Acupuncturist Mihaly Rosta shares some information about the Chinese Medicine concept of 'dampness' in the body and factors that might cause and help this.
Is diet just about what you eat?
Sluggishness (especially) in the mornings;
Heaviness of body and mind;
Loose, sticky stools;
These are only a few symptoms of Dampness in the body.
Imagine a clear beautiful river gracefully flowing through a forest. Now what if this river is being filled with debrish? It slowly becomes cloggy and turn into dirty mud.
The most common cause for this muddiness to develop in the body is improper DIET.
Excessive intake of fried, greasy, raw food; as well as alcohol, sugar, dairy, and even meat may result in the symptoms described above.
However before removing unhealthy, overly processed foods from the diet, it’s important to intorduce new, appropriate foods in your diet.
On the picture you may see a simple stir-fry dish, perfect for lunch or even breakfast -accompanied by some soup or tea.
Bitter and slightly pungent/aromatic food like kohlrabi and romain lettuce are excellent at transforming congealed body fluids.
Add some radish and leeks in order to strengthen the Lungs (Metal/Autumn) and clear any damp/phlegm that may reside there.
Kidney -especially Aduki- beans are great source of protein in this case. Complementing the dish I also used garlic, thyme and parsley to help clear excessive mucus.
To make this dish more seasonal, add some water and cook it on low heat. In order to introduce the sour balancing flavour of autumn (Metal) you may finish your dishes by squeezing some lemon/lime juice over them.
Making small changes in the diet is an excellent tool for becoming more healthy over time. However if an already developed illness (or any of the symptoms above) are present, acupuncture treatment may be especially beneficial in order to address those issues.
Please note that we always advise patients to see a professional Acupuncturist in order to determine the accurate diagnoses, which allows us to make personalised recommendations.
For any seriously health concerns please see your GP.
#diet #damp #acupuncture #bloated #sluggish #autumn
Acupuncturist Philippa Summers delves into the world of healthy bacteria - microbiome - and gives some helpful insights and tips as to how this can benefit us along with a delicious saurkraut recipe to help us along.
Did you know that your body contains roughly as many bacterial cells as human cells? Along
with viruses and fungi, and their collective DNA, they make up our microbiome. The
microbiome varies hugely from person to person and plays a crucial role in determining our
health. There is a whole eco system living on your skin and within you, in your respiratory
tract, your reproductive tract, in breast and other tissue, but primarily in the intestines – the
gut microbiome. Among them are vitally important beneficial microbes that help to keep
the disease-causing pathogens at bay, while also enhancing and interacting with many of
the vital internal processes that work to keep us well.
The Benefits of a Healthy Gut Microbiome
A healthy gut microbiome has benefits that extend throughout the body and is considered
by some to be equivalent to an additional organ, such is its importance. It plays a crucial role
in helping to maintain and support metabolic function, immunity, plus cardiovascular,
respiratory, reproductive and menopausal health, as well as helping with sleep, mental well-
being and brain function. It is an area of intense research, with more being discovered all
The scope of its influence cannot be overstated. A healthy gut microbiome is anti-
inflammatory and helps to combat the development and progression of a whole range of
chronic health issues and to reduce infections throughout the body, helping in the fight
against antibiotic resistance. Type 2 diabetes, obesity, kidney disease, Parkinson’s,
atherosclerosis, high cholesterol, hypertension, dementia, urinary tract infections,
respiratory infections, vaginal infections, asthma, allergies, autoimmune diseases, IBS, IBD,
some cancers...the list goes on... have all been shown to have an association with an
unhealthy balance in the gut microbiome. It is the subject of ongoing research to determine
the processes and balance of cause and effect between disease and the microbiome.
A High Fibre Diet supports the Microbiome
Our environment, where we live, who we live with, how we interact with our environment
but particularly our diet has a huge influence on the microbiome, and for each of us our
microbial fingerprint will be unique and changing dynamically all the time.
