The summer is green thanks to all the spring rain; the heavens have been generous and the earth is abundant.
The three months of summer are called prospering and developing the flower. . .
At night one goes to bed, at dawn one gets up.
The Qi of Heaven and Earth intertwine, the 10,000 beings flower and bring forth fruit . . .
One does not let oneself be overcome by the sun, assisting the brilliance of beauty and strength.
This corresponds with the Summer qi. It is the way that maintains the growth of life.
(Neijing Suwen/Simple Questions ch. 2, translated by Claude Larre SJ)
A daily physical practice of your choice
In this warm and expansive time, I invite you to live fully and cultivate virtues of prosperity, growth and bringing forth fruit: practice regularly.
- Walk, practice your Qigong or Tai Chi, pull out your yoga mat, swim, walk or sit mindfully in a quiet place.
- Practice for a minimum of twenty minutes.
- Practice every day for the next one hundred days.
- Observe the changes you experience, keep track in a journal.
Pablo Picasso once said “la inspiracion siempre me encuentra trabajando” ( inspiration always finds me hard at work).
The price of oil and rice: Resources within ourselves and our communities
As we adjust to changes in the non-renewable and renewable resources in our world and an economy in flux, many of us are slowing down to re-consider our needs and how to meet them.
How we spend our resources is a critical question both as individuals and as communities.
Chinese Medicine teaches us to spend at a conservative rate so that we may have reserves in times of greater need. In the treatment room and Qigong classes, many have heard me speak about working until you are 70% tired, eating till you are 70% full, and so forth.
By expending 70% effort in our endeavors, we protect our own “non-renewable” resources and ensure that we are not depleting ourselves even as we strive –like the sunflowers reaching for the sun- to cultivate our highest potential.
Within our communities, the same principles apply. We conserve our resources when we choose to eat locally grown food, walk, ride our bike, and take public transportation. This summer, invest your resources in your local community and cultivate a spirit of abundance.
Lucía G. Perillan, M.Ac., L.Ac., Dial.Ac. (NCCAOM)
I just navigated by several opportunities, let me call them “exits”- to listen to what someone else has to say, check my email or social media, pick up a book . . . and then I paused as I remembered the great poet’s words calling me inward:
“I have come to believe over and over again that what is most important to me must be spoken, made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it bruised or misunderstood.” Audre Lorde (Sister Outsider, Transformation of Silence, 1978)
Indeed, I have taken this path tonight, avoiding distraction, offering myself compassion and committing to expression.
The previous blog entry I wrote was inspired by a creative spirit who died over a year ago. Her dedication to expression urges me into the writing chair now.
Back on the road . . .
Habituation leads me left then left again, then right . . . on the same route to work every day, simplifying my choices, reducing my exertion. Trash day and for a brief moment I stare at the large vehicle obstructing my usual path, then I turn my head considering alternate routes, adapting so that I arrive in time to open the office, warm it up, settle in and welcome my first client.
My inquiry and exploration leads me to these “choice points”. I may be “asleep” to the possibility of driving a different route or my thoughts may be too dispersed to temporarily set aside the stories, words and needs of others to give space and time to quieter whispers and longings.
I know from going down the Shenandoah River how wonderful it is to be both alert and settled enough to know when to lean so the current can carry our raft over the rocks and laugh in delight as it bumps and glides down the whitewater.
How to stay supple in the face of emerging needs, respond to surprises that arise during the course of my day, in my relationships, in my body? These questions are crucial to daily life.
Indeed, lifestyle choices have major and immediate effects on our wellbeing. Do I choose to exercise before or after work today? What do I choose to put in my mouth in the morning, after dinner? With whom do I choose to spend my time? And what do we do together?
I have identified two necessary steps:
(1) Noticing that I am at an “exit “or juncture where I could choose which requires:
- Being settled enough to perceive my needs and condition
- Turning my head to consider the options
(2) Harnessing my mental clarity and exercising the choice to take a route well-suited to my immediate and long term needs requires:
- Organizing my thoughts
- Feeling my body, for best results: sensing temperature and pressure in my head, torso and limbs and breathing
- Seeing where I want to go, and then
- Taking the necessary steps to get there.
Tonight, I sat in my study and breathed, looking at my phone and acknowledged I wanted to write. I looked at the time and considered reading, watching television and reaching for my computer.
I breathed again and noticed that I felt warm and cozy in my room, protected from the yet another cold snowy night. I envisioned myself writing and reached for my computer, opened it up, and began to write.
Now I am delighting in seeing these words on the screen and enthusiastic about engaging with you in a dialogue about choice points.
I invite you to compassionately consider your choice points as spring temperatures change and flowers choose to bloom.
Recently I inquired of a patient who is living with a diagnosis of breast cancer: “what is your sense ofwhat is going on here?” She spoke of how she was aware, at least in the particular moment of responding to my question, that in recent times she had not consistently made deeply nourishing choices.
I was moved by the courage and power of her insight and reminded of my own longing to slow down. As I spend this week in retreat by the ocean- I notice how well this slower pace suits me.
I began my retreat with a fast, abstaining from food and speech. My nourishment was the ocean, sand, sun, rest and five-element punch to help cleanse and keep me stable.
In relationship with myself and with my fellow traveller, sometimes I inquire what will suit me -and other times us- best right now? A walk along the shore, an immersion into the salty womb, a meal of lamb sausage with squash and green beans, conversations about the contours of our awareness . . .
This last morning I sit with the ocean before me, I can see that this relationship between the stirrings within and life without is like the water meeting land at the lips of the ocean, the wind meeting the edge of the nostrils, the green bean the teeth, and the words of my fellow travellers and I departing from mouths and arriving a tears; each of these meetings yielding its own nourishment: a sandy place to rest and play, breath, nutrients, meaning and connection.
To take nourishment for me, is to have time enough to gather my awareness at these meeting places- to allow the vibrations to move through me shaking off residue, organizing tissue, giving me vitality and soothing tender places.
The pace of activity at these meeting places can often outrun my capacity to gather my awareness.
And so I return to the meeting place of this patient’s insight and my ears and realize how grateful I am that those vibrations have helped bring me here today.