Mindful Relationships

-by Tricia “Satya” Hurley, M.Ed., Co-founder and Reiki Master Teacher, Cup of Life Healing Center

Michael and I have been together for over 26 years and married for nearly 20 of those years. We are often asked, “What makes your relationship work? How do you sustain the difficulties that arise in relationships?”

We get it!  Relationships are work!  26+ years together has brought its fair share of ups and downs.  There are many personal practices and habits we have come to rely on to keep our relationship alive and strong. Hands down, mindfulness has been one of the most impactful practices in our relationship. We know mindfulness can help whether you’re single or in a relationship.

As you read on, remember, mindfulness is not a religion. Like yoga, it is a practice that can be incorporated into your life no matter what religious or spiritual practice you may already have. We have found including it strengthens all aspects of our lives.

The Four Noble Truths

At the heart of our practice are the teachings of mindfulness master, Thich Nhat Hahn. Today I’d like share with you one aspect of those teachings that have made an incredibly profound impact on us, The Four Noble Truths.

Here’s the bottom line—we all suffer and have times of difficulty. What makes it challenging is that often when we suffer, we don’t know what to do with it. So we stuff it down, ignore it, or get angry at it.  In effect, we continue to perpetuate and continue to generate our own suffering. Yet, if we learn to mindfully breathe into, feel it, and look at it, we will find that we can learn from it and our suffering and discomfort subsides. Mindfulness helps us take actions that ease our suffering. With continued mindfulness, we return to a more peaceful state of mind.

Deep Looking and Listening

Yet, many of us shy away from this kind of looking out of fear that whatever our pain is will take over. So, let’s clarify what we mean by deep looking. This is NOT the same as ruminating on the same negative thought over and over. Ruminating creates more suffering. Looking instead with eyes of self-compassion and loving-kindness, we can begin to see our habits and what is truly causing our discomfort.

It’s easy to get caught up in blaming our loved one. We tend to avoid personal responsibility for our part in the problem and gravitate toward blaming others or blaming circumstances outside of ourselves. We think, “if so and so would just…, then I would feel better.”

Yet, in every moment, there is an aspect of personal responsibility we must take. We must look at what are we doing to cause our suffering. 99.99% of the time, our anger or frustration toward another is connected to our own unmet inner needs, to something we must address inside ourselves. This takes effort. And, it can be deeply uncomfortable to do.

The more we can look for and create inherent wholeness within ourselves, the easier it becomes to be a present, loving and supportive partner. Then, when our partner is having a difficult time, instead of blaming, criticizing, or trying to fix whatever their issue is, we can simply be there for them. This creates a deep, lasting spiritual connection.

As a couple, you begin to trust that no matter what your own personal struggle, your partner will do their best to hold you compassionately. This is an ongoing process of personal and spiritual growth. It is not something one can master overnight.  Yet, with consistent effort, it makes all the difference in the depth and quality of the relationship.

The old cliche is true, work first, on yourself and then you will find it easier to truly be there for another. Mindfulness helps us develop a loving, and compassionate relationship with ourselves.

Regardless of your current relationship status, developing and cultivating the practice of deep listening makes an incredibly positive impact. We can learn to listen to ourselves deeply and compassionately. This, in turn, will also help us to be present and listen to others compassionately as well. Being able to listen deeply and communicate from the heart makes all the difference in the world both in our inner dialogue and in our interactions with others.

Stillness and Breath

By taking time each day to sit in stillness and focus on our breath, we can create a sense of inner ease and lightness within our own being. This does not have to be a complicated process nor does it require that you magically “rid your mind of all thoughts.”

Instead, simply practice focusing on the breath or the sensations of the breath. If thoughts arise, allow them to do so without judgment. Then, gently invite the thought to float away, like. I like to picture a warm sunny day, mostly clear skies and a gentle warm breeze carrying them off into the distance. Each time a cloud of thought arises, release it and come back to the breath.

One of the simplest and easiest mindfulness mantras to follow for this practice is, “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.”  This can be simplified to just. “In, Out”. The mantra can help us focus inwardly and bring about healing and inner peace.

When we practice breathing mindfully, we increase our capacity to listen to ourselves deeply and compassionately. The more we cultivate this within ourselves, the more easily we are able to listen to others. When we listen to others, we can then do so with all of our loving presence.

Mantras in Relationship

One of our favorite mindfulness practices is the advice of cultivating these inner mantras when we are together as outlined in Thich Nhat Hahn’s book, Silence. We also use them on ourselves when we are working through personal discomfort and suffering.

  • “Darling, I am here for you.” This mantra invites us to give another our true presence.
  • “Darling, I know you are here, and I am very happy.” This mantra is to acknowledge the presence of the person you love.
  • “Darling, I know you suffer; that’s why I am here for you.” This mantra helps cultivate awareness and presence when another is struggling.
  • “Darling, I suffer; please help.” This is an especially powerful way of asking for support when we need it. It is meant to be said from a place of mindfulness as opposed to a moment of anger.

As you can see, this is something to make a deep study and daily practice of. Difficulties arise even in the best of relationships. A good relationship does not mean the absence of challenges or suffering. Healthy relationships are healthy because both parties have strong tools for working through challenges and disagreements. A regular mindfulness practice can make all the difference.

