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Are you Looking but not Seeing?

One of the things I noticed during the lockdown was how often I have my head down looking at my phone.  I eventually uninstalled Facebook, not only because I was looking at it far too much, but also because it made me feel bad for not totally redecorating the house or learning a new language.

Things are looking up

I did, however, start to walk more; mainly to simply get out of the house (and ignore the decorating that needed to be done), but it was also an opportunity to clear my head.  One day I just happened to look up and noticed a building I had never seen before.  I’ve lived in Southend all my life and have probably walked/run/cycled/driven past this building a thousand times over the last 50 years, so how could I have never seen this building before? And then it dawned on me that I never look up; or more accurately, I look but I don’t see.  So I started to look up as I walked.

Behind the facade

If you have walked down Southend high street in the last 50 or 60 years, you would have noticed that architecturally it’s a 1960s modernistic nightmare.  Whoever was in charge of town planning in the post-war years was seriously lacking in inspiration and designed simply for functionality (although he deserves a pat on the back for the old central library, which is a lovely piece of post-modern architecture).  If you look closely, most of the original buildings in the high street are still there, just hidden behind facades.

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Southend Central Library

Looking without Seeing

My point is, I suppose, is that it’s funny how we can look without seeing.  Most things we do, I guess, are not done consciously.  We just float through our lives never looking up and doing what we are told, either through conditioning or simply for a quiet life.  For example, we all know how easy it is to decide whether we like someone the moment we lay eyes on them.   It takes just 3 seconds from meeting someone and making a judgement as to whether you like that person or not.   But this is so flawed.  In my experience, the person I initially judge to be the biggest plonker usually turns out to be my best friend!

Becoming instinctual

In his excellent book Bounce, Matthew Syed explains how the brain is too slow to react to a tennis ball approaching at 120mph, but instead, by practicing for thousands of thousands of hours, the muscle reaction must become instinctual to ensure the racket is in the right place in a millionth of a second.  Kung fu experts have known this for thousands of years, training to a degree where the mind is no longer part of the reactive process.  They practice to such an extent that their reactions are swift enough to block a punch, for instance, long before they have seen it and the brain has had time to react.  Bruce Lee said he fears the person who has trained one kick a thousand times rather than the person who has practiced a thousand kicks only once!

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So why do we rely on our sight so much, even when we know how inefficient it is?

The eyes are so important in our culture.  We even rely on the eyes as a sort of lie detector.  We say that the eyes are the windows to the soul and that you can’t hide the truth in the eyes.  It takes a lot of training to control the eye movement when not telling the truth, which is a big thing in Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).  Or so I thought…In fact new research now suggests that that “lying eyes” are actually a myth.  It is verbal hesitations and excessive hand gestures that can give away a liar.

‘Seeing’ with touch

In Wing Chun kung fu, the martial art that I have studied for many years, we practice a sensitivity technique called chi sau, or ‘sticky hands’, in order to heighten our sensitivity.  At a more advanced level we even do this blindfolded to rule out the influence our sight has on our reactions.  One’s sight is replaced by the sensitivity of the hands.

The hands (or more accurately the Qi in one’s hands) are quicker to react to an attack than the eyes, and even the brain.  And of course, the thousands of hours of practice help, as demonstrated in Mathew Syed’s book above. In Qigong the eyes are closed to keep qi in, especially if it is depleted.  More normally though the eyes are kept open, or half open, to allow the qi to circulate freely.

The Liver channel opens at the eyes

In Chinese medicine the eyes and sight are most closely associated with the Liver, as the Liver channel opens at the eyes.  And because of the Liver’s relationship with blood, it is also responsible for keeping the eyes moist.  This is interesting when you consider the Liver’s role as the military leader when it comes to health, and its corresponding emotion of fear/courage.  As I’ve mentioned in many of my blogs, the Liver represents the warrior within all of us, giving us the courage to not only move forward in life, but also to defend ourselves.  To be an efficient warrior you need to keep your head up to be able to see.  Not just with the eyes, but intuitively and instinctively.   Fighting blindfolded is just as much about conquering fear as it is heightening the senses.  We instinctively close our eyes and flinch away from what we fear, or we lock ourselves away.

