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Articles by Jim Martin, LAc
- • Spring Cleaning the Mind: Meditation in this New Season •
- • Enjoying a Taste of Spring •
- • Clearing the Wind: Dealing with the Seasonal Allergies of Spring •
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Spring Cleaning the Mind: Meditation in this New Season
Many people have issues “turning off their brain” to go to sleep or even just to relax. And for others this inability to “quiet the mind” can bring its own set of stress and anxiety. It might seem like an impossible task for some, but the steps to begin a regular meditation habit are simple and easy to attain.
Even mainstream medical practitioners recognize the positive impact of meditation, a type of mind-body medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. It doesn’t have to be complicated to get started. It’s as simple as finding a quiet room, a comfortable position, focused attention, and an open attitude. And one of the best tips might not be something you have even considered before: don’t try so hard.
There are many helpful apps, programs, and websites that can help you begin but the main thing you want to do is don’t set your expectations super high as you begin. Set a goal and go with it. For example, better sleep, reduced anxiety, or stress relief. And don’t be afraid to try different methods of meditation until you find one you are comfortable with.
After setting your goal or intention as it is sometimes called, create a space that is comfortable and free of distractions and noise. Some people like to keep things minimalist while others like to add things that make them comfortable or bring joy (like candles, plants essential oils, or special lighting). If you are using a guided meditation app or program, you might consider using earbuds to cut out the distractions and noise.
Now that you have set a goal and created a space, the next tip is to make your meditation a daily routine. Just like finding daily time to exercise, setting a time to meditate helps ensure you will make it a habit. For some, this might mean meditating first thing in the morning before the day begins. For others, meditating nightly before bed helps quiet the mind for better sleep.
No matter what meditation method you choose, just beginning the journey is a step in the right direction. Meditation can help both your mental and physical health so developing a consistent practice is the key to success. Just get started and be open to where the path takes you!
Enjoying a Taste of Spring
After the soups and comfort foods of fall and winter, it’s time to enjoy the harvest of Spring vegetables. Nothing heralds the arrival of Spring and warmer temperatures like a nice Spring Harvest Salad. Depending on where you live, these vegetables may vary a bit in their arrival time but adjust the ingredients and ratios to your preferences.
Spring leaf lettuce (and some other varieties depending on where you live) can be plentiful this time of year so enjoy this early harvest of greens and mix and match to your taste buds. Spinach is also a great addition to any salad and packs a great nutritional punch. Spring onions are also plentiful this time of year as they are one of the first vegetables ready to harvest in early Spring.
This salad begins with spring leaf lettuce, spinach, and if you like that peppery bite, a bit of arugula. Artichokes are also in season in the spring so adding those delicious hearts is a great option. Throw in some sliced strawberries and some of those spring onions and you have the base to a beautiful salad!
Dressings can vary by preference as some want to keep the flavors as the star but here is a simple dressing for this amazing salad.
- 4 teaspoons of lemon juice
- 2 ½ teaspoons of olive oil
- 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons of Dijon mustard
- Pinch of salt and pepper
Adding a bit of feta cheese and some sliced toasted almonds takes this salad over the top. Bon Appetite!
Clearing the Wind: Dealing with the Seasonal Allergies of Spring
Spring is a beautiful rebirth after a sometimes long, cold, and harsh winter. However, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know that this rebirth of Spring brings with it a release of pollen that can trigger hay fever. As plants, trees, grasses, and weeds begin to release their pollen, millions of people begin to sneeze and sniffle.
Symptoms include a stuffy nose, itchy eyes, nose, and throat, coughing, and nasal congestion. What happens is the body detects the pollen in the system and thinks it needs to attack this foreign substance. Histamines get released into the body and the war of seasonal allergies begins.
Over-counter-medications are often the first line of defense but can bring additional side effects and they treat the symptom but not the root cause. Clinical research demonstrates the effectiveness of acupuncture in treating seasonal allergies. Specific treatment points differ according to a person’s symptoms but common points that might be addressed include L120, ST2, and ST36 to deal with Qi deficiencies to get to the root of the problem. If you are sensitive to prescription medications, acupuncture is a great drug-free option to help relieve the symptoms of seasonal Spring allergies.
In addition to acupuncture treatments, there are other steps you can take to minimize your symptoms.
- Do a spring cleaning and clean out particularly dusty or moldy areas of your home like air vents, basements, and attics.
- Stick to indoor activities to minimize pollen exposure
- Keep doors and windows closed.
- Take a shower to rinse off pollen after outdoor activities.
The root cause of allergies is different for everyone. Another popular and helpful option to explore with an acupuncturist or Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner is adding herbal formulas to your treatment plan as this can greatly increase the efficacy of the treatments. Adding herbal formulas along with the traditional needle treatment can be an effective one-two punch for treating seasonal Spring allergies.