Learning to Love the Road that Brought You Here! Happy NEW YEAR

It’s a new year, a new beginning and a new YOU! Before we march into the future, let’s take a step back and look over our shoulder. When you think about your past, what comes to mind? What people, places or experiences have shaped you? Can you bless your regrets, failures and flops? Are you able to celebrate your wins? Cheer when you remember the times you took the high road? (Hope so!)

When I look back on my life I know exactly when life changed.

I didn’t know it at the time but when I chose to study Qigong and Chinese Medicine, I was making the decision to wake up and open up. Before I hit 20 I’d suffered two heart attacks and a near paralyzing martial arts injury. Despite a bad attitude and “all about me” worldview, I outgrew my younger years thanks to the roles I played with other people. I was a son, husband, father, butcher, entrepreneur, cage fighter, body builder, Chinese Medicine practitioner, tatted up Qigong master.

Life is fascinating. There are always beautiful and painful crossroads meant to shape who we are and what we are becoming. I was told I would never walk again, would never be free of pain again, would never kick-box again, would never fill-in-the-blank again. Qigong didn’t just give me back my physical strength and mobility. Qigong balanced and refined my mind, body and spirit. Qigong showed me how to live.

If you’re dreading another year of being rejected or ejected by mainstream Western medicine, please know this: your health CAN be reclaimed and renewed. You CAN heal suffering and pain. Qigong has been helping people for thousands of years. It’s transformed and healed my life. If you’re one of my clients, you know what these simple non-invasive practices can do. Qigong is an ancient medicine that’s a modern miracle-maker for people wanting to reclaim their health without stress, surgery or pain.

As you make those first tentative steps into 2016, may your path always be kind, encouraging and, above all else, true. Your vitality, strength and joy are your birthright. May those blessings shape your path, your life and your world.

Happy 2016 and cheers to new beginnings!

—Chris and Parisa Shelton and the Morning Crane team.

The Secret to a Happy Life: A Holiday Gift for You

Holidays are in full swing and so are our triggers, blind spots and shadow selves. Remember what Ram Dass said about spiritual progress? If you think you’re enlightened, go spend time with your family!

As the year winds down so do our spiritual reserves. By the time the holidays roll around we’re often overtired, cranky, impatient and resentful. Chin up, kind heart. The holiday spirit is within you. The secret to leading a positive, happy life (translation: perfect well’being and Joy) is to balance and align your energy, or Qi (pronounced “chi”), with what and whom you value. In other words, are you living an authentic life? Do you feel comfortable in your own skin? When are you in your sweet spot and standing in your inner Light and Joy?

The reason I love Qigong and Chinese Medicine so much is because by practicing these traditions every day, no matter how busy I am, balance and peace bless my mind, body and spirit. Like the weather, Qigong does not hold back; what it has offered me is available to you. There is always enough sunshine for everyone!

Here are three of my favorite Qigong practices. They’re perfect for this time of year since the exercises strengthen and balance energy when we’re busy and overindulged.

Take a conscious breath. When you direct your attention to your breath, your focus is clutter’free and calm. When we don’t think, we’re peaceful. Take a long slow inhale through your nose. Pause. Now exhale slowly through your mouth. Pause. Feel better already? Good. In that moment of peace, you were enlightened. Wow.

Open your energy centers. In Chinese Medicine there are three major energy centers, called Dan Tiens. Your upper Dan Tien is located in the in’between the eyebrows, your middle Dan Tien in the center of the chest, and your lower Dan Tien below your navel. A blockage in one or all of these energy centers will cause varying levels of imbalance and suffering in the mind, body and spirit. Click here to see the Qigong practice Opening the three Dan Tiens

Shake it off. Just like Taylor Swift suggests in her catchy sexy song, when something is bothering you – shake it off! We are one of the few animals on this planet that don’t shake our bodies after we experience fear or trauma. Click here to see the Qigong practice Shaking the Tree

We wish you energy and balance this season and always. May you forever remember that the secret to a happy, positive and joyful life is within you. To bring peace to the world, we must first strive to make our inner world peaceful.

Now go get enlightened by enjoying time with your family!

