I’ve just returned from Japan! Many times when I leave town for training, I come home feeling like a changed person. It’s invigorating to feel like I have accumulated more knowledge to share or that I have developed better awareness of my physical and emotional posture and my mindset.
I must say, the post-Japan jet lag has been some of the worst I’ve ever experienced…BUT I think it may partly be due to the fact that I’m attempting to retain a wealth of impressions, ideas, and experiences from this particular mind and heart-opening adventure.
I was really fascinated by some of what I observed of Japanese culture. I was fascinated by the apparent orderliness of large numbers of people moving through dense urban areas but seeming to feel no compulsion to cut in line or to jaywalk. It was interesting and, to me, seemed quite pleasant to be in a place where talking publicly on a cell phone is not done or encouraged.
I loved the apparent sense of presence and the great attention to detail I witnessed through all sorts of daily interactions. My trip was focused on ski touring in the Japanese alps but the integrity, mindfulness, and hospitality of many of the people I encountered really filled my heart and soul. The people were so gracious and helpful to me. The simplicity of making connections, whether it be the two-handed exchange of credit cards or the smiles of appreciation at my blundered Japanese….my heart filled with gratitude.
In keeping with the theme of sleep, (since my sleep has been quite affected by the time change), I’d like to share some thoughts and suggestions related to your heart. Your heart is essential for acquiring those vital hours of rest. Acting as the emperor or empress, the heart governs blood flow and circulation. Our blood houses or stores our spirit. When the heart and blood are well nourished, the spirit can rest at night.
Yet many suffer from an overly utilized or undernourished supply of blood and Qi (the circulating life force in the body). The result confers many symptoms but at the root of the problem, our spirit is affected! We may feel forgetful, anxious or have restless sleep. Many people with blood issues will confess to being light sleepers or to waking often throughout the night. With insufficient blood and Qi, we can feel light-headed, fatigued, have blurred vision and often even worse than these things, our spirits may be low.
I’ve experienced this myself and seen it with my daughters and many patients over the years. To combat this on a physical level, nourishing the blood and Qi is vital.
So, how do you know if you need to nourish your blood?
Getting tested to make sure you’re not anemic is often a valuable and easy first step to take. Testing ferritin levels (the storage level of iron) is not a routine test ordered by most doctors, yet it is the first indicator that blood deficiency may be an issue! Deficiency means that you have not enough substance of both Qi and blood. (Recently, I was happy to learn that a local teaching hospital started running this as a routine test on all pregnant women!)
Giving the body whole food nutrients supports its ability to transform calories into Qi and blood. Think of red foods and leafy greens. A dark leafy green salad with beets and maybe red beans can be helpful. If you eat red meat, this can be therapeutic, especially the liver or a bone broth. Herbal formulas are also used to support blood and treat insomnia.
Once your diet is where it needs to be, you may be wondering how to bring lighter energy to your body.
We’ve been taught to think of the heart as a pump, a mechanical initiator of rhythm in the body. In actuality, the heart pumps because of a draw or suction from the perimeter provided by your blood vessels. Do you remember how earlier in this newsletter I mentioned that your heart is the emperor/empress of your whole body? If you want to focus on the energy around you and for your heart health, envisioning what your kingdom could be is a valuable tool. Work with this concept a bit. Some things to think about are:
What is your heart drawn to?
What is it you desire that will create the suction for the heart to keep pumping?
The emotion of the heart is joy. What brings you joy?
What if this week was about allowing your spirit (housed in your blood) the time and space it needs to discover and be drawn to what you desire? This may mean you need to focus on learning what ignites your desire and developing the audacity to say out loud what it is that you want.
Every day we can cultivate thoughts and intentions focused on the things we desire; this is a first step to making your dreams become your reality.
Your homework this week is to become clear about what you desire and to allow your heart to tell the universe every day exactly what it is you wish for.
Here’s to nourishing your spirit!