Make Mindfulness a Pleasure, Not a Chore

This excerpt is from a longer article available at PaulaDerry.com/readings.

The heart of mindfulness is relaxed awareness of the here-and-now, slowing down, taking the time to notice more and notice more deeply, allowing experience to spontaneously arise, being not doing. As new experiences arise, they can be further explored or simply enjoyed. In addition to practices like sitting meditation, there are many other ways to cultivate this. Continue reading “Make Mindfulness a Pleasure, Not a Chore”

Sheng Zheng Gong Talk at Ruscombe

This post originally appeared on BmoreSZG.com. In April of 2017, Peter Van Buren gave a talk to the health practitioners at Ruscombe Mansion on the benefits of integrating Sheng Zhen Gong with the holistic therapies they practiced. After first explaining a little about Sheng Zhen Gong, Peter then guided the group though a brief practice, so they could experience firsthand the “Sheng Zhen state”.  And, then he addressed the group,

“In preparing for this talk, I needed to answer the question, what does Sheng Zheng Gong (SZG) have to do with health practitioners? Continue reading “Sheng Zheng Gong Talk at Ruscombe”

Heal the Body by Healing the Gut: The 5R Approach to Wellness

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) there are currently more then 70 million people in the U.S. suffering with some form of Gastrointestinal (GI) disorder. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that approximately 117 million (half of all adults) have one or more chronic health conditions. In addition, GI complaints are among the top reasons patients seek health care. So, if you are an adult reading this, most likely you or one of your close family members falls into one of these categories. Continue reading “Heal the Body by Healing the Gut: The 5R Approach to Wellness”

What’s Preventing Me From Healing?

Have you ever wondered what’s REALLY going on in your body? Ever want to “un-do,” or de-toxify from the damaging buildup in your body over time from a modern life? Have you been exposed to X rays, anesthesia, viruses, genetically modified foods, mercury from fillings, cigarettes and/or pharmaceuticals? Have you wondered if you have vitamin deficiencies or mineral malabsorption? Would you like to find out if you’ve inherited your family’s health issues and, if so, prevent them? Ever wonder what might be blocking your body from healing itself (which it is designed to do)?

Then the Asyra would interest you. Continue reading “What’s Preventing Me From Healing?”

Winds of Change

This Spring will be like no other. Of course, each Spring is unique – in some ways. This one promises to be unlike all others in many and momentous ways.

The shoots we see emerging come Spring arise from root work that happened over the Winter. The nature of each Spring is partly determined by the nature of the root work that preceded it. Events this Winter unleashed powerful forces. So it’s easy to predict we’ll see more gusty – and gutsy – forces blowing this Spring.

Maybe it doesn’t have to be a collision course. One way to learn about conflicting currents is to watch how they play out in the natural world. This is actually the basis of Asian healing arts like acupuncture. Continue reading “Winds of Change”

Holistic Healing Arts in Tumultuous Times

Photo: Graham Cook / CC BY 2.0

In tumultuous times, traditional healing modalities have much to offer. They help us recover from shock. They can address old wounds laid bare by dramas unfolding around us. They call us to our higher selves. They lead us to connect with others and connect with our purpose in the world. They support us in finding our footing in the presence of frightening uncertainties. They cultivate the strength and clarity we need to deal appropriately with changing circumstances.

Changes of great magnitude can wreak havoc for us physically, mentally and spiritually. Signs of strain can show up on all of these levels. We may experience changes in our sleep, concentration, breathing, balance, digestion or elimination. Any and all our major functions can be compromised. Continue reading “Holistic Healing Arts in Tumultuous Times”

Body Memory

Photo: Logan Ingalls / CC BY 2.0

I’m probably not the only one who flashed back to ghosts of World Series past this season. And not just as an intellectual exercise. ‘Body memory’ we call it in our biz. One minute I was watching the Cubs, next I was remembering images, sounds, and flavors from years ago, right down to the squeaks and lumps of the bar stool I sat on watching Brett Saberhagen shut out the mighty Cardinals 30+ years ago.

