Feeling Into The Space

This time last month I returned from a week in sunny, hot Malta, having celebrated one of my closest friend’s fabulously continental wedding. It was wonderful & such a joy to be a part of!

On my first day back in my Thame clinic after the break, I opened the treatment room door to a space of white gorgeousness. The ladies who now collectively own The White House in Thame, had completely transformed the clinic whilst I was away! It was breathtaking. I loved it immediately.

The White House Thame Therapy Clinic Practice

But as soon as I started to set up, with my trolley & my acupuncture needles, I realised that everything FELT different. It felt as though it was my first day at a brand new clinic, not the same therapy room I’d been working in for the last four years!

It struck me that the space had changed, so the energy had changed. The FLOW of energy had changed. How I moved in the room had changed.

Physically, the treatment couch had moved, the chair for patient chat had moved, the back of the room was blocked off & contained the desk that had once been in the main part of the therapy space. Everything felt clearer & lighter, calmer & whiter, but I also felt clumsy, uncomfortable, unfamiliar. The processes that had become second nature over time were now redundant, they no longer worked.

So I just STOPPED. I took time to FEEL into the space. I adjusted how I moved in the space. I moved my trolley to the other side of the room. Immediately the “dance” of my treatments felt better. The FLOW from my trolley to the treatment couch felt more familiar again. The ENERGY was smoother, easier. I also acknowledged it would take time to really get used to the new space.

A month on, I can barely remember what the room looked like before, or how I set things up. I am used to the new flow of things, & the room certainly now has the wow factor as a therapy clinic.

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Things I learnt:

+ you can’t THINK yourself into a new space.

+ Strategising & over thinking doesn’t work, you have to FEEL into it.

+ Change feels uncomfortable for me, but “change” soon becomes the “norm” again.

+ Things aren’t set in stone, flexibility to adapt cab bring something even better.

+ Things don’t always have to be the “way I want it”, to work or to have benefits for me.

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So what do you need to FEEL into this week?

+ A relationship with another person? Has it changed? Is it new? Is it evolving?

+ A change in you? A new part of you that you’re just discovering? An old part of you that you haven’t connected with in a long time? Perhaps you just don’t feel like yourself?

+ An emotion, body issue or pain? What might it be trying to tell you? What is the dominant emotion? If the pain was an emotion what emotion would it be? Is the flow of energy stuck?

+ A work situation? An office move? A new member in your team? Is the ENERGY now different? Are you having to FEEL your way into the new situation?

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See how it feels in your BODY, & where you feel it. Trust your gut & your intuition. Make changes or adjustments as you FEEL into it, don’t think it or jump to action, FEEL it.

Embrace flexibility & balance – allow the energy to flow, allow it to find the new space, the new situation. And if you need support or guidance with energy flow, ask me about acupuncture or coaching.  Perhaps you’re already on the path to transformation & you notice you feel different? You might want someone to walk alongside you. Do you need to now FEEL into the TRUEST version of you?

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2013

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Awesome Aussies – Jia Ni Teo

I am utterly thrilled to share another one of my “Awesome Aussies” with you today… she is another beautiful health-focused soul that I met during my trip to Australia in March. The second person in my Awesome Aussies blog series is the fabulous Jia Ni Teo.

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awesome aussies

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Who is Jia Ni? She is an intuitive life coach, the creator of the “Happy, Healthy, Abundant in 6 Weeks” online program, and is now looking to work with energy blocks within her clients.

In Australia we met up: in Sydney, and went to the Conscious Club.

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jia ni & rhiannon pic

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I also met Jia Ni online during Connie Chapman’s 90 Day Transformation Project last year, as I did with so many of the women I will be featuring in this blog series… hear in this video below about our time together in that group, and all about why my favourite subject – ENERGY – is sooooo important for holistic health, and what great things Jia Ni is now doing by working with energy as well as nutrition.

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Visit jianiteo.com for more information and to get tons of free goodies that give you just a TASTE of the fabulous things this girl has to offer!

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jia ni logo

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2013

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6 Ways to Activate The Wood Element Now

I was recently asked over on my Facebook page, how we can bring more of the Wood Element into our lives? Well, ask and you shall receive! This time last year I wrote about Spring being the season of the Wood Element, in a post called Woody Springtime, but here is a short post on how we can activate the Wood Element, right now, at it’s most potent time… well, if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere that is!

1. Activate the Wood Element Taste

Each of the Five Elements has a “taste” associated with it. Fire is bitter, Water is salty, Earth is sweet, Metal is pungent and Wood is sour. Drink warm lemon water, or apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning. It will go to the Wood Element’s organs of the Liver and Gall Bladder, helping to activate their function of detoxification and movement of the Qi.

