Seasonal Advice St. Valentine’s Day is almost here. Valentine’s is the time to celebrate being romantic and loving to your sweetheart. The best way to love another is to better love yourself. This newsletter is about taking care of our hearts and improving our ability to love ourselves and others.
How we love ourselves is instrumental in how we love others. Often being hard or mean to others is a reflection of how we treat ourselves. Want to improve your love life? Improve how you love yourself because the more kind and loving we are inwardly, the more capacity we have to love outwardly. Sometimes I write prescriptions to my clients to do one act of love towards themselves everyday - take a bath, say something nice to themselves, eat a super delicious healthy meal. Being nice to ourself doesn’t mean eating junk food all day. Improper eating isn’t an act of self love. It’s an act of sabotage. Not beating yourself up if you slip on your meal plan, is an act of self love.
If you are looking for a healthy meal for your Valentine’s date, below is a lovely recipe that calls for the bone broth mentioned in last months newsletter. Traditional congee or jook or rice porridge has a ratio of 1 cup rice to 8 cups of fluids. I like my jook slightly thinner so I add about 9 cups of broth and water. This recipe calls for lemongrass which helps our heart by calming the nervous system and reducing high blood pressure. These are only two of many medicinal properties of lemongrass. For the turkey, I ask my butcher to cut the drumstick in half so the bone marrow seeps into the congee because bone marrow is super nutrient rich. This can be made more quickly on the stovetop but I like the convenience of the slow cooker. Commonly fish sauce or soy sauce is added. I prefer to just use sea salt.
Recipe Turkey Lemongrass Congee
1 C rice, washed 4 C water 4 C organic bone broth, chicken or turkey 1 Large organic turkey drum stick, cut in half 2 Tbsp olive oil 2 Stalks of lemongrass, cut into thirds 2 Tsp crushed ginger 4 Tsp chopped garlic 1 Small onion, chopped Salt and pepper Cilantro and scallions for garnish
In a skillet, heat the oil. Add garlic, onion, ginger, lemongrass and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the drumsticks and brown on all sides. Wash rice, place in crockpot, pour in water and broth. Add in the turkey with the aromatics. Turn on the crockpot to low for 6-8 hours. Stir occasionally. Use a tong to pull out the bones, use a fork to pull the meat off the bones. Place meat back in the crockpot, discard bones or reserve to make more broth. Discard lemongrass pieces. Stir well. Top with scallions/cilantro after pouring the jook in a bowl.
Acu Point Heart 7 Chinese name: 神門 shen men, spirit gate Action: Resolve emotional issues, stress, heartache, especially those related to sleep or thinking, like insomnia, muddled thinking, or mania. Help physical responses to emotional triggers. For example, anxiety with heart palpitations, nausea with fear or panic. Helps with irregular heart beat, pounding heart, angina. Increase heart Qi, Blood, Yin, and Yang.
Location: At the wrist crease, on the radial side of the flexor carpi ulnaris tendon, between the ulna and the pisiform bones.
Press on the point for 30 second intervals. Enough pressure to activate the point but not enough to bruise.
Exercise In Chinese Medicine, the heart is considered the emperor of the body. Order, peace, and love is bestowed and shared from the heart to every cell and organ in the emperor’s kingdom.
The heart meridian travels down the arms from the chest. Early in embryogenesis, the arms develop from the heart area. For our heart Qi Gong exercise, we are going to use our arms.
Start by standing with both feet facing forward and shoulder-width apart. Inhale and imagine divine healing light filling your heart. Exhale negativity. On the next inhale, stretch both arms to the sides of your body, forming the letter T. Lean over and begin to exhale, while imagining unneeded emotions flowing out each arm. Swing your arms from one side to side while bent over, crisscrossing each other as you let go of things that no longer serve you. Then stand back up while inhaling and forming the letter T again. Image divine healing light filling the chest, especially your heart. Continue inhaling and look upward while raising your hands over your head. Breathe in love and light, breathe out negativity and darkness. Repeat for about 5 minutes or until you feel an emotional shift.
Meditation For our meditation, we are going to do the opposite idea of our Qi Gong exercise. We are going to breathe IN our toxic energy and breathe OUT pure love and light while sitting quietly and focusing on what you feel. I wanted to give both techniques because they serve different purposes and they feel very different. Try both ways and let me know your thoughts. This technique is called tonglen in Tibetan and was made famous by Pema Chödron. Here’s what she says about it:
“You breathe in with the wish to take away the suffering, and breathe out with the wish to send comfort and happiness to the same people, animals, nations, or whatever it is you decide.”
Happy Valentine’s Day everybody. I hope it is filled with love for you.
Dr. Heather Bird