A poor low fibre diet of refined carbohydrates like white flour, white rice and particularly
simple sugars will encourage inflammation and take the balance of good bacteria to bad inan unhealthy direction. A healthy high fibre diet on the other hand will help to support the
community of beneficial bacteria, which ferment more complex carbohydrates that we
cannot otherwise digest, into nutrients with anti-inflammatory and metabolic health
The beneficial bacteria lie mainly in the colon at the far reaches of our intestines and to feed
and support them we need a diet where the carbohydrate portion of what we eat can pass
through the upper reaches of the intestines to the colon without previously being
completely broken down. Simple and refined carbs get broken down too high up in our guts
but high fibre complex carbohydrates (wholegrains, vegetables, nuts, seeds and fruit) make
it all the way to where they are needed. Aim for a wide variety of colourful plant foods
including herbs and spices to aid digestion, and of course include proteins and healthy fats
for a balanced diet.
We feed these bacteria and they in turn feed us with the beneficial by-products of their
meal. Think good housemates - you provide the healthy ingredients, and they cook up a
feast! The healthy foods we provide them with are the prebiotics, the healthy ‘bugs’ are the
Choosing Probiotic Foods and Supplements
Some species of these healthy bacteria will have established themselves as long term
residents of our gut, beginning at birth and supported early on by breastfeeding. We can
augment this existing population by eating fermented foods containing other beneficial live
bacteria, or for convenience and maybe for specific health issues by taking them as
supplements. To reap the benefits, we need to choose those that are alive and can survive
through the upper reaches of the gut all the way to the colon as many cannot survive the
acid of the stomach.
How our individual microbiome interacts with our own metabolism and diet is complex and
more in-depth studies that take a personalised approach are the subject of ongoing
research, one of the largest being the Zoe PREDICT studies. A peek at these studies will
show you how complicated a field it is. People with a histamine sensitivity may not tolerate
probiotics and care should be taken by people with bowel conditions like IBS and IBD.
Deciding which strains are most beneficial is a complex subject which varies from person to
person and according to the health issues being addressed, and I suspect is obscured by the
commercial nature of supplements and the influence on research. Lactobacillus and
Bifidobacterium are the most widely recommended in supplements, with many species and
strains of each offering different benefits. A little more of that below in relation to women’s
health and gut health but to go into more detail is beyond the scope of my experience or
If you prefer to take supplements in my opinion Optibac are a reliable good value brand and
provide a simple useful guide with formulas for a variety of situations: every day, after
taking antibiotics, for women’s health including during pregnancy and for gut health.
Symprove receives wide recommendation but is much more expensive and is limited to a
single multi-strain formula. I am not suitably knowledgable to offer any wholeheartedrecommendations but those are a couple of reliable options. You can eat fermented foods
as well or instead.
For Women’s Health including fertility and menopause
Lactobacillus species support a healthy vaginal microbiome where they help to keep disease
causing yeasts and bacteria at bay, by maintaining a favourable protective acidic
environment. From the research so far, implantation and reduced incidence of early
pregnancy loss are also supported when the predominant species in the uterus are
Lactobacilli. They are of benefit when taken orally, even for colonising the reproductive
Lactobacillus species can also be helpful at alleviating some of the symptoms of menopause
via the two-way interaction between oestrogen levels and the gut microbiome.
Yoghurt, kefir and Sauerkraut are all high in Lactobacillus species and other lactic acid
For Gut Health
For people with gut issues like IBS and IBD I would recommend seeking guidance from a
dietary or nutritional specialist. Some of the otherwise healthy prebiotic foods can
contribute to symptoms, and some probiotic strains can be helpful while others may
Probiotic Fermented Foods
For general health benefits why not try a range of different live unpasteurised probiotic
foods such as kefir, yoghurt, kombucha, kimchi, miso or sauerkraut to see which you like
and which suit you? Or try making your own. They can be more potent than probiotics
supplements and much cheaper, too, and all have different microbial profiles and benefits.
Some ferments like kefir and kamboucha contain a range of yeast and bacteria while others
like yoghurt, sauerkraut and kimchi are predominantly bacterial. Additionally, as they have
fermented over a period of time the fermented product will contain high amounts of more
easily digestible nutrients that are a by-product of the fermentation process.
Making your own fermented foods
If you fancy making a home-made ferment you can try the simple sauerkraut recipe below.
