Water Element

Winter Christmas Baking

by

As I mentioned last week, I LOVE Christmas, and for us in the Northern Hemisphere, the festive period occurs in the depths of Winter – the time of most Yin, and it is associated with the Water Element, and it’s organs of the Kidneys and Bladder. As I say in the video below, it is the darkest and coldest time of the year, where we need to eat warming, nourishing foods that will increase our Yang, increase the blood and Qi circulation in our bodies, sustaining us through the season.  The easiest way to get more Yang in to our diets is through energetically warming or hot spices as outlined in Chinese Food Energetics.

.
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WrHeRS2aOw%5D

.

Recipe for Winter Christmas Cookies:

1/4 cup of coconut oil

1/2 cup of good / local / raw honey

1/4 cup of pure molasses (all the nutrients & minerals are in there!)

2 & 1/2 cups of rice flour

Pinch of baking soda (optional)

2 tsp ground mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon (I LOVE cinnamon!)

Pinch of sea salt (again, optional)

Splash of water if the mixture is too dry to get into a ball to roll out

.

Christmas Cookies

.

Method:

1. Measure out the coconut oil, molasses & honey, place them in a bowl & mix together.

2. Measure all the dry ingredients into a separate bowl.

3. Then sift all the dry ingredients into the bowl containing the wet mixture.

4. Mix together until a ball can be formed – add a splash of water if necessary.

5. Create a ball of cookie dough with your hands & place on to cling film on the counter.

6. Roll out to around the thickness of a £1 coin, cut out shapes & place on baking sheet.

7. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees C (350 degrees F), for around 10 mins, but check!

8. Leave to cool on a rack & ENJOY!

.

Energetics:

Coconut Oil – warm, sweet, tonifies Qi & Blood

Molasses – warm, sweet, nourishes the Kidneys & Lungs, boosts Qi & Blood

Honey – sweet, supports the Lungs, tonifies Qi & promotes Blood circulation

Rice Flour – warm, sweet, nourishes Qi & Blood

Nutmeg – warm, pungent, boosts Yang, Qi & Blood circulation & counteracts Cold

Cinnamon – Hot, pungent, sweet, supports Kidneys & Lungs, boosts Qi & Yang, & counteracts the Cold & Damp, and promotes Qi & Blood circulation

Coriander Seed – pungent, sour, counteracts the Cold, & helps circulation of Qi

Dill Seed – warm, goes to the Kidneys, tonifies Yang, counteracts the Cold, promotes Qi

Ginger – hot, boosts Yang, circulates Qi & Blood, counteracts Cold, resolves Phlegm.

Cloves – warming, boosts Kidneys & Yang, counteracts the Cold & promotes Qi circulation

.

And if you don’t fancy baking or eating something sweet to nourish you over the festive period, then why not check out a blog post from this time last year to see how you can get all of the sweetness but none of the sugar – although I reckon this recipe here comes close to that, why not have your cake & eat it too?!!

Acupuncture can help you through the Winter with the challenges of the season – coughs, colds, chest weakness, asthma, circulation issues, constantly feeling cold, low mood, Seasonal Affective Disorder, digestive issues, and so on – contact me here for more information. Sending you so much goodness and cheer for a VERY MERRY Christmas – keep well, keep warm, and ENJOY! xx

.

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

Visit the website

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

Visit the YouTube Channel

.

12 Days of Christmas – Fire & Water Balance

by

So for the last three weeks my life has been in limbo whilst everything else (except treating in clinic of course) has been put on hold for me to revise for my paediatric acupuncture exams. Ideally, I had wanted to merge my 30th birthday celebrations in November, straight into Christmas loveliness, but sadly it was not to be. I have been absolutely itching for my Christmas season to get started, but have had to hit the books in every spare waking moment! But the exams were today (three of them, lasting the entire day!), and now my Christmas can officially begin! Yay!

To celebrate the fact I can now embrace Christmas in all its excess sparkliness and magic, I am partaking in “12 days of Christmas”, where I intend to do one thing each day that is inherently of festive spirit! And as it is me, there might be a couple of healthy holiday activities, a big dose of self-care, but it might be purely because it is good for the spirit, not hugely virtuous – even I like to indulge a little at this time of year! Why not join me and enjoy 12 days of Christmas joy?! Post photos of your Christmassy things each day over on my Facebook page – you’ll find all my photos there too!

