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Achieving Balance With Taoism

Taoism, also spelled Daoism, is a religion and a philosophy from ancient China that has influenced folk and national belief for millennia. Taoism has been connected to the philosopher Lao-Tzu who around 500 B.C.E. is thought to have written the main book of Taoism, the Tao Te Ching. Taoism holds that humans and animals should live in balance with the Tao, or the way of the universe, and that spiritual immortality is where the spirit of the body joins the universe after death. In this blog, we will explore the origins of Taoism and its main concepts, along with the eight immortals of Taoism and a few teachings that can help you navigate life.

Lao-Tzu and the Origins of Taoism

Lao-Tzu

Pictured: Lao-Tzu    Source: Famous Philosophers

The historian Sima Qian (145-86 BCE) told the story of Lao-Tzu, a curator at the Royal Library in the state of Chu, who was a philosopher. Lao-Tzu believed in the harmony of all things and that people could live easily together if they only considered each other’s feelings and recognized that their self-interest was not always in the interest of others. 

Lao-Tzu grew impatient with the corruption he saw within people and in the government, so he decided to go into exile. As Lao-Tzu was leaving China, a gatekeeper, Yin Hsi, recognized him and asked him to write a book before he left. Lao-Tzu sat down on a rock beside the gatekeeper and wrote the Tao Te Ching, which translates to The Book of the Way.

Lao-Tzu stopped writing when he felt he was finished, handed the book to Yin Hsi, and vanished, never to be seen again. The Tao Te Ching is not looked at as scripture in Taoism; instead, it’s seen as a book of poetry presenting the simple way of living life at peace with one’s self, others, and the world of changes. 

While the author is traditionally believed to be Lao-Tzu, some question his hand in the book as there is little evidence that Lao-Tzu existed. Some believe instead that the Tao Te Ching is a gathering of earlier sayings from many authors. However, Lao-Tzu is sometimes understood as the image of the Tao and given legendary status.

Tao Te ChingPictured: Tao Te Ching    Source: The Flerlage Twins

A Breakdown of Taoism

Taoism is a Chinese philosophy that developed from the folk religion of the people primarily in the rural areas of China; it became the official religion of the country under the Tang Dynasty. Taoism is therefore both a philosophy and a religion.

Taoism has provided an alternative to the Confucian tradition in China, coexisting in the country, regions, and even within the same individual. In Taoism, Confucian gods are seen as manifestations of the one Tao, which is not represented as an image or a particular thing.

The concept of a personified deity who created the universe is foreign to Taoists. This results in their form of prayer being different than Christian religions. Instead, they seek answers to life’s problems through inner meditation and outer observation.

Some of the basic tenets of Taoism are the following:

  • Time is cyclical, not linear as in Western thinking.
  • One should plan in advance and consider carefully each action before making it.
  • Taoists follow the art of “wu wei,” which is to let nature take its course. For example, one should allow a river to flow towards the sea unimpeded; do not erect a dam that would interfere with its natural flow.
  • Taoists strongly promote health and vitality.
  • The five main organs and orifices of the body correspond to the five elements: water, fire, wood, metal, and earth.
  • Development of virtue is one’s chief task. The Three Jewels to be sought are compassion, moderation, and humility.

A Look at Wu Wei in Taoism

In Chinese, wu wei translates to “non-doing or doing nothing;” this concept is key to the noblest kind of action, according to the philosophy of Taoism, and is at the heart of what it means to follow the Tao.

According to the Tao Te Ching: “The Tao never acts yet nothing is left undone.” This is the paradox of wu wei; it doesn’t mean not acting, it means “effortless action” or “actionless action.” Simply put, this means being in a state of peace while engaged in even the most frantic task can allow one to carry it out with maximum skill and efficiency.

The meaning of wu wei is captured when we talk of being “in the zone,” or at one with what we are doing and in a state of flow. It’s also closely connected to the Taoist reverence for the natural world, for it means striving to make our behavior as spontaneous and inevitable as certain natural processes. 

Wu wei involves letting go of thoughts or ideals that we may otherwise try to force too violently onto things. Instead, it invites us to respond to the true demands of situations by putting our ego-driven plans aside. What can follow is a loss of self-consciousness; a new unity between the self and its environment. This change in state unleashes energy that’s normally held back by an overly aggressive, willful style of thinking.

The Tao Te Ching points out that to achieve wu wei we should be like water, which is “submissive and weak and yet which can’t be surpassed for attacking what is hard and strong.” Through gentle persistence and compliance with the specific shape of a problem, an obstacle can be worked around and gradually eroded.

Yin and Yang in Taoism

Taoism’s purpose is to assist individuals in experiencing their essential nature as inseparable from that of the cosmos and to be part of the flow of life. An important first step toward attaining this experience of interconnectedness is by learning to recognize and align ourselves with the movement of life itself, which can be achieved through an understanding of Yin and Yang. 

Yin and Yang, the two essential and interdependent energies of life, describe the underlying unity of life through the interplay of two primal forces. Though opposite in nature, Yin and Yang are not diametrically opposed, but rather complementary and relative to one another. 

Yang is characterized as creative, assertive, and light, while Yin is receptive, yielding, and dark. It’s important to note that these attributes are only descriptive and do not carry any moral value. The interaction between Yin and Yang creates all manifestations, and it’s through them that the Tao reveals itself.

Our entire physical reality is based on the interplay of both Yin and Yang energies. Whether it’s the structure of DNA, with its positive and negative strands, the transmission of neurons in our brains, or the makeup of electricity with its positive and negative currents — all of these processes take place because of these two opposing energies. 

The original meaning of the term “Yin-Yang” signified the dark (Yin) and light (Yang) sides of a mountain. Early in the day, the sun would illuminate one part of the mountain while the other side would remain dark. As the sun moved across the sky, it gradually began to light the opposite side while the earlier sunlit face became dark. Light and dark were not static but interacted with one another, defined one another, and actually assumed each other’s roles in the process of change. This describes the interplay of Yin and Yang within Taoism.

YinAndYang

Pictured: Yin and Yang characteristics    Source: The Lazy Taoist

The Eight Immortals Of Taoism

For devout believers, a central tenet of Taoism is the idea that adhering to certain beliefs and practices can potentially lead to immortality. It’s unknown just how many Taoist practitioners have achieved immortality, but the founder of Taoism, Lao-Tzu, is thought to be immortal.

The religious tradition of Taoism venerates a group of eight xian, or immortals, who offer a concrete symbol of this ability to transcend the limitations of ordinary human life through the beliefs and practices of Taoism. They serve as mythological archetypes of immortality achieved through practice.

Here’s a breakdown of the eight immortals of Taoism:

  • He Xian Gu: Often considered the only woman among the Immortals. He Xian Gu is usually depicted carrying a lotus flower, which is said to improve one’s mental and physical health.
  • Cao Guo Jiu: As a member of the royal family in the Song Dynasty, Cao Guo Jiu is often shown dressed in official robes and holding a jade tablet. He’s commonly regarded as the patron of actors and the theater.
  • Lan Caihe: Sometimes depicted as a male but other times as a female. Lan Caihe is often shown carrying a bamboo flower basket and a pair of bamboo castanets. They’re known to be eccentric, serving to symbolize a carefree life devoid of the concerns and responsibilities of ordinary life.
  • Lu Dongbin (also spelled Lu Tung Pin): Believed to be a scholar and poet that lived during the Tang Dynasty. Lu Dongbin’s symbol is a magic sword that dispels evil spirits and provides him with invisibility. He’s regarded as a patron deity for highly literate people; some also see him as a champion of the medical profession.
  • Han Xiang Zi: Thought to be related to a Confucian scholar. Han Xiang Zi is often depicted carrying a flute and is regarded as a patron deity of musicians. 
  • Zhang Guo Lao: Lived from approximately the middle of the 7th century into the 8th century, practicing as a Taoist hermit in the mountains of east-central China. Zhang Guo Lao is typically shown seated on a white mule, often facing backward. For Taoists, he is regarded as a protector of children and a patron of wine and the good life.
  • Zhongli Quan: Usually shown with his chest exposed and holding a fan with which he can resurrect the dead and transform stones into precious metals. Zhongli Quan is usually featured with a long beard and a glass of wine.

Left; Zhongli Quan , Top Right; He Xian Gu , Bottom Right; Lan Caihe

Pictured: Left; Zhongli Quan (Three Stars), Top Right; He Xian Gu (Tsingtao), Bottom Right; Lan Caihe (Ferre Beekeeper)

Teachings of Taoism to Help You Navigate Life

In a modern world that never sleeps, anyone could benefit from the simplicity found in Taoism. You can grasp some of its key concepts with a few quotes from Taoism’s most important book, the Tao Te Ching. This wisdom lays a simple framework for achieving harmony, which may help you navigate life with ease.

Simplicity, Compassion, and Patience

“Simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.”

The Lesson: Life can get complicated, but sometimes all we need to do is get back to the basics. When feeling overwhelmed, these guidelines present essential rules on how to manage actions, relationships, and self-worth in a few concise sentences.

Letting Go

“If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.”

The Lesson: Many Eastern philosophies remind us of the only true constants in life: change and death. While not an easy thing to do, accepting these facts of life can release you from suffering and bring greater freedom into your life. We must remember to let go, and allow life to take its course.

Harmony

“Tao engenders One; One engenders Two; Two engenders Three; Three engenders all things. All things carry the Yin (femininity) while embracing the Yang (masculinity). Neutralizing energy brings them into harmony.”

The Lesson: The Chinese concept of Yin and Yang describes nature in dualities with two opposite, complementary, and interdependent forces. In other words, two halves balancing together to make a whole; one aspect increases as the other decreases, and this balance continues as a pattern in nature.

Examining and understanding these patterns in ourselves and around us brings more balance in life. For example, a person that becomes too rigid may break under pressure. Instead, they should try to become softer and more flexible to restore the balance of Yin to Yang.

Going With the Flow

“When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.”

The Lesson: This quote explains the concept of wu wei, uncontrived action or natural non-intervention. In life, rather than fighting against the conditions in our lives, we can allow things to take their natural course. This can also mean that when you don’t know what to do, do nothing. Instead, look inward and outward in your life, ponder the potential courses of action, and only jump at opportunities when you feel ready.

In Conclusion

The Tao Te Ching, a two and half thousand-year text credited to Lao-Tzu and the second most translated book in world literature, forms the basis of Taoism. Gaining knowledge of the main principles of Taoism allows us to cultivate and strengthen our own process of self-exploration, growth, and transformation, and it helps to connect us deeply to our inner nature and to the world around us. 

Which teaching of Taoism resonated the most with you? Let us know in the comments!

An Intro to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a complete medical system that has been used to diagnose, treat, and prevent illnesses for more than 2,000 years. Its basic concept is that a vital force of life, called Qi, surges through the body, and any imbalance to Qi can cause disease and illness. TCM practitioners use treatments that are specific to the individual, such as acupuncture, cupping, or moxibustion, to restore this balance. In this blog, we will explore the great practitioners of TCM, along with Qi and the meridians of the body, and TCM’s use in herbal medicine, food, genetics research, and drug development. 

A Look At Traditional Chinese Medicine

China has one of the world’s oldest medical systems with acupuncture and Chinese herbal remedies dating back at least 2,200 years. The earliest known written record of Chinese medicine is the Huangdi Neijing (The Yellow Emperor’s Inner Classic) from the 3rd century BCE, which provided the theoretical concepts for TCM that remain the basis of its practice today.

In essence, TCM healers seek to restore a dynamic balance between two complementary forces, Yin (passive) and Yang (active), which pervade the human body as they do the universe as a whole. According to TCM, a person is healthy when harmony exists between these two forces; illness, on the other hand, results from a breakdown in the equilibrium of Yin and Yang.

Treatments to regain a Yin and Yang balance may include:

  • Acupuncture, which involves the insertion of very thin needles through the skin at strategic points on the body.
  • Moxibustion, which consists of burning dried mugwort on particular points on the body.
  • Cupping, which is a form of alternative medicine in which a local suction is created on the skin with the application of heated cups.
  • Massage, which can help to regulate the flow of energy and blood, increase blood circulation, and relieve body pain and stress.
  • Herbal remedies, which can strengthen organ function and support good health.
  • Movement and concentration exercises, such as tai chi, which include specifically-designed movements to help an individual regain balance.

Cupping, Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Tai Chi Pictured: Cupping; top left (The Thirty), Acupuncture; top right (Forbes), Moxibustion; bottom left (American institute of Alternative Medicine), Tai Chi; bottom right (Britannica)

The Great Practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine

The hard work and dedication of various practitioners in ancient China have made an impact on not just Traditional Chinese Medicine, but also Western Medicine. A few great practitioners of TCM to take note of are:

Zhang Zhongjing

Zhang Zhongjing

Pictured: Zhang Zhongjing   Source: The Wandering Cloud ACM

Zhang Zhongjing (150-219 CE), the most famous of China’s physicians, lived during the Eastern Han dynasty and was known for his remarkable medical skill and significant contribution to Traditional Chinese Medicine. He wrote a medical masterpiece entitled Shanghan Lun (Treatise on Cold Damage Diseases). Zhang Zhongjing’s theory and prescriptions, such as moxibustion, acupuncture, and herbal medicine, are still of great medical value and are the standard reference work for TCM.

Hua Tuo

Hua Tuo

Pictured: Hua Tuo    Source: The Epoch Times

Another famous physician of Traditional Chinese Medicine was Hua Tuo (145-208 CE). Hua Tuo developed the use of anesthesia in surgery and further advanced the Chinese’s knowledge of anatomy. He was also the first person to use narcotic drugs in the world, preceding the West by about 1600 to 1700 years.1

Wang Shuhe 

Wang Shuhe

Pictured: Wang Shuhe   Source: The Coltons Point Times

Wang Shuhe (180-270 CE) was a Chinese physician who wrote the Maijing (The Pulse Classics), which is an influential work describing the pulse and its importance in the diagnosis of disease. Wang Shuhe’s contributions to medical science were not limited to sphygmology, though; he also made outstanding contributions to the collation of ancient literature. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine, Qi, and the Meridians

A main aspect of TCM is an understanding of the body’s Qi, which is known as life force and literally translates to “vital breath.” Qi is universal and embraces all manifestations of energy, from the most material aspects of energy, such as the earth beneath your feet, to the most immaterial aspects, such as light and emotion.

