So I seem to have overdosed on Christmas movies in the last couple of weeks! (Hence the gap in writing the blog – the intention was there, but the Christmassy procrastination / hibernation reigned supreme!).
Having found that “Movies 24” changes to “Christmas 24” from the 1st December, there is a veritable feast of cheesy, sickly sweet, American straight-to-TV Christmas films that start every hour on the hour – a one-stop-shop for festive merriment of baking and icing gingerbread men, threading popcorn for the tree, singing carols around the piano (how come everyone can always sing in tune, and there is always someone who plays beautifully?!)…
That heart-warming, fuzzy, contented feeling that comes after seeing the happy ending, where the couple finally get together underneath mistletoe, or the family are reunited (after facing potential misery) beside the giant sparkly Christmas tree covered in snow, as happy shiny people in brightly coloured scarves, hats and ear muffs skate behind them in the background shot – it not only boosts our Fire Elements (the Heart, and emotions of jolly joy and warmth, about happy socialising and people), but the stories feed the Earth Element, nourishing the Spleen (Earth organ).
The Earth Element is all about nourishing, mothering, home-making, feeling centered and grounded, bringing family and communities together, with sympathy, understanding and looking after each other in the sweetest, most supportive way. The virtues of Earth are about care of others, putting others before yourself, a love of family, food, and the home (we won’t dwell on the vices of Earth in this post – that’s just not festive!!). The over-the-top niceness and sweetness that comes in these movies portrays this Element perfectly – so much so that my Wood CF sister cannot sit through them without getting impatient… I however, adore them – the cheesier the music, the more predictable, more magical, more sticky-sickly-sweet the better!! It really does satisfy my Spleen’s craving for sugary loveliness. The Spleen loves sugar, and when imbalanced (to any degree, slightly or hugely), causes us to crave (and eat!) more sugary things like cake and biscuits…
It is also no surprise that these types of films can be called “cheesy” as the Spleen also loves cheese and dairy – though, as described previously, depending on your constitution, cheese may not love your Spleen! It can cause phlegm to build up in the body, creating symptoms like a blocked nose, increased snoring, catarrh in the throat, heavy limbs, or a muzzy head – I treat this in the clinic a lot, especially after all the consumption of Christmas Cheese boards! Cheese hates me, but I can get my fix of sticky, milky, satisfying cheesiness from these films, without compromising my health! And an unblocked nose is always a bonus at Christmas!!
Supporting the Earth Elements (Stomach and Spleen) can reduce cravings of sugar or dairy, and acupuncture certainly does this by boosting the function of these organs. But you can support your own Spleen at home, at this time of the year, by nourishing it in a more abstract way – not with actual food, but with “food” for the spirit of the Element. So if you go to reach for another mince pie, or a Christmas Tree shaped cookie, why not stick a Christmas movie on instead, and get all of that delicious sweetness, but none of the actual sugar! Holistic health in the holidays! Enjoy!
© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011
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Every year the Autumn brings with it change, endings and loss, of all kinds – from small ones like the leaves falling off the trees (though I’m sure it’s not a small loss for the trees themselves!), the loss of the warm summer days and light evenings, all the way through to the big losses like losing a loved one.
I remember graduating from CICM in the autumn after nearly 4 years of study and my paternal grandmother passed at exactly the same time, the same week.
I had to deal with the loss of my classmates, loss of the college, loss of the addictive and enlightening learning, loss of the warm supportive community and deal with the change of no longer being a student and basically being out there as an acupuncturist in the big bad world… all whilst trying to grieve for my dear grandmother. It was tough to say the least.
It can seem like all the endings come at the same time when we experience loss in the Autumn, they are somehow accentuated by the time of year as the Metal Element is all about loss and grief and respect, and is associated with the Lung & Large Intestine organs. Though the emotions are difficult, there is some ironic beauty in the poetry of these losses occurring in Autumn – and we shall see why…
Chinese Medicine theory can be wonderfully literal, and it helps you to understand the dynamic of the Element, and how it may impact on your life. Metal can literally cut your skin – knives, swords and daggers are made of sharpened blades of metal… it can create a real wound that is deep and open and hurting and hideous – it can feel like this when we lose someone or something we love – the pain is palpable in the chest, the lungs struggle to breathe properly, they can’t take in any goodness from the heavens as everything feels just too raw and difficult, we can feel cut off from everything around us, as though we will never feel ok again.
