Maybe Eddard Stark was right and we soon will see scenes like this one again in Brighton!
Our friends up in the north of the U.K. have had their part of the snow already. But here the days have been crisp and clear, with more sun hours in East Sussex in the month of january than in years.
As the year reaches its darkest period around the solstice of december, the days are getting slowly but steadily longer again. And although there are many signs of the upward movement in nature, it will take still several probably harsh months to get to the start of spring.
One has to maintain patience and remain protected from the cold winds that affect the crucial organs of this period; the kidneys. In oriental culture keeping the centre of the body warm and protected is of crucial importance. All the willpower and forward drive is stored in what in Japanese is called ‘Hara’, the lower abdomen of which the kidneys are the deepest part.
In the language of Oriental knowledge, the kidneys store ‘the heaven before’, the ancestral energy. They control what is called in Chinese: ‘Jing’, which means ‘ Marrow’. The kidneys belong to the ‘Shao Ying’ the smallest Ying, the deepest energetical part of the body. The ‘Marrow and the Deepest Interior’ are an indication of the importance given to the kidney energy.
‘Jing’ is the first part of a human that develops as an embryo; the central nervous system with the brain, the hormonal system, ovaries and testicles and later on the bone marrow, teeth and hearing.
For the survival of the race this aspect of our body should be kept in optimal conditions. In all Oriental practice the preservation of the energy of the ovaries and testicles is the long-term goal. It is maintained at an optimum condition by the ‘Heaven after’ which is based on the quality of our breathing and our diet.
Most people don’t realise how much energy is needed to keep our body temperature around 37 degrees centigrade, therefore the modern western habit of eating cooling foods all year round are causing serious problems. Eating not only salads but drinking fruit juices in combination with sugar and milk products in the winter period causes massive phlegm production, making the body sluggish with its immediate effect on immunity.
Bring out the warming winter stews and soups!
The nostalgic reflections based on the almost standstill in nature invites us to look to the future again, laying the basis of the coming year. And although life can look vulnerable it’s not fragile.
Last week, in my village in Barcelona province, I saw the first almond flowers, covered in frost. A spectacular poetic sight that makes you wonder. A strong little flower almost frozen but it holds on to the branch that holds on to the stem that stands with its roots in the earth, like fragile people, covered in the hardness of circumstances who keep going on.
A beautiful image of the fact that life is not as fragile as we sometimes think. The mother of an old friend, who was born in Indonesia, comparing the life of homeless people in Holland with those in her own country always told us: it’s easier to be poor in a tropical country. Definitely true.
I see the homeless around Hove sleeping in the shop entrances and apart from the loneliness they emanate sleeping on the street, you think about the cold and humidity they have to deal with. I moved from Amsterdam to Spain in 1993 but when I return to Amsterdam, I still meet people who were living on the street when I left and are still doing that now, 22 years later. Although there is a pungent sadness about their lives, it is obvious that their kidneys are strong.
Their life might be mixed up with drugs and alcohol but their ‘Jing’ which is the base of the willpower to survive is extraordinarily powerful.
‘There is much to be learned from strangers’ and sometimes we tend to judge too easily.
I would like to share one of my favourite videos in which Delphine Galou sings an Aria from the Matthäus Passion from Johann Sebastian Bach: Erbarme dich mein Gott. (have mercy my Lord).
Galou is a contra alt and the timbre of her voice enhances the dramatical poetry of the piece. She is accompanied by an outstanding ensemble that makes for an performance that, I believe, wont leave anybody untouched.
MY FAVOURITE TREE
My favourite tree in front of my house in Hove, a still small but sturdy chestnut has lost now but all of its leaves. They already turned golden brown and although the last ones are holding on to the branches with all their might, they also soon will be scattered by the winds that have changed and now blow with a ‘Cutting sound’ as the wind blows in autumn as the Nei Jing (The book of the Yellow Emperor, the classic discourse on Acupuncture) states.
Summer gave way already 6 weeks ago to autumn here in Sussex and one can see it in the changing of the light. Not only that, the seagulls who normally wake us up in the morning at the utter delight of Micaela, are returning to our rooftops, from their passage at the cliffs, hovering over the sea. Although the images of spring impress with their freshness and strength of new life, the colour of autumn trees show the grandeur of the British country side in all it’s elegance.