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Becoming blind to the problem

Try not to accept things without question, because what we see is not always true, as the COVID19 pandemic has highlighted; there is much going on around the world that we can’t afford to be blind to.   Equally, there is much to be distracted by in this world, and there is much that some people and groups of people don’t want us to see.  They want to carry on doing what they are doing –  making a lot of money at any price, away from prying eyes, or in plain sight most of the time.  It can be so obvious, we just don’t see it anymore.

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The distractions employed by these nefarious groups are pretty simple too.  We are encouraged to feed ourselves with junk food and numbing medications.  We eat our dinners in front of the tv, distracting us from the food we are putting into our mouths; it could just as well be cardboard.  We speed round the supermarket, subconsciously being told what to buy and eat. We walk around with our headphones on and our heads down looking at our phones.  We need to open our eyes!  Go to the market and see your food: feast with your eyes on the beautiful shapes and sizes of the fresh fruit and vegetables.  Walk with your head held high without headphones on.  Eat your food without watching TV every now and then.    Open your eyes and see what is going on around you and what’s coming your way!

It is only with open eyes that we can defeat fear and move forward.


If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.


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Competition Time!

This is your chance to win a copy of Peter Deadman’s ‘Live Long Live Well: Teachings from the Chinese Nourishment of Life Teachings’☯️

☯️ I am offering one lucky person this excellent book by Peter Deadman about the Yangsheng (Nourishment of Life), lessons from the Chinese classics on:

  • Diet: what to eat and how to eat
  • Exercise
  • Alcohol
  • Tea
  • Sleep
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Care of children
  • Old age
  • Detoxing
  • Cultivating the mind
  • Music and culture

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All you have to do to enter the competition is pop over to Facebook and do the following:

☯️’ Like’ Steve Coster Acupuncture Facebook page 
☯️’ Like’ the competition post
☯️ Share that post on Facebook
☯️ Winner will be first out of the hat 😀

Good luck!

The competition closes on 22/5/20 and the winner will be announced on 25/5/20.

UK participants only.
For the full terms & conditions please visit https://www.stevecosteracupuncture.co.uk/facebook-competit…/

Wishing you health and happiness, Steve.


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Breathing the Qi Gong Way

How are you all feeling?  These are difficult times, especially if you are prone to feeling anxious anyway.   It’s  the uncertainty of what lies ahead that makes me feel a bit anxious.  The trick is to stay in the moment, by which I mean, trying not to dwell on the past or the future – the past is gone and the future hasn’t happened, it’s just a dream.

When we feel anxious, the first thing that is affected is our breathing.  The breath becomes shallow and this starts a domino affect throughout the rest of the body.   In this short video I explain and demonstrate the breathing used in Qi Gong.  Breath is one of the most important aspects of Qi Gong, along with the Mind (or your intent).  In Qi gong we use our breath not only to build up the Qi, but also to focus the Mind and help move the Qi around the body, especially to where it is most needed.

Breathing to Connect Mind and Body

The Mind aspect of this type of breathing is what gives it depth, without which it would just be ‘breathing’ which we all need to do otherwise we would die!  Breathing abdominally is very grounding.  It draws down our energy, rooting us to the Earth, stopping us from floating away in our dream worlds that often do not represent reality.  So great if you are suffering from anxiety, now or at any time.

Grounding Meditation

I also include in the video a simple but effective grounding technique which can also be used as a meditation.  Meditation doesn’t have to be complicated to be affective, you just need to learn how to be in the moment.  This technique will help you get there.

If you have any questions, just let me know.  I am still open for consultations and advice, and Qi Gong lessons, just not in the traditional sense.  But I’m still working via Skype and FaceTime, and of course on the old fashioned telephone and email 🙂



If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

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What day is it? Acupuncture under Lockdown

Is it week 3 or week 4 of lockdown? I’ve lost track of time.  As an Acupuncturist who works evenings and weekends it’s difficult keeping track of the days anyway.  When I was younger and working in the city, the structure of the week was very rigid. Monday was the start of the week; I was tired and invariably recovering from the weekend.  Wednesday was the middle of the week and always a dull sort of day, being stuck in the middle of the week; but it was also my training night at the kung fu club, so not such a bad day after all.  Thursday was the start of the weekend (well, for me anyway).  There was definitely a more relaxed feeling at work and I always felt a lot happier.  Friday was technically still a workday, but it felt like the weekend to me.  And then finally, it was the actual weekend.

