(541) 345-2220 kquale@moonandlotus.com
Grief Work Part Two: Anchoring the Awareness of Shen

Grief Work Part Two: Anchoring the Awareness of Shen

(Read Grief Work Part One here.) This article first appeared in Acupuncture Today in August 2022 and is part two of a three part series.

The power of grief is the power of opening to the depth of the present moment and feel both its pain and its love and tenderness. Grieving is one of the strongest opportunities to feel the texture and touch of the ground of being that we are. That ground is not only our feelings but also the deep, aware presence of the heartmind at our core, our shen. Mindful awareness of the felt sense in the body is often a key to accessing this inner treasure and anchoring emerging wisdom in body and psyche.

The grieving process is different for each person. As we know from Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s work, there are many alternating stages and feelings that arise. When we help our clients face each one, it clears the feeling and the grace of the heartmind surfaces in the form of relaxation, relief, peace, acceptance, clarity, meaning, and even joy.

It’s important for us as humans to know that grief is not forever and that each day, each moment brings a mix of grief and joy. It’s a way to slowly help us realize that its ok to feel both grief and relief or happiness in the same day or in the same hour.

As practitioners, our presence, attention, and acknowledgement of both the emotions and the heartmind clarity stabilizes this resource for our patients. We need to be fully attentive to the ebb and flow of the emotional wave and the quiet clarity and imagery that follows it. Help patients stay with their experience in a felt way so that the wisdom contained in the emotions, images, thoughts, and sensations becomes clear to them. Have them notice where in the body they notice these energies. You will often find that the comfort emerges from the same place that the emptiness or loss was felt.

Take for example a patient of mine who was working through the grief of losing her intimate partner in a drowning accident. She came in and described a heavy and undulating feeling in her belly and pelvis. As I palpated, I asked her to tell me which points were most associated with the heavy, undulating feeling. She identified CV14, CV12, ST25 and CV6 as key places of discomfort. I suggested that I insert needles in these points as a way of knocking on the door of the undulating heaviness and tightness she experienced there and see what it had to tell us. She agreed and her curiosity was engaged.

After inserting the needles and adding St36 and SP6 as distal points, I asked her to gently put her attention on the sensations of the undulating heaviness and notice any mood that may be there. As she did, she found the grief she felt about losing her partner. “I see an image of he and I in a boat rocking on the sea.” Tears moistened her eyes, and I acknowledged her sadness and deep sense of loss. The feeling in the room was one of sacredness and respect as she shed tears of sorrow.

After the wave of sadness receded, I encouraged her to stay with her body and feel the rocking and flowing sensations in her belly as a way of being with her beloved in this moment. She found this very relaxing, and I left her to be with her experience and returned 15 minutes later. She was very relaxed, and when I removed the needles, I asked her to notice her belly again and see what sensations were there.

“My belly feels smooth and moving. It’s very different than when we started. This process helps me realize that I have been cut off from my pelvis and my sexuality since my lover died. It feels so good to reconnect again. I feel whole and integrated.”

“So as you feel these smooth, moving sensations you feel connected to both your lover and yourself,” I said as a way to affirm her experience and help her stay with it a little longer. She returned to her quiet reflection for a moment. I added, “From now on these sensations can remind you of your wholeness and the love you share with him.” She nodded in agreement. This last suggestion helps to anchor the experience in her body and psyche. She can come back to it as an inner resource when she wants to re-embody the gift of love and wholeness within her.

 

(Read Grief Work Part One here.)

Grief Work Part One: Create Space

Grief Work Part One: Create Space

This article first appeared in Acupuncture Today in the August 2022 issue.

With the coming of the new year, I am beginning a series of blog posts about approaches for integration of soma, psyche and heartmind awareness in the clinic. This is part one of a 3-part series on working with grief. This first article is about helping clients create space for grieving. Part two will be about anchoring inner resources, and part three about working with inner barriers. I hope you find helpful ideas you can implement immediately into your practice. Please forward this post to practitioners you feel may be interested. Submit comments and see references for further learning at the end.