It’s autumn when all things in nature reach their peak in full maturity, the grains have ripened, the grapes are bursting with their sweet must and the harvest is made. The development of a whole year has reached it’s peak and the expanding energies are making a U-turn, contraction and concentration taking form. ‘Yang has changed into Yin’, the ‘active’ phase has given place to the ‘passive’. The growing has changed to the gathering.
It’s time to leave the lighthearted outgoing life of walks on the beach, sitting at the terraces and night parties to a more weather protected outgoing and indoor life.
Many people find this period of the year one of the emotionally most difficult, the image of the falling leaves is an oh so pungent image of ‘letting go’ and imminent death. The harsh weather induces harsh emotional states. More people slip into depressed moods in autumn than in any other season.
Ancient knowledge states that autumn should be lived with a calm and peaceful state of mind, with restrain from excess sadness, the most common emotion in autumn, to prepare the smooth transition to winter.It’s time to gather one’s spirit and energy, to be more focused (than in the ‘light’ summertime), and be more centred to not let the senses ‘run free’.
The organ that is at the centre of our attention should be the lungs, inducing us to practise breathing exercises more than in any other season. The lungs are at its most vulnerable point in the whole year
.Eddard Stark, the Lord of Winterfell warns us all that; ‘Winter is coming’, probably he realises that after 9 years of summer maybe 9 years of winter might be at our doorsteps. Maybe he knows as Lord of the North what it means, he and his people will be the first to suffer from it. He seems to resemble ancient knowledge, he has lived long winters.
Warning his brother Benjen is hardly necessary, as a renowned raider of the Night Watch he is prepared to protect his people from the white walkers (The uncontrollable power of the north energy), one has to prepare oneself in advance, before the cold strikes.
Ancient knowledge also tells us that in the season we are in we have to prepare for the illnesses of the next one.
At the same time, executing the ‘deserter’ from the night watch he wants to show his youngest son Bran that one has to take total responsibility for one’s actions and judgements and act according to that. The ‘easy’ times of summer have gone and we’re preparing ourselves for winter. One has to make the passage to growing up.
This is much more than a metaphorical act.
The gathering aspect of autumn should lead to reflection of what we have done the last year, the gathering of our harvest, to reflection of where we want to go, and preparing us to gathering the necessary energy to burst out in the next spring.
Our disconnection from the changing of the seasons is disconnecting us from ‘easy’ power available ‘if we just would listen’……just looking at the first light of the sun, just watching the changing of the tides would help us to connect to the changing powers of nature even in the heart of Manhattan, and help us to adjust to the bigger powers that rule us.
The tendency to give in to melancholia and excessive sadness in autumn has to be controlled, the best way to counteract that is to go out walking, preferably in nature: forest, beach, mountains, but even in the city. Excessive grief will damage the lungs and will harm the kidney (winter) energy, not only can it lead to diarrhoea (the large intestine is the ‘active’, yang, part of the lungs) but it can also inhibit the kidneys (winter organ) to help digest properly and damage their ‘storing’ qualities. It’s in winter when all things in nature wither and return ‘home’.
Autumn is a time when we turn to our friends and family and people we might don’t even know, in struggling despair, to inspire and give solace and to convince them that after ‘Winter has come’ there will always be another Spring, even if we have to wait 9 years for it.
Autumn for me is a period to sit at home after a long walk, sip tea, listen to Schubert’s ‘Lieder ohne Worte’ (cello sonatas) and make plans for the next year.
I would love to share this magnificent interpretation of one of these ‘Songs without words’ by Camille Thomas and Beatrice Berrut.
Name: Blanca G.
Reason for consultation: Asthma
Antecedents: nothing relevant to the case.
Parents: The mother had several vascular brain incidents with almost total recovery. The father has a large history of conditions with Diabetes Mellitus., psoriasis, hypertension, tachycardia, rheumatic arthritis and the last year impotence. There are precedents of Diabetes in this part of the family.
Appearence: Slender woman,especially the legs, happy expression, strong look, very energetic.
History: Her asthma started when she was 24 years old related to a situation of high tension due to the bankruptcy of her father’s company.
The treatment she was receiving consisted of puffs of Ventolin and Prednizon during more than three years.
After those three years she looked for help abroad. A French specialist changed her medication to: Terbasnin, Terbutalinsulfathe and Pulmicord.
