Honouring the Hearts needs-the importance of balance.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world. A sedentary lifestyle, food which doesn’t nourish us and smoking can all be real culprits. Chinese Medicine would also say that heart disease can result from too much excitement and excess which leads to the disturbance of heart qi. Its good to look for the middle way in life and find balance without excess or deficiency. Coming back to gratitude and simplicity can help and learning to know when you have enough is also helpful to the heart if you have a tendency to overdo it. Sometimes less is more if you have a tendency towards excess. If you have a tendency towards deficiency you will need to nourish your heart more through connection with what and whom we love, openness and focusing on things that nourish your heart and bring it joy. If the fire energy burns too bright, we may become agitated and anxious. Conditions such as high blood pressure and hypertension may result. An excessive fire can also lead to burnout and ultimately a state of deficiency where low blood pressure and fatigue results. This shows us the importance of balancing fire energy and really nourishing our hearts and listening to our hearts needs. Our fire energy should feel like a warm, comforting and cosy fire. The kind you can happily sit around and really rest and find refuge beside. You don’t want a fire burning so strong that it feels like an out of control bonfire! Equally if our fire energy is too weak and it feels like sitting around embers that are about to extinguish that is not what you want either. Some passion, joy and a bit of “joie de vivre” in life is good without overdoing it. Aim to find balance in life. When fire and heart qi is balanced it feels open, comforting and warm. The “emperor” heart (the heart is referred to as the emperor in Chinese medicine) can then rule as it should with ease, flow and without complications. This is very helpful to your body and conducive to good health. It can be helpful to write about things or call to mind things that bring your heart joy. Drop down into your hearts knowing and feeling to do this. It’s not so much an exercise that is thought as felt. Take moments to pause today and savour things that really bring your heart beauty and joy. Take time to open and savour connection with what and whom you love and brings joy. I’ll be starting into some qigong movement to nourish the heart tomorrow, looking forward to sharing those with you. Enjoy your...

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The Hearts Calling-Honouring your Hearts Needs.

The heart from a Chinese Medicine perspective is related to the season of the summer and the element of fire. The nature of the power of fire is seen in its ability to transform and nourishing your heart and small intestine is very transformative work. Your fire element is nourished through many things including connection that stimulates us through our love of friends, family, community, a loving partner and discerning what we love to do and what makes us happy. At its deepest level, your heart is nourished through its relationship with the divine. Love doesn’t necessarily mean romantic love. A love of life also nourishes your heart. Openness is an important quality of the fire element. The heart is linked to our “shen”, awareness or divine spirit. When the heart is clear, divinity shines through, authenticity and sincere qualities are present. Presence in the moment is the deepest expression of human shen. Meditation is deeply nourishing for your heart. The Chinese see the heart as ultimately reflecting our relationship with the divine. When this is in flow, everything else flows. The heart is obviously strongly connected to the blood and when blood is strong, the shen or spirit is strongly anchored which is conducive to being calm and getting good, quality sleep. The heart is nourished through connection and also finding some space, quietness and moments to pause and savour for yourself. Nourishing the stomach and liver are also important in nourishing the heart. The heart needs to connect through openness and connection but also has a necessity to be protected through the small intestine (which governs how we absorb and assimilate nourishment from food and things around us), the pericardium (akin to a shield that protects heart) or heart protector and the triple heater (akin to a thermostat which regulates the three main areas of the torso: the abdomen, solar plexus and chest). Because the hearts job is so important from a Chinese medicine perspective, these three helpers are essential. The heart is considered in Chinese Medicine as the “emperor”. It is said that it should never be touched directly. Its job is to govern and to have the ability to face difficulty while staying open to all that is beautiful and good. The heart is capable of embracing paradox in life whereas the mind seeks more certainty. The heart gives the capacity to receive all of the experiences of life and to integrate all of these experiences. It seeks to integrate from the five senses and generate appropriate internal response. When the heart is healthy and thriving you experience openness, strength, clarity and compassion. When the heart is balanced you can let go of stress, fear...

