Alternative Medicine

Spruce Essential Oil

Posted by Alternative Medicine on January 11, 2011 in Aromatherapy with No Comments


There are times in one’s life that we just have to take it easy. By the phrase ‘take it easy’ we mean having enough time to relax and unwind. Everyone needs some time alone to just rest both the mind and body, and have a renewed energy after. Now relaxing can come easier with the use of the Spruce essential oil.

What is it in this oil that makes unwinding more productive and easier? Well, for starters, this oil has a scent that calms the senses and takes you to an evergreen forest with just one whiff. The forest scent helps still your mind and relaxes your body all throughout. Perfect to use for those who are into practicing yoga. Even for those who love to meditate can benefit greatly from this essential oil.

If your body seems to ache with every move you make, then the spruce essential oil is the perfect remedy for you. This oil can actually be used topically as a remedy for various body aches and pains such as rheumatism, muscle fatigue, and is also a helpful aid for those who have problems with their circulation. So aside from helping your mind unwind, this oil also helps your body relax from the daily abuse it takes.

A good way to use the Spruce essential oil is to put about less than 10% in your brand of carrier oil. After which you can use it to massage away all your worries and aches away. Who wouldn’t love the sensation of being rubbed down with aromatic oil that also has the capability to put you in a meditative mood? How’s that for double benefits!

If it is the scent that you love, or would just want to be taken away from the hustle and bustle of the city life and go to the forest for some relaxation, then this is perfect for you. With just a few drops into your oil lamp or diffuser, you can now take an imaginary trip to the woods. The scent is sure to give you the illusion of being surrounded by greenery, thus instant relaxation.

Having one bottle of some Spruce essential oil handy will assure you that whenever you feel under too much pressure, tensed, or feel as if you’re aching all over, relaxation is just a few kneads or sniffs away.

Acupuncture and Hakomi: Hakomipuncture

Posted by Alternative Medicine on January 7, 2011 in Acupuncture with No Comments


HAKOMIPUNCTURE: A Therapeutic Method

“The thought manifests as the word;

The word manifests as the deed;

The deed develops into habit;

And the habit into character.

So, watch the thought and its ways with care

And let it spring from love Born out of concern for all Beings

As the shadow follows the body, As we think, so we become.”

     The Buddha, from the Dhammapada

A synapse fires in your body. Electricity leaps through the space between the nerves & lands on the other side. Your body screams, “DANGER! NOT SAFE!!” Immediately, a biochemical waterfall floods your tissues. Adrenal glands pump feverishly atop your kidneys, tensing your lower back. With dilated pupils, your fists and forearms prepare for battle while your leg muscles drop into sprint readiness. This is the picture of Fear.

In the past, people experienced danger at the sight of a predator’s jaws. Nowadays, a letter from the IRS might activate the nervous system into similar high alert. After enough times, this nervous system activation becomes entrenched. In the mind, a core belief is formed: “The world is unsafe.” In the body, hyper-vigilance becomes the norm. Soon, this loop of synaptic firing and muscle tension becomes a lifestyle. Some obvious examples of fear underlying repetitive nervous system stress are war and unprocessed physical or sexual abuse. Yet, habitual patterns of the nervous system happen to all of us. Sometimes it’s a dramatic event that creates a “stuck” nervous system, sometimes it’s a subtle accumulation of day to day stress. We all get stuck in ruts.

There is a saying, “The fish are the last to discover water.” We swim in the habit patterns of our unconscious mind, unaware of the water we move through, unaware that there may be a cleaner, clearer pond just downstream. A child is a sponge, soaking up the ways of the world she is exposed to. The first 5-7 years of life set the stage for our worldview, the core beliefs that guide our attitude and engagement with the world.

Life issues fall into 5 major categories and, on any given day and at any given moment, we can find ourselves somewhere between the poles illustrated below. Every situation elicits a different response, but we occupy certain subspaces more frequently. This subspace is a core belief guiding your action and interactions.