Grief is a delicate state where the heart gets laid open. Feelings of loss, despair, shock and anger interplay with gratitude, tenderness, vulnerability, and love. Clients come into our office looking for consolation and company in their journey. They may say they “just want to get through it” or “I don’t have a reason for living.” Crying buckets may have tightened their face, neck, chest, and belly. Thus, there is a need to create space both in the body and in the psyche so that the journey with grief can be experienced consciously through the lens of the heartmind and become a portal to the deep inner embrace and presence of shen.

Since grief emerges at inopportune times like at the grocery store, or at work, people often do not give themselves the time and space to grieve and are quick to reenter life. Here is where we can intervene by suggesting that we help them “create space” in their body and in their emotions in this session so they can feel and listen to what is most important today. To create space fits well with the function of the Lung meridian and the breath. The Lung as we know is associated with the emotion of grief and the need to let go to make room for new nourishment to come in. It’s also about boundary functions and opening to life experience.

I give this suggestion when I notice the person starts thinking, remembering, and projecting into the future. They will “talk about” feelings and have thoughts about what they want to do, or about memories of the past. The well-placed suggestion to create space in the moment leads to table work. I often start by acknowledging the many emotions we feel with loss and grief, and how together we can create a clear space in body and mind to support them in this process.

If there is agreement, I ask my client to identify a place or places in the body that feel tight or restricted with their feelings. I have them check in as I palpate and help them feel jaw, neck, chest, belly. I palpate with the idea of helping them get in touch with themselves. The palpation gives me information about where to place needles and meridians that are calling out.

I often place some local body needles in tight places they have identified and a few meridian-related needles that call to me. If I’m doing Asian bodywork, I hold points in the local area along with related distal points. I keep it simple. With the local needles (or hand held points) I tell people that we are gently knocking at the door to their chest, neck (or where ever the needles/hands are) to see what’s stored there and I invite them to be with themselves in a gentle way. If the point(s) have a special name or image related to grief I tell them that also to add the magic of metaphor.

Next I establish qigong awareness. I like to encourage the person to connect with the earth and sky by feeling his/her back sink onto the earth in a comforting place and feel the sun and stars shining from above sending a blanket of light around him/her. This opens the field of connectedness and “creates space” for intuitive knowing to arise. Encourage clients to be open to any images or feelings that arise as they rest and allow themselves to be in the moment.

If you are doing acupuncture, you can leave them alone for a few minutes to attend to someone else but be sure to allow enough time with them when you return. If the person needs rest, direct awareness to the felt sense relaxation in the body, which may include feelings of peace, stillness, comfort. Help them savor the experience and listen to its message. If emotions are present, help them feel, cry, rage. When the wave of feeling subsides, have the person stay with any relief, clarity, stillness, or comfort that emerges. Often the consolation the person needs is right there in the moment and only needs to be acknowledged and savored. Deeper heartmind presence emerges in these moments and we can help stabilize it in the person’s awareness.

The secret is to keep referring the person back to his or her felt experience be it body, emotions, images etc. and allow feelings and intuitive messages to come through. Acknowledge that this wisdom comes from an internal, guiding presence. This is an important moment that helps the person realize that relaxation, peace, and wisdom are within them, and they are not alone.

At the end of the session refer the person back to the places in the body that were tight and notice the change. There is often less heaviness and more openness and spaciousness. You can affirm that they “created space” today for themselves. Acknowledge any information that was released by these areas and ask the client what he or she wants to remember from this session and incorporate this week.

Resources: For Practitioners: To consult with me about clients, send an email to kquale@moonandlotus.com for more info.

Go to https://www.moonandlotus.com/professional-trainings/classes-and-supervision/ to learn more about helping a person explore their present experience, including:

  1. A free video, “Bodymind Skills that Assist Clients to Discover Themselves in the Moment.”
  2. A link to purchase my clinical guidebook, “HeartMind Solutions; Direct Awareness to Transform the Roots of Pain and Stress in Soma and Psyche.” Pages 40 – 44 give a step by step process for directing awareness and staying with experience
  3. Watch my recent video presentation, “Body Stories: Releasing Shen Through Body Awareness,” available for 4 PDA points with the NCCAOM, through the AOBTA Academy, Clinical Development Section available in January 2022. https://aobta.org/page/Body_Stories

For Clients: Life coach, Kristine Carlson, offers a helpful course: “21 days of grieving with grace” which supports people through the grieving process with helpful guidance and journaling exercises drawn from her personal experience after the sudden death of her husband. https://kristinecarlson.com/21-days-of-grieving-with-grace/

Rose, Thorn and Bud 2021-22 — Classes and Events 2022

Rose, Thorn and Bud 2021-22 — Classes and Events 2022

My daughter-in-law, Gretchen, introduced me to talking about the “Rose and Thorn” of various experiences. The rose being an event that you hold dear or something that was a positive or growing experience. The thorn that represents a challenge or something that you did not like, which can also be a growing experience. Some people also add the Bud, which symbolizes the ideas or hopes you have for your unfolding in the year to come.

