One of the things that I love about Chinese medicine is that is encompasses every part of a human being (as well as the natural environment and extends outwards to the entire universe!). This month an excellent article on spirituality and its importance in traditional Chinese medicine by Mr. John Voigt, a Qi Gong master and writer for many publications about Chinese medicine and martial arts including Qi Journal. We discuss yin and yang in the context of constitution and food choices, we have the third installment of alignment and an excellent recipe for a liver flush immune elixir! Enjoy!
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Here Are This Months Articles...
Are You Yin or Yang?
By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP
The forces of yin and yang describe everything in the universe. Everything has its opposite, and yet, each is an intrinsic part of the other. Everything that exists has a yin as well as a yang aspect and health and the human being are no exception. In Chinese medicine, a person is seen to be made up of yin and yang forces. Each of the organ systems have yin and yang energies, and although this is a dynamic relationship and constantly changing, when these forces become unbalanced, illness can result. Below is a list of some of the basic things that are considered yin and yang, but remember, each of these individually also has a yin and yang aspect.
A human being also exhibits yin and yang energies. Each organ system is striving for a relative balance of its yin and yang forces, but the body as a whole often has a tendency to be more yin or yang. Are you the kind of person who can go out in the winter without a coat? Or do you need to wear socks and jammies to bed even on a hot sumer night? Are you drawn to frozen foods like ice cream, or do you crave hot drinks like tea and hot chocolate no matter what the season? Knowing the tendency of your body to be more yin or yang can help you determine how to bring it back into balance by using all the tools that Chinese medicine has in its impressive tool box.
Spirituality and Traditional Chinese Medicine
By John Voigt
The key character in the Chinese word “spiritual” is shen (神).
From the Yellow Emperor’s Canon of Internal Medicine: If you have shen, you will progress towards health. If you lose your shen, you will lose your life. 
The modern standard reference book for Chinese characters, the Hanyu Da Zidian (2006) defines shen this way: Celestial gods/spirits of stories/legends, namely, the creator of the myriad things in heaven and earth and the supreme being. Spirit-mind-consciousness. Magical, supernatural, miraculous; mysterious, ability to divine the unknown, amazing foresight. And—(especially telling for our purposes)—a highly skilled doctor.
Shen can show itself as something good or something evil. The word shen may be easily applied to such entities as ghosts, goblins, devils, monsters, and demons, all of whom (historically at least) have been said to bring about illnesses. 
The goal of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is that by effecting a healthy flow of qi-life energy in the meridians, and gaining a correct balance of yin and yang energies in the organs, the body and mind gain health and wellbeing. A goal of the spiritual path is turning away from the myriad attractions and distractions around us and returning to a union with the Infinite, the Absolute, the Divine.
Both these health and spiritual goals are alluded to in the opening of chapter 42 of the Dao De Jing.
Dao De Jing/Tao Te Ching
Chapter 42 (excerpt) - Genesis
(Before the beginning was)
Dao from which is born One (unmanifested Qi).
One which gives birth to Two (the static polarities of yin and yang).
And from Three, creation [in time and space] unfolds and all things are born.
All things carry yin on their backs and embrace yang in their arms.
When female-yin and male-yang mix and blend their Qi (breath/life energy), harmony is obtained. And from Three, creation [in time and space] unfolds and all things are born.
The author, Laozi (Lao Tzu) purposefully has used seeming the vague open-ended words: Dao-One-Two-Three-All Things. But their lack of specificity enables the thoughtful reader to creatively interpret each word.
The Dao (the “Way”) as an archetypal Mother giving birth to the One, its alter-image, the Hidden Qi: the potential for time, space and consciousness to exist. From the Hidden Qi there appears Two, the separate as yet non-interacting Yin and Yang  - therefore there is no movement and so there is nothing to be seen.
From the Two comes Three, a manifesting Qi generating interaction and movement between the previously static yin and yang. And so is born all the myriad things and thoughts possible throughout the entire universe. 
The key to spirituality in TCM, as well as in certain mystical religious practices, is to walk the walk of this cosmological emanation in reverse. That is to say from the All (“ten thousand things” of the original text) to Three (Heaven, Earth and Humans), then Two (yin-yang), then One (unmanifested Qi) as the traveler maintains her connections to the commonplace ordinary world of others, thus safely returning into the harmony, purity, power and compassion of the Way.
Alignment - Part 3
By Steven Lubka
Performing a Cranial - Spinal Reset
Finally, I want to offer a technique for resetting the whole system when it is under stress. Anytime you feel tension or discomfort you can perform this to initiate a relaxation response.
