Intro to Meditation

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Most people don’t have a regular meditation practice. I can’t stress to patients enough the importance of  a coping mechanism for the stressors of everyday life.

We are, at our core, animals. From our deepest roots, our fight or flight is a gut reaction to outside stressors. Instead of being chased by tigers, like our ancestors, we have families with constant demands, deadlines at work, and never-ending to-do lists.

So how often are you in that fight or flight mode? Is it a constant that is slowly (or quickly) draining your adrenals, affecting your sleep, or causing you digestive upset? Do you get tension headaches? Migraines? Panic attacks? What is your coping mechanism? Do you have one?

People decompress in many ways: running, reading, therapy, yoga, etc. Having an outlet for stress from a physical and emotional perspective is important, but there is a mind-body connection that can go overlooked. We are also energetic and spiritual beings and it’s important to address all the aspects of ourselves for better health and happiness.

The benefits of meditation are numerous. It takes the body out of that fight-or-flight mode into a state of calm. This allows the body to function better, digestion moves more smoothly, inflammation decreases and tension melts. It’s a way to interconnect with self. It’s an even better way to interconnect with other humans.

So, that being said, the question is: “how do I get started?” Many people think meditation is sitting in a quiet spot and not thinking. It’s nearly impossible for the average person to do this effectively, so here are some tips I recommend to get started.

  • Set up your space

Having a designated meditation spot helps create an environment of calm. Set up a space away from technology and noise; put your phone in the other room or out of reach, face down and on silent mode. You can light a candle, or put on an oil diffuser with relaxing music.

Get a yoga mat, a pillow or a meditation pillow and set up a comfortable place for you to sit or lie down. If thinking about your meditation space gives you an immediate sense of calm and well-being, you are doing it right! If not, don’t be afraid to change things. Maybe you like more lighting, or silence. Play around with different environments until you get the right one.

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  • Set a time limit

Realistically, your first session isn’t going to be a huge, transformational, 3-hour interconnection with god. You’re going to be impatient, you’re going to think about groceries, and work, and the kids (who’s picking them up again?). THAT’S OK. Your mind is going to wander.

Start with 3-5 minutes. Set a timer on your phone, put it face down- out of hands reach and start. 3-5 minutes a day to start, not bad, right?

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  • Settle into the chaos- be present

As you sit there, where are you? Like I said, your mind is going to wander into a thousand different directions (you’ll be shocked at the tangents you can explore as you try to settle into silence.) So let the thoughts come in, let them linger shortly, then let them go. They aren’t going to help you right now, in this space, in this body. Be as present as possible.

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  • Breathe

There are some breathing techniques that can help distract your thoughts and calm your body and mind.

Start with counting the breath, breathing in to the count of three, breathing out to the count of three. Over time (and several meditation sessions) build up to seven. Or add a pause at the end of each breath, holding the breath out and holding the breath in.

There are more advanced breath work options available the more you practice. Some of my favorites are alternative nostril breath and three part breathing. Start slow, then gain momentum.

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  • Make it a habit

You need to make meditation a part of your every day routine. How do you do that? Schedule it! Add it to your google calendar for the same time every day. Will you meditate every day if it’s first thing in the morning when you get up, or do you find it more helpful at night after the kids have gone to bed, when you can wind down and use it to prep for sleep? You decide, but make it a regular part of your day.

Like most things, the more you practice, the easier it becomes! Be patient with yourself and the process. It’s definitely worth the patience and dedication and will soon shape you into a more patient and calm human!

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Regular acupuncture visits also help calm the mind and will assist with your regular meditation practice. If you’d like to schedule a visit, click here for scheduling. Otherwise, check out my website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for more information.

 

Be well,

Lexy

 

 

Natural Allergy Remedies

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Many patients come in and ask me, does Acupuncture treat seasonal allergies?

The short answer: YES!

The Long Answer: Acupuncture treats immune health, inflammation, red & itchy eyes, sneezing, runny nose, and headaches. The key is sticking to weekly treatments and listening to your very wise Acupuncturist’s advice. I will usually have patients start weekly visits halfway through March (I am located in Massachusetts- it may vary depending on your location) and continue through April/May. For Fall allergies, starting mid-august through the end of October. Acupuncture works, but even better preventatively- you don’t have to suffer!

Outside of acupuncture, there are some other great modalities I’ve discovered and utilized over the years:

Local Honey

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Honey can be used as a cough syrup and to reduce inflammation. It also contains trace amounts of flower pollen. Exposure to small amounts of allergens repetitively may reduce allergy symptoms. My favorite local honey is from Little Beehive Farm in Holliston, MA.

