Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Natural Parenting

Natural Parenting sounds like a funny term (to me at least), but it essentially is about raising a baby with awareness and following the natural rhythms of development with the baby. This is all very consistent with Traditional Chinese Medicine, although these ideas would be a given in most traditional cultures. Lori and I have come across some excellent resources that I'll cover in an ongoing, series of posts, interspersed with my regular posts on Chinese medicine, philosophy, nutrition, exercise and so on.

These are all things that we do with Lily and we have been amazed at the results. Of course, I find Lily amazing anyhow, but that's just me. I think that these are great resources for parents, grandparents, caretakers, and others interested in an awareness, communication based approach to raising kids.

The first post in this series will be on Elimination Communication or "EC." I'll have that up soon.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Summertime - Harmonizing with the Season

Now, just past the summer solstice (which is mid-summer by the traditional Chinese view) I have been thinking about the traditional recommendations for harmonizing with the summertime. Along these lines, I revised the following article that I wrote several years ago:
"The three months of summer are called prospering and developing the flower. Heaven & Earth intertwine and the Ten Thousand Beings flower and bring forth fruit..."
- Neijing Suwen, Ch. 2
The traditional recommendations for harmonizing with the summertime all have to do with finding the proper movement for moderating the fullness of the season. In other words, we must express the fullness and vitality of life that is inherent in the season, but be careful not to let the same fullness of the sun and the heat overwhelm the body.
To begin with, as we do with all of the seasons, we can look at our sleep & activity cycle as one of the most basic ways to govern the rhythms of the body. During the summertime it is recommended to go to bed later (within reason) and wake up early in the morning. This follows the movement of the sun: longer days and the increased light and warmth activate the energy and the body needs less sleep than in the other seasons.
In terms of our waking hours, the summertime allows the largest amount of activity during the day. However, it is important to protect ourselves from the extremity of the sun (even if we are not outside) by doing more activity in the morning and evening, and less in the middle of the day. In this way we won't become overheated or depleted by the influence of the sun, which is always the concern for this season. The Chinese character for this is actually a pictogram of a person who has eaten too much of something good and is overly full. While the light and sun of the summer is full of vitality, too much will leave us full and overheated.
In terms of exercise, Qigong should be practiced in the morning, facing the eastern direction or in the evening facing the west. We can also walk in the morning or evening, taking longer walks when time allows. The image of walking in the springtime was loose strides in the courtyard, staying close to home. Our image for walking in the summertime is a long ramble through the countryside, perhaps taking a nap under a tree or next to a stream during the heat of the midday sun.
It is fine to exert our strength in this season with our work and exercise, but we should remain mindful to not damage the fluids of the body (which are keeping us cool in the heat of the season) with excessive activity.
In terms of our mental state, it is recommended in the summertime that we act calmly and without anger, thus assisting the completion and fulfillment of the beauty of the season. The movement outwards that is inherent in the season should be followed naturally, without any extra force. Whether it is too much time in the sun and heat or too strong of an emotional response, an excess of outwards movement will press the qi and fluids to the surface, where they may be dispersed and lost.
Following these traditional recommendations for harmonizing with the season ensures the proper movement of qi within the body, helping to prevent illness and support vitality.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Miso Soup Recipe

I have been recommending miso soup to a lot of people lately - it aids digestion, benefits the energy and provides great, tasty nourishment. Here is how I usually prepare it:

To make miso soup, start by bringing 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 1 piece of Kombu seaweed that is about 3 inches by 3 inches (it best to rinse the seaweed first in cold water). Reduce heat and simmer covered for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and add a small handful of dried Bonito (dried, fish shavings). Let sit for several minutes then strain. Put 2 teaspoons (or more depending on taste preference) of miso paste in a bowl. Mix in one cup of the base that you have prepared and add a small pinch of Wakame seaweed. All of these ingredients - Kombu seaweed, Miso paste, Bonito, and Wakame seaweed - should be available at an Asian market.