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Greetings, I hope this note finds you, your family and all those you care for safe and staying balanced during the current pandemic. We know that our efforts to "flatten the curve" in NY have had some success so the commitment to "shelter in place", social distancing, masks and gloves are not in vain. PLEASE, continue to be vigilant with these practices, the Covid-19 virus is virulent and still very much circulating among us.
NYC continues to honor the health care providers and first responders on the front lines and all the service people that continue to work to keep the "essential service" systems going. Whether you participate in the 7pm cheer or find your own way to express gratitude, there is a sense of unity and NY grit that shows through as we manage the ever changing circumstances of our lives.
If you have experienced loss during this time, I offer my sincere condolences and send wishes of healing for you and those affected by the loss.
I am thinking about all my patients and want to check in and let you know I continue to send positive thoughts your way for continued stability, flexibility and good health. I am healthy and continue to work on my own stability so I may continue to be available for the work we do together.
I have taken advantage of my own "pause", to connect with individuals who I relate to wellness, in multiple ways. One very nourishing gift to myself is the Zoom classes offered by the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York's gifted teachers, as well as a one week seminar with the granddaughter of Guruji, BKS Iyengar, teaching from India. I know I will not travel to India but a silver lining of the "pause" is this very special seminar "The Power of Unity" with one thousand participates from across the world tuning in each day/evening to share the teaching and gift of yoga instruction, truly a ripple of healing in the world. I send a ripple to you.
For most this is a period of extreme stress for a variety of reasons, some are collective stresses and many are individualized. It is easy to lose a sense of optimism which symbolizes, no matter how minimal, hope for the future. Uncertain circumstances, especially prolonged uncertainty, can lead to pessimistic feelings and reoccurring cycles of negative mental dialogue. The dialogue can be habituated patterning set wild, old patterning resurrected, or new patterning evolving out of the current uncertainties. Either way, the negative patterns can lead to a variety of feelings including, but certainly not limited to, low self-image, self-loathing and self-criticisms. We begin to question life decisions because the pandemic flips us belly up and leaves us vulnerable. Let's see if we can make a gesture, no matter how small, to change the negative narrative so that each day there is a connection to an optimistic and confident self.
A helpful option for quieting negative narratives is to practice compassion, compassion for the self first and then the ripple outward to compassion for others. Research into the subject of compassion has shown that when humans feel compassion for self, other humans, or any sentient being, the heart rate slows (in a healthy pattern) the "bonding hormone" of oxytocin is stimulated, and regions of the brain linked to empathy, caring and pleasure are stimulated. Sounds lovely, doesn't it? Worth a try, I would say.
If we can shift the narrative via a connection to compassion, we can lighten the mental load we are dealing with because it takes us outside of the fear response and sheds a bit of light towards a varied discourse with ourselves and others. If we release the negative thought cycles by practicing compassion and realize we are doing the very best we can under immense pressure, it assists in our health goals. Health enhancement is very much front and center for us all these days. If we acknowledge any amount of positive action, without judgment, then we have more energy to deal with the struggles.
In addition to reframing negative thoughts and exploring compassion, there are some other actions to consider to enhance health. If possible, any amount, stop for a few moments each day to take deep but very gentle breaths, allow the precious lungs to fill and expand so the life force (in Chinese medicine: Qi, in yogic practice: Prana) can circulate and nourish the sensitive tissue of the lungs. Breathe into the sides of the lungs and the deep layers of the lungs, not just the top or middle regions of the lungs. This supports our well-being and strengthens the lungs in the event that they need to combat a viral situation. If possible, with awareness and safety, take a walk in a park or any area where nature is thriving and reconnect with the healing power of nature. Also, reach out to others for support. This may be a friend, family member, spiritual advisor or teacher, or you may prefer professional assistance. Let others share your burden, it will lighten the load.
Governor Cuomo has begun to outline a plan to re-open NY businesses and from what I can assess, at this point, Acupuncture practice will be in phase two as part of the "professional" tier. In NYC we will have to see when the "requirements" are met to qualify for these phased reopenings. As the epicenter of the NY pandemic, NYC may see a slower stagger in the reopening process. I am hoping we will be able to resume on-site practice in June, of course with all possible safety precautions in place and with a slow start, to see how things can work to ensure all are protected as best as possible. Until then, I invite you to reach out and if you wish we can meet via telephone.
