You know your Myers-Briggs type and your astrological sign, but how about your constitutional type according to Chinese Medicine?
Your constitutional type is like the cards you’re dealt at birth: your physiological strength and temperament: whether we’re Type A, introverted or extroverted, people-oriented; which organ systems will tend to be rock-solid, and which ones will be challenge areas that need support.
Identifying what type you are can help you recognize your super powers: your particular gifts. But it’s even more useful in helping us recognize when we have become a caricature of ourselves, when our greatest strength becomes a limiting factor.
You know that old saying, “When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail”? For jobs like getting nails into boards, yes, the hammer is indeed best tool. But if we insist on always using the trusty hammer to unclog a pipe or tighten a screw, it’s easy to feel stuck, frustrated, and stressed.
The cool thing is that we don’t have to be limited by our constitutional type. We have all the elements within us. Even though we’re dealt a set of cards at the start of the game, we get to throw a few of those cards back. Just because breast cancer or diabetes or heart disease runs in the family doesn’t mean we’re bound to get it.
We switch our DNA on and off all the time with the choices we make on a regular basis. Our diet, sleep, emotions, and levels of environmental toxicity all play a role in determining which genes get expressed and which won’t. Our thoughts and beliefs are even more malleable.
When I know that I’m a Wood type, I can catch myself in those habitual thoughts, beliefs, and strategies that cause me stress and throw me out of balance, and make a more medicinal choice instead. I also know exactly which acupuncture points I can use that help treat these particular imbalances.
Recognizing that we don’t have to be bound by our go-to tendencies and habits, we are free to stretch into the fullness of our potential on all levels. We may even discover new latent superpowers — inner strengths we have yet to tap.
That’s one of the main reasons I created my new course, the Basics of Chinese Medicine: Your Inner Ecosystem: to help you gain a new perspective on yourself, so you can transcend your habituated patterns and evolve. When we can act with greater self-awareness, we open ourselves up to new possibilities.
Want to get a sense of your type? Take this little quiz I made and find out.
And if you’re interested in diving deeper, the Basics of Chinese Medicine is made just for you. Reserve your spot today!
Last week I did something rash. I totally abandoned my list of all the things I had to do for my business because it just felt like torture. I didn’t blow off the day and binge on Netflix; I got in touch with my deeper goals: why do I bother doing any of this stuff? It’s because Chinese Medicine has all this amazing deep (and sometimes really obvious) wisdom that can help you enjoy better energy and health on all levels — but unless you’re in acupuncture school, you’re probably not learning. So I made this two-and-a-half minute video for you instead. Check it out, and watch it with someone you love. Then read on for more practical ways to align with the qi of fall.
In Chinese Medicine, the energy of each season resonates with a particular organ system of the body, an emotion, and a faculty of the mind.
Autumn is a transitional season between the extreme yang of summer and the deep yin of winter (yang is the hot, active, outward, bright; yin is the cold, still, inward, dark). As the weather turns colder, and the exciting buzz of summer dies down, you may notice you’re more inclined to draw inward. It’s natural to crave a bit more time alone, as well as more rest, or even feel a little sad. This is the yang of summer moving towards the yin of winter. See?
Stop eating salad. Yes, you read that correctly. Vegetables are wonderfully cooling and detoxifying, but they can be too cold as the temperature drops. So you’re better off cooking your veggies and greens instead. Make soup to increase the water content of your meal to counter the dryness of the season. Eat a bit more of the sour taste — can you feel how just imagining eating a bit of lemon or an olive will make your mouth water, as well as make your lips pucker? Like the season itself, the taste of sour pulls inward. If you’re still doing green smoothies, make sure they’ve got plenty of fresh ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric to warm them up.
Start eating roots: Plants are pulling their resources downward and inward: think of the root vegetables that are in season: carrots, beets, yams, sweet potatoes, and things that grow on the ground, like squashes and pumpkin.
. . . And fruits: To combat the dryness of fall, enjoy seasonal fruits like apples and pears, which moisten and cool. You’ll notice both of these have white flesh, which corresponds with the Lungs and Large Intestine, the organs of the season.
. . . And white vegetables like cauliflower, bok choy, zucchini, and mushrooms.
. . . And foods that nourish yin: like pretty much any bean or legume, eggs, butter, nuts and seeds, and cheese (only if you happen to digest it well—most people don’t).
Be like the trees that let go of their leaves and pull their sap downward and inward to prepare for winter. This process emblemizes discernment: knowing what has served its purpose and can therefore be shed, versus what is essential to hang onto. Fall is a great time to examine your values, and whether or not your actions line up with who you want to be. What do you value most? Are your daily habits in line with that? What is one thing you could do differently to make your actions and values more congruent?
