patience, patient.

“Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.” ~Saint Francis de Sales

 

Being present with each of my patients is essential in order to honor who they are and what they are presenting on any given day. My mission is to personalize each session according to everyone’s unique needs. I also make a point to never take anyone for granted, especially when it comes to my thinking about what their expectations or thoughts might be surrounding each treatment.

I wrote a similar post to this one about 2 years ago, and I thought it might be fruitful to re-post and share these thoughts on realistic expectations of a treatment plan. I share this in order to encourage you to make your experience as a current or future Chinese medicine patient as wonderful and enjoyable as possible.  Please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences!

  • Be patient. Rome was not built in a day and your body did not develop those aches and pains over night. Deep transformation and healing requires a realistic expectation that may take weeks or months to target. Unfortunately we are in a “quick fix” society, so it is often hard to change this mindset. With the right practitioner, each treatment will provide a space of relaxation and forward movement. With time and patience, your body will  readjust, cleanse, heal and feel more and more balanced. The key word is time. Perhaps this is why we are called patients; because we should be practicing patience. :)

 

  • If one practitioner doesn’t resonate with you, it does not mean the entire medicine doesn’t resonate with you.  We all have specific needs in life and this is what makes diversity so beautiful. Keep in mind that Chinese medicine practitioners are not one and all the same. We have many different styles and specialties of practicing. Doing your research and asking the appropriate people in your community for a good referral is a great first step (I am always available to help!). If you are unsatisfied for whatever reason after your treatment, see if you can find someone else.  As in any relationship, we have to try things in order to know what is really best for us.
  •  Speak up! If you are uncomfortable in any way,  have any questions or concerns, or have positive feedback, say something! Do you think the treatment room is too cold or too warm? Do you like the music and ambiance? Or, does the needle in your leg feel funny? Whatever might be on your mind, I encourage you to speak up and let your practitioner know. This will only improve the quality of your experiences and help facilitate your body’s relaxation response for deeper healing. It is empowering to speak up for yourself. This time is all for you, make every moment worthwhile.
  • You are in charge. What this means is that it’s up to you to take care of yourself in between treatments. The road to health involves medical supervision, but most important, involves a lifestyle change. With a good practitioner, you will be sent home with dietary modifications, exercises, and/or suggestions on mental-emotional support. You are paying for this advice, and it is solely for your benefit. If you have questions, ask. If you need clarification or more recommendations, say so. If something comes up, you can get in touch with your practitioner in between visits.  However, your practitioner is not going to be there by your side each day to see what you are doing, so you need to make a commitment to do your work and show up for yourself each day. Some things come easier than others, and the most important thing in this process is to stay completely open and honest with yourself and your practitioner in order to continue receiving the support you need. You have a safe, judgement-free, healing space provided to serve and work with YOU. Make the best of it, and over time you might just see some incredible transformations. :)

Want to learn more about what I do? Check out my practice website: The Balance Point Acupuncture & Wellness

healthy fall.

I sent the post below via e-mail several weeks ago, and I felt it necessary to repost here for several reasons. One being, the very next day after writing it, I noticed the temperatures dropped significantly here in North Carolina. After leaving my house, I somehow convinced myself that I would be OK with the 3/4 length sleeved shirt I was wearing (and no scarf!!) since I was going to be either inside a building or car for the majority of the day. Retrospective thought: Oh, how the mind will think of anything to justify what we already know is a less than good idea! The several minutes I was outside, I felt the chilly air on the back of my neck and I just knew it was the point of no return, the onset of something. Sure enough, over the next few days my body started to feel fatigued and lethargic, and I developed the all- too- common Fall season cold. Does this sound familiar? Read on for some self-care tips on staying healthy this season from a Chinese medical perspective. 
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Now that fall is in the air, temperatures are shifting and the days are getting shorter. Chinese medicine has a lot to say about how we are influenced by natural cycles, and what we can do to prevent our bodies from being out of balance with these cycles. This time of the year is associated with the element/energy of Metal and the organ systems of Lung and Large Intestine. Therefore, now is a good time to focus on strengthening our respiratory and digestive systems. Here are some useful tips on how to do this for optimal health in the upcoming season:
 
