A letter to our readers..

Dear readers - 

This is Lauren, founder of Well in the West. As some of you may know, Well in the West’s seasonal education was born from a deeply personal place. In the Fall of 2016 my dad died suddenly. There was the shock, the grief, the family and friends, and the logistics. The fall whirred by in a fast upending tornado of tears. In November, as the dust settled, all of a sudden I felt like I was grieving alone.

I share this with you because, Fall is the season that most closely connects with grief. In Chinese medicine this season is an opportunity for us to march through the wounds of grief that we still carry. Fall is a time when we can be uncomfortably forced to face our depths. This can be hard. It can be hard to feel our feelings. It can be hard to ask for help. It can be hard to show ourselves to those even closest to us because, well, as Brené Brown said… “rarely do we see wounds that are in the process of healing. I’m not sure if it’s because we feel too much shame to let anyone see a process as intimate as overcoming hurt, or if it’s because even when we muster the courage to share our still-incomplete healing, people reflexively look away.” 

In this raw and tender place of the Fall of 2016, I dreamed of a group of people I could talk to through this season of grief. People that were perhaps also dealing with their own grief, but more so understood the ok-ness of this season of the year. And even more deeply, the perfectly normalcy of this season of life.

It is from that desire for showing the rawness of my grief that the Seasonal Wellness circles were born. That year was too late to start with Fall, I began in January in the depths of winter. Starting with an incredible group we went through winter together. I gave them nutritional information, exercise support, deep reflections and lessons to support through the darkest season. Over the past two years the seasons have passed and I have been a witness to incredible change. The women in these circles do. the. work. They are caring and open-hearted and they face themselves. On top of the emotional work, they take accountability for their physical health and make lifestyle choices to support the season at hand. They support themselves through the hard seasons and the easy seasons. I admire them, I am proud of them, I am grateful that they see the power of rising and falling alongside nature's beautiful cycles.

This seasonal work, is a practice. This work is not easy, but it is important. This work is both powerful and gentle. This work allows for a softness to take the edge off of the hardest transitions. 

The intimacy of the circles and the information has been incredible. Now I want to expand the offering even more greatly in the world. I believe that if Seasonal Wellness can become a broader conversation that it will give us all more space and expansion for deep healing. 

In 2019 I aim to have more offerings and more affordable versions of this work. I will be available for one-on-one seasonal coaching sessions that focus on self-care and lots of intuitive work to help guide you through your current state of transition. I will be available for acupuncture and seasonal treatment packages that will help your physical and energetic bodies align for the current time of year. There will be more workshop offerings, guided meditations and information on seasons of a day and seasons of a lifetime. 

Thank you for your understanding, support and patience as I enter a new season of this work. I cannot wait to share it with you. 

With BIG LOVE,

Lauren + Well in the West team

10 ways to Cultivate more Joy in the Chaos of Summer

Summer is the season with the most light in the day. There is also a feeling of lightness everywhere. It is easier to be lighthearted and without the usual burden of day to day life. 

In an ideal summer we feel heart expanding love and overflowing joy. This is the season where it is easiest to tap into our hearts. Think of how you felt during summers as a kid; free, wild, warm. As adults Summer is the busiest season for weddings - the most public proclamation of love. From childhood into adulthood, Summer is how we connect our hearts with the world and the ones we love.

This season is a time to be social, attend parties, host parties. Basically, it is time to do all-the-things. While this faster pace is a natural match to the Summer season, we can easily become overloaded. When we get overloaded there is a long list of symptoms that can pop up. Most commonly things like, anxiety, insomnia, restless sleep. Or even feeling scattered and overwhelmed. 

With the long lists of fun things and opportunity for heart expanding joy, how do we do all-the-things without falling into the stress of chaos?

I'd like to give you an invitation to cultivate joy instead of chaos this summer. Here's how.

unsplash brooklyn morgan

1. SAY YES

Say yes to the things that are heartwarming and heart expanding. Also known as a Hell Yes or the things you fully know you want to do. 

2. Keep your boundaries

Saying Yes is amazing and can open you up to a world of opportunity. Don't forget to say NO when you're not up for it, the situation doesn't serve you. 

3. Give yourself down time.

The point of vacations are to reset and relax. Whether you are near or far from home, try not to overload your schedule with to-dos and social activities. And if you over-do it, schedule some recovery time. 

4. Lighten up & Indulge!

Seriously, indulging can be a vice or a strength. It's important to loosen up a bit. Are you on a strict diet or always going to bed on time? Well, time to shake it up and indulge in that thing you really really want! Or if you are in in the midst of chaos and crave normal sleep schedule... INDULGE yourself and go to bed.

