"Those who try to control... Go against the direction of the Tao. If you want fullness, empty yourself. If you want birth, let yourself die. If you want everything, give everything up."
~Lao Tzu (from the Tao Te Ching)
Blog written by: Dr. JuliannaEnglund, ND, LAc
Understanding your Large Intestine from a Western Point of View:
From a Western medicine point of view, the large intestine's jobs are to absorb water and salts from the material that has not been digested yet by the stomach and small intestine and eliminate any waste products left over.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Viewpoint of the Large Intestine:
The large intestine is the yang energy of the Metal element in Chinese medicine. It forms a pair with its yin counterparts, the Lungs. The Large intestine is the great eliminator for the body, mind and soul. It helps our systems by eliminating that which no longer serves our highest good, including unhelpful and useless sensations, thoughts and energy. On the ego level, the contamination of the mind with toxic thoughts and feelings can lead us down the road of endless preoccupation, cutting us off from transformation and robbing our vitality. By letting go of attachments to sensations, ideas, beliefs, emotions and even sometimes relationships, our Being has the opportunity for expansion: the personal and spiritual growth that is fueled by forgiveness, surrender and detachment.
You see, the Metal element is key to our overall vigor and whole-Being refinement. As one writer put it, “together, the Lungs and Large Intestine govern the continuum of expansion and contraction. When we do not resist that which needs to be relinquished, we move into our deepest energetic state, that of the mysterious pass, where death ultimately results in rebirth. Something new can emerge when we let go of the old.” ¹ There lies the valuable benefit of the Lungs and Large Intestine: our inherent abilities to let the past be the past and refresh our energies in the present and into a supreme Whole.
Tips for Enhancing the Large Intestine Energy for Health and Wellbeing:
1. The taste associated with Metal is pungent. Pungent food is more aromatic than spicy food and has a dispersing action that goes up and outwards. The cooler temperatures of the Fall season are a perfect time for adding pungent foods to your meals, including ginger, onion, garlic, wasabi, mustard and green onion.
2. Drink plenty of water and non-caffeinated fluids to retain skin moisture (also related to the metal element) and keep the large intestine moving.
3. Include adequate amounts of high fiber foods, including fruits, vegetables and whole grains to help eliminate your body's waste and prevent constipation.
4. Avoid eating excessive amounts of red meat and processed meats for these are linked to colon cancer.
5. Limit alcohol and stop smoking: both are related to colon cancer.
6. Make sure you are moving your body. Regular exercise helps the body release tension and stimulates the bowels.
7. Take time to let go of old habits and old ways of thinking. There are so many ways to do this: journaling, counseling/therapy, hypnotherapy, meditation, etc. It's about setting the intention and taking time to develop awareness so that naturally, what no longer serves you falls away.
8. Limit your stress and meditate. Not only does stress reduce your body's ability to eliminate, it also keeps us trapped in our old ways of thinking and doing. Take time to regularly calm your mind with screen-free quiet and meditation so your large intestine can do what it does best: let go of body-mind-soul waste.
Meditation for Letting Go
1. Find a comfortable seated or lying down position.
2. Take time to just sit and focus on your breath. Breath in for a slow count of five, hold for six. And breath out for seven. Continue breathing this way until you start feeling your body and mind relax.
3. Form your fingers into an "okay" gesture, with the tips of your index and thumb fingers touching. Imagine that the circle formed by this hand mudra contains a vaccum of white light that will incinerate any thoughts or energy that travels here.
4. Face the circles formed by your fingers towards your abdomen and find a relaxing way to hold your hands and arms.
5. Now breathing in, focus on the negative thoughts, energies or behavior that is bothering you.
6. Hold your breath and allow the awareness of what it is.
7. Breathing out, imagine that you send what is weighing on you into the circle formed between your thumb and index fingers. Imagine that the white light within the circle incinerates that which is not serving your highest Being.
8. Repeat several times, or until you feel some peacefulness or expansiveness come into your body and state of Being.
9. Now, while continuing to hold the hand mudra, move your hands so the circles formed by your index and thumb fingers face each other and palms face forward. Repeat the word that resonates with you the most: Forgiveness, Detachment or Surrender. Repeat six times while feeling or imaging the resonance of the word each time with your large intestine and the space between the circles formed by your fingers.
10. Once you have repeated the resonant word, move your hands to rest with palms facing up on your lap or knees- fingers are still holding the mudra. Clear your mind and just Be for at least10 minutes.
11. For real change, repeat this exercise daily or most days of the week until your Present is no longer affected by the attachment.
(Take note: you are not forcing yourself to get rid of anything here. Just by doing the exercise and staying present, changes will take place naturally and without effort. Trust and let go, for your body will know what to do if you just set the intention and slow your mind's thoughts and control).
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