  • Regular Acupuncture: Seasonal changes can be a time of turmoil as an individual’s qi (energy) might be out of harmony with the frequency of the season. Fall is the perfect time to take preventative action. Ward off illness and changes in mood with acupuncture treatments this autumn and start the school year, or just the cooler weather in general, with a balanced body, mind and spirit. Consistent acupuncture treatments assist in relieving stress, help you get sounder sleep and re-balance your energy. It can help boost your immune function and settle the mind.
  • Sleep: Notice that nature is slowing down, contracting, and preparing to rest so it is natural for us to sleep a little longer than in the summer months. Focus on relaxation in the evening hours. Autumn is associated with late afternoon and evening time, and getting ready for the still, deep energy of the winter.
  • Eat warming root vegetables, whole grains and hearty foods like soups, stews, and broths. Incorporating seasonal foods in your diet helps to connect the energetics of the season with the nourishment of your body.  These foods will also work well to flush out and protect the intestines. When it comes to flavors, think pungent. Pungent and slightly spicy foods have a powerful up and out direction in the body, and this traditionally helps stimulate the lungs and break up any excess mucus. Try adding onions, ginger, garlic, leeks, radishes and turnips to your meals. Cayenne, ginger and curry also promote good digestion and elimination.
  • Protect your lungs by drinking plenty of fluids, doing a daily sinus rinse and wearing a scarf. The back of our neck is a particularly vulnerable place where cold and wind can invade easily and compromise our immune system, so cover up! 
  • Regular Exercise. Movement is essential year-round. Even with the fall and winter chill you want to maintain your exercise regimen. It will help reduce the seasonal depression that tends to crop up as the days become shorter, allow you to stay at a healthy body weight, improve your health, and let energy flow unimpeded. Try at least 30 minutes of cardio on most days of the week and be sure to include strength training.
  • Always go back to the breath. Add a deep breathing and meditation practice to your daily routine by expanding your chest, opening your lungs, and breathing in deep to honor and nourish your body! In fall, we tend to be more introspective and it’s time to let go of emotions that no longer serve us. Take advantage of this opportunity by meditating to keep calm and focused. Strengthen your lung qi by setting aside time each day for breathing exercises. Take a yoga class or try Qigong to quiet the mind. Mindful breath work has so many benefits like eliminating toxins, releasing tension and pain, bringing a sense of clarity, and improving your quality of sleep.
 
Wishing you a healthy and peaceful season!

return.

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Hello friends,

After a 6 month hiatus, my writer’s cap is back on and I’m excited to start posting here more regularly.

So, why 6 long months without an update, you ask? Well, life has been full of changes, transitions, and new beginnings that have required most of my attention and energy. I’ve relocated to Chapel Hill, NC and have since opened a practice, The Balance Point Acupuncture & Wellness, which has been an incredible experience on so many levels. I feel humbled, honored, excited, and full of so much gratitude to finally be at this point in my career to be able to put the knowledge and skills I’ve acquired to action through treatments, workshops, volunteering, and, once again, writing.

I’ve been building a great community here and keeping really busy embracing the Carolina life. In March, I started a year-long yoga teacher training which has done nothing but reaffirm (over and over again) all of the efforts I’ve put into building this journey for myself. So, overall, with its ups and downs, life has been good.

What to expect from here on out: A little less on the “How-To’s” and a little more vulnerability and depth around the health and wellness issues that are prevalent in our day to day lives. Most of my writing inspiration comes from personal experience, and I feel that’s the best place to stay in order to really connect with all of you.

Thank you for all of your support, from near and far. I am forever grateful to have this space to share the inner workings of my mind.

