Healing Is About More Than Just Healing Yourself
Let’s think about the concept of healing for a minute. Today if we feel ill the normal and sensible thing to do would be to go to the doctor to get some medicine. That is typical. We look to healers in order to get healed. But today my message is actually for the practitioners more so than the patients, and when you think about it, we all are the practitioners to some extent, at least for ourselves.
From Patient To Practitioner
Ok, so instead of getting all philosophical, what I am trying to say is that we play a role in our healing just as much as the practitioner does but with that said, there is a lot the practitioner can do in the process. I want to bring up a concept I teach my students. Your energy, your example and your ability to access the wisdom beyond yourself is how you truly heal. I was teaching my Tui Na class just the other day and we discussed the basic bodywork techniques and how to apply them, I had the students apply the techniques just as any bodywork class would go. But there is a catch here. There is more that can be done.
Your Energy Matters To You And Everyone Around You
Now you have heard me talk about the concept of intention, vibration of yourself affecting those around you and yes, how your design affects you, hence why I wrote “How To Design For A Healthy Mind And Body. And this is something I stress to students in the very beginning. Your energy matters for more than just yourself. When you choose to get into the arts for the purposes of healing, medicine or spiritual connection, it is your responsibility to responsibly take ownership of your own practices.
Practice What You Preach
There is nothing more frustrating for me when I meet a professional in any field who does not apply what they do in their own life. I need to practice what I preach, otherwise, how do I learn? How do I raise my own vibration? It is literally my responsibility to empower, elevate and heal my clients, patients and yea, my readers.
The Butterfly Effect
Someone in my class discussed the butterfly effect. How we essentially can create a whole string of events from every decision we make, or don’t make. Every action we take creates a ripple effect. For the path of healing, the butterfly effect needs to happen, that is how we gain momentum. As the healer and as the patient. When we begin to see some proof, we bring that proof out into the world to share with others. I explained to my students how every treatment and every single patient matters. Not just for a business but to raise the consciousness of the community, and the world. As practitioners living out our destiny, being in our element and being who we are meant to be and heal who we are meant to heal. We literally have the ability to create a string of events that can elevate humanity itself.. one patient at a time.
Do What Serves You
I have this message for everyone too however. Whatever it is that you do, do something that serves your spirit, not only your wallet. When your career and your intention align with what makes your heart full, then you too create a butterfly effect all around you, because your soul is happy. When you are functioning at a bright and higher vibratory frequency, your emotions, actions and energy are given to others. If you want happiness, you need to make a conscious choice to recognize how imperative your happiness is to not only yourself, but literally everyone else who is around you. Your happiness literally serves those you love, and that is taking an act of self love and self healing. There is more motivation than the self in this case, this is ultimately at its core, the purpose you can serve. When you are able to give from a full cup, you can help others give from a full cup too. Even a smile can set the tone for someone's day, and so can a negative thought pattern. Therefore, where are you now, where are you choosing to be, and what can you do to enhance where you are going?
My Highest Self
I believe I vibrate at my highest and do my best art, my best music and my best healing work when my soul feels full, when my body is nourished and when my self care is truly a non negotiable. My own life used to be full of stress, disease and truly I saw little point to what I could give to myself or others. It required a lot of reflection and taking some chances that were uncomfortable to find myself. But those were the necessary steps toward my success. It took heartache, sadness, depression, anxiety and questioning my own identity in order to attain my happiness and find where I belonged in the world. To be honest the healing journey is uncomfortable at times. But the freedom of shedding what is not ourselves is what makes the unknown and life itself more beautiful, exciting and worthwhile.
Success comes in so many forms and we attain it when we are grounded in who we are, what we want and where we are going. Even if we don't have our entire lives figured out, if we have an aligned mission that serves something greater than ourselves, then that is where we find fulfillment, purpose and community..
The Best Feeling In The World
There is no greater feeling than taking someone out of pain just with the ability of my healing hands just the same as someone having profound experiences through the concepts of my artwork or someone feeling the true essence of the songs I write. Belief in yourself, belief in your life and most of all, allowing yourself to be the brightest version of you, is what will give you everything you desire.
I Wasn’t Always This Way
Trust me, I shut it off for most of my life. I thought that I would never make it as an artist, as a practitioner or even as a teacher or musician. When I allowed myself to be all those things, and be who I truly wanted to be, my world flooded with opportunity, co creation and more love than I ever knew what to do with.
I Made a Conscious Choice
It all started with my conscious choice that I wanted to heal. I wanted to become a better version of myself and I wanted to help others to experience the same feeling.