Consider what thoughts, beliefs, behaviors, habits, projects, relationships, and things lying around your house no longer serve you, or need to be upgraded. What could you let go of in favor of new input that’s more in alignment with the person you are becoming? Are you surrounded by stuff you don’t use, or that you don’t need anymore? Time to give it away. Is your morning coffee and bagel really serving you, or would you be better off going to bed earlier so you’re not craving caffeine and empty carbs for energy? Are there ways of relating to your loved ones that really aren’t working for you anymore? If so, it’s a great time to re-negotiate how you connect with those people. Or perhaps that person is yourself: is it time to let go of believing you have to look a certain way, reply to every email and do every last dish before you allow yourself rest, or that any future circumstance is required for you to be happy?
Practice catching yourself in thoughts that no longer serve you. Replace them with a thought that is more true. With repeated practice, you re-wire your brain so those old thoughts aren’t so automatic. It takes work at first, like carving a new trail through the woods, but the more you do it, the more the new neuro-pathway becomes the clear and obvious one.
Here’s what I’ve been letting go of:
Believing that I’m always behind. Which is a huge, ever-present source of stress for me. My husband, Jeremy, an engineer with project management experience, encouraged me to write down all the projects I have underway and how the timelines for each overlapped (these are called Gant charts, apparently). When I saw it all written out, I just laughed. I was able to see how absurd my expectations were. So I revised the plan. I’ve been making lists of what I actually have accomplished, and giving myself credit for the small steps, instead of just berating myself for what’s still not done.
Leading with force / self-will. Like the day I made the video, I still got something done, but it felt far kinder and way more fun.
Staying up too late. Getting to bed early always helps me to let go of sugar, both helping my immune system and making everything in my day go easier.
If you actually read all the way to the end, thanks! I’d love to know what you’re letting go of, and what habits you’d like to upgrade. Leave a comment below or shoot me an email.
It’s starting to feel like spring here in the Willamette Valley. Plants are emerging from their winter dormancy, flowers are budding, the days are getting longer. This same seasonal cycle that we observe in the outer world of nature is also happening inside our bodies. The enlivening and renewing of spring is associated with the Liver and Gallbladder system in Chinese Medicine. This system encompasses not only your physical liver and gall bladder that you know and love, but also with the tendons and connective tissue, the eyes, and the free flow of emotions, the creative drive or as the beginning phase of a new endeavor and the envisioning, planning, decision-making that go along with it, and the emotion of anger (short temper, impatience, frustration also). The upward and outward movement of qi in spring resonates with those same energetics within us.
How can you give your liver a break and move with the natural rhythms of spring?
- Go outside and breathe some fresh air, exercising for 30 minutes. Healthy lung qi helps invigorate stuck Liver qi.
- Do some qigong or yoga to allowing your qi to flow freely, and to maintain flexibility in the tendons and connective tissue, which is associated with the Liver.
- Forgive someone. Holding onto anger and resentment constrains the Liver Qi. Let it go!
- Eat Lightly. Our Livers help us get rid of the heavy stagnation we might have accumulated during the winter (which might manifest as seasonal allergies as the sludge moves up to eyes and nose). Leaving behind the heavier foods of winter, especially heavy meats, dairy products, and wheat, can help you move into spring feeling lighter.
- Consider cutting down on your liver’s workload by eliminating alcohol, refined sugar, and anything artificial like fake sugar, alcohol, pesticides and herbicides. Even if you don’t want to do this forever, consider giving your liver a week or two off from known toxins — a spring vacation from toxins.
- Eat green and pungent. Foods with a pungent taste like onions and garlic, peppermint, basil, dill, fennel, turmeric, rosemary, parsley resonate with the upward, outward direction of the season and can be helpful in eliminating venting the winter sluggishness. Young, tender shoots and green leaves, like asparagus, rabe, bean sprouts, and pretty much anything green and leafy kale, collard greens, watercress, romaine, dandelion, parsley are tremendously beneficial to detoxify that liver. If your digestion is weak, stick to cooked vegetables as opposed to raw, which require more energy to digest.
- Drink hot water with lemon first thing in the morning. A little bit of the sour taste helps to gently help the liver slough off toxins. But too much sour will not be good for the liver, so think moderation.
- Enjoy life!
Grab my free ebook: 5 Biohacks to Relieve Stress and start letting it go. You’ll also get other self-care tips and inspiration, just a few times a month.