Neti Pot

Himalayan Chandra Porcelain Neti Pot - Nasal Cleansing Pot, Allergy Relief, Sinus Cleansing Pot. Medications and Treatments

Neti Pots use gravity to filter saline solution through the sinuses, clearing allergens and cleansing the nasal passages. I recommend investing in a ceramic option, my favorite is from Himilayan Chandra, also available in-office! It’s totally safe to use the neti pot daily, usually at the end of the day to flush out allergens. If your nasal passages start to feel too dry, use it every other day instead.

Vital Nutrients - Aller-C (Quercetin, Vitamin C, and Bioflavonoids) - Respiratory & Sinus Support with Hesperidin - Gluten Free - 100 CapsulesAller-C

Aller-C by Vital Nutrients is a supplement option that offers sinus and respiratory support. When taken daily, it can reduce allergy symptoms. Follow instructions, and talk to your local healthcare practitioner if you have questions or wonder how it would fit in your daily routine.

 

Tea

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Eucalyptus, Green tea, peppermint & ginger tea help treat allergy symptoms including inflammation, sore throat, itching and redness. My favorite brands are Traditional Medicinals and Yogi. Add some honey for added support.

Get an air purifier

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An air purifier can clear pollen, animal dander and other allergens from the air in your home. Keeping an air purifier running during the day and at night may help with allergies. Just make sure you remember to vacuum the filter weekly and change carbon filters every 3 months. My favorite air purifier that won’t break the bank here.

Yoga

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Yoga can help boost immunity and in particular, pranayama (or breathwork) can increase lung capacity and function. Start with a three part breath: sitting in  comfortable seated position, break the inhale into three breaths. Start filling the chest, then fill the ribs, then the abdomen. When you exhale, start at the bottom and work your way up, engaging abdominal muscles at the end of the breath to release as much air as possible. Repeat 10-20 times.

Acupuncture

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Acupuncture supports lung function and boosts immunity. It helps prepare the body for allergy season by increasing Lung Qi (Lung energy) and grounding the system. It reduces inflammatory response and is a great alternative to medication.

Why can’t I just use over the counter medication?

Short-term affects of anticholinergic drugs (like Benadryl) include fatigue, dry mouth, brain fog and constipation. A study from the University of Washington found that long term use gave users an increased risk of dementia. Be aware of the risks of any medication and treatment, including the natural ones! Be an advocate and an educator for your own health.

 

If you’d like to schedule a visit, click here for scheduling. Check out my website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for more information on acupuncture, yoga and natural treatments.

Be well,

Lexy

 

 

 

Immune Health

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Is it me, or has there been A LOT of stuff going around this winter season? Even at the tail end, I’ve had patients coming in with congestion, runny noses, coughing and sneezing! Here are my helpful tips on how to avoid getting sick, what to do at the beginning of an illness, mid-illness and after illness to rebuild. Remember, the best and most effective way to avoid illness is to wash your hands thoroughly!

The signs you might be coming down with something

As invincible as we may feel, we often ignore the initial signs of getting a cold. Things like  fatigue, aching neck, or a sneeze here and there. In Chinese medicine, the neck aka the “wind-gate” allows pathogens to enter the body. The two main pathogens we consider is wind-heat or wind-cold. Wind-heat usually manifests with a sore throat, feeling warm, yellow or green-colored phlegm, and aversion to heat. Wind-cold usually manifests with chills, aversion to cold, stiffness in body or neck, headache, and white or clear-colored phlegm.

So what can you do?

Be proactive.

Cover your wind-gate! Wear a scarf, or a hoodie to keep the back of the neck warm and protected.

Boost your immunity through regular acupuncture visits, yoga, plenty of water intake (at least 1 liter per day), healthy diet (see my blog about making changes that last) and exercise.  During cold and flu season, especially if you think you may be regularly exposed, take a daily dose of vitamin C, garlic, or echinacea and goldenseal. Boost Lung qi through breath work and meditation. Get plenty of sleep (see my blog about sleep hygiene)!

Get a neti pot! I know it sounds crazy, but the neti pot clears the sinuses, clearing out allergens and inflammatory particles. It works great preventatively and can also be used once you are stuffed up and miserable.

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The minute you feel any of the early symptoms…

This means your cold is still on the exterior, you want to knock it out before it goes interior.