This is why I practice, this is why I serve my community, this is why I create my artwork and this is why I sing whether someone likes it or not. I choose my butterfly effect, and I choose that effect to be enlightening for anyone who needs to come in contact with that vibration.
What Would You Do Differently?
If every action you took mattered to someone else as well as you, how would you carry yourself? If your number one mission was to be happy in your own life in order to benefit everyone else around you, what would you do differently?
This is what an abundance mindset is all about and this is why I do the things that I do. What do you do to get there too?
It was with this same thought process and framework for why I wrote the book, “How To Design For A Healthy Mind & Body” Which you can find below and why I have opened a new clinic in Downtown Phoenix that has a sliding scale community acupuncture section to make healthcare affordable and accessible to everyone. Have a look below:
Why Hyper-Stimulation Takes Away From Your Ability To Understand Art & Your Health
Distraction, the need for entertainment, depression and anxiety are at an all time high in society. It seems a bit odd doesn’t it? We seemingly have everything we need for all aspects of our life to thrive so why do we suffer so much mentally? With so much at our fingertips, humans now make choices rather than carry out chores in a sense. As cool as it may have been to stream movies centuries ago, there was too much to do in order to maintain survival, even modern electricity didn’t exist until fairly recently when you think about it. So where is the gap and why are we actually becoming more disconnected by having everything at our fingertips?
With modern technology and science we have accomplished so much by diving deep into understanding how to better serve humanity in so many ways. But the issue with having our scientific deductive method of reasoning, we have actually lost the holistic or in a sense, the whole point to many basic concepts and this is hurting us as a result.
The Dilemma of Luxury
Today we are living in an age where if we are bored we can fill that time with whatever we want to be entertained. Boredom, reflection and contemplation actually seem to take more of a back seat when it comes to ways to fill our time. We transitioned as a species who had a lot of time (like most other species) to the model of living that is actually too short on time. How many times have you heard or felt “I just don’t have enough hours in the day to do what I want to do?” That’s because we have so much we can fill our time with, we don’t necessarily take the time to read a book, reflect on philosophical understandings of the world in a round table discussion or even eat our meal without some device, some distraction, some entertainment around us. When was the last time you sat in a quiet room alone and ate your dinner without your phone near you, or the television on?
We have become so outwardly focused, we have lost the connection within. As a result, many of the younger generations of today are suffering with identity, career and fulfillment crises by their mid twenties! The generations that have grown up with social media, constant stimulation and simulation have always been able to look outward rather than dive deeper to understand themselves, find their own voice and discover who they really are. This has literally led us into greater numbers of depression, anxiety and ADHD than ever before. Where is the quiet time?
80% of the World’s Drugs Are Consumed in the US
Our health relies on maintaining a sound state of mind. When we become over-saturated, overstimulated and overmedicated to get through our day to day life, how far down the line do we need to go before we recognize something is not matching up? In the United States alone, 80% of the worlds drugs are consumed, many of which are inherently fixable chronic diseases. As we have discussed before, chronic disease is often linked to emotional imbalance, how can we balance ourselves in a state of constant need for external entertainment and validation about our own identity?
With art, painting and drawing were a highly sought after skill. As an example look at the renaissance period. The artist was revered in society because of their mastery within their craft. As technology has increased, many of the results that artists needed years to master can now be accomplished through photography for example. So where is the value of the portrait artist? Where is the need to become skilled? Why does technology actually hinder the deeper meaning of understanding art for ourselves?
Visual art, is the gateway into the artists subconscious mind. We can utilize this to better understand how others think and perceive the world. The reason people respond to art is because it is something we can innately relate to, something that connects us together as a species. In some ways art is seen as strictly visual rather than the story and the process utilized to create it. We can now get these stories through exciting film, social media or even a podcast. So when do we formulate our own opinions?
One of the ways I like to do this is simply going to a museum. It is quiet and an easy place to gather my thoughts. Before going up to the artwork or exhibit to read the story, I first decide how it makes me feel and what my perception of it is. This is how I exercise and practice and verify my own identity and emotions about a work BEFORE I am told what it is all about. The beauty of visual art like painting or drawing or sculpture is it gives us the ability for our mind and our subconscious to roam as far an wide as we want it to. This is ultimately what makes so many forms of art so special.
My challenge to you is the next time you look at your health, or view some art, try your own exercise. Contemplate a concept, how YOU feel about the art that is in front of you, and how YOUR health feels as you analyze it. This is often how we find the imbalances and answers all on our own and is ultimately how we can elevate your health, wellness and holistic views of the world around us.
