Episode 225: From Surviving to Thriving – A Chinese Medicine Take
with Yvonne Farrell, DAOM, L.Ac.
It’s been a tough year. As we slowly begin to emerge from, hopefully, the worst of the pandemic, we’re also entering the full on yang-mode of summer. In the spirit of self-compassion on the heels of such a trying time, what would it look like to give yourself the gift of doing less? How can we lean into play and joy instead of the temptation of sending all of our energy and attention outwards this season?
These questions are tough to untangle as we try to move from a mode of surviving to one of thriving.
Dr. Yvonne Farrell, DAOM, L.Ac., joins us in this conversation to share her wisdom regarding how we can find the balance between these two phases. She provides insight into how we can attempt to harvest useful things from the pandemic experience in order to pursue meaning and purpose in life.
On Today’s Episode of A Healthy Curiosity:
- Navigating the tension between going with the flow of the summer season and doing what’s important to stay balanced
- How Dr. Farrell uses gratitude as a tool for getting us through
- Why acupuncture can be a crucial tool for self-examination in times of survival
- Why grounding and stability are necessary for lasting, effective change
- How she guides patients through the three levels of qi
Dr. Farrell has been practicing and teaching Chinese Medicine and Channel Theory since 1996. Her focus is on empowerment of students and patients so that they will embody the spiritual aspects of Chinese Medicine and make them their own. She believes that self-cultivation, self-knowledge and critical thinking are essential in developing capacity as a practitioner of Chinese Medicine.
Yvonne is the author of two books: Psycho-Emotional Pain and the Eight Extraordinary Vessels and her latest, Acupuncture for Surviving Adversity published by Singing Dragon.
Connect With Dr. Yvonne Farrell:
Welcome to A Healthy Curiosity. The podcast that explores what it takes to be well in a busy world with self care strategies from Chinese medicine, functional medicine, Ayurveda, neuroscience, and beyond. I’m your host, Brodie Welch, licensed acupuncturist and transformation catalyst here to support you on your journey of health, happiness, and personal evolution.
Hello, and welcome to the show. Thank you so much for tuning in today and happy summer for those of you in the Northern hemisphere. I hope you are enjoying yours as much as I’m enjoying mine. I also hope that wherever you are in the world and whatever season it might be, I hope you’re giving yourself permission to do less than you are humanly capable.
The summer is full of young energy. It’s the time of year where nature is at its most active, busy, external hot, and the temptation that we might feel internally is to do it all right. Since you get busier to get more active, to get more social and the energy just scatters, like that’s, that’s the directionality of the she in the summer.
If the winter is kind of this inward time about dormancy and conserving resources and where all is pretty quiet in nature. And then that energy turns with spring. It turns the interns too young, and that energy moves upward and outward with the growth of plants that summer it’s like we’re in full young mode.
Now there is heat. There is activity and. It’s a very, it’s usually a very social time, especially here in Oregon. It’s like the, the rain stop and, and we have this beautiful weather and everyone is just planning gatherings and, and connections. And maybe especially this year, coming off a pandemic and I have been seizing opportunities to connect with people live.
And in person for someone who identifies as an ambivert, I’m kind of right in the middle of that introvert extrovert spectrum. My social calendar seems absolutely packed at this point, but it actually feels really good. I spent four days with my sister and her kids and her husband and my husband, and just so sweet to be able to just spend that time together.
I have. Then making some new friends as small gatherings are once again becoming a thing. And I have some dear, some of my dearest old friends coming through town soon, and I’m really excited about that. So I’m really at this new level of prioritizing connection and play over work, just kind of going with the flow of the season.
And it still feels a little uncomfortable kind of like playing hooky, but I’m leaning into it. And it feels like growth. If play is defined as something that you do purely for its own sake that has no future benefit or point to it. I’m going to say that’s not usually my strong suit. You know, I consider like learning more nerdy stuff about Chinese medicine, um, or any of the, any of the things that I, that I love that benefit others.
I can get super into that, but. I’m finding lately that I’m leaning hard into enjoying the moment in a more gentle and truly playful way. And that has led me show up for my patients with even more presence and capacity when I am with them and for my coaching clients, I feel like I’m at a new level of not measuring my worth by how many people I can help or by how much I got done in a week.
And for me, that is huge. That’s like one of my deepest soul lessons. And I share it with you too, to share part of my journey, part of my personal evolution, because I think we teach what we most need to learn. And I feel like I’ve been working on this one a long, long time. The fire element in Chinese medicine is the season of summer.
It’s the, it’s the heart and the small intestine and the heart houses, the Shen the center of our emotions and our consciousness. So it’s a time to do what makes your heart sing and what brings you joy? What brings you contentment? If we think about that as like the yin and the young, or rather the young, the higher energy state excitement versus the yen state of contentment.
For me, this looks like singing with my band, the hunks in the Hottie. It includes my husband. Good friend, John, we’ve played three times in the past few weeks after not playing at all in about six months. And it felt like nectar for my heart. And it also meant staying up later than usual. And because the sun wakes up so early and my body wakes up with it, it means that I’ve been a little short sleep and having to reign it in and having to start saying no to things so that I don’t take that tendency way too far and end up exhausted.
So there’s this tension between going with the flow of the season versus doing what’s important to stay balanced and, and that’s always, it’s always the dance in life and no. What choices we can make to serve as medicine is, is a lot of, I think, how we steer our ship. And so for me, that means leaving a little bit more space and time and recognizing that like, okay, yeah, connecting with people.
That’s great. And all, but I can’t do it every night without feeling depleted, which is great because during COVID I felt like, you know, even getting together with someone for dinner or like having a zoom call after, after a day of seeing patients was just wasting much, it was like exhausting in a way that it hadn’t been.
