Zhuang Zi from the 3rd century BCE said “We are born because it is time, and we die in accordance with nature. If we are content with whatever happens and follow the flow, joy, sorrow cannot affect us.”
This is what the ancients called freedom from bondage.
In our modern world, we hear a lot about leading a balanced life. We hear so much about balance it can almost lose its true meaning. Often it is code for being very busy and trying to fit everything in. Not really balanced at all. One of the ancient philosophies associated with Chinese medicine is Daoism which suggests we live in a state of flow and be less focused on controlling the outcome of our lives. The paradox being that the things we do achieve will be true to us and what indeed supports and serves us, enabling us to share more of ourselves, in our work and private lives. One of the very welcome benefits of living this way is good health, physical and emotional health, even longer life.
Daoism speaks of change as a constant.
We see it daily in the turning of the day, as night becomes day. We see it as we move through our lives, it never stops. But we can become very attached to the way things are, sometimes so connected we cannot see the way to the next place, or what the next best step might be. So, attached that we stick with what we know even if it is not serving us well. It is familiar, safe. Sometimes life must shout very loudly at us so we can hear what is on offer. Things can become very out of balance as this process unfolds. It can affect our physical and emotional health significantly.
In Chinese medicine, we observe that the different organs are associated with mixed emotions. When we are living in harmony, each of our organs is supported and can function optimally. The heart, for example, is said to house the spirit, it has a strong relationship with a bright, alert mind, clarity of thinking. When things are out of balance, there can be anxiety, insomnia and general agitation, even mania.
The liver is said to oversee the free flow of things, it is also the strategist. When our lives are happy, we can plan effectively. When they are not anger can become a problem.
The kidneys have a strong relationship with fear.
When we overwork and constantly push we deplete the kidneys vitality and our own life force. The spleen can be taxed by overthinking, going over and over and over things. This can cause a foggy head, fatigue and a feeling of melancholy. The whole body can feel heavy and damp. It can feel as if we are living in a fog and are stuck not moving forward.
However, when the flow of life is respected the organs support one another and importantly support the whole being. Life is vital and alive. The energy of our lives flows and changes with grace, and we are able to live a fully productive and balanced life.
About Philippa Youngs
Philippa Youngs has been educated and trained by some of the world’s most experienced Chinese Medicine Practitioners, Acupuncturists and Myotherapists at Australia’s prestigious universities. The dynamic natural health practitioner has spent decades honing her craft with a passion for helping families achieve their goals. To find out more about Philippa go to: http://philippayoungs.com.au
What’s the difference between a professional and an expert?
The person who not only has impressive qualifications but has walked the walk and speaks from experience. Bravery comes in many forms and sharing a personal story that may in some way help another is a type of courage we love at Ponderings. We welcome one such person: Sarah Healy- Health Professional and life changer.
Here’s a discovery that may help you on your journey: exercise helps to reduce anxiety but how do we put it into action? I can speak from experience, and I want to share this with you.
I’m an Exercise Physiologist, and up until recently low and behold I had a fear of exercise.
Sounds ridiculous right? I started to avoid exercise, feeling anxious and using every excuse under the sun to resist. I used pain and injury as my excuse. My clients come to me with pain and injury, and I give them exercises to help.
I wasn’t always this way, but I have for a very long time identified myself as an injured person. I remember going to a chiropractor as a gymnast at ten years old because I was experiencing back pain and that continued through years of gymnastics, competitive aerobics (never was very good at that fake smile), track cycling and anything else I could try.
After having my first two children, my anxiety levels were through the roof.
Sometimes just the thought of going for a walk or a ride would stir up pain in my back and knees. Back spasms weren’t uncommon, and I feared it would be too debilitating to feed and carry my babies. None of my pain or injuries were severe, but my anxiety would cause tension, and that tension and memory of pain would bring on more pain and panic.
Stress or anxiety causes a stress response, fight or flight. Chronic anxiety can lead to hyperstimulation, even if the threat has passed, leading to headaches, tight and painful muscles and general aches and pains.
I was anxious about exercising, not exercising, having injuries, having pain, putting on weight; afraid people would think that because I was injured, unfit, in pain and overweight I wouldn’t know what I was talking about professionally.
I didn’t initially realize that my anxiety was increasing my pain.
It was when I noticed it in a family member that was experiencing pain always just before the same event and always less when away on holidays that it finally linked for me. I was also very aware of what I was missing out on with my family when my husband would take the kids for a walk or ride, and I wouldn’t go. I was missing out on so much. I was determined not to identify myself as an injured person. It wasn’t the exercise as much as wanting to move daily as part of my routine, wanting to move and not thinking about it so much.
The mental aspect of pain is so incredibly powerful that you can experience higher levels of pain just by receiving an MRI diagnosis than compared to those with the same injury but without MRI investigations. You are not your MRI; you are not your diagnosis.
Countless studies have identified the benefits of exercise for the symptoms of anxiety so I was well aware that exercise could help me too. Where I stumbled was the very thought of exercise was making me feel anxious. I needed to reduce the fear of exercise and the only way I could do that was also to reduce my fear of pain and injury. If I was to try exercising I needed to be calmer and accept that if I was to feel pain during or after my session that would be ok. My pain was not an emergency.
