Discover How to Double the Impact of Your Meditation with Nature

The world has gotten so overwhelming lately. Staying balanced has taken a focused plan and a commitment to work the plan. Over the last seven months, my list of activities to keep balanced has gone through multiple revisions. I added and subtracted activities as I figured out which ones helped keep me positive. Many activities have been able to maintain their position on the list. One of the activities has been my favorite and most effective go-to activity. Let’s look at the activities.

One of those that has stayed on the list is meditation. I love meditation. There are so many different ways to meditate, and each method addresses another aspect of my life.

But, I can tell you, it was just a few years ago when my life was in a tailspin. The stress and anxiety were so bad. I couldn’t keep a thought in my head. The idea of trying to meditate was unrealistic because I couldn’t quiet down.

I had to figure out what I could do to help find my way out of the overwhelming stress and anxiety levels. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I was caregiving 24×7 for my mother, taking care of my sister as her cancer slowly consumed her, running a business, and in a legal battle on my mother’s affairs. I was overwhelmed, and every time I thought it couldn’t get any worse, another shoe would drop.

I added a new task to my positive list. I required that I find the silver lining. I would say to myself, “What is the silver lining in this experience?” I found a study on stress when I was trying to survive the cyclone of emotions. The study stated stress management skills would equip me for future stressors. In the future, these skills would allow me to handle stress effectively while maintaining my health.

When things took a turn for the worse, and I was sure I could not bear much more, I would say, “What is the silver lining in this experience?” Sometimes it would be as simple as not losing my mom in the store. That task of forcing myself to look for the silver lining in a bleak world helped keep me positive.

Yet, sometimes, that was not enough. I am forever grateful for my practice and education in Chinese Medicine. Through Chinese Medicine, I was able to find the activity which worked the best at helping me break the cycle of stress. A walk in nature.

In Chinese Medicine, there is a theory called the Five Element theory. The classical writers in the medicine talked about the Five Elements, and how nature was the most constructive teacher. I loved that the old texts said you didn’t have to find a guru to understand the Elements. You just had to sit in nature.

In the Five Element Theory, the different emotions are identified and associated with separate parts of nature. I remember when I was caregiving for my mother. I would be sitting in the car with my mother. She would gaze up at the sky and be in awe at how beautiful the clouds were. I could hear how lost she felt.

I had become her caregiver and unfortunate jailer. My mom had just lost her companion of 20 years. She had put in a strong fight to keep him alive. The two of them were so independent and wild.

With his passing, her life completely changed, and she had to move in with her children, a task she never had wanted to do. Grief had become her constant companion. In the Five Element Theory, grief is associated with open skies, almost as if space would allow you to let your grief fly away like a dove.

With each passing day, my mother would slip further and further away. Age and life were changing her. The person I grew up with was no longer there. My sister was slipping away, too. Breast cancer had become her constant companion, and she was on a trial drug that would be her last.

The hardest and richest thing I did was walk alongside my loved ones as they faced the end of their lives. I felt overwhelmed with the duty and responsibility they gave me. Anxiety had crept on top of the grief, and I wasn’t sleeping.

Five Element theory came to my rescue again. My husband and I packed up my mom and headed to the ocean for a long weekend. The wide-open sky helped dissolve my grief while the heavy expanse of water helped calm my agitation and restlessness. My husband watched my mom as I slipped out into the soft beach grass that enveloped the rolling dunes. It was the first time I had been able to sit down and unwind in months. I was finally able to meditate.

I had run across the work by Dr. Valerie Hunt, a Professor Emeritus of the Department of Physiological Sciences at UCLA. She spent her career studying Auras and Chakras. She went to China to study acupuncture and better understand why Chinese Medical healers were successful. You can find her work on the web today. It was her pictures on Auras that captured my attention. I remember her images of a person sitting in nature. Out of all her shots, those pictures in nature had the biggest aura.

When I had gone out to the ocean that weekend, that was the first time I had chosen nature based on the Five Element theory. I had found as my anxiety continued to escalate, I needed big water to help cool down that fire within. The process of helping my mother and sister walk their final path was crippling me with unexpressed grief. I needed as much open sky as possible to be able to breathe. I sat in the tall reeds, and within a half-hour, I had found myself again.