So if COVID forced me to really streamline my attention. No. And I feel like I have more freedom and we all have more freedom. And I have an unstructured afternoon where I could be tending to my business or working on projects. I find him I’m really choosing to lean into this rest and play and spontaneity.
And it feels like breathing oxygen into a long dormant part of myself and helping it come alive. Realizing that just because I could doesn’t mean I have to is a really helpful, and this means I’m doing, I’m saying no to collaborations with people who I really respect. It means that I am not putting myself out there as much less writing fewer guesting on other people’s podcasts, things that I really enjoy, but it falls into that category of it does not strictly adhere with the value of play.
So I’m, I’m letting myself not do it and challenging myself to not do it. And what that’s opening up for me is more time to. Float down a river in a canoe. It means that while I might’ve been six months ago, taking in a webinar or while on the treadmill these days, I’m reading more novels and taking long hikes.
Uh, the seasonal change means less decaf, coffee and more hibiscus tea. I’m still drinking my rock a cow though. I love it. I’m not just because it makes my heart happy, but it’s also good for the heart. And there’s studies that show it can lower inflammation and cholesterol and risk of stroke and increased circulation.
So raw chocolate is pretty much a year round commitment for me, but I digress one collaboration project that I’m really excited to be part of is launching very soon. There’s really nothing like it exists on the planet and I’m really excited to be part of it. You’ll hear more about it, mid show, but first you’re going to hear.
Uh, conversation. I thoroughly enjoyed with a Chinese medicine colleague, Dr. Yvonne Farrell. Hello, and welcome to A Healthy Curiosity. Thank you so much for tuning in today. We’re going to be talking about what has just happened to us collectively as a populace and how it, what we might harvest from this pandemic experience.
As we move into the future, it’s been a tough year for almost everybody had been a year of loss for many loss of loved ones of health, of our way of life, our livelihood, the way that we are used to doing things, our hobbies or activities that just everything of course. And for, for some of us, it still might be in the throws of something really difficult.
And for others, we might be looking towards the sunset of the pandemic and things might be starting to move back to normal as it is for me here in Oregon. And I don’t know about you, but I had the expectation that as soon as life started to feel halfway normal, again, that my energy would come roaring back and sad to say that that wasn’t actually the case.
And I started to feel kind of judgy towards myself when that wasn’t happening. For me, there is a mode of acting like we think and act differently when we’re in survival mode versus when we’re thriving. And for many of us for this pandemic, it might be a time of identity evolution. I heard the other day that nearly 40% of workers plan to change jobs after the pandemic, realizing that what they had been doing wasn’t really for them anymore.
And so looking at an overhaul of how, what is important to us and how do we want to live just as there can be post-traumatic stress, there can be post-traumatic growth with me to hopefully help us all move forward from surviving to thriving and harvesting something useful out of this experience, we’ve all been through is Yvonne.
Dr. Farrell has been practicing and teaching Chinese medicine and channel theory since 1996, her focus is on empowerment of students and patients so that they will embody the spiritual aspects of Chinese medicine and make them their own. She believes that self cultivation, self knowledge and critical thinking are essential in developing capacity as a practitioner of Chinese medicine.
And she’s the author of two books, psycho-emotional pain and the extraordinary vessels. One of my favorite topics and her latest acupuncture for surviving adversity published by singing dragon, Yvonne, welcome to a healthy curiosity. I’m so excited to talk to you today. Well, thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to our conversation.
When we chatted a week ago, or so we were talking about just the, just starting with like, Hey, you got up this morning, you deserve a pat on the back. And I just, I’ve been doing that since our talk, like just kind of giving myself that positive credit for what might be just a simple, ordinary thing of like, okay.
Yeah. Maybe everything. Isn’t exactly where we want it to be, but all right. We’re here. We’re engaging with life. So I’d love to hear about gratitude as one of your tools for getting us through. Of course. Yeah. I, you know, we have lived in a time in the last five or 10 years where a lot of people working on self-development and growth and wellbeing have talked about the importance of gratitude.
And so there are all sorts of books out there on how to make gratitude journals and how to start your day with gratitude and how to end your day with gratitude. And I have never seen anything in any of these books that I’ve taken a look at that mentions the importance of being grateful for your capacity to survive that even though survival may not be enough for many of us, many of us are here seeking more than your survival.
If you survive, like you said, if you woke up this morning, then your body did everything it could do in the previous day. To get you to this point. And for me, the reason for gratitude is if you have survive, you have time for. You have the opportunity now to work towards something more than survival. So I always felt like you should open up your eyes in the morning and say, Hey, I did a no.
Now what what’s next, it’s great to start with a win. Right. And really our bodies are amazing at adapting and helping us to get through. And so, and that can be of course, a double-edged sword in that we, we start to habituate to things like pain and tolerate them for longer than, you know, like the fades into the background after trying to get her attention over and over again.
So in a way it’s like, it’s. Oh, he’s a great thing that our bodies can just persevere, but the fact that it enables us to it does push these things to the background so that we can go on with life without necessarily interrupting it or modifying it in a way that, that, that we don’t want to. So it is really working for us in that way.
And we can be grateful for that. Yeah. I always say that, you know, survival, the capacity, the human being is built for survival. We’re remarkably built for survival. We have so many redundant systems in the body that are all designed to keep us alive, but those things are meant to happen. In the background and they’re not meant to be consumers of resources in order to function that take away from our ability to have more in life.
So yes, the ability to survive as good being stuck in survival as the limits of your resources, not so good because there is a price to pay for survival when it is sustained for when the act of survival or being in survival mode is sustained for an extended period of time. Health goes downhill and quality of life is impaired.
So yay. I survive now, what can I do to learn and grow from the previous experiences? So I can increase my level of wellbeing so I can let go of that, which no longer serves us so that I can pursue meaning and purpose in my life. And it’s a dance, right? You have to find a balance between the two surviving and thriving.