If you are curious how this all relates, check out my book below.
Why Experiencing Art Is Actually A Medical Recommendation For Your Health
Art… A Necessity To Health?
It is rather fascinating when we think about art, music, design, entertainment; what would the world be to us without these things? Perhaps a bit bland to say the least, but let me rephrase this prompt to you. What is your health without art, music, design and entertainment? Did you ever think about how creating, experiencing and immersing yourself into arts actually enhances your health and thus is a necessity to your well-being?
The Healing Process
On the surface this idea may seem a little far-fetched for some people, because so much of art could be viewed as “non-essential” for our survival. I find myself always challenging this belief because in my clinic alone, I have found art to be an essential part of the healing process and something I recommend to my clients often.
Conscious & Subconscious
In the past I have referenced how art is something that taps into our ability to understand our conscious and subconscious mind and this is a reason it is essential to our health. If you would like to understand this concept further you can check out the article I wrote, “Do We Need Art?.”
So why Art for our health? This would be more related to science wouldn’t it? Well, rather than separating the two categories, we can combine our understanding of them into one. Perhaps you could read my article about “Shinrin Yoku” and the science behind grounding and forest bathing.
We can utilize art to counteract any emotional imbalance related to health conditions. It is evident most diseases result of emotional imbalances. These emotional imbalances then manifest physically or open the window to us getting sick. We know in science how stress suppresses our immune system function, and unhealthy emotions would be the step that is further back thus causing the emotional stress. Not very complicated to understand right?
The Medical Recommendation
So when we think about art, why would we take this as far as a medical recommendation for health? In the past we talked about this a bit but let me share why I recommend art as a form of holistic treatment to my clients. With the basis of understanding that emotional imbalance results in physical and mental stress thus suppressing our immunity and normal functions of homeostasis, we can get to the root of the issue through arts. When we can create, experience and immerse ourselves into a form of art that draws us, it becomes an outlet of deeper awareness, understanding and self-preservation.
The Wood Element Example
In Traditional Chinese Medicine the correlating element that carries anger and frustration is the wood element. The wood element correlates to the liver and gallbladder meridians and organs in our own body. The job of the liver in TCM is to allow the free flow of qi throughout the body. Another way I can translate this is we know that the liver acts as a filter for our system. When the filter is running smoothly our health is good, when the filter gets gummed up and backed up, we run into issues with efficiency and efficacy.
TCM & The Liver & Gallbladder
On an emotional level when we carry deep rooted frustration and anger, these emotions are the process that begin to slow the function of these meridians and organs. As a result this is when correlating symptoms begin to develop. I have referenced before but as a refresher- symptoms like this show up as a large range but to a practitioner like myself they all fit the pattern. Shoulder pain, upper back and neck pain, hypochondriac pain, IT band pain, sciatica going down the side of the leg, headaches at the top of the head, behind the eyes or at the temples, IBS, menstrual cramps, PMS symptoms, having a hard time seeing at night etc, these are just a few of many differentiating factors of ways a TCM practitioner can identify where the health blockages are before they would be picked up on a lab test. This results from pulse diagnosis, tongue diagnosis and the system of highly specified questions learned in training. These factors are just a few I see often relating back to the liver or wood element.
Physical & Emotional Stagnation
So with all that mentioned, the whole point of this example is to see why Art would help, in this case, the wood element, the liver and/or the gallbladder. When we feel frustrated, angry or even stagnant in life, we literally need to move that stagnancy. We do this physically through exercise and art is how we can do it mentally/emotionally. Art is what literally moves our liver qi thus aiding the filtration process on a subtle level. By utilizing art within our daily lives it changes our perception to situations, it can relieve our burdens by feeling understood, force us to dive deeper into our own beliefs and help us formulate ways we can move through the barriers in front of us that hold us back. By tapping into the artistic mind, we are utilizing a part of our brain that is not always as valued in modern society but is essential to our wellbeing. A movie can make you laugh just as much as it can give you the cathartic release you’ve been needing. A painting in a museum can help you understand the rooted anxiety and depression the artist was facing and how they used art to better understand it. A song can change your day around because the frequency and message within it helped remind you of what you value most in your own life.
These are all forms of how art rids us of our blockages, helps us reflect deeper into our own lives and as a result, remove the internal emotional blockages and misunderstandings that ultimately could be taking a toll on our physical and mental health.