Reclaim Your Power in 2018

by Michael Hurley, L.Ac.

Do you ever find yourself biting your tongue when you know something is not right? Or yield to another person’s wishes because you feel obligated to make them happy? Or settle for less than what you know is possible?

The above examples are just a few ways so many of us give our POWER away every day and have for most of our lives.  When I say give our power away, I mean we settle.  We settle for things that we could have, we settle for how people treat us, we settle for emotions that are holding us back from what we want, we settle for a life that is less than what we could have.

We do this for many reasons, some of which seem, in our minds, very appropriate.  Maybe we hold ourselves back so that someone else does not feel bad, or we hold ourselves back to avoid a confrontation, or maybe we hold ourselves back because of something that we learned when we were young.  When we settle, when we don’t honor our needs or what is true for us, we give our power away.

This is where things get tricky.  Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re giving our power away. Our unconscious mind is what drives most of our lives.  It is how we connect with the Universe and all of her expressions.  Our unconscious mind is also where we hold onto thought patterns that either help us or hurt us.  We learn these at an early age where we are taught a way of behavior that gets reinforced over several years of “training” or programming.  This can cause poor or great relationships, poor or great health, poor or great financial status, etc.

Yet, our habits and our power are both simply energy patterns.  The great thing is that we, as humans, can not only identify these patterns but we can turn them around so that we are in more alignment of what we want out of lifeWe can move that energy the way we want.  Another way of putting this is we can take charge of our energy and reclaim our POWER.

What I would like to suggest is that all of us get back our Power in 2018.  I am not much of a New Year’s Resolution type of a guy but this year, I am committing to aligning myself to what I want out of life not what I think others want from me.

So, that is great, right?  Good job Mike.  More power to you.  Well, one, thanks for the support and two, let’s move on to how I and we all can do this if we choose.

Two Important Tools for Reclaiming Your Power:

Breathing.  That is the first thing we can do.  The location of our power center is about 2 inches below the navelChinese medicine calls this the dan tien which can be referred to as the “Sea of Qi”.  This is your center of gravity.  In martial arts, all of one’s power comes from this spot.  In Qi Gong and Tai Chi, we gather Qi and store it there.  If you have ever done yoga, you will be familiar with “belly breathing”.  This is when you breathe into your lower abdomen as opposed to your chest.

My point in telling you this is that breathing into your dan tien is essential for keeping perspective in life and staying grounded, which in turn helps you maintain your own power.  If we can have perspective, we can see that life is actually working for us instead of against us.  We can stay out of our own drama as well as other people’s drama which will conserve our energy so that it can be used for things that benefit us and those around us.

Fake it till you make it.  Yes, fake it. I really love this practice.  The theory is that we manifest our thoughts. Our brain can change our outer circumstances to a good circumstance, a bad circumstance, or anything in between regardless of the reality of the circumstance.  It just takes consistent thought.  If we keep telling ourselves that our life is good and actually begin to believe it, we decrease anxiety and become more outgoing.  This has side effects like people wanting to help us and becoming aware of new opportunities.

Tuning in with your breath and shifting our thoughts can make all the difference. These two things and more attract other people and make them more willing to help in various ways.  Instantly, our lives are better.  Then, if we keep practicing breath awareness and actively choosing positive thoughts, it becomes a habit and over time our lives become infinitely better.

It is a good idea to have a daily reminder, especially at first.  The most important part to remember—we are trying to undo a habit of negative thought as well as set up a habit of positive thought.  This can be reading books about mindfulness, setting up a daily calendar reminder, or even adding a sticky note to your work laptop or monitor.

So, remember to breathe and think positively, even if you need to fake it for a while.  These two seemingly insignificant things can make a world of difference in your next year.

Here’s to your 2018!  Happy New Year!

Improve Your Life with Qi Gong

by Michael Hurley L.Ac.

Are you looking for a gentle, efficient practice to improve your health, clear your mind, improve your mood, and give you lasting energy throughout your day?  If so, I invite you to learn about Qi Gong.  Developed in China thousands of years ago, the people of China have practiced Qi Gong for its health benefits ranging from general relaxation to improving their martial arts practice.

Qi Gong is an integral part of my daily practice.  It helps me stay both calm and energetic in my personal and professional life.  In this article, we explore the benefits and practice of this ancient Chinese art.

Qi (“chee” ) is our life-force or vital energy.  It is the energy that flows through all things in the universe.  Gong (“gung”) means accomplishment or skill through practice.  If we put them together, we get Qi Gong or the cultivation of life-force through practice.  This may seem esoteric but it is actually very practical.  If we want to get better at something, we practice it.  The same goes for being relaxed, breathing, and keeping ourselves in balance all of which can be easy to forget in our busy lives.

Qi Gong is used to unite the body, breath, and mind.  Knowing that we can almost envision how a Qi Gong practice is done.  It is a series of movements done in conjunction with our breath.  The mind piece comes in when we talk about focus.  We clear our minds and remain in the present moment.  During the practice, we only think about the movements and the breath.