To joy in the season and peace in our worlds. Love & gratitude,

—Chris and Parisa Shelton and the Morning Crane team.

When your body says “Achoo!” here’s what to do

Protect your mind, body and spirit this fall

The cold winds of change are upon us and so is cold-and-flu season.

Have you ever noticed that when the seasons change we start wishing we could change too?

While springtime and summer inspire creativity, fun and reinvention, fall and winter guide us to look inward as the days get shorter and darker.

Before we look outward about how to stay healthy this season, let’s look inward and see what might be making us sick.

According to Chinese Medicine the natural elements of Wood, Fire, Earth, Water and Metal belong to a system existing in all things. These elements affect a wide array of natural phenomena ranging from how the solar system unfolds to the health and vitality of our internal organs. Metal is the element associated with autumn because it helps balance and protect our respiratory and immune systems as well as our large intestine and skin.

Some clear signs your Metal Element is out of balance is if you have a runny nose, chronic cough with lots of (green/yellow gross) phlegm, low immunity and low energy. Metal imbalances don’t just show up in your body but also in how well you experience and release emotions. Feelings such as sadness, disappointment, vulnerability and unsociability are indicative of a Metal Element imbalance.

So what do we do? How do we re-balance our mind, body and spirit this fall?

Here are three powerful and simple tools for lightening up and staying as strong as steel (like metal) as the days get dark and cold.

Take extra precautions to keep your chest and neck warm by wearing a scarf or always zipping up your jacket before heading outdoors. The acu-points on the neck are most susceptible to wind and cold.  If your chest and neck get cold, you can expect the sniffles to begin so bundle up and zip it up.

The moment you feel cold and flu symptoms coming on, like sniffles and/or an achy neck and shoulder, change your diet. Supercharge your immune system by eating pungent foods such as steamed or braised garlic, onions and turnips. Add cinnamon and ginger to your recipes including hot beverages (e.g., cinnamon in your coffee is delicious and a super immunity booster).

Most people feel a shift in energy as we experience less and less daylight during the fall and winter months. This simple, three-minute Qigong Lung Cleansing Exercise  alleviate feelings of lethargy and sadness. Qigong’s gentle motions and breathing patterns help clear and harmonize the lungs so you feel energized, healthy and calm no matter how dark and cold it is outside.

The End of Pain: How Qigong and Nutrition Soothe Migraines

If you or someone you love suffers from migraines, you know how debilitating the pain is. Migraines and headaches affect the quality of our life because they literally shape how we see our world.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine migraines are caused when our liver and gallbladder are out of balance. Yet making simple daily changes to how we live can have profound results on how happy and healthy we feel inside our  head.

Take care of what’s toxic. Anger, frustration, resentment. Negative emotions get a bad reputation because we don’t express them in a healthy way. Whether you rant wildly or seethe silently, undigested emotions are like poison to your mind, body and spirit.  That toxicity festers in your liver and gallbladder, which causes your blood and Qi to become congested, which then rises upward creating tension in your head. Something as simple as saying, “I am angry about this” can release the knots in your stomach and skull. When we honor how we feel, we honor the storyline tightening in our head.

What’s in your belly affects your brain. Nutrition has a delicious role to play in managing our migraines and headaches.  Common culprits that agitate head pain include greasy, fatty and/or fried food, sugary beverages and candy (Happy Halloween, by the way). Avoid sugary snacks after dinner and make it a habit to avoid drinking cold beverages with ice. Eating raw vegetables sounds healthy but if you have a migraine, avoid that kind of crunch. Instead look to sour-flavored tastes like lime juice, fresh kiwi or try adding turmeric to your chicken and eggs.

A soothing way to start the day and balance your liver and gallbladder is by drinking four ounces of hot water as soon as you wake up. If that doesn’t appeal, try drinking the juice of half a lemon mixed with coconut oil. You’ll not only help your liver, gallbladder and head – you’ll help your stomach and cholesterol too!

Prevention is better than cure. When you feel a migraine or headache coming on try this simple Qigong move.  To increase the effectiveness of the exercise chant “SHUUUU” (pronounced  “shoe”).  This Qigong exercise clears and harmonizes the energy of the liver by targeting negative emotions like anger and frustration while encouraging kind, compassionate feelings.