5. Sleep less

No need to be sleepless, but it's the perfect time of year to sleep less. Take naps if you need. With the longer hours of light, our bodies biochemically are available to less physical rest (if you are super burnt out this doesn't work this way, but for most people this works wonders)

6. Time IN

Spend time IN CONNECTION with the people you love. Phone calls instead of texts. Walks and talks. Linger over dinner with your family and friends. 

7. Put down the screens

Tv, movies, social screen time used to be an indulgence. Now they are the common way that most of us spend our days. Summer is tactile, time to be outside, be looking into people's eyes and noticing the beautiful world around you. 

8. Move, move, move your body.

It's a great time to train for a big event or push yourself physically

9. Absorb natural Vitamin D

Aka - go out in the sun, during peak hours, for 20 min with as little covering as possible. This is especially good for people who have symptoms during the Winter.Good self-care in the Summer is a wonderful antidote to the winter blues. 

chang duong heart summer healing

10. Take good care of your heart

Many of us have had a broken heart at some point in our lives. Due to a relationship, death of a loved one, precious animal or all the injustices we see in our world all the time. The Summer gives us an opportunity to tap into our hearts and repair some of the broken-heartedness we have experienced in our lifetime. 

 

We hope that this list helps you cultivate a bit more joy in your Summer season. Remember it's an opportunity, to play, laugh, expand, grow and always... heal. 

Excite! Well in the West's Summer event has been postponed to 2019 or beyond. Stay tuned for some other great events by following on instagram

Saying Goodbye to the Inner Perfectionist

Can we all get a little more holistic?

Can we use our mindfulness tools and yoga, acupuncture, nutrition, supplements to help us evolve into a greater state of health?

While we allow ourselves to be supported by all the things we are doing for ourselves, can we simultaneously say 'farewell' to our inner perfectionist?

How do we do that?

Let's talk more about how to truly let go of our inner perfectionist in order to support our full, holistic self. Let's not pretend that we get to do this in one fowl swoop. There is no way that our inner perfectionist leaves forever. In fact they will be coming back to visit us from time to time. These visits can be supportive, creative boosts in our work or they can be harmful. It is vital that we look our inner perfectionist in the eye and tell them that they don't get to run the show. In fact we are going to tell them "Human is better than perfect."

The stickiest aspect I see stick with people is their inner perfectionists seeking holistic options as a way to continue to control. This control is to control a situation, ourselves, our bodies, our lives. While holistic options are lovely and supportive, they cannot help us escape the human experience. 

The human experience is complex. Yet we have tendencies to expect ourselves to thrive at all moments, continuing on in a graceful and elegant manner through the hardest shit that will happen. In order to self-protect, we hold ourselves above the depths of our pain, sorrow, grief, shame. In the name of seasonal healing, we are attempting to escape our own personal winters. We are fingers crossed-eyes closed-no no no-to the magnificence of the human experience: we have enormous emotional depth.

Acupuncture, yoga, meditation, nutrition, supplements can provide us nourishment to help us through the hardest human depths. Our holistic knowledge and practices can support us. Instead of using holistic tools as obligations on a calendar, can these holistic tools be beacons of self-care and relief? Can we use these holistic visions to purposefully go through our personal winters so that we can bloom into incredible beings come the Spring. The Spring holds both glimmers of Summer and reminders of Winter, can we ride the wild ups and downs with grace amidst the challenges?

This is a process...

  • ...where we choose surrender over control...in big moments and little moments.
  • ...where we choose to prioritize our whole selves instead of just our physical bodies.
  • ...that is imperfect, holistic and honors every aspect of our being.

 

Oh hello holistic human. Can you put down your concepts of perfection and join me in the messy humanity. Let us dive deep, try hard and fail, grow, blossom, wilt, rebuild and always always find more love. 

Oh hi, Holistic perfectionist.

Oh hi, Holistic perfectionist.

We have taken to yoga, acupuncture, healthy cooking, eating, meditation. These habits are incredible. As practices they can be literally life changing or life affirming. Annnddddd just as easily we can become attached, dependent, high stakes on doing things a certain way. So just like that we are back at the beginning, stuck in a rut, using our holistic tools to try to dig ourselves out. 

Transformation in Spring

I imagine good teaching as a circle of earnest people sitting down to ask each other meaningful questions. I don’t see it as a handing down of answers...
— Alice Walker

Spring is a season of incredible transformation. Spring's transformation leads us into newness, inspiration and growth.

