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Endota Spa Eltham, Natural Therapeutics
Brunswick 3095

Inner Path is a Chinese medicine approach to Health and Empowerment. Dr Rachel Berners (Chinese medicine) is a Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist.

Contact:  0417 325 393.
www.innerpathacupuncture.com.au
@ Endota Spa Eltham, Victoria.
@ Natural Therapeutics, Brunswick, Victoria.
CMR0001739517AACMA 1746

My Writing

ANXIETY AS A PATHWAY FOR HEALING

Innerpath Acupuncture

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In this blog, i would like to talk very honestly about anxiety. I have suffered from situational anxiety many times in my adult life, and i see anxiety in my clinic on a daily basis. I am slowly beginning to recognise that this is not an individual, yet a collective phenomena. We lead busy modern lives, many of us are juggling multiple responsibilities in life, we are often depleted and mentally over-stimulated, we struggle to maintain healthy boundaries and self-care practices. As a sensitive person, i know how easy it is to feel triggered by the emotions and experiences of others. We may feel like a failure, become overly critical (towards ourselves and others) and struggle to speak up and ask for support.

It is entirely normal to experience occasional anxiety, it is part of the journey of life. Chronic or persistent anxiety however indicates that our system is becoming dysregulated. Repeated episodes of intense anxiety, fear, terror, or panic attacks that are out of proportion to the actual danger of a situation indicate an anxiety disorder. Anxiety is often accompanied by insomnia, digestive upsets, chronic muscle tension, fatigue, and can easily lead to burn-out syndrome.

Like pain, anxiety is quickly pathologised in mainstream medicine, and medication is used in band-aid fashion to swiftly correct the imbalance (at a chemical level) and get a person "back on track" so to speak. Certainly, there are cases where anxiety does require medication, and careful monitoring by a psychological doctor. But i am finding that more and more people these days are on these sorts of medications and still not flourishing in their lives, not to mention experiencing common side effects such as weight gain, loss of libido and emotional numbness.

Is it time for us to re-assess the way we perceive anxiety?

What if anxiety is not actually a pathology, but a messenger from deep within, waking us up and asking us to pay attention to a hidden part of ourselves? If we are able to be still and take the time to move inward, what is our anxiety pointing to? What needs attention? What part of us is desperate and crying out for help? Chances are, it is a part of ourselves that we have been hiding from or ignoring. Anything that we resist will persist and erupt to be dealt with at some point. Does something inside of us need to break free and emerge? What hidden desire is our anxiety alerting us to? What is there to be uncovered?

Anxiety, in energetic terms, is basically energy that is stuck and not able to flow in a natural and harmonious way. Our creative energy is meant to move, we are meant to follow our intuition and desires in life, have new experiences, expand and express ourselves. Obstruction of this natural force creates discomfort and pain. It is up to us to gently lean in to this discomfort, to sit quietly with ourselves and listen to our innermost voice. What do i really need? What changes do i need to make in my life? Is my current lifestyle in alignment with my highest values? Am i living for myself or others? Am i moving towards my Joy? If not, why?... The only way for us to discern for ourselves is to take the time to regularly sit in silence and listen.

A few years ago, i was going through a particularly difficult time in my life. I had just emerged out of a relationship break up that hit me pretty hard. It was the break down of my first same sex relationship and i was in my late thirties. The shock and grief of the break up was compounded with a huge shift in my sexual orientation. I was suddenly "out", and i felt deeply unsettled. I went through a very weird and intense period of dating men and women (at the same time), yet i felt lost in myself. It was as if i had let go of an old identity, yet i was still getting to know the person that i was becoming. I felt highly anxious, lonely and very lost in myself. I felt judged by others. I felt judged by men for being a threat. I felt judged by the lesbian community for "not choosing sides" or "wanting to have it all". But really, it was me judging myself. I felt like i was floating on a distant island, a long long way from home.

It took time to fully integrate my experience. I was not a straight woman, but i was definitely not a lesbian either. I realised that i just simply fall in love with people, regardless of the physical body that they encompass. It was a painful journey to liberation (the layers of societal conditioning run deep). We conform to be accepted by and approved of by others, often unconsciously. Once i came into full unwavering acceptance of who i was, without needing the approval of others, everything changed. I found myself. I found my worthiness. I found my joy. I am now deeply happy in a heterosexual relationship, as in, i finally did fall in love again, with a person that just happens to be a man. Why am i sharing this? Because i am human, as we all are, each transforming and evolving and becoming more of ourselves.

Where there is discomfort, lean in gently, be curious, for there is always another layer to fall away and another wild discovery of self ahead.

Sending love to all on this brave path.

Rachel Berners, (Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner, Cat Lover, LGBTQ Supporter).

*The information in this blog is not a substitute for medical advice. If you are struggling or need help, please reach out to your local GP, or contact Beyond Blue Australia. This article was written with the intention of providing support and to offer a new way of perceiving a condition that affects us all.

Letting Go and Submerging Function in Chinese Medicine.