Life, it’s said in the Chinese medical classics, is a gathering of Qi. A healthy and happy human being is a dynamic but harmonious mixture of all the aspects of Qi that make up who we are. Qi is in a state of continuous flux, transforming endlessly from one aspect of Qi into another. It’s neither created nor is it ever destroyed; it simply changes in its manifestation.2

Qi flows through invisible meridians, or channels, of the body that connects organs, tissues, veins, nerves, cells, atoms, and consciousness itself. There are 12 major meridians with each connecting to one of the 12 major organs in TCM theory. The meridians are also related to circadian rhythms, seasons, and planetary movements, which create additional invisible networks.

The Meridians

Pictured: The Meridians    Source: Dr. Huong

In acupuncture, for example, very thin needles are inserted into specific areas along the meridians. The needles stimulate the meridians and readjust the flow of Qi to balance the body’s Yin and Yang. While the meridian network can be used to alleviate symptoms, it’s also said that TCM can endow individuals with the ability to change consciousness after treatments.

To learn more about Qi, the meridians, and acupuncture, click here

Traditional Chinese Medicine’s Five Element Theory

Philosophers have questioned the origins of life and the makeup of the universe since prehistory, the time before written records existed. According to some traditions, including TCM, everything in the universe comes from the five elements: wood, fire, earth, water, and metal.

“The five elements are used in pretty much every different style of TCM to some extent to diagnose and differentiate between different illnesses, dysfunctions, and people,” says Tiffany Cruikshank, licensed acupuncturist, experienced registered yoga teacher, and founder of Yoga Medicine.

The elements are all connected; wood feeds fire, fire makes earth, earth creates metal, metal holds water, and water nourishes wood. Each element both controls and is controlled by another element. One element may manifest heavier within us than others, which is where we are strongest, yet most vulnerable.

Each element has unique characteristics and becoming aware of your elemental dominance can help explain the physiology and pathology within your body. Here’s a breakdown of the five elemental types in TCM:

  • A “Wood Personality” is someone who is athletic, energetic, and adventurous. Wood personalities tend to be anxious and angry, and may suffer from orthopedic issues, migraines, or ADD.
  • A “Fire Personality” is someone who is passionate, creative, and authoritative. Fire personalities tend to be impulsive and irritable, and may suffer from insomnia, high blood pressure, chest pains, or headaches.
  • An “Earth Personality” is someone who is nurturing, generous, and caregiving. Earth personalities tend to be worrisome and pensive, and may suffer from abdominal issues or hormonal problems.
  • A “Metal Personality” is someone who is meticulous, honest, and responsible. Metal personalities tend to be melancholy and may suffer from constipation, lung and skin issues, or allergies.
  • A “Water Personality” is an old soul that is known to be wise, reflective, and private. Water personalities tend to be indecisive, fearful, and paranoid, and may suffer from back pain, knee pain, and kidney and bladder infections.

TCM's Five Element TheoryPictured: The Five Element Theory traits and characteristics    Source: Scottsdale Acupuncture

If you want to find out your element type, you can take this quiz

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbal Therapy

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, herbs and herbal formulas are used to strengthen organ function and support good health. TCM practitioners have an understanding of the essence of various herbal components to create a healing effect that goes beyond the chemical composition and physical properties of the herbs to correctly stimulate or adjust the body’s own energy vibration.

Many TCM herbal formulas have been in use for more than 2,200 years, and are composed of ingredients chosen to function in combination with each other. In Western Medicine, medications are commonly prescribed for a specific effect, while in TCM, each herb in a formula has a different purpose or role to help the body achieve harmony. 

For a plant to be included in TCM herbal therapy, each of its parts has to be identified for a different healing purpose. The following are a few of the most used Traditional Chinese Medicinal herbs, along with their benefits:

  • ‌‌‌‌Ginkgo Biloba: Promotes Brain Health and Improved Memory
  • ‌‌‌‌Ginseng (Ren Shen): Offers Immune Support and Improved Bone Strength
  • Turmeric: Possesses Anti-inflammatory, Anti-oxidant, and Digestive Health Properties
  • Astragalus (Huang Qi): Offers Immune Support and Brain Protection
  • Cinnamon: Regulates Blood Sugar and Promotes Dental HealthGinseng; top left. Astragalus; top right (, Turmeric‌‌‌‌; bottom left (Homestead and Chill), Ginkgo Biloba; bottom right

Pictured: Ginseng; top left (Me & Qi), Astragalus; top right (EBAY), Turmeric‌‌‌‌; bottom left (Homestead and Chill), Ginkgo Biloba; bottom right (Indiamart)

Herbs can have effects on the body as powerful as pharmaceutical drugs, which is why you should consult with your doctor before taking part in herbal therapy. Additionally, you should never abandon your regular medication or alter the dose without the knowledge and approval of your doctor.

Traditional Chinese Medicine and Food

Much like herbs, TCM views the healing properties of foods in the same way; different foods carry different energies that can go directly to specific organs to help them heal. Food is divided into five natures, called “siQi”: cold, cool, neutral, warm, and hot. The nature of food is not determined by its actual temperature, but rather by what effects it will have on an individual’s body after consumption. 

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, when a person continually eats one type of food, it creates an imbalance in their body and affects their immune system. Thus, one of the keys in Traditional Chinese Medicine is to keep our body “neutral.” Traditional Chinese Medicine also tells us that having food at a moderate temperature is ideal to avoid overstraining the digestive organs.3

TCM Food Chart

Pictured: Traditional Chinese Medicine Food Chart    Source: Pinterest

There’s a saying in TCM: “The five grains provide nourishment. The five vegetables provide filling. The five domestic animals provide enrichment. The five fruits provide support.” This means that a balanced diet, where foods are consumed in appropriate combinations according to their natures and flavors, serves to supplement the essence that the human body needs.4

Traditional Chinese Medicine, Genetic Research, and Drug Development

Considering the fact that Traditional Chinese Medicine is now an academic discipline in the field of medicine, there are modern developments that are worth taking note of, such as the use of TCM in genetics research.

The Yin and Yang principle can be applied to a genetic disease such as inherited breast cancer and its associated genes BRCA1 and BRCA2. According to this principle of natural law, if either of these genes is activated, somewhere in another part of the genetic code there also exists a gene to fix this action. There must be complementary programs running — one for developing the disease and one for healing it.5

In addition to genetics research, nearly 200 modern medicines have been developed either directly or indirectly from the 7,300 species of plants used in TCM. For example, ephedrine, an alkaloid used to treat asthma, was first isolated from the Chinese herb Ma Huang. Another alkaloid known as huperzine A was isolated from a widely used ingredient in Traditional Chinese Medicine known as Huperzia serrata, which is a type of fir moss.

Ma Huang; top, Huperzia serrata, bottomPictured: Ma Huang; top (The Plant Attraction), Huperzia serrata, bottom (HSN)

In Conclusion

Even if you aren’t familiar with all of the fundamentals of Traditional Chinese Medicine, you’re probably familiar with some of its practices. Maybe you’ve had an acupuncture session, taken turmeric for arthritis pain, or signed up at the local tai chi studio. Either way, TCM’s popularity has remained consistent throughout the centuries for improving health and wellness when used alongside conventional medical therapies.

What is your TCM elemental type? Have you ever tried a TCM treatment? Let us know in the comments!

 

 

 

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hua_Tuo [1]

https://magazine.circledna.com/what-does-traditional-chinese-medicine-say-about-qi/ [2]

https://www.pingminghealth.com/article/581/warming-and-cooling-characteristics-of-common-foods/ [3]

https://qiblog.emperors.edu/2015/10/the-role-of-healthy-eating-in-traditional-chinese-medicine/ [4]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3814386/ [5]

 

The Ancient Practice of Gua Sha

Gua Sha (pronounced gwa-shah) is a tool, or tools, used to scrape the skin to promote circulation. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) utilized Gua Sha tools thousands of years ago to increase blood circulation and heal the body. Today, the practice continues to evolve into a sought-after addition to people’s beauty regimen to tone and tighten skin. In this blog, we will explore the origins of Gua Sha, its benefits, and the tools and techniques used for this ancient skin practice.

What Is Gua Sha?

Gua Sha is a traditional Eastern and Southeast Asian healing technique in which a smooth, credit-card-sized “board” is pressed along the body’s skin; however, in more recent years, it’s been adapted for the face and neck, as well. The idea behind Gua Sha is that light pressure releases fascial and muscular tension and moves sluggish lymph fluid to tone the face.

Originally, Gua Sha was used to release different aches and pains in the body. For example, in TCM, it was commonly used on the upper back to invigorate blood flow, release heat toxins, stimulate lymphatic drainage, activate various acupressure points of the body, and stimulate an immune response bringing beneficial cells to the area.

Gua Sha works by promoting blood circulation. When you scrape the skin gently on the face or body, you’re stimulating a certain meridian point, which corresponds to an organ in the body that’s responsible for your skin’s overall health. In turn, you’re sending a signal to your body that this area needs more circulation.

The Origins of Gua Sha

Back-view illustration of Gua Sha treatment from Fangyi chuyan (A Modest Proposal for Epidemic Prevention)

Pictured: Back-view illustration of Gua Sha treatment from Fangyi chuyan (A Modest Proposal for Epidemic Prevention)    Source: Gua Sha Massage

With its origins in the treatment of abscesses in the Warring States period (475-221 BCE) of ancient China, Gua Sha has been a mainstay as a folk medicine since antiquity. 

Theories of “sha” disease gradually developed based on the premise that a pathogen was to be cleared and dispersed from the body and this was combined with a scraping technique, initially involving a hemp rope rubbing method using water or sesame oil in the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368 CE).

By the Qing dynasty (1644-1912 CE), the method of scraping had become more precise and expanded towards the entire body. A working framework for the treatment of sha was also developed at this time which enabled a wider application of scraping and included instructions for headaches, numbness of the face, and head shaking.

It was not until the Song dynasty (960-1279 CE) that anything resembling the practice of cosmetic scraping appeared, which was in the form of jade rubbing to treat facial scars. Many of the ideas behind facial Gua Sha have been influenced by traditional Chinese cosmetology, which from the Warring States and Qin and Han Dynasties, came ideas of how the human body and skin color changes are directly related to changes in people’s temperament, age, health, and qi.

Ancient doctors rarely recorded the specific methods, time, and treatment of Gua Sha but in the 20th century with the work of Jiang Jingbo and later Lu Jiru, Gua Sha was reinvigorated and an adapted, modernized style of Gua Sha therapy was promoted.1

The Benefits of Gua Sha

Implementing Gua Sha into your self-care routine may offer these potential benefits:

Gua Sha May Help Reduce Inflammation and Puffiness

Similar to other types of massages, gliding a Gua Sha tool across your face or body can promote microcirculation in your soft tissues, aka blood flow in small blood vessels. This increase in blood flow might help physical symptoms of inflammation like puffiness and swelling.2 The practice may also help lymphatic drainage by moving fluid away from swollen areas.3

Gua Sha May Boost Your Skin’s Collagen Production

Every year, our skin produces 1% less collagen; collagen keeps our skin strong and elastic.. Giving yourself regular Gua Sha facials can help ramp up your skin’s collagen production, thereby reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.4

Gua Sha May Increase the Efficacy of Skincare Topicals

Gua Sha can increase the efficacy of the skincare you’re already using. If you apply your moisturizer or serum and then give yourself a massage, the Gua Sha tools helps push the product deeper into your skin. This can help your serum absorb better and allow you to experience the full benefits of the formula.

Gua Sha Can Alleviate Tech Neck and Other Pains

If you feel the aches and pains from uncomfortable work posture or constant scrolling, a Gua Sha body massage might help. In a small 2014 study involving 60 regular computer users with neck and shoulder pain, researchers found that Gua Sha helped reduce pain and improve range of motion.5 Individuals in a small 2011 study also reported that Gua Sha helped reduce neck pain when compared with people who used heating pads.6

Gua Sha Can Improve Headache and Migraine Symptoms

If you’re dealing with migraines or headaches, Gua Sha might help relieve pain and tension in your head and neck. A 2007 case study of a 72-year-old woman reported that Gua Sha helped relieve migraine symptoms over a 14-day period.7

Gua Sha Can Aid in Muscle Recovery

Gua Sha’s ability to promote blood circulation might also help move the buildup of lactic acid that accumulates from your workouts. In a small 2017 study involving 65 male weightlifters, people who had Gua Sha treatments reported that lifting weights was easier post-treatment. Researchers concluded that Gua Sha might also help speed up muscle recovery and be a potential alternative to other sports recovery methods.8

Gua Sha May Help Tourette Symptoms

Tourette syndrome is a condition that affects the nervous system and causes sudden involuntary movements or sounds. While Gua Sha is not a miracle cure, limited research shows it might help reduce symptoms when combined with other treatments.

A 2017 case study of a 33-year-old man found that a combination of Gua Sha and other therapies appeared to reduce his Tourette syndrome symptoms. 9 

Gua Sha May Help Perimenopausal Symptoms

A small 2017 study involving 80 perimenopausal women found that people who had Gua Sha treatments for 8 weeks experienced fewer symptoms compared with the control group receiving only traditional therapy. 10

Gua Sha Tools

Some of the most common Gua Sha tool shapes are:

The Wand-Shaped Tool

Gua Sha S Shaped Tool

Pictured: Wand Gua Sha tool  Source: Eastern Currents

This long, slender tool has 2 pointy ends that are best to use for specific areas where you want to apply pressure and relieve tension in the body. These areas are primarily in the hands, feet, laterals, back, neck, and shoulders. The challenge with this shape is the limited maneuverability around the face and smaller areas of the body.

If you’re interested in adding this tool to your regime, check out the LEOSENSE Gua Sha Bian Stone Wand Tool.

The Dolphin

Gua Sha Wing or Fin Tool

Pictured: Dolphin Gua Sha tool    Source: DH Gate

This tool shape is one of the most popular and commonly purchased Gua Sha tools available on the market. It’s easy to hold due to its small size and is perfect for contouring different areas of the face including the jawline, nose bridge, chin, and under-eye area.

