LUNG ENERGY SUPPRESSION in 2020

2020 golden metal rat painted texture on plasticine
2020 is the Year of the Metal Rat in Chinese Astrology.


Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath in.  Relax your eyes, your jawline, your shoulders.  Now breathe out, slowly.  Clear your mind.  Let go of your running thoughts.  Try.  Take another deep breath in, slowly, letting your belly expand and fill up with your breath.  Hold it there, in your belly, for eight seconds.  Keep your mind still, empty.  Breathe out, slowly.

Now, eyes still closed, take another intentional breath in, expanding your belly and filling it up, slowly, full of care.  Imagine your lungs.  A pink, clear, healthy, expansive, powerful engine in your torso, capable of harnessing your life force as it relates to the world around you, taking in clean air from the atmosphere – your most basic instinct and complex mechanism required to exist on our planet.  Each breath moving clean air into and out of the lungs, facilitating gas exchange with the internal environment by bringing in oxygen and flushing out carbon dioxide.  Exhale, slowly.

We take our breathing for granted.  We take breath for granted.  First, simply taking the time to concentrate on your breath through meditation for ten minutes each day can actually extend your life.  Consider the health choices you make to protect or damage your lungs – smoking tobacco or marijuana?  Consider the environment – do you believe we need to protect the Earth, do we need our lawmakers to address global warming and other issues contaminating our planet?  Consider an outbreak of a new, highly contagious and deadly virus that causes severe acute respiratory disease.  Consider a police officer’s knee on the back of a restrained black man’s neck, suppressing his breath until he loses consciousness and dies.

Breathe it in.  Exhale it out.

Five plus years ago I studied holistic nutrition and the program I completed leaned heavily on the teachings of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  I was especially interested in the study of “Five Element Theory”, an ancient practice utilizing the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal, water – to diagnose, treat and heal humans based on their innate, unchanging element association.  The theory may be used to help form a diagnosis when there is conflicting signs and symptoms associated with the five elements.  Additionally, the elements are useful for assisting patients with nutritional therapy and working through emotional issues.  The Five Element theory is based on the observation of the natural cycles and interrelationships in both our environment and within ourselves.

Everyone has a “dominant element” based on behaviors and physical aspects – color below the eyes, sound of voice, odors, smells, emotions, seasons, body type, development stage, environment, and organs.  And it never changes.

For example, my element is Water.  It always has been and always will be.  It never changes from the day you are born to the day you die.

According to TCM, the element of Metal is associated with the Lungs.

5 element theory

According to TCM, Metal/Lung is associated with the nose (breathing), grief, autumn, dryness, crying, the color white (as it appears when light hits the face, casting a subtle shade below the eyes – this has nothing to do with skin color or pigment), and the west (directional).  Too much sadness and grieving can harm the Lung.  “Letting things go” is a healthy way to stimulate Lung function and get rid of physical and emotional baggage.  The Metal/Lung is associated with boundaries.

I meditated on this. 

What are some of the specific causes of sadness and grieving affecting our collective Lung?  Inequality.  Racism.  Sexism.  Intolerance.  Hate.  Greed.  Violence.  War.  Self-serving Ego.  What else?  How we treat others.  How we treat our planet. 

Keep going.

Note:  If you decide to meditate on this too, add your own ideas and expand on the causes.  Breathe it in.  Exhale it out.

How has the sadness and grieving of the world harmed our collective Lung?  What do we need to “let go” to stimulate our collective Lung function and to rid ourselves of physical, emotional baggage?  How do we create healthy boundaries?  What is essentialism?  What needs to go?  What can no longer be tolerated or accepted?  What has to change NOW? How do we remove these toxins to our existence so that we can heal our collective emotional wounds and put an end to the sadness and grief of the world?

How are these painful circumstances of 2020 actually leading us to clean air, repaired, healthy breathing for the collective Lung?

Breathe in.  Exhale out.

2020 was supposed to be a year about clarity and “perfect vision”.  For so many – this was going to be a big “make things happen”, “take action” year.  But before we knew it, we found ourselves in the midst of a frightening pandemic with a dangerously contagious coronavirus that attacks the lungs.  This virus spread across the globe quickly and shut down our country.

