Lao Tzu, China’s founding Taoist philosopher wrote:
“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.” (c.605 BC)
It’s been a long winter, colder than many of us expected and challenged by a nervous questioning of what we individually and collectively value and stand for. In Chinese Medicine, winter is the time we withdraw from the world and reside in a deeper sense of self. It is a time when we enter our personal darkness. The season is ruled by the Kidneys and the water element that welcomes us back into its amniotic fluid. Returning to this deepest part of self, we may come into confrontation with how comfortable we actually are in that space of confinement, solitude and quiet. We nestle in and attempt to create comfort. The attempt in and of itself is an act of self-preservation and regeneration.
Now, as the rain has sunken deep into the soil to nourish the seeds that laid dormant, as cold gradually gives way to warmth, the Tiger awakens. The Tiger represents the Wood element, the Gall Bladder and Liver; the spark of ferocious life that can no longer contain itself and has the courage and will to sprout. The Liver and Gall Bladder rule over our sinews and create the impulse to move, run, stretch and twist our bodies out of winter’s stagnating comforts. Wood seeks growth, expression and change. It is the element of self-transformation. Whatever that means in your life, now is the opportunity to use Spring’s impulsive surge to act on your goals and new year’s resolutions.
It takes new perspectives and flexibility (Gallbladder) to create change. For change to last however, vision and planning (Liver) are necessary. To support this process, Spring is the best time to detox physically and mentally, to exercise and stretch regularly, to spend time in the woods and begin to eat lighter foods (plenty of greens, sprouts and aromatic foods such as citruses, vinegars and bitters, less sugar, less fried food, less fats).
Remember, that although Spring is the time for self-transformation, trees do not grow in isolation. Find your forest, find the people that seek similar growth and support each other through your process. Let go of the old and make room for the new.
Wishing you all strength, courage and growth in this Spring Season!
Naike Swai, L.Ac & The North Portland Wellness Center Team
Nettle and Parsley Pesto
By: Leah Scott
- 2 cups fresh nettle leaves
- 1 bunch of Italian parsley
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¾ cup pine nuts
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- ¾ cup shredded parmesan cheese (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
Stinging nettles are abundant in our part of the world and host many health benefits. They are particularly useful in reducing inflammation and alleviating allergy symptoms, arthritis and skin complaints such as eczema. As an iron-rich green, they are an optimal blood builder. Foraging nettles is tricky due to the stinging quality, but wear gloves and gather the younger leaves on your next wander through the woods or along the banks of the Columbia. The leaves must be blanched prior to use and the water can double as a nourishing tea to sip!
First blanch the nettles for a few minutes in a rolling boil, strain and allow leaves to dry thoroughly. In a food processor, add garlic, olive oil and lemon juice. Alternate adding nettles and parsley in pulses with pine nuts and cheese (if you choose) until the pesto comes together in a paste with some texture still. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Check In With Your Body Series – Body Awareness
By: Nicolette Wood
It is well known that regular massage therapy is good for increasing relaxation, decreasing muscle tension and generally improving ones well-being. In addition to the physical benefits, massage therapy can also contribute to body awareness. Sometimes the daily grind of life prevents us from noticing our bodies’ indications that a treatment may be in order. Busy schedules and life responsibilities can allow you to ignore that trigger point in your shoulder, tension in your hips or tightness in your low back. Incorporating a massage session into your busy month as a regular “to-do” item can allow you to catch and address those muscle pains and allow you to increase your well-being, and therefore, productivity. Receiving monthly massage can also give you more body awareness to know which muscles or areas of your body are needing regular or additional attention. You can expect as a part of a routine massage session that a massage therapist may notice potential abnormalities on exposed skin during a session and note them to the client to be addressed further. To help keep your body in check, make an appointment and set aside an hour each month to increase and maintain your own body awareness.