This is exactly the basis of why I create the art I create to be medicinal, why I do medicinal design consultations, why I run my clinic and why I wrote the book, “How To Design For A Healthy Mind & Body” so that I could provide ways to help people dive deeper into themselves and ultimately elevate their own health & wellbeing.
Have a look at the book and the clinic below!
How Music Plays A Role In Holistic Medicine, Art & Healing
Yesterday I was talking to a good friend of mine about the different types of music that people listen to and how that affects their overall health and wellbeing. This particular conversation occurred after we rehearsed our new set list for our upcoming shows. We were interested in how what we play fits into certain venues and crowds versus other types of music. We are a fit of guitar and vocal (me) and he is the acoustic bass player.
Me and my friend have both utilized our music to heal, relate the frequencies of our instruments to the internal feelings we are trying to understand, match and ultimately resonate with. This directly correlates to quantum mechanics as resonance frequency is a crucial aspect to understand health and the literal vibration of an individual. I teach my students this same concept as a professor that correlates to resonance frequencies healing particular organs and diseases on a quantum level. This is the exact type of concept for why Qi Gong and Tai Chi are utilized so often in TCM. It is a way to align with a resonance frequency and energy to heal and charge what is within.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine
Within the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine, we utilize this understanding in Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and Body Work. The vibratory state of the practitioner needs to be cultivated to heal the vibratory state of health of the patient. Practitioners who understand this well (also practicing pulse diagnosis, facial diagnosis for example) tend to get better results in their clinic. While we have basic biomedical diagnostic methods, reading the energetic vibration very much has to do with pulse diagnosis and what the practitioner can understand through witnessing someone’s “Shen” which is known as the spirit that lies behind their eyes.
Vibration & Frequency
You will see these different concepts in music as well. A heavier vibration will resonate with lower frequencies while a lighter vibration will resonate with higher frequencies. Therefore we can actually analyze the type of music an individual listens to in order to better understand their health and where they may need balancing. For example, someone who listens to heavy bass constantly may resonate with needing to “rise above” because the bass is a reminder of their state of being low. On the other hand someone who listens to something that is constantly bright and stimulating may be feeling they need to be “brought down” because the frequency is a reflection that they feel when in reality they likely want to feel calmer. I am not saying heavy bass or bright noise is bad, it is only unhealthy when it is out of balance.
In A Gym
To relate this in a slightly easier context. When I am powerlifting with my friends there is typically metal playing in the gym. Metal is heavy and gritty, well so is powerlifting! You are constantly thinking about “how do I work through this weight to rise above it.” On contrast, in my clinic I play light and bright music because the focus is on “relaxation and rest” and counteracting the anxieties of everyday life. This is actually how we can use music and sound to our advantage and understand deeper what we need.
It All Fits Somewhere
There is a time and place for all music. A raging party would not be very exciting for attendees if they were playing light violin just like a relaxing evening and fancy dinner would not pair with loud rock music.
Your Music Homework
So next time you are listening to your music, think about what you are feeling in the moment and see how the frequency of the music is relating to your mindset and telling you what you need. This is one of the ways our body literally tells us what it is feeling and what it needs. Pretty cool right?
How This Is Visual Art
Looking at visual art is actually no different. Certain art resonates with certain emotions. A person who is feeling low or down would resonate with a heavier concept and dark colors while a person who is feeling manic would resonate with warm light and bright colors. We can use the opposite to help balance someone out as a result.
If you are curious about how to learn more, you can visit my clinic or purchase my book below!
Healing From Trauma Through Holistic Medicine & Art
Two days ago I found myself at the scene of a horrible car crash that resulted in a series of rather unfortunate events. I won’t go into detail as I am sure you can paint the picture on your own but just before 3 am I woke up startled due to the sound of one of the loudest crashing and crunching noises I ever heard with quite the scene right outside my front door. While I am not an EMT or Paramedic on call, I am aware that I have extensive medical training so whenever I witness something like this occurring, I always do my due diligence to try my best and be a Good Samaritan and help someone in ways I know how. Whether it is comforting someone through conversation to keep them calm amidst the overload of stress or giving straight up CPR to keep someone alive, I have found myself in some very interesting situations but each one I have learned more ways I could serve my community.
This experience from a couple days ago inspired me to write a bit more on the topic of trauma as it is such a common word thrown around these days but I wanted to provide some ways that we can help trauma through holistic medicine and art.
