All posts by Eve Soldinger

The Taste of Summer

 

Growing up summers were filled with pleasures. We would take long trips to see the rest of the family to Arizona or Ohio that defined the highlights of summer vacation. But there was also the day-to-day living with the slowness of the summer and the enjoyment of the outdoors. There were endless times in the water and that would tend to be the ocean or the lakes nearby.

And along side all these memories of summer vacation are the tomatoes that you could pick right off the vines. I don’t know whether it’s an individual thing or genetics, but I love tomatoes. At the Farmers Market today the tomatoes are back. These aren’t the ones that are genetically altered so that they grow all year long. These are the large juicy red tomatoes that only appear once you find yourself hot and sticky enough to remember to keep drinking water.   Summer is here.

From a nutritional perspective tomatoes are high in lycopene, which reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer. As well, it is a source of vitamin C, potassium, folate, and vitamin K. Lycopene is a super antioxidant that protects cells from damage. It is thought to help prevent prostate, breast, lung, bladder, ovarian, colon and pancreatic cancers. Eating your tomatoes is like sending loving kindness to these organs.  Using them in sauces, soups, or as ketchup puts them in a form where your body can absorb the lycopene more easily. My great pleasure is just to eat them with a little oil and salt, sliced on a plate with nothing else.

And tomatoes are a vegetable that you can preserve through canning or dry freezing. So you can remember that hint of summer throughout the year. But nothing compares with the memory of being a child and taking it off the vine with a little salt. The memory stays with you forever. As the tomatoes we also can guarantee the presence of cucumbers, squashes and soon eggplants. And we get to experience it every year.

Enjoy the taste of summer. And eat your fruits and vegetables.

 

 

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Defining Qigong

When there is a subject that I love, I pursue greater knowledge and understanding all the time. In the case of Qigong, I study nights, practice and travel to learn more. It being summer there are more workshop opportunities.

 

This past weekend I was at Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY at a Qi Summit. Each person presenting had to start by defining what Qi or Qigong actually is. I thought that the differences were few but I enjoyed listening to the subtleties of differences. With each person presentation or exercises I felt myself filling up every part of myself. And I found each person’s understanding to be true and an inspiration.

 

The Qigong Master Ken Cohen defined Qigong as the art and science of using posture, movement, breath, visualization and contemplation to refine, gather, and circulate life energy. He also shared that the accepted definition in China is by Zhong Yi and says: Qigong is a mental and physical skill and practice that regulates the body, breath, mind, bringing them into unity.

 

Master Roger Janke presented about the 3 treasures of man, which are usually defined as heaven, earth and man. But he spoke of it in terms of cultivation of Qigong accessing the eternal, immortal nature to heal, learn, create, evolve and thrive. And that Qi cultivation allows for the consciousness of the qi present within and without as an invisible resource.

 

Master Robert Peng spoke of the 3 treasures which balances through the virtues of harmony, wisdom, love and vitality. In all the work he offered I felt that qigong had to be exactly this. It’s not the recognition of some invisible forces that we happen to focus on but the realization of the flow of energy from all that is that offers so much for each of us. That is what I understood when Robert Peng spoke. And I felt a gratitude that I have a practice that allows for conscious development.

 

And Master Mingtong Gu spoke of his Master Dr Peng, who described Qigong in this way: the training of the mind, through movement, sound and meditation to direct qi to uplift and perfect the human system as holistic unity of the Jing, Qi and Shen, thereby to shift from automated conditions to wisdom. When he spoke of this I felt a root become an anchor from somewhere deep within me. And I wondered at the possibility that these practices are so available to all of us.

 

Once you have the form it is ‘just’ a matter of practicing to improve your health and to open to more parts of yourself.

 

In the end these words from all the speakers created a deep space inside from which to approach the work. I feel and understand that there are things within each of us that get in patterns that prevent us from moving forward to the creative, healthy, joyful, and rewarding. Qigong is a tool and means to be able to locate and release all these patterns. I am inspired by each of these Masters to keep working toward an end that is as yet unknown to me but is surely mine.

 

Please remember to look at the Summer Schedule to see when you might be able to come to a class.  It is definitely worth it for everyone. And stayed to more about these workshop and my trip to China 6 months ago.

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Why I wrote Unexpected Gifts

A year ago today I published my first book, a memoir on my journey with my father. The task of why I wrote it changes in my heart every few months, but I thought this would be a good point to stop and express some of my motivation behind writing the book.

When I was still a new acupuncturist in 1985, I was visiting my parents in Orlando, Florida. At the time I was around 30 years old and my father was in his early 70s. We were taking a long walk along a bike trail, and he was telling about a case of sciatica that he had had the past month. He went to the doctor to find out what it was and what to do about it. The doctor dismissed him saying that he was older now and he was going to have aches and pains.

My father had a few colorful words to say about his physician’s attitude. And then, he went on to tell me that he had figured out what had caused his pain. He realized that every time that he drove the car with a wallet in his back pocket he had the sciatica pain. So he just stopped driving with the wallet there and it went away. The problem was solved, but there was an awakening for me that it was easy to not pay attention to the elderly in general (though 70 years is now not that old). Since I accepted that this was probably not an individual physician’s problem but a societal problem, it would not easily go away. I made a mental note to myself to be careful and pay as much attention to the pains of the elderly as everyone else. For me, life is always about growth and healing no matter what the person’s age.