Join the Wellness Center for a free Ear Seed Treatment every second Wednesday of the month from 12:45-1:30 through June 14th! This New monthly Walk Williams event kicks of Feb. 8th and continues the second Wednesday of every month. From 5-9 pm, Walk Williams and explore the Williams District. Discover one-of-a-kind Williams District deals from unique businesses. Follow the lighted balloons in the evening to old favorites and brand new hot spots. Join your neighbors for a social night out. Find all your needs in Williams District – food + drink, shopping, recreation, medical and services. Gather stamps at each participating business to be entered in to win gift certificates from area businesses. See the link below for a complete list of participating businesses.
Reset, Revive and Resource Yourself in Just 1-minute.
By: Tamra Holder, LMT
If you sit at a computer regularly for long periods, you’ve probably felt it, that pain in your upper back, shoulders and neck from the posture you’ve sunk into while your eyes are locked into the narrow focus obliged by a computer screen. Well, you are not alone, this happens to most everyone, but you do not have to submit to this painful state of being. Freedom from suffering in relationship to your computer can be yours without imposing a rigid and equally painful militaristic posture. So, how can you RESET your posture and find neutral, a place of ease and dynamic equilibrium in relationship to gravity and it’s opposite: ground reaction force? How can you REVIVE yourself, break free from the tension holding you in that familiar statuesque position of Rodin’s “The Thinker” to feeling the dynamism of being wholly alive in each moment? How can you gain access to all your inner RESOURCES in just 1-minute?
Well, set your timers for once every thirty minutes AND TRY THIS:
Starting position:set the height of your seat so your hips are 1”- 2” higher than your knees and scoot to the edge of your seat so your thighs are mostly off of the seat. Use a firm cushion if your seat will not adjust to the height you need. Rest your hands on your thighs. Inhale here.
Flexion:give a slight push into your feet and rocking on your sitting bones, send the top of your pelvis (the back of your waist) backward as you begin to melt your spine into a fairly even curve. Begin to exhale about midway as you sink into this C-shape in your spine. Feel the support of your pelvis while you let yourself relax into flexion. Allow your hands to slide out toward your knees.
Prepare for Extension:On the pause after your exhale, take your C-shaped spine and it rock slightly forward on your sitting bones. Slide your hands up close to the crease at the top of your thighs.
Extension:Now, push down into the ground through your sitting bones, feet and hands to give you the upward impulse for coming into your fullest length. Inhale just after you push off, enjoying a new deep breath.
Finding Neutral:As you exhale, rock back on your sitting bones just enough to center your pelvis and allow your spine to settle with gravity into balance. Feel this new place of supported alignment in neutral.
Repeat entire sequence 3-6 times (about 1-minute)or longer when you want to unwind more deeply held tensions.
If you’re having difficulty getting your muscles to release tension, make an appointment and one of our practitioners will be happy to assist you so you can let go the burden of tension and enjoy the freedom and ease of being fully alive again.
As we reflect on this last couple of weeks, it’s hard not to react – to tighten, to contract with fear and disappointment. Given the uncertainty there are many questions about how the future will unfold.
Although our fear tends to make us reactive and inflames a desire to control our environments, we must make this an opportunity to go deep within and find our strength, our power, our voices.
Out of the darkness comes the light.
Through this, let’s remember to breathe deeply. Meditate. Stay grounded. Turn the music up loud and dance with our loved ones. We must strengthen and deepen our roots. Stand strong in our beliefs. Be kind to others. Be willing to look at our own internalized ‘isms’ and ‘phobias’. Let’s make an effort meet our neighbors. Do something kind for another person today. Let’s all deepen our involvement in our communities. Let’s gather together and make a stronger commitment to take care of ourselves, our families and our communities.
Annabelle Snow and Lili Scott, co-owners
and the entire staff at North Portland Wellness Center
By: Lili Scott
As we transition into the season of shorter, colder days, it’s a wonderful time to consider our relationship with gratitude, and to be grateful for the gifts in our lives.
In Chinese Medicine, our Qi is said to follow our intention or mental energy. Different mental and emotional patterns do different things to our energy: overthinking and worry knot the qi; anger makes it rise up, fear sinks it, sadness dissolves it and so on.