As discussed in the last letter, we can arrange a sliding scale to suit individual needs if the standard fee does not work. No one should hesitate to be in touch based on a fee issue.
I find that those I connect with via telephone, as ancient as that may seem these days, are finding the discussion rewarding. I think the telephone allows a chance to quiet the eyes and calm the nervous system. The eyes are so strained from computers, zoom meetings, on line classes, work from home scenarios and streaming shows for entertainment. All these activities are part of the current times but definitely create a strain on eyes and brain.
In Chinese medicine the eyes are the sensory orifice that opens from the Liver energetics and has a tremendous connection to the smooth flow of Qi (life force) which can be easily stagnated and the smooth flow of the emotions, which can be easily disrupted in the current times. The energetics of the Chinese medicine Liver channel travels throughout the nervous system and ascends to the brain. I find if we take that visual connection out of the equation during our discussion it helps to ease the nervous system and can have a calming effect on the body, mind and most importantly the spirit.
I have a little treatment "room" set up around my landline phone. The phone is in the center of a beautiful placemat, like a treatment table. I have an aromatic candle burning and various healing stones that I hold while we chat or I use to send a particular healing energy towards the patient. It is a re-creation of the ritual we engage in together when we meet on-site and lends to further support during the discussion. This space evolved organically and once I realized it had been created I thought, hmmm, that's nice, another silver lining in the management of connection in terms of adapting to the pandemic.
Patients have been finding the sessions helpful in reviewing, renewing or starting protocols for herbals, teas, vitamins, minerals, essential oils, bath solutions, gentle mediation and physical movement for immune support, stress management, pain syndromes, sleep support, grief and loss, trauma/shock, and general wellbeing and self-care during this crisis ridden time. Some fighting the virus, without needing hospitalization, benefit from suggestions on approaches to working through the illness.
This pandemic is truly a global crisis and has taken many from us and yet the life cycle continues on, as incongruous as this is, we see examples all around in the spring blossoms, emerging lush green leaves, change in day light and ease in weather conditions. In my practice I have had the privilege to witness this continuation of the human life cycle up close in consult with new moms, women currently carrying a child and some wishing to bring to fruition a new pregnancy. The human reproductive cycle is truly life moving forward with optimism despite our current strains.
I have taken advantage of my own "pause", to connect with individuals who I relate to wellness, in multiple ways. One very nourishing gift to myself is the Zoom classes offered by the Iyengar Yoga Institute of New York's gifted teachers, as well as a one week seminar with the granddaughter of Guruji, BKS Iyengar, teaching from India. I know I will not travel to India but a silver lining of the "pause" is this very special seminar "Unity in Yoga" with one thousand participates from across the world tuning in each day/evening to share the teaching and gift of instruction, truly a ripple of healing in the world. I send a ripple to you.
There are so many variables in people's lives right now, some are working from home and are busier than ever, students are attending classes online, teachers /professors have had to rework their entire curriculum and presentation, others are not at their job but home-schooling children and making many meals per day, others are catching up on spring cleaning, sorting and clearing projects or catching up on reading. And of course, the front line health care and first responders caring for very ill people. I have all these folks and many more in my practice and, I am holding them in my thoughts and care. No matter the situation, all can benefit from self-care enhancement and self-compassion to help navigate the uncertainties and strains we are all managing.
If you feel I can assist you, reach out and we can find a time to talk. If the time is not right now, please know I am thinking of you, hold steady and we will meet in the future when the time is right for you.
In closing, I will share a synchronistic occurrence from this morning in my NYC life. I began writing this letter a few days ago and this morning as I was waiting on the well organized, neighborly respectful, but long line to enter Trader Joe's at 94th St/ Columbus Ave, I noticed a quote from Coretta Scott King in the front entrance window that echoed the theme I discussed earlier in the letter: "The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members." New Yorkers are extending themselves with compassion, grace and patience during this crisis, hopefully we will continue to honor each other in this way and see ourselves through as a community and find renewed and sustainable connection to our shared humanity as well as relief from the current struggles.
As always, I appreciate your trust as I deliver a Wholistic form of health-care, both preventive and curative, and look forward to continuing to provide this care as we reconnect, recover, restore and heal from our current situation.