It feels like a kind of a hierarchy of needs thing, right? If you really are putting out fires all the time, it may not be the time to, you may not have the luxury of having time and space to connect with yourself and find out what your next inner directed thing is. And yet, so I think about my stressed out patients, right?
Who are, they’re just doing whatever they can. And recognizing just as a practitioner, being able to hold this space for like one, for being kind and compassionate for someone in that situation, but also inviting them to think about how could, the way that you’re living become a little bit less.
Impossible. Right. Like, because if we’re constantly, I know for myself, it’s like I was running an energy deficit for many years, with that I didn’t even acknowledge was happening until I stopped. And then once I had that, that ability to look back and see just what a, what an energetic hole I was digging, like putting out way more energy all the time.
Then I was able to give back to myself through rest and nutrition and, you know, mental rest, especially that that was perpetuating a lot of issues like hormone imbalance, um, insomnia, anxiety, uh, thing, things that I didn’t realize, oh, I don’t actually have to live with this until, I mean, I think, feel like that was part of, for me, the gift of COVID was, was really.
Forcing myself to do less than I’ve been humanly capable of, which was super hard. I felt like I was losing my left arm. You know, I felt like I was losing this piece of myself, but on the other side of that, it’s been like amazing what I have learned in the quiet right. Giving, like just giving myself the gift of doing less and allowing there to be space anyway, that, that there is in a way I realized that that some of my patterns were, were rooted in authentic desire, but some were kind of just self perpetuating because that’s what I had been doing.
And it was maybe time for that pattern to die. Yeah, well, and I mean, that has been the gift of the pandemic for many people, but that gift of self-examination can’t really occur when you are in the sick of survival mode and the sky is falling and the bombs are dropping all around you when you’re afraid to breathe, because you’re going to get COVID and may end up on a ventilator.
You can’t really do that kind of self-examination. But when you have the opportunity to slow down a little, like we’ve had in many cases where we’ve had to lower our expectations, yes. Maybe, you know, you can do some of that stuff examination. And I think the beauty of the kind of acupuncture we’re talking about is it can take your nervous system out of that.
Oh my God, the sky is falling. Oh my God, I’m going to die. Oh my God, where’s the next blow going to come from? Oh my God, someone’s going to pull the rug out from under me and give you a sort of period of respect where the nervous system isn’t so hypervigilant. And so hyperreactive that maybe you can start to look at what your part in it is.
And what is it about your lifestyle or even in a deep way, your belief system. That keep you from perpetuating this deficit as you’re talking about. Yeah, that absolutely. I think that is it right there that sometimes we might be in a job where we have to work crazy hours, but there also might be some agency in that, like that, you know, do we really have to, do we really have to do that in order to, in order to meet our own expectations, is there a way that we can change our own expectations and beliefs about ourselves and about how we have to move through the world such that we can open up a little bit of space?
Yeah. And, and being aware of how sort of culturally indoctrinated we are. I mean, most of us in this country have learned from very early in childhood to override the body’s messages and keep. Which is just the basics of health. Right. Sleeping. You’re tired eat when you’re hungry drink when you’re thirsty rest.
Yeah. Yeah. Suck it up. Keep going, suck it up. Keep going. You can do this, right. Identify with your mind, not your body, your body’s there to prop up your head and everything that, you know, the only thing that matters is how much you get done in the world and not how you feel. Yeah. So how do you undo that? I mean, that’s not like flipping a switch.
You can’t take that deeply habituated indoctrination and just say, well, I’m not going to do that anymore. Right. I don’t buy into that. I feel like that’s why I got into coaching frankly, is like realizing that, that, that deep sense of relaxation, the fact that acupuncture can be this, this sweet blanket for the nervous system where we can give people a little taste of, of what it feels like to be truly.
Centered and relaxed and then send them back into the same life. That’s perpetuating the exact opposite of that. That like it’s been, so, I mean, that was really, the motivation is like, okay, well, people aren’t doing the things that I would tell them to do in the clinic. And so we needed to create a different forum for, to create a container for people to be able to like, make that, that often slow and arduous evolution where no one’s going to be cheering for you to set a boundary.
Nobody’s going to be cheering you to stop working. So it’s, it’s nice to have somebody in your corner, whether that’s a practitioner or a coach or a good friend, you ever had those patients who come to you and they get a treatments, the first treatment, they don’t know what to expect. And afterwards they say, oh my gosh, I’m so tired.
And you have to say to them, no, you’re actually not tired. That’s what relaxation feels. Right. Or you’re now in touch with your natural energy. Yes. And that feels weird, you know, you’re no longer running on adrenaline. Exactly. Right. And yeah. Or people who request that, like I was really tired last time.
Could we maybe not do that again? It’s like, okay. Yes. There’s a difference between a moving treatment and a nourishing treatment for sure. But at the same time, it’s like, we’re not going to like acupuncture just, it does what it does. Yeah. And we live in this and we have, especially for this last year in such a state of hypervigilance that even those of us who have practices that involve relaxation have forgotten what that deep nourishing rest really feels like.
Yes, whether that’s, you know, the feeling you get after completely stopping and taking three deep breaths, or whether that’s a, a power nap or, or a good night’s sleep or a vacation, even if it’s just a couple of days in nature where you are giving your brain arrest from the input of the world around you, we’ve forgotten how to do that.
Absolutely. So real. I love all of these, these bits of medicine that you’re tossing out there. And it’s really true that like, there are different kinds of, of nourishment and medicine that we can give ourselves and being in tune enough to know what is actually the kind action. What is a self compassionate thing we can do in the moment requires pausing and paying attention to ourselves.