And speaking of Christmas spirit, it is THE part of the holidays that I adore the MOST – how it makes me FEEL. This year is a little different in the fact that I have had to “put a cork in it” for the last few weeks, and the bubbles, sparkles, excitement and magic have been building up and building up, so now it is all gushing out in a waterfall of child-like craziness! It is this pure JOY, merriment, warmth, and upward, outward energy that corresponds to the Fire Element. Fire is all about socialising, love, celebration, parties, connections to others and joy! And this is EXACTLY what Christmas is about! Everyone gathering around an open fire, exchanging presents and good wishes, drinking mulled wine, smiling, laughing, loving – that IS Fire. I love how literal Chinese Medicine is sometimes – or most of the time actually, a lot of the theory comes from observing nature around us.

open-fire-in-fireplace

.

But for those of you who have read about Water on this blog before, you may be thinking “but Christmas is in Water Winter time, not Fire time” – yes, this is true, unless you are lucky enough to live in the Southern Hemisphere (Hello Aussies and Kiwis!), the Fire time of the year is the Summer, and it is the traditional time for warm, sociable Yang energy – think BBQs, garden parties, days at the beach with family and friends – we do more, socialize more, enjoy time together. Winter is a Water time of the year where we hibernate, stay indoors, do less, go to bed earlier, enjoy a more inward, still Yin energy.

Yin-Yang-Fire-Ice

.

And yet our Christmas celebrations seem to be at odds with the seasonal energy at this time of year. But it is all about BALANCE – Fire and Water balance each other out. Without the Water to temper and dampen down the Fire, it can rage and burn out of control – this is like getting sunstroke from too much sun and not enough water to rehydrate you. There are many other conditions I treat in clinic that have an imbalance of Fire and Water at their root – menopausal hot flushes, anxiety, insomnia and heartbreak to name but a few.

Conversely, if we do not have enough warmth from Fire, the Water becomes frozen, the Fire is needed to warm the Water, to make it bubble, sparkle and move. And this is exactly what we get at Christmas – we need the joy, excitement, fun, love and light at the very darkest, coldest part of the year – it’s like the candles, the lights on the tree, tinsel and sequinned decorations that shine and reflect the light and warmth. Just seeing a tree decorated beautifully makes me smile and brings me happiness. Without this, the deepest depths of Watery Winter would be pretty tough to get through.

candles

And that is also what acupuncture is about – bringing balance; balance to the body, mind, spirit and emotions. If you think acupuncture could help you with your balance of Fire and Water, don’t hesitate to contact me! And don’t forget to share your 12 days of Christmas JOY with me on my Facebook page – for my first day, I bought myself some festive flowers, partly for the Christmassy spirit, but also to congratulate myself on getting through all my exams! Go have a look at the photo, they’re BEAUTIFUL! Off to bed now, see you tomorrow for day 2!

.

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

Visit the website

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

.

Yin O’Clock

by

I am really struggling to be proactive and productive today. Way too much procrastination, and the grey cloudy weather doesn’t help. My business brain is telling me I need to write blog posts, edit the new Spring baking video I filmed last week, finish my patient notes and the accompanying research and reading… but all I REALLY want to do is sit on the sofa, switch my mind off, and watch the earliest CSI in town, 1970s medical pathologist-come-detective Qunicy ME.

I’m currently sat on the sofa with an apple, lemon and carrot juice, and I have made a deal with myself – write this post, then you can watch Quincy… but for me, there is more to it than JUST being a lazy bum and wanting to veg out! It has taken me a long time to be able to “actively rest”, and get my head around this concept.

I am really rubbish at stopping or slowing down, my mind is always ticking over with everything I must do, the list is endless, and potentially I could ALWAYS be doing something. I have always been this way.

.

But as discussed in my post about the petrol crisis, we have a metaphorical tank, and if we are on the go the whole time, without rest, that tank of energy can go down pretty quickly, and we continue going whilst running on empty… this eventually leaches the watery, cooling, moisturising, nourishing Yin energy from our bodies.