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Insurance days

The Bad old days

Back then I structured my whole working week to make work more bearable and to get me to the weekend.  If I had anything difficult to do or a bit taxing, if I was able to I would schedule this for a Tuesday or a Wednesday.  Monday was always a day that I tucked myself away and kept my head down, trying not to catch anyone’s eye.  I called it my ‘colouring-in day’.  Thursday and Friday were days that I tried to keep free too; for me these were weekend days.  If I couldn’t manage to dodge work on these days, then I made sure it was scheduled for the morning.  Don’t get me wrong, although I didn’t like my job (which I’m sure you realise by now) I wasn’t that bad at it either.  I did it for 17 years and it was quite demanding at times, so I’m sure in all that time I would have been sacked if I wasn’t up to scratch.

Steve Coster Qi Gong Acupuncture Southend

The five elements of the week

Looking back (and knowing what I know now) I can see that my whole week was a microcosm of nature and the seasons, according to Chinese medicine and the five elements.  Monday was the most yin day; it represented the ‘winter’ of my week, when it was the quietest and I just wanted to hide away.  By Tuesday I was slowly emerging and expanding, like the Spring, ready for new growth.  (I make this sound more exciting than the reality of it – we are talking about Insurance here, after all).  By Wednesday and Thursday I was totally yang as I go into the ‘fire’ phase, or the ‘summer’ of my week.  Now I have recovered my energy and I’m at my most productive, literally firing on all cylinders, ready for the weekend, which is Friday and Saturday.  Now I was in the ‘earth’ phase, or the ‘late-summer’, reaping in the ‘harvest’ of my efforts earlier in the week.  (I make this sound quite dramatic, but remember we’re talking about insurance here).  And finally, we reach the ‘metal’ stage, or the ‘autumn’, which for me was Sunday; a time when we meditate on the past seasons and make preparations for the winter.

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These were not happy times for me.  But now I take solace knowing that, even in the most challenging and unhappy times in our lives, the seasons do change and we do move on.  The trick, I suppose, is tuning in to your ‘self’, knowing how you feel and what you want from life.  For me, I did this by practicing Wing Chun kung fu and Qi Gong.  The two most important aspects of Qi Gong are breathing and the Mind.  In Qi Gong we use Mind to move the Qi around the body, to nourish the organs, the bones, muscles, sinews, tendons, blood and fluids.  Without focusing the Mind, Qi Gong loses it’s depth and becomes ‘mindless’ exercise.  Practised with ‘mind’ then, Qi Gong can be so powerful that you can get a full workout without even moving.

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Being true to nature in the lockdown

We are actually in the wood phase of the year, the time of expansion and new growth.  The yang energy is picking up; the weather is getting warmer and we all want to be outside moving our Qi and making things happen.  Obviously, the lockdown poses a bit of a problem in that we can’t be as ‘expansive’ as we would like, but there is still much that can be done at home.  We can make plans, work on projects and ready ourselves for the summer and the fire phase, coming out of Lockdown like rockets!  And, of course, we can practice Qi Gong.

I am still doing treatments during the lockdown, although not in the traditional sense. Due to social distancing measures I can’t do acupuncture or tui na, but I am doing Skype and FaceTime sessions. Talking through your situation with me will allow me to tailor my advice to what would be most relevant for you as an individual. I can also show you Qi Gong techniques, acupoints and self-tui na, specifically for you. Although more limited in scope than face to face practice, there is good evidence that this sort of approach can benefit your health and help you self-manage your symptoms at home. Just call or drop me an email and we can go from there.

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

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Surviving the COVID19 Lockdown with Chinese Medicine

What I’ve found to be most important to me during the lockdown is to create some sort of routine.  My work has been hugely affected by the lockdown and already I’m waking up with no idea what day of the week it is.  I’ve been trying to get up at a reasonable time in the morning (about 8am) and starting my day as I always did, with stretching and Qi gong.  I generally then work until lunchtime, working on my blog and website.  After lunch I do some exercise, and then in the afternoon I read.  It may be Groundhog Day but I’m still managing to be a bit productive and keep my sanity at the same time.