Incidentally, I was surprised to learn that sauerkraut, despite its German name, originated
around 2000 years ago in China and came to Europe in the 1600s. Making Kimchi, a spicy
Korean ferment, is similar and there are plenty of recipes online. If you really want to get
into ferments then I recommend Fermentation by Asa Simonsson which covers a whole
range of fermented foods and drinks including vegan dairy, or check out the many websites
and blogs on fermenting.
You will need a container in which to ferment the veg before transferring it to smaller jars
for storage, and you will also need weights to hold the veg below the surface of the liquid
while it ferments. You could use a large wide necked jar with a lid but you will need to keep
an eye on it and keep releasing the gas that will build up inside. Or you may wish to buy a
fermenting jar or a crock pot which allow the gas to release automatically. Some come with
weights, others don’t.
1kg finely chopped white or red cabbage (you can substitute some of the cabbage with
grated carrot, beetroot and apple to make a total of 1kg veg)
15g sea salt
1 tbsp chopped garlic/ginger
1 tsp caraway seeds, chili flakes, peppercorns, seaweed etc
• Place the veg, salt and spices in a large clean bowl mix well and massage with your
hands for 5 mins. Leave for 5 mins.
• Massage and squeeze again for about 20-25 mins until you have plenty of juice and
the veg has softened.
• Pack into the fermenting jar or crock, add the weight so that all the veg is completely
submerged in the briny liquid. This is very important as the fermentation will spoil if
the veg is exposed to the air.
• Put on the lid and leave at room temperature to ferment. The fermenting jars have a
valve, the crock has a sunken rim that you fill with water so the gases release
automatically. Keep checking that the water level around the rim is above the notch
in the lid.
• Leave for anything from 5 days to 4 weeks depending on the room temperature and
how sour you like it. I leave mine for about 10 days.
As the sauerkraut ferments is becomes more acidic which most bugs can’t tolerate and
you’ll end up with a tasty ferment rich in acid tolerant Lactobacillus. The result should be a
crisp, slightly sour, flavoursome kraut. If it becomes mouldy, slimy or smells rotten then
something has gone wrong, so discard.
Pack into clean jars, pressing the veg below the surface of the liquid and store in the fridge.
Keeps for weeks, months according to the experts but I’ve never left it that long. Great in a
sandwich, salad or as a meal accompaniment.A word of warning - as your body adjusts to fibre and probiotics you may find you are a bit more flatulent, but it should settle down after a few days, start with a little and build up. In any case, a little every day is better than larger quantities less frequently.
Providing massage therapy in care
Masssage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan discusses her experience massaging a care home resident and shares some suggestions as to how to benefit your loved ones with some simple positive touch.
Carers and care homes provide essential medical care for people experiencing long-term illness. Good quality care upholding the person’s dignity and respect is important and necessary. In my experience working as a massage therapist for a care home resident, I have seen great quality of care within the home. However, a lot of the care provided is for medical treatment or vital tasks such as washing, feeding or manoeuvring. Physical touch is experienced impassively and routinely. This type of touch is necessary for medical care but we should also consider the person’s emotional needs and how a more sensitive touch may help to improve their wellbeing.
Of course, family and friends can provide emotional support and engage in a more soothing physical touch but more often than not, their touch is fleeting. Sustained sensitive touch can have physical effects on the body to instill calm and reduce anxiety and even pain. This is where complementary therapies can come in. I provide massage therapy to a resident at a local care home once a fortnight and I have been providing treatment for them for almost 4 years. They look forward to our treatments together and I can physically see the relief and relaxation that a little massage therapy gives them. I will share a little of my experience here in the hope that it may help carers or family to understand why and how to provide some gentle massage themselves.
Before starting any massage therapy I was very conscious as to how it may affect the individual and how their illness may alter my approach. I did my research, consulted with their carers and, most importantly, communicated with the individual themselves. If verbal communication isn’t possible then try and find another way to communicate. Either through written words, flashcards, or if motor control is very limited, there may be an Eyegaze in place. Eyegaze is a screen setup in front of the patient to capture their eye movements to letters on the screen, which then forms words and sentences from their gaze. When using
non-verbal communication it can take some getting used to and feedback can be slow. The answer is being patient and explorative with different methods and areas of massage, waiting for a response to each new sensation or area before continuing or adjusting. On the other hand, if the person has physical responses these can sometimes be quicker than verbal communication! Communication is important in any massage treatment as individuals will have starkly different physical and emotional responses to it. It’s also important to consider what the patient’s goal for the therapy is; the ‘why’. Is it pain relief? To reduce anxiety? For increased relaxation and wellbeing? For variety and stimulation in conversation
and communication? All of these and more are relevant and people will have different priorities.