Qi Gong can be used for various purposes by adapting the speed and intention.  For relaxation and general health, we may practice slowly and softly like in Tai Chi.  If we are practicing Qi Gong for martial arts training, we may practice in a faster and harder manner like in Kung Fu.  Both Tai Chi and Kung Fu are forms of Qi Gong.

Everyone can benefit from a Qi Gong practice regardless of age, spiritual belief, or physical differences.  Children can increase focus in school.  Office workers can reduce stress to avoid burnout.  Seniors can promote balance and improve their quality of life.  People with physical handicaps can increase strength and improve circulation regardless of limitations of movement.  Medical professionals and caregivers can improve their ability to heal their patients.

When I was in school studying Chinese Medicine, two of the required courses were Qi Gong and Tai Chi.  I took these during the first couple of trimesters and fell in Love.  I was working 40-60 hours a week as a software engineer and maintaining a family while going to school most nights at a full-time status. These practices kept me strong, healthy, and peaceful (mostly) throughout the entire process, which lasted 5 years.  I would like to emphasize that it is not required to keep a schedule like that in order to have Qi Gong be useful.  In fact, I would highly recommend not doing that and simply making Qi Gong part of your everyday life.

It is very easy to start practicing Qi Gong. Many of us have access to the internet and can search for Qi Gong instructional videos.  The local bookstores and libraries have books and DVDs about Qi Gong.  You can search for local Qi Gong instructors or meet-up groups.  Looking into these is a good way to start.  Cup of Life Healing Center does not currently have an offering but we plan to begin a regular class or a series of classes sometime in 2018.  Please inquire if you would be interested.

If you decide that Qi Gong is something that you want to continue, get more training.  The best way to choose your instructor is to trust your intuition.  Some criteria to keep in mind when choosing a qualified instructor would be:  what is their background and experience; are they of good character; do they treat people fairly and with respect; do they live what they teach; do they refrain from making unsubstantiated claims; do they encourage and bring out a student’s highest potential?

  • This article was written by Michael Hurley L.Ac. Michael is the co-owner and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center located at 82 Washington Street Suite 2 in Keene, NH.

Acupuncture and Incontinence

by Michael Hurley, L.Ac.

Urinary incontinence can be surprising, inconvenient, and embarrassing.  From leakage due to coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting to sudden urges to urinate followed by involuntary loss of urine, over 25 million adult Americans and 200 million people worldwide suffer from some form of urinary incontinence.  75-80% of those who suffer are women.

Acupuncture can safely and effectively treat this condition.  Several recent clinical trials show that acupuncture can help reduce both leakage and frequency of urges at least as effectively as some conventional medicines.

Urinary incontinence occurs when urine unintentionally leaks from the urethra. The two most common types of urinary incontinence are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.

  • Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) is a type of urinary incontinence that occurs during physical activities such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting. Stress urinary incontinence is the most common type of urinary incontinence affecting women.
  • Urge urinary incontinence is an involuntary loss of urine caused by a sudden urge to urinate. The etiology of the urinary urgency that causes urge incontinence is not known. Some believe that it could be related to peripheral nerves, as well as the central nervous system, which would cause muscle hypersensitivity and the reduced effectiveness of smooth muscle relaxation.

Possible Causes include:

  • Stretched pelvic muscles during pregnancy and childbirth
  • Diabetes, especially gestational diabetes
  • Low estrogen levels in women
  • Enlarged prostate in men
  • Medication side effects
  • Chronic or recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs)
  • Constipation
  • Being overweight
  • Diseases that damage nerve pathways from the bladder to the brain, such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, or multiple sclerosis
  • Weakened muscles that control urination, such as urethral sphincter and pelvic floor muscles
  • Hip dysfunction and prior hip surgery

Conventional Treatment:

Currently, conventional treatment includes pelvic exercises (i.e. Kegels) for mild symptoms, which help to strengthen pelvic muscles and sphincter muscles at the neck of the bladder. Pharmaceutical medications are also used as a treatment modality.

Chinese Medicine Diagnosis and Treatment:

Chinese Medicine looks at the majority of incontinence conditions as Spleen-Kidney Yang deficiency.  The main goal of treatment would be to fortify the Spleen and tonify the Spleen Qi, tonify the Kidneys and invigorate the Yang. As we age, our Kidney and Spleen Qi get weaker.  This causes our body to become weaker which results in an inability to hold.  Examples other than incontinence would include wrinkly skin, sagging muscles, and increasing risks of a hernia.  Incontinence related to conditions such as diabetes and UTIs may present different patterns and are treated according to their presenting pattern.

Other things that you can do on your own to help:

  • Eat cranberries and blueberries because they contain substances that keep bacteria from sticking to the bladder in the case of urinary tract infections. However, some people with overactive bladder may find that cranberries irritate their bladder because of the acidic nature.
  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, and tobacco.
  • Drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily. Not drinking enough water can irritate the bladder and make incontinence worse. So, thinking that avoiding your water intake would help is definitely not the way to go.
  • Some foods may make urge incontinence worse for some people, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, spicy foods, caffeine, and carbonated sodas.
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week.