Going from 100mph to zero

At the start of the lockdown it was so easy to get caught up in the general panic.  I found the first week of lockdown incredibly difficult.  It felt like the brakes had been slammed on and my nose was squashed against the windscreen.  What makes it all so much worse is that energetically we are entering the Spring, a period of new growth and expansion.  It totally goes against the grain having to stay in when I just want to be outside enjoying the fine weather.  What makes it worse is looking out the window and it seems like it’s just me, everyone else is carrying on as normal.  I’m lucky enough to have a garden where I can stay grounded.  This weekend I did some general tidying up; I started off my seeds for the green house and prepared the veg beds for sowing.

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Looking after your mental health

It’s so easy to get caught up in it all: COVID19, 5G radiation, the loss of our right to freedom.  Add to this the worry of not being able to earn enough to pay the bills and also the feeling of isolation, and you have the perfect recipe for anxiety and mental health issues.  There have also been significant changes to the Mental Health Act, allowing people to be held for 3 times longer than previously (now up to 12 weeks) based on the recommendations of only one doctor instead of three.

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Finding solace in Chinese Medicine

So, it’s at time like this that we can look to Chinese medicine for solace and sage advice.  We must listen to that voice within us saying, slowdown, this is what you’ve been waiting for. Do some gardening. Meditate. And don’t feel guilty. Here is an opportunity to let go.  But I don’t think that voice is saying stop what you are doing, but rather, tune in to yourself.  Try to feel what you really need right now.  We are so caught up in living at 100 mph that now we are numb to our true needs.

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In this crazy world of more, more, more, we only see the yang aspect of the Wood/Springtime.  Industry, finance and politics only ever speaks of growth, expansion and the ability to accumulate as much as possible.  At the start of the pandemic, the thoughts of lots of people was to go and buy as much toilet roll and baked beans as possible!  In Chinese Medicine we say that the Liver acts as the General.  The panic buyers were simply responded to their Wood instinct to defend the borders of their empire.

Learning how to yield without snapping

I’m not being judgemental; these instincts are within all of us.  But we have been programmed by ‘the System’ to react in this way.  As I’ve mentioned many times in my earlier blogs, a healthy Wood element also needs to be flexible.  So just being warrior-like isn’t the only characteristic needed to cope with change, you also need to be flexible.  Sometimes retreating, stepping back and assessing the situation is necessary on the road to victory.  Just imagine an army that can only go blindly forward. A healthy Wood element needs to be supple and flexible, able to bend and yield to the wind.  Just like the trees, if we lack flexibility we are more likely to snap under pressure.

So let us take this opportunity to learn how to let go.  Slow down and take a moment to tune in to how you feel and what you actually need.  Now is not the time to be doing more, but less. Recover and recuperate, because we’ll all be back on the treadmill before long. Think of the yin aspects of the wood element. Without yin there can be no yang.


If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

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Coronavirus and the Fear of the Unknown

In Chinese Medicine the Coronavirus is just like any other cold or flu; that is, it primarily affects the respiratory system.  But left unchecked, and depending on your overall health, it can soon work its way deeper into the body, causing more problems as it goes.

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The symptoms vary, but generally they relate to the Lung and Spleen in Chinese Medicine.  As the whole world knows by now, the main symptoms are fever and/or a cough, but some people have also experienced difficulty breathing, confusion, headache, and in a few cases, sore throat, runny nose, chest pain, diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting.  Or more worryingly, no symptoms at all.

Carrying on as normal?

While the government advice is to employ social distancing and self-isolation, there is equally a lot of pressure to carry on as normal.  We find it hard to be threatened by something that we cannot even see.   The argument to carry on as normal is strong of course.  On Radio 4’s Today programme, yesterday, I heard that in China an estimated 50,000 people have been saved from air pollution related deaths because some factories shut down during the peak of the epidemic.  In Venice the fish are returning to the canals.  And, of course, there are lots of other things out there that are more deadly than COVID19.

What has captured my attention is the emotional damage caused by the hysteria surrounding the Coronavirus.  The virus, or the hubbub around it, promotes fear, which is arguably more deadly than the actual virus itself.  But fear of what?  Fear of catching it, or worse, dying from it?  Or is it the fear of not being able to work or losing one’s job?  I would say, more than all of these, it is fear of the unknown.  And rightly so.  Who isn’t afraid of the unknown, an invisible enemy that has the potential to kill us, and at the very least totally disrupt the way we live our lives?  It sounds like a sci-fi horror film!

