Awesome Aussies – Krys Hansen

This is a slightly belated post this week, from a skype filming a fortnight ago with my fabulous and beautiful friend Krystal Hansen. The fourth vlog in my “Awesome Aussies” series introduces this gorgeous creature and discusses how May was her month of compassion, and how her next project focuses on making meditation easy and accessible to everyone, including a very interesting way of funding the project via community!

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awesome aussies

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Who is Krys? She is a modern yogi, an amazing yoga teacher and a holistic health coach. Krystal is another kindred spirit that I connected with first online via Instagram – I am @rg_acupuncture & Krys is @practisewellness – and on my arrival to Australia, she noticed some familiar local places in my photos!

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me & krys.

In Australia we met up: on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland. This is where my main base was for my trip in March, as I had flown into Brisbane from the UK. We spent hours chatting in Buderim, having had green smoothies and raw tartlets at the fabulous raw vegan cafe, Ground.

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ground cafe buderim with krys.

In the video below we chat about what compassion means and how it creates a ripple effect of energy outwards to everyone around us; how our gifts / vocations, be it yoga or acupuncture, or whatever our paths are, find us when we are in a dark place, and leads us out into the light, becoming our professions.

Krys explains more about her latest project – The Modern Yogi Meditation Ecourse – and the community funding behind it via Pozible, you can pledge your support there right NOW!

And we also discuss what overlaps there are between the three body types in Ayurveda and the Five Elements in Chinese Medicine – how it is ultimately about understanding the seasons, how that relates to you, understanding what you are, what you might be like when you are in balance, and what you might be like when you’re out of balance! And most importantly how these ancient concepts are SO relevant to modern day life and can help you be healthy in mind, body and spirit!

Be sure to listen to the very end to hear about the strength of the HEART energy – it’s a gem of scientific info that will blow your mind!

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Although the May is now gone and the month of compassion has concluded, I encourage you to look on Krystal’s instagram feed or facebook, and check out what the beautiful prompt is for the day of the month you are on NOW – it will work for the month of June too! And if you are drawn to connect in with the energy of her latest project – the method of funding and/or the actual meditation Ecourse itself – then please do visit her website or the Pozible site for more details… its going to be an EXCITING project, one I am THRILLED to be a part of! ❤

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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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12 Days of Christmas – Fire & Water Balance

So for the last three weeks my life has been in limbo whilst everything else (except treating in clinic of course) has been put on hold for me to revise for my paediatric acupuncture exams. Ideally, I had wanted to merge my 30th birthday celebrations in November, straight into Christmas loveliness, but sadly it was not to be. I have been absolutely itching for my Christmas season to get started, but have had to hit the books in every spare waking moment! But the exams were today (three of them, lasting the entire day!), and now my Christmas can officially begin! Yay!

To celebrate the fact I can now embrace Christmas in all its excess sparkliness and magic, I am partaking in “12 days of Christmas”, where I intend to do one thing each day that is inherently of festive spirit! And as it is me, there might be a couple of healthy holiday activities, a big dose of self-care, but it might be purely because it is good for the spirit, not hugely virtuous – even I like to indulge a little at this time of year! Why not join me and enjoy 12 days of Christmas joy?! Post photos of your Christmassy things each day over on my Facebook page – you’ll find all my photos there too!

And speaking of Christmas spirit, it is THE part of the holidays that I adore the MOST – how it makes me FEEL. This year is a little different in the fact that I have had to “put a cork in it” for the last few weeks, and the bubbles, sparkles, excitement and magic have been building up and building up, so now it is all gushing out in a waterfall of child-like craziness! It is this pure JOY, merriment, warmth, and upward, outward energy that corresponds to the Fire Element. Fire is all about socialising, love, celebration, parties, connections to others and joy! And this is EXACTLY what Christmas is about! Everyone gathering around an open fire, exchanging presents and good wishes, drinking mulled wine, smiling, laughing, loving – that IS Fire. I love how literal Chinese Medicine is sometimes – or most of the time actually, a lot of the theory comes from observing nature around us.

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But for those of you who have read about Water on this blog before, you may be thinking “but Christmas is in Water Winter time, not Fire time” – yes, this is true, unless you are lucky enough to live in the Southern Hemisphere (Hello Aussies and Kiwis!), the Fire time of the year is the Summer, and it is the traditional time for warm, sociable Yang energy – think BBQs, garden parties, days at the beach with family and friends – we do more, socialize more, enjoy time together. Winter is a Water time of the year where we hibernate, stay indoors, do less, go to bed earlier, enjoy a more inward, still Yin energy.