While the heart-shaped tool is great for the face, neck, and hands, it might be less effective to use in other parts of the body as its edges are not long enough to hold onto, and therefore less workable for applying firmer pressure.

If you’re interested in adding this tool to your regime, check out the MEEKU Gua Sha Stainless Steel Dolphin Tool.

The Spoon Tool

Gua Sha Spoon Tool

Pictured: Spoon Gua Sha tool    Source: Amazon

A Gua Sha spoon is a sculpting tool that helps you target acupressure points along your face and neck to gently release any muscle tension. Its spoon-like shape helps to target smaller areas as well as harder-to-reach areas like those around the nose and eyes.

If you’re interested in adding this tool to your regime, check out the Top Sewing Gua Sha 100% Jade Spoon Tool

The Comb Tool

Gua Sha Comb Tool

Pictured: Comb Gua Sha tool    Source: Amazon

This shape is exactly what it sounds like: a Gua Sha scraper equipped with comb-like prongs. On one side of this tool, you have the classic curved edge, perfect for a facial treatment. On the opposite side, the stone is shaped into a comb so you can give your scalp a nice, deep massage.

If you’re interested in adding this tool to your regime, check out the FORUHEALTH Gua Sha Jade Comb Tool.

Gua Sha Materials

Here’s a look at the most common materials used in Gua Sha:

  • Rose quartz is one of the most popular stones for Gua Sha tools. It’s said to be the stone of compassion, love, and emotional healing. Likewise, it supposedly has calming properties, which makes it ideal for people with sensitive skin and those who suffer from acne, rosacea, or other skin issues. According to some, rose quartz is also the best material for reducing signs of aging. In addition, as a healing stone, it’s used to drain toxins and negativity from the body.
  • Jade is a widely-used stone in the world of Gua Sha. Jade is known for its cooling effect, as well as its ability to balance the body and our inner energies. Similarly, some people claim that it helps relax the nervous system. If you’re looking for a tool that will reduce facial puffiness, jade might be your best bet. Plus, it’s known to promote lymphatic function. 
  • The Bian stone is also lauded for its healing properties. It’s an ancient stone with a wide range of uses, and one of those happens to be Gua Sha. According to certain studies, the Bian stone may help regulate blood pressure. Also, when used in a full-body Gua Sha treatment, it’s ideal for treating lower back pain.
  • Amethyst may help reduce stress and negative energy. Like jade, amethyst is perfect for cooling down the skin. Moreover, some people claim that it fights bacteria and targets the pores. 
  • Clear Quartz is among the rarest of these materials. It’s often referred to as a “master healer.” Many fans believe that it balances the mind, body, and spirit, providing a feeling of calm and clarity. Clear quartz is great for all skin types.

DIY Gua Sha

Once you choose the perfect shape and material, you can start using your Gua Sha tool every day or at least two to three times a week. To prevent any rashes or irritation when doing a Gua Sha massage, make sure to always use a facial oil first.

After using your Gua Sha tool, be sure to clean it with soap and warm water.

Facial Gua Sha: A Step-by-Step Guide

Always begin with your neck to release tension and assist with lymph drainage. Repeat each step three to five times. For a more detailed look at this technique, you can check out this video.

  1. Hold the skin at the base of your neck with your hand that isn’t holding the tool. Using the divot in your tool, use upward strokes, and glide up the cervical spine (the middle of your neck) from the base of your neck to the base of the skull and give it a wiggle. 
  2. Turn your Gua Sha tool to use the long flat edg. Gently glide down the side of your neck next to your shoulder. Hold your skin taut a few inches down from where you are gliding the Gua Sha.
  3. Repeat on the other side of your neck.
  4. Using the divot on your tool, glide up from the center of your collarbone to your chin. Use feather-light pressure.
  5. Choose the side of your face you would like to work on first. Use the divot of the tool to go from the middle of your chin towards the ear along the jawline.
  6. Use the long side of your Gua Sha and hook the tool under the cheekbone drawing out and up towards the ear.
  7. Using light pressure, slowly sweep from the side of your nose, under the eye, out towards the temple
  8. Next, using lighter pressure, going along the brow bone, use the long side of the tool to sweep from the center of the forehead to the temples.
  9. Starting at the space between the eyebrows, stroke up to your hairline. Move over to the right eyebrow and repeat.
  10. Finally, you can scrape from the center of your forehead towards the earlobe and down to your collarbone using a downward motion to help flush your lymphatic system.

The Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil Is Perfect For Gua Sha

The Herban Wisdom Facial Oil

The golden rule of Gua Sha is to always apply facial oil before using your stone. You need enough slip so that the tool can easily glide across the contours of your face — without it, you can pull or tug at your delicate skin.

The Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil is a high-vibrational facial oil that will compliment your Gua Sha routine perfectly. This exceptional formula is a powerful skin treatment fusing clean plant nutrients rich in antioxidant, adaptogenic, rejuvenating, and moisturizing properties.

Just a few drops incorporated into your own Gua Sha ritual can help visibly recharge skin to appear calm and balanced, radiating with a gorgeous natural glow. 

You can shop the Humanist Beauty Herban Wisdom® Facial Oil here

References:

http://en.chinaculture.org/info/2013-04/25/content_456628.htm [1]

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1550830707001772?via%3Dihub [2]

https://www.mdpi.com/2077-0383/9/11/3678/htm [3]

https://blog.sidekicktool.com/gua-sha-wrinkles/ [4]

https://he01.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/ams/article/view/66337 [5]

https://academic.oup.com/painmedicine/article/12/3/362/1829149?login=false [6]

https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/107731 [7]

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0254627217300262 [8]

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S200529011630125X?via%3Dihub [9]

https://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/Abstract/2017/03000/Effect_of_Gua_sha_therapy_on_perimenopausal.10.aspx [10]

All About Psychedelics

Psychedelics, also known as hallucinogens, are a group of substances that are commonly used to change and enhance sensory perceptions, thought processes, and energy levels, and to facilitate spiritual experiences. They include chemicals, such as LSD, and plants, such as peyote. The use of psychedelics goes back centuries in many cultures with some still being used today in religious ceremonies to experience spiritual or heightened states of awareness. In this blog, we’ll dive into what psychedelics are, how they work on the brain, and why the page is turning on using psychedelics for medical conditions such as depression and anxiety.

Types of Psychedelics

While psychedelics are loosely described under a general rubric, there are big differences between them. The following are some of the most commonly used psychedelic substances:

Acid (LSD)

LSD and Acid Sheets

Pictured: Acid and LSD sheets     Source: FRANK 

Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a chemically synthesized hallucinogen, developed from ergot, a kind of mold that grows on the rye grain. Also known simply as acid, LSD was widely used in the 1960s until it was made illegal in 1968.1 The use of LSD has continued, despite being a controlled substance, although its use has gone through phases of greater or lesser popularity.

Dimethyltryptamine (DMT)

DMT

Pictured: DMT    Source: Elephantos

N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is a simple and potent psychedelic molecule found in many plants, such as psychotria viridis (chacruna) and diplopterys cabrerana (chaliponga), as well as animals. While DMT is naturally produced in the human brain, researchers are still working to understand the purpose of the molecule.

DMT can cause intense perceptual, cognitive, and emotional changes.2 However, the effects of DMT are much shorter than those of other psychedelics, typically lasting only an hour. This has led to DMT trips being referred to as the “businessman’s trip” or “businessman’s lunch.”

Ayahuasca

Ayahuasca

Pictured: Ayahuasca    Source: The Guardian

Ayahuasca is a brew of two plants, one of which contains DMT, while the ayahuasca vine contains harmala alkaloids or monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Therefore, ayahuasca may be chemically reduced to DMT + MAOIs taken by mouth, while DMT is typically used via inhalation without MAOIs.3

Indigenous people in countries like Colombia and Peru have been using ayahuasca for hundreds of years as medicine and for religious worship. Compared to the intense and short-lived experience of pure DMT, an ayahuasca trip lasts for a few hours. 

Many Westerners seeking psychedelic medicine travel to countries such as Brazil or Peru where ayahuasca is legally available. In this setting, ritual experiences are often embedded within a longer retreat. For example, the tea is often consumed on multiple nights with healing and integration work done during the day.

Ketamine

Ketamine

Pictured: Ketamine    Source: Drug Target Review

Ketamine is a well-known medication that was originally used as an anesthetic during minor surgical procedures. Over time, ketamine has grown in popularity recreationally due to its sedative and muscle-relaxing properties. Ketamine is a dissociative substance, which means it acts on different chemicals in the brain to produce visual and auditory distortion and a detachment from reality.

Mescaline

Mescaline

Pictured: Peyote    Source: NZ Drug Foundation

Mescaline is a naturally occurring psychedelic substance found in certain species of cactus, the most well-known being the peyote cactus. The effects of mescaline, which are similar to those of LSD, were well documented in the classic text on hallucinogens, The Door of Perception by Aldous Huxley.

Although peyote is a Schedule I drug and is therefore illegal, the listing of peyote as a controlled substance does not apply to the use of peyote in bona fide religious ceremonies of the Native American Church. Any person who manufactures peyote for or distributes peyote to the Native American Church, however, is required to obtain registration annually and to comply with all other requirements of law.4

Ololiuqui

Ololiuque

Pictured: Ololiuqui seeds    Source: Magic Mushrooms Shop

Ololiuqui is a naturally occurring psychedelic that is found in the seeds of the morning glory flower, which grows in Central and South America. Like mescaline, ololiuqui has a long history of use in spiritual rituals among indigenous groups where the plant grows but unlike mescaline, it’s not a controlled substance in the U.S. leading some to consider it a free “herbal high.”

Psilocybin

Magic Mushrooms

Pictured: Magic mushrooms     Source: Healthline

Magic mushrooms contain a naturally occurring type of hallucinogen called psilocybin, which is found in certain fungi. There is a wide variety of hallucinogenic mushrooms, and their legal status is somewhat ambiguous, as they can be found growing wild in many parts of the world.

Their natural origins can make them appealing to young people, keen to experiment with these “free drugs.” But mushrooms carry particularly high risks given the toxicity of some varieties, which can even be lethal.5 

MDMA

MDMA

Pictured: MDMA   Source: La Hacienda Treatment Center

MDMA, also referred to as ecstasy or molly, is more difficult to categorize as a psychedelic as the hallucinogenic effects are less pronounced, and the mood-enhancing and stimulant effects are more noticeable to the user than some other psychedelics. However, it can induce hallucinations and delusions.

It’s possible to have a bad trip on ecstasy, although this is not as common as bad trips on LSD or mushrooms. Ecstasy has also been associated with increased risks of health problems arising from overheating, dehydration, and water intoxication.6

How Psychedelics Work On the Brain

Psychedelics, such as LSD and psilocybin, are chemically similar to the neurotransmitter serotonin produced by the brain. Serotonin is involved in many neural functions including mood and perception. By mimicking this chemical’s effects, the substances exert their profound effects on subjective experience.

DMT too acts via serotonergic pathways, but also through other routes – for instance, DMT binds with sigma-1 receptors that are involved in the communication between neurons.7 Meanwhile, ketamine – among many other effects – blocks NMDA receptors that are involved in the functioning of the neurotransmitter glutamate.8

A key brain area for the effects of psychedelic substances appears to be the temporal lobe, the location of much of the emotional and memory functioning. For instance, removal of the front part of the temporal lobe as a radical treatment for epilepsy has been shown to prevent the psychological effects of taking LSD.9

Interestingly, abnormal activity in the temporal lobe, such as during seizures, can lead to events similar to near-death experiences. An effect shared by different psychedelic substances is that they increase the amount of disorganized activity across the brain – a state that neuroscientists describe as being “higher in entropy.”10

A consequence of this is a reduction in the activation of a group of brain structures known collectively as the “default mode network,” which is associated with self-conscious and self-focused thought. One theory, then, is that psychedelics provoke a spiritual state of oneness with the world by increasing the brain’s entropy and suppressing the ego-sustaining activity of the default mode network.11

Psychedelics For Medical Conditions

Psychedelics were used in psychotherapy in the 1960s, but this was halted for mainly political reasons until quite recently. Psychological research has since revived the use of psychedelics in experimental psychological treatment.

However, regulated treatments are currently experimental and not accessible to many people. While the research on psychedelic medicine for mental illness is still considered new and emerging, some studies have shown compelling results:

Psilocybin

A 2021 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that high-dose psilocybin improved symptoms and quality of life when given with psychological support. After six months, about 80% of participants continued to show clinically significant decreases in anxiety and depressed mood.12

Another 2021 study in the New England Journal of Medicine showed that patients with moderate to severe major depressive disorder who received two doses of psilocybin did just as well — if not better — at six weeks than patients who received daily doses of escitalopram, which is an antidepressant medication.13

Psilocybin may also be an effective addition to current treatments for quitting smoking, according to a pilot study.14

Brain on Magic Mushrooms

Pictured: An fMRI of patients undergoing psilocybin treatment for depression with their brain regions appearing to be more interconnected than before the treatment   Source: DW

LSD

LSD-assisted psychotherapy — meaning a combined intervention of therapy and medication — may lessen feelings of anxiety among people with life-threatening illnesses who are anxious about their illnesses, according to a small study with 12 participants. Follow-up research with participants one year after treatment found that those decreases in anxiety had lasted.15

A review of six clinical trials with 536 participants linked a single dose of LSD administered within treatment programs for alcohol use disorder to a decrease in alcohol misuse.16

Brain on LSD

Pictured: The brain on LSD shows higher resting-state functional connectivity between the visual cortex and the rest of the brain   Source: Inverse

MDMA

Some of the most compelling results for MDMA as a treatment for mental illness have come from clinical trials involving people with PTSD. In a study with 90 participants, investigators found that 67% of people treated with MDMA-assisted therapy no longer met the diagnostic criteria for PTSD 18 weeks after starting treatment.