Trauma & PTSD
Traumatic experiences or having been through some type of trauma creates certain types of impulses in the brain to change our perception. This often could create something such as PTSD known as post traumatic stress disorder for example. PTSD is something I see in my clinic often and I treat with acupuncture. Often I will refer them for further support with resources such as therapy, counseling, energy work or spiritual council-depending on what most resonates with them. The beauty of the holistic medical world as a whole is trauma and PTSD can absolutely be improved naturally with the correct resources, in my practice, acupuncture is particularly at the top of this list.
How can we use art to heal our traumas? Art helps us let our soul out onto the paper or the canvas. We have the ability to express whatever we want to simply let it out. By doing so it provides a sense of relief by working through the pain, suffering or shock of the experience. This is what makes art so crucial in healing. We can create a diary of our experiences that are our own and truly use it as a mechanism to heal. I personally always encourage my clients to get in touch with their artistic side and let themselves feel whatever it is they need to feel. This way they do not bottle it up which often leads to greater suffering later.
Finding healthy outlets such as holistic modalities and art in particular help an individual release their conscious and subconscious feelings in the most powerful and primal way possible. The physical manifestation of the trauma into the art can be transformative for an individual and ultimately the experience of creating it will be the ultimate victory, no matter the result.
Everyone Has An Artist Within
Everyone has the ability to be an artist, it is about the journey of making the art and the reason for making it that matters much more than the final product. It may be surprising to us when we allow ourselves to be vulnerable how many others can actually relate to our experiences. Trauma is not something that goes away on its own with time, it takes work and self discipline to process consciously. However, the more we practice and exercise our own healing, the greater benefits we create as time moves on.
Let It Out
By letting out our truest emotions, we actually become healthier as a result. In TCM we often talk about latent emotions leading to disease that shows up later. Therefore by letting the emotions out in a healthy way, through natural healing through something like art as an example, we literally make ourselves healthier for the future.
I Used My Art To Heal Too
While my personal art does not necessarily derive from my own traumas or traumatic experiences, there were times in my life that it did. It helped me to process what I needed to on my own and as a result become the artist I truly wanted to be and create art that is medicinal for my clients. This is exactly why I created my new Community Acupuncture Clinic that is within a Gallery I Curate based on my book, “How To Design For A Healthy Mind & Body.” If you are curious about visiting the clinic or purchasing the book, the links are below.
Why A Warm Beverage In A Cozy Environment Is So Enticing- For You AND Your Digestion
Fall Is Here
With fall officially here, and pumpkin spice tea, coffee and perfume all in the air, it only seemed fitting to talk about why a warm beverage in a cozy environment seems so enticing for us and our health. I think there are a lot of people who embrace fall, the cooling temperatures, and where I grew up in New England, you’ve got the changing colors of the leaves-totally something I took for granted until I moved out west!
But this experience is something that many of us subconsciously know we enjoy. Throw on some warmer clothes, heat up some warm tea and sit by the fire as you take in some brisk fall air. You see, there is an actual reason our body wants this, particularly in correlation with the season changes.
What Correlates With Fall?
Okay, so what correlates with fall? The weather begins to cool down, the harvest season begins and we begin our quest to hunker down for the cold impending winter that lies ahead. Our bodies begin to prepare as well. Our palette may even shift to wanting warmer and heartier foods and flavors, This is actually why pumpkin spice is such a craze too. Warming spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg can help to warm our bodies and thus warm our digestion through the cooler weather.
You see, digestion itself suffers from too much external cold. This could be from cold and raw foods or beverages as well as a cold external environment. Cold itself in Traditional Chinese Medicine is defined as an external pathogen when it creates imbalance within the body. Therefore we actually counteract that threat with warm drinks and warm spices. Placing yourself in a warmer environment such as by a fire, while wearing warmer clothes also keeps us health and helps our immune system function optimally with the changing temperatures.
Fall In Design
In addition, when it comes to design, we want to feel more cozy than say in the summer time when we likely are too hot to even think about curling up to conserve body heat. The change of season that creates cooler temperatures also results in a change in the preference of our environment. We may find ourselves more drawn to warmer colors that correlate with the earth element.We want warmth within and therefore it is comforting to have warm colors around us.
You can accomplish this in your space by adding some warm colors into your room like throw pillows or blankets that have earth tones like brown, yellow, or red-orange for example, These are common fall themed colors and as a result mirror the spices within your warm beverages such as a pumpkin spiced drink or a warm cinnamon apple cider.
This is how you can take your holistic wellbeing a step further and thus, ready yourself for the fall season with holidays coming right around the corner.