Acupuncture is a technique used by practitioners of Chinese medicine where hair-thin needles are strategically inserted just under the skin to promote the flow of Qi throughout the body.  Under the regular care of a licensed acupuncturist, you can expect to increase energy, calm your moods, fight off illness more efficiently, sleep more regularly, reduce cravings(food, drugs, and alcohol), digest your food more efficiently, and gain an overall balance in your body, mind, and spirit.  Regular care is typically one to three acupuncture treatments per week depending on the severity of your symptoms.

  • This article was written by Michael Hurley L.Ac. Michael is the co-owner and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center located at 82 Washington Street Suite 2 in Keene, NH. (603) 352-3625

References:

Acupuncture and Bipolar Disorder

by Michael Hurley, L.Ac.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Bipolar disorder affects approximately 5.7 million adult Americans every year.  The median age of onset for bipolar disorder is 25 years (NIMH). However, bipolar disorder can begin in childhood and sometimes doesn’t manifest until a person is much older – in their 40’s and 50’s.

Bipolar disorder is an illness in which people will see extreme changes in mood, thought, energy, and behavior. Bipolar disorder is also known as manic depression because a person’s mood can alternate between the “poles” of mania and depression. These changes in mood, or “mood swings,” can last for hours, days, weeks or months.

While western medical treatments typically include medications to help curb patient’s symptoms, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) takes an approach that addresses the underlying patterns.  In fact, bipolar is not specifically found in Chinese medicine texts.  The disorders that Chinese Medicine does address are mania and depression.  The TCM practitioner then treats based on the patterns appearing at the time of treatment. Typically, mania is given more attention as its symptoms can be more dangerous or obtrusive to the individual and the general public.

Chinese medicine always seeks to identify the patterns causing the imbalance.  Treatment aims to bring the patient back into balance. Chinese medicine considers both mania and depression disorders of the spirit mind. Both can be caused by excess emotions, particularly excess anger and joy.  However, a comparison of Chinese behavioral symptoms highlights the opposite behaviors displayed between mania and depression:

Patterns of Mania vs Depression in Bipolar

Once the Chinese Medicine practitioner determines whether the patient is presenting symptoms of mania or depression they can further customize the diagnosis based on the distinct patterns within the broader category of either mania or depression.

Patterns of the Mania Phase

Chinese medicine differentiates mania into four distinct patterns: Heart-Liver fire; phlegm fire harassing the Heart; Yang Ming bowel heat; and blood amassment.  While there are many similarities between patterns, there are also important distinctions that help the practitioner differentiate the treatment.

Patterns of Mania Phase

 

Patterns of the Depressive Phase

The depressive phase of bipolar disorder also has four main patterns: Liver qi stagnation; qi stagnating with phlegm, Heart-Gallbladder qi deficiency; and Heart-Spleen disharmony.  As with the mania phase, while there are many similarities between patterns, there are also important distinctions that help the practitioner differentiate the treatment.

Patterns of the Depressive Phase

 As you can see, Bipolar Disorder has a lot of commonalities between the different patterns.  This is why bipolar disorder is not really seen in the classical texts where mania and depression are.  The patient will present with the same underlying pattern regardless of what phase they are in and that is what should be treated, the pattern not the manifestation of symptoms.

It is important to recognize that mania, depression, and Bipolar disorder are not a weakness or a personality flaw of an individualThey are merely a manifestation of an imbalance that has occurred.

A licensed acupuncturist can identify this pattern of imbalance and develop a treatment plan that can help manage the imbalance and very possibly correct it.  It is also very important for anyone with this disorder to have a therapist and support system in place.

  • This article was written by Michael Hurley L.Ac. Michael is the co-owner and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center located at 82 Washington Street Suite 2 in Keene, NH. (603) 352-3625

Fall and Your Health

by Michael Hurley, L.Ac. – Co-founder and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center

As the fall season comes around the corner, we must be aware of what the change of season means for our health.   Our bodies have become used to the summer warmth and freedom to express ourselves.  Just as the weather and sunlight changes at this time of year, so must our focus and attention.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the fall is a time to start buckling down and completing the projects we started in the spring.  The fall harvest is a perfect example.  While this is a tangible external expression of our food growing cycles coming to completion, there is more to look at.  Completion also applies to the projects that we have going on internally—personal changes we are making within ourselves.  By drawing our awareness to season change, we become conscious of the Qi that flows within us and the cyclical patterns that it reveals.

In TCM, the body is made up of various channels or pathways that Qi flows.  These correspond to organ systems and have, over the years, been associated with certain characteristics.  For instance, the Lung and Large Intestine systems are associated with the fall.  The emotion of the Lung/Large Intestine is grief or “letting go”.  Many times people complain of a depression that comes at the end of the summer or beginning of fall as the air gets a little cooler and the days begin to get noticeably shorter.  We have trouble “letting go” of the summer and we have a small grief process that goes along with that.  Supplementing and caring for our Lungs is very important to combat this grief.

The proper flow of Qi from the Lungs is a downward direction.  In the fall, the Lung Qi is instable.  This may cause the Lung Qi to ascend or become “rebellious”.  If the Qi is not descending, we see symptoms like coughing or wheezing.  The Lungs are the uppermost organ and in being so, are the most vulnerable to Wind and Cold.  This is why it is so important to start dressing warmer in the fall.  The Lungs also control the Wei-Qi, a protective barrier that we have to protect us from colds and flu.  It resides between the skin and the muscles and serves to keep us warm.