The authors of the study concluded that “MDMA-assisted therapy represents a potential breakthrough treatment that merits expedited clinical evaluation.”17

Brain on MDMA

Pictured: MDMA amps up the good feelings of happy memories and dulls the pain of bad ones as shown in brain scans    Source: Inverse

Ketamine and Esketamine

Intranasal esketamine, also known as-ketamine or S-ketamine, is the S enantiomer of ketamine. Administered together with standard antidepressant treatment, it was found to significantly reduce depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts among patients with depression and high suicide risk, a small 2018 study found.18, 19

And in a March 2022 study, researchers found that among 537 people who received intravenous ketamine therapy in a clinical setting between 2016 and 2020, more than half of the patients experienced an improvement in their symptoms, and nearly 30% achieved remission.20

Ketamine Pre and Post Usage

Pictured: Ketamine appears to strengthen connections between neural networks in people with severe depression. In a study comparing neural activity prior to a ketamine infusion (left) and six to nine hours after an infusion (right), a single dose made the brain more responsive to a simple sensory stimulus, the light stroking of a finger.    Source: Brain Facts

A Nod to Ram Dass

Ram Dass

Pictured: Ram Dass   Source: GQ

Ram Dass was born Richard Alpert on April 6, 1931, to a successful Jewish family in Newton, Massachusetts. Though he was Bar Mitzvahed and grew up in a traditional house, he considered himself an atheist. “I didn’t have one whiff of God until I took psychedelics,” he said. 

On March 5, 1961, Alpert had his first psychedelic experience with psilocybin. As the layers of his identity melted away, he went into a panic. The young professor was now able to see a wider vision of his place in the universe. 

Interested in exploring consciousness, this expansive experience ignited his curiosity and would color his brief but memorable tenure at Harvard. Realizing the enormous potential of psychedelics, Alpert and Timothy Leary, a fellow Harvard professor, launched the Harvard Psilocybin Project in 1960. 

Experiments ranged from scientifically rigorous to personal use and exploration. The Concord Prison Experiment (1961-1963) is an example of a more academically sound study and helped set the stage for psychedelic clinical trials today. 

Another famous experiment, the 1962 Good Friday Experiment, was the first controlled double-blind study of psychedelics. The goal was to assess whether ingesting psilocybin could induce a mystical experience in the religiously predisposed. 

Ten divinity students were given psilocybin, and ten took a placebo. The results were immediately clear.  “It was absurd,” Alpert said, “because, in a short time, it was obvious who had taken the psilocybin. . . . They would stagger out of the chapel and say, ‘I see God! I see God!’”21

In 1963, Alpert was formally dismissed from Harvard. Along with Leary and other colleagues, he moved to the Millbrook Estate in New York where they continued to experiment with psychedelics. Their goal was to uncover a permanent path to higher consciousness. 

During his four-year stay at Millbrook, he maintained professional relationships with those in the medical, psychiatric, and academic fields. He co-authored a number of books, including The Psychedelic Experience with Ralph Metzner.

After traveling to India and spending eight months with the guru, Neem Karoli Baba, at a temple in the Himalayas, the newly-named Ram Dass returned to America. In an effort to reach more people, he started many foundations, the most famous of which is the Living/Dying Project.

To Ram Dass, conscious living includes conscious dying. This is a major theme in today’s renaissance of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy. Compassionate use of psychedelics for terminal patients focuses on accepting one’s own mortality and living each day to the fullest.

He was involved in countless other foundations and movements, all aimed at improving people’s spiritual wellbeing. Ram Dass passed peacefully on December 22, 2019, and his powerful legacy continues to shape the world of psychedelic medicine.

To learn more about Ram Dass, click here.

Which Psychedelics Are FDA-Approved for Use?

Currently, Spravato (esketamine) is FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression. It’s administered as a nasal spray by a health professional.22 Though esketamine is a psychedelic medicine, its prescribing information lists hallucinogenic experiences as a side effect rather than a mechanism of action, or how the substance works.

“With the typical way esketamine is used, folks are told to ignore the psychedelic effects as a side effect, which is the opposite of true psychedelic therapy where one is encouraged to pay attention to the altered state of consciousness and try to learn from it,” says Matthew W. Johnson, Ph.D., a professor of psychedelics and consciousness research in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.23

Some doctors prescribe ketamine — which is FDA-approved as a general anesthetic — “off-label” for depression. This means it’s not yet FDA-approved for depression, but some health professionals deem the medication appropriate for certain patients. Some physicians provide ketamine for depression at specialized clinics throughout the United States.24

Additionally, the FDA has granted breakthrough therapy designations to psilocybin for depression and MDMA for PTSD. This designation accelerates their pathway to FDA approval.25 But these medicines aren’t legally available to the public yet and can only be used as part of a clinical trial.26

In Conclusion

Considering the most recent scientific and clinical developments in understanding the actions of psychedelics, a statement made in 1980 by Dr. Stanislav Grof seems particularly relevant today: 

“It does not seem to be an exaggeration to say that psychedelics, used responsibly and with proper caution, would be for psychiatry what the microscope is for biology and medicine or the telescope is for astronomy. These tools make it possible to study important processes that under normal circumstances are not available for direct observation.”

Although studies are showing positive results, there are still many unknowns, such as the ways these drugs will be administered if they become FDA-approved. However, the popularity surge in psychedelics research will likely continue gaining steam.

What are your thoughts on psychedelics being used medicinally? Let us know in the comments!

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lysergic_acid_diethylamide#:~:text=On%20October%2024%2C%201968%2C%20possession,continued%20in%20Switzerland%20until%201993. [1]

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/306889 [2]

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/ayahuasca [3]

https://www.britannica.com/plant/Lophophora-williamsii [4]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psilocybin_mushroom [5]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5008716/ [6]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2947205/#:~:text=The%20sigma%2D1%20receptor%20is,currently%20considered%20an%20orphan%20receptor. [7]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5148235/ [8]

http://9.g00gleweb.com/heiwu.php [9]

https://www.payam.com/s/Psychedelic-Assisted-Psychotherapy-for-Trauma-and-Chronic-Pain.pdf [10]

https://www.payam.com/s/Psychedelic-Assisted-Psychotherapy-for-Trauma-and-Chronic-Pain.pdf [11]

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5367557/ [12]

https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMoa2032994 [13]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25213996/ [14]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24594678/ [15]

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/0269881112439253 [16]

https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-021-01336-3 [17]

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29656663/ [18]

https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2017.17060647 [19]

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032721014142?via%3Dihub [20]

https://news.tufts.edu/magazine/fall2006/features/ultimate-trip.html [21]

https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/treatment-tests-and-therapies/esketamine-for-treatment-resistant-depression [22]

https://www.janssenlabels.com/package-insert/product-monograph/prescribing-information/SPRAVATO-pi.pdf [23]

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/from-street-drug-to-depression-therapy [24]

https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20191122005452/en/FDA-grants-Breakthrough-Therapy-Designation-Usona-Institutes [25]

https://maps.org/news/media/press-release-fda-grants-breakthrough-therapy-designation-for-mdma-assisted-psychotherapy-for-ptsd-agrees-on-special-protocol-assessment-for-phase-3-trials/ [26]

What Is Human Design?

Humans tend to be curious about their own personality traits, which is the reason why tools like astrology and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) are so popular. Human Design is another modality that can help us better decipher who we truly are. Similar to astrology, this lesser-known discipline uses your birth information to create a unique chart, or BodyGraph, that can give you insight into your life, purpose, and more. In this blog, we will break down a few basics of Human Design so you can see the benefits of exploring it further to learn more about you.

The History and Meaning of Human Design

Ra Uru Hu

Pictured: Ra Uru Hu   Source: Metamorphic Human Design

Human Design was founded by a Canadian man named Ra Uru Hu (born Alan Robert Krakower) who claimed to have received information from a voice of supreme intelligence over the course of eight days and nights. He wrote of his experience in a book titled Rave I’Ching, which details the Human Design system.

Human Design shows you a concrete map of your nature and provides you with simple tools for making correct decisions, being yourself, and eliminating resistance in your life. It offers you the opportunity to discover yourself and begin to understand and accept your very nature.

However, Human Design doesn’t just map where the planets were in the sky when you were born like a birth chart; it also identifies your dominant chakras, or Centers, to create your BodyGraph. It’s basically an energetic blueprint, kind of like a mix of Kabbalah, I’Ching, Myers-Briggs, astrology, biochemistry, genetics, and the chakra system all in one.

Human Design Readings

Ra Uru Hu's BodyGraph

Pictured: Ra Uru Hu’s Human Design Chart   Source: Jovian Archive

To get your BodyGraph, all you need is your name, birthday, and the time and location of your birth. You can try MyHumanDesign, myBodyGraph, or JovianArchive to receive your Human Design reading.

According to Nikki Brafman, an expert in Human Design, the information you provide to receive your BodyGraph is like a snapshot of the cosmos at the moment you were born as well as three months before that when your brain was developing in utero. Human design composites those two and layers them on top of each other and then looks at how their energy interacts.1

If you’re new to Human Design, your BodyGraph will most likely look super complicated with a plethora of shapes, colors, and numbers. The diagram, which resembles the top half of a human body, incorporates shapes to resemble each Center, such as crown, sacral, and root. 

Some of the shapes are filled in, while others are empty to represent how and where you make decisions. Lines, better known as Channels or Gates, depending on if they are colored in, connect each Center.

A multitude of planetary symbols with numbers also encase the diagram on each side. The right side is your conscious personality that you can learn more about via your sun sign, while the left is your unconscious personality from utero. The numbers by the planetary symbols correspond to the ones that appear in the Centers, so you can gauge which planets rule each.

In short, your Human Design chart will tell you your:

  • Energy Type
  • Strategy
  • Not-Self Theme
  • Signature
  • Inner Authority
  • Profile
  • Definition
  • Incarnation Cross

Centers in Human Design

The Nine Centers in Human Design

Source: Jovian Archive

In Human Design, Centers are focal points, or hubs, that receive and transform the energy, or life force, that circulates throughout the chart. Each of the nine Centers has its own distinct biological correlation. For example, the Splenic Center is connected to the lymphatic system and the Root Center to the adrenal glands.

Each Center has a specific function, and there are signposts of how they function correctly, and influence behavior when operating incorrectly. Centers can be Defined (colored in) or Open (white). The way Centers are Defined and connected determines your Energy Type, Authority, and more.

An open Center in your BodyGraph is one of the primary receptors of conditioning— or outside influences taken into your physical being. This receptor impacts your mind’s decision-making process and creates the Not-Self Theme. The Not-Self Theme leads you to make decisions based on strategies derived from conditioning rather than your true self.

Open Centers Not-Self Theme in Human Design

Source: Jovian Archive

Energy Types in Human Design

Energy Types describe the way you optimize your unique energy in all areas of life, such as relationships, work, sleep, digestion, and creativity, which is how you create ease and flow in your life.

Each of the five Energy Types— Manifestor, Generator, Manifesting Generator, Projector, and Reflector— come with a specific description of when they’re most productive, how they utilize opportunities (listed as Strategy), a sign that that suggests they’re living according to their human design (Signature), and a particular feeling that comes up when they’re not in tune with their Energy Type (Not-Self Theme). 

Here’s a look at the five Energy Types:

The Manifestor Energy Type

  • Strategy: To inform
  • Signature: Peace
  • Not-Self Theme: Anger

Manifestors make up about 9% of the population and repel others. These are the people who make things happen. Manifestors can start projects and work independently; however, they seldom finish their ventures.

Manifestors are meant to trust what they are being drawn to and to be the leaders of their own lives. They thrive in being able to initiate and create what they want when they are inspired. Manifestors are here to make the first move without needing permission or buy-in from any of the other Energy Types.

Famous Manifestors: Johnny Depp, Richard Burton, George W. Bush, Adolf Hitler, Frida Kahlo, Jack Nicholson, Robert DeNiro, Orson Welles, Susan Sarandon

The Generator Energy Type

  • Strategy: To respond
  • Signature: Satisfaction
  • Not-Self Theme: Frustration

Generators are the largest group and are known to attract others. They are the builders of the world with tremendous amounts of energy and life force. While exceptionally powerful, Generators are also very vulnerable. If Generators aren’t careful, they’ll find themselves committing to projects or relationships that don’t serve their highest good.

For the Generator, everything is either “yes or no,” or “right or wrong.” Waiting isn’t a concept Generators comprehend or know how to do, but learning to do so should be taken seriously. If a Generator goes into overwork or people-pleasing mode, they will likely get frustrated, leading to feeling stuck in their day-to-day life.

Famous Generators: Albert Einstein, Dalai Lama, Meryl Streep, John Lennon, Madonna, James Dean, Oprah Winfrey, Meg Ryan, Greta Garbo, Margaret Thatcher, Deepak Chopra​

The Manifesting Generator Energy Type

  • Strategy: To respond, then inform
  • Signature: Satisfaction
  • Not-Self Theme: Frustration/Anger

With a blend of Manifestor and Generator Energy, Manifesting Generators can multitask like no other and they understand that every day is going to look different. Manifesting Generators should keep in mind that their productivity and motivation can vary daily but can always be replenished with the help of quality sleep.

When a Manifesting Generator is living their design, they’ll feel content and fulfilled. If they’re taking on projects or work they hate and not honoring that they love many things, they’ll start feeling frustrated and angry.

Famous Manifesting Generators: Frederic Chopin, Marie Curie, Sigmund Freud, Mahatma Gandhi, Pope John Paul II, Yoko Ono, Prince, Martin Luther King, Vincent Van Gogh​

The Projector Energy Type

  • Strategy: To wait for the invitation
  • Signature: Success
  • Not-Self Theme: Bitterness

Projectors are the second largest group after Generators. They have a knack for understanding others and seeing people for who they are without soaking up or driving away their vitality, which makes them incredible leaders. Projectors operate best in one-on-one social settings. 

Projectors are also designed to enter into the big things in life, such as relationships, jobs, and relocations, through invitation. During the process of being invited, Projectors are guided into the right conditions to excel as the natural leaders and creators they are.

Famous Projectors: Barack Obama, Queen Elisabeth II, Mick Jagger, Joseph Stalin, Ringo Starr, Elizabeth Taylor, Ulysses S. Grant, Douglas MacArthur, Princess Diana

The Reflector Energy Type

  • Strategy: To wait for a lunar cycle
  • Signature: Surprise
  • Not-Self Theme: Disappointment

Reflectors are rare, making up approximately 1% of the population. They are highly attuned and receptive to the people and places around them. Their energy is naturally self-protectant, which intuitively guides them to know what’s safe and what’s not.

