Skip to content

The Yin and Yang of our Minds

Modified Landscape from Plane Pearl Michel - Copy

Life is making us all stretch a bit more than we think we can these days.  But the part that needs more emphasis, more stretching, is the right hemisphere of our brains, not the left.  Insomnia, overthinking, worrying, even the “high” of constantly being plugged in to our computers are all examples of left hemisphere focus and over-activity.   Wherever we put our attention, that’s where our synapses grow. The eyes and vision are constantly being over-stimulated by computers, flat screen reading on smart phones, tablets and TVs.

All this focused laser-like mental activity is substituting drive for stamina. We wind up draining what
reserves we have, drying up our body fluids and essence, further depleting our stamina.  This issue has been raising its head lately with clients, as well as myself, and so I thought it would be a good topic for this blog.

We live in a culture that revels in imagery and quick, compacted information to be sorted at some point, creating a great deal of clutter in our heads.  And like cleaning our rooms or desks, there needs to be time to sort and empty what is useful from what is not.  It is the right hemisphere of our brains that is responsible for this practice of emptying our minds, which is basically turning down the left hemisphere activity.   Clearing one’s mind could be as simple as establishing a block of time for reflection or daydreaming watching the clouds go by.  Or it could be more structured as in meditation,  chanting mantras, or  prayer.

The right hemisphere is also where our other senses thrive, as well as our holistic vision, where our overview perspective exists, rather than our linear 2 dimensional “flat” mindset.  In Chinese medicine it is the Yin aspect of our minds, [the receptive, the substantive, the reflective part] which needs to balance the Yang aspect [the collecting, the inquiring, the sharp focus part].

Yin Yang 2

Then there are the activities that require both sides of the brain together, utilizing yin within yang and yang within yin.  That is the latest Neuroscience information, that we use different parts of both hemispheres to do different tasks.  These activities can include playing or listening to music, writing or listening to poetry, creating art, practicing visualizations,  cooking, or just being outside smelling the air and luxuriating in the sun, or listening to birds during their morning symphony.  These activities can be used to create balance in our minds and in our lives.

Here is a side note:

Learning a musical instrument is so important in grade and middle school because in utilizing both hands we are developing both hemispheres of our young brains as well as the nerve fibers between them. And this enhances overall brain function. Children who study a musical instrument do better in math and reading. And by playing in a band or orchestra they also learn cues from others,  an important function of combined hemisphere activity.

There is an exercise I once read about that was a true awakening for me about the First-Nations people.
Part of the training of a young warrior’s life was going out into the forest, then sitting and looking around.  After a few minutes, the young child closed their eyes and began telling what they saw, or as much as they could remember.  Seeing is more than just our eyes and vision.  It’s also our brain’s interpretation of what sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and sensory information available.

This poses the question:
What do you really see when you look? Are you looking with your whole brain or only part of your brain?
Here is a Ted talk that put a whole new light on right and left brain activity for me. Enjoy and practice the yin yang balance of brain activity as often as you can.
Peace.

 

 

Balancing the Emotions Part 3: Decluttering the Mind & Heart

Yin Yang 2When we think of clutter, we think of our garages, attics, basements, spare rooms, closets, and desks. Rarely are we aware of all the clutter in our minds, all the past and future plans, and in our hearts, all the emotional baggage we carry from past injuries and future fears. We forget that all that clutter takes up residence in our bodies, manifesting in pain and illnesses. Creating space between ourselves and this clutter is another aspect of using the Finger holds to balance our emotions and soothe our overwhelming or default feelings.

In my own practice of this exercise I find there are fingers I tend to gravitate toward. These are “my feelings”, and like a scratch on an old vinyl record, it’s easy to get stuck in one or more of them. Occasionally I find that my hand is gripping a particular finger, even though my breath is deep and even. That’s a clue that I am more emotionally invested in a particular train of thought than I expected. It’s part of being aware of my body, mind, and emotions. It’s all part of letting go, and as I do, my jaw releases a little, my chest opens a bit more,, and my body relaxes…..

This is the awareness part of the exercise, watching myself as I breathe, gently holding each finger, moving from finger to finger, and finishing palm to palm.  I try to do both hands, or even just one hand, because the palm to palm is so important. See below.

One last thing, some viewers wanted to know if there were positive aspects to these meridians on the fingers.  So…here is more information about the gifts of each hand meridian as well as it’s challenges.

The Movement of the Metal Element:
Taking in what we need and letting go of what no longer serves us, helps us create healthy boundaries.

  • Thumb  Lung Meridian – Breathing deeply unlocks the diaphragm, whose motion massages our organs and intestines.
  • Index Finger  Large Intestine – takes in water, lets go of waste

The Gates to the Fire element:
The boundaries in our chest, neck, and shoulders can either be membranes or steel vaults.