If you are curious how this plays a role in your health and what you can do to enhance your wellbeing, you can purchase the book, “How To Design For A Healthy Mind & Body” below:
What I Learned In The Himalayas
Every morning when I wake up, I make sure I’m super quiet to not wake my family up so that I can take about twenty minutes to meditate before I start my day. You know how you might go on with your day but you might feel so thrown off without breakfast or your morning cup-o-joe? Well in my life , that’s me and my meditation every morning. It becomes like a supercharge for me and it serves me so much, I make sure I do the same again around 4pm as well. Meditation is an essential part of my life both for me and my wife because of how valuable it is for our health, resilience to daily stressors and to up-level our spiritual wellness.
Meditation is widely studied, various types of meditation have been clinically proven to lower levels of inflammation, stress and aid people with conditions like high blood pressure, anxiety, depression and various ailments. The reason something like meditation is so helpful is because it gets to the root of disease. Most disease can be traced back to psychological or emotional origin. These emotions and psychological phenomena create physiological responses in the body leading it into an effort to maintain homeostasis. Health, wellness, medicine all get so complicated with naming diseases, looking at the microscopic causes of sickness like viruses, bacteria, and other pathogenic factors. However it can be simpler if we become mindful earlier.
Psychology & Karma
The food we eat, the way we recuperate, our emotional wellness and the ability to become more resilient in our day to day activities literally elevates our health because we take care of the root causes first rather than covering them up. The body is constantly in response to the stimulus we give it. Therefore many diseases in traditional medicine would actually get into the realm of being psychological imbalance or even karmic.
So why is there so much disease that is chronic? Well, we are a society that has so much at our fingertips, so much connection to the outside world, but we have lost one simple thing. The connection to ourselves. While I could go much deeper into this topic, perhaps it will just have to be a new book in the future due to the amount of detail I could add here. The big picture takeaway from this is simple, the more connected we are to ourselves, the less disease and physiological breakdown we have as a result.
“Ok, ok Dr. Matt, so you’re telling me if I meditate everyday my disease is going to go away?” In a sense, yes, but thats not the whole story so let me clarify. What I am telling you is, the more you dive into the connection with yourself, the more aware you will become of what imbalances are present within you and the more awareness you will have to finding avenues where you need to go next to reach a deeper level of wellness and balance. On the surface this may sound too simple and broad but truthfully I had to do this for chronic disease that I myself dealt with.
I Used To Be Chronically Ill
I used to be a chronic asthmatic, with the need for daily inhalers and a diagnosis that had me on steroid anti-inflammatory medication for the rest of my life. That was about sixteen years of my life and that is exactly what my life was going to be until I decided I needed to dive deeper into my own awareness of my body in order to heal, regardless of the diagnoses I was given. I won’t give you my life story here because yes, I will be writing that in a book to share my journey with you, but the point here is, through gaining greater levels of awareness, I found my own pathway to be completely free of medications in my life and ultimately free from a chronic diseased reality of living. I breathe freely and easily now, and it all started with this simple concept of diving within.
I remember back when I was part of a medical service team at the foothills of the Himalayas in Uttarakhand, India I was surrounded by prayer, meditation, and yoga at the ashram we were staying at. Before my voyage back home to the states, I picked up several handmade mandalas from Buddhist monk apprentices while in Amritsar. It got me thinking about how mandalas are a physical representation of diving within, deeper, with clarity and focus. I only understand now why I chose the mandala I chose for my home.
The colors of the mandala were plentiful but during that time in my life I was craving grounding, clarity and needing to release myself from fear. Fears in life, fears of overwork, fears of burnout, and yea I was having a hard time breathing, fear of dying this way.
What I took away from that trip was a lesson. That prayer, meditation, yoga and art all play a role in our wellbeing. It is physical representation of our wellness both on the inside and outside of ourselves. That was a transformative life experience for me and it was the birthplace of where I began to see the power of mindfulness combined with art to ultimately become medicine.
Sure, I understand that it may sound like a far out concept for some, to think of art as medicine, but to tell you the truth, it was part of the puzzle that ultimately led to my life thriving mentally, physically and spiritually.
If you are curious to learn more about how I apply this in my life and my business through design principles. You can find it in my book, “How To Design For A Healthy Mind & Body” listed below.
What The Type Of Art You Like Says About Your Brain
Left Or Right?
Most people have heard about the two hemispheres of the brain, the right versus the left. To oversimplify it, the left side of the brain tends to be where we would discuss logic and when we make rational decisions. The right side of the brain is when we think about creativity and emotional intuition.