I took those lessons forward with me today. My nature selection is a little different today. The stress and anxiety are coming from another place. I feel more ungrounded today and unbalanced. These emotions pull me into the forests to get swallowed in the depths of the trees. The larger the trees, the more relaxed and grounded I feel.

Nature is so much wiser than me. Today, when I walk under the enormous Dougfir or Cedar trees of the Pacific Northwest, it feels like I’m walking with the sages of ancient China. As I spend more and more time searching for my face before birth, I love that the gurus of the past pointed me in a direction to help find my fate.

With an Extraordinary Year, It’s Time to Use the 8 Extraordinary Channels

Have you ever found yourself driving along a highway? The road stretches out in front of you and disappears into the horizon, almost lulling you to sleep. You press into the gas a little more, going a little too fast, but no one is on this highway. You stop thinking about driving and start thinking about your life. No longer paying attention to the road, you hit a bend in the road. The sudden pull of the car as it tries to break from the trajectory you’ve given it pulls you immediately back to your place behind the wheel. And for a road that hasn’t seen any traffic for the last 30 miles, suddenly there is a truck in the other lane bearing down on you.

That’s kind of what this year feels like.

It’s like I was in the middle of a great dream, and someone is shaking me awake and screaming, “Wake up, wake up, the house is on fire!”

2020 is like being in the midst of some significant change, some enormous societal change. It’s a change that has been coming for some time, and there is no way to change the course. It’s pressing an overwhelming emotional force on every individual I know.

In Chinese Medicine, the 12 primary channels are well-known. They consist of the major organs like the heart, the lungs, the stomach.

Every time we have an experience in life, we have to process the experience and incorporate it into our psyche. That’s the job of the 12 primary channels. Check out my blog on the heart, “Chinese Medicine, the Heart and How to Avoid Chaos

But, there are another set of channels called the 8 extraordinary channels. When life experiences have become too much or have lasted for a long time, the experience can become overwhelming.

The pandemic is an excellent example of life experiences becoming overwhelming. An overwhelming experience is no longer able to be handled at the primary channel level. Many different experiences can become overwhelming. Just look at those situations that are considered major life events such as a divorce, losing a job, homelessness, moving, getting married, being a caregiver. Then there are the emotional scars from abuse, such as everything that can cause PTSD.

Some of the hallmarks of an overwhelming experience are it is unknown. Covid-19 has many unknowns, including when it will end. Another hallmark is the situation is a threat to personal survival. Here again, this virus has decimated the financial stability of millions of people in the United States. Not only financial stability, but it has an inconsistent side that threatens the lives of individuals. As the pandemic continues to threaten personal survival and family self-preservation, individuals become more frayed and run down. There can be a sensation of being powerless and trapped, leading to feelings of hopelessness.

These overwhelming types of experiences have a tendency to get trapped in our bodies and our psyche. Daily activities become difficult to manage. It becomes more challenging to sleep. Your emotions start taking more control of your interactions and your life. Feelings of anxiety, fear, anger, grief, brooding can become your daily drivers making it difficult to accomplish things.

How would you treat this? Well, all your traditional coping skills are probably taxed. Your traditional coping skills are like primary channels. Usually, they can handle all of life’s stressors. But, when faced with an overwhelming experience, coping skills get maxed out. That is when you use the 8 extraordinary channels. What are the 8 extraordinary channels?

The 8 extraordinary channels existed before you were born. The Chong mai starts with the zygote. When the zygote splits, the Du and Ren mai are created. The egg splits again, creating the Dai mai. Splitting one more time and the other four channels are created.

So, these channels were the start of you before you were interacting with the world. That would make them seem to be more you than your primary channels. In Chinese Medicine, when you get overwhelmed, the extraordinary channels can be used to siphon off and store some extra trauma.