The Childe Harold was a dive bar near Dupont Circle. Where Bruce Springsteen played for $750 in the early 70’s and George McGovern went for solace during his doomed campaign. Best burgers ever, great beer selection. My youngest sister (may she rest in peace) enjoyed both and met us there. She was an intern on Capitol Hill that year. Before any of us had any kids. My husband and I were newly married and we didn’t own a TV. Continue reading “Body Memory”

Over the Edge – The Awesome Drop of Autumn: Part 4 of Healing with the Seasons

Dramatic, isn’t it? How Autumn sneaks up on us. Suddenly, we notice a chill in the air. Or how dark it is when we get up in the morning. And the leaves – oh the leaves! – as they leave us. The edges of light and dark show up so clearly now. Dawn and dusk seem like sharper turning points. Often magnificent – ever so briefly. Now you see it, now you . . .

That’s the nature of Autumn. Bit of a sharp edge. It’s cut-to-the-chase time. Days get shorter. Plants die back. Animals look for cover. We may not be the ones bringing in the last of the harvest, but we share their primal sense of urgency. We may feel unprepared for what comes next. Or unready to let go of what’s past. Often we feel like we’re scrambling just to keep up.
Continue reading “Over the Edge – The Awesome Drop of Autumn: Part 4 of Healing with the Seasons”

Crazy Daze of Summer
Transition Time: Food, Work and Music
Part 3 of Healing with the Seasons

Image: Forest and Kim Starr / CC BY 2.0

This is The Season of Transition. Asian healing traditions often identify the time between Summer and Fall as a fifth season, with particular healing gifts for issues around food and nourishment.

Some call this Late Summer or Harvest Time. I call it the Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer. So different from earlier Summer months! More settling – and sometimes more unsettling.
Continue reading “Crazy Daze of Summer
Transition Time: Food, Work and Music
Part 3 of Healing with the Seasons”

Riding the Summer Waves: Part 2 of Healing with the Seasons

We’re near the peak. On this part of the planet, we’re coming closer to the sun. We’re feeling its rays more directly than we will again till next June comes around.

All this extra light, warmth and daytime has huge affects on our body, mind and spirit. And, like every season it’s a mixed bag. There’s no such thing as a blessing that’s not mixed, I often say. Continue reading “Riding the Summer Waves: Part 2 of Healing with the Seasons”

Chronic Ankle Sprain

by Susan Lawrence, PT

We’ve all done it – gone over on our ankles whether running, playing a sport or stepping off a curb the wrong way. It’s painful, it swells … it’s embarrassing – you try and “walk it off”. Say you do all the right things to make it better—the initial RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation), you even add the “P” (protection) to the acronym, but weeks, months, maybe years after, it still just doesn’t feel right. Continue reading “Chronic Ankle Sprain”

The Being of Cancer

President Nixon declared war on cancer 40 years ago by signing the National Cancer Act of 1971. The goal is to “eradicate cancer by 2015”. We are far from achieving this goal. Research in and approach to cancer is limited to cut, burn, and poison. Two major aspects are missing: integrating CAM (detoxification, addressing the internal environment with nutrition, lifestyle changes, etc) and spirituality.

Life with cancer is a battle. Either you fight a battle as a hero and attack without a plan, and come out victorious or die, or you carefully prepare yourself for battle by finding out everything you can about your enemy and amass the best army there is. Continue reading “The Being of Cancer”

What to Do When Feeling Blue: Ruscombe Round Table on Depression

This article was prepared as collaboration between practitioners at the Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center in Baltimore. To learn more, attend our annual free Open House event, September 18, 2011.

As we “listen to your story” at Ruscombe, we find that depression is a common complaint, often affecting people with chronic health conditions. But when depression is the sole condition, it can also be severely debilitating. One practitioner described it as walking through molasses. Your body can feel so heavy, you struggle simply to move, much less motivate yourself to follow advice on how to alleviate your depression. Continue reading “What to Do When Feeling Blue: Ruscombe Round Table on Depression”

Medicine then, now, and in the future

I just finished reading “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England” by Ian Mortimer. Boy, am I glad that I live here and now! In medieval England life was violent, sexist, boxed in a rigid and unfair class and legal system, traveling was a life threatening adventure, and sickness was deadly.