Still in the course of the pandemic, we found ourselves in the midst of a national civil rights crisis – turned movement – following a horrifying episode of police brutality in Minneapolis after a video revealed a police officer forced his knee to the neck of restrained George Floyd, a black man arrested for a minor offense.  Floyd could be seen begging for help with his now immortalized, haunting last words… “I can’t breathe.”

Take that all in.  Now Breathe.

According to the Chinese Zodiac the Year of the Metal Rat began on January 25, 2020 and runs through February 11, 2021.

I don’t believe in coincidences.

The metaphysical world is part of quantum physics, part of the micro and macro energetics of the universe.  When you begin to understand concepts like quantum physics, lightyears, gravity, black holes, organic chemistry and microbiology – well, you recognize that some people rely on the concept of coincidence to offer a pass for a concept which they cannot understand or explain.

Science shows us the most elegant mapwork of our universe, our galaxy, our planet, our microscopic world down to tiniest particulate matter – the unseen particles that have grave impact on climate and precipitation that adversely affect human health in ways additional to direct inhalation.

As big as we can imagine and as tiny as we can fathom – there is a specific energetic order and energy to everything.

Breathe that in.  Exhale that out.

All matter here on earth is material born from the death of stars.  Who or what created this is where religion and philosophy offer opportunity for opinion, faith, or whatever you feel.  But, make no mistake, the order of the energetics that make up atoms and particles and compounds and structure and dimensions and stretches of light and distance – it is all very ornate and complex like fractals, DNA, negative or positive ions, galaxies, star nurseries, black holes, or the incredible respiratory system of two lungs located near the backbone on either side of the heart with millions of cells that make up trachea, bronchi, terminal bronchioles, Alveolar ducts, sacs, and alveoli… a marvelous and perfect system that functions so that we can breathe.

Some people operate on a higher level of consciousness than others – depending on how they are raised, how they are suppressed, how they are traumatized, how they are restricted, how they are taught, how they are elevated, how they are wired, how they are willing or encouraged to grow.  That said, some people will get this immediately.  And some will recoil with discomfort because they don’t understand or “agree” with what I’m putting down.  Restrictive ideas or beliefs are tied to what often holds us back or prevents us from expanding our consciousness.

I can no longer put energy in those who are just unwilling to grow, change, evolve, elevate or expand.

Breathe in. Exhale out.

These traumatic episodes came to be in the Year of the Metal Rat for a reason.

I do not subscribe to a single metaphysical concept.  Let me be clear.  This has nothing to do with my faith or religion.  Because this has nothing to do with faith or religion.  This is about opening up to ancient concepts that draw us closer to the universe, to nature, to the health and order of our planet, and to the choice to act in kindness and compassion or hate and oppression.  It’s about yin and yang equal and opposite energies that combined bring together harmony – and you can call that whatever you want.  It’s bigger than one philosophical concept or regional, cultural understanding.  It’s bigger than that.

Breathe that in.  Exhale that out.

Here’s more about what I learned about the Chinese zodiac Rat and Metal combined and how it relates to the year 2020.

There is a lot of content available about Chinese astrology.  Again.  This is not about religion.  This is not about paganism or atheism or the need to be right.  This is about a formulaic way ancient Chinese philosophy engaged the study of energetics, nature and metaphysics to offer deeper consciousness towards our physical world, nature and human experience.

The Rat is the very first sign from the twelve animal cycle of Chinese astrology, and for this reason 2020 is considered a year of new beginnings and renewals.

According to many predictions around the Chinese calendar, the year 2020 is to be quite challenging, especially health-wise, but also financially with obstacles, impediments and unpredictable situations, which will mainly occur during the first half of the year.

How is this measured?

“This situation is caused by the negative energy of the annual ‘Flying Star 5’, the star of destruction and disasters, which will have a strong influence during the Metal Rat year” (thechinesezodiac.org).

Quick explanation.  We’re connecting, once again, to Five Element Theory.  The “Flying Star 5” is an important concept in Feng Shui, the Chinese practice of creating sacred and clean or clear space to address aspects of human life and balance.