Launching into the newness of Spring, I chose to spend some time away. This time was to reflect, reset, support some dear friends and get some support. These friends are all business owners, women who have learned, grown, stretched, crashed and all along the way we have had each other. Over the past four years we have all up-leveled in our own lives and business. It is nothing short of an honor to learn from and lean on this incredible group of women. 

There is nothing that can replace the good company of other women spending time to support and uplift one another. We all entered with the normal patterns of our lives, and we left - shifted and lifted. Ready to re-enter our lives with new perspective, love and support. In short, we left the time away with some special transformation.

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What does transformation look like?

With me, it looks gentle, soft, opening, vulnerable.

Transformation is all about becoming more of one-self.

Transformation moves through us and helps us to emerge into shift and change. 

Transformation is abstract and tangible. 

 

What did you leave this time with?

Nourishment - Food cooked by three incredible chefs.

Movement - My favorite yoga classes of all time.

Opening - A cacao ceremony which opened me to who I am right now.

 

Find your people, share your life with them. Support on one another, lean on one another, grow with one another.

If you want to find people through me - join Emerge, a Spring Women's circle. It's all virtual - find out all the details here.

 

Want to meet my friends?

We all come together through The Bay Area - Holistic Women's Network

 

Get the best food in the Bay Area from - 

Diane Davidson of Cast Iron Kitchen

Rachael Gorgestani of The Cupboard SF

Giovanna Garcia of A Purified Life

 

Best one-on-one yoga sessions - 

Anne Haskett of Woods - yoga, apothecary & acupuncturist to be

 

Wise + Knowledgable Sex talk - 

Myisha Battle of Sex for Life - podcast, blogs, classes and coaching

 

Transformation + Self Exploration - 

Giovanna Garcia - private coaching, cacao ceremony, cooking & more.

Spring Has Sprung!

For most of us, our concept of seasonal timing is way off. Unless you are a gardener, work with plants, farmer or otherwise spending your days outside, it probably feels quite early for Spring.

February 1st, 2018 marked the midway point between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. While both the Solstice and Equinox are thought to be the beginnings of their respective seasons, they are the height of their respective seasons. Really we look to the Lunar New Year as the Spring festival which was February 16th this year. 

The energy of the Spring is a huge shift from winter and no matter where you live the light is changing and so is nature. It is one of the most important seasons in terms of tuning in to pay attention to the needs and requests of your body, mind and spirit. 

In Chinese Medicine the Spring connects with the Wood element which connects to the Liver & Gall Bladder. The wood element is a lot about rigidity vs. flexibility, expansion and inspiration. Since the Liver is our biggest filter it helps to process all the good and bad we take in. Physically it helps us process toxins, supplements, alcohol, and all of the emotions. 

BODY - Your body craves flexibility in the spring. It can be hard if you are out of balance to get into stretching, but start a yoga practice today. Hip openers, can be wonderful to open up the Liver channel which runs from your big toe up into your groin and your rib cage. Working on stretching the outward side body is additionally helpful as the Gall Bladder has much to do with symptoms of tight IT bands, temple headaches, shortening of the torso and much neck & shoulder tension. Adding in some lemon water to your morning routine, herbs for the Liver and sour can help ease stress and add flexibility into your tendons. The Liver also does very will with spring bitter greens such as dandelion. 

MIND - When you are health the spring feels joyous and like a great time to get creative, you will dive in and start a garden or an art project. It's a great time to sign up for a course or start training for an athletic event. However, if you are depleted or overwhelmed the Spring can be a very difficult time for your. Mental stress is the most common way that people are out of balance. In Chinese medicine this mental stress is most often seen as Liver Qi Stagnation. Usually this leads to feelings of irritability and anger, and a short frustrated fuse. Using this time to expand your mindset can be deeply rewarding if you start a mindfulness practice and meditate, even 5 minutes a day.

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SPIRIT - As mentioned above your mind will be delighted if you act on any inspiration that you have. A healthy Liver is not only full of ideas, but also uses energy to express them and communicate them outwardly to the world. 

They tried to bury us. They didn't know we were seeds. - Mexican proverb

If you took downtime and looked inward during the winter, the spring is a great time to make a leap forward on anything that came to mind. Often things that have been simmering in your subconscious come to light during the spring and can become even more fully expressed during the summer. It is a time that you might have vivid dreams, pay attention to them as that is often where you are processing the goings of each day as well as gaining insight to who you are and what work you are ready to do in the world. 

For a more in-depth look at your specific body and what you might need this season - join Emerge, a Spring Women's Circle. It's all virtual and it's beginning March 28th!