For Water CFs in particular (as Water is an inherently Yin substance), but also for many other Elements (or CFs), carving out time to actually STOP, rest, and top up the Yin energy of the body, is incredibly important. A lack of Yin in the body can manifest as, feeling hot or sweaty towards the end of the day or at night, needing a drink of water during the night, feeling “tired in the bones”. We can have a vulnerability to stress, migraines, constipation, dry skin, hot flushes, anxiety and insomnia. Additionally, over the course of our lives, there is a natural depletion of Yin, so it becomes even more important to nurture our Yin the older we get.

Therefore working at having some time to be quiet, inward and still is paramount – all three of these characteristics are important in cultivating more Yin, but are also part of the Yin energy itself. But if you’re anything like me, just sitting quietly on the sofa, pottering around the house, or laying down and resting just doesn’t work – I spend the entire time going “you could be doing x right now”, “why aren’t you doing Y”, “Sally called you earlier, you must remember to call them back”, and so on and so on! That is NOT restful! In fact, it just agitates the Yin energy, creating restlessness and agitation – totally the opposite of the desired intention!

I need something to occupy my over-analytical, chatty mind, whilst I allow my body to rest and for the Yin to be topped up. So my key is to watch something like Quincy; Diagnosis Murder or Murder She Wrote are other valid Yin nourishing TV choices – no real gore or violence, that level of Fear would totally undo all the Yin nourishment! This keeps my mind ticking over, figuring out who did what to whom, so that I am not constantly thinking about what ELSE I could, or should, be doing! I am still, quiet and calm – actively resting my body and quietening my mind! It’s a meditation of sorts, a seventies flashback whodunnit kind of meditation!

So, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to pop the kettle on, watch a bit of Quincy and top up my Yin!! What do you do to carve out “rest” time? Is “active resting” a new concept for you? What could you do to top up your Yin? Could Quincy be helpful for you?! Let me know by leaving your comments below… or ask me how acupuncture can help you top up your Yin too!

.

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2012

Visit the website

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

.

Enough Petrol in the Tank?

by

Here in the UK things have gone a bit crazy on the petrol front. Everyone queuing to fill up their tanks, beeping at each other, blocking surrounding roads, running the petrol stations dry, general hysteria. And all of this is BEFORE the potential strike by tanker drivers even happens, before it is even the same week of the proposed strike. The general advice is fill up so your tank is full to the brim.

This panic buying reminds me of the yang side of the Water Element. As I have described before, there are five Elements in Chinese Medicine – Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood – and each of the five Elements have organs associated with them, one yin and one yang (though Fire is greedy and has four!!). The Water Element organs are the Kidneys (Yin) and Bladder (Yang). And although the Kidney energy has a lot to do with “reserves”, it is the Bladder energy that makes us feel panicky over “running out”, before the potential threat has even happened.

On a physical level the Bladder (and Kidney) regulates the balance of Water in our bodies by adjusting the volume of urine. Emotionally, an imbalance in the Bladder official (or energetic organ, not necessarily the physical organ itself) on an energetic level, can give rise to the huge fear, or lack of fear, associated with the Water Element. When the well is dry, there are no reserves of water for the coming year to bring fluid and nourishment; when the bank’s “rainy-day fund” has gone, the reassurance from having a monetary back-up disappears… the general notion that there might not be “enough” for the future is scary, and can induce panic. This is how I am viewing the public’s behaviour this week with the petrol – as I always say, I see the world through “Five-Element tinted glasses”!

When we feel we don’t “have enough” (emotionally and physically) to get us through into the future, everything appears to be a threat, and we may imagine all the worst possible outcomes, never secure in the knowledge that we can survive. The mental and emotional impact can be huge if our Water Element is depleted, particularly if we have a perceived “lack” of actual physical things in our lives too – in this case, a lack of petrol – or should that be a PERCEIVED lack of petrol?!

To a Water CF (a person who has Water as their main Element or Constitutional Factor i.e. CF), it does not matter if there is a perceived threat or a real threat, the fear or panic is exactly the same. It is a case of managing the fear and managing the road towards catastrophisation; for example, A and B leading to X, Y and Z in one or two jumps instead of twenty five!