Only the lords and ladies could afford hygiene, i.e. baths on a regular basis. Although public bath houses existed, their services were more for pleasure than cleanliness and extended to more intimate encounters than water and body and therefore their contribution to health and hygiene were dubious. Continue reading “Medicine then, now, and in the future”

Tetanus

Tetanus or lockjaw is an awful disease. It is due to contaminated wounds and causes muscle spasms that affect the jaws, extremities, back, abdomen, and diaphragm, making breathing difficult. Without treatment, one out of four infected people dies.

In WW1 many soldiers died of tetanus. Clostridium tetani, the bug that causes tetanus, only survives in anaerobic (no oxygen) conditions deep in the soil. The soldiers in WW1 dug deep trenches, fought in them for months, were malnourished, many had dysentery or trench foot, and injuries from gunshot or shells penetrated deeply. Furthermore wound care was non-existent. Continue reading “Tetanus”

River of Life

“Row, Row, Row Your Boat” is a popular English nursery rhyme, often sung as a round. The tune is credited to Eliphalet Oram Lyte (1842-1913) in the publication The Franklin Square Song Collection (1881, New York). Lyte was a teacher and author of grammar and composition textbooks. He lived in Lancaster County and taught in Millersville, Pennsylvania. Continue reading “River of Life”

This Awesome Body

There is this children’s picture book series about a magic school bus taking a class and her teacher to various places like the solar system, inside a volcano, a beehive, and the human body. I read the human body book. I remember the colorful pictures, the funny comments (at least for somebody who thinks 3rd grade jokes are funny), the logical flow of the book: food is eaten, digested, absorbed; air is inhaled, oxygen is used carbondioxyde is eliminated, etc. I still remember this because it left me with a sense of void. Here is a funny description of a human body dissected into organs that perform biochemical processes. This leaves no room for wonder, magic, awe. Continue reading “This Awesome Body”

Fight the Flap – Befriend the Famine

Last winter I gained 10 lbs. I could not blame it on age, genetics, prescription medication, hormonal changes, or other illnesses. It was as clear as spring water: I ate too much and exercised too little. That nice tasting winter lager in front of the fireplace, that wine that goes along with a good meal (alcohol has 7 calories/gram, compared to protein and carbs, which have 4/g), the sweets during the holidays and less physical activity due to snow contributed to my stately gain. Continue reading “Fight the Flap – Befriend the Famine”

Much ado about nothing: The flu vaccine myths

It’s the time again to get your vaccine shot. At least this is the message that you hear from everybody who cares about you – or your wallet. I went straight to the source to get the facts, or so I hoped. I went to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Website (www.cdc.gov) Continue reading “Much ado about nothing: The flu vaccine myths”

7 Tips to Find the Holistic Healer Right for You

We could make light of this headline, by saying: Here are the 7 best ways to find the right holistic healer for you:

1) Attend the Open House at the Ruscombe Mansion
2) Attend the Open House at the Ruscombe Mansion
3) Attend the Open House at the Ruscombe Mansion
4) Attend the Open House at the Ruscombe Mansion
5) Attend the Open House at the Ruscombe Mansion
6) Attend the Open House at the Ruscombe Mansion
7) Attend the Open House at the Ruscombe Mansion

… but you visitors to the Ruscombe Mansion website, deserve a more substantial and useful list, so here it is. (Though we do hope to see you all at our next Open House!) Continue reading “7 Tips to Find the Holistic Healer Right for You”

Do-It-Yourself Energy Drink

This summer I attended several bicycle events. Besides having my bicycle finely tuned (I love to hear a clean “click” when shifting gears instead of a grinding noise) my main concerns are my stamina and preventing muscle spasms from lactic acid build up.

During these bicycle events the organizers offer a variety of snacks and energy drinks at the rest stops. Except for the fruits, all of them contain either table sugar or corn syrup, which I avoid because they are mineral robbers and acidify the body. Some drinks are carbonated. I do not know who would go for them: either you burp or you bicycle. I challenge you to take deep breaths and burp at the same time! Continue reading “Do-It-Yourself Energy Drink”

MRSA – How bad is it really?

