Primal Po meets Modern Man

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From the archives is the post all about  the Po. The alchemical spirit of the lungs and how we can incorporate this ancient wisdom of the most primal aspect of ourselves into our modern worlds .

 

I have all these incredibly intellectual ideas and theories to share on the soma; the physical body, and its responses and how the Po is an expression of the innate wisdom of our cellular bodies. And I”m sure I’ll get to that at some point… there is an endless amount of information I can share from this elemental point of view.

 

What I am really feeling tonight when I think about the Po is the gentrification of the body and the senses and how thats effecting our health and our relationship with our bodies wellness. Oh is that all… the ‘gentrification’ of the body!!

The Po is experienced through our senses, taste, texture, scent, sight. Its the automatic functions of our bodies like breathing and peristalsis (digestion). Its experienced in that space between our skin (our awareness of where we start and stop) and the outside world. Its the animalistic aspects of our functioning bodies and our psyche.

 

Its all the bits we have no control over yet constantly inform our likes dislikes and urges. 

 And as highly functioning modern upright people, we have a few issues with these urges and tastes don’t we? ( This is where the gentrification bit come in ) Our minds and intellect, and our hearts and dreams would have us operating from an almost utopian platform. We have been culturally disciplined to detach and suppress the so called less attractive aspects of our bodies and minds. There is much that still today we wouldn’t dare discuss ‘in public’ . And yet much of these taboo subjects include basic bodily functions that are quite essential to our wellbeing and survival ( think poo and sex ).

So what happens when we suppress the Po and ignore the innate wisdom of our bodies and trust that connection between the body and the mind? Pain and ‘psychosomatic’ symptoms ranging from stress-related skin disorders, eating disorders and chronic undiagnosable pain.

 

Our bodies only ‘language’ is our nervous system and its through this system that it will try and get its messages across to us. They sound something like this.

 

“Hey, you up there! ” (patient pause for response) “Hey! We don’t think you should be eating that… (another patient pause) HEY!!!! (huddle together for a brain storm) I know, we’ll create some pain, that’ll do it. (patient pause) Damn it they just took a pain killer….. hmmmm Ok Ok I’ve got it, some red skin that always gets them ok GO!

 

Ok so this isn’t exactly scientific but you get my point. The bodies wisdom; the innate cellular wisdom, that gut feeling, intuition, or a ‘sense of knowing’, does actually need to be heard occasionally! Or, quite simply there are consequences. Now this doesn’t mean that we have to go all primal and throw out all the other functions. The other spirits have their place.

 

Ideally they work together. Depending on our own make up and our cultural learnings some are going to be more easily integrated than others. Myself, I live in this visceral world of experiencing life through the Po. I probably give this spirit way too much free rein! What does that look like?

 

Senses, texture and environment are paramount to the Metal element. There are always scented candles burning and fresh flowers and my house has always been full of animals (lets not mention the bats here ok). I work physically with peoples bodies. I have a bathroom full of more oil and lotions than any one body is ever going to be able to absorb and I spend almost more time in the ocean than on dry land. In winter this is replaced by the bath tub (Tonights blog is proudly bought to you by Embody Bath Salts). Textured cushions, natural fibres, LOTS of colour, really I could go on and on. If this sounds like you and your saying, well thats every modern woman surely, I’ll tell you sadly this is not so.

 

This genuine external expression of the Po is matched with an internal nourishment and respect of that animal instinct. The ability to ‘check in’ with our bodies and interpret its metaphorical language. This I believe is becoming quite a rare ability as we seek to cover up, pretty up and medicate the aspects of ourselves that we don’t like, don’t ‘fit’ or are fearful of. To bring that full circle and back to the bodies I spend my day working with, this results in disharmony. Disharmony of mind and body expressing its self in pain and inflammation of increasing severity.

As I read this I realise this really is my primary function with my treatments. To work as an interpreter for the body and to translate the pain and inflammation that my clients are experiencing so they might heal themselves. What can you do to nourish your Po? Well, any of the above is great, experiencing your senses, in what ever way is fun for you. (You don’t have to turn it into the extreme sport as I tend to do)

One of the easiest ways is to simply ‘check in’ with you body. When I think this or eat this how do I feel? more or less calm?  more or less tight in my shoulders? BREATHE! yep just slowly calmly breathe. You’ll be surprised to find just how often your holding your breathe.

 

To finish off, here is a quote from one of my favourite books “Five Spirits” that so beautifully articulates the place I wish to take my practice.

By Lorie Eve Dechar. Lantern Books 2006

 

“When the acupuncture needle penetrates the surface of the skin, there is a moment of silence, an emptiness, a wondering and not knowing. When the metal needle meets the living body, there is a silence, a pause …before the tiny whirlwind spins and the qi redirects its course. For thousands of years, the intentions of healers and patients have met in that single breathless emptiness, that turning point of the soul that is the moment of transformation.