The beginning of the new calendar year seems like a perfect opportunity to talk about the rose, thorn and bud. We are also close to the beginning of the lunar new year on February 1, so change is on our minds. (Be sure to see the invitation to our lunar new year celebration below).

I’ll write about my rose, thorn and bud here, and I invite you to share your own by clicking the link at the end of this post.

My rose for 2021 is the time I spent with my father this past year. I was at his 103rd birthday party which was a big affair. About 50 family and friends ate, danced to live music, and honored Angelo in an outdoor barbeque in Michigan in August. In addition, a motorcycle group that honors veterans, called the Patriot Guard Riders, made an appearance to celebrate my father who was a WWII veteran. We were all touched by the pomp and ceremony they gave to the occasion. My father was able to participate in his party, and I was so happy that he experienced how much he was loved and honored.

I also spent his last week of life with him in early November together with my siblings. Dad still had moments of being present and we had many memorable interactions. It was a precious experience that stretched my heart in many ways. I felt both grief for his passing and gratefulness for our long connection. One era was coming to an end and another beginning. The mystery of life and death have been on the front burner in my mind and heart since then. Ultimately, I come back to my desire to live in the potency and ground of this moment with more awareness, presence, and joy. This is in keeping with my father’s famous words, “take it one day at a time.”

My thorn is the continuing struggle with Covid. As with most people, it has changed my work, my teaching and my connection with family and friends. I am sad about the effect that exposure to the virus along with long hours and overwork has had on our health care workers, who are emerging as heroes. I am sad for people who have lost loved ones. For me it has been an exercise in both tolerance for differing points of view and finding clarity within myself about my own decisions and boundaries.

Despite the challenges, I see many things that I consider positive coming out of our struggles. I think many more people in the world realize in a new way that we are all connected and that we must take care of everyone and not just ourselves for all of us to survive. I, like most people, have become more creative in interacting with other people, both with technology and in person. In that way the world seems like a smaller place, and I have deepened relationships with people in other parts of the world. So despite all the scary news in the media, I remain optimistic that in the long run, covid will be a force that brings us together more than it separates us.

My bud is my intention to hold to my course of being more present and alive in the moment, and remain optimistic that this, along with patience, trust and some focused effort, will lead to my unfolding in the new year.

I look forward to hearing from you. Please comment below.

 

Lunar New Year Open House

Join us for our annual celebration at the Hendricks Park Shelter on Saturday February 5, 2022, 9 am – noon.

We will practice some easy qigong together by a roaring fire and introduce newcomers to our style.  Practice is followed by hot tea and snacks while we talk about the animal for the year, the tiger, and its implications for what we might expect to see in society and for ourselves.

We ask for a $10 donation to cover the cost of rent for the shelter and wood for the fire. Please bring a camp chair and a light snack to share.

Click here to view the event and RSVP.

 

Beginning Qigong Class

Qigong is a practice that opens us to deeper levels of our present experience in our bodies and in the world around us. We relax and strengthen our bodies, quiet our minds, and refine our awareness through graceful stretching, moving, walking, and breathing combined with an alert presence and visualization. This is called “nourishing life” practice because we refresh our vitality and health as we feel our oneness with the greater universe and absorb its abundance of life force energy, or qi. At the same time, we let go of tension in the body and the mind and clear an inner space for clarity and self-observation.

If you want to bring new energy and a fresh perspective into your life in 2022, I invite you to this 6-week online class which will prepare you to join other Moon and Lotus qigong classes and practices in Eugene.

Dates: Tuesday evenings, February 8 – March 15, 2022
Times: First class 6:30 pm – 8 pm; following classes 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Place: online via zoom
Fee:  $60 if paid by Feb 1 and $75. after Feb 1.  If that amount is difficult for you now please send an email to kquale@moonandlotus.com  I do not want finances to be a barrier.