If the goal is to soothe, relax and reduce stress then light pressure, slightly more than if stroking a cat, is all that is needed and carers and family members are able to provide this kind of touch. Thinking about stimulating circulation, you ideally want the direction of your strokes to be going back towards the heart. So when working on the arms, my strokes will generally be going upwards towards the shoulder. Think about the structures of the body and get a feel for the difference between muscle, tendons/ligaments and bone. Generally muscles will feel softer or springier than their tendons and ligaments. Tendons and ligaments are what surround joints at the two ends of a muscle. Bone should feel different again, this isthe hardest of the structures. When providing gentle massage, we only want to be acting on the muscles. With consent from the patient, have a feel for these different structures and try to identify the muscles. It may be stimulating for them to isolate and pay attention to different muscles within their body and notice how they feel.
There are some key areas that tend to provide relief for most people. These are the shoulders - squeezing the tops of the shoulders can feel really nice and this can also be done through clothing. Around the ankles and feet can feel nice and provide a ‘lighter’ feeling. And finally some very light head massage can provide relief from headaches and tension - gently pressing into the bridge of the nose, lightly squeezing the eyebrows and massaging the temples in a circular motion are great places to start. Ultimately, deciding on what areas to massage comes back to communication with the person receiving the therapy.
Constantly giving and receiving feedback and creating trust with your patient, friend or family member is the most important consideration when beginning any massage or touch therapy. Be patient, understand their needs and their individual response to any new touch you may give. Just because slightly more pressure feels good in one area, it may be intolerable in another. Massage is a constant feedback loop! Treating my client within care has taught me so much and enabled me to grow as a therapist. I am more than happy to discuss this topic further if it would help you - please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Acupuncturist and tui na massage therapist Mihaly Rosta shares some thoughts around how we process and store emotion, stress and experience in our bodies in this insightful blog
It is now becoming a mainstream concept that our psyche has a direct effect on our bodies (soma) and vica versa. However, most people still miss the chance to realise the ’cause and effect’ relation between their bodily suffering and their mental state.
Often when we feel vulnerable with slow self-esteem our posture collapses, our shoulders become rounded and our breathing turns shallow.
Likewise, when we feel stressed (threatened) our body naturally prepares for battle and starts using our muscular system as armoring. Unfortunately, our nervous system cannot make a differentiation between psycho-emotional and physical threats.
Whilst it is natural and necessary to experience stress, unfortunately, a lot of us (if not most of us) get trapped in a cycle of constant stress.
Whether that will manifest as a hyperactivated or “frozen” state of our nervous system, it will also directly affect our musculoskeletal system. Which in return leads to misalignment, shortened and inactivated muscles.
Thus prolonged emotions often lead to muscle pain. In worse cases, to chronic debilitating pain.
Our body is a feedback system that is constantly telling us how we feel and where we need adjustment. It is our choice wether to listen or not.
In any case our choices will lead to consequences.
There are at least 71 channels or pathways used in Chinese Medicine.
They all have different purpose and effect when accessed during an Acupuncture session.
However there are 12 sinew channels -encompassing all muscles, tendons, ligaments- that a Tuina Massage therapist works with predominantly.
In terms of Chinese Medicine, people experiencing high amount of stress and anxiety usually leads to the qi (vital energy) to be trapped in the upper part of the body.
You don’t even have to imagine it. Just pay attention to your body when this happens. You will feel as you cannot breath deep into your abdomen, you chest might feel a bit heavy and constricted. Your shoulder (especially your trapezius muscle) will tighten and raise your shoulder. You might even feel tension in your neck as in something is pulling on it -from around a place between your scapula.
This is a basic explanation of when certain Sinew channel pathways become tense and constricted. The real problem is however, when these muscles groups are shortened for a prolonged time, as they will literally start building up armour -especially around the shoulder- that will feel like wood or concrete. Thus ’emotional armouring’.