LIFE ISSUES

SAFETY: Connected (sense of belonging, familiarity, security)<—> Isolated (alienation, feeling threatened, insecure)

DEPENDENCY: In Exchange (supported, cared for, in bodily contact) <—-> Deprived (lacking care, alone, undernourished)

FREEDOM: Free (spontaneous, creative, basically good) <—-> Determined by Others (trapped, no spontaneity, stuck)

TRUTH: Real (true, vulnerable, authentic, faults are OK)<—>Unreal (no weakness, untrue, invulnerable, untouchable)

WORTH: Being (good enough, centered, inner peace)<—> Doing (not good enough, ready to act, restless, strained)

[Chart by Halko Weiss, Hakomi Institute]

As mentioned before, thinking and body are interrelated. Take a look around. Some people slouch while others stand upright. Some radiate peace while anger seethes out of the furrowed brows of others. The body reflects where an individual is on the life issue polarity illustrated above. “As we think, so we become.” Finding yourself in the column on the left more frequently is to reside more fully in grounded happiness. Hakomi + Acupuncture is a very effective combination of therapies to bring the body, mind, and spirit into this kind of harmony.

Hakomi is a body-centered therapy, rooted in the understanding that the body is the gateway to the core beliefs of the unconscious mind. Once conscious, these beliefs can be re-evaluated, and where appropriate, powerfully transformed. New dimensions of awareness can be integrated, helping the individual to build a more satisfying and effective life. Hakomi integrates the mindfulness and non-violence found in Eastern traditions with a unique Western psychological methodology.

Eastern traditions and modern physics understand that everything is energy. Physicists call it photons. Indians call it prana. Chinese call it Qi. Energy and matter are interrelated phenomenon. Matter is just energy moving at different speeds. Thoughts are Qi. Emotions are Qi. Qi flows through the muscles and organs keeping them alive and supple. As discussed before, core beliefs are simply repetitive thoughts (Qi) an individual gets “stuck” in and becomes reflected in the body (Qi in the form of matter).

Acupuncture is a therapy that adjusts the body’s energy, or Qi. One way of understanding acupuncture is through analogy to an electrical grid. Imagine that the midline of the body and internal organs are power stations. Electricity is generated in the power stations and distributed via power lines (meridians) throughout the city centers (head, neck, torso, abdomen, and pelvis) and into the outlying countryside (arms and legs). In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this electricity is called Qi. There are 14 major pathways (called meridians) that Qi travels along.

Sometimes energy is blocked and sometimes it is insufficient. Both may be happening in different parts of the body at the same time. Energy blockages and deficiency are found through diagnostic tools like examining the tongue, palpating the pulse and meridians, face reading, and verbal inquiry into signs, symptoms, emotions, and challenges of the spirit. Acupuncture points are areas along the path where the flow of energy can be altered for therapeutic effect. They are like light switches that “turn on” the body’s natural healing systems.

From the Chinese holistic perspective, how we think and feel is not just a brain thing. Styles of thinking and emotions are not confined to the head, but originate from the harmonious flow of Qi through the internal organs and their meridians (the associated pathways through the body). Chinese medicine envisions the human being in health as a being who embodies virtue. Qualities of wisdom, propriety, benevolence, integrity, and self-worth are the natural state when the energy of Water, Fire, Wood, Metal, and Earth are in balance. As these elemental energies fall out of balance, virtues erode, habitual behaviors arise, and suffering ensues. It is the role of the Chinese Medicine doctor to help rebalance the elements through acupuncture, herbs, food and lifestyle guidance.

Both Hakomi and acupuncture offer unique insights into the interrelationship between habit patterns of mind and body. Together, they offer physical and emotional relief, greater awareness, and the freedom to do something new in the face of the habitual. Habitual patterns may involve relationships, sex, work, spiritual practice, addictions, body image, and life purpose. My specialty is depression, anxiety, sexual abuse trauma, and addiction.