  • Make an appointment with your acupuncturist same day, if possible.
  • Boost your vitamin C intake.
  • Massage the base of the skull to stimulate the wind gate.
  • Massage Liver 3 and Large Intestine 4 acupuncture points.
  • Take an epsom salt bath with 2 cups of salts and a couple slices of fresh ginger
  • Drink a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (or fire cider) mixed with 4 oz. of warm water.
  • Neti Pot!
  • Gan Mao Ling is a commonly prescribed Chinese Herb to take in the early signs of illness, please before taking an supplements talk to an herbalist or health care provider.

So you missed the signs…

Now you’re sick, and miserable, and sad. Here are some things you can do to feel a little better.

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After you get better

Sometimes, once we feel better, we forget we were ever sick! Being sick depletes the body, it’s important to build yourself and your immunity back up with acupuncture. Acupuncture is an amazing preventative treatment. Many of my patients come once a month to once every 6 weeks for maintenance. We rebalance the system, move stagnations and build deficiencies.

Contact me, follow me on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or read my blog for more information on how Acupuncture can help you!

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Be well!

Lexy

Easy Detox

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After all the holiday eating, drinking, and being merry, I think we’re all in need of some serious detox. But what exactly does that entail? There are lot of options for detox, but what’s right for you?

Here are some easy tips to incorporate into your already very busy life!

 

Cut out the bad stuff

There are a lot of things that can wreak havoc on our insides. Many create inflammation and affect the way our bodies process food. Eliminate caffeine, any drugs or alcohol, gluten, refined sugars, and dairy to start. Check out my Making Changes that Last blog for more information on how to change your diet progressively.

My Tip: Read your food labels! What are you actually putting in your body? Look for things like artificial sweeteners (Aspartame, Sucralose, Saccharine- check out a full list here), genetically modified ingredients (check out the Non-GMO Project), high Fructose Corn Syrup (now labeled as fructose or fructose syrup), nitrites (found frequently in hot dogs and sandwich meat), artificial coloring or flavoring, and over-processed foods. Here is more information from the FDA about food ingredients, additives and colors.

Drink at least 90 ounces of water a day

Water is necessary for the body to function. Most of our bodies are used to running dehydrated because we do not drink enough water! Water is essential to maintain a healthy balance of body fluids. These body fluids are necessary for digestion, circulation, muscle tone and beautiful skin!

My Tip: Check out my instagram, for my favorite detox water recipe.

Green Tea

Green tea is great to boost metabolism, it moves stagnation and clears impurities in the system. Don’t go too overboard, it has caffeine and may keep you awake at night- try to intake it in the morning to early afternoon, no more than a few cups a day.

Detox Bath

I’m going to let you in on my favorite detox bath recipe. By adding essential oils to castille soap first, they become more water-soluble and don’t just float in the tub. If you’re not a bath person, you can either add the oils to a diffuser or to a carrier oil to apply topically.

Ingredients:

6 drops Clove Bud Oil

5 Drops Lemon Oil

2 Drops Cinnamon  Bark Oil

2 Drops Eucalyptus Oil

1 Drop Rosemary Oil

2-4 Tbsp Castille Soap

2 Cups Epsom Salt

Instructions: Combine Essential Oils with 2-4 tbsp of castille soap in a small container, add mixture with 2 cups of epsom salt to bath, soak at least 20 minutes and enjoy!

Exercise

Cardiovascular health is always important. The heart pumps oxygenated blood throughout your system, allowing your body to function properly. A healthy body starts with a healthy heart. From a Chinese Perspective, exercise moves stagnation in the body. Stagnation is the cause of disease, by moving the body, we move stagnation.

My Tip: Start small. Add in 2 days a week of 20 minutes cardio, this can be as simple as a brisk walk!

Meditation

A good detox can’t be successful without a little mind-body connection. Being mindful helps productivity and lowers stress levels. Check out this article for how to start a meditation practice if you don’t already have one!

Yoga

Yoga calms the mind and moves stagnation. Hot yoga helps you sweat out toxins! Lots of studios offer new member specials or a free first class, so it’s easy to try!

My Tip: Be wary, if you do take a hot yoga class, be sure to drink plenty of water before and after and listen to your body! Not everyone is made to be folded up like a pretzel or to stand on their head.

Acupuncture

I have a specific detox protocol, but acupuncture can help assist with detox in a few ways. It moves stagnation (see exercise above), regulates metabolism, regulates fluids and calms the mind. If you’d like to schedule a visit, click here for scheduling. Otherwise, check out my website, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for more information.

 

Be Well,

Lexy