Some things to consider during the fall months in order to support the Lungs so they can do their job to protect us include:

  • Getting more sleep
  • Avoiding foods that may cause phlegm
  • Dressing in layers
  • Using a netti pot or some type of sinus wash to keep the nasal passages clear of mucus
  • Practicing some type of self cultivation exercise like Qi Gong or yoga that focuses on pranayama or breathwork.

Getting more sleep conserves Lung Qi which helps keep the Lungs healthy and increases energy.  Striving to avoid phlegm producing foods is essential because excess phlegm will cause the Lungs to become blocked. When the lungs are blocked, the body will have difficulty using Lung Qi efficiently.  This could lead to heat which can manifest into a sore throat, sinusitis, and even bronchitis.

Phlegm producing foods are foods such as milk, cheese, creams, and sugar.  Also, raw foods should be avoided because they tax the Spleen.  A weak Spleen will not transform phlegm properly.  Improperly transformed phlegm will be stored in the Lungs.

Instead, try adding foods that will benefit the lungs such as: ginger, garlic, horseradish, onions, and mustard.  These should be consumed in moderation.  Also, taking advantage of the many wonderful local farms in our area is a fantastic way to eat seasonally.  If it grows this time of year, you can bet that it will benefit your body.

Above and beyond doing what I have already explained, it is a good idea to seek professional help in strengthening the Lungs.  In addition to the things you do at home, regular acupuncture treatments during the fall can keep your Qi balanced and curb illnesses before they become severe.

Remember, a good immune system does not mean you never get sick.  It means you overcome illnesses more quickly thus preventing them from being more serious.  A perfect example is getting over a simple cold before it becomes bronchitis or pneumonia.

I hope that this article has been interesting to you and I also hope that some of this information serves to help keep you healthy this fall.

How can Acupuncture Help with Interstitial Cystitis?

by Michael Hurley, L.Ac.

According to the National Institutes of Health, nearly 700,000 people in the United States are affected by interstitial cystitis (IC).  Also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS), it is a chronic condition that causes bladder pressure, bladder pain, and sometimes pelvic pain.  The pain ranges from mild discomfort to severe and can have repeated flare-ups from time to time. While there is no cure for IC in the conventional medical system, Chinese medicine can greatly benefit those who suffer from this syndrome.

This article will address:   

  • Signs, Symptoms, and Conventional Medicine Approach
  • How Chinese Medicine Looks at IC
  • How Acupuncture Can Help

Signs, Symptoms, and Conventional Medicine Approach

The bladder is the organ in the human body that stores urine.  When the bladder is full, it signals your brain that it’s time to urinate by communicating through the pelvic nerves. This is what creates the urge to urinate. With interstitial cystitis, there is something confusing the urinary bladder system.  The person feels the need to urinate more often and with smaller volumes of urine than most people.

The signs and symptoms of interstitial cystitis vary from person to person. If you have interstitial cystitis, your symptoms may also vary over time, periodically flaring in response to common triggers, such as menstruation, sitting for a long time, stress, exercise and sexual activity.

Interstitial cystitis signs and symptoms may include:

  • Pain in your pelvis or perineum (chronic or acute)
  • A persistent, urgent need to urinate
  • Frequent urination, often of small amounts, throughout the day and night (sometimes up to 60 times a day)
  • Pain or discomfort while the bladder fills and relief after urinating.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.

This sounds similar to a urinary tract infection but there is usually no infection. However, symptoms may worsen if a person with interstitial cystitis gets a urinary tract infection.

The exact cause of interstitial cystitis isn’t known, but it’s likely that many factors contribute. For instance, people with interstitial cystitis may also have a defect in the protective lining (epithelium) of the bladder. A leak in the epithelium may allow toxic substances in urine to irritate your bladder wall. Other possible but unproven contributing factors include an autoimmune reaction, heredity, infection or allergy.

These factors are associated with a higher risk of interstitial cystitis:

  • Up to 90% of people with IC are women.  Symptoms in men look like interstitial cystitis, but they are usually associated with an inflammation of the prostate gland (prostatitis).
  • Skin and hair color. Having fair skin and red hair has been associated with a greater risk of interstitial cystitis.
  • Most people with interstitial cystitis are diagnosed during their 30s or older.
  • Existing chronic pain disorder. Interstitial cystitis may be associated with other chronic pain disorders, such as irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia.

Interstitial cystitis can result in a number of complications, including:

  • Reduced bladder capacity. Interstitial cystitis can cause stiffening of the bladder wall, which allows your bladder to hold less urine.
  • Lower quality of life. Frequent urination and pain may interfere with social activities, work and other activities of daily life.
  • Sexual intimacy problems. Frequent urination and pain may strain your personal relationships, and sexual intimacy may suffer.
  • Emotional troubles. The chronic pain and interrupted sleep associated with interstitial cystitis may cause emotional stress and can lead to depression.