Fear is a fundamental emotion and essential for survival.

It is hardwired into us; we couldn’t have survived as a race without it.  Fear prompts the ‘fight or flight’ response within us, giving us the ability to flee from a marauding sabre tooth tiger by shutting down non-essential functions such as digestion, sending all the blood to the muscles so we can fight or run away.  Or simply freeze you to the spot like a rabbit in headlights.  In more recent times, if the harvest wasn’t sufficient there is a real risk of starvation in the winter months.   Are there enough supplies to survive winter? Wood and fuel, warmth and a safe place to retire? Better buy as much toilet paper and pasta as possible.

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The power of the word

Coping with this hysteria and panic is not helped by the language used by the media and governments.

“We are in a war against an invisible killer” Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

“We are at war…The enemy is invisible and it requires our general mobilization.” President Emmanuel Macro

With the talk of wars and an invisible enemy, who wouldn’t be scared?  But more importantly, this rhetoric is confusing.  The Blitz spirit being invoked involves pulling together, street parties and hunkering down together while the war rages above our heads.  But simultaneously we are being asked to self-isolate and keep away from each other because we are all potential carriers!  It sounds more like the KGB rather than the NHS.

Fear Descends Qi and it affects the Kidneys

In Chinese Medicine the emotion of fear is related to the Kidneys.  Fear, like any emotion, affects our Qi.  More accurately, however, it descends it.  In severe cases, such as sudden fright, this could mean the opening of the bowels.  But in more chronic cases it can affect breathing, so not good if your respiratory system is then affected by Coronavirus.  This is the case regarding all types of energy.  Look at how fear and panic has affected the global financial market – it has plummeted.

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When all is flowing within us, we have these deep reserves to draw on and our deep inner drives can be fuelled with the force of the waters that fill the reservoirs in winter.  Water gives us our drive, will and courage. (Debra Katz, Characters of Wisdom, 2005)

People with strong Qi will avoid the worst effects of COVID19 despite the fact that everybody, no matter their age or gender, may be affected.  Because each individual has a different physical constitution, the manifestations of the disease will vary, and so a single prescription cannot be universally effective for every patient (despite the race to produce a vaccine).   A strong constitutional Qi will also protect you against the pervading fear and panic, allowing you to sort the good information from the bad.  Acupuncture is conducted with patients on a one-to-one basis, and so is more oriented towards providing symptomatic relief than the generic medicines applied during this period.

Strengthening your own Qi

Well, fortunately there are many ways you can do this.   Here are links to some of my earlier blogs that will help you boost your Qi and protect it.  And over the coming days and weeks I will be posting lots of information to help you get through these challenging times!

Rest well https://www.stevecosteracupuncture.co.uk/2019/06/26/the-yin-and-yang-of-runnng/

Eat Well  https://www.stevecosteracupuncture.co.uk/2019/05/01/connecting-with-the-earth-the-art-of-chewing-your-food/

Exercise well https://www.stevecosteracupuncture.co.uk/2019/08/30/qi-gong-the-universe-and-you/

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

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Coronavirus Statement from Steve Coster Acupuncture

Let me begin by stating that Acupuncture, Tui na and Qi Gong are all excellent for boosting the immune system and therefore protecting you against viruses such as Covid19, or at least lessening the symptoms you may experience.

However, please do follow the NHS guidelines re hand washing.   Should you contract the virus, or you suspect you have it, again please do follow the NHS guidelines.

My clinic is open as usual but if you have any flu-like symptoms please call me before attaining your appointment.

Until further notice I will be

  • providing hand sanitizer to all my clients as they enter the building
  • wiping down the treatment couch and face hole after every client
  • couch roll is always changed between clients anyway
  • all surfaces will be cleaned daily

If you have any questions about Coronavirus and Acupuncture, please do contact me.

I wish you all good health.



If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

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Life in a World of Imbalance

We live in a world that is out of balance.  The planet itself is not out of balance of course, it just does what it has always done.  The imbalance I’m talking about is within us; we just project that on to everything else.

