Embrace the Summer with a Healthy Heart: A Journey through Qi Gong, Food Medicine, and Acupressure

Embrace the Summer with a Healthy Heart: A Journey through Qi Gong, Food Medicine, and Acupressure

Embrace the Summer with a Healthy Heart: A Journey through Qi Gong, Food Medicine, and Acupressure

Today, we’re diving deep into the heart of summer – quite literally – as we explore the Heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

In TCM, each organ is associated with a specific season, and high summer is the season of the Heart. This time of year is bursting with vibrant energy – flowers blooming, bees buzzing, and the world alive with activity. Let’s explore how we can harness this energy to nurture our hearts.

The Heart in Traditional Chinese Medicine

In TCM, the Heart reaches its peak activity from 11 AM to 1 PM, the busiest and most active time of the day. The Heart’s flavour is bitter, its sense organ is the tongue, and its emotion is joy. Right now, take a moment to focus on the centre of your chest, think of someone you love, and feel this area soften and glow.

Humming and singing, using the tongue, can quickly connect you to the joy of the heart, while negative speech can harden it. How we use our tongue significantly impacts our emotional and physical health. Use your tongue wisely, bless your food, give thanks for things throughout your day and let joyful energy flow through your heart.

Learn to use Mantra in my previous blog

The Element of Fire

Each organ in TCM is also associated with an element.

The Heart belongs to fire, an element with many faces – from the wild, destructive forest fire to the comforting glow of a hearth or the serene flame of a candle. All types of fire share the power of transformation, and this is the energy we want to cultivate in our hearts – a gentle, transformative flame.

Fire symbolizes constant movement and transformation, embodying yang energy.

While unchecked fire can be destructive, within boundaries, it illuminates, warms, and brings clarity.

Fire is the element of the organ.  Our hearts are like an internal flame, often called the “emperor of the body,” with all other organs in service to it.

The Heart is where our consciousness, or “Shen,” resides, connecting us to the divine, whatever that might be for us, a sleeping baby, singing prayers together in community or taking a walk on the beach.  To enjoy life (In-Joy) life is to be connected to the divine and nourishes Heart Health.

The Universal Symbolism of Flame

The flame is a powerful symbol across many cultures and religions, representing transformation, enlightenment, and the divine. In Christianity, the Holy Spirit is depicted as a flame, symbolising divine presence and inspiration. In Hinduism, the sacred fire “Agni” represents purification and the connection between the earthly and the divine. 

In Buddhism, the flame is a metaphor for spiritual awakening and the illumination of wisdom. The ancient Greeks revered the hearth goddess Hestia, whose eternal flame represented home and family unity.

Across these diverse traditions, the flame signifies the profound interplay between destruction and creation, a source of warmth, guidance, and spiritual insight.  (read more in a previous blog)

Nurturing Your Heart

To ensure our heart burns brightly without raging out of control, we must provide a safe container for it – a home.

In TCM, the blood is the Heart’s home. Keeping our blood vibrant and healthy is key.

Foods for a Healthy Heart

The taste for the Heart is bitter. Bitter greens like chicory, watercress, dandelion leaves, and rocket nourish the Heart and help the Liver detoxify the blood.

Red foods are also fantastic for the Heart, containing antioxidants like anthocyanins and bioactive polyphenols that ensure smooth blood flow, reduce stress, and lower blood pressure.

Incorporate red peppers, beetroot, cherries, strawberries, raspberries, Chinese red dates, goji berries, watermelon, rosehips, and pomegranates into your diet.

Pomegranates, with their bittersweet flavor and abundant seeds, are perfect for heart health. Try sprinkling pomegranate seeds on a salad with bitter greens and crumbled feta for a delicious, heart-healthy meal.

For more recipes, check out my cookbooks at joannefaulkner.ie/cook-books.

Qi Gong for the Heart

Qi Gong, a moving meditation, helps us gain perspective on our emotions and the world around us. It’s a fantastic tool for maintaining a balanced and peaceful Heart. (scroll down for the free class)

Let’s try a simple Qi Gong move together.

You can do this sitting or standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Place your hands on your heart/Middle Dan tien and take a deep breath in. 

As you inhale, slowly extend your arms out to the sides, palms facing up, as if opening your heart to the world. Exhale, bringing your hands back to cover your heart/middle Dan tien.

Repeat this exercise nine times and feel calmness in your heart and perspective with your problems.

Finally, bring the energy and your hands down to the lower Dantien, just below and behind the belly button. This movement symbolises opening up and receiving energy while staying grounded and centred.

Balancing Your Shen

Remember, your emotions can either fan your inner flame into an inferno or cause it to dwindle. Keeping your “Shen” balanced means not letting external factors control our joy or sadness. By nurturing our Heart, we can drop our emotional armour and connect more deeply with ourselves and others.