Yes, yes. And that self-awareness. Is probably one of the most powerful tools that we have for initiating change, because it’s very hard to change something that is unconscious and habituated. Yes, indeed. So in terms of introducing that to people, I’m curious, how do you, how do you suggest that people begin a self-awareness practice?
You know, it, it sort of depends because when I work with the channel system, I’m working. Different levels of G. And I try to look at where the person is stuck or the most defended or the most resistance, and then I’d give them exercises to deal with that. So for instance, if they’re really, um, bumped up on the outside and reactive to the world around them and defensive in a way, I might have them do exercises where they, uh, do body scanning meditations.
I mean, there’s so many meditation apps out there now, and you can put your headphones in and for 15 or 20 minutes, someone with a lovely voice will literally take you through your body from the top to the bottom, so that you can pay attention to what’s happening in your body. And if you do that for a very short period of time, you start to become more aware.
I also like with those people to get them to feel their feet on the ground more right. So grounding kinds of exercises where you walk on grass or dirt, or one of my favorites, cause I live four blocks from the ocean is go down to the beach of barrier feet in the sand and watch. So you’re basically talking about reversing energy from going outward to inward, right?
So from young to yen, as we would call it in Chinese medicine, taking, uh, taking our attention and making it intention, but focusing inwardly and then grounding your feet, feeling your feet on the earth, that is our connection to yen. Right. But that’s the most yin point on the body. And, and being able to, to feel like it’s it, which it is medicine for a young addicted world and where attention is going out all the time.
Yes. It’s also essential for change. You cannot, you cannot make lasting change or effective change unless you have grounding and stability. Exactly. Right. So yes, change is movement, but you don’t start moving from. You stop, who gets centered, you get grounded and then you initiate new movement, new patterns.
Right. And so yes, that connection to you in is the connection to a sort of stability that allows for right action to occur rather than crazy ungrounded action. That is impotent nilly. Yes. You’ve mentioned the notion that we have within Chinese medicine, a system of channels that carry different kinds of cheese, different kinds of energy within them.
And you, and I know what that’s about, but I’m wondering if you could invite our listeners into, into just the potential that Chinese medicine and acupuncture in particular, or working with channels and moving energy on our own, through the meridians. That what, what. The potential is there for them in terms of evolving our habituated patterns.
It’s one of my favorite things to work with. Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, obviously those of us who study acupuncture study for years study these channel flows and everything that goes with it. And many of us who are interested in quote unquote channel theory, study extensively beyond school. But when I’m talking to patients, it’s very easy to talk to them.
If you forget the channels for now, and you just look at the three different levels of. So in Chinese medicine, we have three levels. We have a cheek called , which is defensive G, which circulates on the outside of the body. We have, uh, Chico yang cheese, which is nutritive tea, which is on the interior of the body.
And then we have a Chicopee when she, which is sometimes called source cheat or original cheat. And that is the she that is associated with your constitution or your DNA or your genetics. If you will, the deep programming level, it’s a programming level, right? It’s your, it’s the source of everything. And so those three levels of cheese, they’re all cheese.
So it’s all the same thing. So there’s sort of different expressions of cheese that have different functions. The way cheer, defensive, cheat on the outside is actually the interface you have with the world around you. It filters all external. That is input coming through your senses, you know, for your eyes, through your nose, through your mouth, through your ears, every touch, every change in temperature, every word that comes at you, every face that you read and interact with all physical contact that she is supposed to defend you against unhealthy or what we would call pernicious influence dangerous input, include pathogens like bacteria and viruses.
And you know, that these things that don’t belong within our personal ecosystem are weight. She is supposed to keep that out. It’s supposed to filter out that stuff that could be, that could throw us out out of balance to be harmful, and that harm could be physical harm. That harm could be emotional harm.
That harm could be mental harm. That harm could be spiritual harm that way she defends us against all of it. So just think about how much input we’ve had over the last year. Yes, we’ve been home, but we’ve had the news on many of us, 10 hours a day. We’re scrolling our phones all the time. I’m at home now a lot more than I was.
And so are all my neighbors. So it’s noisier in my neighborhood now than it ever was. We’re coming towards 4th of July here and already, the fireworks are going off. That’s all input that my weight, she either has to allow in, keep out or become habituated to meaning your weight. She also learns how to ignore input in order to survive.
Yeah, exactly. And that’s, and that can be, and it can also overreact overreact. It can under-react right. And really what we want is to have it react appropriately to input, right? And so in Chinese medicine, we can balance that. So that defense becomes healthier on the inside. And you have the yang or nutritive G that’s the key that’s associated with your digestive function.
How do you nourish your body? But it is also the cheesy that gets the blood moving in the body. And in Chinese medicine, the blood is associated with memory it’s associated with emotion. It’s associated with nourishment it’s associated with ballast or anchoring. It keeps you centered and grounded. And so when that she is out of alignment or distressed, our ability to relate to one another is impaired.
Our ability to interact emotionally is impaired our ability to know what is healthy for us and what our body needs is impaired. The ability to nourish ourself as. The blood is. Yeah. We often think of the blood as being the currency of our sense of self and like holding onto our sense of who we are in the world and also of emotions.
Cause that it’s this pumped around by the heart and the heart is what integrates the, or is the emotional center of the body as well as the, the center of consciousness that sort of ties it all together for us. And when we are feeling maybe insecure or maybe we’re not, again like that, that ability to feel good in our own skin, a lot of times predicated on the health of blood.
Yes. And not only that in order to digest life and processed life, whether that’s food or experience, we must have good circulation of blood. And the Yankee allows for that to happen that circulation to keep going because you can’t process, if everything is. Right. Stagnation begets stagnation. And that’s actually one of the, one of the ways that we get old, right.