Experiences and trauma at this level can be a little different than at the primary channel level. Here, it makes an impact on your personality and changes your outlook. You know, one of the things I’ve been hearing is hopelessness. As the pandemic drags on and more and more stress is shoveled on top of individuals, hopelessness starts to crop up. Hopelessness is a belief that is getting changed at the 8 extraordinary level, which means it will change your outlook on life.

And I’ve talked about how our beliefs create our world and why it is so important to own and manage your thought processes. My blog, “Karma Free Zone,” and my vlog, “Understanding The Laws of Karma – the First Step to Finding Your True Self,” are two opportunities to learn more about managing your thought processes.

There are other ways to identify if your situation has passed the point of simple management at the primary channel level. It’s not just that it is a belief. You are experiencing the same outcome over and over, even though you want a different result. Or, you may be dealing with some chronic issues like autoimmune diseases or long-term difficulty in sleeping. Things are happening in your life that you just can’t seem to get around.

Yet, as everyone started hitting quarantine fatigue, I noticed the emotional stress had begun to take on a whole new direction in the office. Clients were showing less resilience. They were having a hard time finding direction and were feeling stuck. Some were feeling like they were perched on a precipice, wondering when they would be pushed off. Others were experiencing a low-level nervousness that they couldn’t shake. Sleep was becoming a big issue, and staying motivated was challenging.

These were all signs that what is being experienced today is getting too complicated to manage. That’s the thing about overwhelming experiences. They have the opportunity to change how you interact with the world. Not all of it is good. So, suppose you are feeling stuck in your current coping mechanisms or treatments and need to find another solution. In that case, 8 extraordinary treatments to overcome the stories and the stuckness may be an option.

The Afternoon When Quarantine Fatigue Hit and How it’s Challenging Your Identity

Have you reached it? I have. Early afternoon about two weeks ago, I was sitting in my house looking around. I looked at my husband and said, “I just hit quarantine fatigue.”

You can look through my blogs and my Youtube channel and see I’ve been fighting the good fight. But the pandemic has been going on for a long time, and there is no end in sight.

I grew up in a world where self-medicating, and one pill cures are the expectation. Everything has been instantaneous, and I have never been in a situation where I had to be uncomfortable for a long time. I’ve never been in a situation where I had to deal with myself and find solace in being alone with myself.

I had to go into the city this morning. I’ve been in quarantine mode for so long it was uncomfortable being in a city again. It was weird watching people walk by in their clothes. Weren’t clothes one of our most significant, useless consumer items purchased pre-pandemic – stacks and stacks of clothes? And shoes! Everyone had on shoes that expressed who they wanted to be.

I know, because I was a bit excited about getting to go into the city. My love is sweaters, and Europe knows they have the corner on the excellent sweater market. I had purchased the majority of my sweaters from Europe. I love the fact that they are all wool, super well-made, and comfy!

I swooned through my sweaters this morning, almost hyperventilating that I was going to get to wear one of them. It was cold out this morning, so I had some great options. I could go for a layered look wrapped with a jacket or use one of my jacket sweaters with a turtleneck or blow the whole sweater thing and go for one of my jackets layered over a turtleneck. The options were breathtaking.

I mean, that is part of the fatigue, isn’t it? The inability to express yourself to the world. Hey world, look at me! This is who I am!

I even spent time choosing my shoes, waffling back and forth between the perfect match or comfort. Comfort won out, but to be real, it was comfort with style.

I was in the city looking at the diversity of expression. Shoes were winning out, and boots seemed to be the big winner. Expressive boots that had seen little or no wear. Boots with heels, elevated boots, rounded toes with memory foam, boots with laces, boots were all over the place.

People walked and walked, showing off their shoes. Yet, there was confusion. I felt the confusion. I was confused. We were doing what we had always done. However, it didn’t make sense anymore. The masks certainly detracted from the look. And every one of us had a mask on. On the streets, in the parking lots, in the buildings, everyone had a cover on.

It brought back the eerie reality of today. The excitement over finally getting to wear my favorite clothes again out in public dissipated. Once again, I was faced with the critical points of self-discovery this pandemic continues to dump in my lap. This time, it was consumerism.