Xuan Kong Fei Xing is a discipline in Feng Shui and is an integration of the principles of Yin Yang, the interactions between the Five Elements, the Eight Trigrams, the Lo Shu numbers, and the 24 Mountains, by using time, space and objects to create an astrological chart to analyze positive auras and negative auras of a building.

When “Flying Star 5” appears (there are 9 flying stars in Feng Shui) you can expect plague, lawsuits, catastrophe, disloyalty, the worst amongst the others, and death.

Breathe in.  Exhale out.

“The vital force of the planet is weak, which is why this year you might feel stressed even by the smallest of things.”

“During the first half of the year you will have more free time and you will be able to rest and make plans for the future.  You will consolidate the relationship with your life partner and you will spend more time with your children.” (thechinesezodiac.org)

Does any of this sound familiar?  When the world shut down and social distancing turned to #shelterinplace – we received the fullness of this prediction.  More stress.  More free time.  More rest.  More time to make plans for the future.  Consolidated relationship with your life partner.  More time with  your children.

Personally, all of that was my reality from March 13th to the present.

The year 2020 is also under the influence of “Flying Star 2” which is positioned in the south, causing all kinds of health issues.

“The Metal Rat year is difficult and full of obstacles for the Water Chinese zodiac signs (Rat, Pig), but the other signs will also encounter many hurdles throughout the year and so they will need to be more cautious than ever.” (thechinesezodiac.org).

Wash your hands for 26 seconds or while reciting the alphabet.  Wear masks when you must leave your house.  Only leave your house for the essentials.

Breathe in.  Exhale out.

“Metal signs (Monkey, Rooster) will face many difficult moments and they will be forced to fight fiercely for their rights…  The Year of the Rat has ups and downs, but nothing of worth ever comes easy.  During the first half of the year the health of the Chinese zodiac signs will be much improved, their energy and zest for life coming back in full force.” (thechinesezodiac.org)

Take that in.  Breathe that in.  Exhale that out.

Going back to the appearance of  “Flying Star 5” with expected plague, lawsuits, catastrophe, disloyalty, the worst amongst the others, and death…  it’s clear how that corresponds to the Covid-19 pandemic and related economic disaster.  But it is also clearly related to the homicide of George Floyd.

His murder is undoubtedly related to the plague of systemic racism in America.  His murder is going to be related to lawsuits, or law and order, or the legal system and a huge, sweeping change that has been a long time coming!  His murder was a catastrophe that hit even harder during a global pandemic.  Disloyalty is now a clean and clear line drawn as seen in protests that sprung up all across the globe as a result of Floyd’s murder – you are either loyal to the cause to end systemic racism and the homicide of black people in America or your are disloyal and not a part of the movement towards change.  This divide is certainly bringing out the worst in some and this, too, will come to a head.  It took the senseless death of a restrained black man to finally erupt and wake up so many who had been sleeping.  Many black lives have been taken by law enforcement and racism.  Seeing millions put on face masks and risk a pandemic for something greater than the individual, something greater than life or death – to break the chains of racism and equality in the most exhaustive, enough already, we are at a breaking point way – is inspiring.  And it’s about time.

Breathe in.  Exhale out.

So, when we think about 20/20 and perfect vision and a year of making big things happen, well, I don’t think the year is a wash.  I think we’re getting exactly what we envisioned.

In a Biblical sense, the plague and deaths and catastrophe points to the end of days.  Yes.  I believe it is indeed the end of the world… as we know it.

It took a pandemic and a heightened video evidenced murder of a black man to wake us up and to begin to heal the collective Lung.

Imagine the gift of having a ventilator in a hospital room.  Imagine the tragedy of not having access to one and being left to die.  Imagine all the healthcare workers who had to suit up and work in the front lines trying to save lives, many losing their own.

Let us all take a moment to breathe in for those who have been sick or died from Covid-19.  Exhale slowly.

Imagine being a black person hunted down by racists or being brutalized by police.  Imagine a knee on the back of your neck, after dealing with sickness from Covid-19, surviving a pandemic, but not surviving a police officer’s unnecessary force that stole your very last breath.  Imagine 8:46 minutes of gasping for air and struggling to mutter, “I can’t breathe”.