Last week a mother called me during my call-in hours. Her 14 year old daughter had a rash that looked like a spider bite. She went to a walk-in clinic where they cultured it. The result came back MRSA positive. She was very upset and in tears about this diagnosis.

What is happening?

Because of excessive use of antibiotics the number of drug-resistant bacteria is growing rapidly. How often do we hear from the doctor: “It’s viral but to prevent a superimposed bacterial infection take this antibiotic.”? Researchers estimate that half of all antibiotics prescribed are unnecessary. Continue reading “MRSA – How bad is it really?”

Codex what?

According to Wikipedia “The Codex Alimentarius (Latin for “food code” or “food book”) is a collection of internationally recognized standards, codes of practice, guidelines and other recommendations relating to foods, food production and food safety under the aegis of consumer protection. These texts are developed and maintained by the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a body that was established in 1963 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the World Health Organization (WHO). The Commission’s main aims are stated as being to protect the health of consumers and ensure fair practices in the international food trade. The Codex Alimentarius is recognized by the World Trade Organization as an international reference point for the resolution of disputes concerning food safety and consumer protection.” Doesn’t this sound great? “Food safety, consumer protection, fair trade…” And look who is behind this reference work: respectable institutions like WHO, UN, WTO! Where can I sign to support this honorable 40 plus year project? Continue reading “Codex what?”

Stop and Listen: Allowing Silence in Conversation

In my early 20’s I ventured off to Japan. As a recent graduate from art school in Philadelphia, I knew I needed to travel to complete my education. This was, of course, something only I understood, so naturally it came as a big surprise to my family and friends when I told them I was going to Kyoto, Japan. It turned into an even bigger surprise when my three-month study evolved into four years of inner and outer exploration. One of the many lessons I learned was to stop, listen, and allow silence in conversation. Continue reading “Stop and Listen: Allowing Silence in Conversation”

Choosing Joy and Fearlessness

When I was 35 I gave birth to my first child. Her father was only 26 years old. We were both active in martial arts practices and the healing practices of shiatsu and qi gong. Her father, Marcus, was devoted to the Taoist concept and practice of conditioning your body to become immortal. He was strong, healthy, and was confident he was here on this earth walk for a long time. Marcus explained to me he was too aware to become a victim, believing that accidents only happen when one allows oneself to become a victim. He was creating his reality and his life purpose was to help anyone in need-plant, animal or person. I was happily finding security in believing in this approach to life. My brothers had each died suddenly years before and Marcus’ certainty was secretly comforting to me. Continue reading “Choosing Joy and Fearlessness”

Mandatory Medicine

Glenn F. Ivey, State’s Attorney in Prince George’s County, issued summons to more than 2300 parents of children who had not provided certificates of immunization for their children. Parents were told to appear in Court on Saturday, November 17, 2007 and to subject their children to on-the-spot state-mandated vaccines or face imprisonment.

Parents who ignored the court’s demands were threatened with a $50 fine for every day their child is out of compliance or up to 10 days in jail. These children had been barred from attending school since September 20, the deadline for meeting the requirements.
Continue reading “Mandatory Medicine”

The Holistic Connection to “Two Hands”

FleisherPianist Leon Fleisher has the most famous right hand in contemporary symphonic music. “It is famous because for more than 30 years it has not worked,” says Johns Hopkins Magazine (Nov. ‘95) in an article about Fleisher’s first successful comeback. For the past 30 years Fleisher has continued performing concerts for the left hand, but not until he began working with Tessy Brungardt, a Certified Advanced Rolfer at The Ruscombe Mansion Community Health Center in Baltimore, did his right hand become strong enough for him to confidently return to the stage and the repertoire for two hands. Continue reading “The Holistic Connection to “Two Hands””

What is Osteopathy?

Osteopathy is a hands-on approach to health maintenance. Doctors of Osteopathic Medicine (D.O.’s) treat with manipulation to assist the inherent healing forces of the body, allowing normal structure and function to be maintained. Osteopaths focus on health, not disease, and strive to build health in our patients. We consider diet, exercise, physical and emotional stresses, genetic, environmental and occupational factors, and the history of that life, from conception to the present. We look at the body structure from head to feet. With perceptive, feeling fingers we identify areas where structure has been disturbed and recognize how the body’s self correcting mechanism is responding. In addition to recommending or prescribing medications, diet, exercise, counseling or surgery where indicated, we treat with manipulation.
Continue reading “What is Osteopathy?”