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The Power of Simplicity

The Power of Simplicity

Less is more. We can hear that and appreciate that but to embody it is a lifelong journey accessed only through enjoying the process, love and acceptance of what is. As we are human for any of us…..it’s always going to be a process. There is an art of effortlessness to savouring more serenity that cannot be reached through striving, it’s about the quality of our presence. It’s more about allowance and appreciation of what is than about striving to do. A lot of what brings me joy in my life is reached through complete simplicity and valuing my heart. I live in the countryside and connecting with nature, knowing nature to be part of me and me to be part of nature is very satisfying. Sunrises, sunsets, elderflower bushes in full blossom, the sight of foxes and playful rabbits all nourish me deeply along with many other things that are satisfying and simple. I think of what John O’Donoghue said about the joy of finding a spot in nature and just letting something unfold. The joy of becoming a complete observer in what you witnessing within nature and being held deeply within that beauty. It is really wonderful to let yourself be consumed by such moments. I appreciate that life is busy for all of us and that there are always things to do. That is just a fact of life and its important to be in flow with the rhythm of the day, the week and the seasons. However, I think rather sometimes than wishing for more time, its interesting to notice the quality of presence that you are bringing to what you are doing. I wonder at times even in the midst of being busy, we can bring a quality of presence to what is and let ourselves find that little pause, appreciation or breath within the moment. I wonder if that deeper serenity can be somehow accessible irrespective of what we are doing, even if it’s just to momentarily touch it throughout the day. I suppose in truth we can sometimes bring a deeper state of awareness to our day, that gives us back some of the time that we are seeking. I do know this to be true in my own life and savouring simplicity can be helpful. Here is a poem I wrote that relates to savouring simplicity. There Will Always be Dishes There will always be dishes- the chopping wood and carrying water of day to day life. Washing the last plate, I feel my body release in pleasure and relief that “they are done now, its over”. My selective naievity will not allow me to accept that this is a never-ending...

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Be Your Own Hero.

Be Your Own Hero.

It’s so important in life that you value yourself. Not in a big-headed or arrogant way at all but just to truly recognise your value and your worth. Why wouldn’t you? Its wonderful to value others and I’m deeply grateful for those in my life that have taught me so many different things. At the end of the day however, its unhelpful to value others and not value yourself. Its unhelpful to see the light of others and not your own. You can see the beauty and strength of others but can you fully recognize your own beauty and strength? Until we can fully receive ourselves and accept every ounce of ourselves with gratitude, can we truly do that for another? It’s important that you love yourself without reservation and that you bring love and acceptance to what you have deemed “unloveable”. For years I found my sensitivity something that I hid away for example. It wasnt really allowed or valued as I grew up. I had to be very strong and very driven academically. I did that very well and that was what was valued. Today I really value and recognize my sensitivity too as something that enables me to connect with the world and with others with depth and authenticity and now it is a wonderful strength as a teacher and a wellbeing practitioner. This sensitivity allows me to be present, awake and alive to the world and to others and to inspire others. Such work requires depth and being strong in your own authenticity and really recognizing your sensitivity and worth is invaluable. “You yourself as much as anyone deserve your compassion”. In today’s world, we can get swayed in all directions and want to help everyone. Can you however rest into the beauty of your own presence and fully receive yourself first? And then from that centred space do whatever it is we wish to do today and help from a centred and true space of wellbeing. Helping others from this space is a joy and sustainable. It ensures we dont get burn out or get dragged into others agendas or politics (and there will always be such things in life!!). when you are at the centre of things and truly valuing yourself your boundaries are firm and you can truly be there for yourself and then another. “Be a light unto yourself. Hold fast to the truth. Look not for refuge to anyone besides yourselves”. Today there are people who truly inspire me and who I respect deeply but I respect and inspire myself first and foremost. When I do this I honour serenity and solidity within myself first and foremost. “Love one another...

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Are you Struggling? Why good boundaries can help.