Is that when we lose the ability to adapt, we lived the ability to like, it’s, it’s almost like the blood freezes within the channels. And, and so we, we lose capacity. Yeah. And we get old, but we stopped growing. Yes. Because we need circulation to keep growing, to keep moving, to keep learning. So then the last level of cheese UNG, that’s that sort of constitutional G this is the cheese that you come in with.
It’s the resources that were given to you during gestation from your parents and their parents. Right. That’s that sort of what we call in Chinese medicine, prenatal. She determines our constitution and it houses our, our, our unique gifts are the things that make us uniquely ourselves are said to live at this DJing level or in the, in the won sheet.
Yeah. So that we sort of look at is the level of authenticity, right? Your true personality, not the created personality or manufactured personality that you develop in order to get along, but actually who you really are and see that in there, if there’s an imbalance will be belief systems that don’t support health.
I’m not enough, I’m a bad person. I can’t do anything. Right. These will all sit at that level and obstruct our ability to use those resources to. So, you know, if you could see where somebody stuck you, we have channel systems that address each of those levels of G, which then allow us to restore the circulation so that people can take back sovereignty of their own lives.
Exactly. And, and really, so when you, when you’re assessing a patient, are you looking at the three levels of chia and asking yourself, where’s the imbalance here? I am to a certain degree, that’s at the simplest level, but I also understand the channels that are associated with these levels. So I’m looking for those pathologies as well.
I’m also looking for the story and how people tell the story and how they hold their bodies while they’re telling the story. And all of those things sort of give me an into, okay, what needs to happen first? There is a really cool event. I want you to know about it is absolutely free and it is coming up the weekend of August six through eighth, there is an incredible new online platform being launched next week.
It’s called Inaura and I’ve been asked to be one of its founding guides for information about Qigong and Chinese medicine. And what Inaura is doing is bringing together hundreds of world-class professionals from across the spectrum of mental and emotional and spiritual and energetic well-being to help people.
So it’s going to be this platform, like nothing else. That’s out there with tons of classes. You can take workshops, digital offerings and. It will hook you up with this assessment to help find kind of who you are and what might be a good fit for you and all that’s out there in the realm of how to get healthy.
And it’s taken several years to build, and I’m really excited to be a part of it. There is a free kickoff, a live event coming up August six through eighth, and no matter how many online events you’ve attended, this is like nothing I’ve ever seen before in the sense that there is no fluff, there’s no pitches.
It is just solid information about all sorts of healing, especially the mental, emotional, spiritual. If you’re looking for practices to help you manage your reactivity for blacks, calm down. If you are struggling with trauma, anxiety, depression, dissatisfaction with life in general or any addiction issues you’re going to want to be part of this event.
The whole weekend is packed with round tables from experts like doctors and counselors and therapists of all stripes. And my session is I’m going to be part of the energy medicine round table, as well as an experiential live Qi gong session. And that is. Sunday, August 8th from 11 to 12 is the round table and 12 to 1230 is the Qi gong integration session.
Head over to Brodiewelch.com to the podcast page where the show notes for this episode will live and you’ll find a link to register for this free event. So again, that’sbrodiewelch.com. Look for the show notes for this episode, moving from surviving to thriving and sign up again. It is free. You can go to as many of the sessions as you want, or just the ones that interest you.
I hope you’ll take time to check it out now, back to the show.
I think that’s it. Yeah. As a practitioner being able to take in all of those clues and, and because it’s, it’s this, obviously we’re just giving people a taste of it today, but that, that idea of like, is this person putting a whole lot of energy, propping up an identity that isn’t them, like, there’s a mismatch between what they’re presenting and who they really are.
That’s going to be a, you know, the way she, it we’re, we’re using some of our essential sheet of prop up, wait, she, in a way that isn’t really authentic. So we might look to the divergent meridians for that. Or we might look to the extraordinary vessels for when something is a deeply rooted, constitutional thing or something that happened in childhood that we haven’t been able to move on from that.
Yeah. Or if people are stuck in themes, right. Repeated patterns over and over throughout life, that’s a sort of eight extraordinary vessel. Which is a UNG thing. Yeah. And it’s like, I feel like those treatments can be so powerful and so magical in that they’re not like a, Hey, my back feels better when they get up off the table.
But, but often it will catalyze, like, they’ll notice after, after a treatment or a lot of times these, these treatments take place as a series where we’re sending people home with little assignments to do some acupressure or anoint with essential oil, or to keep that treatment going that they’ll say, you know, I was talking with my mother and where I would have usually said this, I didn’t say anything, you know?
And it’s like, and it’s not like it. And that’s the kind of subtle level of like, okay, this person is, is not reading from the same script anymore. They’re doing something different. And that is kind of a, when we think about like habituated behavior patterns and like, what does that even mean? It’s like, it’s me, it’s, it’s being able to.
It is being able to change the way that it’s always been with some of the people in our lives and in those relationships and with ourselves. Yeah. And I like to think of it as when you open the door to those deeper vessels, the UN chief vessels, basically what you’re doing is you’re engaging the observer and a patient, and that engagement allows people choice.
They don’t have to follow the old script. They actually can see that they have a choice to do something different. And that’s a powerful thing. It’s, it’s huge. It’s huge and scary. Maybe. I mean that when we have choice, we have responsibility. Yeah. Might be easier to just think, oh, it’s just the way it is.
It’s just the way I am. It’s the way I’ve always been. Yeah. And, and if that is true for somebody and somebody’s really not ready to work at that level, we have other levels we can work at. We can calm the nervous system down. So it’s less reactive. We can help digestion. So people will digest life and relate to the people around them.
In healthier ways. We don’t have to dig into the depths of someone’s psyche to help them feel better and become more human. We have lots of ways to do that. And that’s such a powerful thing, right? That, that it’s, we, you could spend 10 years with somebody talking about a story and where it came from and all the different facets of it.