There are many ways to reverse this process, however it will always require consistency and investment.
Wether you go for massages regularly, be seen by an osteopath or attend yoga classes. Real, long lasting change will only happen if you bild awareness in your body.
You will need to leave behind aggravating habits and pick up new ones that help to release this armour causing you muscle pain.
That is why Qigong and Tai Chi classes are excellent. Because you not only learn exercises to help and relax both your body and mind. But you also build -over time- deep awareness in your body and your life.
Food. Friends. Sunshine!
Acupuncturist Philippa Summers shares the nourishing effects of our recent team picnic and the ingredients that helped make it.
The plan was a midsummer 3 day social / retreat in Scotland, meeting up for the first time in her homeland with WNT founder, Jennie Duck, who manages WNT remotely from rural Ayrshire. After all the social cancellations, postponements and thwarted arrangements that Covid wrought on us all we had thought that this one was in the bag. We meet regularly on Zoom and Jennie makes the occasional trip South, but this was to have been our first trip to see her there since she moved several years ago and our first residential social together.
Planned in March, excitement seeded, accommodation reserved, trains booked and therein lay the rub. It wasn’t covid that scuppered our plans it was the train strike. Driving that distance was out of the question with all train traffic moving to the roads so we cancelled. We were all gutted.
So, plan B a picnic in Brockwell Park! Sadly no Jennie, of course. And, just to be clear this was a ‘keep it simple’ kind of picnic – not a wicker basket or gingham tablecloth in sight. Bring a sandwich, with the emphasis on getting together and making the most of the sunshine. Lauren, bless her, did however make the most gorgeous lemon and poppyseed cake with gooey tangy lumps of lemon flesh, elevating it up a notch or two! It was a glorious lunchtime together, a modest affair, a chance to catch up face to face. Alas, not quite what we had planned but when life cancels the trains and gives you lemons, make the delicious lemon and poppy seed cake below and have a picnic.
If you are not a regular to Brockwell Park do checkout it’s many surprises. The walled garden, the Community Greenhouses, the views of the city from between the café and the tennis courts, the lido, children’s paddling pool and playground. Our beloved park has so much to offer everyone.
Enjoy your summer!
Lemon and Poppy Seed Cake
This cake is huge with deliciously tangy pieces of lemon pulp to tantalise the tastebuds, so great for sharing at large summer picnic. Says it serves 10-12 but goes further than that. Not healthy (don’t even look at how much sugar it contains) but hey, once in a while!
7-10 unwaxed lemons (1kg)
210g unsalted butter, melted
95g grapeseed or other neutral oil
6 large eggs
1 egg yolk
530g plain flour
25g black poppy seeds
5g baking powder
5g bicarb of soda
For the glaze:
250g icing sugar
2 lemons juiced
Grease and flour a 2.8 litre Bundt Pan.
Heat oven to 190C, fan 175, Gas 5.
Zest the lemons (outer yellow only), reserving the zest.
On a plate to catch the juice, cut ends of each lemon and cut away peel. Remove the pulp from the membranes. Keep all the juice and the pulp cut into 1 inch chunks. Squeeze extra juice from the membranes and discard. This should give about 15g zest, 170g pulp, 70g juice. Top up with extra lemons. That is the fiddly bit done.
Whisk together dry ingredients. In a separate large bowl whisk together wet ingredients. Mix wet and dry and stir well to combine. Add lemon zest, pulp and juice and mix well.
Pour batter into bundt pan and bake 60-70 mins, checking after 60 mins – press top of cake and it should bounce back.
Cool cake in the pan for 45 minutes, loosen with a spatula and carefully turn onto a wire rack, with a wide pan underneath to catch any excess glaze.
To make the Glaze simply whisk the ingredients together and then pour over the cake in a steady stream. Leave to set for 15mins.
Diet: is it really that important?
Acupuncturist and massage therapist Mihaly Rosta shares some interesting thoughts around the 'how' of our eating habits being as, if not more, important than the 'what'.
ow important is it to have the right food on your plate?
I usually see a divide amongst my friends and clients when it comes to diet and food.