Perhaps, as we open to another form of consciousness, the present silence of our world will become that empty turning point, that breathless moment of change.  Perhaps, if one by one we humans reclaim our vision of a living cosmos imbued with intention and intelligence and illuminated by wisdom, we will become like ten thousand silver needles penetrating and healing the body of the earth. Then perhaps , through healing our planet, we will heal ourselves and hear again the songs that the stones of the earth are singing to the clouds of heaven .”

 

x

K

 

Qi follows the Yi – Part One

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Well tonight elemental travellers I am talking a little about the Earth element, and in keeping with this elements nature I am likely to wax a little lyrical!

 

The organs involved in the Earth element are the Stomach and Spleen. Now in the west, we know a fair bit about the stomach, practically, what it does and where it is and the fact that basically ‘its where all the food goes’ !

The Spleen on the other hand is a bit more of a mystery. Its usually the organ that in all those movies with a car crash people end up having taken out! “Ruptured Spleen! Get them to OR Stat”…… I may be getting a bit carried away here, but you get my drift.

The Spleen is on the left side of the body, just under the ribs beside the stomach and in Eastern Philosophy has just as important role in the function of digestion as the stomach, but is also involved in regulating the mind and a healthy sense of self.

 

The Spleen houses the Yi (pronounced eeee) and it can roughly be described as our sense of self, the self that exists in our mind, and is expressed in our thoughts.  Clarity of intention and thoughtful reflection are products of a healthy Yi.

And this is where healthy thoughts and digestion meet.

Our Earth element, the Yi and the Stomach and Spleen, are not only digesting the food we eat, but they are also digesting the thoughts and experiences we are having.

 

Quite literally our Qi (energy/fuel) goes where our thoughts are and those thoughts need to be ‘digested’ Now if we’re eating a meal, and we are watching TV, checking face book and listening to our spouse/ housemate/ children how much fuel is focused on the food that is going in and how much fuel is going on actually breaking down that meal to the best possible end result? Not a lot!

 

Now lets take it up a notch, we have had a really bad day at work and are feeling a whole range of emotions (that need digesting) we have scoffed a chocolate bar on the drive home to suppress those feelings (that needs digesting ) we are met at the door with a well meaning glass of wine (that needs digesting) followed by the above scenario involving some greasy take away pizza. Does anyone else feel tired? Your Spleen does!

 

The result of this is congested digestion but also congested thinking and depending on your build and constitution a whole range of symptoms might be experienced after a meal like this. Bloating, wind, and a heavy sluggish feeling along with a foggy mind and probably a desire to fall straight to sleep!

 

Life happens and sometimes rightly or wrongly we find ourselves multitasking. Sometimes this involves doing things while we’re eating.

 

In an ideal world we will get the best out of our food if we are mindful of it.

 And we will have clarity of thought and a peaceful mind if we are able to observe what else we are digesting in that process.

 

What can we practically do to assist this process?

 

1. Limit the things we are doing at meal times. Its proven that multitasking doesn’t actually result in higher productivity. Set aside even a small amount of time just to eat your food. This doesn’t have to be a silent zen affair as anyone with children will attest, just limit as much as possible the distractions!

2. Choose your food based on your mood, now this isn’t me saying to binge when your sad, rather just be aware of what else is happening for you. If your tired already, don’t sit down to a big heavy meal, quite simply it won’t get digested. If your emotional by all means eat comforting food, but these should be nourishing soups, roast veges, rice puddings. Food that supports you and won’t suppress the feelings we are often trying to escape from.

3. Eat according to season and source food thats as natural as possible. Food that is warm and lightly cooked is ideal to support the Earth element. Cold and raw foods tax the Earth element. (This statement will get its own blog people hang in there!)

4.Those ‘Spleeny’ Earth types out there will tend toward craving sweet foods, to maintain your healthy blood sugar levels, make these naturally sweet foods, not highly processed foods full of sugar.

5. Ginger tea in the morning is great to wake your digestive fire, and cinnamon is a beautiful herb to add to breakfasts and deserts.

 

When the Earth element is nourished with mindful eating the consistency applied to our digestion will cultivate a consistency and reliability in our state of mind. With our Earth element centred and grounded our thoughts have a solid foundation, and the actions that flow from these thoughts will be longer lasting.

 

So as a simple exercise for the week, observe your thinking and your eating. No judging. Just start watching where your mind is and how you are feeling at the time and where your mind is while your eating. Don’t take my word for it, observe this difference between a mindful meal, and one eaten on the run and let me know how you go.

 

x

K