as the seat of the mind and the control center for all qi-functions. 


The sound associated with this exercise is "HU-AHH" or simply "HAAHH", which we only think in our imagination while we're exhaling the breath through the mouth.


This exercise belongs to the same set as the other Healing Sounds. With what we have learned up to now, the correct order for practice is:  

Lungs, Liver, Spleen, Heart, San Jiao. 





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