2. Move the Qi Physically

Part of the Liver’s (Wood organ) function is to move the Qi (energy) in the body smoothly to all areas of the body. It is when this movement is impaired that we get stagnation and pain – including stress, irritable bowel syndrome, tight shoulders, painful necks, headaches, migraines and so on… To help the Wood Element out, we should MOVE our bodies regularly to help move the Qi, and keep the flow nice and smooth. This could include running and going to the gym, but it doesn’t have to be as energetic as that, walking, dancing to your favourite song, or doing something slower like pilates or yoga ALL move the Qi physically!

3. Put those Plans into Action

The Wood Element is all about organising, planning, making decisions and acting on those plans. You might find that until you start properly coming out of the hibernation and slowing down of Winter (the Water Element), and into the active season of Spring that you feel stuck, stagnant and a bit low or depressed. This might be MORE of the case this year as we have had a LONG and hard Winter this year, and only NOW are things starting to bloom and blossom and move FORWARD. If you have had something in mind, get that Wood energy flowing and actually START putting them into action! You and your Wood Element will feel MUCH better for it!

4. Move the Qi with Food Energetics

As we have seen above, moving the Qi physically is important in helping the Wood Element and Liver function correctly, but we can also do this with food and drink via Chinese Food Energetics. Green tea is a great Qi mover, which makes it a very good stress-busting drink, perfect to have in your desk at work! Choose this over coffee, which only serves to put additional strain on the Liver. Additionally, it is not surprising to find that many seasonal foods such as new carrots being pulled up at this time, also help to move the Qi – nature does tend to provide EXACTLY what is needed at the RIGHT time! Take a look at how to make my green tea & carrot cake, perfect for activating and supporting the Wood Element in it’s season of Spring.

5. Assert Your Boundaries Appropriately

Another great way to activate the Wood energy at any time of the year, and bring more of the Wood Element into our lives is to assert our boundaries. This can be a tricky one for some of us, and this is where the word “appropriately” comes in. If you think about the way a willow bends and sways in the wind, it is TOO flexible, and if we use that anaolgy with our boundaries, that is not helpful for us, nor those around us – if we take on too many projects, we don’t end up doing ANY of them very well. Conversely, an old oak might not bend in the wind at all, until an almighty gust cracks it in half because it is so rigid and brittle. If our boundaries are too rigid, we cannot grow upwards and outwards as a tree ought to, we cannot change and develop. Check in with how flexible or rigid you are with your rules and boundaries, could you bring more BALANCE to your Wood Element right now?

6. Have Acupuncture

We have a couple of ways in which we can help bring more of the Wood Element into a patient’s life during the Spring. We can use what we call the horary points (Wood acupuncture points on the Wood energy channels) during the season, to ACTIVATE all the virtues of the Wood element, and help a patient embrace the energy and move forward with all the planning, organising etc that they may need to do.

We can also needle the Wood points on the channels of the Element that the patient is… this might sound more complicated, but it isn’t. For me, being a Water CF, I tend to have more points needled on the Water channels (Kidney & Bladder channels because they are the Water organs)… so during the Spring, I wouldn’t necessarily have the Wood horary points, I might have the Wood points on my Water Channels done. This then activates the Wood energy within the context of my Water Element; for example, encouraging action on plans made, might help my Water to not have such a BIG fear of the future, because there is movement going forward, my Water is no longer “frozen”.

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Don’t forget each of us has ALL of the Five Elements – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal & Water – within us, we just tend to have ONE of the Elements that we resonate most with, or is like our default setting… so although this post is PARTICULARLY relevant to those Wood CFs (constitutional factors or constitutional Elements) amongst us, during the Spring we can ALL benefit from activating and connecting in with the Wood Element.

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2013

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Got a Right Pain in the B***?! Get Acupuncture!

What?! You thought I meant another area of your anatomy?! I’m talking about the BACK! This week is “Back Care Awareness Week”, 8th – 12th October 2012, and to mark the occasion The British Acupuncture Council commissioned a nation wide poll about back pain. The results contained some surprising stats, with the increase of back pain in the under 35s, and some putting their back pain down to having too much sex!! Very saucy, but actually more in line with Chinese Medicine theory than you might imagine!

In Chinese Medicine we view back pain as being caused either by a deficiency of energy (or Qi) in the body, which feels like a constant dull ache or as though the back is weak; alternatively, back pain can come from a blockage of energy, which is like a spasm or a strong stabbing pain, that comes on quickly.