Let’s examine the use of Hakomipuncture, the combination of acupuncture and Hakomi, through a case study. Sean is a male in his mid thirties who comes to the clinic complaining of irritable bowel syndrome and a tendency to depression. His handshake is tense, tendony, and urgent. He is gaunt, fidgety, with quick angular movements. Frustrated and with little hope that this treatment will be of benefit, he lists off his symptoms. Bowels tend to be frequent (4-5x day especially in the morning), loose and burning. Sensitive to spicy foods, coffee, and alcohol, he still likes to douse his meals with chili paste. His every other sentence trails off and begins with “…I don’t know…” While he is a good student, Sean feels dissatisfied with engineering, his chosen field of study. He feels a lot of pressure from his family to enter into engineering, a safe economically sound choice in this economy. He often wakes before the alarm with a racing mind, spinning through “to-do” lists he creates for himself. He feels “under the gun” all the time. His pulse is wiry, like a guitar string, indicating an overactive nervous system. His digestive pulse and Heart pulse is suppressed, only able to be found at the deepest level. His breathing is confined to his chest. His abdomen moves only slightly with inhalation. Upon palpation, his diaphragm is tight. His tongue is slightly purple with cracks in the center of the tongue. He wants the treatment to stop the bowel frequency and reduce his stress level.

A brief look into Sean’s family history reveals achievement oriented, overbearing parenting. In response, Sean learned to suppress his natural, unique self-actualizing urges throughout childhood in order to please and gain love from his parents. In the Hakomi chart above, Sean’s themes center around Freedom and Worth. In the Chinese medicine chart above, Sean is a Wood constitutional type, exhibiting both excess and deficient habitual behaviors. Wood energy rises. It plays a large role in asserting individuality, overcoming adversity and making life goals. Wood is associated with the Liver and Gallbladder, the regulator of digestion, strategic life planning, and the emotion of anger. Sean’s creative energy was buried under a habit of conformity and pleasing others. Like a high volume of gas in a tightly confined space, Sean’s constricted Liver energy created pressure that interfered with his digestion’s ability to assimilate food and the experiences of life. Instead, food and life experience was swallowed rapidly and excreted with equal haste. The resulting symptoms were hidden resentment, timidity, indecisiveness, and poor dietary choices.

An atmosphere of spaciousness and respect was the missing experience that Sean needed. Sean was encouraged to relax into the table, turn his attention inwards, and become mindful of anything happening in mind and body. A Hakomi verbal experiment was offered slowly and repeated three times, “You don’t have to do anything to be loved.” First, the words induced a fluttery heart panic within Sean. He felt as though he had to hold his breath and brace himself. After the second and third time, he felt a mixture of sadness and confusion as well as a knotted up feeling in his solar plexus. Each thing was taken in turn. He found the sadness manifested in a tight chest. I asked Sean to stay with that sensation of the chest. In came a deep realization of years spent racing around “doing” rather than enjoying the process of whatever he was doing. The confusion was looked at next. It manifested as a “fuzzy” headedness, cloudy thinking, and that knot in his solar plexus. I asked Sean to stay with that sensation in the solar plexus. The two acupuncture points, Gall Bladder-34 and Stomach-36 were inserted. Both points affect the digestive organs and the nervous system. Gall Bladder-34 was chosen to relax the urgency in the nervous system as well as strengthen confidence and decision-making. Stomach-36 strengthens the digestive capacity. The solar plexus responded by loosening and the “fuzzy” headedness also cleared. In this space, another verbal probe was offered, “You can do it your way.” Sean’s whole nervous system relaxed. He took a huge breath and tears streamed from his eyes. It was the missing nourishment he had unknowingly been longing to hear. In the ensuing weeks of treatments, Sean found the treatments a sanctuary where his dormant powers of self-actualization strengthened and he gained greater clarity on what he wanted to study and become.

Three important shifts happened:

(1) His dietary choices and habits became wiser for his constitution

(2) His digestion relaxed, bowel movements reduced to 2-3 times a day, and more efficient food assimilation led to more energy and “groundedness”

(3) He found a more calm, thoughtful, and self-referential quality in his daily life.

The therapeutic approach of combing Hakomi and Acupuncture is transformative. Physical and emotional relief, awareness and insight, and freedom from habit patterns can result from a course of therapy. A course of treatment is determined based on severity and duration of symptoms as well as the client’s personal goals for their well-being. Loving presence, mindfulness, and a deep sense of safety and connection are central to my personal philosophy. Together, we can rest in the grounded happiness that is your birthright.