While there is no real cure for IC in conventional medicine, it symptoms tend to temporarily subside after a period of time.  Conventional treatment is mostly to ease the symptoms and can include physical therapy, NSAIDs, anti-depressants, and certain pharmaceutical products that coat the bladder epithelium to help with inflammation.  Surgery is usually not an option as it could cause other complications.

How Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture for IC Can Help

Chinese medicine is useful for treating IC because it not only alleviates the symptom discomfort naturally, but it helps balance the underlying conditions that have caused the symptoms in the first place.  Regular treatment with a Chinese medical approach reduces the frequency of flare-ups and sometimes eliminates the condition altogether.  Of course, this also requires regular maintenance to keep the imbalances from getting to this point again.

Diagnosis and treatment in Chinese Medicine takes a multi-faceted approach.  Chinese Medicine characterizes IC as Lin Syndrome, which means a frequent urge to urinate. Your acupuncturist will also characterize the Lin Syndrome by the type of Lin presented: heat, stone, blood, Qi, or turbid. Diagnosis does not stop here. Chinese Medicine goes even further, knowing there are always multiple pieces of the puzzle.

In addition to the above, the acupuncturist will diagnose the underlying patterns within the body.  Some common Chinese Medicine patterns that can lead to IC are: Damp Heat, Spleen Qi Vacuity, Blood Stasis, Kidney Yin or Yang Vacuity.  These underlying patterns affect more than just the IC.  They not only cause or contribute to IC symptoms but they may also cause or exacerbate additional issues a well.

This is where Chinese Medicine excels.  A patient can go to their acupuncturist with a certain chief complaint and the treatment they receive will most likely help with many other symptoms that were not even the primary concern but are similarly troublesome.  For example: Someone with a Spleen Qi Vacuity pattern may not only be experiencing lower abdominal pain or IC-like symptoms but also experience issues such as fatigue, dizziness, and loss of appetite.

To treat IC and the underlying conditions, an acupuncturist may use a combination of treatments including acupuncture, Chinese herbal formulas, and dietary suggestions.  No two treatments for IC are exactly the same and will depend on the specific factors of the patient’s diagnosis. In all cases, consistent and regular treatment combined with following recommended diet and life-style changes are the keys to successful treatment.

  • This article was written by Michael Hurley L.Ac. Michael is the co-owner and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center located at 82 Washington Street Suite 2 in Keene, NH. (603) 352-3625

Healing of One Veteran’s Child

by Tricia “Satya” Hurley
M.Ed., Reiki Master Teacher, & Co-Founder of Cup of Life Healing Center

At a time of year when many of us have just spent a day celebrating our nation’s freedom and independence, I am reminded of all those who have served and sacrificed to bring us these freedoms. It is from this place and a place of personal connection that I share with you the incredible work of The Warrior Connection (TWC), an organization that holds retreats to help both male and female combat veterans overcome PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and/or MST (Military Sexual Trauma).

This is the story of why Cup of Life Healing Center supports TWC.  It is the telling of a journey that comes from my authentic heart and something I’ve never shared so publicly before.  It is a story of a little girl who longed for her daddy to heal.  She found deep healing, understanding, peace, and inner wisdom through the work of TWC.  That little girl lives inside me.

I am the child of a Vietnam veteran and I tell this story for children of veterans and veterans everywhere in hopes that they too may know that deep healing is possible and literally just a phone call away.

I want to be very clear from the start – I hold no ill regard for my father.  On the contrary, I know beyond a shadow of doubt that he always did the very best he could with the tools he had at the time. My heart embraces him with the greatest and warmest regard, with unconditional love, compassion, and respect.  I will always be thankful that he unknowingly taught me the true value of this work.

Like many young men from the Vietnam era, my father responded to the call of the draft.  He served in the US Army Special Forces Group, a Green Beret.  Like so many who have seen combat, he returned from war with internal wounds that run deep to the core.  One of my strongest childhood memories is experiencing the intensity of the flashbacks and nightmares that haunted his dreams. Witnessing these and other pains impressed upon my heart, the utmost desire for my father to be freed from these inner demons and my own inner longing to understand.  As a young child, I did not know his wounds were not my burden to bear.

Just over two years ago, I sat for 5 days in cardiac ICU, watching my father on full life support, after 8 hours of open heart surgery.  I’ve sat by my father’s hospital bedside many times in my life for varying medical issues. But in these 5 days, I truly did not know whether he would live or die.  This initiated a healing process that continues to this day.  In those 5 days, I resolved to show my father my unconditional love and acceptance, even though I did not understand what he’d been through.  I had no idea at the time, that this was just the beginning.

18 months later, this past October, I received a call from one of my Reiki students who happened to be a graduate of TWC.  She told me Reiki healers were needed at one of the men’s retreats. I knew in an instant that I must go.  I had no idea saying “yes” to that one simple request would spark not one, but two inner callings.  First was the calling to do my own deeper healing work around this aspect of my life, to move beyond acceptance to a true understanding. And second, a calling to share healing work with veterans, to be a part of the solution.

