"Turning the clocks ahead an hour in spring seems to effect me more, and longer, than changing the clocks in fall. It’s not just the loss of an hours sleep but I seem to be out of sync for a week or so. Judging from the articles I’m reading it’s not just me. Any suggestions from the Qigong perspective?" Bill F., Taiji and Qigong student.
I have the same issue and until Bill asked, I really hadn't thought much about it- just endured it every year like a dog. I love "fall back" time, because it seems to me that that one hour of extra sleep does wonders-but spring forward-no thanks! Most sources I looked at talk about it taking around 3 days to a week to finally adjust to the change in time, giving symptoms that are comparable to jet lag- it interrupts the circadian rhythm, described in Chinese medicine as the movement of Qi through the energetic body and organs in a natural progression through the body's energetic pathways, or meridians. There are certain times that each organ is either strong or weak with Qi; that circulation stays the same, but we are acclimated to our sense of time, so when it changes suddenly, there is a kind of "hiccup". With the change in time, whether going through DST, or into another time zone geographically, it creates cognitive dissonance between the routine way the energy runs in the body- which influences sleeping and waking, among other things-and the new reality. This can cause mental confusion and manifest as fatigue or mental cloudiness until you finally adjust to the new condition. The struggle is real-
How to Recover Yourself at Daylight Savings time:
1) Amy Williams- Meridian Sweep
This Qigong exercise is also recommended for jet lag. It restores a natural rhythm in the energy pathways that move throughout the body when they are disrupted by travel to different time zones or by the dissonance caused when our natural routine is altered, making activities seem out of sync with time.
2) Daylight Savings time does create problems that are real for many people, including fatigue from changing sleep patterns, muddle head, and even more serious concerns, like triggering depression and heart attacks for those prone. Suggestions for coping with the sluggishness produced by the change in time, according to the website, TimeandDate.com:
"Being tired can decrease productivity, concentration, and general well-being. There are some simple ways of making it easier to handle the clock change:
-Set your alarm to wake up a little earlier than usual on the Friday and Saturday before the DST switch. This makes it easier to get out of bed on Monday morning.
-Eat a healthy breakfast first thing. Food tells your body it is the start of the day.
-Go for a walk. Light, and especially sunlight, helps to adjust your body clock.
-Help your child adjust by putting him or her to bed a little bit earlier the week before the time change."
3) Acupressure to stimulate points along the meridians, provided by Dantian Health (here).
Spring Self Cultivation with Liver energies: Combining sound, movement an meditation to invite more compassion into your mind and body. Invite yourself back from self banishment.
“Forgive someone today. Especially if that someone is you.” ― Gina Greenlee, Postcards and Pearls: Life Lessons from Solo Moments on the Road
Tara Brach on the RAIN of Self compassion
Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Nurture (RAIN)
Recognize what is happening
Allow it to be there, just as it is.
Investigate with interest and care.
Nurture with self compassion
Let Tara's beautiful voice and spirit lead you through it. You won't regret it. "Darling, I care about this pain." Thich Nhat Hanh
Sound therapy, using the healing sound for the Liver (produced by Chong Acupuncture, Chinese Medicine and Tai Chi):
The Xu (Shu) sound can offer relief from emotional blockages, cool the hot energy of anger, rage or stuck energies of depression and hopelessness. Physically, it can help restore energy from fatigue, and excessive drug/alcohol use. The arm movements also stretch the ligaments and tendons, helping with flexibility and strength in the joints and muscles.
Mimi Kuo-Deemer on Liver and Gall Bladder Meridian. Similar to the meridian sweep for DST, this simple movement can help keep the Gall bladder and Liver energies running smoothly, promoting calmness and kindness to frazzled nerves.
Incantations, Prayers, Magic Words and Mantras- Part One
Speaking “Magic Words” was once taken so seriously that the misuse of speech was seen as a grievous ethical and moral error; since Words name something into reality. The energy put forth in Words lives- it Becomes.