Reflectors typically serve as the heart of a community or friendship circle. They observe with openness and can play a chameleon role, being whatever they need to be at any point and time.

Famous Reflectors: H.G. Wells, Sandra Bullock, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ammaji

Inner Authority Types in Human Design

According to Human Design, Authority is the body intelligence we have inborn that guides us in making decisions. This requires a completely different awareness than the mind as it’s not logical, and the mind may not always agree with the decisions that your body wisdom is pointing you to. By first knowing and then using your Authority in making decisions, you learn to trust your body’s inherent wisdom.

The Inner Authority Types are:

Emotional Authority (Solar Plexus)

Those with Emotional Authority will commonly make snap decisions, which can often lead to them being committed to something that they don’t want. For those with this Authority, having emotional clarity can save them from a lot of frustration and help them preserve their relationships with the people around them.

Sacral Authority

Only Generators or Manifesting Generators can have this type of Authority considering it comes from having a defined Sacral Center in the BodyGraph. Individuals with Sacral Authority make decisions based on what they feel in the moment.

Splenic Authority

Individuals with Splenic Authority make decisions based on their intuition. The intuitive Authority in the Spleen Center works in the moment and has to be heeded when it appears. If those with Splenic Authority don’t listen or go with their intuition, they may find themselves making the wrong decisions.

Ego Authority 

Only Manifestors can have Ego Authority, which means that their Authority comes from the Heart Center’s connection to the Throat. Individuals with Ego Authority do not need to wait before making decisions, but they must make sure that their spirit is up to the task.

Self-Projected Authority (G Center)

Only Projectors can have Self-Projected Authority, which occurs when there is a connection from the G-Center/Identity Center to the Throat Center with no other defined Centers that override it. Those with Self-Projected Authority make decisions by having discussions with their close friends and family beforehand.

Mental Authority (None)

Only Projectors experience Mental Authority. This type of Authority happens when the Ajna Center is connected to the Throat Center with no other overriding Centers defined. Those with Mental Projected Authority feel differently every day and can be influenced by the outside world very easily.

Profiles in Human Design

The 12 Profiles in Human Design

Source: Jovian Archive

Profile is another basic component of Human Design that dives deeper into what truly differentiates us. While you may share certain characteristics with other individuals, such as those with the same Energy Type and Authority, a different Profile takes you on very unique paths. 

A Profile can be seen as a costume we wear while learning to play specific roles. These roles enrich our experience of life, as we engage with and impact others. Altogether, there are 12 Profiles, with six primary roles representing basic themes in combination with each other.

Here’s a look at the 12 Profiles:

  • 1/3 Investigator/Martyr: Individuals with this Profile build solid foundations through deep investigations to feel secure in their trial and error process.
  • 1/4 Investigator/Opportunist: Individuals with this Profile want to understand things at a deep level, then look for ways to share that knowledge.
  • 2/4 Hermit/Opportunist: Individuals with this Profile are naturally gifted, but at times unaware of their gifts. 
  • 2/5 Hermit/Heretic: Individuals with this Profile have a seductive projection field that attracts people to them who need their support.
  • 3/5 Martyr/Heretic: Individuals with this Profile know what works and what doesn’t based on their trial and error process. When people call upon them, they can often provide both practical and wise solutions.
  • 3/6 Martyr/Role Model: Individuals with this Profile evolve into wise role models who people seek for guidance. 
  • 4/6 Opportunist/Role Model: Individuals with this Profile have the genuine ability to develop strong relationships and will also grow into having and modelling a visionary perspective.
  • 4/1 Opportunist/Investigator: Individuals with this Profile are here to build a solid foundation of knowledge, which will then be shared with their network.
  • 5/1 Heretic/Investigator: Individuals with this Profile are here to guide; they have the wisdom and practical ability to help others.
  • 5/2 Heretic Hermit: Individuals with this Profile are people who are often sought after for help and are here to support others with their natural talents and gifts.
  • 6/2 Role Model/Hermit: Individuals with this Profile are here to be called out for their natural genius and innate talents that will help them embody their visionary power. 
  • 6/3 Role Model/Martyr: Individuals with this Profile gain a tremendous amount of wisdom through bumping into life via their trial and error process that will make them someone who is sought after.

The Bottom Line

A basic starting point for reading your BodyGraph is to understand your Energy, Inner Authority, and Strategy type, and start exploring how you can live your life more aligned with those powerful guides. As you further your Human Design knowledge, you can begin exploring more detailed elements such as your in Incarnation Cross, which combines with your Profile to give direction on your life’s purpose.

If you’re still confused about your BodyGraph, you can also schedule an appointment with a Human Design expert that will assist you in detailing your map. After all, knowing yourself is one of the best and most powerful tools you can have in this life.

What did your BodyGraph say about you? Let us know in the comments!

https://www.nikkibrafman.com/ [1]

A Glimpse Into Sacred Geometry

If symbolism has ever piqued your interest, you may find abundant fascination with sacred geometry. Since the times of the Ancient Egyptian Pyramids, humans have been creating architecture based on forms found in sacred geometry, stemming from the geometric patterns that are seen in nature. From seashells to the human body, from the cosmos to the atom, all forms are permeated with the shapes and symbols found in sacred geometry. Additionally, healing with sacred geometry is one of the most natural and powerful ways to engage the mind, body, and spirit. But what exactly is the meaning behind sacred geometry and the shapes and symbols associated with it?

Sacred Geometry and Its History

Sacred geometry is essentially the study of various shapes and their spiritual meaning. It can be applied to forms, numbers, symbols, and patterns seen throughout the world. The spiral of a snail’s shell, the geometric patterns of snowflakes, and the branches of trees are all examples of sacred geometry. However, sacred geometry is also thought to exist beyond the naked eye, both on a cellular level and in the orbiting planets and stars.

The idea that the universe follows an intricate equation dates as far back as ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures. Mesopotamians used geometric calculations consisting of trapezoids to track Jupiter, while Egyptians used geometric shapes to gather the Universe’s harmonic and beneficial natures.1 2 Sacred geometry received more attention centuries later in ancient Greece, where it was popularized by philosophers such as Plato who used it to create the platonic solids.

Platonic Solids

Pictured: Platonic Solids
Source: Hellenic Faith 

Jemma Foster, author of Sacred Geometry: How To Use Cosmic Patterns To Power Up Your Life, explains sacred geometry in a nutshell by stating, “Rooted in its nature is the understanding that nothing is in isolation; everything is connected.”

The Basics of Sacred Geometry

Geometric shapes form the foundation for everything we perceive in the universe with our five senses. These shapes are pervasive and ubiquitous. Their designs and patterns aren’t just something we see – they also form our human composition. This makes sense, after all, for we are part of the universe.

The connection we have to sacred geometry is why we are sometimes attracted to certain forms of art or why we identify with various shapes or symbols more than others. The designs resonate with each person differently, because geometric shapes and symbols have certain effects on our minds. Sacred geometry has influenced a multitude of theories throughout the centuries.

Common Shapes and Their Meanings

A Triangle Circle & Square

The Triangle

In sacred geometry, triangles are thought to symbolize balance and harmony. This three-sided shape can also be related to the body, mind, and spirit: if it has an upward facing point, it is known to indicate elevated consciousness. When pointing downward, triangles are associated with feminine energy and reproduction, as it resembles the womb space. The Star of David, for example, has two triangles with points that face both upward and downward symbolizing perfect harmony.

The Circle

Circles represent a never-ending loop due to lacking a beginning and end. As such, circles in sacred geometry can be thought of as a symbol of oneness. The idea of this never-ending shape is demonstrable and can be observed in Pi (𝛑), or the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi is an irrational number that goes on forever, never repeating.

The Square

Squares represent practical and solid energy. Envision the base of a pyramid – it is a square. This shape can be thought of as foundational and dependable, known to be stable, grounding, and safe. A square has four sides – a mystical number relating to the 4 elements, an indicator of essential elements relating well to each other in harmony and balance.

Common Symbols and Their Meanings

The Flower of Life

Flower of Life

The flower of life is the name given to a geometric flower-like pattern that consists of mostly evenly-spaced and overlapping circles around a central point. The name was given to this symbol because it’s believed to contain the patterns of time, space, and all creations. It also contains the five platonic solids meaning that the symbol models all realities and possible creations of both natural and man-made elements. A few of the natural elements that can be found in the flower of life are snowflakes and sunflowers.

The flower of life is believed to have the power of unlocking memories that are present deep within us. It is also considered a powerful symbol because it activates energy coding in the brain that helps a person connect with their light body. Additionally, the interlocking circles that form the flower of life are considered the Blueprint of the Universe.

The Vesica Piscis

Vesica Piscis

Consisting of two interlocking circles whose centers exactly touch, vesica piscis is considered the symbolic representation of shared vision, understanding, or common ground between two equal individuals. The shape in the center of the vesica piscis, which is formed by the interlocking circles, represents the human eye and highlights the spiritual concepts of “seeing eye to eye” and that “eyes are the mirror to the soul.” It is in these meanings that the symbol was used by many Renaissance artists.

Another viewpoint of the vesica piscis is that the overlapping circles signify the connection between the physical and spiritual world and the shape in the center represents fish or a fish bladder, which was considered sacred by the early Christians. This is why the vesica piscis can be found in an abundance of churches today.

The Metatron’s Cube

Metatron’s Cube

Metatron’s cube is a geometric symbol that will fascinate you with both its visual appearance and background story. According to belief, the angel Metatron created Metatron’s cube out of his own soul. The symbol is made up of all the shapes created by God, which are the platonic solids; considered to be the base material of all things in the universe.

Many experts suggest that the cube in Metatron’s cube is the representation of our bodies in the three-dimensional world and the sphere inside the cube represents our souls. However, according to theories on the symbol, it is a way for God to convey knowledge to humans, along with deriving from the tree of life. For these reasons, the symbol has been used throughout the centuries as protection against evil spirits and demons.

Sacred Geometry Theories

The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio

Almost everyone has learned about Pi in school, but relatively few curriculums include Phi, or the Golden Ratio, perhaps for the very reason that grasping all its manifestations often takes one beyond the academic into the spiritual just by the simple fact that Phi unveils frequent constants that apply to so many aspects of life. Both Pi and Phi are irrational numbers with an infinite number of digits after the decimal point.

Phi, or ɸ (1.618…), is the ratio that results when a line is divided in one very special and unique way. To illustrate, suppose you were asked to take a string and cut it. There’s any number of places you could cut it, and each place would result in different ratios for the length of the pieces. There is one certain point, though, at which the ratio of the large piece to the smaller piece is the same as the ratio of the whole string to the large piece, and at this point, the ratio is 1.618 to 1. This is the Golden Ratio.

The Golden Ratio is also found in geometry, appearing in basic constructions of an equilateral triangle, square, and pentagon placed inside a circle, as well as in more complex three-dimensional solids such as dodecahedrons. Interestingly enough, Phi appears throughout the human form; in the face, body, fingers, teeth, and even our DNA. It seems that Phi is hard-wired into our consciousness as a guide to beauty. For this reason, Phi is applied in both facial plastic surgery and cosmetic dentistry as a guide to achieving the most natural and beautiful results in appearance.

The Vitruvian Man

The Vitruvian Man is considered Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous and widely reproduced folio. This representation, which is said to lie heavily with the Golden Ratio, objectively reflects the human body’s proportional basis. It is historically associated with the Roman architect Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, who explained the principle in his book De architectura at the beginning of the first century AD. This figure has been recurrently used to illustrate the Renaissance ideal of a man as a symbolic microcosm, thus praising his role as the center of the universe.

Leonardo da Vinci used a series of notes as standards for the proportions of the human body, which were:

The Face:

  • The distance between the chin and the nostrils is 1/3 of the whole face.
  • From under the nostrils to the eyebrows is again 1/3 of the face.
  • Eyebrow to the hairline is also 1/3 of the face.

The Body:

  • The complete face, chin to hairline, is 1/10 of the human body.
  • The head, chin to the crown, measures 1/8 of the human body.
  • From the breast to hairline is 1/6 of the human body.
  • From the breast to the crown is 1/6 of the human body.
  • The length of the foot is 1/6 of the height of a human.
  • From the wrist to the tip of the fingers is 1/10 of the human height.
  • The length of the forearm and the breadth of the breast are 1/4 of the height of a human.

This theory explains to us that in ancient times, the proportions 1:3, 1:4, 1:6, 1:8, and 1:10 were appropriate to man.3 Looking at da Vinci’s diagram, Vitruvius begins with a focal point, which is the navel. All the elements in the folio are measured from this point forming circles and squares. According to this theory, the human body is rooted in symmetry, which is why architecture has also utilized the proportions in the Vitruvian Man to acquire perfect symmetry.

Healing With Sacred Geometry

Sacred geometry is the essence of everything around us, including both materialized and immaterialized things. In some cases, we can see these manifestations in 3D, such as with leaves and crystals. However, most of the time, sacred geometry is the invisible force that drives the world. Each shape carries a powerful frequency that has a healing and soothing effect on our whole being.

Though not scientifically proven, there are a few sacred geometry healing practices you can try at home:

Create a Crystal Grid

You can look at crystals as spiritual sacred geometry actualized in the physical realm. They carry healing vibrations that can cleanse your aura and stimulate healing processes. As a result, they can help you reach higher levels of consciousness and release whatever is holding you back.

The potency of combining crystal healing with sacred geometry lies in their incredible compatibility, with crystals opening the gateways of healing and the power of sacred shapes amplifying crystal healing properties.

To use crystals and sacred geometry together, you should first choose a crystal for its healing properties. For instance, if you’re looking for an energetic cleanse, clear quartz is an ideal option. If you feel lost or emotionally burdened, try lapis lazuli.

Here are some suggested tips to create your own healing ritual:

  • Gather your favorite crystals and take some time to reflect on what you need or are seeking. Try observing them with a clear mind for a more beneficial experience.
  • Place the crystals in front of you or around you to resemble a sacred geometric shape, also known as a crystal grid. A triangle is best for elevating your consciousness, while squares support security and stability. For wholeness, arrange your crystals in a circle.
  • Meditate in front of your crystal grid and place it in an altar where it can regularly amplify your space. You can switch up the geometric shapes or crystals as needed depending on your needs.