Remember, your emotions can either fan your inner flame into an inferno or cause it to dwindle.

Keeping your “Shen” balanced means not letting external factors control our joy or sadness.

By nurturing our Heart, we can drop our emotional armour and connect more deeply with ourselves and others.

Sun Simiao, a great Chinese medicine practitioner, said

“In your heart, there is love; don’t love too deeply. In your heart, there is hate; don’t hate too deeply, because too much of any of these will attack the Shen.”

Our spirit is a unique treasure that must be protected like a flame, not allowed to burn out or blaze uncontrollably.

Moderation and Inner Balance

Before and after my morning meditation (at which you are welcome to join me, simply sign up for the free class below, I dedicate my practice by reciting, “May I be free from passion, aggression, and prejudice.”

While we understand avoiding aggression and prejudice, passion must also be moderated. Too much passion, even for a noble cause, can lead to imbalance. Don’t let your passion and heart fire overwhelm you; maintain touch with softness, humour, and compassion.

Conclusion

To wrap up, remember to nourish your Heart with bitter greens and vibrant red foods. Practise gentle, heart-opening Qi Gong moves to keep your “Shen”/Spirit noursihed and balanced. Approach your emotions with perspective and moderation, allowing your inner flame to glow steadily and warmly.

Stay connected with your heart, and let it shine with joy and compassion.

For more tips, recipes, and Qi Gong practices, sign up for a free Qi Gong class below.  August will focus on Healthy Heart Practices with Qi Gong, Acupressure and Food Medicine.

Until next time, keep your heart open and your spirit bright!

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DISCLAIMER:

No content is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice and guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to any medication or treatment protocol you are currently using or stopping any medication or treatment protocol you are currently using.

Shibashi 18 Harmonising Movements

Shibashi 18 Harmonising Movements

Shibashi 18: Harmonising Movements for All Ages and Abilities

In today’s fast-paced world, finding a gentle yet effective way to maintain physical health and mental well-being is invaluable. Shibashi, a form Qi Gong movements, offers just that. This series of eighteen gentle movements is suitable for people of all ages and abilities, making it an accessible practice for everyone. Shibashi focuses on harmonizing the body’s energy, promoting overall health, and enhancing quality of life.

What is Shibashi 18?

Shibashi Qi Gong is a set of flowing movements designed to balance the body’s energy, known as “Qi.” These movements are performed slowly and mindfully, combining breathing techniques with physical postures to create a harmonious and relaxing exercise routine. The practice is rooted in Traditional Chinese Medicine and has been refined to support various aspects of health and well-being.

Health Benefits of Shibashi 18

Strengthening the Kidneys and Improving Lung Health

Shibashi specifically targets the kidneys and lungs, two vital organs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. The movements are designed to strengthen the kidneys, which play a crucial role in filtering waste and balancing fluids in the body. Additionally, these exercises improve lung capacity and function, helping to alleviate conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.

Promoting Blood Flow and Boosting Stamina

The gentle, flowing movements of Shibashi enhance blood circulation, ensuring that oxygen and nutrients are efficiently delivered to all parts of the body. This improved circulation boosts stamina, making it easier to stay active and energized throughout the day.

Supporting Weight Loss and Relieving Pain and Stiffness

Regular practice of Shibashi can support weight loss by increasing metabolism and promoting physical activity. Moreover, the stretching and releasing movements help to relieve pain and stiffness, particularly in the joints and muscles, making it an excellent practice for those dealing with arthritis or chronic pain.

Cultivating Mindfulness, Relaxation, and Focus

One of the most profound benefits of Shibashi is its ability to cultivate mindfulness, relaxation, and focus. Each movement is performed with intention and awareness, allowing practitioners to connect deeply with their bodies and breath. This mindful approach not only enhances the physical benefits of the practice but also translates into everyday life, leading to:

Better Mobility: Improved flexibility and strength make it easier to perform daily activities with ease and confidence.
Less Anxiety: The calming effects of mindful movement help to reduce stress and anxiety, promoting a sense of inner peace.
Sound Sleep: The relaxation induced by Shibashi 18 supports better sleep patterns, helping you to wake up refreshed and rejuvenated.

Join Us for a FREE Online Qi Gong Class

Ready to experience the benefits of Shibashi for yourself? We invite you to join us for a free online Qi Gong class. Together, we will explore these harmonizing movements, stretching and releasing to cultivate mindfulness, relaxation, and focus.  Just fill in your details below and you’ll get a link to the FREE class.

Discover how the gentle practice of Shibashi can transform your health and well-being, bringing balance and harmony to your life. Whether you’re new to Qi Gong or looking to deepen your practice, our classes are designed to support you every step of the way.

Join us today and take the first step towards a healthier, more balanced you.

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