Faith Projection and Sacred Healing Words/Sounds (Incantations, Mantras, Prayers)
Sacred words and sounds are types of Breath Incantations, which are equivalent to positive healing affirmations. They are given and received in at least three ways- from healer to patient; from patient to self; and spoken simultaneously by both healer and patient. They are a form of “suggestive therapy” (Johnson, p. 68) using the spoken words as Qi emission, when the Words are audible and as communication of the Shen (spiritual) aspect when the words are transmitted telepathically. Called Shen Zhou in Chinese, Breath Incantations are a way of “speaking intention”; as such they are used clinically and in personal practice to remove old thought patterns and establish new ones by vibrating through all three energetic bodies (Jing, Qi and Shen Wei Qi fields), dissolving the useless thought form, leaving the fresh possibilities of new directions in place.
In Faith Projection, the Mind manifests what the Heart believes (Heart and Mind are connected in Eastern theories, with the Heart being the lead). Negative beliefs will have a destructive influence on the work of healing as described by the nocebo effect, coined by medical researcher Walter Kennedy in 1961; the nocebo effect occurs when negative expectations of a patient regarding the treatment (or method) can cause the treatment to be ineffective. In order for a healing prayer to be effective the words spoken have to be said with the utmost solemn confidence. (Johnson tells the story of a master healer who made everyone in the room during the healing raise their hand if they had any doubts the healing would occur- those who raised their hands were made to leave the room for precisely this reason- even the energy of unspoken doubts could pollute the environment).
In the ancient Imperial Colleges, Faith Healing was categorized as “Divine Incantation” (Johnson, p 68). The Daoist shamans and scholars believed that language itself had a magical power and the spoken word was a potent part of ancient Daoist/Shamanic healing. As such, speaking “Magic Words” was once taken so seriously that the misuse of speech was seen as a grievous ethical and moral error; since Words name something into reality. The energy put forth in Words lives- it Becomes.
Energetically, what is a Word?
A Word centers an idea, like the idea is the center of a mental image. “The Mind subconsciously molds itself around the prevailing mental image or attitude, then proceeds to draw from the outer worlds the various material from which to build according to the belief…in all energetic practices, Words are considered to be living beings.” (Johnson, p. 72). A Word’s meaning is taken to be its Spirit; its Sound provides a Body and the Letters are the individual organs that make the Body function. A word is the name of something. Knowing the “True Name” of something is to possess tremendous power to influence its manifestation or behavior. This is because the Word of a True Name is not a mere noise, but the living body of the thing itself. Once called out, it influences that Body into Being. In Daoist terms: a Name has incredible power; when correctly pronounced (vibrated) it combines the Will (Zhi/Water) of the Speaker and the Spirits (Shen/Fire) of both the Words and the Speaker. This is a transformation of Shen to Qi to Jing; vocalized Qi comes alive and the energy generated release the power in the word, bringing it into form. Seen this way, the word is a blueprint that shapes space and time for energy to become matter. The effectiveness of Sacred or Healing words is dependent on the patient’s level of Trust, a gut feeling or Spleen issue. Interestingly, the Spleen is also the place of focus and manifestation (Yi), where the Mind integrates all energies into- his or her feeling of safety in the healing environment and how connected to the healing force (healing energy, Divine energy and healer’s energy) she believes herself to be.
Energetically, what is a mantra?
Mantras can be actual words that carry all the power described above. Many times, though, they are a combination of sounds that are thought to resonate or vibrate with spiritual power, e.g., the famous Om, or Aum, thought to contain the essence of ultimate reality, but in itself is not an actual word that "means" something. Why use them? Chad Foreman explains that at the most simple level, mantras give the mind something to focus upon during meditation practice, helping it to keep still. "So why is using a mantra so effective? put simply it’s because it employs the thinking mind instead of trying to ignore it, silence it or subdue it. It uses thoughts to transcend thoughts, which is an extremely skillful method." (thewayofmeditation)
Western research is showing this to be true- that the repeating of mantras does deactivate the default activity of the brain, or the discursive mind, which is often thought of as "the monkey mind". Studies on the use of mantras from neuroscience are showing that "when we are beholden to our discursive mind, we can easily be led down the path to negative headspace—further away from our true, relaxed nature. In fact, research suggests that it doesn’t matter whether you recite an ancient Sanskrit mantra such as Sat nam, or the Lord’s Prayer, or any sound, word, or phrase—as long as you repeat something with focused attention, you’ll get results." (Yoga Journal) This kind of brain entrainment is even more effective with tapping activity, as is done in Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) and "Open the Door, Remove the Thief" (discussed below).