A Crystal Grid

An Example of A Crystal Grid
Source: Sage Crystals

Meditation

To meditate with sacred geometric forms, simply find a calm and quiet area to close your eyes and relax. Instead of the usual mantra of words, though, you’ll be focusing on a sacred geometric shape.

Tetrahedrons, cubes, and pyramids are excellent beginning points when meditating with sacred geometry. These shapes can help introduce your current state to the healing process, which will make for an excellent meditation session. As you progress through your sacred geometry meditation journey, you can begin to add more shapes for various other benefits.

Here is a simple pyramid power meditation you can try:

  • Sit cross-legged with a hand rested on each knee so that you form a pyramid with your body. Take a few moments to settle into this shape.
  • Take six deep breaths through your nose, drawing the breath down through your spine and up to your solar plexus and heart, and out through your mouth.
  • In your mind’s eye, draw a square on the ground around you to form the base of your pyramid. As you do so, acknowledge the four directions, north, south, east, west, along with the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water.
  • Set the intention that this square represents the anchor to your physical reality, which will serve to ground the higher frequencies you’re calling for. Make sure to breathe into it.
  • Draw with your mind’s eye four triangles to fully construct your pyramid.
  • Take 6 breaths again and imagine a white light piercing the tip of your pyramid and flowing into the space that you’ve created. Allow the light to wash over you and be absorbed by every cell in your body.
  • Next, visualize a circle within the base (the square) of your pyramid. Spin the circle counterclockwise to discharge any stagnant or blocked energy, then spin it clockwise to change your energy centers.
  • Visualize a flame of purification before you, while building a pile of all the things you want to be released. Allow the fire to ignite the negative energy and bask in the lightness of letting go.

Sound Healing

Sound is also a form of sacred geometry. In fact, the sounds you hear every day, such as your voice, are auditory formations of these healing patterns. This means that by using healing frequencies and sounds, you can rewire your energy field and rejuvenate all aspects of your being.

You can do this by listening to specifically created sounds that emit vibrations, which affect the physical realm. This means that each sound frequency creates a geometric pattern that your body recognizes.

Try listening to these sacred vibrations:

  • Sacred Geometry: Sound Healing Session
  • Whole Body Rejuvenation Sounds
  • Sacred Geometry Converted to Sound

Final Thoughts

Sacred geometry can be seen on a macro and micro level throughout history, nature, and man-made architecture. Learning about the mystery and meanings behind various forms can help enhance your connection to spirit, widen your acceptance, and broaden your mind to new concepts and ideas. It can help expand your appreciation for the universe at large while also grounding you for improved balance and harmony.

All the world is founded upon geometrical concepts with shapes that vibrate in and among us. According to Foster, “When we exist in accordance to these sacred principles, we are in a state of abundance and receptivity – we become energetic architects and empowered co-creators of our reality.”4

Were you aware that sacred geometry was so pervasive in our world? Have you tried healing with geometric shapes before? Let us know in the comments below.

References:

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-35431974 [1]

https://www.amazon.com/Egyptian-Sacred-Geometry-Egyptians-beneficial/dp/B0875Z2KHZ#:~:text=The%20ancient%20Egyptians%20knew%20that,They%20harnessed%20these%20energies.&text=Design%20and%20lay%20out%20your,beneficial%20energies%20from%20the%20Universe. [2]

https://thearchinsider.com/the-vitruvian-man-a-guide-to-proportion-and-symmetry/ [3]

https://www.mamaxanadu.com/about

All About Rumi

You’ve probably heard of the renowned ancient spiritualist, Rumi, but who was he? Maulana Jalaluddin (“Glory of Religion”) Rumi, most commonly known as ‘Rumi’, was a Persian poet, an Islamic dervish, and a Sufi mystic. He articulated his spiritual journey through poignant verses and expressive poems that are now quoted across the globe.

Rumi’s poems have been translated into many languages and transposed into various formats. His poetry creates the basis for an abundance of classical Iranian and Afghan music.1 Additionally, Rumi’s works have influenced the literary traditions of the Persian, Ottoman Turkish, Chagatai, Urdu, Bengali, and Pashto languages.2 While his pieces are world-famous, many aren’t familiar with Rumi’s life, the relationships that inspired his work, nor his path to enlightenment.

A portrait painting of Rumi

Pictured: Rumi
Source: The New York Times

Rumi’s Early Life

Rumi was born on September 30th, 1207 to a wealthy, prominent family.3 His birthplace is reported to be in Balk, which is in present-day Afghanistan. Bahaduddin Walad, Rumi’s father, was a sultan, theologian, jurist, and mystic. When the Mongols invaded Central Asia between 1215 and 1220, Rumi’s family and a group of disciples ventured westward for safety.

Some say that during this journey, Rumi met one of the most famous mystic poets, Attar, in the city of Nishapur. He recognized Rumi’s spiritual eminence and gave him his Asrarnama, a book about the entanglement of the soul in the material world.4 This account is not widely agreed on by Rumi scholars.

Rumi’s family was called to Konya in 1229. Here, Rumi’s father taught at one of the madrasahs, or religious schools, until he died in 1231. His position at the madrasah was inherited by Rumi, who was 25 at the time.

During Rumi’s time at the school, one of his father’s disciples, Burhanuddin Tirmadhi, trained him in Shariah and Tariqa. Shariah is the religious concepts of Islam, or essentially, the law. Tariqa is the Muslim spiritual path towards direct knowledge (ma’rifah) of God or Reality (haqq). In the 9th and 10th centuries, though, it referred to the spiritual path of Sufis, or mystics.

In 1232, Rumi returned to Konya and is said to have taken 3 successful Chella (40 days of fasting, retreat, and meditation) after Burhanuddin told him he needed to master “the hidden sciences.”5 Soon after, Rumi began to serve as a reputed religious scholar in Konya.

In Rumi’s 30s, he would meet Shams Tabrizi; an encounter that would completely change his life and transform him into an ascetic. Their connection is often misunderstood and misquoted, but it is one of the most important chapters in Rumi’s life.

Shams Tabrizi and Enlightenment

In 1244, Rumi came across a wandering dervish named Shams Tabrizi. Shams was known to be an antisocial and blunt yet powerful spiritual wanderer.6 His nickname was ‘The Bird’ due to his nomadic lifestyle and the idea that he could transport his essence or fly to any place at will.7

Shams was looking for a student who would absorb and spread his profound spiritual-philosophical knowledge, so he took Rumi under his wing. The two spent a total of 40 days secluded in Konya.8 During this time, Shams encouraged Rumi to reorient from a path of knowledge to one of love and truth. Rumi vowed to abide by The 40 Rules of Love and thus became enlightened.9

Excerpts of The 40 Rules of Love:

  1. “How we see God is a direct reflection of ourselves.”
  2. “The path to the Truth is a labor of the heart, not of the head.”
  3. “You can study God through everything and everyone in the universe, because God is not confined in a mosque, synagogue, or church.”
  4. “Intellect and love are made of different materials.”
  5. “Most of the problems in the world stem from linguistic mistakes and simple misunderstandings.”

You can read The 40 Rules of Love here.

Shams’ Disappearance

Shams’ lower social class status caused tension among Rumi’s prominent followers. One day, Shams mysteriously disappeared. Some believe that he was killed by either Rumi’s students or Rumi’s son in a fit of jealousy.10

Shams’ disappearance caused Rumi to dive into a deep state of grief. He coped with the pain of separation through dance, music, and poetry. The poems he wrote during this grieving phase is known as Divan-i Shams-i Tabrizi (The Words of Shams of Tabriz). Rumi then set out to look for his friend, Shams, but he soon realized:

“Why should I seek? I am the same as
He. His essence speaks through me.
I have been looking for myself!”11

 With this realization, Rumi moved on with his life and eventually found other companions, such as Salahuddin Zarkub and Husamuddin Chelebi. It was Husamuddin, though, whom Rumi recited the Masnavi to during the last seven years of his life. There are 6 books in the Masnavi, each consisting of 4,000 verses. The 6th book remains unfinished.

Pictured: Shams Tabrizi
Source: Feeling Buddaful

Rumi’s Following

For 800 years, Rumi’s words have inspired, consoled, and comforted people of all ages, origins, and walks of life. In recent popular culture, Coldplay’s Chris Martin read poems written by Rumi throughout his divorce to Gwyneth Paltrow to lift his spirits, and he even wrote a Coldplay track that features Coleman Barks, a Persian Poet, reciting one of Rumi’s poems. Rumi is also reported to have aided the spiritual journeys of other celebrities such as Madonna and Tilda Swinton.

Love for Rumi

A research study administered by the Rumi Network sought out explanations as to why Rumi is still so popular today. The study asked 50 participants to briefly explain why Rumi meant so much to them. Responses include:

  • He is not only intellectual but heartfelt. He caters to their hearts, instincts, and emotions rather than purely on their intellects.
  • His poetry has many levels. The more they learn about Rumi and his life, the more they appreciated his depth.
  • They find the sense of unity in his poems to be alluring.
  • After reading his poems, they feel as though he is a friend.
  • They associate themselves with him and reading his poetry is a personal process.
  • Every time a Rumi poem is recited, they feel as if Grace is descending.
  • He is akin to a lover.
  • His expressiveness enables participation in Rumi’s own internal process.
  • He is like a spiritual guide.
  • His poetry forms a cultural bridge.
  • Even those that don’t like poetry love reading Rumi.

Rumi composed over 70,000 verses of poetry focusing on varied and diverse topics. Many of his pieces cover expressions of love and desire, while others dive into philosophical subjects. His work has a universality that appeals to everyone, which is why Rumi’s influence continues to reach and inspire people from one end of the globe to the other.

Rumi Quotes to Brighten Your Day

If you’re seeking enlightened words, here are some Rumi quotes that may help bring light, love, and inspiration while also expanding the mind. Enjoy!

“Lovers don’t finally meet somewhere. They’re in each other all along.”

“Goodbyes are for those who love with their eyes. Because for those who love with heart and soul, there is no such thing as separation.”

“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”

“The cure for pain is in the pain.”

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.”

“Let the beauty we love be what we do. There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

“Words are a pretext. It is the inner bond that draws one person to another, not words.”

“Very little grows on jagged rock. Be ground. Be crumbled, so wildflowers will come up where you are.”

Humanist Beauty has included an inspiring Rumi quote inside its Herban Wisdom Facial Oil package to bring you even more peace and tranquility with each use:

 “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.”

Do you have a favorite poem or quote by Rumi? If so, please share in the comments below.

If you are new to Rumi, take a moment to read some of his quotes here, and let us know which ones inspire, invigorate, or empower you.

References:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rumi#:~:text=Rumi’s%20poetry%20forms%20the%20basis,Mohammad%20Hashem%20Cheshti%20(Afghanistan). [1] [2]

https://www.rumi.net/about_rumi_main.htm [3] [6] [7]

https://www.worldliteraturetoday.org/blog/cultural-cross-sections/attar-sufi-poet-and-master-rumi-sholeh-wolpe [4]

https://www.kyotojournal.org/fiction-poetry/master-rumi-the-path-to-poetry-love-and-enlightenment/ [5]

https://www.scoopwhoop.com/Shams-Tabrizi-The-Man-Who-Mentored-Rumi [8]

https://en.irna.ir/news/84056598/Shams-Tabrizi-mentor-of-Rumi [9]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shams_Tabrizi [10]

https://rumi.arvindkatoch.com/2016/05/rumi-quote-image-why-am-i-seeking-i-am.html [11]

 

Qi is the Key: Acupuncture and the 12 Meridians

One of the most renowned ancient healing therapies is that of acupuncture and the flow of Qi energy along the meridians of the body. The foundation of present-day acupuncture dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) where The Great Compendium of Acupuncture and Moxibustion (1601) was the first medical treatise of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to note acupuncture as a healing method.2

Acupuncture didn’t gain awareness in the United States until centuries later after President Nixon learned about the practice during his visit to China in 1972. The modality was met with overwhelming skepticism by Western medical practitioners who suspected the healing benefit claims were conjured, inferior,3, or the result of a placebo effect.

Many years passed before acupuncture was accepted as medical therapy. It wasn’t until 1995 that acupuncture needles were categorized as medical instruments. In 1997, acupuncture needles were finally verified as healing utensils after being clinically proven to treat a wide range of maladies.4

Ancient Wisdom of Qi: The Three Energetic Levels

The theory of acupuncture accepts the idea that energy courses through the body in all areas. This energy, which is known as qi or chi (pronounced as “chee”), can be moved to a central point within the body to create health and balance while permitting the fulfillment of destiny. There are three energetic levels to qi. To properly understand acupuncture, it is necessary to have a grasp on Wei Qi, Ying Qi, and Yuan Qi.

  • Wei Qi is known as the Defensive Qi. Wei Qi is often misunderstood because agreement as to the location of its origination in the body varies. Leading sources such as the Ling Shu and the Su Wen mention the formation of Wei Qi as being centered around the spleen, which is in charge of defending the body.5 If Wei Qi is performing properly, then it protects the body from external pathogenic factors, such as wind, heat, and other causes of disease. According to Ancient Wisdom Healing Arts, Wei Qi is instinctual, unconscious, and has no cognitive aspect, but it represents the ability to adapt while acclimating to climates, situations, and threats.
  • Ying Qi, or Nutritive Qi, allows one to move forward and confront the day ahead. It also supports Wei Qi. Ying Qi supports progress by promoting survival, self-realizations, and the development of paradigms about life. Ying Qi is cognitive and can be learned.6 It is most active during sleep when the energy is being repaired and restored. Hence, resting is vital to its balance. Ying Qi strengthens the entire body and internal organs and is closely related to blood. Of note, Ying Qi is the qi that is stimulated when an acupuncture needle is applied to the body.7
  • Yuan Qi, or Constitutional Qi, is a combination of your Ancestral Qi (hereditary) and Cosmic Qi (environmental, spiritual, karmic) that is present during your conception. It is pre-destined and fate-oriented.8 This makes Yuan Qi very different from the qi that one develops over time, such as Wei Qi and Ying Qi, but it does directly support Ying Qi, which is the manifestation of fate.