Asthma is a broncheo spasm that produces a restriction of air followed by a swelling in the mucus producing lining of the lungs. The cramp in the bronchus produces a difficulty in breathing out leading to an accumulation of mucus.
T.O.M. differntiates asthma between: Xiao; hissing, sibilant and Chuan: lack of breath.
The accumulation of ‘Tan’ which means: phlegm is a RESULT of asthma not the cause of the broncheo spasm. Would the asthma be caused by phlegm one would expect in diagnose a swollen tongue with a thick white layer, but that is normally not the case.
To differentiate :the Chuan condition improves when Tan is eliminated but Xiao hides in the lungs and comes out in bursts. It is the retention of ‘wind’ in the body. That is why diagnose by X-rays is not accurate because the phlegm only accumulates after several years.
‘Early onset asthma’ that starts during childhood is many times wrongly diagnosed because its first symptom is eczema. The treatment of this with cortisone, ‘pushes’ the asthma inside, worsening the condition.
The asthma that starts in adolescence, normally does not produce skin problems in the first stage.
The retention of ‘wind’ is normally due to a weak defensive energy (Wei Qi) and weakness of the energy of the lungs and the kidneys.
It is the kidneys who have to ‘recieve’ the life energy or: ‘Qi’. The tract of the kidney meridian makes it (picture) clear how the kidneys are related to the power of breathing in.
That is why traumas during birth and the ’first breath’ can have such a big influence on the development of asthma. The natural course of the birth process is of big importance because it ‘starts’ the whole organism and establishes the connection between the lungs and the kidneys.
That is why there is higher occurrence uof asthma under children born by caesarian.
Another aspect is the prematural cutting of the umbilical cord that inhibits the entrance of Immunoglobuline G (an important factor in our immunity system) in the newborn. This may weaken our defensive energy and can become an extra factor in the development of asthma.
The role of the kidneys is also shown by the fact that many woman who suffer from asthma see an important improvement during their pregnancy.
Pulse: tense, especially in the upper region, floating.
Tongue: normal tongue body and colour, little bit red at the point.
There is a feeling of coldness in the body, lack of air, oppression in the thorax, white mucus, frequent headaches and irritability especially in confrontations with authoritarian men.
Diagnose: Cold wind invasion in the lungs with a base of ‘wood insulting metal’. The overcharged energy of the liver inhibits the functioning of the lungs.
The cold wind has invaded the layer of the ‘Wei Qi’ (defensive energy) of the lungs and inhibits the dispersing and descending function of the lungs causing the lack of air and producing cough.
Treatment: Liberating the exterior, restore the descending and dispersing energy of the lungs , expels cold wind. Added to this is: Tonify the defensive energy of the kidneys and the lungs and harmonise the ‘Shen’ (mind).
Used points: Feng Men (bladder 12), Fei Shu (bladder 13), Lieque (lungs 7), Kongzu (lungs 6), Dingchuan (extra), Shen Men (heart 7), Fengchi (Gallbladder 20) and Jianjing (Gallbladder 21).
Feng Men and Fei Shu were first treated with cupping to liberate the exterior and establish the dispersing and descending function of the lungs. After that they were needled and direct moxa to expels the cold.
Lieque liberates the exterior , expulses cold wind and helps the descending function of the lungs by opening Ren Mai (The sea of Yin).
Kongzui is a powerful accumulation point that is used in acute asthma.
Dingchuan (half a chun next to Dazhui, Du mai 14), is used in acute lack of breath.
Shen Men harmonises the Shen and calms the mind.
Fengchi and Jianjing disperse wind and by relaxing the trapezius muscle help the descending function of the lungs.
This was combined with Bioenergetic exercises to strengthen ‘Grounding’. These produce strong vibrations in the legs to open the channels and gave spectacular results.
This was followed by ‘pushing hands’ exercises (Qi Kung) to harmonise respiration with movement.
The emotional therapy helped to confront her self with the demanding pressure of the father and the competitive relationship with the mother.
Therapy made it obvious how the inhibition of emotions in the development of her character had produced a stagnation of the liver energy that led to ‘wood insulting metal’.
After an improvement in her condition we changed to a treatment concentrated on liberating the chest and the flow of the energy of the liver (Qi Ji).
Gonsun (spleen 4) opens Chong mai meridian that connects with the uterus, essence of woman.
Neiguan (pericard 6) reduces the tension in the chest.
Shen men (heart 7), calms the mind.
