Three Ways To Spring Forward!

Spring!  The season of creativity and rebirth!  

Everything in nature is starting to shift upwards again after a season of rest and restoration.    

It sounds glorious but it is not an easy movement.   It can be hard to rise from winter’s sleepy depths.  We see this in nature in the oscillation between the glorious warm days and the return of snow and wind.  In our own bodies it can feel like an oscillation between bursts of activity (Lets clean the whole house!  Lets start that big gardening project!  Let’s start a new business project!)  and moments where we collapse, snuggled on the couch with tea and a book, a whole new season of our favorite TV show or a nap.    Its not a linear process this springing up.

If we had to push through the winter (especially if we have been fighting off colds and flus) we might not feel rested enough to fully rise.    We might even feel downright stuck.  When everything in nature starts to call us to activity this can feel like frustration or a sense that we “Just-can’t-get-it-together- damn it.”  It can also show up as tightness in the body, headaches or digestive issues or even just stress.

How can you help your spring energy to rise?  Having a small creative practice can really help get this energy moving and smooth things out.  Whether you are feeling stuck or simply trying to deepen spring’s movements, embracing creativity can help get things flowing.  Here are a few simple way to move that Qi in a creative way.

 My son left me a little hint this weekend when I was buried in paperwork!

My son left me a little hint this weekend when I was buried in paperwork!

1.     Draw, color (or doodle)!  Pull out some crayons and draw the way you did when you were a kid.  Or try playing with one of those adult coloring books with amazing beautiful pictures to color.  Simply taking 10 minutes to do this when I’m feeling stuck can shift my perspective and gets me moving in the right direction.  (As you can see from the photo my son was lovingly supporting that movement in me this weekend!)

2.     Write!  Use your words to do more than write memos or to do lists.  Tell a story, write a poem or describe something beautiful or heartbreaking.  For inspiration, community and fun you can join a writer’s group (or other creative circle).  There are many wonderful ones led by talented writers.  One of my favorite poets (who I am lucky enough to call friend) Jena Schwarz is running an on-line class to celebrate National Poetry Month in April—a month of prompts to explore poetry (as a reader or a writer) and a fun safe space to share for less than $30.  If that feels too scary, you can adopt your own writing practice   Julia Cameron, who developed a program to help blocked creatives called The Artist’s Way, talks about a practice called Morning Pages.  Every morning set a timer and write stream of consciousness for 10 minutes.  It doesn’t have to be good and it can even be downright bad! The idea is just to get going.  This works even if you don’t think of yourself as a “writer”.  It can free your mind up to creatively tackle whatever the day has in store.  

3.  Sing!  In the shower, in the car, along with the radio.  Singing not only is good for the soul but it requires us to breathe deeply (without even trying!) and that I good for the spirit too!  To get really inspired, join a Community Sing like the one run by Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell (formely of the amazing Sweet Honey in the Rock) or explore other community sing groups.  You can find them on MeetUp or advertised through local arts groups.

And of  course, if you are feeling stuck or too tired to rise, an acupuncture treatment can help.  Working together we can identify where life energy is getting stuck and help you create that life you have been dreaming about.

Meg Casey, M.Ac.,L.Ac. is an acupuncturist in Silver Spring, MD where she helps her patients create new possibilities to thrive.    To schedule an appointment with Meg or explore if acupuncture is right for you, you can reach out to her via email at meg@megcaseyacupuncture.com, reach out via the website  or call her at 301.408.9873  For more inspiration you can like Meg Casey Acupuncture on Facebook!

Keep Your Wood Energy Flowing!

The Chinese associate the springtime energy with the natural force of wood—of growing things—plants, grass, trees rising up from earth to sky.  This is the rising pulse of creativity and the force of birth and rebirth.  It is like bamboo—growing upward—strong but flexible—able to bend in the wind.

This energy also exists in our bodies.  At a body level it helps us move during the day and detox at night.  It is responsible for energy moving smoothly.  It nourishes our tendons, eyes and our liver and gallbladder.  At a mind and spirit level, it’s this wood energy that enables us to have a vision of the future, plan, and find creative ways around the obstacles that life throws at us. 