Yin-Yang-Fire-Ice

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And yet our Christmas celebrations seem to be at odds with the seasonal energy at this time of year. But it is all about BALANCE – Fire and Water balance each other out. Without the Water to temper and dampen down the Fire, it can rage and burn out of control – this is like getting sunstroke from too much sun and not enough water to rehydrate you. There are many other conditions I treat in clinic that have an imbalance of Fire and Water at their root – menopausal hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia and heartbreak to name but a few.

Conversely, if we do not have enough warmth from Fire, the Water becomes frozen, the Fire is needed to warm the Water, to make it bubble, sparkle and move. And this is exactly what we get at Christmas – we need the joy, excitement, fun, love and light at the very darkest, coldest part of the year – it’s like the candles, the lights on the tree, tinsel and sequinned decorations that shine and reflect the light and warmth. Just seeing a tree decorated beautifully makes me smile and brings me happiness. Without this, the deepest depths of Watery Winter would be pretty tough to get through.

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And that is also what acupuncture is about – bringing balance; balance to the body, mind, spirit and emotions. If you think acupuncture could help you with your balance of Fire and Water, don’t hesitate to contact me! And don’t forget to share your 12 days of Christmas JOY with me on my Facebook page – for my first day, I bought myself some festive flowers, partly for the Christmassy spirit, but also to congratulate myself on getting through all my exams! Go have a look at the photo, they’re BEAUTIFUL! Off to bed now, see you tomorrow for day 2!

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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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Woody Springtime

So Spring has sprung… well, it kinda sprung, then jumped to a week or so of Summer heat, then the snow came back and we all put our mittens and earmuffs back on… and now, it sort of seems right, April showers are here and we’re uncertain what kind of coat we should be wearing – yep, that sounds like Spring to me!

In Chinese Medicine Spring is the season associated with the Wood Element. It represents a new beginning, a coming out of the hibernation and inward energy of the Winter. There is a real push to this Yang Woody Spring energy, a force to it – like the “shout” tone of voice, the assertion, justice and defiance associated with the Element. I guess there has to be a strength to this Element and season, all the shoots need this kind of energy – they are coming up and out of the bulbs and seeds after a Winter underground, waiting, storing all their energy ready for this time when the light and temperature increases.

The colour of the Wood Element, and Spring is very aptly green, the movement of energy (or Qi) is upwards and outwards. Quite literally, I see the Wood Element in my mind as a tree, the branches reaching upwards to the sky, and outwards, growing, moving forward with strength, blossoming and blooming with leaves, flowers, and fruits – it is this positive, busy, expansive and increasing energy that we can tap into at this time of year.

The Wood Element (along with its organs of the Liver and Gall Bladder) is all about vision of the future, planning, acting on those plans and moving forward. The sense organ of Wood is the eyes, so we can “see” things in different ways during the Spring. We may have new visions, feel compelled to start a new venture, or to pick up on something we put down during the Winter months… its no surprise that everyone feels inspired to get to work on the garden, the home or the DIY as soon as Spring arrives! It’s all about new projects!

People who have Wood as their CF (Element, or constitutional factor) can thrive during this time – as the old saying goes, they really can be “in their Element”!! Ideas blossom, things flower – reflecting the activity in nature and in our gardens. Or it can be a difficult period where they feel as though they should be moving forward, but can’t. It can be difficult to “see” where the future plans or vision should be, the Qi (or energy) doesn’t flow upwards or outwards as it should, it can get stuck and stagnant… this can create what I refer to as a Springtime depression.

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And don’t forget, although we tend to revert back to one “default Element” or CF – mine is Water – we do actually all have all Five of the Elements within us, working together (harmoniously, or otherwise!), so we can ALL feel pushed positively forward on this wave of Woody springtime energy, or feel a bit lacking and unable to “see” ahead.

A tree can be flexible, bending in the wind, and weathering the storm, as long as it’s branches are properly nourished… if the tree is lacking or deficient, it can become stiff and brittle, breaking easily at the first sign of stress. And this is how some of us can feel during the Spring. We may have done too much during the Winter, or been exhausted by coughs and colds at the beginning of the year… as the rest of the world around us starts to blossom and push forward with Wood energy, we can feel flat and unable to move forward at all.

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This disparity between what we feel inside, and what the rest of the busy world appears to be doing outside, can cause us to feel hopeless, stuck and numb, we may feel as though we (or “our branches”) might break if we even try to do anything at all.