IQ, EQ, SQ
I am sure you have heard of IQ before being the notorious test to see how smart someone is. What about emotional intelligence and spiritual intelligence? We tend to focus so strongly on the IQ but as research begins to dive deeper we begin to make further connections with Emotional Intelligence and Spiritual Intelligence.
Balance & Career
It is pretty easy to utilize these forms of intelligence to figure out what career would be most balanced for an individual. Someone with a strong sense of logic and focus within left brained tasks would likely be best in the sciences and mathematics while someone with a strong sense of creativity and emotion would thrive in the arts and areas that focus on emotions, this could potentially be psychology as well (a mix of emotions and sciences together!)
What Five Elements Would Correlate?
Since so much of our focus revolves around the five element theory and TCM, how could we use the elements to determine where someone would thrive or have imbalances? Someone who has a strong sense of logic and rationale would likely be very well organized, prefer a routine and can easily sift through decisions in a black and white fashion. Traits such as this would correlate to a high IQ and the Metal Element most, as it is the most refined of the elements.
The person who makes decisions based on emotions and feelings, prefers fluidity in their day to day and feels a strong sense of drive from their heart would likely err more toward EQ and SQ as these tend to correlate more with the right side of the brain. In this case we would say this person most relates to the Fire Element as it is the closest to the emotional spirit and houses our individuality.
What About The Other Three Elements?
We have five elements, yes of course, however the most extreme difference when it comes to IQ, EQ and SQ I would argue is between the Metal and Fire Elements. Everyone falls somewhere on a spectrum with IQ, EQ and SQ, however. When it comes to art, these examples help to paint the picture to get my point across (yes pun intended!)
What About The Art? Metal
If I were to think of someone with a primarily metal psychological constitution, knowing their need for organization, refined decision making and being set in their ways, I would likely present them with a monochromatic artwork. Monochromatic artwork would mean black and white.The subject matter would certainly differ based on the individual, but for the sake of this example, black and white would likely serve this person’s preference quite well.
What About The Art? Fire
On the other hand, someone who has a psychological constitution relating to the fire element, they would likely prefer an extremely colorful artwork with highly saturated colors in particular. This is because the fire element loves taking things to the extreme, in this case the more colorful, large and extravagant the artwork, the more they would likely be drawn to it.
Test It Out
I really like to test this out when I work with clients, both with clients in medicine as well as clients in the art world. Based on my training and teaching in school it helped me determine how someone would respond to particular artwork based on what I could gather about their interests, constitution (meaning their overarching Five Element Type) and desired outcomes. This is how I determine what materials, colors, themes and even sharpness used to create commissioned artworks or when I have a buyer interested in looking to decorate their home. It is a constantly evolving and exciting experience and is why I wrote my book “How To Design With A Healthy Mind & Body” which is the basic framework for my upcoming course “Elevate Your Space” where we use the book and dive even deeper to learn more about these concepts and how to apply them all throughout our home and for other people as well.
If you are curious, check out the book and be sure to subscribe to the email list to stay up to date when the course officially releases!
Speaking With Authenticity For Your Truth, Leadership & Health
Speaking! Well that’s pretty easy, then again many of you are getting used to hearing my words pretty much every day at this point! Nonetheless this can be a hard lesson to learn, and yes, of course there is always going to be more to the story- that’s what we do here!
Why you should speak with authenticity? Well you see, authenticity actually allows us the minimal amount of resistance within our lives. Sure, authenticity could be uncomfortable but at the same time, it does allow those we interact with to understand who we truly are. It is never worth associating ourselves with someone who does not align with our values and we can figure this out by remaining authentic through our speaking.
Exercising The Throat Chakra
So what kind of thing does this affect within us? When we are not speaking out loud and embodying our authenticity, we actually create resistance, stagnation and resentment. The act of authentic speaking allows us to exercise and clear our throat chakra, which in TCM would correlate to the metal element as it coincides with the lungs and the voice. When we bottle up emotions, resentments and hold bitterness, we actually can hinder our throat to function properly. This would show up as plum pit qi in TCM. Plum pit qi could be described as the feeling that you get when you feel like you are about to cry but you don’t let it out. Therefore this results in a buildup of stagnation because we feel stifled.
So how do we do this? We either find a healthy outlet or we literally let our words out. Stagnation in this sense correlates to the wood element as it is “liver qi stagnation” in TCM. The more we allow our authenticity to flow naturally within our lives, through our words and our actions, the less stagnation and “stuckness” we carry around.
In TCM we would analyze conditions that correlate with the throat like thyroid conditions, goiters, tonsil related issues and other throat issues and ask what we are not speaking- how are we not being truthful and authentic to ourselves in our own lives?