New neural pathways were needed in my brain, to bypass my routine response of ‘oh no I’m about to exercise and make all of my injuries and pain worse!’ Who would create those pathways? Me.
I would meditate and imagine my body relaxing, my muscles relaxing and when I started to add more exercise, I would treat myself like I would treat my clients (I know right? Who knew?) As therapists we are so good at helping others we often neglect ourselves!
I went back to basics but also changed things up because with different exercises or environments I was less likely to predict a movement that would cause me pain.
A local ‘Ninja Warrior’ gym was one I tried. Ninja training meant fun climbing rope ladders and monkey bars and flipping tyres, the time would fly by. It didn’t feel like a workout, and I gradually started to trust my body again and not obsess over little niggles. Activities I did not even consider through fear of pain and debilitation were now an option.
Muscle fatigue and pain from exercise, the ‘good pain’ -I don’t fear. I love the feeling of my body reminding me I have put in the effort. I have enjoyed welcoming that feeling back into my life.
Please find movement that you enjoy even if it takes you years and many trials to work it out. ASK FOR HELP from physical and mental therapists. Meditation and mindfulness are such powerful tools too. I have learned to believe I can heal and if I do experience pain, I can relax with it before panic makes it escalate. I have even recently started playing Gaelic Football, it’s not easy, I haven’t run in years but its fun, so much fun.
We are blessed with so much choice here in Australia, take advantage of that. It doesn’t have to be an organized sport it can be hiking to a waterfall, swimming, a circuit with a group of friends, walking your dog on the beach, street orienteering (it’s a thing, look it up, it can be fun) Moreover, if that means being the slowest on a Gaelic football team and sitting on the bench for the finals than do it and cheer as loudly as you can. At least then you’ll have a reason to train.
I can’t say that my anxiety is gone, but it has diminished.
There were a few anxious tears before the first few Gaelic training sessions, could I do this? What will others think of me? I’m too heavy, slow, uncoordinated? However, each time I attended those sessions, it would get easier to tie up my boots and go.
So why am I sharing my story with you?
Because for someone with anxiety you can feel very alone with your experience. You agonize over every detail and can become very focused on your own story and worries. Once you start to open up, you realize your story is not that different from so many others. I have learned so much from everyone that provided me with the tools to help myself, and I have continued to research more so I can help my clients get back their joy in movement.
Want to get in touch with Sarah and find out more about healthy healing? This inspiring human can be found HERE.
About Sarah Healy:
Exercise Physiologist – AEP AES ESSAM | Bachelor of Applied Science – Human Movement |
Graduate Diploma – Exercise for Rehabilitation | Cert IV – Training & Assessment
An Exercise Physiologist with over 13 years of experience and has been employed in the sport and fitness industry since 1996. Sarah works with individuals experiencing pain, musculo-skeletal injuries, posture/muscle imbalances and those that have developed anxiety relating to exercise and movement.
Nothing frustrates me more than the smoke and mirrors of marketing.
There is no greater culprit than social media and magazines (I can attest to that after years in the front row). Apps to change colors, make people skinnier, dedicated social media corners in otherwise messy homes and carefully curated ‘editorial’ that coincidentally showcases advertisers products…these are all ‘games’ I’ve seen played in the industry over the 20 years I’ve worked in marketing and media.
13 years ago, I started a little magazine in my hometown. It was sold a few years ago now, but it makes me very proud to still see it on the shelves today. When I started my second magazine, nine years ago, I was determined to keep it ‘real’ – no photoshopping, no excessive styling (making a bed or fluffing a pillow was OK, but that’s about as far as we went) – and I think I was living in a bit of a bubble as to how bad it was getting out there amongst even the most every day of people.
When I sold that second magazine, I was lucky to score a book deal with a small publisher.
How fun! I thought. I will just get to focus on creating great content, and I don’t have to worry about the rest. However, my concepts – about ‘real life’ were not received well and when I was asked to use a ‘stock shot’ (that’s a photo bought from a library of cataloged images) instead of the using an image that actually related to the piece, I knew it was time to make a move…and possibly head back to doing things my way.
So, Of The World Books was born.
I wanted to show readers that a perfectly curated ‘insta-room’ wasn’t the answer to happiness and that the best way to live is the way that suits YOU. My first three Homes Of The World books covered a variety of people living their dream. From a literal tin shed in Seychelles to an architecturally designed retreat in the Scottish Highlands…it’s all perfect if it’s what really makes your heart sing.
Later, I collaborated with a talented writer to explore artist’s homes and studios – if anyone knows how to live in a way that makes someone happy and creative, it’s those guys.
Food was next – after seeing a photographer friend work with a food stylist who carefully ‘built’ the perfect lasagna from cardboard and pins and fake cheese, I wanted to show that great tasting food doesn’t have to be styled within an inch of its life (and that terrible chefs, like me, have half a chance of recreating a new recipe if they’re game!)
Of The World Books has extended, over the last three years, to include two additional imprints (Fiosracht Press – Fiosracht is Gaelic for curiosity and wisdom – covers food, advice, and learning; and Accidental Publishing, for fiction) and an exciting 13 titles with nine more planned already for 2019. It’s a wonderful world we live in, where email and digital communication allows us to meet and discover people from all over the globe, and where a small independent publisher has the chance to create something real and share it with anyone and everyone!