Whichever way you’re feeling at the moment, acupuncture can provide a real boost during this change of season, helping you to top up your energies, to move forward in a way that you want, overcoming any stagnation or frustrations. Treatment at this time can also help with hay fever (that might be starting to creep in around now?!) and can expel any pathogens left over from Winter that we haven’t quite managed to shake off yet… and in true Wood Element style, this “forward planning” of sorts, actually leaves our immune systems in better shape for next Winter! So Spring into action and contact me now, to start something new and positive today – acupuncture!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

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Talking Hay Fever & Allergies

With the beautiful Spring-like weather we had over the weekend, the weather people have predicted the hay fever season is set to arrive earlier than ever this year! TODAY the pollen levels are expected to peak at their highest, indicating the misery of runny noses, itchy eyes, scratchy throats and sneezing is about to commence…

During Acupuncture Awareness Week at the end of last month, I spoke as part of BBC Radio Oxford’s Health Team, on the subject of hay fever and other allergies, and how acupuncture is helpful in building the immune system to treat the root cause, as well as treating the dreaded symptoms as they arise.

Have a listen below, and hear from one of my patients, the beautiful Amanda Trott, who has suffered with hay fever as far back as she can remember, (as well as a couple of other random allergies!), and she feels acupuncture has cured her! It’s a really compelling example of a complicated and well-entrenched case, where the hay fever was even causing some allergic-asthma… she is now an acupuncture convert and can breathe easy during the summer without the sneezes!

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If you are dreading the Spring, and are already poised to reach for pills, sprays and tissues, contact me to chat through how acupuncture could help you! Avoid that heavy-head, drowsy-feeling this year, ditch the drugs and use natural medicine to strengthen your immune system and enjoy the warmer months outdoors in the brilliant sunshine!

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© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

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Heavy Metal?

Every year the Autumn brings with it change, endings and loss, of all kinds – from small ones like the leaves falling off the trees (though I’m sure it’s not a small loss for the trees themselves!), the loss of the warm summer days and light evenings, all the way through to the big losses like losing a loved one.

I remember graduating from CICM in the autumn after nearly 4 years of study and my paternal grandmother passed at exactly the same time, the same week.

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I had to deal with the loss of my classmates, loss of the college, loss of the addictive and enlightening learning, loss of the warm supportive community and deal with the change of no longer being a student and basically being out there as an acupuncturist in the big bad world… all whilst trying to grieve for my dear grandmother. It was tough to say the least.

It can seem like all the endings come at the same time when we experience loss in the Autumn, they are somehow accentuated by the time of year as the Metal Element is all about loss and grief and respect, and is associated with the Lung & Large Intestine organs. Though the emotions are difficult, there is some ironic beauty in the poetry of these losses occurring in Autumn – and we shall see why…

Chinese Medicine theory can be wonderfully literal, and it helps you to understand the dynamic of the Element, and how it may impact on your life. Metal can literally cut your skin – knives, swords and daggers are made of sharpened blades of metal… it can create a real wound that is deep and open and hurting and hideous – it can feel like this when we lose someone or something we love – the pain is palpable in the chest, the lungs struggle to breathe properly, they can’t take in any goodness from the heavens as everything feels just too raw and difficult, we can feel cut off from everything around us, as though we will never feel ok again.

But Metal is also shiny, beautiful and reflective – light can bounce off it, illuminating even the darkest of hurts. The most delicate and intricate of trinkets and charms can be made from it, sparkling gems that dazzle and amaze. The lungs can breathe in goodness from the heavens (as the Chinese describe it), allowing space for meditation, contemplation and inspiration – we can become touched, our eyes can well up… When we breathe in this air from the heavens, it can help us to let go – Metal’s link to the Large Intestine allows us to do this.

At a very basic body level, the Large Intestine releases all the rubbish (waste) we no longer need, but it also does it on an emotional level too… or not as the case may be – it never surprises me when patients who are experiencing grief and loss, suffer with constipation – it is hard to let go of someone dear to us, sometimes we don’t want to let go, or we are not ready to, so our bodies stop letting go physically. Or our cognitive brains are convinced we have done our grieving and we are totally fine, yet our energy and our bodies know otherwise, desperately holding on until we really have done some adjusting on an energetic and emotional level – the movements of Qi (energy) in our bodies know if our brains are in denial! This is where acupuncture can help these movement of energies within the grieving process, it can be an amazing support emotionally, but also physically, restoring bowel function.

Metal has the amazing ability to turn something literally shitty (Large Intestine) or something cutting (Metal), painful and suffocating (Lungs), into something poignant, touching, beautiful and shiny… this is something you will often find at funerals – it is all about the pain and the loss, the saying goodbye, letting go and getting ‘closure’, but the words spoken, the gestures made from loved ones, more often than not, turn it into something full of beauty and respect, which are the best gifts the Metal Element can give us.

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011