They say you teach what you need to learn …. in two weeks I will be teaching and cooking for a weekend retreat on Stomach & Spleen in Chinese Medicine. I know one of my habits can be to see the things I didn’t do or didn’t get right. I may have cooked for a group of 30 people all week but focus on not having made one salad quite as I liked. I may have played games with the kids, baked cakes but still gone to bed feeling like a bad mum because maybe I gave out to them. Sometimes enough is never enough for me. I focus on the one little bit thats missing rather than seeing how fantastic the bigger picture is. So Im grateful to write this blog, to remind myself that gratitude is the key. If Im not thankful for what I have, Im like an empty hole which will never be filled and I’ll never be satisfied. As I type I can feel deep gratitude welling up and expanding out. So thankful for all I have and all I am. I want to snog the face off life and embrace it all… mouth & lips & flesh – all directly linked to the Stomach/Spleen meridian.

It can be difficult to ask for support in our lives and sometimes just as hard to receive it. Even if someone has cleaned the house for you, peeled the potatoes, mowed the lawn or made you a cup of tea, maybe its not done quite the way you like it. The world with all its gifts isnt meeting our needs in exactly as we expect. So instead of generating a feeling of gratitude for the care given with the thoughtful cuppa, we reject it along with the person who made it. We miss an opportunity to deepen our understanding of what we want by experiencing what we don’t want and then communicating that need or desire. By communicating our needs we are more likely to have them met but to communicate means making ourselves open and vulnerable. We are out on a limb by really saying what we want because perhaps we will be rejected or judged. Sometimes its more comfortable to become a victim, a “poor me” – unsupported, isolated and misunderstood. These feelings can often be more manageable than the imagined abandonment by another if we show them who we are and what we really need. Ships operate constantly on feedback loops. Their course is never the same every day. They constantly change direction to compensate for tides and currents. They have a fixed destination but to reach it they must constantly change direction. Our journey throughout life is the same. We may have a fixed goal such as peace, happiness or love but how we get there will change due to outside experiences and internal perceptions. Enjoy the ride, keep talking, keep communicating, especially with yourself. Observe your process and ask for what you need, then have faith that your are completely loveable and fantastic enough to receive it.

Sometimes low self esteem can mean that we find it increasingly difficult to receive. We are not worthy, we don’t deserve of the gifts or compliments given to us. Perhaps the culturally induced idea that nothing comes for free means that openhearted receiving can be difficult. The idea that giving and receiving is conditional upon effort or worthiness is often deeply culturally ingrained. However it’s possible to break these patterns by understanding the Stomach & Spleen in Chinese medicine.

The Stomach/Spleen in Chinese Medicine is at the time of transformation when summer is turning to autumn. The berries are ripe and the earth is fruitful. In a Christian tradition this would be celebrated as Harvest festival when we give thanks to Mother Earth for her bounty. It is a similar energy in Chinese medicine. The stomach spleen is all about the bond between mother and child. It’s how we cherish our bodies and nuture it as a mother would with deeply loving touch and embrace. Stomach/Spleen is in charge of the flesh of the body, it’s tone and texture, it loves to be touched, to be hugged, to be stroked, to be held. The flavour for Stomach/Spleen is sweet but instead of reaching straight for the chocolate bar which may give momentary satisfaction, rather feed yourself with wholesome sweet flavours within grains such as millet or rice. Mix them with starchy root roasted vegetables such as carrot, butternut squash and sweet potato. There are many ways in which to support the stomach & spleen so when we learn to connect with the abundance of the earth and our own wisdom to discerne what we want from it then we can feel truly satisfied and loved.