Always,
Colleen :)

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Guest Post: The Benefits of Drinking Green Tea Daily

healthy green tea cup with tea leaves

“Healing doesn’t just take a little time, it also takes commitment to get started and to complete the process.” 
― Sereda Aleta Dailey

Green tea! You may have heard of it, you may already drink it regularly. Does it actually do that much good for the body? The answer is yes! Having one cup of green tea a day is actually one of the best things anyone can do to improve their health.

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Choose Your Own Adventure: 3 Ways to Break Free from Unhealthy Life Practices by: Eric Koch

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“Everything in your life is a reflection of a choice you have made. If you want a different result, make a different choice.”  — Nishan Panwar

I was 10 years old when I was introduced to the Choose Your Own Adventure book series. I wasn’t an avid reader at the time so I found that the books came in handy for school presentations; I could decide how the story would end up based on decisions I made on each page, and I often cheated death by jumping ahead to see what was in store for the protagonist.

While I was entertained when reading these adventure stories, the fun was short lived as I was told the books were banned from being used for future presentations. Bummer.

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Ideas For Your Gluten-Free Pantry

GF_Fact-Sheet-Shopping-List

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

–Thomas Edison

Years ago I discovered I had several food sensitivities, the primary one being gluten. It was an overwhelming sense of relief at the time, as I was happy to learn what was triggering my body to feel so fatigued and less than optimal, but when I reflected on all the food in my kitchen, I felt everything was going to have to go. Being in grad school, I didn’t know if I had the time or the money to reinvent my meal plan.

After getting over the initial rush of  feelings, I came to my senses and made it a priority to learn what the best options were for me. At the time, more gluten-free and wheat-free options were showing up at supermarkets and health food stores, but it wasn’t as mainstreamed as it is now, so I had to do my research.

What I wish I had when I was starting out on my gluten-free journey was a basic list of staples to have in the kitchen; foods that still provided the essential nutrients and flavor my body needed to continue to feel nurtured and energized. I’ve read many gluten-free blogs and websites and picked up tips from amazing cooks, chefs, and do-it-yourself men and women. These gluten-free pioneers have done a lot of the base work for us in creating recipes and introducing certain products that serve as wonderful alternatives while cooking. What I’m providing for you is a list of my personal favorites that make cooking and following gluten-free recipes much easier without the hassle of having to always run to the grocery store. 

*BONUS*: For each product, I’ve provided a convenient link via vitacost.com, one of this little lark’s affiliates, and my personal favorite on-line site to shop for quality organic, gluten-free products at a discounted rate. Many of these products are not always available in local stores and with free shipping when you spend over $49 (which is very easy) it really can’t be beat!*

Whether you are gluten-free or not, I created the following shopping list to support your healthy living journey. It’s a wonderful idea to continue experimenting with new foods and recipes in the kitchen to keep your taste buds happy and your body well nourished. Variety is the spice of life. It can be boring to eat the same foods every day. This pertains to all food groups. There is not one single food that can give you all the essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs. By choosing a variety, we can add enjoyment to our meals and get the added benefits of a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. Consider the following to add dimension to your gluten-free diet. All products should be used in addition to fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins to maintain a well-balanced diet. Enjoy! : )

 

Ideas For Your Gluten-Free Pantry 

(Just click on the image for product details!)

GRAINS & LEGUMES: Quinoa, Red Lentils, Black Beans, Buckwheat, Brown Rice, Millet, Quinoa Pasta 

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FLOURS & MEALS: All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour, Coconut Flour,  Ground FlaxSeed Meal, Almond Meal

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NUTS: Walnuts, Almonds, Cashews

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FLAVORS & VERSATILE: Organic Tamari Sauce, Curry Powder, Nori Sheets (a great alternative to wraps and making endless varieties of sushi and spring rolls!), Herbamore, Chicken Broth, Vegetable Broth

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SWEETENERS: Medjool Dates, Raw Honey, Apple Sauce

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P.S. Stay tuned for: Essentials For The Gluten-Free Baker and Essentials For Your Dairy-Free Pantry!