We tend to expect back pain from wear and tear in older people, this is because our Qi / energy, and Jing – which is the constitutional essence we are born with – naturally declines with age. Think of Jing as our “juicy stuff” – we get drier and more wrinkly as we get older! This reflects our natural decline in energy, Jing & Yin over a lifetime. But surprisingly, the study revealed an increase of back pain in the under 35s, particularly those aged between 18 and 24 years old – 4% visited a GP about their problem and were turned away without treatment – so it seems as though there might be some modern reasons behind younger people suffering with what is normally considered an affliction of middle age.

Things that might contribute to the deficiency type of back ache would include, overwork or burning candle at both ends – partying hard, or consistently working late and then going out on the town, repeating night after night without proper rest. All of these things deplete Yin – rest is really important to keep this topped up! Take a look at “Yin O’Clock” for my tips for “active resting”. Bad posture and things like sitting incorrectly at computer work stations in the office can also weaken the back over time.

The spasm type is usually more temporary and as it is caused by a blockage of Qi, it is often helped by movement – so this may be on the increase in younger people because they might not be getting enough exercise. Though this type can get worse after exposure to cold or damp weather – in the older age group, this tends to come from gardening or something similar, in the younger demographic, it might be down to things like sitting / sleeping on damp ground at festivals, or fashion trends like crop tops, exposing the midriff and lower back to the elements – sometimes high fashion just doesn’t go with the damp chilly British weather! Keep your Kidneys COVERED, they are the powerhouse for the warmth in your body! (See this TOP TIP for helping back pain in this week’s OK Magazine!)

Another big fashion trend may also be a culprit – the latest heavy or large “it” bag draped over one arm or shoulder puts uneven pressure on the spine, either straining it (so ladies get a spasm type pain in their backs), or weakening the strength in the back over time, creating the deficient dull ache.

And this is the bit you have been waiting for, right?! The sexy bit!! Incredibly, 2% of the entire group polled claimed their back pain was from having lots of sex, which is not such a strange concept in Chinese medicine and certainly applies to the younger age group! Even the ancient Chinese texts state that too much sex depletes the Jing, that core energy of the body – this core energy is important in nourishing and supporting the spine – so its not just acrobatics in the bedroom that could cause back pain, it could be the amount you’re getting! Tee hee!!

Sadly, nearly half of those polled (48%) rely on painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs to deal with their back pain, but only 12% tend to choose acupuncture or other natural remedies, like massage. What a shame! With the latest research on painkillers actually creating more negative side-effects if they are taken daily or on a regular basis, it makes seeking a healthier alternative even more important.

Acupuncture is a great alternative to painkillers and/or anti-inflammatory drugs, as it seeks to address the root cause of the back pain, and relieve it by boosting the energy that is lacking, or moving the stuck energy that is causing the pain. This differentiation of identifying EXACTLY what is going on in a patient’s body is the benefit of using acupuncture to treat back pain, and means the results are often better in the long term.

If you think acupuncture could help you with your back issues, please do get in touch – choose to NOURISH your body from the inside out, STRENGTHEN any deficiencies, and get HEALTHIER, as well as reducing pain!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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Yin and Yang 101

In clinic I talk about Yin and Yang a LOT. Whether it be because I am talking to a menopausal woman about needing to replenish all the cooling, moisturising, nourishing Yin energy in her body to help hot flushes, or whether I am explaining how we see migraines occurring when the hot, loud, strong Yang energy rushes up to the head, Yin and Yang are key. They are the basis of diagnosis and treatment in the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) form of acupuncture, as opposed to the Five Element side of things, which is, unsurprisingly, the remit of the Five Element style of acupuncture – I am lucky as an integrated practitioner, I truly get the best of both worlds!

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So, as I like to try and at least pretend I am not some old hippy sprouting out groovy, psychedelic mantras about yin and yang, I thought I would share the basic differences between the two types of energy, so you can get a feel of where we acupuncturists come from when we see this energy manifesting in the bodies of our patients, but also in the outside world.

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YIN

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YANG

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We each have our own balances of Yin and Yang in the body, and this will change according to the time of day, the season, our emotional state, or any illness we are suffering… the key is to ensure that despite the fluctuations in Yin and Yang at different times, we maintain some balance that bares resemblance to Yin and Yang in nature and the universe around us. This is what maintains health.

For example, at night time Yang should be receding and the Yin energy coming to the fore, as night time is Yin time; symptoms like hot flushes at night or insomnia where you cannot fall asleep, or you keep waking throughout the night, suggest that there is a lack of the Yin energy during a time where it should be abundant. And vice versa, during the day we should be alive, energised, happy and moving – if we feel tired, as though our limbs are heavy, everything is an effort and we need to sleep during Yang time, it indicates we are deficient in Yang energy to get us going. Acupuncture can help restore this balance, and help symptoms, by working with the levels and relationship of Yin and Yang in the body.