And in Chinese medicine, I find that a lot of times we can really short circuit that process, especially for people who’ve done a lot of work on themselves where it’s like, okay, what’s the theme here? And how do we plug that into the different energetics that, that we understand, right? Whether that is five elements and the different emotions that correspond with those elements, whether that’s just gen or young, whether that’s a survival strategy that we use habitually or, or one of these deep, repetitive themes.
Yeah. And when you’re dealing with those themes, a lot of times you’re dealing with a level of unconsciousness, which means you can’t think your way out of that box, you have to change the vibration. Say more about that. Well, I mean, You know, we talked about this idea that a lot of times when we have problems and we struggle with problems, that we try to address those problems in the same way, we’ve always addressed problems.
But those ways with really deep seated issues that we’re unconscious about don’t really work. They don’t help that much like therapy is great, but it will only take you so far until you can actually change the vibration of the problem, change the level of consciousness you have around it. The energetics of it, you cannot really see your way out of it.
It’s yeah, it’s really true. It’s like why? Because, because you’re looking in one direction and then recognizing that and thinking that you’re seeing the whole. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. You don’t know you’re in the box or, you know, as we teach our students in acupuncture school, you’re one of the three blind men and you have a hold of the elephant’s leg and you think that’s what an elephant looks like and somebody else has the tail and they think that’s what an elephant looks like.
And somebody else has the ear and they think that’s what an elephant looks like. Right? So we’re blind to the bigger issues. And what we need is to get our site back so that we can see the bigger picture so that we have choice. I love that. I love that when you are stuck in a, in a habituated behavior pattern, There’s always a price.
And we’ve alluded to that a little bit earlier in the conversation about just like the physical price that we might pay for adapting to that feeling of tension in our neck and shoulders. As we stare at the computer for 12 hours a day, and we just habituate to that. And then pretty soon that tightness becomes, you know, the fascia gets tightened down and then she stops moving and then we get neck pain, you know, or whatever.
Is that there that there’s a price tag there. What kind of a price tag might be going on at these, at these deeper levels that we’ve been talking about? Yeah. So we’re talking about chronic degenerative illnesses and in a very large way, we’ve seen the. Exponential growth in the number of chronic degenerative illnesses that people in this country are suffering.
And also auto-immune disorders, right? Where you have an experience or you have a disease, like say Lyme disease, right. And your body fights off the infection, the best that it can, but there’s some lingering infection there that it can’t get rid of. So what does it do? It creates inflammation and puts it into different systems in the body, into the joints, into the skin, into the brain.
Right. And that is the physical price you pay for not being able to get rid of that toxic invasion, but. We also have a lot of other kinds of toxic invasions that are sometimes emotionally overwhelming and we can’t deal with them. We don’t have the resources to deal with them in the time. And so we pushed those into the blood, or we push them into the joint.
So we push them far away from the heart and the organs so that we can stay alive. And the price for that is chronic arthritis, things like chronic inflammatory bowel disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune kinds of conditions, lupus, things like that, where the body is now paying the price for survival.
And the reason we are able to sustain that for a period of time is because those diseases are life altering, but not so life-threatening. So survival allows us to deal with the chronicity and the continual impact on quality of life while we still stay alive. And so, you know, the goal is to help the body get rid of that stuff in a way that the resources are freed up for thriving.
And those resources are in Chinese medicine. We might think about them as G and blood and yen and yang and fluids and things like that. But there’s the idea, like I use the analogy of like that it’s shoving something in the cloud. When, uh, that closet is already really over filled. And so you have to kind of like periodically, you have to go by and lean against that closet.
Or you have to periodically go like prop up a chair against the closet door to keep everything from spilling out. So it’s like, you constantly are having to manage this stuff that you’ve like put away. You’re like, I can’t handle that right now. I’m just going to stick it over there. But if you never go and revisit that closet, if you never open it up, you’re constantly having to put energy into keeping that door shut.
And that is annoying. Right. That means you good and taxing. And it’s a great distraction. Yes. Right. To life. Like the example that I frequently use is okay. It’s like telling a dog. Right. You tell the dog to sit. When you’re standing in front of the dog, looking at the dog, the dog will sit, but it is not in the nature of a dog to just sit.
Dogs are active. They like to roam around. They’re curious. They like to explore the world. And so if you step away from that dog for any period of time, eventually, except for incredibly well-trained animals, that dog is going to move. Yes. So you have to be on guard all the time. Sit, sit, stay, sit, sit, stay well.
That’s what’s happening with the closet to everything you shove a way from your organs, especially your heart in order to survive has to be guarded. Otherwise it’s going to come back to your heart. Yes. And that is a terrible waste of resources. It is. It absolutely is. And so you mentioned that that sort of the, that emotional trauma or old emotions that we simply haven’t reckoned with, or life experiences that we haven’t fully processed or dealt with can be at the root of physical issues or contributing to physical issues like arthritis or immune stuff.
It’s of course not the only cause, but it certainly can be the cause. And so, so if someone is dealing with a chronic issue like that, and they’re like, okay, I’m ready. I’m ready to reckon with this stuff. Yeah. What, what advice might you have for them? And in a general way, recognizing that this is not a prescription, this is, this is just for information and curiosity purposes.
Yes. Well, here’s the, here’s the most important thing that I could tell you when you decide to do this work? It is a process. It is not flipping a switch. It requires patience. And it requires finding the appropriate pace for your nature or your constitution, because if you get so excited and you try to do too much too fast, survival kicks back in and says, we’re not doing that.
So there’s resistance, there’s resistance and resistance is useful in that. It is a moment where we stop so that we can assess if something is really a threat or not, but resistance when it is the modus operandi, when it is how you live, your life becomes detrimental to your house. So a little resistance to check things out, pretty good for survival beyond that, just stopping progress.