It is my experience that gratitude provides a kind of gentle buoyancy and softening to life – I’ve used it to shift out of many less desirable mental/ emotional states. Of course the so called ‘negative emotions’ are part of life and it’s important that they be fully felt, digested and integrated. But when any mental/ emotional state becomes excessive, or limits our ability to experience anything else, it’s time for an intervention. And gratitude is a great one.
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life, it turns what we have into enough and more. It turns problems into gifts, confusion to clarity, chaos into order, failures into successes and the unexpected into perfect timing. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.
My practice, evergreens, the ocean, sunshine, rain, a strong, healthy body, a roof over my head, my amazing patients, sight, music to listen to…these are just some of the many things I am grateful for.
In the months to come may you find peace, balance and gratitude!
GREEN BEANS, CRISPY PANCETTA MUSHROOMS AND SHALLOTS
- Kosher salt
- 1-1/2 lb. green beans, trimmed
- 2-1/2 oz. thinly sliced pancetta (five or six 1/16- to 1/8-inch-thick slices)
- 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 medium cremini mushrooms, trimmed, halved if large, and very thinly sliced
- 2 medium-large shallots, halved lengthwise and very thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup very thinly sliced fresh sage leaves
- 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
- 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Fill a large mixing bowl with ice cubes and water and set aside. Fill a 6- or 7-quart pot two-thirds full of well-salted water. Bring the water to a boil and boil the beans uncovered until tender to the bite, 4 to 6 minutes. Drain, transfer to the bowl of ice water, and let sit until cooled, about 2 minutes. Drain and pat dry.
Put the pancetta in a 12-inch nonstick skillet and cook over medium-low heat until crisp and browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate and coarsely crumble. Remove the pan from the heat and let it cool slightly.
Add 2 Tbs. of the olive oil to the pan and return it to medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms, shallots, and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring frequently, until both are nicely browned and shrunken, about 5 minutes. Add the sage and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Take the pan off the heat and add the vinegar, mustard, and the remaining 1 Tbs. oil. Stir to combine.
Return the pan to medium heat, add the green beans and toss to combine and heat through, 2 to 3 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Transfer to a warm serving platter and garnish with the pancetta.
Make Ahead Tips
The beans can be boiled and refrigerated up to 6 hours ahead. The remaining ingredients can also be prepped up to 6 hours ahead and held in the refrigerator. An hour before finishing, remove the beans from the refrigerator to come to room temperature.
WILD RICE AND CHANTERELLE SALAD WITH DRIED FRUIT, GOAT CHEESE AND WALNUTS
8 cups water
2 cups wild rice
2 teaspoons salt, plus more to taste
1 bay leaf
12 sprigs thyme
4 teaspoons grapeseed or canola oil
2 pounds chanterelle or portobello mushrooms, wiped clean and chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 large shallots, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, toasted and cracked
2 teaspoons cumin seeds, toasted and cracked
2 teaspoons coarsely chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 cup mixed dried fruits, such as cherries, cranberries, raisins, chopped figs, or chopped apricots
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
1 pound stemmed arugula or watercress
8 ounces fresh white goat cheese, crumbled (about 1 cup)
To prepare the rice: Wash the rice under cold water for 2 minutes. Bring 8 cups of water to a boil and add the salt, bay leaf, and thyme. Add the washed rice to the boiling water and simmer for 40 minutes, or until tender. Drain the rice and remove the bay leaf and thyme; let cool. (This can be done 1 day ahead of time and refrigerated.) You should have 7 cups cooked rice.
In a large skillet, heat the grapeseed or canola oil over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from heat, drain well, and set aside.
To make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, shallots, fennel, cumin, thyme, and pepper and season with salt. Add the dried fruits.
In a salad bowl, combine the cooled wild rice, cooked mushrooms, and walnuts. Toss with the vinaigrette and fruits.