Click here to view the event and signup.

Book Review: HeartMind Solutions

Book Review: HeartMind Solutions

Book Review by Deborah Valentine Smith, BA, LMT (NY), Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM)

AOBTA® President
Authorized Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® Teacher
AOBTA® Certified Instructor

HeartMind Solutions
Direct Awareness to Transform the Roots of Pain and Stress in Soma and Psyche
A Clinical Guide for Acupuncture and Asian Bodywork
By Kamala Quale, MSOM, LAc

Kamala has created a resource that can be taken in whole or in part. Many of the techniques stand alone and can easily be integrated into your practice to make it more effective and even used personally for guidance and insight.

This is a beautiful treasure house that marries theory and technique in masterful ways. It is a must for both work with clients and self-care.

I’ve known Kamala Quale for at least 30 years and am deeply appreciative of what she brings to ABT from her mastery of Chinese Medicine, Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure® and Hakomi Mindful Somatic Psychotherapy. She has made the gentle, rich principles of Hakomi available to the practice of bodywork in a safe and effective way.   You may have seen her Connect & Learn presentation, “Bodymind Skills that Assist Clients to Discover Themselves in the Moment: The Wisdom in Patterns of Tension, The Resource in Patterns of Expansion” in August of 2019.  She will also be presenting “Body Stories: Releasing Shen through Body Awareness” at the 2021 AOBTA® Convention in May.

I also practice and teach Jin Shin Do® Bodymind Acupressure®, which actively engages the client by using body focusing, breathing and visualization to bring their attention to the body and to give voice to its messages. I have highly recommended this book to students and practitioners. The point of view is rooted in Shen and encourages the client to connect with the inner Self, the HeartMind.  As she says, “By facilitating this connection, we help our clients to revitalize their physical and emotional health, increase internal resources and bring meaning to the healing journey.”

The book contains articles on general topics, like “The Science of Symbols” and “Emotion as a Cause of Disease According to Chinese Medicine.”  In addition, there the techniques are based on sound counselling principles further enlightened by the insights from the foundations of Yin/Yang and the Five Elements.

The application of Five Element theory is expounded in several sections. First, a there is a general description of each of the elements in relation to work with a client. Following, there are sections on “A Five Phase Approach for Inspiring Your Practice and Creating a Healing Relationship,” “Five Phases to Guide Your HeartMind Session” and “Five Phases of a Session and Required Skill Set” that includes some options for Point Selection.

In another section she outlines the steps of a session rooted in the HeartMind principles.

  • Educate and Clarify Goals
  • Promote Self-Awareness
  • Resonate and Observe
  • Communicate Effectively
  • Work with Emotional Intelligence

Each of these steps is accompanied by an explanation of the principles involved and detailed descriptions of techniques.  For instance, under “Promote Self-Awareness,” there is a discussion of the characteristics of Mindfulness, studies of Mindfulness and the brain, how to use it therapeutically, and the attitudes necessary for the practitioner. The Method section includes step-by-step techniques: “Personal Wisdom in Tension, Discover the Pattern,” and “Compare Released and Unreleased Areas of the Body.”

Deborah V. Smith

What’s Under the Surface?

What’s Under the Surface?

With the great conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn that happened on December 21, we are at the beginning of a 20-year cycle that can help create a shift in our individual and collective orientation. The COVID virus has already started that shift. It has been the catalyst for change that wants to happen. Change starts with a desire to move in a certain direction. The beginning of a new calendar year is a natural time to reassess how we want to direct our energies.

We may sense that there are seed ideas, inklings and intuitions germinating under the surface in our psyches. Maybe right now they are general directions like, I want to optimize my health, or I want more connection, or I want to work for social change, or I want to open to my truest potential. Seeds that germinate during the winter naturally sprout in the spring.

But seeds need the right environment to reach their greatest potential. They need quiet, the right mix of darkness and light, enough moisture, proper nutrients, and fertile surroundings that inform them. So, what does that mean for you? What will help your seeds germinate and become clarity of vision and purposeful action?