The 12 Meridians of Ancient Chinese Medicine

In TCM, the channels that connect key organs and regulate the flow of the fundamental substances throughout the body are called meridians (Jing Luo). Every organ is represented on the skin surface by a specific meridian. There are 12 principal meridians in the body that support unique aspects of the three qi types, always allowing motion between them:

  1. Stomach Meridian
  2. Spleen Meridian
  3. Small Intestine Meridian
  4. Heart Meridian
  5. Bladder Meridian
  6. Kidney Meridian
  7. Pericardium (Heart Governor) Meridian
  8. Triple Warmer Meridian
  9. Gallbladder Meridian
  10. Liver Meridian
  11. Lung Meridian
  12. Large Intestine Meridian

A diagram of the Body Meridians for flow of Qi in Acupuncture

There are two types of organs: hollow (Yang) and solid (Yin).

Yang Organs

Hollow organs expand and contract, therefore they are considered more active (Yang). These include the stomach, bladder, gall bladder, small intestine, and large intestine. Yang organ meridians run downward along the back of the body and the outer side of arms and legs.

Yin Organs

Solid organs are considered more passive (Yin). These include the liver, spleen, lungs (a misconception is that lungs are hollow – they are not), kidneys, and the heart. Being solid, they do not contract as actively as the hollow organs. Yin organ meridians run upward along the front of the body and on the inner side of arms and legs.

It is important to note that meridians are non-physical and do not follow the precise paths of blood flow or nerves. Additionally, the meridians are mirrored on the entirety of the body, thus, the meridians on the left side will be the same for the right.

So Why Acupuncture?

There are over 350 acupoints (also called acupressure points, acupuncture points) along the meridian pathways which are specific locations where qi can be accessed. Acupuncturists stimulate these acupoints to help a patient achieve harmony, balance, and specific relief. This stimulation is often performed by using needles (acupuncture) or touch (acupressure).

The idea of being poked with lots of needles is not immediately appealing, but the acupuncture needle is known as the “painless needle” for a reason.9 They are customarily made of stainless steel, with sizes ranging from 26 to 40 gauge and lengths from 0.5 inches to 2.5. In conjunction with their thinness, acupuncture needles are less likely to cut the tissue compared to traditional needles.10  

Acupuncture is most commonly used to treat pain and stress, discomfort from disease, conditions such as toothaches, tonsillitis, common colds, allergies, induction of labor, infertility, and more. Acupuncture can also boost the immune system by heightening Wei Qi. According to Midland Acupuncture, acupuncture can help improve digestion, revamp mood, boost energy, and promote relaxation.

If you are apprehensive about visiting an acupuncturist, you can first try DIY acupressure. Before you begin, we always advise consulting with your doctor or medical professional for guidance, as this article is not intended to provide medical treatment or advice. If cleared, prep by setting aside several minutes to find a comfortable position (laying down or sitting up) and relax.

DIY Acupressure

Here a few tips that may aid in your discomfort:

  1. Shoulder pain and headaches can be eased by putting firm pressure on the web of the thumb and forefinger. Hold for five seconds and repeat three more times. Please note that it is not recommended to use this pressure point if you are pregnant.
  2. To ease lower back pain, grab your waist with both hands so that your thumbs wrap around behind your back. Firmly apply a circular motion for five seconds. Repeat three times.
  3. If you are having trouble with sinus pain, use your index finger or thumb to apply pressure to the area between your eyebrows. Use circular motions for five seconds. While utilizing the same gesture, you can also try massaging both of your temples.
  4. Stomach aches can be relieved by a pressure point on your wrist. It is 2 inches above the wrist joint, located on the palm side between two tendons. Press this area and hold for 3 minutes.

Licensed Professionals Know Best

By utilizing the service of a licensed acupuncturist, you’ll be assured that sterile needles are used and properly disposed. Additionally, the professionals are extensively trained to provide you with care based upon your maladies and pain.

Just like picking out a doctor, you should thoroughly research acupuncturists around you to find the best fit. Interviewing professionals to assess their credentials is an effective way to find your desired acupuncturist. Or you can ask people you trust for recommendations. When deciding to move forward with a licensed professional, make sure the acupuncturist can answer all your questions and put any worries you might have at ease.

References:

https://www.amcollege.edu/blog/history-of-acupuncture [1] [2] [5]]

https://www.amcollege.edu/blog/acupuncture-in-west [4]

https://www.acupuncturetoday.com/mpacms/at/article.php?id=28164 [6]

https://ancientwisdomhealingarts.com/classical-chinese-medicine/ [7] [8]

https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/nursing-and-health-professions/acupuncture-needle#:~:text=Commonly%20used%20acupuncture%20needles%20are,though%20it%20is%20very%20tiny. [9] [10]

Opening Up to Chakra Healing

That’s the Spirit

When I was younger, I was raised as an unusual hybrid Roman Catholic / Born Again Protestant Christian, and I believed that other non-Christian religions and philosophies such as Hinduism and Buddhism were evil. Since they did not honor Jesus Christ and instead extolled other beings as divine (Brahma, Krishna, Buddha, etc.), I feared and shunned even learning about these beliefs until the desire for expanded knowledge got the best of me in my later years. I’ve now come to believe that the fear of the different and the unknown is the biggest reason why people on this earth don’t get along. Different people are strange. Different cultures are bizarre. Different beliefs are wrong. What if we removed that fear and instead sought to understand what we presently do not understand? We could possibly learn something profound that when applied to our own lives may help provide a new, fresh perspective. And so I started practicing yoga and learning about the benefits of meditation beyond the prayers I recited as part of my Catholic religious affiliation. I started to learn about universal energetic forces and appreciate the relationship between men, women, and all of nature. I started to embrace my inborn proclivity towards Eastern philosophy as plausible and beneficial. I began dismantling the need to align with a single religion and instead became a student of spirituality. As such, I now appreciate elements within various beliefs and practices that help illuminate aspects of the human condition that I had not known about before. For those of you reading that may be turned off by all this, surely, I understand. I was once right there with you. But consider that you are reading this article for a reason. If you are searching for answers that you have not yet found, you may just find some value in being open to new ideas to explain your situation and potential new methods, even spiritual ones, to help.

Diving into energy healing may seem all too woo-woo to you at first glance, like pseudo-science to the empirical skeptics. But let me tell you why there are some important nuggets here to consider. First, we are all made up of energy. We are all impacted by energy. Our hearts beat because our bodies are nourished, our brains produce wave patterns as we think, dream, and create, and our emotions are impacted by the energetic stimulus of what we see, feel and comprehend. Light, sound, matter…everything that exists holds energy, so therefore everything in our environment potentially impacts our well-being. We interpret colors from the wavelength or frequency of the light we see. We interpret sounds from the wavelength or frequency of the sound we hear. We create emotions from the wavelength or frequency of the stimulus we feel. So when you consider the energy around you and the energy that you have inside you, you can perhaps take a new approach to control those energies to better manage your well-being.

Healing Power Lies Within

Since each person resonates within a range of frequencies, it’s helpful to know what that frequency is and where it vacillates to. The most well-accepted way of universally decoding human vibrational energy is through the chakra system. The chakra system originated in India between 1500 and 500 BC in the oldest text called the Vedas. The word in Sanskrit means “spinning wheel.” There are theoretically seven chakras that run along the human spine, which conceptualizes the connection between your spiritual and physical self. Each chakra spins at a specific rate and so aligns with a visual and audio frequency, i.e., a color and a pitch. From bottom to top, the chakras align with the seven colors of the rainbow (from red to violet) and with the seven main music notes (from C to B). Due to physical, emotional, or spiritual stress, chakras are said to speed up, slow down, become blocked or unbalanced. There can be long periods when the chakras can be thrown out of whack due to internal or external energetic insult. The key to chakra therapy is early recognition and remediation to help open the chakras back up and bring them back into balance and alignment.

The Seven Chakras

A silhouette of a man sitting in lotus pose with the chakra symbols placed on his body against a beautiful sunset

Much of the world swears by the chakra system and views it as an intuitive method for diagnosing what’s ailing you. I must say that personally, I find the system very useful. You can see for yourself. Let’s unpack the chakras, their corresponding frequencies, and meanings to see if they might help you assess where you might uncover some specific emotional imbalances. If anything, you might learn something new and be surprised at how interesting it all is.

Root Chakra

Root chakra symbol

The root chakra is called Muladhara, or the base chakra. It is located at the bottom of the tailbone, spinning at the base of the spine. Just as with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it represents the foundational essence of human survival and safety. It is denoted by the color red and the note C. The root chakra designates our desire to be alive and our relationship with our tribe. It is our sense of belonging. Our primal feelings of fitting in, being care for, and protected are associated with the color red. Like the color of flowing blood, it symbolizes family, turf, and possession. What happens when the root chakra is blocked or spinning too slowly? It could mean there’s a lack of survival necessities, causing us to feel fearful, anxious, lonely, or insecure. It may seem like the world is out to get us, like no one cares, or like we’re walking on thin ice. We may feel scared, nervous, worried, or sad much of the time. Alternatively, what happens if the root chakra is spinning too fast or out of control? It could stimulate greed and materialism, aggressiveness and anger, suspicion and cynicism. If you have self-awareness of certain traits within your personality that appear consistent with either a blocked or an over-active root chakra, here are some simple suggestions that chakra healers offer to perform with intention:

  • Expose yourself to red light or the color red.
  • Listen to the C note.
  • Chant “I DO” or the sound “Lam”.
  • Feel the earth. Go for a barefoot walk outside in nature. Massage your feet.
  • Spend some quality time with a close friend.
  • Eat organic root vegetables like carrots, potatoes, parsnips, radishes, onions, and garlic. Enjoy red fruits like strawberries, cherries, apples, pomegranate, tomatoes, and raspberries. Dine on protein-rich food like eggs, meats, beans, tofu, soy products, peanut butter. Sprinkle on spices like chives, paprika, and pepper.
  • Try grounding yoga poses like mountain pose, warrior 1, and warrior 2.
  • Embellish with red/black crystals and stones like Brown Jasper, Red Jasper, Smoky Quartz, Hematite, Cuprite, Mahogany Obsidian, Tourmaline, Rhodonite, Garnet, and Bloodstone.
  • Diffuse or wear essential oils such as nutmeg to activate a sluggish root chakra and patchouli or vetiver to calm an over-active one. Maintain a smoothly functioning root chakra with bergamot.

Sacral Chakra

Sacral chakra symbol

The sacral chakra, or Swadhisthana, sits above the root chakra, about 2 finger-widths below your navel. This chakra is associated with your womb space, and as such, it is considered the source of divine feminine energy. It is the center of your sensual and creative energy, denoted by the color orange and the note D. It is responsible for your passion, your pleasure, your libido, and your desire to produce (or birth) new ideas into the world. It’s one of the reasons why we call projects, products, or things we create our “babies.” The sacral chakra is associated with a one-on-one relationship, whereas the root chakra discussed above is associated with a group relationship. If the sacral chakra is weak or blocked, you may feel low libido, a lack of passion, stifled creativity, or uncomfortable being with just one other person. If the sacral chakra is over-active, you may feel overly emotional, fixated on sex, sexually aggressive, hedonistic, or manipulative. Take a moment to assess your sacral chakra’s position. Are you energetically lacking or over-zealous in creative or sexual energy? If so, chakra healers offer the following simple suggestions to perform with intention:

  • Expose yourself to orange light or the color orange.
  • Listen to the D note.
  • Chant “I FEEL” or the sound “Vam”.
  • Enjoy making something. Try coloring, drawing, cooking, baking, or gardening.
  • Be around water. Go for a swim, walk by a lake or river. Take a bath.
  • Eat organic carotenoid-rich foods like sweet potato, carrots, melons, mangos, pumpkin, orange citrus fruits, peaches, apricots, and butternut squash. Add in nuts and seeds like flax, almonds, walnuts, and sesame. Get plenty of Omega-3s from foods like salmon. Stock up on coconut and spices such as cinnamon. Drink plenty of water.
  • Try simple hip-opening yoga poses like side angle pose, bound side angle pose, and garland pose.
  • Have fun with crystals and stones like amber, coral and orange calcite, citrine, orange aventurine, carnelian, and hematite.
  • Diffuse essential oils such as spicy cardamom to awaken a dormant sacral chakra, and ylang-ylang or neroli calm an over-active one. Try sweet orange or sandalwood to maintain a well-balanced sacral chakra.

Solar Plexus Chakra

Solar plexus chakra symbol

I’m going to spend a bit more time on this chakra because it is one that I believe my readers will find quite compelling. The solar plexus chakra, or Manipura, is located at the back of the abdomen. It is the control center of your personal power. As the sacral chakra is a reservoir for feminine energy, the solar plexus is a repository for masculine energy. That may be why so many women struggle with this chakra. The solar plexus chakra reflects your relationship with yourself and is associated with the color yellow. Some say that the solar plexus is the place where your ego resides. When balanced, you feel a sense of confidence, assertiveness, empowerment, personal responsibility, and positive self-image. When weak, you feel timid, incapable, ashamed, or low self-esteem. When over-active, you feel power-hungry, domineering, judgmental, blame-oriented, catty, or perfection-driven.

Some women vacillate wildly in their solar plexus chakras, aka, power swings. They can feel intimidated on an inhale and judgey on an exhale. In the long run, it’s exhausting to rollercoaster between feeling sensitive and insecure one moment then feeling vicious and condescending the next.

Many women find themselves trapped with weak solar plexus energy. In some cases, it is culturally driven, due to alpha male societal norms that view women as the subordinate sex. In these cultures, it is considered appropriate for women to cower in their minds and in their bodies. In other, more liberal cultures where women have successfully fought their way to gender equality, it is common for women to overshoot their power centers to project a domineering, critical, power bitch energy. All too often, women with under-active solar plexus chakras feel a deep sense of worthlessness. I’m ugly. I’m fat. I’m stupid. I’m not good enough. I can’t do anything right. I’ll never find someone who will love me for me. The crushing social pressure of falling short of the alpha female ideal leaves so many women feeling this way.