Did you know that between the war years of 1940 and 1945 there were no bananas in the UK.  When the banana returned to Britain on 30 December 1945, it was the first time some children had ever seen one.   It’s hard to believe in our modern age, when everything is available all year round, that something as commonplace as a banana wasn’t available.  I suppose it must sound just as crazy to a teenager when we tell them that we grew up without mobile phones or the internet, or that there were only three channels on the TV.  How did we ever survive without looking at Instagram every two minutes?

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Imbalance and disconnection

It is near impossible to live a balanced life in a society that is anything but balanced.  Many of the people I see in my practice tell me the same story:  they are working long hours, eating on the go, punishing themselves in the gym and not getting enough rest.  And then that’s when I see them, when they are exhausted.  Sometimes they are ill or have an injury that won’t clear up on its own.  Or they just don’t feel good; they are not sleeping well, have digestive problems, anxiety, depression, fertility issues….

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Having whatever you want whenever you want it comes at a price.  Not just to the planet, which is well documented, but to the health of every one of us living on the planet.    We have lost our connection to nature.  When something like Coronavirus comes along it just highlights this disconnection.  We see ourselves as something other from the planet, as if we just dropped here a few hundred years ago, like the Conquistadors arriving in South America to plunder the land.   We speak of fighting disease and a war against germs, finding a cure to kill the enemy.

Imbalance on Mars

The world we live in now positively encourages this disconnection with nature.   We treat the planet like it is an inanimate object, here simply to be exploited, stripped bare of all its natural resources.  Now we are even planning to colonize the Moon and further afield, when we all know what colonization really means.  Exploitation.

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Our reductionist worldview encourages the belief that we live on a rock where everything is for the taking and what isn’t, is simply out to get us and must be destroyed.  We apply this view to the macrocosm as well as to the microcosm.   Germs and viruses are part of the same planet we exist on.   They are not Aliens that have found their way to earth intent on destroying humans.  Coronavirus is not a ‘new’ virus, it’s just the usual suspects repackaged.

What has changed, of course, is our ability to live with such viruses.  As the planet’s Qi has weakened, so too has our own.

Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence.

Man has created false daylight and a summer with no end.  Energetically this means we are always in Yang mode, always growing and expanding.  This goes against the universal law that Yang cannot exist without Yin.  The world is changing so rapidly that we can’t keep up with it.  5G is being rolled out even though we don’t understand how it might affect our health.  The one thing that is certainly harmful to our health, above COVID19, is fear.  As I have explained previously, the root of all illness is emotional.  Any emotion that is persistent or intense will have a negative effect.  So, just because we cannot see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

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Before the Industrial Revolution life was different.  Work was dictated greatly by the sun and seasons.  We ate according to the seasons and to the greater extent, locally.  More exotic food stuffs were a rare treat, not staples like they are today.  As foods weren’t available all year round, it’s storage and preservation had to be managed skilfully.  Now, as all food is available, it feels normal eating salads and smoothies in the winter.

Tuning into the Seasons

The naturalistic philosophy behind Chinese Medicine gives us some idea of how we should be living in rhythm with the seasons.  At the moment Nature is telling us to rest.  We are still in the Yin time of year (at the time of writing this anyway) when all living things are conserving their energy ready to burst forth in the spring.  Winter is also when the Water energy is at its strongest, so it’s a time when the reservoirs are able to refill.  Without this opportunity to do so the reservoirs would be empty for when they are most needed, in the summer, the Yang time of year.  How can we fill our Qi reservoirs if we never stop?

Societies that rely on the land to exist have an intimate relationship with the seasonal energies, and they have a genuine sense of what it means to be in harmony with them.  If the farmer fails to plant the seed in the springtime, he would have missed the moment when the summer arrived.  Without the growth of the spring (wood) and the maturity of the summer (fire) there would be no harvest (earth).

Reconnecting with nature

Although simply washing your hands regularly is effective, here a few other things you can add to your daily routine to not only reconnect to nature, but also boost your immune system:

  • Sleep.  We need more of it in the winter and less in the summer, so don’t feel guilty if you would rather be in bed on a cold winter’s night.
  • Exercise.  As for sleep, we need more rest in the winter.
  • Eat well.  Try to have a colourful diet with many different flavours.
  • Don’t have a tv in your bedroom.  If you do, then cover it up at night.
  • Leave your phone and ipad in another room
  • Turn the Wifi off when you go to bed.  This is becoming difficult as many things in the home are now controlled via wifi.  Or you just forget to do it.
  • Have a few moments of silence in your day.  Resist the temptation to put the TV on at home, or the radio in the car.
  • Try not to carry your mobile on your person.  Put it in your rucksack or handbag.
  • Use the earphones instead of holding your phone close to your head.
  • Leave the car at home when you can. Go for a walk.