You know, I’ve wanted to buy another sweater, but this pandemic has me putting the breaks on things. I’m actually asking myself, “Do I need another sweater?” No, I don’t. I have too many sweaters right now. Too many, and there won’t be enough time in my lifetime to wear them all down to nothing.

Most of us are spending time in the grocery store. That is our outing for the week, the month, or whatever. I use to get whatever I wanted and throw it in the grocery cart. Later, when I found I had forgotten to eat it, I threw it away.

I really wanted to get a pastry this morning on my way back from the city. I stopped myself because I have a bundt cake at home and a few pounds of frozen berries I need to make into a fantastic dessert.

Pre-pandemic, I would have bought the pastries and tossed the bundt cake.

How I looked at purchases and the value I placed on purchases changed when I spent a month looking for toilet paper and eight months looking for a can of Lysol.

Everything is regaining value. The value is no longer the empty promises and mass hysteria of pathological consumerism. Instead, I began purchasing the things I needed. Because I wasn’t buying everything, I had time to enjoy the things I did buy.

The separation from people has helped me put my head on again. Much of my consumerism was created by my interaction with the media and others. All that interaction has gone away.

It’s crazy. It’s like that frantic search for validation that focuses on consumerism has had to find a different outlet. Without an outlet, could all the energy be a part of the rampant hostility expressed today?

I’m talking to my friends. It’s incredible how much we use to buy. You may think this lack of purchasing decreased their quality of life. That’s not what is happening. Their life hasn’t become less. It’s actually become more.

My quality of life wasn’t harmed because I didn’t buy that pastry or that sweater. It was hurt when I was purchasing all that stuff. When I was on a tear of consumerism, I wasn’t enjoying what I bought. Because I was spending so much, I felt the need to chase the dollar to have more dollars to spend on stuff I didn’t need.

With winter coming in, it appears we have a long ways to go before this pandemic has found its end. That means the world will give us a lot more time to sit alone with our thoughts. All this time, I’m thinking I will get back to that time when I was seven, laying in the grass watching the monarch butterflies lightly dance through the air. I wasn’t worried about my next purchase. I was just enjoying the here and now.

So, I find myself sitting here on a sunny fall morning, typing this blog, eating my warmed bundt cake topped with butter and a large cup of flower tea. I didn’t do this before the pandemic.

Before the pandemic, the house’s goal was to find a respite from the world and a place of peace. It never did because I never had time. I do now partly because I didn’t distract myself on my way home, looking for the perfect pastry. You know, the weirdest thing is the slice of warmed bundt cake topped with butter coupled with a fragrant cup of tea was more perfect than any pastry could have been.

It’s Time to Double Down on Positivity

Last night was a crazy night. Did you all feel it? There is another bloom of negativity rolling through right now. It woke me up in the middle of the night. Clients are saying they feel off or depressed and can’t point to a reason. 

I touched on societal blooms of negative Karma in my Youtube episode “Understanding the Laws of Karma, the first step to finding your true self.”   Sometimes, a society “spontaneously combusts.” Not really, but emotionally creates this harmful bloom that consumes the society and drives it into calamity. 

You know, the energetics had mellowed out for about a month, and then this past week, they started picking up again. Last night, I was just overwhelmed. I hear it from my clients. “I’m feeling depressed.” “I’m on edge.” “I can’t concentrate or focus.” There is this sense of hopelessness that is creeping into people’s lives. 

If you watched my episode on Karma, you already know the only way out of these negative blooms is through self-searching, treating people with respect, and finding your way to stay positive. So, I want to encourage you to double down on positivity. 

For myself, I focus more time on meditation. I self-prepare before going out and interacting with society because I want to try to stay on the right side of positivity. I work on catching myself when I veer off-track and pulling myself back to a collaborative bent. I’m happy I caught myself. That doesn’t always happen.

I’m really focused on me and trying to keep my interactions on a high note. 

Yet, there is a lot of baiting going on in social media and in conversations. 

What does baiting mean when it’s people you know?

Sigh.

I had to put a lot of thought into this and find my own balance. How do I see their story? Isn’t that where the point of compassion and the ability to let go meet up? 