If you want to know more about Yin and Yang, or feel that they may be out of balance in your body (and / or emotions), contact me today, or leave a comment below – Yin and Yang, it’s not just for old hippies!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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Err, What’s Up Doc?!

For those staunch followers of the blog, you may remember last Autumn when I did some baking with seasonal produce, making a breakfast loaf that had all the right energetics for nourishing the digestive system, the Lungs, and resolving phlegm – all things that are needed to maintain health during the Autumn and into Winter.

Back in April, I did another short film about Spring and food, but with one thing and another it has taken me some time to edit it and get it online. In it, I have once again taken the principles of Chinese Food Energetics (see previous post if you don’t know what I mean by this), and come up with a recipe with spring carrots (that’s where the Bugs Bunny title catchphrase comes in – sorry, I couldn’t resist it!) and green tea, that is just perfect for the season, the season’s organs, and essentially moving that Qi! And, don’t forget, I wrote about this season a while back, in the Woody Springtime blog post, so get the lowdown about what Spring means in Chinese medicine, right there…

As for here, I am going to keep the writing brief, as the explanations are in the video below, but I thought I would share the energetics of the ingredients, so you can keep track with my rambling! But ensuring the smooth flow of Qi in the body can help with stress, depression, headaches, irritable bowel syndrome (also listen to my recent interview on BBC Radio Oxford about how acupuncture can help IBS), period pain and bloating.

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Carrots = neutral in temperature, sweet in flavour, route into the body via Stomach, Lungs & Liver, tonifying & circulating Qi in the body.

Green Tea = cool in temperature, bitter & sweet in flavour, affects the Liver, helping smooth the circulation of Qi.

Raisins = boost Qi, has the Liver as one of its energetic organ routes into the body.

Almonds = help circulation of Qi, boost levels of Qi, resolve Phlegm.

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Breakfast = energy packed, ground almonds add protein, builds Qi for your day.

Elevenses = mid-morning snack, moving & smoothing Qi, reducing stress levels.

Afternoon Tea = picks you up during the 4pm energy lull, boosting Qi & getting Qi moving.

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If you would like to make the recipe, visit the downloads page of the website and click the thumbnail! Acupuncture works on the principles of Chinese Medicine, and as acupuncturists we can use this theory to guide our lifestyle and dietary choices. In short, we can complement our treatments with recipes and foods that will further enhance what we wish to do with the Qi (or energy) in our bodies – move it, boost it, nourish it, and so on. The good news is, that YOU can do that too, in your own home! To discuss more about how Chinese Food Energetics could help you towards better health, contact me, or leave a comment below! Happy Spring Baking!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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Irritable Bowel Syndrome on BBC Radio Oxford

At the beginning of the week I was asked to go on BBC Radio Oxford’s afternoon show to talk about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and how acupuncture can help sufferers with their symptoms. ITV’s Dr Hilary Jones was also on the show to give the conventional medicine view, and to highlight a new study into the illness that suggests 45% of Britons suffer some form of digestive problem.

IBS is an umbrella term for many digestive issues such as pain or discomfort in the abdomen – anywhere between the chest and the hips – and also includes changes in frequency or consistency of stools.

Jo Thoenes (of “Jo in the Afternoon” fame) spoke to a lovely patient of mine, and fellow alternative therapist, Anna Shaw, about how treatment with me helped her with bloating and pain, that was affected by stress and her menstrual cycle. And I explained how we view IBS in Chinese Medicine – all to do with the smooth flow of Qi or energy within the body. Take a listen to what she, and I, said below:

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Emotions can also disrupt the smooth flow of Qi. Stress, frustration or anger can cause energy to move upwards, interrupting the digestive energy’s normal flow. Worry can knot the Qi, causing stagnation, that creates pain and bloating.

We can also offer advice underpinned by Chinese Food Energetics, identifying possible food intolerances, like wheat or dairy, guiding patients toward better food choices. Additionally with IBS, adding in foods that help promote the smooth flow of energy in the body can be beneficial – these foods include green tea, lemon, carrots and almonds – stick around for a recipe and Spring baking film coming your way next week with these very ingredients! As Spring is the season when energy is all about flow and movement and growth, its particularly important to ensure the smooth and correct flow of Qi at this time!

If you recognise some of the symptoms discussed during the show, contact me to discuss how acupuncture could help you have a better quality of life – stop thinking about the potential of needing to go to the toilet wherever you are, stop thinking about whether you can wear your favourite slinky outfit or whether your tummy is too bloated, stop thinking about if you can eat out at a fabulous restaurant without getting pain… start living and feel better! If you’re weary of needles, talk to me about how Chinese Food Energetics could make a difference to your diet.

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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