2018 Yang Earth Dog

Anoir Chafik

2018 brings in the year of the Yang Earth Dog.

February 16th marks the beginning of the Lunar New Year which also marks the changing of the seasons. We are shifting from the dormancy of Winter to the upbeat energy of Spring. 

First let's talk about the Yang. There is Yin and Yang which are opposite, interdependent, transform into one another. Yang is the balancer to Yin and vice versa. Yang is light, energy, movement, action. Yin is darkness, rest, stillness and flow. 

Next, Earth is one of five elements. Earth is as it sounds. Very much grounded, peaceful, still. Earth connects to the Spleen and Stomach. This means that the element is connected to digestion, our muscles, rumination and thought. When the earth element is balance we see people being thoughtful, attentive, connected and grounded. When the earth element is out of balance we see people worried, anxious, with poor digestion and brain fog. 

This year with the earth element being in force we are all prone to both the balancing aspects and the imbalances of earth. It will be extra important to exercise, eat well, avoid foods that can be damp in nature. The most prominent damp foods are things with sugar, dairy, greasy or alcohol. 

The year of the dog comes once every 12 years. The dog is sweet, loyal, kind who values routine and justice. The dog can also be obsessive, overprotective and anxious when they are out of their routine or feel that something is unjust.

Dogs want what they want, when they want it. Yet when they are loyal to someone they are willing to forgive them over and over again. Dogs love their packs and can thrive in community. However they can be prone to groupthink and losing themselves amidst certain ideals. This year one of the biggest themes we will see is division between packs or groups. Many people will be aligning with community with a similar mindset and who feels aligned in regards to how one person things. It is important if you are part of a community to keep coming back to why you joined. If the community is no longer aligned with your goals and values it is important to split off from the pack. This will feel harder in 2018 with the nature of the year pushing us towards groups.

For more detailed information check out The Scholar Sage + Lillian Pearl Bridges

Justice in January

We who engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive. Injustice must be exposed, with all the tension its exposure creates, to the light of human conscience at the air of national opinion before it can be cured.
— MLK Jr. Letter from a Birmingham jail 1963

The health and wellness world often veers away from tough and political topics. Because there is a notion that tough topics cause tension. In the healing and wellness world must not do anything to aggravate tension. In fact, as a wellness practitioner we are looking to significantly reduce tension. As with our political tensions, we hold physical tensions in our bodies, as MLK Jr. says this tension is merely bringing to surface a hidden tension that is already alive.

Companies that make money promoting health and wellness do not want to appear partisan or too radical. However, when we ignore the radical, we are ignoring the root.

 
Photo by George Alexandru

 

 

The term radical often has a cultural understanding of extreme or 'out there'. If someone identifies or acts radically it appears to be away from representing the middle. But the etymology of the word suggests otherwise. Radical is similar to radish and the meaning of the word means "of or having roots". In a political sense it means "change from the roots.". Change from the roots, doesn't that sound powerful?

If a plant has a disease on it's leaves, can we treat only the leaves with a simple spray and cure the disease? Or are we simply masking the symptoms or tension while ignoring what may be at the roots?

 

This is important because in Chinese medicine we are always seeking the root cause. Yes, one patient may have headaches - and maybe there is a simple Chinese medicine diagnosis like... Liver Qi Stagnation (basically stress). But WHY do they have the headaches? WHY do they have the stress? Perhaps they are eating a food that causes a chemical stress reaction which causes the headaches. Or perhaps they are deeply unhappy with a job and that brings stress which brings a headache. 

However, we are doing a disservice to all when we are not able to have an open discussion with someone we do not agree with.

I am a firm believer in tough conversations at the right time. We can obviously always push off a tough conversation... with the reasoning of it not being the right time. That's not what I mean. Both parties have to be willing enough to be there to sit, and talk and listen in whatever form this conversation needs to happen. Even ending with the same thoughts, opinions and feelings the act of coming together to hear one another out is a form of healing. 

Tough conversations can be messy, painful and very uncomfortable. Practice that. Practice sitting with what is messy, painful and very uncomfortable. When you need breaks, take breaks. When it's absolutely not the right time, don't do it. When you regress and cannot put yourself in that situation, let yourself regress. Then, when you're ready enough, time and time again, keep showing up. It's Winter, it's time to do the shadow work, dig in and let the messy, dark, painful, uncomfortable happen. 

First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
— MLK Jr. Letter from a Birmingham jail

Reposted through Women Empower www.allgirlsempower.com