But Metal is also shiny, beautiful and reflective – light can bounce off it, illuminating even the darkest of hurts. The most delicate and intricate of trinkets and charms can be made from it, sparkling gems that dazzle and amaze. The lungs can breathe in goodness from the heavens (as the Chinese describe it), allowing space for meditation, contemplation and inspiration – we can become touched, our eyes can well up… When we breathe in this air from the heavens, it can help us to let go – Metal’s link to the Large Intestine allows us to do this.
At a very basic body level, the Large Intestine releases all the rubbish (waste) we no longer need, but it also does it on an emotional level too… or not as the case may be – it never surprises me when patients who are experiencing grief and loss, suffer with constipation – it is hard to let go of someone dear to us, sometimes we don’t want to let go, or we are not ready to, so our bodies stop letting go physically. Or our cognitive brains are convinced we have done our grieving and we are totally fine, yet our energy and our bodies know otherwise, desperately holding on until we really have done some adjusting on an energetic and emotional level – the movements of Qi (energy) in our bodies know if our brains are in denial! This is where acupuncture can help these movement of energies within the grieving process, it can be an amazing support emotionally, but also physically, restoring bowel function.
Metal has the amazing ability to turn something literally shitty (Large Intestine) or something cutting (Metal), painful and suffocating (Lungs), into something poignant, touching, beautiful and shiny… this is something you will often find at funerals – it is all about the pain and the loss, the saying goodbye, letting go and getting ‘closure’, but the words spoken, the gestures made from loved ones, more often than not, turn it into something full of beauty and respect, which are the best gifts the Metal Element can give us.
© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011
So, the title of this blog is “The Secret Diary of a Water CF”, and the explanation behind the name has been a little while coming… as many of my patients know, I practise a style of acupuncture that integrates both the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) style of acupuncture, and the Five Element style.
The latter is derived from the ancient way the Chinese looked at the seasons and the wider environment or macrocosm around them. They realised that the movements of energy in nature mirrored the movements of energy within our bodies, emotions and between people. And so, they applied these principles to the microcosm (inside the body), and Five Element Acupuncture was born.
There are Five Elements – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood – and we all have the five of them within us at all times. Ideally, they all work in harmony to ensure we automatically maintain a good level of health, just as day turns into night, and Summer turns into Autumn… but if we become unbalanced or out of sync, to any degree (no matter how big or small), one of the five elements will be highlighted more than the others, it will start to shout louder. It is like our default setting, and whatever happens in life, we return to a set of patterns, emotions, behaviours and movements of energy linked to that particular element. So, as I am treated on Water, and considered to be a Water CF (Constitutional Factor, or Element) this blog entry will expand a little more on this element.
The energy of Water is Yin – a cooling, moisturising, nourishing energy that has depth; its season is Winter, and its taste is salty. The main emotions related to Water are fear and drive, which may seem to be a complete oxymoron, but the best entrepreneurs build their empires by having an exceptional drive to succeed, combined with considered risk analysis – looking at all aspects of fear and lack of fear, before coming to the best decision.
It therefore should come as no surprise that many paratroopers, marines or RAF personnel are also Water CFs – I would never throw myself out of a plane or climb up a bare rock face, but I am at entirely the opposite end of the Water CF spectrum i.e. the fearful (yet still very driven) as opposed to the lack-of-fear end…
So what does being a Water CF mean for me? It means I don’t like theme parks or fairground rides, I can’t watch scary movies, and I hate fireworks or loud noises… I am sometimes fearful of the future, I am generally cautious and considered, can suffer knee and lower back ache (Water area of the body), and need more rest than people of other elements – which sometimes means I cancel my social plans in favour of hermitting for a few days… I speak with a “groaning” voice tone (the sound of Water), and have a blue-black hue next to my mouth and eyes – though you’ll be lucky to see that in the treatment room, I’ve spent many years finding the right concealer for a Water CF! I have always had the sense of needing to work towards my true self and fulfil the destiny inherent in the Water Element… and this is what has led me to where you find me now, as your acupuncturist!
If you think you might also be a Water CF, would like more information on how acupuncture could help you to balance the see-saw between fear and drive, contact me or visit the website for more details. To learn more about Water (and the other Elements if you’re impatient to find out about your CF!) read “Healing Your Emotions” by Angela & John Hicks, available through the college or Amazon.