Metal & Wood
If we know we create an imbalance of Metal and Wood through these conditions we previously discussed, how can we strengthen that through design?
Courage & Confidence
We want to enhance our confidence, courage and ability to be refined in our message. Being outdoors to enhance our wood element, utilizing outdoor themed design and methodical organization can help with this. Our wood element wants to flow freely and have the ability to feel ease and courage within ourselves to be decisive, while the metal element wants to be blunt, to the point, and spiritually connected to ourselves to feel in alignment. Therefore exercising these areas will help us speak our truth, strengthen our voice and feel more contentment through this process.
The metal element and in this case, the throat chakra simply want to be clear, and the more “black and white” we can do that for ourselves and within our design, the more defined and refined we become in our own message.
If you would like to learn more about this concept, we dive deeper into these concepts within the book, “How To Design For A Healthy Mind & Body,” Click below:
The Most Comfortable Way To Study: Enhancing Your Brain To Learn Through Health & Atmosphere
The Expense Of Your Mind
Okay so you’ve got a major test coming up, a big promotion on the line or that next interview just grinding at your mind to review over and over and over. You’re trying your best to memorize everything perfectly, the mission the vision, the questions and the answers, all at the expense of your mind that is constantly telling you it wants to rest.
Are You Worried?
Are you beginning to worry? Overthink? Do you lose sleep over it just tossing back and forth as you remain awake? Did it even get to the point you’re getting heart palpitations every time you think of that test or interview in the moment?
Well, this can actually all be quite normal for someone in your shoes. In traditional chinese medicine the intellect known as the “Yi” spirit gets very taxed over long periods of time. Studying constantly and reviewing wears us down over time and doesn’t allow our mind to rest. This results in the exact thing we don’t want, less memory retention in the moment! The Spleen (Earth Element) and Heart (Fire Element) begin to exhibit symptoms in these cases of extreme study and “student life.” This is why it is important to take a step back.
By doing less you can actually accomplish more. Rather than studying from the moment you wake until the moment you fall asleep, taking time in between will benefit you. This is when a mindfulness practice will become your best friend.
The Parasympathetic Nervous System
Meditation techniques, yoga, Qi Gong, Acupuncture, A mindfulness app, these are all examples that you could utilize. The reason this would greatly benefit your brain is because it activates what is called the parasympathetic nervous system, which essentially means, your body can come out of its stressful state.
Stress & Stimulation
So why does that matter? When we are unable to take our body out of the Sympathetic State (constant stimulation and stress) it hinders our ability to think clearly and creates significant imbalance that actually decreases our memory and cognitive abilities. This is because the body is so focused on surviving it has no interest in focusing on the little details.
In a clinical setting acupuncture and herbal formulas like Gui Pi Tang for example would be helpful in order to calm the spirit (also known as the Shen which lies in the Heart, boost the spleen (the intellect and energy) and as a result we balance the Fire and Earth elements (if we were looking at Five Element Theory).
So what type of atmosphere could benefit us here? When we know we have an imbalance of Earth and Fire, we need to make sure we have a place we feel grounded and secure, a place where we can focus and one that is not overly stimulating. This is because the excitement needs to come from the reviewing of material rather than from a television show!
This is why a place like a library is so helpful for example. When one is surrounded by books, it naturally stimulates the intellect and plants the subconscious thought of intelligence into the student. The more this is practiced within the proper atmosphere, the more reinforcement it gives the student that they are exercising a wise intellect. This type of place is quiet, and thus, calming for the spirit, allows the focus to not be broken and as a result makes the pages the most exciting thing around. The less stimulating the environment, the more focused the mind can be. Earth tones are a fantastic way to do this as well because they correlate with the earth element. They naturally enhance wakefulness but are still calming in nature as they are more muted than bright colors.
Where To Focus
Next time you have a big test to prep for, pay attention to your atmosphere. Surround yourself in a room with natural light, and physical things that remind you of how smart you are. The smarter you “feel” the more you reinforce that subconscious message of your capable intellectual abilities and thus it will elevate the way you feel about your upcoming test. This is because you will want to continue “feeling smart” and it will create a healthy habit for you.
From mindful practices as breaks to look forward before long periods of intellectual pursuits, the key is all about balance. Balance within our atmosphere and in our habits will ultimately create optimal performance on anything from tests to interviews or whatever we are studying for.
If you would like to learn more about this, check out my book “How To Design For A Healthy Mind & Body”