So you have to find a pace in healing that does not stir up the resistance. I think that’s so important and in the healing, like if someone’s like, okay, yes, but how, how am I doing this? Presumably acupuncture is a useful tool as part of this process and having taking herbs and making changes in our lifestyle and diet that lifestyle and diet.
I think that there’s that both of us, I think, believe that Chinese medicine is one where there is nothing that is in nurture in life. Like everything can either be steering us in the direction of health or imbalance or taking us away from it. Right. Yeah. And so if you want to talk about one of the most important things that you can do, that doesn’t even require you to go and see an acupuncturist or a chiropractor, a nutritionist, or a natural path.
And it’s something that none of us are doing really well these days. How about breathing? Breathing, my number one, favorite things you assigned to people. And probably the thing that is most often ignored because it’s too, it’s too easy. How could it possibly be that powerful? Well, you know, the getting into all the science behind that different kind of gases in the body and their effects on the body, there’s that wonderful book breadth that came out this year by James nester.
I’ve been recommending to everyone. Simple, simple, simple chigong that is essentially just the breathing piece without even moving can be absolutely profound. Right? It’s the thing that gets us embodied. It is your first breath. When you leave the womb, that gives you autonomy as a human being. It gives you life.
Right? And so the problem is, is that when we really breathe well, we also feel really well. There’s a spirit associated with the lungs that stimulate sensation in the body of the corporeal soul. It’s called the paw is the Chinese name for it. It activates our ability to feel things deeply and profoundly.
So when we breathe really well, we feel more and that can be unconscious. Oh, yeah. And people resist it. Yes, exactly. And taking, taking a full breath or, or a lot of times like, uh, one of the breathing exercises that I probably give everybody who’s stressed is the sighing until you yawn. Right. So just helping people give like an audible size.
So they’re getting rid of more air than they’re taking in. And that is going to be that it’s going to have a down-regulating effect on the nervous system. So relaxing and that yawning is that natural. The body’s ready to take in more. And so it’s, that will kind of increase capacity. The supercharged version of that for people who might have old trauma in the past is something that goes by many names holotropic breathwork or rebirthing, or just different, different kinds of it’s a more intense breathing practice of breathing into the belly, breathing into the chest, and then breathing out through the mouth repeatedly for quite a while, like 15, 20 minutes.
And that, that. It’s very, very common for people to have all sorts of wild experiences there. Right. Where temperature fluctuations or sobbing or fear, or like whatever it is, but then yeah. But then they’re through it. So the things, things that like just simply breathing can move energy in an incredible way, in a way that is that sort of open some of those closets maybe like opens and allows us full access to our, our, our ourselves.
Yeah. And here we talk about pacing and process, right? So I’ve got some patients that I literally say to them. Okay. Your homework for this week is to set the alarm on your phone for two times a day. You pick the times and when that alarm goes off, you stop whatever you’re doing and take three deep breaths, just three.
And if they’re really stressed out, I’ll tell them, take the egg, make sure the exhale is longer than the inhale. It’s really simple. People don’t have to think about it. Bonus points for doing it for a full minute. You know, it doesn’t have to be hard. It can be these little bite-size things, but three deep breaths that’s, you know, anybody can do that.
And that’s such a, I find a more effective assignment than having somebody do a prolonged practice because it’s opportunities again for that self-awareness right. When that alarm goes off and you’re breathing, you can’t really help, but check in with yourself, like what’s going on with me? What could help me feel better and just stressed out?
Yeah. It opens the door to possibly learning more about what we might be able to do. And it doesn’t seem overwhelming. Right. Because if it seems overwhelming, then you’re going to meet resistance. So if for some reason, somebody so stressed out that twice a day seems impractical. You have them do it once a day before they get out of bed or when they go to bed at night or, you know, after they eat their lunch or whatever it is, right.
You, you minimize it until the resistance goes away and hooking it onto the things that we are doing all the time anyway, like eating or drinking water. It’s like that, that little habit stacking principle can help people make it, not just be something else to do. And so to actually get it going. Yeah. And it’s such a powerful thing.
It changes your whole state of beingness to breathe. I’m curious, I’d like to shift gears a little bit from the professional to the more personal in terms of this pandemic and. What it’s taught you and maybe what changes you’ve made in response in your own life. Because we, as practitioners, of course, we don’t have it all figured out either, or maybe you do, but, uh, but we’re walking the walk in the path right along with our patients.
And I think it’s useful to have a, I’m always curious what, what people are doing differently, what we’ve learned along the way. Yeah. Well, I I’ll tell you that the two things that come up for me when I think about that is the first thing I had to do was appreciate the stillness again, because I’m a very busy person and the pandemic at the beginning, especially when we had to close our practices for a period of time.
And then when we started up again, we had to start up very slowly and minimal ways. It changed the pace of my life. And I had to learn to appreciate that again. Basically, I, I had to learn to lower the bar of expectation for myself. And that was it. It was hard at the beginning. It’s it’s easier now. And now I just, I I’m, I think better at setting boundaries at recognizing the limitation of my resources and not feeling judgmental about that.
If I just can’t manage them. Oh, I love that. It brought out some self-compassion. Yeah. Yeah. And, and that sent me to the next thing, right? So obviously the second book, the acupuncture for first surviving adversity, I started it before the pandemic and then the pandemic hit and it became a completely different book or it, it became a much more expanded perspective because of the pandemic.
But one of the things that happened for me in that stillness in that down time was I began to see that the pandemic was only a very small part of what was in chaos in the world, around me. And as the compassion for myself grew, I couldn’t ignore the feelings I was having for the people around me who were suffering.
And so I got involved with my son who is. Way more involved with this than I am in mutual aid. So I started volunteering more to feed the unhoused, to provide resources, to protesters, to, you know, make sure people had the sanitation and hygiene they needed to survive the pandemic. I started volunteering more because I, I couldn’t, I couldn’t not act anymore.