When I arrived at TWC for the first time, I had no idea what to expect.  What I found blew me away, left me speechless.  I met a room full of veterans from varying branches of service, having seen combat in many different wars and conflicts.  It was no mistake that there were two Vietnam veterans among the group, one of which had served in a very similar capacity to my father.  What I experienced the moment I walked through the doors of TWC was a room full of men, all with opening hearts and clearly in the process of deep soulful healing–veterans on a path to discovering deeper peace and inner wisdom!  The sight instantly challenged my idea of the depth of healing that is possible.

I found myself caught off guard, surprised, and choked up for words when simply mentioning that my father had served.  Until that moment, it had not occurred to me that I have rarely spoken about this part of my childhood, much like my father rarely spoke of his experiences in Vietnam. I knew right then and there, that I must pursue this work and support this organization.  I knew in my core that something magical was going on in this beautiful home in rural Vermont.  I have been volunteering in some capacity ever since.

After many months of volunteering behind the scenes, the pull to do even more was so strong; I could no longer ignore my heart’s desire.  So, I entered into the process of training to become a certified TWC Retreat Facilitator. I participated in a men’s warrior retreat as a Level I facilitator trainee.  Not only did I witness the incredible, deep healing of a group of veterans, but my own personal healing journey began to unfold as well.  This continued throughout the second phase just this past weekend when I attended the official facilitator training course.

It was during this second training weekend that I discovered and healed the hole in my little girl’s heart; one I had not consciously known was there.  I experienced fully some of the very processes the veterans do during the TWC retreats. As a result, I was given a gift, a piece of my Soul back that I didn’t even realize was covered.  It is from this newly whole place that I share this story and from this place that I am honored to continue to serve those who have served.

This is my story and how I and Cup of Life have come to wholeheartedly support the incredible work of TWC

TWC’s motto is “No Soul Left Behind.”  They say, “While the mission is over, the inner journey continues…”  This truly is a place that serves the overall well-being of veterans and their families. The retreats are all done in a small group setting and virtually at no cost to the veteran. This is one of the most authentic greater good organizations I have ever seen!

****About The Warrior Connection****

The Warrior Connection (TWC), is a Vermont-based, Veteran lead nonprofit.  TWC’s mission is to improve the overall well-being of our Veterans and their families.  TWC hosts residential retreats and provides services to our Veterans and their families, helping them recover and heal from the invisible injuries incurred while in uniform.

Since 2010, The Warrior Connection has been working diligently with Veterans to decrease the negative impacts of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD), Military Sexual Assault (MST), heal moral injuries, and reduce both suicide and divorce. 

For more information about TWC, donate, or to inquire about their healing retreats, please contact Aaron Phillips, TWC’s Executive Director:   aaron@warriorconnection.org or call 866-278-3155.

Summer and Your Health: Put Your Plan into Action

by Michael Hurley L.Ac. – Co-founder and acupuncturist at Cup of Life Healing Center

Ahh! Finally!  Summer is almost here!  While spring is a time to start planting seeds for our plan for this year and to start to see them grow, summer is about abundance and happiness.  We see the fruits of our labor flourish.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how Traditional Chinese Medicine looks at the summer season. How does the season affect your overall well-being? What can you do to ensure good health in the summer?

According to TCM, the element of summer is fire.  Our organ systems most affected are the heart and small Intestine systems. The emotion associated with these organs and therefore summer, is joy.  While these are the areas that are ripe to be nurtured and flourish in the summer, they are also the ones that can end up falling out of balance the most easily during the season.  Just as gardens must be weeded with care if our fruits and vegetables are to grow well, we must also give extra attention and care to the parts of ourselves most affected by the season.

First, let’s look at the element of Fire.  Fire is the most Yang of the elements.  When we think of Fire, we think of heat, outgoingness, and expression.  We want to cultivate this fire within us, but not to excess. We should keep this in mind when we think of how we are taking care of ourselves.

As opposed to winter where we hibernate and rest, summer is a time of going out and having funThe key for good health in the summer is connection.  We should be meeting with friends and family because that love connection nourishes our hearts.  Like the spring, this is an exciting time, and staying indoors will suffocate the heart and promote depression.

When the heart is balanced, the mind is calm and we enjoy peaceful sleep. A balanced heart is also more motivated to engage in cardiovascular activity.  So, if you’re feeling unmotivated or experiencing restless nights, these may be indications of imbalance. Agitation, nervousness and insomnia are also indicators that the heart may be imbalanced.  In this state, making a few key changes can make all the difference.

Another thing to keep in mind is summer’s effect on existing conditions. One thing that my patients will hear me say often is that our bodies, and minds, are a microcosm of the world we see around us. People will complain of aches and pains being more pronounced when it is cold and rainy outside.  They are often disappointed when I tell them it is because the weather is exacerbating the already present dampness in their bodies.  In the summer, it gets hot.  That heat is also can also show up within our bodies and minds as rashes and agitation.  So, we need to be proactive to keep that in balance.

Below are some recommendations to help you achieve or maintain summer time balance:

To nourish the Heart, we want to clean up our diet.  In regards to foods, eat lots of red foods as red is the color of the fire element.  The taste of the fire element is bitter.  Bitter foods stimulate the Heart Qi so try adding bitter foods into your diet.  Examples of bitter foods are dandelion greens, coffee, wild cucumber, and asparagus.