*thislittlelark.org receives a small commission from affiliates like vitacost.com when you purchase through these unique links (by clicking on the image or text url).  These commissions are used to help support the site’s maintenance, helping to bring you more inspiration each day! :) Please know that it is always your choice whether you want to use one of these links to purchase.  This disclaimer serves to give you the option to make whatever choice works best for you.

4 Ways To Start Eating Right for YOU

FINGERPRINT

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

― Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

The following is a guest post from Elle Gallatin, creator of Sweet Zen Wellness. She dives into the paradox of choice that our society faces each day when it comes to food, diets, and how to make the best decisions with all of these fads and trends. Sometimes these simple reminders are what it takes to quiet all the noise that our external world is constantly bombarding us with. Be kind to yourself, and always listen to what is best for YOU. –this little lark

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An Artistic Yogini’s Inspiring Journey (+giveaway!)

Surfacing ©Rhonna Del Rio-Ascolese

Surfacing
©Rhonna Del Rio-Ascolese

“It’s no longer a ‘challenge’ to stay the course, but a ‘decision’ to do so.” 

–Rhonna Del Rio-Ascolese

I connected with Rhonna through this little lark’s blog a couple of years ago. She wrote a lovely guest post for us about feng shui (soon to be available in the archives) and since then, I’ve enjoyed following her journey as an artist and yogini through her own blog and facebook page. Recently, she created a short documentary about her journey and it has since been nominated best spot feature, best cinematography, and best score at the OC Film Festival.

I was moved and inspired by her grace and determination and asked her if she’d be interested in doing a Q&A for our blog. She enthusiastically agreed, and the following is what we came up with. I hope you enjoy her story, words of wisdom, and the warmth and thought she put into each answer! 

BONUS GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post and you will be entered to win a print of your choice of Rhonna’s work! Winner will be selected Friday, February 21st at 5pm EST :)

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On Love.

© thislittlelark.org

Unconditional Love
©thislittlelark.org

“Love is a state of being. Your love is not outside: it is deep within you. You can never lose it, and it can never leave you. It is not dependent on some other body, some external form. In the stillness of your presence, you can feel your own formless and timeless reality as the unmanifested life that animates your physical form. You can then feel the same life deep within every other human and every other creature. You look beyond the veil of form and separation. This is the realization of oneness. This is love.” -Eckhart Tolle-

Our modern-day Valentine’s Day, removed from its religious and pagan past, has evolved into one of the most celebrated holidays on the calendar. However you choose to feel about it– whether you thrive on going all out with romantic gestures or find yourself resisting the industry that is created around these holidays– I’d like to invite you to think of it as an opportune moment to pause, reflect, and honor what is really being celebrated: LOVE. 

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Simply Divine Orange Zest Cacao Truffles

Divine Organics Cacao Nibs

Raw cacao nibs photo courtesy of Divine Organics

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“Food is a passion. Food is love.”

–Hector Elizondo–

For those with a sweet tooth, this healthy recipe for cacao truffles is for you! Antioxidant-rich cacao nibs  are becoming a popular addition to baked goods, providing numerous health benefits compared to conventional store bought chocolate candy, bars, and powders. Check out the useful health benefit chart below, provided by Raw For Beauty

Health Benefits of Raw Cacao

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I’ve been experimenting with cacao nibs in the kitchen and have successfully made several batches of these healthy, organic, gluten-free, and dairy-free truffles with amazing feedback from my taste testers. These make a perfect snack for those on the go, or a guilt-free dessert to serve after a delicious meal. Let me know what you think and if you make any successful modifications, please share in the comment section below! : )

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Happy New Year Of The Wood Horse!

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“Prosperity depends more on wanting what you have than having what you want.” 