But then almost 2 decades later my father had dementia. It seemed to happen over night. The world turned upside down. And I watched as the hospital gave their diagnosis of dementia in a very matter of fact way. We weren’t sure what happened but it appeared he had a stroke and besides needing to learn to regain his balance, walk, chew, swallow, and talk, he could no longer understand and interpret the world in the usual way. And I learned quickly that it is hard to pay attention to a person when worlds no longer match.

I watched as the medical personnel stopped speaking with him as he was talking about a grand party and limousines. There was an overwhelming awareness that things had changed and the effort to understand would be substituted with the effort to redirect and to control. As you see the professionals doing it, you wonder if you should do it as well.

Within the first two weeks of in my father’s illness we were called to the hospital one day when my father was dehydrated. The ER doctor thought his situation was dire. He thought that he didn’t have long to live and would need a feeding tube for what little time he had left. My family left the hospital late in the evening immediately researched our options. He was 89 years old at this point. He was in recovery for the supposed stroke, and I for one really believed that he would get better.

The next morning we held a family meeting to talk about his situation. Each person expressed his/her point of view and in the end we decided that we wouldn’t do the feeding tube. I was one of the few who was alright with a short-term use of a feeding tube.

My sister and I immediately left for the hospital hopefully in time to catch the physician as he/she would make morning rounds. When we came into his room I found Dad crying and distressed with his hands tied to the hospital bed. I ran to untie him and comfort him. Without people to sit with him, it was too difficult for the nurses to control him and if he needed to get up, he would not remember to use the call button. I was furious knowing that they had a list of 4 cell phones and some home phones and yet it was easier to tie him up. Once again I was thinking of that conversation with my father about being dismissed when he was 70 years old.   I knew that I needed to write a scathing article about how we as a culture and the medical establishment treat our beloved family members with dementia. So I started to keep notes.

At first it was just his interactions with the world and especially the doctors and nurses. But soon I was writing about my interactions. My own eyes and ears initially refused to see the decline. I was waiting for everything to go back to normal. And I was not really listening and in my own way my mind I was also dismissing his every word.  I wanted him to be the way he had been 2 months earlier. I wasn’t paying attention to what he was actually going through.    As soon as I stepped into his circle I changed and I gained an unforeseen understanding that this was part of his soul’s journey.

I realized that seeing the changes allowed me to see what aspects of his soul he continued to work on. There were so many unexpected moments of growth and realization. I started to find all his same virtues when stepping into his world. I saw that even though we no longer shared reality there was a value and meaning to the journey that he was traveling on. I had to let go of our usual and past way of doing things. I had to expand to the opportunities for growth that he would experience.   And I was there to remind him that at every stop post, that he should not doubt his value, worth, or that he was loved.   This is where it becomes so rich for the person going along for the ride, and here is where we celebrate the many unexpected gifts.

The book is an offering for all families going through similar circumstances. I recommend reading it slowly and reflecting on your love ones life and how despite how hard it is, that they are continuing with their path.

In light and love,

Eve

https://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-Gifts-Journey-Fathers-Dementia/dp/0692660631/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489798392&sr=8-1&keywords=eve+soldinger

 

 

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The beginning of Spring

According to the Chinese calendar, February 7th is always the marking date for Spring.  And while we haven’t had a snow day, or even a cold week, it is still that time when the days are getting longer and the typical changes start to occur.

I noticed in the office yesterday how the sun was coming directly into the treatment warming it up in a way beyond what a heating unit can.  And while it is unseasonably warm right now, it is going to begin the process of new growth in nature.  We will begin to notice the new leaves, and the birds making nests and the longer days.

Are we ready?  In the turmoil of the changes in society, have you taken care during the winter time making sure that you could rest and renew your energy for the coming year?  This is what the energy of winter provides, an opportunity for calm and restoring oneself.   I have noticed in the past two weeks that people have come in with an array of complaints that seem to indicate that they haven’t had the rest of the winter.

So I invite you in this first day of spring to think about this and maybe while starting to match the energy of the coming spring to at least take a little time to rest.  Go to bed a little earlier.  Sleep a little longer.  Stay cozy at home with a warm tea and read.  Allow yourself to be renewed by taking very good care of yourself as we set ourselves up for the new growth coming in spring.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

January 1, 2016

I’m not a big advocate of New Years Resolutions. I think that the main reason is that all the things that we might want to change face us as issues every day. So why would one year’s resolution be different from the next?

But as I reflect on the past year, I’m thinking about some of the things that make it unique, and I’m satisfied. I published my book about my father’s journey during his time period with dementia. Hopefully, I contributed to the idea of growth in every moment of life, which I believe in whole-heartedly. And while, I don’t have time to do any advertising I trust that somehow it will make it into the right hands.

I took the time to visit Denali National Park in Alaska. I love Alaska. I love the land and the people.   I feel like I can take a bigger breath there. And I feel the land is alive, even if it is suffering all the effects of Global Warming.

This year, I visited China for the first time though I’ve been studying Chinese medicine for 33 years. It was a life-changing visit for me, where I found a part of me that had been blocked forever. So now when I do my Qigong or I teach Qigong things are different. I’m starting each movement from a different place in myself. The place is more peaceful and still and I’m able to move from this place of stillness. That in it is more than I imagined that I would get from my trip.

Gratitude. There are so many blessings that light up my life that I might not have recognized a year ago. I’m happy to arrive at a new easier ride when I unfortunately have often experienced life as a roller coast while craving a steadier reality. But I have work I love, a spiritual practice that I manage to keep up, friends who I trust, and a lovely home. Whatever my fears I’m not going to let them rule me these days. I’m trusting that this ship that we sail we remain afloat and we will have the opportunity to express our deepest selves.

Happy New Year,

Eve

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