Tai Chong (liver 3) regulates the flow of the liver energy.
This treatment produced immediate improvement of her state of mind.
After this phase we moved to a more structural treatment.
Shen Shu (bladder 23), Zhishi (bladder 52), Guanyuan (Ren mai 4), Huangshu (kidney 6) and Fi Shu (bladder 13) to tonify the defensive energy of kidneys and lungs.
Lieque (lung 7), Chize (lung 5) and Shanzhong (Ren mai 17) to liberate the chest and reestablish the descending function of the lungs.
Shentin (du mai 24) and Shen Men (heart 7) to harmonise the mind.
Zu San Li (stomach 36) and Fenglong (stomach 40) to stimulate bloodproduction and dissolve phlegm.
Her asthma has virtually disappeared.
Name: Marja M.
Date of birth: 8/11/50.
Reason for consultation: Pain in the right knee.
Clinical background: nothing relevant to the case
Finnish lady, widowed, with a robust constitution, with a happy character, outgoing, sporty history, with a history of pain in the knees during the last ten years.
Last year she had a knee protests implant in the left leg for lack of cartilage and unbearable pain.
The operation has been a succes with successful recovery.
For reasons of compensation during the recovery, but probably already before the operation, the pain has passed to the right knee.
The last ten years, after the death of her husband, she has stopped to practice sport and subsequently has gained weight. Around 40 kilos. One thinks about a state of anxiety.
She is mother of two daughters , already grown up, with one (of 28) with a large and severe history of bulimia and anorexia, now in successful recovery.
Complexion: pink with a flushed face, shining eyes, tendency to sweat with a slow and painful mobility.
Palpation shows serious tension in the shoulder and neck area as well in the lumbar region.
Pulse is fast and big, but empty and slipping as well, tense as well in the liver area as in the heart zone. Indicating an emptiness of yin of the kidneys and the liver with a condition of heat combined with ‘dampness’ (tan).
The tongue is red without cover even redder in the sides and the tip.
The syndrome of ‘Bi’ from Traditional Oriental Medicine means: Painful Obstruction Syndrome has its cause in the invasion of cold humid ‘wind’. In the case of invasion of wind one sees painful inhibition of movement in the muscles and articulations moving from one articulation to the other. Combined with ‘dampness’ it gives way to swelling in one articulation with the feeling of numbness and heaviness, made worse by humid climatological circumstances.
Combined with cold it produces acute pain with limitation of mobility, normally only on one side.
The combination of wind with ‘dampness’ and cold can on a long turn produce, as in the case of this lady a situation of ‘Bi’ syndrome with heat.
Especially when there is a background of emptiness of ‘yin’ (‘cool’ substance, interior, liquids, nutrition) it gives rise to intense pain combined with heat in the articulations, painful at though, swelling, redness and limitation of mobility.
Diagnostic in this case is heat combined with ‘humidity’, but the main pathological factor is ‘dampness’.
On the long term this situation of heat humidity will develop into ‘Bi’ syndrome in the bones.
If this process will go on during a long period of time it will produce local blood stasis that will produce muscular atrophy, swelling and bone deformation, a extreme form of what is called ‘Phlegm’ in TOM.
In every case of ‘Bi’ syndrome one has to consider that the three invasive factors (wind, cold and humidity) are at the base of the problem.
The other important factor to consider is that the invasion of what T.O.M. calls pernicious energies (wind, cold, dampness) is related to a weakness off the kidney energy and the Du Mai or governor function/meridian who is seen as the ‘backbone’ of the bodily functions (Du Mai is considered ‘The sea of Yang energy, related to the nervous system and all bodily activity) and together with the kidney energy stands as the basis of ‘Wei Qi’ or defensive energy, meaning the immunity to penetrating pernicious energies.
In this case any treatment should be combined with an effort to lose weight.
Treatment: mobilise Qi-Xue (energy and blood), expulse heat-dampness, tonify Qi and Yin of the kidneys and liver, strengthen Du Mai, calm anxiety and ease the pain.
The first step was to put her on a diet. Her knees literary could not handle her lack of movement and her weight. Also she had to start moving, therefor she bought a static bike to start exercising at home.