Yup, and I got to say; it almost feels creepy walking in another’s shoes right now. You know why it is creepy? It’s creepy because they are feeling the same things I’m feeling from a different direction. It’s like we are standing on the same compass, just different cardinal directions. I might be on the Eastside, and they are on the Westside. We’re on the same compass, the same planet. We just see the world from different directions. 

When I was in college, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs was the crux of what drove action. Sure, the theory has expanded over the years. But, the same baseline needs are still drivers. The need for health, safety, food, shelter, and clothing are all the first steps. 

When I started looking into some of the posts on social media from my friends, sure, they were baiting, but they were also wrapped in fear. I mean, it’s a scary time right now. Small businesses are the crux of the economy, and they are struggling. Large companies are struggling. I was stunned when I read Regal Cinemas closed their doors. 

“The world is shifting under my feet.” I thought to myself and felt that familiar feeling of being unsettled and out of balance. That uncomfortable feeling that has highlighted so much of this year.

I was talking to friends who have had a hard time getting unemployment or finding a job. Fear. “How am I going to pay my mortgage, my rent? How am I going to put food on the table?” “How am I going to home school my kids when I have to go to work?” Fear. I can’t even comprehend their trials because their trials are so overwhelming. We don’t have a society that has a safety net for that. 

Here is the thing, everyone is at risk right now. We are all worried. It becomes a decision on whether you will be part of the problem or part of the solution. 

I’m frightened. I’ve been climbing over some big mountains this year. I know that I can’t afford to waste more of my energy on being baited. Being that I’m so frayed, baiting sneaks up on me. I’ll be minding my own business, staying positive, and one of my friends will say something really baiting. It’s baiting because it ignores the fact that I’m a person hurt, threatens my safety, security, and ability to put food on the table for my family. 

I was in the middle of the fires up here and couldn’t breathe. One of my friends posted an ill-advised political comment on global warming. I had a melt-down. Really???? I posted something along the lines, “We are dying here, losing everything we own, losing our lives, and you want to taunt global warming?” 

I was furious at how insensitive the comment had been. The thing was, she took the comment down. I think we forget people live behind our comments. That act of removing the comment changed my fury to one of admiration and thanks.

I had the opportunity to be on the other side of a similar conversation. I had been trying to get something corrected for a long time. I wasn’t successful and had a snotty note with Customer Service. Customer Service didn’t know I had been trying to get this fixed and thought they were doing something great. Well, she was, and I heard her disappointment with my response. I had the opportunity to lay down my lousy behavior, thank her, and apologize. I took the opportunity to change the world and cleaned up my act. 

No one knows what any one of us has been going through. It has been a tough year. Everyone is on edge. Here is your opportunity to define who you are. Are you going to double down on positivity or bait your “use to be” friends?

October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – the Source of Disease

Some of you know, breast cancer has a special place in my heart. Both my mother and sister were breast cancer survivors. My sister lost her fight with breast cancer in 2018, and a month later, my mother passed due to complications from a brain bleed. 

Before I go much farther, I want to point you to two breast cancer organizations I support. The first is in memory of my sister, “Friends of Lisa.” This organization helps get my sister’s daughter through college! Thank-you to the amazing community that was part of my sister.

The second is “Casting for Recovery” This organization focuses on providing outdoor, fly fishing excursions with other survivors wholly funded by donations from people like you and me! Most of you are aware; finances can become a critical issue when battling any cancer. This is an excellent opportunity for survivors to feel special and relax. 

So, for all of you who are helping with your hard-earned dollars, thank-you!

I thought I would share a little about disease theory in Chinese medicine related to breast cancer. I have a two-part series on my Youtube channel, introducing you to one of your “Sacred Keys.” Sacred Keys are things in your universe that allow you the opportunity to pull back the curtain and see what makes you tick. The series goes into the Sacred Key in more depth and gives you exercises to start helping you unlock that door. 

Why I even bring that up, is because disease theory in Chinese Medicine outlines where the disease originated and a generalized outline of what may have started the disease. Yet, for every individual, this generalized outline is just that, a generalized outline. 

