By Dove Sprout
Close your eyes for a moment. Slow your breathing inhaling and exhaling through your nose and into your belly. Feel your tissues relax and your heart rate slow down. When you are feeling more relaxed, see if you can recall a time or situation that brought you the feeling of joy, happiness, bliss, or even just deep satisfaction. Take a moment or two to see if you can extend that feeling to the whole of your body. Give yourself as much time as feels good to relish in the experience. This is a small example of a practice that could be implemented into your daily routine that can enrich and nourish your quality of life, especially if done first thing in the morning to set the tone for your day.
Yangsheng/Nourishing life practices have been a part of traditional holistic Eastern practices for thousands of years. In the early classical texts of Eastern medicine, the highest level of medicine was to practice that which nourishes life. Below that was the medicine that treated your habits and constitutional tendencies. And the lowest medicine was to treat the disease after it had already manifested indicating that the best time to treat any symptom complex/disease was before we became ill.
Yangsheng is a term that applies to all sorts of practices that promote wellness and be implemented into our lives at any time. Wellness practices can include Tai Qi, Qi Gong, meditation, moderate exercise, being in nature, healthy diets, play time, music, art, writing/journaling, morning rituals such as enjoying a good cup of tea, enjoying time with friends, learning a new language, booking a treatment you enjoy, and anything else that brings you that warm fuzzy feeling that helps you feel happy, balanced, peaceful, at ease and deeply satisfied.
Yangsheng practices can extend into your surrounding environment and the company you keep. Overall, do the people in your life build you up so that you leave feeling enriched by the experience, or do you feel drained and like you need to recover after being in relationship with certain individuals in your life? Do you like what you do for a living? You spend a great majority of your time there. If not, can you find aspects of your job that you find satisfying? Are there any changes that you can personally make to make your job more fulfilling to you? Sometimes all it takes is a change in perspective.
Another aspect of Yangsheng is to allow our biological forms to follow the natural rhythms of nature and the seasons. Our energy ebbs and flows according to the ratio of day and night. In the summer, the days are long and our energy tends to be more robust. Come fall, we harvest and start to gather ourselves for colder weather. In winter, we hibernate and need more rest and more quiet time as our energy is at its lowest point. If we have respected our energy limits of winter, then our energy begins to naturally rise again come spring with the birth of new life. If we ignore or distract ourselves from these tendencies, then we put ourselves at risk for burnout, decreased immunity, and disease. We are not wired to be operating
at full throttle all of the time, despite what modern practices have encouraged us to do. Like it or not, we are whole beings that are influenced energetically by our thoughts, feelings, and actions. All of the fancy treatments and medicines are merely band-aids if you pretend that the natural environment, sea- sonal shifts, and other energetic conditions around you do not apply to you.
And so it starts with you. Take this very moment as a choice point. How do you want to feel? What Yangsheng practices can you incorporate into your life starting right now? They don’t need to be grandiose to have impact and every moment can be a new be- ginning. The point is to keep referring back to yourself, check in and ask yourself what you need to feel nourished and truly taken care of by you in this moment.
Here are some of the practices that I use:
• Daily meditation
• Morning tea time
• Daily moderate movements: 3x per week for 20 minutes, with activities like Qi Gong, walking, hiking, biking, dancing
• Journaling: I take note of my dreams first thing in the morning if I remember them and any other thoughts and feelings that I notice may be ruminating for a period of time to help me sort through them.
• Intermittent fasting: I do this but I don’t recommend unless you have checked with your health-care practitioner to see if it is a good fit for you.
• Cooking/eating with love and intention to nourish myself and my family’s bodies.
• Gratitude: I try to find at least three things I am grateful for at the end of each day, even if I’ve had an off day. Sometimes I journal about them too.
• Regular wellness treatments such as acupuncture and massage, with a few others sprinkled in. They all have their benefits.
One of the most important of all of the Yangsheng practices (in my opinion anyway), is to practice forgiving yourself. None of us are perfect. In fact as I write this article I am at home with a cold recognizing the part that I have played in lowering my immunity, but the first thing that I have done is forgave myself for those choices and to take this time to make some other choices of how I wish to care for myself today rather than punishing myself for those previous choices. Intention is key and is the energetic fuel behind all of your actions. Let that be your starting place. If you have a condition that you are working with, practice forgiving yourself for all of the shoulda, coulda, woulda thoughts that often plague us. Start right where you are. What can you do right now to care for yourself, even if all you can do is to focus on your breath.
Many blessings to all of you.
Dove Sprout and Paul Gaucher co-own & operate Creston Acupuncture & Natural Health Centre located in downtown Creston. For more information or to book an appointment with Dove, call the clinic at 250-428-0488. For further questions about what acupuncture and herbal medicine can treat, e-mail Dove at firstname.lastname@example.org, check out the website at acupuncturecrestonbc.com or follow on Facebook at Creston Acupuncture & Natural Health Centre.