Innerpath Acupuncture

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Chinese Medicine perceives that there is no "out there", there is no separation between ourselves and each-other and the universe at large. At any moment in time, we exist as a microcosm of a much vaster macrocosm. We function as an "individual" in our waking day to day lives, yet we submerge into a much greater field of energy at night when we sleep.

Our ability to surrender into a state of deep rest (stillness) relates to the function of our nervous and lymphatic system. These systems can be visualised as complex webs that exist inside our bodies, that regulate our mood, stress response, metabolic and immune functions. These inner webs are inextricably linked to greater and more complex webs in the energetic realm outside our body. When these systems are functioning in harmony (balance), we are able to relax easily, let go of the day and submerge into the "ocean of oneness" (or Source energy). In this realm we exist purely as a function of creative consciousness, there is no matter, thus no separation, only absolute connection. Merging into this ocean has a restorative and regulatory effect, stimulating the bodies innate healing processes.

At any moment in time, we can close our eyes, become very still and merge into this field of energy. We start to sense ourselves as a tiny drop in this ocean of life, part of an intelligence that is much greater than ourselves as an individual.

As a Chinese Medicine practitioner, two of the most common issues that i treat in clinic is anxiety and insomnia. We are more stimulated and disconnected from self than ever before. Chronic stress (overstimulation) dysregulates the nervous system, so that a person feels over-whelmed and unable to submerge back into source energy. This is often felt as an inability to "switch off" and relax in the evening. This internal restlessness often perpetuates the need to distract oneself with external stimulation such as T.V, computer games or the internet. More distraction causes further over-stimulation which eventually results in exhaustion and fatigue. We all certainly know what it feels like to be in this place. It's just so easy to lose our centre in modern life.

To harmonise the nervous and lymphatic systems and assist the submerging function, i suggest the following:

1.Go to bed earlier. Going to bed before 10.30pm allows adequate time for submerging function and helps to re-balance an overactive nervous system.

2.Take a warm bath in the evening before bed. The purifying effect of water helps the body to let go of the built up tension from the day.

3.Start a regular meditation or yoga practice. A daily meditation practice does not need to be long and arduous, a short 10 minute guided practice is a fantastic way to submerge and re-connect. If sitting is too difficult, try some gentle hatha yoga to release tension from the body.

4.Practice sleep hygiene. Avoid T.V, computers and external sources of stimulation for 1 hour before bedtime.

5.Shut down WIFI, blue-tooth and data functions on your phone at night before you go to sleep.

6.Ensure that your bedroom is completely dark while sleeping. This means that if you open your eyes, you cannot see your hands in front of your face.

6.Don't consume any caffeine for at least 6 hours before bedtime.

7.Catch yourself in "projective thinking" mode (obsessing too far ahead in the future). Over-thinking everything that we have to deal with in the future creates overwhelm. Slow down by taking a few gentle deep breaths, connect with your body, and practice being "right here, right now".

Article written by Rachel Berners (Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner & Cat Lover). This article was inspired by the teachings of Heiner Fruehauf, PhD, LAc, Founding Professor of the College of Classical Chinese Medicine at NUNM.

AUTUMN: THE SEASON OF REFLECTION AND RELEASE.

Innerpath Acupuncture

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If you have been feeling a bit "off" lately, it may be in relationship with the change of season. Autumn in Chinese medicine is associated with the metal element, that governs the function of the lung and large intestine. In a metaphorical sense, these organs relate to the balance of "drawing in" and "letting go". As we start to notice the leaves falling from the trees, we become present to nature shedding itself. As we are part of(and not separate from) nature, we are being directed to shed and release at this time. A sense of unexplained grief and loss may be present. Spend some quiet time with yourself, tune-in to your body at this time, notice any uncomfortable feelings, and sense what you are being guided to let go of. Letting go is often not an easy process. Our human tendency is to cling to the past, even when it does not serve us. The warmer months of summer were wicked fun, heat begets movement and action, we have emerged and expanded, spirit has come out to play. However, after any big expansion, contraction must follow. Inspiration is followed by expiration. This is the law of nature.

In order to smoothly transition through this phase, we must do our best not to give in to ego and fight this re-direction inwards, as this will only create internal conflict. Create more space in your life for quiet time, reflection and meditation. If you feel energetically over-whelmed, honour yourself by saying no to extra demands or cancelling plans, the world will be just fine (i promise!). Start to give back to yourself the most valuable thing that you can give, your attention and energy. Letting go is an inherent function of nature, if we don't release the old (expire), there is no space in our life to welcome in the new (inspire). Without release, our energy system "backs up" and we become stale and stagnant. By allowing and honouring the release phase during the Autumn period, we remain "in harmony" with the natural cycle of yin-yang.

In traditional Chinese medicine, Autumn is a time when our "Wei-Qi" (immune defence system) is most delicate, so it's important to protect yourself by wearing more layers at this time. Avoid exposure to wind and cold. After the heat of the summer, our body is at its driest, so eat plenty of warm soups and broths. As yang starts to wane and we enter the yin phase, embrace this opportunity to slow down, reflect and return to yourself.

Rachel Berners, (Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner & Cat Lover).