- Albert F. Geoffrey -

On Friday, January 31, we will start to feel an energetic shift as we welcome the uplifting, optimistic, and inspiring year of the Wood Horse! 

The Chinese New Year starts on the second new moon after the winter solstice and lasts until the following full moon. This 15 day period is a time where families and friends gather, share special traditional meals, and give gifts to symbolize their wishes for a prosperous year ahead. This time also marks the start of spring.

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When You Love Your Body You Radiate Inner Beauty

Self Love

Beauty does not respond to hate – it responds to love.”

- Lana Zincone -

We unknowingly validate our negative beliefs with our own self-talk. We say, “I hate my thighs, my butt is too big, my arms are too fat, I’ll never be skinny.” And when we affirm these negative beliefs long enough, we create self-fulfilling prophecies that, in turn, become our reality. If our belief is that we’ll never look the way we want, then we never will.

These self-fulfilling prophecies are created from the insecurities we have about our body image, and they only serve to reinforce these beliefs. Sadly, as a result, they eventually begin to affect our actions. We find ourselves eating emotionally, turning to food for comfort, and struggling to keep the weight off. We don’t understand why this is happening. We’ve created our own reality without even realizing it.

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All About Salt.

 

Clockwise from top: Maldon Sea Salt, Fleur de Sel de Camargue, Japanese Seaweed Salt, Jacobsen Salt Co. Flake Salt and Himalayan Pink Salt F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal

Clockwise from top: Maldon Sea Salt, Fleur de Sel de Camargue, Japanese Seaweed Salt, Jacobsen Salt Co. Flake Salt and Himalayan Pink Salt F. Martin Ramin/The Wall Street Journal 

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”  

-Jim Rohn-

Salt is something that humans have always consumed as part of a healthy diet. Unfortunately, claims that it contributes to heart disease and increases blood pressure have left many people afraid to use salt. While it’s true that too much sodium (like too much of anything) can lead to adverse health effects, it’s inaccurate to think of salt as something that’s “bad for us”. The truth is that salt is essential to life, and our bodies need a constant supply of it. Most salt that people use is of very poor quality and is certainly not the best representation of all that salt has to offer. Instead of being wary of using salt, I think we have more to gain by beginning to use quality salt in a way that contributes to our health. 

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Dr. Bieler’s Healing Broth

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“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.”

– Buddha -

B I E L E R   B R O T H. Whenever I feel stressed, fatigued, or under the weather, I make myself a batch of healing Bieler Broth. This whole-foods detoxifying broth is gentle and revitalizing. It aids in liver cleansing, supports the adrenals, reduces back and ligament problems, and increases the body’s overall energy. 

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The Illusion of Separateness

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“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”

- Thich Nhat Hanh -

As I round the corner to finish my final year in Naturopathic and Chinese Medical School, I’ve been thinking a lot about what natural medicine really is.

What I thought it was, when I started. And what I now know it to be.

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2014: Feel Good, Be Good, and Do Good.

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“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

- Mahatma Gandhi -

The countdown to 2014 has begun! In mere hours, we will be ringing in the new year; spirits hopefully high, and goals set to try to make the upcoming year filled with success, health, love and accomplishments.

We make resolutions because we have a natural tendency towards self-improvement. We want the best for ourselves and the world we live in. However, too often our January 1st enthusiasm quickly falls by the wayside.  Sometimes, as soon as mid-January, our goals are abandoned completely.

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Happy “Stress-Free” Holidays!

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“You are the sky. Everything else – it’s just the weather.”

– Pema Chödrön

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Winter is a time of year where our bodies and nature are in their most restorative states. With the lack of daylight and colder weather (in most places), we naturally want to retreat and be still. This is also the time of year where the holiday season kicks off at the end of November and carries through to the start of the new year. How will our bodies relax and restore while also showing up for the celebrations and gatherings that accompany the holiday season? 

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