Some examples of other foods that are good for the summertime but may or may not necessarily be specifically beneficial to the heart include: watermelon, cucumber, corn, mint, dill, watercress, lemon, and green leafy vegetables.  It is not coincidence that many of us have always enjoyed these foods during the summer.  They keep you cool by releasing excess heat from your body and nourishing your Yin.  Drink from a glass of lemon, mint, or cucumber infused water by you as much as you can.  Try to avoid greasy and heavy foods.  Eat in moderation and try not to become too full, especially if you still have daytime activities to perform.

We require less sleep in the summer, so don’t be afraid to stay out with friends a little later.  At the same time, try not to sleep in so late in the morning.  This may be a good time to try introducing early morning exercise especially since it will start getting hotter as the day goes on.

If you get tired, try to take a rest in the middle of the day.  Drink lots of water to stay hydrated.  Remember that Fire is heat so you may be more susceptible to dehydration.  Also, try to avoid conflict that would make you angry.  Stay even-tempered.  Don’t worry, be happy should be your mantra.

I hope you have enjoyed this article and I hope you enjoy the new season.  Remember to visit your acupuncturist regularly to prevent illness and injury.  Please try to eat locally.  It not only helps out local farmers but the food will be in season and in tune to you and your surroundings.

How Can Acupuncture Help with Diabetes?

by Michael Hurley, L.Ac.

According to the American Diabetes Association, in 2012, 29.1 million Americans had diabetes.  It is estimated that about 208,000 of these people are under the age of 20.  Diabetes is the 7th leading cause of death in the United States. To give an idea on the enormous prevalence of diabetes: In 2012, the total sales of worldwide diabetes medicine were nearly 35 billion US dollars.  Standard and Poor’s estimated that the total sales would be more than 58 billion US dollars in 2018.

While the above may be common knowledge, what may surprise you is that acupuncture and herbal medicine have been used to treat diabetes for over 2000 years. Traditional Chinese Medicine describes diabetes with the term “Xiao Ke” or, in English, “wasting and thirsting disease”.  Xiao Ke is discussed in great detail in a classic Chinese medical text, the Nei Jing, which was compiled around 100 B.C.  This text describes the patients’ symptoms.  Examples include: excessive hunger and thirst, frequent urination, and rapid weight loss.  These, of course, are all common symptoms of diabetes that we are familiar with today as well.

Western medicine breaks down diabetes into three main forms:

  • Type 1 Diabetes (formerly called juvenile-onset or insulin-dependent diabetes): Type 1 diabetes accounts for 5 to 10% of people who have diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the person has a total lack of insulin. The body’s immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that release insulin until, eventually, the body stops producing insulin.
  • Type 2 Diabetes (formerly called adult-onset or non–insulin-dependent diabetes): Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 to 95% of people who have diabetes and can develop at any age.  It most commonly becomes apparent during adulthood, but type 2 diabetes in children is rising. In type 2 diabetes, the body isn’t able to use insulin the correct way.  This is called insulin resistance.  As type 2 diabetes progresses, the pancreas may make less and less insulin leading to insulin deficiency.
  • Diabetes Insipidus: This is an uncommon disorder characterized by intense thirst, despite the drinking of fluids (polydipsia), and the excretion of large amounts of urine (polyuria).  In most cases, it’s the result of your body not properly producing, storing or releasing antidiuretic hormone, but diabetes insipidus can also occur when your kidneys are unable to respond properly to that hormone.  On rare occasions, diabetes insipidus can occur during pregnancy (gestational diabetes insipidus).

As I have written in a previous blog post, the primary goal of acupuncture is balance.  As an acupuncturist, I evaluate four interdependent aspects:  Yin, Yang, Qi, and Blood.  The balanced flow of Qi is essential for overall well-being. Qi needs to flow freely into the body for all the organ systems to work together in balance and harmony.

Xiao Ke (diabetes) is caused by an imbalance of the flow of Qi within the meridians and organ systems –specifically, the spleen/pancreas (which are considered interrelated in Chinese medicine), stomach, and the intestines. Because food and water are not effectively processed, this ultimately blocks the flow of Qi. This particular imbalance produces heat that depletes the body’s fluids and Qi causing symptoms such as: fatigue, lethargy, unexplained weight loss, polydipsia, polyuria, polyphagia, poor wound healing, infections, irritability, and blurry vision.

Treating Diabetes:

While treatment approaches differ between Traditional Chinese and western medicines, both systems agree: It is essential for people to make healthy lifestyle choices in diet, exercise, and other health habits.  Diet changes are by far the most important that can be made.  The key is to avoid sugar and high calorie diets. Also, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends most patients with diabetes engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense aerobic physical activity on a weekly basis, with strength training at least two days a week.

In treating Xiao Ke, Chinese medicine offers a way to address each patient individually to eliminate the symptoms associated with diabetes and reduce the need for insulin medications.  Overall treatment focuses on regulating the circulation of blood and Qi and balancing the organ systems to improve pancreatic function and address internal heat and the depletion of fluids. The practitioner may choose to use a variety of techniques during treatment including acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, bodywork, lifestyle/dietary recommendations, and Qi Gong. Regular care is typically one to three acupuncture treatments per week depending on the severity of your symptoms.