If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.

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City City Yang Yang – Learning to slow down

Recently I’ve been spending a bit of time in London.  I was on a fertility and menstrual problems workshop the whole of last weekend, run by my Tui na teacher, Sarah Pritchard.  I also paid a visit to Tate Britain to see the William Blake exhibition before it ends.  It was a great show but very busy, which sort of spoils it a bit for me.  It made me feel slightly suffocated, so I think I rushed it a bit.  In fact, Tate did a study on this phenomenon and found that people on average spend only 8 seconds looking at a picture!

Sarah Pritchard

I find London exhausting these days.  It is still exciting and vibrant and endlessly fun, but it’s also exhausting.  It drains me of my energy.  When I was younger I thought the complete opposite; London was like a magnet.  I worked in the City and so spent a lot of my free time there too.  I was like a moth being lured in by the lights.  That wore off by the time I reached the age of thirty, then all I wanted was to work anywhere but the City.  And as you know, I eventually escaped.

Yang of the City

I’m always surprised by the change of energy when I travel into London.  By the time the train reaches Romford (or Barking, depending on how you approach the beast) I can feel the Qi of the City pulling at me, and by Stratford it’s buzzing.  But it also makes me feel a bit anxious and I’m always relieved when I’m leaving.  When I get off the train at Southend it always feels like there is a lot more space.  The temperature feels like it drops a degree or two.  Being at the mouth of the North Sea helps; it’s as if that open expanse of clean air rushes up the Thames Estuary and clears the atmosphere.

acupuncture southend cancer pain fertility

The energy of any city, not just London, is constantly in Yang mode, which goes against the seasonal grain somewhat.  We are in the Yin part of year, the winter, a time when everything in nature should be doing less, conserving our energy so we can burst out in all our blooming glory in the Spring.

The Capitalist system that we live under influences every aspect of our lives; but it is entirely Yang energetically.  It allows no time for rest, only growth and expansion.  There is no time to rest: lunch is for wimps and sleep is for the dead are the mantras of the modern age.  We eat cold foods in the winter when our digestive systems are crying out for warmth.   We train in the gym late into the night when we should be tucked up in bed.

Yang without its other half, Yin, can only mean trouble.

Chinese medicine teaches us that balance is needed for health.  It’s difficult though; it’s a beautiful sunny day today and there is a temptation to get outside and run or cycle.  But it’s still pretty cold out there.  In Chinese Medicine sweating in a cold environment is bad news.  When the pores of the skin open it allows the cold into the body, which energetically stops the Qi from moving.  This might mean pain in a joint or a muscle, or something more systemic like menstrual pain.  If you do sweat in the cold weather, then make sure you don’t hang about in wet clothing.  Just don’t get cold.

In Chinese Medical theory there is a particular type of Qi, called Wei Qi (or Defensive Qi) that needs nourishing.  The Wei Qi a protective barrier against the outside evil forces, like the weather or diseases.  Think of the Readybrek glow and you’ll get the idea. If your Defensive Qi is weaker than the Qi of a disease, then you are more likely to contract it.  That’s why not everyone catches the flu when it’s going around.

So, what can you do to help you slow down?

In the Tate article above they recommend spending at least 10 minutes looking at each piece of art.  They call it slow looking.  But here’s something you can put into practice straight away.  Next time you are at a Pelican crossing, press the button and wait for the green man before crossing.  Even if there is no traffic, still wait for the green man.  While you are waiting take a moment to ground yourself.  Be mindful of your surroundings.  You may feel frustration, even a little foolish.  But remember that all you are feeling is an expression of the state of your Qi.  Take a moment to enjoy a minute of calm.

acupuncture southend cancer pain fertility

Try it and let me know how it made you feel.

If you have any questions about acupuncture, or any of the topics in my blogs, please do contact me.  Find out more about me, or my treatments  here.