Let us all take a moment, 8:46 minutes to be exact, to breathe in for George Floyd.  Breathe for him.  Breathe for every black person murdered by systemic racism.  #blacklivesmatter

Exhale, slowly.

So we move and change and learn and grow – we must revitalize the vital force of the planet.  This year is the opportunity to heal the collective Lung.

Return this meditation to the Lung.

How has the sadness and grieving of the world harmed our collective Lung?  What do we need to “let go” to stimulate our collective Lung function and to rid ourselves of physical, emotional baggage?  How do we create healthy boundaries?  What is essentialism?  What needs to go?  What can no longer be tolerated or accepted?  What has to change NOW? How do we remove these toxins to our existence so that we can heal our collective emotional wounds and put an end to the sadness and grief of the world?

How are these painful circumstances of 2020 actually leading us to clean air, repaired, healthy breathing for the collective Lung?

Breathe in.  Exhale out.

Thank you for taking the time to read along and meditate through this exploration of 2020 The Year of the Metal Rat and Lung Energy with me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fertility & The Modern Woman

 

Fertility Challenge
Fertility challenge and infertility medical symbol as an incomplete puzzle with an image of a uterus with fallopian tubes as a gynecology icon for problems in female reproduction in a 3D illustration style.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health, “infertility means not being able to get pregnant after one year of trying (or six months if a woman is 35 or older).  Women who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant may also be infertile.  About 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States ages 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).” (womenshealth.gov).

When you are a woman trying to get pregnant, all the statistics in the world don’t matter.  You just want to be healthy.

As a woman who wanted to have a baby after the age of 35, which used to bear the unbearable name of “geriatric pregnancy”, I wasn’t sure about my fertility.  I wasn’t concerned with whether or not I would have children until I found the love of my life and began to see the world and a potential family through a new and different lens.

I decided to be proactive and googled fertility and acupuncture.  I wasn’t interested in taking the traditional path to western medicine.  I came across a clinic that was dedicated to women’s health.  There, I learned about Kiné Fischler and Willow Tree Wellness.

Kiné, the clinic director and distinguished Fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine, is a master acupuncturist and medical herbalist specializing in women’s health, fertility and pregnancy care.  She has a Master of Science in Oriental Medicine from the Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine College in Berkeley, CA.  She is a proud member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, building professional relationships with Reproductive Endocrinologists to offer integrative care for mutual patients.

Her credentials are impressive.

I scheduled an appointment.  I immediately felt a good vibe about Kiné and was so happy to begin this journey.  She guided me through the process to understand my fertility.  She became a kind of yogi to me and she helped me to become my own advocate when it came to working with conventional medicine to address my needs and concerns.

First, I requested an appointment with my OB-GYN to learn about my chances of getting pregnant.  My doctor ran a series of tests to find out about my egg quality and if I’m nearing menopause.  The results came back promising.

Kiné had me track my cycle for the past year.  I have always had a short cycle – anywhere from 24-26 days.  She explained the importance of a longer cycle, closer to the normal 28 days.

Starting in October of 2017, we began a weekly treatment regimen of acupuncture and Chinese herbs to balance my hormones and lengthen my cycle.  Kiné explained it takes about six months of treatment to balance most clients towards healthy ovulation and pregnancy.

The process was amazing.  Kiné not only balanced my hormones and lengthened my cycle to 26-28 days, but her treatments alleviated my worst menstrual symptoms, including debilitating, painful cramps.  She also encouraged me to go back to my OB-GYN to test my levels of progesterone.

My doctor was very much on board with working as a team with my acupuncturist.  She ordered the progesterone test and even ordered an HSG test.  HSG, or hysteronsalpingography, is a special kind of x-ray used to evaluate female fertility and involves placing an iodine-based dye through the cervix and taking x-rays. The x-rays help evaluate the shape of the uterus and whether the fallopian tubes are blocked.

Interestingly enough, many women claim they got pregnant one or two months after an HSG.   Doctors suggest you’re more likely to conceive after this fertility test because it opens up the fallopian tubes and makes it easier for sperm to reach the egg.