March is Colon Awareness Month

A healthy, strong functioning colon is essential to maintaining good health. Over time, your colon may lose its ability to properly eliminate all waste from the gastrointestinal tract due to a combination of poor diet, improper food combining, drug intake and or lifestyle. If this happens, the colon may become saturated with harmful toxins. And through a process called “autointoxication”, these toxic substances can be transported into the bloodstream where the lymphatic and circulatory systems, as well as the lungs and kidneys, become overburdened and expos you to serious health risks. Continue reading “March is Colon Awareness Month”

February is Heart Health Awareness Month

The heart is the mental/emotional center of the body. Many alternative medical practitioners believe the mind is where heart disease begins.

Here are some foods to help maintain a healthy heart.
– Oyster shells (in the form of oyster shell calcium)
– Whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, and oats to calm the mind and the heart
– Mushrooms (reshi, shitake) improve cerebral function and nurture the heart, soothe the spirit and calm the mind.
– Fruits such as mulberries, schisandra berries and lemons
– Chamomile, catnip, skullcap or valerian to calm the nervous system and aide with insomnia.

Spirit-focusing practices such as meditation, yoga, prayer and reciting mantras help play a vital role in heart health as well.

January is Sleep Awareness Month

This time of year many of us are sleep deprived. Holiday shopping and preparations, family visiting or we are flying /driving for vacation time, tend to make getting the correct amount of sleep difficult. Eating on the run or different cuisine can be hard on our bodies.

Did you know that certain blood pressure medication, over-the-counter cold drugs and other medicines can cause poor sleep. So can caffeine, alcohol and nicotine. Too little sleep or poor-quality sleep can increase your risk of weight gain or diabetes. Did you know that roughly half of adults older than 65 have some form of sleep disorder? Continue reading “January is Sleep Awareness Month”

December is Depression Awareness Month

Although the stereotypical holiday images are full of firesides and warmth and joy, they truth is quite the opposite for many people. For those who have experienced a recent loss of a loved one or a divorce, the traditions of the holidays bring it all flooding back, no matter how many years have passed. Others get depressed after maxing their credit cards and the thought of facing the bills in the New Year. And everyone knows the stress of trying to squeeze more and more into their already busy days in order to live up to the family traditions requiring baking, wrapping, shopping, entertaining, etc. Continue reading “December is Depression Awareness Month”

The Deeper (Spiritual) Meaning of Cancer

There is a meaning, a message in any illness that we need to understand in order to heal. When we contemplate on the essence of an illness, we come to the deeper meaning of it. The most characteristic trait of cancer is absolute freedom. Cancer cells do not obey any laws set forth by the human body: they multiply without restriction, they take all the nutrients and oxygen they want, and they travel to any organ at will. Continue reading “The Deeper (Spiritual) Meaning of Cancer”

Adrenal Stress and Healing Spirits

The adrenals are hormonally active glands that sit on top of your kidneys. They decide how your body reacts to physical and/or psychological stress, to fight or flight. The main symptoms of adrenal stress are inconstant changes in energy, mood, sleep patterns, appetite, etc.: One moment you feel ok – the next you feel drained. A typical story goes like this: “I feel ok after my first cup of coffee, however in the early afternoon and evening I feel miserable like somebody turned a switch, then after 9:00 pm I get a second wind and cannot fall asleep.” Since hormone levels change during the day it is impossible to follow their pattern by a single blood test – therefore the diagnosis of adrenal stress is often missed (“all your test results came back negative – I will refer you to a psychiatrist”). However, clinical symptoms, objective physical signs like labile blood pressure, serial saliva testing and serial temperature readings during the day will confirm the diagnosis. Treatment options range from homeopathy, herbs, and glandular extracts to natural hormones. More information on http://www.drrind.com; http://www.wilsonssyndrome.com. Continue reading “Adrenal Stress and Healing Spirits”