Two powerful acupoints to combat migraines

Liver 3 (LV 3) for blog post

Liver 3 (LV3): This point is located on the top of the foot between the tendons leading to the big toe and the second tow.  LV 3 can be used to drain excess energy
from the liver channel.  Massage this point.  As you massage visualize all dark or stuck energy leaving out through the feet, making way for clear and light energy.

muscular back- head GB 20

Gallbladder 20 (GB 20): This point is located at the base of the skull.  It’s the bumpy protuberance where the head and the back of the neck connect.  Place your hands on the side of the head and your thumbs on GB 20 point.  Firmly press these points, releasing tensions from the head.

Back to School, Back to YOU + Believe in Miracles

qigiong_beach_graphicNothing signifies the end of summer like watching kids groan their way back to school. Whether you love or loathe the classroom, September inspires many of us to honor our inner lifelong learner. Autumn sneaks around the corner and suddenly we renew long-time goals (learn Ballroom Dancing!), ditch a nasty bad habit (sugar!) or set some sexy resolution (be a better person!). If just reading about new beginnings stresses you, slow down for a moment. See and feel how seasonal changes produce shifts in your body and in your life.

September can be viewed two ways: as a time for back-to-school madness or a time for back-to-Source peacefulness. As you reflect on 9/11 this year, keep in mind and heart that September 21 is the International Day of Peace.  How miraculous is that? Imagine a world where we all stop for a moment and honor the learner within and believe in the peace we wish to Be in the world.

Speaking of miracles, guess what? Chris and I have overcome our shyness (haha) and expanded our Qigong reach from studio to stage to set. Yes, we’ve produced a 9 minute TV-style episode about Qigong called “Ancient Medicine, Modern Miracles.”

 

You can watch the episode here.  ancient_medicine_title_card

What’s really special about the Special Olympics

The Special Olympics World Games happened in Los Angeles last month.  It was the largest sports and humanitarian event of the year bringing together 6,500 athletes and 2,000 coaches representing 165 countries, along with 30,000 volunteers and 500,000 spectators.  Personifying courage, passion and perseverance.

Click here to watch the video we produced showing all this inspiring event! Below are three powerful lessons the athletes taught me and Parisa about what life feels like when you come from a place of love, learning and leadership.  We are so grateful to have worked with such beautiful, kind souls.

Lesson #1: Be eager to learn. No matter their physical or intellectual challenges, every athlete shared their enthusiasm and openness when learning something new. People didn’t shy away or close down when they were challenged or outside their comfort zone. The majority of the workshop participants didn’t know about Qigong, but as they moved and mimicked what I was doing, their smiles grew bigger as they grew more confident and calm. When you’re eager to learn, you’re fearless.

Lesson #2: Practice gratitude: As I looked around at the thousands and thousands of people sitting in the stands, competing on the field and waving from the sidelines, joy was everywhere. Have you noticed that all happy people love sharing stories? Athletes and families swapped stories about winning, losing and lessons learned. All of us are grateful when we’re surrounded by like-minded people who offer encouragement and belonging irrespective of who is wearing gold, silver or bronze.

Lesson #3: Accept, celebrate and include others. The long-time oath of the Special Olympics is “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Each of us is blessed with special gifts and special limitations. How we celebrate those differences shape who we are as individuals and who we are as a community. All of us win when we accept, celebrate and include people different from us; our world and our heart grow larger. You know why? You’re perfect just the way you are. We’re all on the same team, playing the same special game.

How to be the change you want to see in the world

“A large majority of the surgical cases coming to me should never really have come. Wrong moral and mental attitudes created functional disturbances in the physical organism and then became organic or structural disease.”

— edited excerpt from How to Change Your Life by Ernest Holmes, Dr John M. Berry former Chief Surgeon and Superintendent of Clifton Springs Sanitarium (New York, 1909)

Every action is preceded by a thought. And every thought fuels a positive or negative emotion. That thought-emotion-action cycle is pretty much your life. Mine too.

Luckily, you can actually train your mind into “right thinking” so what you do, how you feel and who you are benefit your mind, body and spirit. When we train our minds to be peaceful, we also better Serve our loved ones and the world around us.