Not surprisingly, I would suggest that the regular practice of qigong and meditation with a community of like-minded people are examples of nurturing processes that cultivate clarity, keep the body healthy and strong, help you stay balanced and centered, and fertilize the ground of being. When we move together with others we stay on course and our efforts are multiplied.

The community of the Moon and Lotus Center for Movement and Healing invites you to join our qigong and meditation circles and see if they are a good fit.

See Event Calendar for current class offerings. Sign up to receive our newsletter with class details and schedule.

Embodied and Present

Embodied and Present

2020 has been a year that has tested us to the max. There has been the covid pandemic, renewed racial awareness, civic unrest, unruly political debates, increased fires and hurricanes. Many people have lost loved ones and their homes. There is a lot of grieving, fear, anger and resistance going on inside. Each of us has our own way of reacting and coping which may look like numbing out, getting distracted, complaining and criticizing, ignoring our feelings, over-working or getting lost in overwhelm.

How can we let go of reactivity and respond from a place of feeling truly present, authentic, and grounded in our physical being? I do not have answers, but I do know that we have many resources. Being comfortable and present in our bodies is one of the most tangible and least considered. To relax into the body with increased awareness of its messages and be able to shake off stress to release the nervous system is an important skill. When we relax, we can soften, open, change patterns and feel spacious in the body and mind. In this spaciousness we can find a fresh connection to ourselves, each other, and current life events. Even if we touch  into this greater source of inner spaciousness and creativity regularly for just a few moments at a time, we start to see that we can respond to outer chaos with greater confidence, better boundaries, and a steady sense of inner presence.

Beginning this Monday evening, Oct 5, I am offering a six week group for women to facilitate feeling embodied and present. It meets for three Mondays in October and three in November. We will practice movement with self-awareness in the form of qigong shaking and acupressure points to open key energy centers and sitting meditation to guide the mind away from distress and towards a deeper sense of inner vitality and presence. We will also have time to share our struggles, inspirations and creativity with each other.

This group meets from 6:30 pm – 8:15 pm. For exact dates and to register, click here: https://www.moonandlotus.com/event/monday-night-womens-self-care-and-meditation-group/

You can also watch videos for shaking and tapping to release stress here. https://www.moonandlotus.com/acupuncture-and-counseling/self-care-acupressure/

Warmly,

Kamala

Question for the Week before Solstice

Question for the Week before Solstice

I’d like to propose a question for this week, and that is: How am I doing what I’m doing? In other words, what is my inner attitude while I am performing an action?

For example, is my nose to the grindstone, am I acting in a hurried manner or preoccupied with something else? Am I pressuring myself to do something or to accomplish something, subtly criticizing myself or someone else, or am I nervously or worriedly doing something? How about am I happily or gratefully doing something, am I doing it in a relaxed way?

I caught myself sitting to meditate this morning with an inner attitude that was tight, like a duty, “I need to do this.” When I realized it (mostly by becoming aware of my body and thought patterns) I decided to “relax” and “open” instead. I’d rather be in the space of I want to meditate vs I have to.

I was sitting outside in the morning and it was beautiful. I had only noticed that peripherally so far because my mind was preoccupied. So I took a couple breaths and repeated “relax” and “open” a few times. My body softened and so did my mind. My thoughts slowed down. I relaxed into the beauty of the morning, and my gratefulness to be alive and well. I listened to the birds singing, looked at the vibrant colors, inhaled the fresh smells.

By focusing on what I was taking in with my senses, my body and attitude shifted. My awareness began to expand gradually and naturally into a meditative head space. I felt more present within and I sensed the subtle presence of my teachers and guides in the spaciousness of the moment. I asked myself, “what would my problems feel like if I were on the moon right now?” The answer was “very different.”

Have a great day and week enjoying the fullness and build-up to solstice on Saturday.

Kamala

Original Face

Original Face

Today I’m preparing for the international facial workshop I’m giving  (May 28, 11 am- 1pm, free) and I’m contemplating about Original Face, a concept in Daoism and Buddhism which points to knowing ourselves as the cosmic qi and essence that is present in us before we are born. Returning to our original face is another way of pointing us towards realizing who we really are at heart. Here is a quote from Lillian Bridges, who is a Chinese face reading expert.