A lot of problems in life and relationships can stem from boundary issues. When people talk about boundaries they are referring to you and your energy, what does and does not belong to you. The defining line between what defines you and what does not belong to you is your boundary. Boundaries tell us what is our business and what is not our business. What we think of ourselves and other people is our business but it is none of our business what others think of us. We cannot control what others feel or say about us. We cannot know if they are honorable people or engage in gossip. We also cannot control the good things that people feel or say about us, how much they appreciate us and how much they love us. That simply is beyond our control and isn’t entirely to do with us as it involves another person and is also about another person’s perception, feelings, their intention, values in life, baggage etc. It is really good to remember this. Ultimately of course we are all one but on a day to day practical level, it is a reality that we all have individual physical bodies and minds and it is important to have good boundaries to have clarity and show respect and honor both ourselves and others. Healthy boundaries help us to know who we are and what we truly need in life. They help us to have a better sense of separateness from others and to own and take responsibility for the things we need to deal with. We can get dragged into others stories what they should or should not be doing, what you should or should not be doing or how we can ‘save’ but that is a waste of time both for yourself and the other person. You can be there for other people and you can help other people but it is not our job to be saving someone, taking responsibility for another person’s life. That is not healing for anyone. Life is best when we are really looking after and honoring our own needs and helping others from a space of sharing and genuine respect for that person. When you care about a person, you take the time to build a relationship with that person. If you help anyone you should do it from an informed and experienced space and you recognize that the person is front of you is an equal: not above you and not below you, equal in importance to you and capable of finding their own solutions in life. When we respect people, we really listen to that person and we get to know...

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Self Love in Spring- “Plant your own Garden and Decorate your own Soul”

Self Love in Spring- “Plant your own Garden and Decorate your own Soul”

“Don’t Wait for someone to bring you flowers. Plant your own garden and decorate your own soul” Veronica Shoffstall We can learn a lot from nature. After the stillness of Winter, Spring pushes forth and teaches us all about growth and expansion. Spring is natures unapologetic celebration of life, love and beauty. From the darkest weather, warm delicate moments of hope shine through with the arrival of Spring. For some of us it can be hard to grow and expand. It can be challenging for us to love ourselves or see our unique, distinctive beauty that is our absolute birth right. We doubt ourselves and we wonder if we are worthy of love, of growing and of fully stepping into our own power. Instead of making time for ourselves, we make everything else a priority. Instead of really valuing ourselves, we see value in everyone else but we may not make time to nurture and appreciate our own inner and outer beauty and value. We may not create good boundaries or fully take care of our needs and as a result other people’s issues can negatively impact upon us. It isn’t just about getting a few facials to ‘look better’ or being pampered on Valentine’s Day to ‘feel loved’. There is nothing wrong with getting facials or celebrating Saint Valentine’s Day but something much deeper and sustainable is at play in truly loving yourself and finding happiness. It is about you valuing and celebrating (Yes I did say celebrating!) you and others. When you truly learn to appreciate and love yourself, your life changes and your relationship with everyone and everything changes. You gain a power and a strength that is not based on other people’s ‘approval’ but based on you appreciating you and the freedom and happiness that that brings. You can then love yourself and others from a much more authentic space. My invitation to you this Springtime is to truly find ways to love and honour yourself as well as others Indulge in some self-care and notice the benefit it brings to yourself and your capacity to love others. There are so many ways to do this and I invite you to find fun and enjoyment in the process. For those of you that it might interest, I have a retreat coming up on the 14th and 15th of March in the stunning grounds of Slieve Augthy Horse Riding and Organic Eco centre. This retreat is specifically designed to celebrate the joy that you bring to the world through Yoga and Qigong mindful movement, learning the basics of shiatsu massage together, savouring restful meditation and enjoying some poetry, music and beginners dance over the course of...

