Wednesday, January 18, 2012


I've had a very interesting and somewhat stressful few days. My blog has born the brunt of it through extreme neglect. I miss all the friends I've made here online which means I couldn't stay away any longer. I decided that while I'm not quite sure how to share what's been happening I could at least share  with everyone how I've been trying to deal with it.

If someone knows me fairly well, they'll know my love for philosophy, for puzzles, and for things somewhat off the beaten path for the rest of my family. One of these unusual things for my family, is a love for Chinese medicine. Chinese medicine helped identify and treat a health condition that was literally killing me when standard Western medicine had failed to. I'd like to share with you my understanding of how times of extreme stress impacts my body, mind and soul as well as how I have learned to deal with it.

I've had to throw almost everything I know about conventional medicine out the window. Most of the stuff concerning Chinese medicine is still something I struggle with wrapping my head around. What I do know is that in the stress heavy chaotic culture I live in, I've put extreme demands on my body. My life time of eating habits, exercise habits, childbirth, and stressful experiences have put a huge burden on the spleen. Read on if you want to see why that's so important.

"The functions of the Spleen are adaptation, nourishment and support. As we shall see, these functions are expressed at a physiological, anatomical, mental, emotional and spiritual level. At the physiological level the Spleen is expressed as the digestive system, the means by which we meet our nutritional needs. Digestion is the process of converting food into usable substances within our bodies and sending them to where they are needed. The Spleen adapts food to nourish and support our system. This process is called 'transformation and transportation'. The stronger our Spleen function is, the better we are able to extract nourishment from any food to support our body's needs..."

"The Spleen's physical manifestation as the digestive process is expressed at the mental level as the thinking process. The Spleen governs our ability to study and concentrate, to process information..."

"At the emotional level the Spleen is expressed as our ability to meet our needs, to obtain and give emotional nourishment and support. When our needs are met we feel nourished and supported, comfortable and secure in our lives. Often we confuse emotional and nutritional needs, eating when in fact we need comfort or perhaps using foods to suppress feelings such as frustration or desire.

Anatomically the Spleen is expressed as the fascia and soft tissue. The fascia are a continuous network of moist membranous wrappings that connect the whole body and hold everything comfortably in place. Without the fascia our bodies would have no tone and we would collapse in a saggy heap. The fascia express the Spleen's function of support and containment. 

When our fascia are relaxed and without constriction, all the subtle and larger movements of the body are smooth and easy. Our limbs have a full range of supple movement and our organs are supported in their functions. Today's body workers are aware how our fascia contort and tense, or relax and spread, in direct response to our deepest held emotions (see Notes). When the fascia are free we feel toned and comfortable in our bodies, supported from inside. We are 'at home' in our bodies, comfortable with who we are in the flesh."*

Conversely, when the fascia are tight and constricted the subtle and larger movements of the body are stiff and difficult. You may find that you're not as flexible as you once were or lose your normal range of motion with your limbs.

Here are some yoga stretches to help nourish the spleen. As always, exercise caution when beginning a new exercise program and if applicable see a medical professional to make sure it's appropriate for you if need be.

To emotionally honour and nourish the spleen, take time to do something you enjoy, be kind to yourself, and treat yourself well. For example: taking the time to disconnect from the stress and reconnect with your online community of friends and readers because you miss them. ;)

We can nourish our spleen with specific foods.

Finally, the Chinese associate the Spleen with the earth element. Attending to our relationship with the earth can help us feel more grounded. We can nourish that by simply paying attention to the ground beneath our feet both physically and metaphorically. Gardening, being outdoors, rolling around like a wild animal if you like - all those things can help emphasize your connection with the earth and soothe your body, mind and spirit. Now, pass the hedge trimmer. I need some more dirt under my nails.


* If you'd like more information on the Spleen and chinese medicine the information provided is from here
{image sources here, here and me}


  1. Thanks! This post has really inspired me to treat my body a bit better. I've been neglecting myself for a long time and the consequences are here. It's a daily struggle, so thanks for reminding me.

  2. I'm sorry to hear you are having a tough time of things... But you seem to be having the right idea here! The tie between health and attitude is strong, so if you keep your chin up, keep a good attitude, this will be a healing agent. I know that I try to do the same! Take care.
    P.S. Thanks for visiting and following -- I am your newest Follower! :)

  3. love the excersizes and also your blog! It's so nice!!! I follow you!
    Pass to my blog and if it likes you follow me too, I will be so glad :D

  4. Rachel, thanks for sharing this information! I know we've "talked" a little about medicine/stress relievers, and I have started to incorporate some yoga to my regimen. It feels sooooo good. and now I have a couple other poses to add to my repertoire! Thanks.

  5. Very interesting post! I have been meaning to look up naturopathic books to educate myself on the body and what potentially ails it, but I never once considered Chinese medicine! This is definitely going on the ideas list!
    ps: i love the illustration of the bad-ass Chinese mad fondling his stringy beard with nasty nails, made me laugh out loud! (im totally printing it and putting it on the fridge, maybe beard-laughter will make my spleen fell better!? hahahaha!!)

  6. Laughter is definitely a great emotional tonic for the spleen. Print out as many as you need to get your giggle on! ;)

  7. I really need to rededicate myself to it. I once found it truly addictive and missed it if I ever skipped doing it. Let me know how it goes. I can always use that extra dose of inspiration to keep me motivated.

  8. Thanks so much Gloria! So great to continue to find new people to connect with. A day of normal stuff and regular structure has also helped mellow out things. Sometimes just resuming your normal routine can do wonders for you.

  9. You're welcome Diana. I hope that the extra attention we can give ourselves, helps things go more smoothly for you.

  10. You like puzzles? You don't say! Thank you for the many sources for the spleen. You know I gotta do major work on mine!

  11. chillairandperfumeJanuary 21, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    Thanks for the very interesting post! I'm always (pleasantly) surprised by the things I learn about you. You're incredibly wise and different and fabulous!


  12. I have work like this done every single week, it's so so helpful. And those foods you listed, Parsnips are SO SO good for us.

    So maybe I missed it, but did you say what was wrong with your Sleen?

  13. I have work like this done every single week, it's so so helpful. And those foods you listed, Parsnips are SO SO good for us.

    So maybe I missed it, but did you say what was wrong with your Spleen?

  14. For some reason, which no one can completely pinpoint, my spleen isn't "transforming and transporting" nutrition and moisture from foods the way that it should. It's gotten stronger through my re-evaluating my lifestyle, changing my foods and reducing my stress. Two years ago, it was in such bad shape (my whole digestive system was for some reason) that I could literally put something in my mouth and they could time it traveling through my system in exactly 1 hour. That's totally not supposed to happen. There was no digesting taking place. My body was completely starving to death. I lost 40 lbs in 2-3 months and ran a fever non-stop for 6 months straight. I'm no longer at that stage, thankfully, but I still have to actively pursue health and not be surprised at the price I pay when I don't. I've learned to take full accountability for my health and well being.

  15. Thank you Hannah!

  16. You can do it Lin Lin. I believe in you! ;)

  17. Oh my word! You've read under my Endure section right? on my blog?

    So sorry to hear this, sounds so so tough, and with having kids too and trying to be a mommy! Sorry you went through this, and I am glad it has gotten better but sounds like it's still a struggle. I am so glad to hear you take action over your own health though, you are so so right. Our foods and what we use in our house and what we put ON our bodies is so so vitally important. I am a freak around here with all of that stuff. I switched everything over about 9 years ago.

    Thank you for sharing this and I'm so sorry for your suffering!!!

  18. You're welcome. Thank you for all your kindness and sharing. I'll be sure to check out your Endure section.