Some people just eat for the joy of it, not caring much about if they eat a lot of carbs or meat. Whilst other people can be “almost” obsessive about what they eat. May that be superfoods, very specific vegetables and meat, etc.
So what is the correct attitude to diet?
Well, I of course could not give a simple answer to such an important question. Especially as I am not a dietician.
However when it comes to Chinese medicine, we always strife for balance. Walking the middle path.
Sure, it is important to have a varied diet -according to both food energetics, colours, food groups- but I find it much more important to look at how people eat and digest.
In my experience, our mental health and eating habits combined has a much stronger effect on our digestion and general health than the types of food we eat. Do not get me wrong, I am not saying that we should all eat white bread, milk and sugar 3 times a day. I am referring to the fact that if you have a varied intake of vegetables, fruits and meats/nuts, you should not worry too much about whether it is organic or not, or how many superfoods and brown rice you include in your diet.
What is important then?
1. Structure and rythmn
It is generally important to follow a rythmn in our daily life. Structuring our days around our meals and sleep can provide with a healthy l. So we priorities ourselves, our nourishment amongst other responsibilities.
Taking breaks between meals (3-4 hours) gives our digestive system a rest, as opposed to continuous snacking which will overwork our Spleen and Stomach.
3. Focus /mindfulness
Eating should be about the food and our nourishment. The taste, texture, colour, smell of our food should be in the focus of our mind when we eat. Not TV, Netflix, news, daily tasks or plans for the week.
Let’s do ourselves a favour and eat mindfully. Just when we decide on the food we eat, we should apply the same mindfulness during our time of nourishment.
There is a Chinese saying that you should only fill your belly 2/3 of the way, so there is space for Qi to do the digestion.
Overeating is overtaxing on our digestive system. Finding the correct amount of food that does not leave us hungry, but also doesn’t makes us sleepy is essential.
It is important to drink plenty of fluids during the day, however it is best to avoid drinking with our meal. If you have a weak digestion, you may find it beneficial to drink digestives 20 minutes prior to your meals. Or if your meal seems to settle in heavy (lots of fats/oils) you may find drinking a (half) shot of clear spirit (I recommend Bison vodka for flavour 😛) also very beneficial.
On a different note. There seem to be a misconception about the amount of fluid we all need to drink. Generally speaking of we want to hydrate ourselves we have to include fluid-ful vegetables in our diet. Soups, curries, tomatoes, courgettes, etc.
6. 100 steps
Digestion does not stop when we finish eating. On the contrary. It’s fairly important that we rest after a meal for about half an hour. The Chinese has been recommending 100 slow steps after eating. As (slow) walking aids the intestinal movements (peristalsis) and thus digestion.
7. Avoid going to bed on a full stomach
Simple as that, we should not be wasting our energy on digestion whilst we are sleeping. More over, it is most beneficial to have a bigger gap (intermittent fasting) in our day when our digestive system is to rest.
8. Anxiety = IBS
Last but not least, looking after our mental health is perhaps the most important of tasks that we need in order to have a healthy digestion. I’ll talk about this more in detail another time.
So these are only a few points that are in my opinion are just as (if not more) important than the quality of the food we eat.
Thus if you are suffering with any digestive issues, you may find it beneficial to go through this list before you start cutting out your favourite foods.
Of course Acupuncture is an amazing tool to help/reset the digestive system. So if you feel you need some additional support in that regard. Do not hesitate to get in touch.
Skin Cancer Awareness Month
This month is Skin Cancer Awareness Month and sports massage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan shares some helpful guidelines in what to look for and how to protect yourself as well as her personal experience of a skin cancer scare.
May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month! Did you know that skin cancer is one of the most preventable cancers if signs are caught early? This blog post is here to help you know what to look out for. As a soft tissue therapist I see a lot of skin, and so I am fairly attuned to noticing subtle changes, but how well do you know your own skin?
This month find some time to give yourself a skin check from head to toe - you will need to use a mirror. Don’t forget to look at your face and scalp. You can use a hairdryer to part your hair when looking at your scalp, or get someone to help you. You are looking for anything new, changing or unusual. So what is unusual?
Document your findings somewhere so that you can refer back to them next time you do a check. This is useful when trying to work out if anything has CHANGED. Skincancer.org recommends that you do a skin check once a month, but every 3 months is probably a little more realistic and works just fine.