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Inspirational Oriental Painting, Qi gong and Shiatsu Retreat

Inspirational Oriental Painting, Qi gong and Shiatsu Retreat

We held a retreat recently that consisted of Oriental painting, qi gong, yoga and shiatsu. This particular style of Oriental painting solely uses black ink and the nuances of black ink. This type of painting is created with spontaneous brushstrokes that represent the present moment and the essence of that which is being painted. The subject matter must really be felt and the mind of the painter must be very relaxed and clear to capture that which they are painting. Such Painters will often go through hundreds of paintings to spontaneously create one in that moment that adequately expresses both the essence of that which they wish to portray and their own mood throughout the process. Such Painting and Shiatsu share some similarities. Both are based on a meditative state of being very relaxed, clear, connected and focused. They also relate to listening, rhythm, understanding and both focus on the body, good posture and bringing awareness to the body and how one is using the body. This can create beautiful art or a beautiful session with a client where they feel great health benefits and their energy come into flow. Obviously working with a client is a different experience but the similarities are there nonetheless. They both have a relationship to a zen philosophy and I thoroughly enjoy this type of painting in my freetime as a beautiful addition to my own work. We held a retreat this year on the stunning Beara Peninsula. Our wonderful participants benefited daily from morning yoga/qi gong, Oriental painting sessions, deliciously nourishing food, sea walks, stunning tours of the area to nourish and inspire us creatively and heartfelt music in the evening. It was such a nourishing and uplifting week for us all. There will be more of such workshops and retreats. Just drop me an email to subscribe to my newsletter for details and keep on eye on my website. All of our participants were so grateful and happy. I will leave you with a couple of comments from participants and how they felt about the retreat: “The retreat has been amazing. Your yoga/Qi gong classes every morning and shiatsu were such a joy to receive. Your beautiful energy was the perfect start to each day. Oriental painting was brought to life more than I ever could have imagined. We have had such a week of laughter and teasing, being sincere and yet taking ourselves lightly and playfully. I have made rich friendships. My heart is overflowing with happiness and gratitude.” Linda “It was the most beautiful week of time with you, capped by a deeply nourishing and restorative shiatsu treatment. Thank you so much for your generosity and heart-centered practice with...

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The Strength of Snowdrops – Springtime tips to nourish your liver.

The Strength of Snowdrops – Springtime tips to nourish your liver.

My first memory of Spring is very clear in my mind. I was about four and beside my Granny who was showing me her snowdrops in the garden. She loved to explain things to me. ‘These are Plúiríní sneachta (the Irish word for snowdrops) Emer’ she said. ‘They mark the end of harsh Winter and the beginning of beautiful Springtime. They look fragile and like pretty little drops of snow but make no mistake Emer- every Spring they push forth up out of the hard Winter ground. They are a very strong little flower’. I love this memory of my Granny and of Spring. Even as a child I knew at that moment she was telling me something important. She was a very strong lady, a wonderful School teacher, mother of five, cook and gardener. I remember coming back to her house as an adult (she had long since passed away) and being so pleasantly surprised to see that her snowdrops were still thriving Nature is a great teacher and in that simple interaction between me and my granny, I learnt about Spring and that appearances can be deceptive when a fragile looking little flower like a snowdrop is one of the first things to push through the harsh winter ground without failure year after year. Lao Tzu the Chinese philosopher commented that softness triumphs over hardness and spoke about the importance of adaptation. I think its really important to remember that in relation to ourselves and others, truly it is through softness and really giving ourselves time to blossom that we overcome any obstacles in life and ensure that we go on to thrive. Spring is my favourite time of year. All of nature feels like it is truly alive and sensually saying one, big ‘yes’ to the world. Spring in Chinese medicine terms is a real time of growth and expansion. It’s a time when we transition from rested life force to releasing our energy more outwardly once more. The organ associated with Spring is the liver. The liver in Chinese medicine terms is the organ that oversees the entire system within the body and it also has the task of storing and renewing blood. The livers co-ordinating action is expressed through the nervous system and affects the neurons and chemical messangers. Psychologically, the liver nourishes us towards the realization of our full potential. It is associated with anger and creativity which, chanelled in positive ways, can help us to push through difficulty giving determination and energy. Healthy assertiveness nourishes the liver so that we can be determined without being a bulldozer and easygoing without being a doormat. Exercise, stretching and walking is great for our liver as...

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