It’s like saying, “Oh, you’re looking for Mount Rushmore? Yeah, that’s located in the United States.” That is what a generalized theory is. It would be more helpful to say, “That is located in South Dakota in the United States.” Even more helpful would be to say, “It’s in the Black Hills region of South Dakota outside of a town called Keystone.”

You get the picture.

One of the more common causes of breast cancer in Chinese Medicine is pathology in the liver and gall bladder channel. The gall bladder channel travels along the breast’s side, and the liver channel travels beneath the breast.  

Both these channels and their relationship with the triple warmer seem to develop with my breast cancer patients. Repressed emotions take a large piece of their soul. Anger, frustration, resentment, depression can all play a role in their disease.

The emotions may be combined with poor eating choices. To be real, it’s challenging to have good eating choices today due to the highly processed nature of all our foods. Yet, poor food choices can leave you nutrient deficient. The liver is dependant on calcium to detox the body, and one of the more common nutrients that becomes deficient is calcium. Poor food choices can also help fill you up with preservatives and other toxins. 

But going back to the emotions, the emotions of anger, frustration, resentment, depression need a source. That’s why I say the diagnosis in Chinese Medicine is very broad. The source becomes very specific to you.

Reading the words of anger, frustration, resentment, depression, you can probably point to a potential cause. Depression could be tied into a self-worth concern or an inability to succeed. Frustration could be due to feeling powerless. Resentment could be feeling you are facing things other people don’t have to face. Anger could be due to feelings of being abused or unjust losses. Everyone’s source has a particular flavor that is all about them.

This flavor begins to tarnish your life. And I say “tarnish” because it does take the shine off your world. You can see or feel this tarnish in your aura. It comes out almost like a brown. 

There is an effort in Daoism to let the world flow past you without causing any disruptions in your flow. For me, that is really hard to do because I’m attached to many things in the world. The problem with emotions is they mark an attachment in the world. It’s not that Daoism says this attachment is wrong. What Daoism says is attachment stunts your internal growth. You can’t grow beyond your attachment.

With Covid-19, I’ve been watching my office bookings and managing insurance, very heart channel things. I was talking to a client this morning. We were talking about some of the research on Covid-19. They made an interesting observation. 

“It’s almost like the world is trying to reduce the population.” When I thought about that and the amount of effort I was putting into ensuring client bookings and insurance payments, the office suddenly looked like nonsense. If I was to die tomorrow, all this meant nothing. I finally found that point of internal Daoism with my practice.  

That also helped me see how very personal disease is for each individual. The disease manifests not only because of an emotion. The emotion is rooted in something that has high value to you. 

When I was a kid, my little brother accidentally ran his bicycle into my Dad’s friend’s vehicle. It left a scratch and a dent. As payment, my little brother had to give my Dad’s friend something my brother found valuable. My brother had hot wheels and just loved them. He gave away his favorite hot wheel. I can remember my brother’s face when he gave the little toy car away. It was a mixture of longing and regret. The lesson made an impression on me, and I was impressed with my little brother’s integrity, commitment, and understanding of value. 

Yet, every day, disease asks you to make that decision and give up something you find valuable in exchange for you. It sounds really simple when I say it like that, but it isn’t. Disease could leave you questioning survival needs, love, safety needs, abandonment. Being human is complicated, and I’m not that perfect Daoist who has figured out how to detach from all attachments. 

Yet, trying to figure out what that thing is that we find valuable can be the most challenging part of the exercise. It’s the same exploration involved in finding Karma. What is the story you are telling yourself? And don’t count on everyone else being able to see your story. They may see your behaviors and completely misunderstand the cause of the action. The easiest way to know when that is happening is you are sure what they say has nothing to do with you. 

In episode 2 of Finding Balance, Sacred Key, you can find tools to help you find that inner story playing in your head. As a special gift to you if you’re struggling with chemo-induced neuropathy, check out my episode on “Natural Remedies to Stop the Progression of Chemo Induced Neuropathy.” Good-luck on your journey. I’ll catch you on the other side!