According to T.O.M., internal dampness is related to a malfunctioning of the spleen-pancreas function. Therefore elimination of blood sugar rising food was required. The diet that should be most helpful in this case is the Paleo-diet, the diet that Fred Flintstone was eating before the cultivation of grains and pulses etc. No carbohydrates, only food that originally was not cultivated. Meat, fish, shellfish, algae, ‘wild’ green leafs like salad, spinach, broccoli, asparagus etc. mushrooms, fruit, nuts etc. No lactic products.
She has a house in the ‘Costa Brava’ in Spain, with a swimming pool that she had to use more often to tonify her muscles without stressing the knee-joints and gradually bring up her pulsations as a ‘light’ cardio.
Shiatsu treatment and Qi-Kung exercises should complement her whole program to liberate her muscular tension and induce deeper breathing, strengthening her Du Mai, kidney and ‘Wei Qi’ or defensive energy.
She started a program to specifically tonify her quadriceps and adductors to give more stability to the knees and alleviate the pain.
Used acupuncture points:
To Tonify Du Mai: Ming Men (Du Mai 4), and Da Zhui (D.M. 14)
Basic points to strengthen bones and bone marrow: Da Shu (Bladder 11), Xuang Zong (Gallbladder 39).
For Damp-Heat: Quchi (Large intestine 11), Fenglong (stomach 40), Xiangu (St. 43), Hegu (L.I. 4), Yinlingquang (Spleen-Pancreas 9). San Yin Jiao (S.-P. 6), Pi Shu (Bladder 20), Zhongwan (Ren Mai 12) Shui Fen ( R.M. 9) and Xing Jian (Liver 2).
To eliminate blood stasis: Xue Hai (S.P. 10), Ge Shu (B. 17), Nei Guan (Pericardium 6).
To strengthen Liver and Kidneys: Shen Shu (B. 23), Taixi (Kidney 3), Fu Liu (K. 7), Gan Shu (B. 18), Ququan (liver 8), Guan Yuan (Ren Mai/conception vessel 4), Yanglingquan (G.B. 34), Zu San Li (s. 36), San Yin jiao (S.-P-6)
To calm anxiety: Tai Chong (L.3), with Nei Guan (P. 6), Shen Men (Heart 7) with Tan Zhong (R.M. 17) and Pa Hui (D.M. 20)
To calm the pain: distant points: Shangqiu (S.-P- 5) and Qiuxu (G.B. 40)
local points: Yinlinquan (S.-P. 9), Yanglinquan (G.B. 34) Zu San Li (S.36), Xiguan (L. 7), Weizhong (B. 40) and extra points Xiyan (the ‘eyes of the knee of which the exterior corresponds to Du Bi (S. 35).
To calm anxiety auricular acupuncture was used. Points used: Shen Men, Thyroid and Para-renals.
To help clean the liver and blood western herb combination was used with: Cardo Mariano, Artichoke, Gentianum.
In 12 sessions her mobility improved significantly, pain still persists but at a much more manageable level (At home she already walked without crutches, outside with one, ‘just to feel more secure’). Although the goal is to lose 25% of her weight in two years, she has not been strict on this part until now.
She is on the waiting-list for another knee prosthesis operation but the surgeon has told her that she might avoid the need for it.
Life coaching is based on the treatment of the ‘Shen’, the T.O.M. concept of the psyche. When I was working in Psychiatric intervention teams in Holland, I already observed that mental issues have a physical factor. After studying Wilhelm Reich and Alexander Lowen and Bioenergetics I realised that also in the west there is a scientific understanding of this.
Simply said there is a category of people who want ‘A change in their life’. Often suffering from long lasting but more or less manageable physical and emotional problems people find themselves confronted with feelings of unhappiness, ‘emptiness’, stress, relationship issues, career items, or the ‘simple’ lack of the feeling of growth in their life.
Life coaching consists in guiding people to define and centre on their priorities, overcoming obstacles and reconnecting with motivation, inspiration and life force.
This implies intuitivity training, reassessment of one own’s personal history and character, aiming at redefining the direction in our life and focusing on the necessary life changing decision making.
T.O.M. can be of incredible help in this process based on the oriental understanding that the different aspects of the psyche are energetically connected to the main internal organs.
I developed a training method that aims at strengthening the weaker or underdeveloped parts of our personality and smoothing the overcharged parts of our character.
I called it five element Ki training based on the T.O.M. theory of the five elements. (see Frequently Asked Questions)
It is a form of applied Qi Kung training that directly connects with our emotional constellation.