Monthly Archives: February 2016

Welcome to the Year of the Fire Monkey

by Christi De Larco, L.Ac.

Chinese Lunar New Year, one of the largest holiday celebrations in the world, occurs two lunar months after the winter solstice.  Festivities begin on the darkest night of the month on the new moon and last until the 15th day of the lunar month when the moon is the brightest, serving as both a reminder and a celebration of the return of spring.

The New Year celebrations often include parades, fireworks (the louder the luckier), red lanterns and other red decorations because the color red represents happiness and life.  Red isn’t a color often seen in winter so its use in this holiday is a nod to the spring and the year ahead.

Legend has it that in ancient times Buddha asked all the animals of the earth to meet him on Chinese New Year.  Twelve came, and Buddha named a year after each and pronounced that people born in each animal’s year would have some of that animal’s personality traits.

February 8th, 2016 marked the beginning of the year of the monkey. People born in a monkey year are said to be inquisitive, energetic, gregarious and mischievous.  And much like an actual monkey, the monkey year should be fast paced and marked by flux, as if the year itself has a short attention span.  For those who prefer a steady pace with slow transitions, this year may challenge you to roll with change and may frustrate you if you find that you cannot.

The year of the monkey is considered a time that favors innovation, creativity and breakthroughs; monkey years are said to produce unconventional solutions to long-standing problems.  This is a time to embrace the inventive and run with new ideas or even an idea you’ve been mulling a while that has seemed a little out of reach; dare to be different!

And this year will be the ideal year to start a meditation, prayer or relaxation practice.  The energy of the monkey year is said to jump quickly from project to project, from topic to topic with frenetic energy and can create an unsettled or scattered mind in any of us.

A simple tool we can use even when we’re feeling the most unsettled is a walking meditation. Choose a flat path (ideally outdoors in nature but it can be indoors if you have enough room) on which you can slowly walk back and forth.  Before you begin, take a few minutes to mentally scan your body, how do you feel, where do you feel tension, is your breath shallow or deep?  And as you walk, concentrate on your feet, placing each step with care, what sensation are your feet feeling, do you feel a pebble underfoot, is there a pull on your ankle, when does your arch touch the ground, when does your toe?  As your mind wanders just steer it back toward the sensations in your feet.

Bringing awareness to our bodies and the sensations we experience for a few minutes a day helps keep us grounded and present in the current moment. The benefits of this simple meditative practice can include alleviating pain; reducing anxiety and depression; lowering blood pressure and increasing focus.

Good Luck in the New Year!

Acupuncture as a Path to Healing: Consistency Required

by Jesse Andreas, L.Ac.

With any endeavor in life, the road to success has two critical elements: a system that works, and the willingness follow the system for long enough to get the results we are looking for. If we intend to follow a diet for weight loss, we need an effective program, and we need to stick with it long enough to see results. Finding the road that
leads to our destination is essential, but it is not enough; we must
keep moving along that road until we arrive.
 
For thousands of years, acupuncture has proven itself to be an
effective system of health care, treating not only pain, but many other health conditions as well. The most common reason someone does not attain the results they are looking for is that they do not receive treatment often enough, or for a long enough period of time to receive the full benefit of acupuncture. We should adhere to the course of treatment recommended by the practitioner.
 
Most of us have been prescribed antibiotics at some point in our
lives. The doctor instructed us to follow a complete course of
treatment, to take the pills every day for 10 days, even after we felt
better. This ensured the results would last. If we took the pills for a day or two, then stopped because we felt better, we may expect the
sickness to return. This does not mean that the medicine was
ineffective, it means we didn’t use it properly. The same applies to
acupuncture. In order to achieve lasting results we need to follow
through with a full course of treatment. The course of treatment will
vary depending on the condition being treated, and the patient’s
overall state of health.
 
The effects of acupuncture treatments are cumulative, with each
successive treatment building on the one before it. Often after a
treatment, a patient will report that they felt relief for a few days, and
then their symptoms started to return. This means the treatments are
working, and acupuncture is a viable treatment option for them. The
next step is to make sure that they get enough treatments, in an
appropriate time span in order for their bodies to fully heal.
 
The more treatments they get, the more the severity of symptoms will lessen; they will experience more symptom-free days, until they reach the point where their body is strong enough to heal completely. Chronic conditions do not develop overnight, and they take some time to reverse. The goal is a result that lasts, not a temporary relieving of symptoms.
 
In China, acupuncture is performed with much greater frequency
than in America. Patients in China may get acupuncture every day for
a couple of weeks, and then be done. In American culture this is not
always practical, so patients usually get treatment once or twice per
week. This method still produces results, it just may take a bit longer.
As a general rule, we should be prepared to allow one month of regular treatment for every year we have been dealing with the condition. We want patients to approach to approach their treatment with realistic expectations, and that rarely means complete healing in two or three visits. 
 
This is truly an amazing medical modality. Acupuncture safely
and effectively deals with many health conditions we face today, and it is our sincere hope that all who can be helped by this medicine are
able to make proper use of it.