“According to Deng Ming-Dao in his book Everyday Tao: Living with Balance and Harmony, the very ancient pictogram (Chinese character) for Dao shows a character on the left that means run and another that shows a leg or them movement of running below. The character on the right is a face with hair on top. This face is the Original Face and when you know it, it allows you to follow your life’s purpose, which I can the “Golden Path.” In other words, when you know who you are and who you came in as, you can find the virtuous action “Te” (like in Tao Te Ching) that allows you to complete your destiny (“Ming”) and become your best future or golden self. This is classic Taoist Alchemy.”

So I sat in meditation today and asked myself and the universe, “what is my Original Face?” I repeated it several times, quieted my mind and made it my intention to know more about my inner essentialness. Gradually my mind went back to childhood memories and my face and expressiveness as a child. I had memories of growing up in an Italian-American family. My grandparents were immigrants. Travelers from a different culture. I remembered an insight that I had in the past that my purpose was to share information across cultures. One example is how in the US, I share information from my deep study of yoga philosophy, Chinese medicine, and Daoism.

This current facial workshop with my co-presenter from Italy and participants from the US and Italy is another attempt to share cross cultural information and connect people from different parts of the world. No doubt that is why I am enjoying the process so much.

So, I invite you to contemplate the same question and see what happens. I sent this letter to the women in my Monday Night Women’s Qigong Group, because our theme is women and manifestation which connects with internal earth element energy. Centering and aligning yourself to discover your clear intention and manifesting that in the outside world is part of leading from a deeper center within.

I look forward to hearing your insights in the comments section. Let’s share our wisdom

With warm qi,

Kamala

PS: If you want to participate in the Love Your Face workshop, or the Monday Night Women’s Qigong group (open to new members in June) let me know in the comment section below.

Self-Care Acupressure to Boost Immunity

Self-Care Acupressure to Boost Immunity

The following video is a recording of my online presentation which talks about the immune system from a Chinese medicine perspective, a western medicine view of how the covid-19 virus affects lung cells, and a demonstration of the acu-points done in China for health care providers to boost their immune system. In this presentation I show how you can stimulate the points with finger pressure and also with an essential oil blend and a heat source (hair dryer). I also demonstrate qigong shaking to relax tension and increase circulation and general vitality. Feel free to share this video link with anyone in your network. To Your Health!

Kamala

I Believe My Body Can Heal

I Believe My Body Can Heal

I didn’t know what to expect when I walked into the hospital room. On the door was a sign that said please talk to the nurse before entering. She has been living with ovarian cancer for more than a year, keeping it under control with chemotherapy. She has a lot to live for because she has two young daughters. Recently the cancer got much worse and damaged her intestines. The holes in the intestine were patched in surgery and tubes are helping them drain. I heard that she was on hospice and they thought she would pass last week, but she rallied.

I went to the nurse’s station and said that I would like to visit. The nurse was very cheerful and asked how I knew her. Then she knocked on the door and opened it to tell her I was there. I was greeted by a big smile and a bright face. “Thank you for coming.” Inside were three other young women friends who were smiling and upbeat. Not the situation I had feared before entering.

I sat beside her bed and she filled me in about recent events. “I’m on hospice now,” she said, “but I’m hoping to get off. I had to come in for the surgery and to get the pain under control. They told me I only had 72 hours, but here I am! There is some skepticism that the holes in my intestine will heal on their own.” Then she motioned me to get a little closer and said, “But I’m keeping my focus. I believe my body can heal.” She said it as if it were a secret that not everyone would agree with.

She has always had a strong inner light and determination to heal, and here it was still beaming. Her body looked very thin and she wore a bandana around her forehead. Above that there was very little hair. But her eyes were bright. and she was very much alive. “You have always been a strong woman,” I said. “Your inner light is shining brightly.”

I asked her if there was a plan now. She said, “They think I don’t need full hospital care, but the tubes make it a little tricky. The girls are going back to school tomorrow. When I thought I only had a few days to live I wanted them by me.”

When I stood to leave, I told her that I was going to send her light every day to support her own. As I walked out of the room and down the hall, I felt inspired to see her optimism in such dire circumstances. I felt the strength of her inner spirit and her will to live. I want to support that. We are alive until we are not. We can help hold the candle for each other.

If you are reading this today, I hope you will take a moment and see her, and all the people in the hospital, bathed in the healing light of love.

Thank you.

Call Now Button