In suggestive therapies, the charge of the Word “Heal!” imitates the power of the Divine creative imperative- "Let there be Light!" It’s crucial when speaking healing words to do so with complete integrity, defined as wholeness, especially with Divine source. In Chinese medicine Integrity is a spiritual virtue associated with the breath and the Lungs. The breath used to sound the Word and the blueprint contained in the Word's meaning will potentially restore the original coherence of the physical body, guarded by the Corporeal Spirits, the Po. This requires at least two things: knowing what the purpose and meaning of the Words are; and having confidence in one's inseparability from the healing powers available to us in our Universe. The healer is a channel through which the Divine Speaks and Acts, or in less religious terms, a healer simply knows how to access the integral design of the body, becoming a conduit through which wellness is transmitted to herself or another person who is out of sync with his or her true Name and meaning.
Two Ways to use Incantation/Prayer and Mantra to achieve Inner Peace and Wholeness
Purify the Heart Incantation (as interpreted by Dr. Bernard Shannon, DMQ (China):
I'd like to do a more thorough examination of this prayer as we change into the season of Summer, the time of year most resonant with the Heart organ system. The purpose of this incantation, or prayer, is to purify the Mind (considered part of the Heart organ system), emotions, spirit and body as it purges turbid thoughts and emotional patterns, easing the pathway to tranquility. “Ordinary people, non-Daoists, may also discover many of the blessings when reciting the incantation correctly and with pure motivation.” (Shannon, p. 1)
Although reciting this prayer is beneficial for the whole body, in keeping with the Spring practice theme, with its emphasis on the strengthening the Liver system, I thought I would describe the benefits using the Wood element themes. Dr. Shannon points out in his interpretation of this famous incantation, the first of eight primary prayers in Daoist training. One benefit of reciting "Purify the Heart" is to purge the energy of disturbing thoughts and emotions, an action that protects the body's ethereal and corporeal Spirits, who are called the Hún (Three Ethereal Souls, or "Cloud Ghosts") and the Pò (Seven Corporeal Souls, or "White Ghosts"), respectively. They must move in harmony in order for a person to be alive and tp thrive. In contrast to the Original Spirit, housed in the Heart, these Spirits are part of the acquired experience of living in this space, time and as a particular person in a particular body. Christians may think of these two types of spirits as the proverbial devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other, which catches some of their functions, but Chinese artists depict them often as a Dragon (Hun) and Tiger (Po), whose cosmic battle (or dance if you prefer, and I do) balances the forces of being a fallible human being with the forces of our even better natures.
A little background on the Hún and the Pò (more is way beyond the scope of this post!):
The Hún, or Cloud Ghosts, are a collective of 3 Ethereal Souls that are rooted in the Liver orb; each also inhabits one of the three Dantians, or energy centers, in the Lower abdomen, Middle chest and Head. A few of the tasks they have are to promote the Clear Sight- the ability to plan and dream, promote creativity and good connections with others and the Divine through the Heavenly Virtues (Compassion, Peace, Trust, Integrity and Wisdom). The Dragon is their animal totem. Each of these spirits has name. Shuăng Líng- "Cheerful Spirit"-regulates the Middle Dantian, where the Heart, the Lungs and the Liver are influenced. In regard to the mental states of anger and hostility, Shuăng Líng would likely employ the power of compassion to balance the excess hot energy rising from the Liver in anger or depression, or may cool the anger with the idea of loss, or what could be lost if the rage continues, to give it pause (Metal controls Wood).
The Pò, or White Ghosts, are a collective of 7 Corporeal Souls that are rooted in the Lungs, but are spread out through the Taiji pole with two governing openings at the bottom of the feet and the top of the head. Primarily, they are tasked with protecting the physical body and provide us with our sensual experiences (Clear Sense). When out of balance, it is their energies that produce the toxic excesses of the acquired emotions. The Tiger is their animal totem.
Fēi Dú, "Flying Poison", is the name of the Po of Celestial Power (Tian Chong). This is the Wood element Pò, responsible psychologically for a