Let me ask you, what is your relationship with yourself? Do you talk down to yourself? Are you your own worst enemy? Do you live for the applause? Do you use other people to get your way? Are you courageous? Do you follow your gut instincts?

If you feel in the least bit insecure about yourself, I am here to tell you that you can take control of your power. Think of the solar plexus as the place where you can place blame for any doubts you currently feel about yourself. You can say to yourself, “Hey, it’s not me, it’s my solar plexus chakra, and that chakra can be fixed!” You are worthy and amazing. You are a sovereign, almighty being that has nothing to prove to anyone else. The thing that you need to do is just believe that your solar plexus chakra is just blocked and out of alignment. Understand that no words or actions of any other human, including friends and family members, have any bearing on your own self-worth. Have compassion for yourself and know that you can be healed.

If you find yourself with an overactive solar plexus chakra, you are likely a fortune, fame, and power seeker. You may, intentionally or unintentionally, be alienating or hurting other people, then wondering why you feel so empty inside. Narcissism, disrespect, condescension, bullying, manipulation, and cheating start with the individual, but then these traits expand into collective ego manifestations of classism, racism, sexism, ageism, and so on. These “isms” are transparent indicators of societal hubris that have nothing to do with ability and everything to do with the imbalance of power and injustice. It is as if society is overcompensating for its own underlying insecurities regarding power and worth. Today, awareness of cultural power imbalances and injustices is quickly spreading. At least that is a good first step to help bring true equality to bear. But as with any movement, it starts with the individual. If you can be truthful with yourself about an unrelenting desire for power or to prove yourself, you can recognize the detrimental fallout it can bring. A real heroine recognizes her power without having to wield it to gain approval from anyone else but herself. If you would like to work on balancing your solar plexus chakra, healers offer the following simple suggestions to perform with intention.

  • Expose yourself to golden yellow light or the color golden yellow.
  • Listen to the E note.
  • Chant “I CAN” or the sound “Ram.”
  • Do something spontaneous. Put on some music you love and dance around your living room.
  • Spend time outdoors in the bright sunlight. Take a walk around the block. Treat yourself to yellow flowers like yellow roses, sunflowers, or daisies.
  • Eat organic yellow organic foods like bananas, cheese, pineapple, corn, lemons, squash, golden apples, honey, and yellow curry. Enjoy fibrous foods like coconut, oats, brown rice, spelt, rye, farro, beans, vegetables, and sprouted grains. Add spices like ginger, chamomile, vanilla, mint, and cumin. Drink dandelion, ginger, or chamomile tea.
  • Try the yoga boat pose and the sun salutations.
  • Experiment with crystals and stones like amber, yellow tourmaline, citrine, sunstone, yellow topaz, golden calcite, yellow jade, golden tiger eye, and yellow jasper.
  • Explore essential oils like eucalyptus and juniper berry to stimulate a weaker solar plexus, and vetiver or helichrysum to calm an over-active one. Try grapefruit or lemon for an already well-expressed solar plexus chakra. 

Heart Chakra

Heart chakra symbol

The heart chakra, or Anahata, is located at the center of your chest. It is considered the juncture of physical and spiritual well-being, adjoining the three chakras below with the three chakras above. Represented predominantly by the color green and the note of F, the heart chakra is the center of your emotion and trust. When balanced, you feel unconditional peace, love, compassion, beauty, tolerance, and openness. You are quick to forgive yourself and others. When weak, you feel bitter, hateful, scornful, distrusting, and intolerant. When over-active, you feel jealous (green with envy), overly dependent, self-sacrificing, heart-broken, and gullible. Divorce, betrayal, trust issues. If you’ve been deeply hurt by someone you love, your heart chakra may be blocked or even closed. A key indicator of a closed heart chakra is asking yourself if there is someone in your life that you cannot forgive. If that is the case, then the pain you feel will continue to eat away at you until you decide to let it go. Easier said than done, right? Absolutely. If you’re aware of your pain and that certain triggers can cause that pain to bubble up over and over again, now is the time to get rid of it once and for all. Holding onto that pain hurts yourself as well as the people that are closest to you. You won’t be able to give your kids or your spouse all of your best if you’re still suffering from the pains of the past. Commit right now to heal. You deserve to be freed of the burdens of yesterday.

Healers suggest addressing heart chakra imbalances by starting with the following simple methods performed with intention:

  • Expose yourself to green light or the color green.
  • Listen to the F note.
  • Chant “I LOVE” or the sound “Yam” (pronounced “Yum”).
  • Visualize a bright green orb in front of your chest, filling your heart with kindness and forgiveness. Open and lift your hands in front of you. Picture all the hurt and hate and anger and disgust you feel like a knotted black ball placed into the palms of your hands. Breathe in and out three times. On the third, exhale blow all that black hurtful dust away until it completely dissipates into the void and is gone. Breathe in pure, fresh breaths, and smile.
  • Eat organic green foods like broccoli, chard, zucchini, avocado, lime, peas, kiwi, spirulina, and green apples. Make a raw leafy green salad with kale, spinach, celery, and cucumber. Drink fresh green juice, a smoothie, or green tea. Add green herbs like basil, thyme, mint, parsley, and cilantro.
  • Try heart-opening yoga poses like upward-facing dog, camel, and bridge.
  • Meditate with crystals and stones like emerald, green jade, green aventurine, green jasper, rose quartz, rhodochrosite, rhodonite, amazonite, and malachite.
  • Explore essential oils like palmarosa to open the heart chakra, and lavender or sweet marjoram to quiet it down. Try geranium to maintain a well-functioning heart chakra.

Throat Chakra

Throat Chakra symbol

The throat chakra, or Vissudha, is the hub of your voice and communication. It resides at the center of your throat, is associated with the color blue and the note G. A balanced throat chakra enables you to express yourself clearly, confidently, and diplomatically. When blocked, you may have a hard time speaking out, be misunderstood, be secretive, or a poor listener. When over-active, you may be loud, opinionated, gossipy, talk over others, or use harsh language. If you don’t have the physical ability to speak, or words cannot adequately express your emotions, that does not necessarily mean that your throat chakra is closed. You may have other successful methods of communicating, such as sign language, writing, art, dance, music, or design. The key here is in your desire for expression and the clarity of communicating your thoughts and feelings to others, regardless of form. How would you objectively rate your ability to clearly communicate your ideas and feelings? Does it depend on who you’re communicating with? Are you more comfortable and free-flowing when you’re communicating one-on-one? In a small group? To a large audience? In front of a camera? Over text? On social media? To a therapist? Or does it not matter? When you communicate, what is the common tone of your communication? Is it shy? Awkward? Sarcastic? Caring? Humorous? Whiney? Critical? Horn-tooting?

To heal an imbalanced throat chakra, healers suggest starting with these simple tips performed with intention:

  • Expose yourself to blue light or the color blue. There is much debate today about the safety of blue light exposure, particularly from electronic devices, and so I will not give the recommendation to stare at blue light. I will say at the time of this writing that there is no known evidence of harm to your retinas or to your circadian rhythms by wearing the color blue or painting rooms in your house blue.
  • Listen to the G note.
  • Chant “I EXPRESS” or the sound “Ham” (pronounced “Hum”).
  • Keep a journal and free-write without censoring your thoughts. Have an open conversation with a family member. Try singing or humming.
  • Eat organic blue foods like blueberries and blackberries. Drink liquids such as coconut water, herbal teas, raw honey, and lemon. Savor fruit that grows on trees such as apples, pears, and plums.
  • Try throat-opening yoga poses like camel, plow, cat-cow with lion’s breath, shoulder stand, and fish.
  • Explore crystals and stones like aquamarine, angelite, lapis lazuli, blue lace agate, blue kyanite, turquoise, and azurite.
  • Bask in essential oils like lemon to open a sluggish throat chakra, and vanilla or Roman chamomile to calm an over-active one. Maintain the even expression of the throat chakra with coriander seed. 

Third Eye Chakra

Third eye chakra symbol

The third eye chakra, called the Ajna, is the epicenter of your intuition and your mind’s potential. It is located at the center of your browbone and is associated with the color indigo and the note A. Some say that the third eye is your 6th sense, extending beyond mere physical knowledge into the realm of spiritual awareness. Others say it is activated by the pineal gland. When you become tuned in to your life’s purpose, make decisions using both logic and instinct, recognize the big picture, and trust your intuition, you have a well-balanced third eye chakra. If you lack vision, imagination, or focus, act with poor judgment, or cannot see beyond the physical, chances are your third eye is blocked. If you suffer from nightmares, delusions, hallucinations, or are out of touch with the physical realm, chances are your third eye is over-active. In recent years, I have come into contact with individuals possessing powerful gifts of unquestionable intuition. Blessed with the ability to “see that which cannot be seen,” they are attuned to natural vibrational energy and inter-dimensional messages. With pureness of integrity, they offer gifts such as channeling, way showing, and light-bearing to help others overcome their current struggles. One of the things I hear from each of them when frustrated with my own lack of ability to “see what they see” or “sense what they sense” is that everyone has the potential to open their third eye fully. It does take time and practice, often through meditation and openness, to achieve the everyday ability to tap into intuition so effortlessly. And so, I write very humbly now, sharing my own personal desire to enhance my intuitive strength, in hopes that you may also be open to tapping in further to your own insightful abilities. With greater awareness for what is and what can be, we may each have the wisdom to make the right life choices for the betterment of humankind. To help open the third eye chakra, healers share the following simple suggestions performed with intention:

  • Expose yourself to indigo light or the color indigo.
  • Listen to the A note.
  • Chant “I SEE” or the sound “Aum”.
  • Detoxify your pineal gland by eliminating chemicals like fluoride, alcohol, pesticides.
  • Connect with natural light by lying down and just relaxing under a wide-open blue sky.
  • Take time to be in complete silence. Pay attention to intuitive signals. Listen to your inner voice.
  • Eat organic purple foods like purple grapes, purple kale, blueberries, purple cabbage, eggplant, and purple carrots. Try herbs like celastrus seed, holy basil, and blue lotus tea. Sprinkle on poppy seeds.
  • Try yoga poses like lotus, warrior 3, child’s pose, shoulder stands, and forward bends.
  • Meditate with crystals and stones like iolite, lapis lazuli, amethyst, fluorite, sodalite, pietersite, tanzanite, azurite, and phenacite.
  • Dab on essential oils like rosemary to open a sleeping third eye chakra, and German chamomile to stabilize an over-active chakra. Use frankincense or sandalwood to maintain a clear and balanced third eye chakra.

Crown Chakra

Crown chakra symbol

The crown chakra, or Sahasrara, sits at the very top of your head and is the conduit of connectivity to God, Yahweh, Allah, Christ, Krishna, Brahma, Holy Spirit, Source, Higher Self…whatever name you associate with the Divine. It correlates to the color violet, the note of B, and the Self Actualization pinnacle of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. When your crown chakra is open and flourishing, you awaken to strong faith, universal love, awareness, wisdom, understanding, and gratitude. You see the beauty and abundance in life, and your days are filled with joy. This chakra is transcendence – it provides assurance that God is on your side, allowing you to rise above life’s challenges more gracefully, with less mental anguish. If your crown chakra is blocked, you may suffer from depression, feel overwhelmed, be angry with God, or sense that the world is evil. If your crown chakra is over-active, you may be overly dogmatic, judgmental, spiritually addicted, or believe you are immune to all human ailments. As with the other chakras, it is possible to swing from one extreme to the other. One day you may adamantly believe that you are impervious to disease, the next day you may be cursing God because you’ve been diagnosed with cancer. As humans, we are all susceptible to the human condition – we are imperfect, we injure, we become ill and we succumb to death. With the exceptions of Jesus, the Son of God, who was without sin, and Enoch who did not die, I do not know of any other humans that avoided the aforementioned states. If you find that your crown chakra needs tuning, healers offer the following simple suggestions performed with intention:

  • Expose yourself to violet light or the color violet.
  • Listen to the B note.
  • Chant “I AM” or the sound “Ang”.
  • Say grace. Practice gratitude. Practice slow, deep breathing.
  • Watch the sunset.
  • Try fasting.
  • Explore yoga poses like lotus, warrior 3, child’s pose, shoulder stands, and forward bends.
  • Meditate with crystals and stones like celestite, obsidian, clear quartz, moldavite, amethyst, or blue sapphire.
  • Diffuse essential oils like lavandin to clarify a low functioning crown chakra, and neroli or vanilla to calm an over-active one. Try frankincense to maintain a well-functioning crown chakra.

Now that you’re more familiar with the chakra system and have a better understanding of energy alignment, you can be more conscious of your own strengths and opportunities for balance. As you have discovered, your energy is affected by light, sound, smell, environment, nourishment, physical conditioning, and many other factors. Mindfully curating the elements you are immersed in every day can favorably enhance the calmness of your mind, the clarity of your vision, the care of your communication, the love of your heart, the confidence of your gut, the creativity of your loins, and the security of your base. If you can gain better balance in even one of these chakra areas, then you will be making tremendous progress on your path to better wellness.   

Waking Up to Higher Consciousness

When you suddenly open up to a higher state of consciousness, you feel a bit like an alien that has been dropped on earth from another planet. Your friends, family, and colleagues may notice a difference. Some may like it. Others may hate it. You may seem to lack the same cares as those who used to lean on you as their misery cushion or complaint companion. You may be gradually or abruptly excluded from certain circles. You may attain a clearer sense of right and wrong, so the wrongs of the world seem that much abhorrent to you. You wonder why people don’t treat each other better. You question why people worry themselves so much over things. There is a period of confusion because you start to understand what it means to be living in this world but not of this world. You feel a greater sense of calm, control, and inner peace.

Having higher consciousness does not mean you walk around with your head in the clouds. And it doesn’t permit you to act like a holier-than-thou self-righteous boob. It just means that you really know yourself, you have a strong relationship with You and with God, and you feel an intense connection to energy. More and more humans are waking up to realize that the earth and the world are two very different things. The earth is the planet. The world is how we comprehend all the experiences created on the planet. Two people standing next to each other on the same planet can be in two very different worlds. So recognizing that every human is living in his or her world may help us to have more compassion. We are a planet made up of billions and broken worlds. Our views are shaped by what we learn in our worlds. When clashes happen, the only way to heal is through compassion and forgiveness grounded in God-given love.