I had the procedure done in early April of 2018.  The test results came back normal.

Meantime, my progesterone levels were low.  So, Kiné directed me to advocate for myself and ask my doctor to write me a progesterone suppository prescription.  This is very important.  My doctor was happy to write the prescription.  However, my health insurance company fought me and tried to change the prescription to a progesterone pill.  Here’s where it became critical for me to fight for my health and what I believed was best for my body.  My sister had a history of low progesterone and miscarriage.  The only thing that worked and gave her two babies was the use of progesterone suppositories.  The synthetic pill did not work for her and could not prevent miscarriage!

It was difficult to work with my insurance company.  But, I fought for what I knew was right for my body.  And, it took tears in the pharmacy to finally get some help.  While the pharmacist could not fill the prescription, he called a local compounder who could mix and fulfill the prescription – at a fraction of the cost!

The following month, on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13th, I took a home pregnancy test and was stunned by a positive sign.  I took the prescribed progesterone suppositories until the end of my first trimester.

I continue to see Kiné once a week for prenatal acupuncture and pregnancy support.  She is amazing!  I would not be pregnant if not for Kiné!

I decided to start my blog with this story because it is one of the most important stories of my life.  I didn’t know if I would ever get pregnant.  I feared my age would be prohibitive.  Our society scares women to death, especially when we are no longer young maidens.  We are placed to such incomprehensible standards about our choices, our lifestyle, our image, and our health.

Here’s my hope.  For any woman out there who is struggling to get pregnant, or who worries about her biological clock, or who feels invisible in the conventional healthcare system – please take heart.  I am over 40 years old and I did not need fertility treatment.  Please let that sink in.  I know that women have different issues and we are all bio-individuals, so you can’t make a blanket statement about a woman’s health at any stage.  Be your own advocate.  If you are healthy and take care of yourself, you are more than likely better off than you may realize.

Conventional medicine will not consider lengthening your cycle!  Acupuncture will and with results.  While you may have a normal 28 day cycle, you may have other disharmonies that a good acupuncturist will address.  These little imbalances may be all the difference in seeing results with conventional medicine.  It’s worth finding someone like Kiné to help you learn about your body.

I did not require fertility treatment to get pregnant.  It happened for me within 6 months of Kiné’s care.  My journey was to learn about my bio-individuality, my own needs and requirements.  I’ve had a short cycle since the beginning of my womanhood.  Acupuncture put my system on track.  I took tests to learn about my body.  I believe in manifesting.  And the very process of taking a holistic look at my health and fertility opened up the possibility of getting pregnant.  It worked.

Stress commonly prevents couples from conceiving.  I never had any stress because I was getting acupuncture – which helps to alleviate and/or prevent stress.  I approached my fertility clearly and objectively – but not always without emotion.  Fertility is an emotional topic!  But, I had a real team of healthcare providers who guided me through a beautiful process of discovery about myself.

I am in my early 40’s and I am fertile, healthy and happily pregnant.

The journey obviously doesn’t stop there.  I am integrating holistic nutrition to feed myself and my growing baby.  I am living on a budget, and, still I put my nutrition as my top priority.  I don’t eat processed foods at all, I’ve limited sugar, and I’m enjoying fresh, whole, organic foods whenever possible.

Kiné introduced me to Carol Gray of MamaSpace Yoga in Portland.  “MamaSpace is all about making room for babies in pregnant bodies.  When babies have room to move they assume more ideal positions for birth.  This unique prenatal yoga style enhances and supports the bodywork developed for pregnant people by Carol Gray.  The concept of maternal mobility making space for babies receives little attention in our culture, but is vitally important to fetal development and birth outcomes.”

Each decision I have made has empowered me, cleared me, and helped me manifest my health, pregnancy, and delivery goals.  Balancing my hormones via acupuncture came at a fraction of the cost of facing fertility treatment.

There are so many myths about women’s health.  Pregnancy and birth are incredible miracles.  I believe in every day miracles.  I believe you hold the power to realize a healthy pregnancy at any stage or age of fertility.   Of course, specific diseases require  different considerations and approaches.  Still, I will always enlist in acupuncture to support conventional care and I will always recommend this for everyone.