  • Middle Finger   Pericardium,  Heart protector
  • Ring Finger   Triple Heater, Guardian of our metabolism and the movement of water

The Movement of Fire:
Learning to trust our hearts and guts can give us a reliable road-map to move through the world.

Pinky Finger

  • Heart – The place in our chest where our Shen /Awareness resides; our compassion, our kindnesses
  • Small Intestine – That which helps us assimilate our nourishment, our experiences

Our CenterOur ability to step back and observe, creating some space between our thoughts, feelings, and events in our lives.

  • The Palm – That which grounds us, the place of meditation and reflection

Below is the finger holds video, in case you need to review.

Thanks for watching..
Elen

Balancing the Emotions Part 2: Cultivating Peace

I’ve gotten some feedback from clients which has been both interesting and inspiring for this second blog. Using the Finger Holds exercise to go to sleep is an excellent way to use this technique, and  is very helpful for  working with one or more emotions or meridians. It really helps to soothe insomnia.

In my own practice, I find that doing this practice in the morning upon waking serves as my morning meditation. Especially if I take a minute for each finger and ground with the palm to palm, then do the other hand. This allows me to move the energy through each meridian, creating a smoother flow between the emotions or feelings. And the palm to palm allows me to center myself, creating a space between me and my emotions.

Yet there are times when I sense no emotion, just random thoughts or memories which if I allow to come and go, gives me a degree of separation so I can let go and see myself and my actions more clearly. Zen poets say it’s like watching the river, or the  ocean.

Some people wait for a pulsing sensation before moving to the next finger. And that can be a more traditional way of doing this technique. But if time is short, I believe this technique will work in the simpler version mentioned above.

Remembering to breathe during this exercise, no matter what thoughts or emotions arise, can break the habitual pattern of holding our breath during difficult times of crisis or stress. Holding our breath or continual shallow breathing during those waves of strong feelings around old injuries or losses, can lock those emotions or memories into the cells, tissues, and meridians of our bodies. These locked cells, tissues, muscles, often prevent the body from self-regulating, causing physical pain and illness.

Focusing on the breath and allowing our thoughts and feelings to come and go as we move from finger to finger, helps to unlock old patterns and rewires the brain as well as the connections [meridians] of our bodies, minds, emotional landscape, and self-awareness; creating and cultivating peace and health.

Feel free to let me know how this practice is going for you.

Peace

Elen

 

Balancing the Emotions Part 1: Cultivating Peace

After watching the video I realized that there was more to this story than just explaining how to do this technique. It is true that balancing our emotions uses the acupuncture meridians in the hands to moderate the movement of qi in our mental, emotional, physical, and perceptive awareness’s.
Yet it is our perceptive awareness, our Shen, that makes this technique so powerful.

In that light, two aspects of this exercise need further exploration.
The first is: holding a particular finger and allowing ourselves to feel or sense whatever happens, not trying to do anything except breathe.
The second is: cultivating a rhythm of moving through our emotions, learning to be present in our sensing, and finding peace. Practicing this exercise at the same time, place, and for the same amount of time each day can create a stronger sense of rhythm, and moving through our emotions becomes easier.

Allowing and developing a sense of rhythm and presence are keys to cultivating peace.
There is an inner stillness or silence that can be entered with practice. Peace and silence isn’t an absence of noise or emotion, just as health is not just the absence of illness.
Rather peace is a centeredness, an awareness of the dance of movement and stillness, a cultivation of being present in our lives.

“The way of Silence is more joyful than most other spiritual practices mainly because it is not a path at all, and only requires that we look around and “feel”. And as we notice these qualities of noise, it is possible to clear them, though not by doing anything in particular. Each time we notice some new noise we also find it possible to go even deeper into Silence, and this is the deepening that does the clearing.” [Robert Sardello – Silence: The Mystery of Wholeness]

Another way to practice this technique is to go outside, sensing our emotions with the sounds and silences of nature – the wind, the birds, sounds of a park, of the beach, of a sunrise or sunset. Learning to carry our inner stillness with us in the world not just in moments of meditation, this is truly a practice of gratitude for being alive.

Update on this website

Cloud photo 2

(c) Elen Lauper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just a quick update to let you know how this site is changing.

There is now a new menu tab called Self-Care Tools. The sub menus are Videos, Handouts, and Links I Use. So it is no longer necessary to use the sidebar on the Blog page to access My You Tube Channel, or links to other resources.

You talked, I listened. So please feel free to give feedback.

Over the course of the next few weeks I will be adding more videos to my site and you tube channels. If you would like to be informed when new additions are available, please subscribe to my you tube channel.

On the Handout tab there will be more self-care exercises available in PDF form for you to download and print. This is an easier process than creating videos, so I anticipate creating many of these.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Peace