The other important prevention method is protecting your skin from sun damage. The more you burn your skin from sun exposure, the greater your risk of developing melanoma. Five or more sunburns more than doubles your risk of developing melanoma. Even if you are tan or have dark skin, your skin can still be damaged by the sun especially when there is a high UV index - when and where the sun is strongest. Think about some simple ways to stay safe in the sun:
If you do notice something slightly abnormal in your skin make an appointment with your Doctor. If you have a partner you can ask them if they notice a difference from how it might have looked before (if you don’t have a reliable skin check history) or if you regularly see a massage therapist and feel comfortable asking them, see if they have noticed a change. You may be able to provide a bit more information to your Doctor this way, but the most important thing is to get it checked. Better safe than sorry. Early detection starts with you.
Why Dying Matters
WNT founder Jennie Duck considers how differently we interact with anniversaries of births and deaths and in the week of 'dying matters' shares what currently matters to her about death and dying.
My son turns six in June – something generally agreed to be an exciting event, greeted with enthusiasm and joy (and, as parents, with utter awe that this person exists with a tinge of sadness that the stages he’s gone through are in the past now). It is a time for celebration; we tell people our birthdays and we enjoy marking them with cake and parties. Granted they might become a little less joyful if we are feeling resistance to aging, but they tend still to be a time we are cherished and celebrated.
In July it will be 5 years since my dad died and in February it was 4 years since my mum died. These dates loom very differently on my internal visual map of the 2022. While the anniversary of my son’s birth is a gentle peak, something with a very outward, yang energy, the anniversaries of my parents’ deaths are big craters with much more of an inward, yin energy.
I describe these as ‘craters’ which sounds very negative, but I don’t feel like that. The crater-ish-ness is symbolic of the desire to retreat and go down into the grief, it is also a reminder of what the period around the deaths felt like. These were dark holes of time that have left their mark forever. But they are not something I ever want to avoid. They are there and my awareness of them is part of the landscape of my life now.
These anniversaries change year to year. The first couple of years they hit extremely hard and involved a lot of reliving. I relived the week following my dad’s sudden death when we were absorbing the shock, whereas my mums rapid decline the week preceding her death was something I went through almost hour by hour the first two anniversaries. Now they are more mellow and I can’t always predict how it will pass. I do know, though, that it is vital to give them space, to allow for time and feeling the days leading up to it and sometimes beyond.
I find it extraordinary how we interact with death in our society – or how we try and avoid interacting with death. There seems to be a sense that if we draw attention to anniversaries, it is reminding people of loss, of the pain of grief. But this loss and pain is always there, it doesn’t go away because we don’t talk about it or acknowledge it. For some people an anniversary might just feel like something that they need to get past, but for me it feels as vital as Christmas. It shapes the year, it helps me remember in a mind, body and spirit way that life is precious and fragile and cannot be taken for granted.
This week is ‘dying matters’ week which draws important attention to the circumstances and environment of how we die and encourages conversations around death. It is easy to avoid putting attention towards our own death or that of anyone we love, be that practical or emotional attention.
At the moment what matters to me about dying is that we remember it. That we remember it in our very act of living, that THIS is life, this is our existence, and it doesn’t go on forever. That we remember it in our relationships, that these people we rely on and share with and love so much will one day die. That thought that can be so crippling can also give us fire for living, an opportunity to savour who and what we have while we have it.
And mostly, still in my relatively early years of grief experience, it matters that we remember the deaths of those that we have lost. That we remember their impact on our lives, how they shaped us and affected us. That we remember who they were in their lives, what they did with their time on earth and who they touched while they were around. And, finally, that we remember what we went through in losing them, how that moment rerouted our life path and changed us forever. If we can let ourselves remember this and really feel it then, perhaps, we can let ourselves really grieve, let go and really live.
We are delighted to be welcoming Mihaly Rosta - aka Mike - onboard from May. Mike will be offering acupuncture and tui na massage with some other Traditional Chinese Medicine techniques and running clinics on Tuesdays and Sundays. He will also be available for ad hoc appointments over the coming months, please contact him to arrange these. We are happy he is joining us and feel his calm, grounded nature and particularly lovely treatments will be a good fit to our small, happy team :-)
My name is Mike (Mihály). I have just moved to the neighborhood and it feels great to be here.