The first step is positioning oneself in the above posture (see article for posture image). The key points are as follows:
Once one is in the following posture it is important to spent a moment attending to the breath. Allow the breath to shift into the lower belly, this will often happen automatically as the chest is pressed to the ground through the position. As one breathes they will feel an opening in the sides of the back. This mechanism of the breath force kicking back against the chest which is pinned to the floor serves to reset the spinal vertebra.
After one has spent a moment in the position it is time to address the skull. While in the position you now move to adopt correct oral posture. To really perform the reset you want to bring the molars together with a degree of force as you push the tongue against the roof of the mouth with 80% of the total force available to you at that time. If the amount of force available to you at the time with your tongue is enough to overpower the strength of the jaw muscles which keep the molars together decrease the force of the tongue. The aim of this is to release the jaw joint and it will only occur if the bite muscles are being engaged in this way. Performing this oral exercise while the body is rotated in this will serve to remedy any twisting of the skull, as well as the rest of the body. Once you have performed this on one side of your body flip yourself over and perform the same exercise on the other side. I recommend this highly as correcting the various ways the body is rotationally imbalanced is something which is often neglected.
Finally, there is a quality which is essential the individual cultivates to really bring the total force of their being towards the journey of physical healing. This quality is the driving force of the whole process and if one were to do nothing else, I would simply suggest they cultivate it. The quality I am describing I would call , in my own words, a “felt sense” of the body. In other terms would could call it interoception and proprioception, the sensing of the internal condition of one’s body. This means that one must deepen their awareness of what their body feels like and be able to respond intelligently to the feeling state of the body. This carries emotional connotation as well. It is the refining of one’s sense of the emotional energies that circulate in the body, and the cultivation of a perspective of consciousness which is able to simply observe the impact of emotions without being drawn into reaction or identification with them. This quality can be cultivated through practicing continuous awareness of the various tensions once experiences in the body, as well as attending to each body part individually. What this means is to take a moment in meditation to feel what each body part is feeling. In one sense this is a coming home to the flesh, which we often turn away from or neglect. In another sense it is simultaneously important to develop an observer consciousness which is not attached to these things. This is a coming home to the spirit. If one does nothing else, cultivate these essential qualities.
Quote of the Month
There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.
~ Albert Einstein
Watch How 900 Ducks Protect Their Vineyard From Pests
It’s impossible for there to be a happier workforce than this army of ducks parading toward an easy meal.
The Vergenoedg Wine Estate in South Africa employs a massive bird flock of over 900 Indian Runner ducks to eat all the pests in their grape vineyard.
Tourists can watch the troupe eagerly speed towards the grape vines every morning, with anticipation for munching all the slugs, bugs, and snails – and it’s as clear as a glass of Chardonnay that they love their job.
Acupuncture & Chinese Medicine in the News
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If you would like to read about the latest scienntific studies involving Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine, please see our "Current Research" page to find all the latest. :)
Recipe Of The Month
Liver Flush Immune Elixir Recipe
The ReFresh Cookbook - Ruth Tal with Jennifer Houston
This recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks, that comes from one of my favourite restaurants in Toronto - Fresh. It was a wonderful place to eat with a diverse menu of fresh, raw, vegan (and non vegan) dishes that tasted delicious and you knew were amazing for you. You can learn a little bit more about them and their vision here.
This juice recipe is one I have recommended to patients for years and have made for myself many times. It is especially helpful if your liver is congested - you are experiencing a lot of anger and/or frustration or you are having any menstrual problems like cramps.
Some Signs of Liver Stagnation
Liver Flush Immune Elixir
Formerly called Bukowski's Liver Flush after the prolific poet and devout alcoholic Charles Bukowski, this combination is spicy, sweet, and intense. You can gradually increase the amount of beet juice in this recipe as you become accustomed to its detoxifying effect on your body. Beet juice has powerful cleansing benefits to the liver, kidneys and blood. Be sure to drink lots of water throughout the day.
Juice the ginger first. Follow with the beets and lemon. Finish with the grapefruit. Stir in the cayenne pepper. Drop in the milk thistle. Pour into a tall glass.
Something I want to be sure to note to the uninitiated, is that drinking beet juice has a direct effect on your poop and will make it bright red, looking like blood. I say this because of the number of times that I have had patients call me in a panic sure that they were dying because they were bleeding from the inside. It can be scary indeed.
About Chinese Medicine Living
Chinese Medicine Living is a place where Chinese medicine principles are applied to the way we live our lives to improve health on every level. In our articles, interviews and information we strive to teach how the body and the world is seen through the eyes of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) so you can better understand its theories, and how to live a healthy balanced lifestyle according to its principles. How TCM views the body and its connections to emotions, living in harmony with the world around us, and how to achieve the balance synonymous with health are the ways in which we strive to impart the limitless wisdom of Chinese medicine. Welcome.
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