And I had come to a place where I realized just donating money wasn’t enough. So I needed the connection with that part of humanity that was deeply suffering to recognize it in myself. It strikes me that that is an awareness that would be very hard to get to when you stay at maximum. Oh, yeah, you can’t because there’s no bandwidth for anything else.
And so it’s like, and I know for myself, like having that, that sense of self that’s incredibly tied up in the wood elements of achievement and doing, and not, you know, driving and striving and all this. Th that for me, COVID really killed that part of me. Like it, or it, it pruned my tree down to a manageable size.
And so, and that opens up all kinds of space for other things. Like I did a ton of learning. I did a ton of, of input instead of letting that energy be going outward, letting it come inward. And I’m still judging myself for not doing enough or not doing more, even just like, as you were talking about that, I’m like, oh, that’s, that’s beautiful.
Why aren’t I doing that? And recognizing, okay. Yeah. That’s because, because that is becoming the things Zackly right, because. I spoken for. And it’s like, but, but if we are at this turning point, if we are at this reorganizational point for what do I want life to look like? What do I, what job do I want to be doing?
And how, how many hours do I want to be putting into this? Or like, I just had my step son just graduated from high school and took a job as an overnight camp counselor. So there’s the winds of change are shifting in my home life. And like, what’s that going to look like in this era? And I know that I would miss these lessons if I kept myself at maximum busy and didn’t leave any space to potentially look at what is really in my heart to do and what is really in alignment with my values to do in this next phase of life.
Yeah. And I think that’s what it came about for me, because I’ll be honest. I mean, I was one of the people who, before all this happened, who would, um, I live in a town where you can walk to the grocery store and walk everywhere. And I would walk to the grocery store and I might pass somebody who was unhoused or challenged in some mental capacity or something like that.
And I was one of those people who would look away and it took this pandemic for me to realize the reason I was looking away was not because I was repulsed or disgusted or any of those things. It was because I was afraid and I wasn’t afraid of that person. I was afraid that there, but for the grace of God go, I that if this could happen to so many people, it could also happen to me.
And I was definitely afraid of that. And so the. Transition for me in that was to force myself into, or coax myself into meeting these people face to face, eye to eye, offering, help offering food, offering support so that I could see that that fear was misplaced and taking up too much of my resources. So I’m not suggesting that mutual aid is the answer for everybody in this pandemic, but it was a natural progression for me and my life is more loving, more compassionate and more helpful.
Now, even in the face of all this tragedy than it was before, because I have less. Beautiful. And it sounds like also that you’re, you’ve opened up. Like there must be some freedom that the heart is experiencing and being able to connect with more human beings on the planet without having that fear be in the way.
Yes. Because you know, routinely I have opened myself only to those people that I deemed safe. Ah sure. Well, there’s. With good reason, right? The pericardium is supposed to protect us from things that might hurt us. And yet being able to be, to be a little bit more in touch with w with other humans that, that, that can feel beautiful.
It’s been beautiful as, as has being able to connect with you in this conversation. I just so appreciate your time and your wisdom and your willingness to share any, any last thoughts before we wrap up today or anything that you’d appreciate people out there knowing who are maybe ready to move from survival to thrive.
I think the one thing I would say, I think we sort of hinted at it or alluded to it earlier in the conversation, but, but what I would say maybe to make it clear is that we all have a critical voice and that critical voice allows us to judge ourselves more harshly than we judge the people that we love and care.
And it’s been my experience in the many years that I’ve been doing this, that self judgment never made anything better. So true. So, so that’s my, my last little word of wisdom is when that self judgment or critical voice comes in, you need to get a little mantra, something along the lines of thank you for sharing.
And I’ll be doing what I think is best for me now. Yes, I will be aligning with self-compassion now. Thank you very much. Yeah. So whatever it is, find your own phrase, but I appreciate your voice, but it’s not going to change my goals. Yeah. I’m passing the mic to the inner wise one, not the inner critic.
Thank you. Yeah. Cause I am never seen it. I mean, if I thought it worked, I’d be teaching people how to be self. Right. Exactly. But the fact is, and I love Kristin Neff’s work on self-compassion I’ve spent a lot of years. I feel like trying to get that down. Uh, but yeah, like we are not these little kids who need stricter parents internally.
We actually will grow far faster. And with, uh, with more ease and grace, when we can be kind to ourselves, it’s not really about being easy on yourself or cutting yourself, slack. It’s about being compassionate with your ability to respond to experience in the same way you would be compassionate with anyone suffering.
Exactly. And it’s there and it’s right. So that’s the common humanity piece, right? Recognizing that we are deserving of that just like everyone else. And that we are flawed humans, just like everyone else, all of that. And that perfection is an ideal that has nothing to do with home. Exactly that we can be whole, that we can be well without being perfect.
And that we can honor our own gifts instead of comparing ourselves our own shortcomings to that, which we admire in others. It’s part of who we are. Yvonne. I could talk to you all day, but I know we both have things to do in our lives. I’d love for you to, uh, for you to let people know where they can connect with you.
If they’re so inclined. Yes. The, uh, website for my office is LA herbs and acupuncture.com and the, and is a N D not the ampersand. We’ll have links to the show in the show email@example.com. That’s Brody with an I E and well to the ch Dr. Yvonne Farrell. Thank you so much again for joining me today to talk about this, this time at this historic time that I hope everyone can grow from.
Yeah, me too. I mean, it’s been such a devastating and tragic time for so many people. I hope we can find some good out of it. Thanks for listening today. To check out the show notes, get on my email list or drop me a line heads of Brodiewelch.com. That’s Brodie with an “IE” and Welch with a “CH”. I’d love to hear from you.
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