I am a qualified Acupuncturist, Massage therapist, Qigong and Tai chi instructor.
However in practical terms I am here to help people self-reflect, with the purpose of easing their suffering so they can live their lives fully, healthily.
Now when I say Acupuncture, or Tai chi you may think: what does that have to do with any of that?
As an Acupuncturist and Massage therapist, I am there to identify patterns and to nudge your system a bit to leave behind anything that does not serve you, and to focus on the areas that needs your attention.
As a Tai chi and Qigong instructor it may seem that I am just teaching movements, forms, stretching whilst you are actually learning to identify tensions, forgotten painful areas and all those stored up stress and emotions that had no space to be expressed.
I am not here to fix you because you are not broken.
I am here just as a reminder that everything you need is already in your possessions. I believe that we all just need to thrive for clarity, so we can discern what we do not need, and what needs our attention.
If I had to choose one message:
Take a second for yourself. Check back in your physical and emotional body. Have a compassionate moment of silence. See what you need and take action accordingly. Because you deserve it. We all do.
Harmony Within Acupuncture
The London Landmarks Half Marathon
Our fab sports massage therapist Lauren shares her profound experience volunteering for Tommy's charity at the London Landmarks Half Marathon and the joy and hopefulness that she took from this life affirming event in aid of a charity that does vital work for people in life challenging situations.
The London Landmarks Half Marathon was set up by Tommy’s charity to boost their fundraising efforts and provide a celebratory run following London’s landmarks with the strap-line, ‘The Grand. The Quirky. The Hidden’. It is such a fun event and this year the team have reached out to brilliant performers, volunteers and community groups around London to entertain and support runners along the route, making this year a true celebration of London’s culture and heritage. Tommy’s charity does important work in supporting mothers and babies, funding research into miscarriage, still birth, and premature birth, and provides pregnancy health information to parents.
I had the privilege of volunteering for post-event massage back in 2018 at the first ever LLHM event! Tommy’s did a wonderful job of organising a beautiful space for us to treat the runners and I still remember the brilliance of the day. The atmosphere in the room was absolutely buzzing; you could almost feel a physical energy to it. Congratulations never ceased and every time someone came up to me, no matter how exhausted they were, they had a smile on their face and such a sense of pride in what they had just achieved. Not one person was moaning or grumbling about any pain they were in, their achievement seemed to lift them above it.
Since then I have also volunteered at the London Marathon and more locally at the Windrush Aquathlon. At events I mainly treat through or around clothing as the treatment areas are not usually private. I can still gain great results from several techniques this way, using compressions, soft tissue release, and involving the runner actively using muscle energy techniques to help relax and lengthen muscles. It is quite a tiring day massaging runner after runner - at a busy event I probably get through about 20 or so people, each runner receiving 15-20 minutes of treatment.
All the massaging aside, the main thing that struck me on the day was the atmosphere and humility of everybody that I met. Even though these people were taking on a tough physical challenge, the positivity was contagious. It was clear that they felt supported, valued and proud in themselves and their achievements for the cause. Due to the nature of Tommy’s charity work, perhaps some of the people that I met had had an experience with miscarriage, still birth, or a premature birth in some aspect. By running the half marathon they were taking positive action and helping to support themselves and others. It truly inspired me.
Even though it was a long and tiring day, I went home ecstatic and full of inspiration from everybody I had met, runners and volunteers alike. Just knowing that I had helped some of those amazing people in some way gave me my own sense of pride and achievement.
If you ever get the chance to volunteer with a charity at a sporting event, DO IT. And if you’re running the LLHM or another race coming up soon (Brighton and Manchester I’m looking at you), then good luck! You have come this far and getting to the start line is 75% of the challenge. Massage can be very beneficial both pre and post event as well as helping you to maintain fitness and form throughout training. Come and see me at West Norwood Therapies on Wednesdays or Sundays, I’m here to help you be your best.
Blogs from the WNT team. For our blogs from before June 2020 please see individual profile pages - it's a good way to get to know practitioners too.