One of the key principles of Chinese medicine is that when energy in our body is blocked we can develop pain or other symptoms.  These symptoms can be both physical and emotional.  We may feel it as tightness and constriction in our body—around our ribs or diaphragm but also in our limbs, neck, shoulder or back.   Sometimes it may be accompanied by an upward rushing of energy—headaches, flushing, feeling suddenly warm in our face  When our wood energy is stuck it may show up as a simmering feeling of irritation, frustration or resentment that build to an emotional outburst.  Or it could manifest as a crankiness, where every little thing seems to bother us.  We might feel stuck—unable to move forward in life or move through difficult emotions.  

What causes the wood energy to get stuck?  Imbalance around rest, our emotions and movement can create stagnation.  Finding balance in these areas can help keep things moving and promote wellness.  Here are 4 great ways to support the healthy movement of wood energy in your body.

Find the middle ground between work and rest.  Exhaustion and overwork can deplete our energy creating a situation where it can’t flow smoothly.  Think about a river during a drought.  With less water, it moves more slowly and it gets stagnant.  If we have depleted our own energy reserves this kind of stagnation can happen to us too.  The Chinese medical classics say that rest is critical. Staying up late (past 11 pm) or waking up very early (before 3am) puts a strain on our wood energy (as well as other parts of our energetic system) and over time can really wear on us.   

However too much leisure can be equally challenging.   As human beings we are meant to create and contribute to the world.   Lying around all day, without focus or a motivation, can stagnate our wood energy just as much as overwork.  While operating without a plan can feel like a relief on a vacation, if it becomes our norm for too long it can cause our qi to get sluggish and stuck.

Find balance in our emotional life.  Another way we can get stuck is when we repress our emotions.  If we are swallowing our feelings all day long, this can throw us our whole system out of wack.  Finding healthy ways to express and move our emotions can keep the energy flowing smoothly.    Using our emotions as a signal that we need to make a change, make a request, or  can keep things moving along.

On the flip side allowing ourselves get stuck in our anger, stewing in the feelings or stoking our rage can also hurt our ability to dance smoothly with life.  Sometimes we get stuck IN and emotion and find it hard to move through it.  When our emotions rage, doing something physical can often help to smooth things out.   Exercise, cleaning, or even a brisk walk can help unstick this energy.

Have a moderate exercise program.  This may seem obvious but not moving our bodies enough can cause our energy to get stuck.  Exercise is not only important for our cardiovascular health but it keeps our whole system flowing smoothly.   We don’t have to go to the gym and work out for hours but some movement keeps things moving.  A 15-30 minutes walk may just be enough.  On the flip side (and I am sure you are noticing a pattern here) over-exercise can be just as damaging.    Hours and hour of hard work depletes the body of resources and creates strain.  (Remember that image of the river without enough water…)

While this stuck wood energy is just one reason people  feel unwell, it is a common one in our culture.   Finding balance is no small or easy task in our “go-go-go” 24/7 culture.   It is hard for us to hit the stop button.  I used to have two speeds:  “Full speed ahead” and “full on collapse”.    Both patterns left me cranky and ultimately sick.  While my doctors all told me that in order to heal I needed to find balance, I had trouble resetting.  It was like I had forgotten what balance felt like and I needed to be reminded.

Acupuncture is a powerful tool to help reestablish balance and an easy flow of qi in the body, mind and spirit.  In the treatment room, we will work together to identify where things get stuck.   Together we will get things flowing again and I will give you practices you can do on your own to help keep things moving.  My goal is to empower you to move your qi on your own—to not only relieve the symptoms (whether it is from stuck wood energy or another issue) but to give you what you need to notice where your qi get stuck and to keep things flowing with ease.

If you have a question about whether acupuncture might be able to help you feel well in your body, mind and spirit, feel free to reach out to me at 301-408-9873 or the via the Get in Touch page.  

Living in Harmony with the Seasons: Springtime Unleash the Fury Edition

Hey YOU!  Friends!  Are you feeling a little restless, or antsy?  Are you feeling a new surge of creativity as you dust off some old projects or imagine brand new ones?  Maybe you are feeling suddenly more frustrated, annoyed and snappy?  If you are you are not alone!  This my friends is the energy of SPRING! And we are right in the thick of it!