This case is an incredibly accurate and timely working example of this route that the Water Element and fear can go down – a potential strike of petrol tanker drivers has made the country jump to the conclusion that there will be no petrol, no Easter holidays away, no getting to the doctors or hospitals, patients will suffer, people will not get to work, they will lose money, lose their houses etc etc – the escalation from “the drivers MAY strike”, to “the UK will be ground to a standstill and everyone will suffer” seems to have been one simple step – creating the crazy panic buying seen in the last few days! I reckon quite a lot of people need their Water Elements treating at the moment!!

As a Water CF, I am trying hard not to buy into this mass hysteria and panic buying, though I do have a full tank at the moment (both petrol, and energetic tank from having had acupuncture myself this week!), so perhaps that makes it easier to keep calm! If you recognise feelings of fear of the future, feeling easily overwhelmed, worried about whether you have enough energy to survive what is coming your way, you could benefit from Five-Element acupuncture. This is my favourite part of acupuncture (as a patient and a practitioner!) and it can have a huge impact on your quality of life – contact me here, keep calm and feel better!

.

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

Visit the website

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

.

Year of the Water Dragon

by

Happy New Year! No, I’m not on a time lapse, or having some kind of deja vu, it is the start of the Chinese New Year today! As you may already know, the Chinese calendar attributes different animals to different years, and depending on the year you were born, you are a different animal – I am a Dog! If you don’t know what animal you are, you can check it out here!

This year (2012) is the year of the Dragon in China, or more specifically, the Water Dragon. So, as we say goodbye to the year of the Rabbit, and enter into one of the most revered years in the Chinese Zodiac, let’s see what goodies it has in store for us, and how we can make the most of it…

The Dragon has supernatural powers and is a deliverer of good fortune and intense power; according to the Sung dynasty, he has a head of an ox, body of a serpent covered with fish scales, and feet of a phoenix. He gives happiness and success, watches over good, honest people and the family, cultivating smart and healthy children. Which I guess makes it a very good year for me to be doing a paediatric acupuncture diploma! If you have children, ensure holistic health (body, mind and emotions) features big this year; and if you don’t  have children, but are intending to start a family, this year is the one for you!

It is a time for boldness, big ideas and new projects on a work and social level, as the Yang part of Water of this “Water Dragon” year, is more like an ocean or a rushing stream, opposed to a stagnant pond. It is powerful, dynamic and has strong energy. So think outside the box, push the boundaries of your comfort zone, and try something new – this year, nothing is off the table, you can achieve whatever you put your mind to – after all, you have the power of Water behind you, pushing you forward!

It brings all the qualities we know and love about the Water Element in Chinese medicine – bringing wisdom and perception, re-evaluting situations, researching when necessary, assessing levels of risk – making plans even more successful, as the pitfalls have already been thought of and accommodated for. So if you’re embarking on a new project this year, ensure you do all the research, and it’s likely to be a success. Or why not use your wisdom and passion inspire others – organise a talk or seminar, invite the girls round to talk about your favourite books, make a video on what you know about and post it on you tube! Spread the word and lead the way, as the Dragon would!

The parts of the body Water relates to include the kidney, immune system, sexual organs and the urinary system; so ensure you keep an eye out for kidney problems, kidney stones, inflammation of urinary tract, and general virus or bacterial infection. Drink enough water to keep your body hydrated, to reduce vulnerability to these issues; and acupuncture can help keep your immune system topped up.

The Dragon is said to be a karmic animal, bringing the positive, loving energies we have given to others, back to us! (You have been giving out positive, loving energies, right?! If not, make this something you do this year – give big and you’ll get tons back). This year is set to have love and success at the top of its agenda, and who wouldn’t want that?! New love can blossom, and as the Dragon is associated with festivals and celebrations, 2012 is THE year for engagements and weddings! And its not just small successes, Dragons bring those BIG dreams to life!

So take the opportunity to start with your new year’s resolutions all over again, grab hold of the Dragon’s optimism and positivity, get rid of those January blues, and embrace a new start, for a second time!

.

© Rhiannon Griffiths 2011

Visit the website

Like on Facebook

Follow on Twitter

.