“Wait, what?”  you may say.  “How can you tell me its spring with the cold arctic temperatures and these crazy icy winds and all this snow?”   

While our culture marks spring as the time when the days were longer than the nights, other ancient cultures saw it differently.  These ancient traditions noticed that there was a shift this time of year in nature.  Somewhere around the time that the groundhog starts peeking out of his hole, nature starts to transition out of the quiet restful space of deep winter and into the bustling more productive space.    And its a transition that packs some punch!  

If you look past the snow and cold you can see this transition starting to take place.  Trees are starting to emerge from dormancy and the sap is starting to rise in the trees, preparing to nourish the new growth and leaves.  (This time of year marks the start of maple sugar season thanks to the upwards rising energy of spring!) If you were to dig up your daffodil and crocus bulbs,  you would see green shoots beginning to push through the cold soil.  Animals outside are beginning to stir and become more active—from the squirrels to the birds to the ground hogs that are waking up to check out their shadows.  My crazy cats are begging to be let out to run laps around the yard despite how cold it is outside.  This, the ancient told us, is spring!

The energy of Spring is a rising, punchy, “up and out” kind of energy.   Just think about the kind of “umph” that the little bulbs need to have to push their tender sprouts  through frozen soil.    This energy is felt by all living beings (including us!) at one level or another.  It’s the roar of a battle cry, the fierce kind of springing forth.  When the weather (or life) doesn’t cooperate with our plans, we can feel like a little blade of grass bumping up against a rock—or like we are hitting our heads against a wall and that can produce feelings of frustration or even anger.   But spring is also inventive.  Nature always find a way to return, despite the frozen ground or rocky soil.  Like the blades of grass that find their way to the cracks in the sidewalk, spring time energy is flexible and down right creative—solving problems  and finding a way forward, channeling the energy.  If you are feeling a little extra punchy these days, or if you are suddenly awash in creative problem solving well that’s just spring energy in you.

The energy of Spring is also quite windy.  This time of year, the wind literally seems to be ever present.   Windy can also mean shifty—gorgeous and 60 degrees out one day—freezing cold and snowy the next.  We can experience this as feeling ready to go, up and Adam, creative and excited one day—and maybe not so much the next.   We may also experience it as difficulty making decisions.  While this feeling can be frustrating, its just par for the course during a transition time.

The ancient medical texts tell us that the best way to care for our body is to live in harmony with the seasons.  Our bodies will function and heal better if we are aligned with nature, not fighting it.  What does that mean for us in this crazy “spring before spring”?

  • Move your body.  Especially if you are feeling a bit antsy, frustrated or punchy.  By moving we are allowing ourselves to go with that energy and put it to good use.  Whether it’s a brisk walk around the block, or a rousing game of hockey, basketball or kick the can, movement can help us not feel like we are stuck in frozen soil.
  • Get creative.  Creativity comes in all flavors.  Whether you are an artist, a writer, a teacher or a mechanic, a lawyer or a chef, creativity is an important part of work and play.  Whether you are creating a new work of art, or trying a new strategy, allow yourself to create something different.
  • Get perspective.  See new possibilities.    Make a plan.  This is a good time of year to try new things, change it up a bit.  Its also a great time to allow yourself to get out of the weeds and see the bigger picture or to develop a vision for your health, your career, your home life, or for the year ahead. 
  • Be patient.  With yourself and with others.  Just like the weather, things may be a bit up and down.  Listen to your body.  If you need to rest, rest.  If you need to move, move.  Allow yourself to oscillate between the rest of winter and the activity of spring and summer until you are ready to spring forth!    

Here is a little visual representation of the energy of spring time.  (It may be familiar to you Washington hockey fans.)

The spring transition can be a little tough on our bodies.  If you are looking for some support, this might be a good time to try acupuncture.  Contact me via the "get in touch" page and we can discuss whether acupuncture is right for you. 

Lessons from the Day of the Dead

Lessons from the Day of the Dead

We grieve because something precious, something we valued has passed or transformed. Its as natural as breathing. Grief can exist side by side with joy, but too often, we barely give it its due, so anxious we are to move on and just feel the joy.  Working with our emotions such as grief, anger, sadness and fear can help us keep flowing and healthy, even in the face of hard times.

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