If you’re reading this post right now (thank you!), you’re likely someone who cares about improving themselves and their world. You’ve got a big heart – and the world loves generous, kind people like you. The whole wide world thrives when we open our hearts and fix our eyes on what we want to change.

In Chinese medicine the heart houses the mind. A weak, closed heart equals a weak, closed (often cruel) mind. Here are five practical tips for strengthening your heart so you can go out there and be the change you want to see in the world.

Practice self-awareness. Mindfulness begins with just one conscious breath. Connect with your conscious observer by watching your thoughts without judgment. Relax and release negative thoughts. Savor thoughts that feel positive and life-affirming. The lowest, slowest emotion is fear. Fear closes your heart. Love opens your heart and your life to others.

Discover your “why”. When you know why you’re doing something (e.g., going to work, parenting your child, quitting sugar) your likelihood for success goes up BIG. Life is supposed to be joyful. Change your mindset, change your life. Find a positive big-picture reason so you’ll feel inspired to keep going.

Create healthy relationships. You know who they are. Crabs in the barrel try to bring you down, down, down. Negative people are toxic, especially if they’re related to you! Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your dreams. When you’re without company or friends, honor the realization you are never alone. You’re an integral, never-to-be-seen again piece of the puzzle.

Cultivate positive habits. Yet again, Gandhi says it best: “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.”

Show self love and self care. You teach people how to treat you. If you don’t know how to forgive yourself, how to celebrate your successes, how to show respect and love, guess what? You’ll attract people who treat you just as badly as you treat yourself. (That’s not blame, that’s law of Attraction.) Find activities, interests, fascinations, hobbies – “stuff” – that fill you with wonder and joy. When you’re enthusiastic and inspired, you are one with spirit. Have fun, spread joy, rest and rejuvenate. Repeat.

One by one we will become “everyone”. And when everyone practices these tips, the world will be a different place. For now, commit to watch your mind, honor your heart and always try your best.

Today and always we pray for peace and harmony for you and the entire world.

Love and Gratitude,

Chris & Parisa Shelton and the Morning Crane Team

Find Reverence!

Reverence and sunset“Reverence” is a feeling of deep respect tinged with awe. If you’ve ever been spellbound by the crashing of waves, the silver of moonlight or the sound of a child’s laughter, you know the gift that is reverence.

If you just thought, “I don’t have time for stuff like that; I’m busy!” it’s time to slow down and look in. There are miracles all around you. Some of my favorite summer miracles include the buzzing of bees in our raspberry bushes, the blooming of flowers downtown in the concrete jungle and the graceful power of the human body.

Take comfort knowing that something higher than you and me has created all of these miracles. Reverence is a form of inspiration that opens our heart to feelings of connectedness, joy and peace. When you feel that “all is well” in the world, even just for a moment, your heart and spirit are wide open. You’ve tapped into the powerful reverent force that is Life.

As spring officially transitions into summer on June 21st, our energy and environment also changes. In Chinese medicine summer is the season when our hearts are most active. Your heart is small, only the size of your fist, but its proper functioning determines life and death. The heart’s importance is matched by its positive virtues. The heart is all about love, love, love; not only romantic love (1:1) but universal love that reminds us of our shared humanity.

The heart is the emperor of the body. More and more studies are proving that our hearts do more than pump blood. Your heart is a muscle and just like the rest of our muscles, our heart can expand on demand. Hearts have electromagnetic impulses that send and receive signals. In simplest terms, the heart has consciousness and these electromagnetic signals have an impact on our body, mind and spirit, as well as others around us. Why is it when we’re stressed our hearts begin to race? Or when we show anger or judgment, why do our hearts sometimes feel pinched or closed? When we admire a sunset and practice reverence, how does our heart know to slow down and calm us down?

Western science – and Western medicine – are finally starting to confirm what Chinese medicine practitioners have known for thousands of years: the heart houses consciousness. The heart’s consciousness is different from our mind chatter and analytical thinking. But the heart presides over a type of intelligence and knowing that was once called “Shen” and is now commonly referred to as “Spirit.” The strength of one’s Shen/Spirit is reflected in how much sparkle you have in your eye, how much spring in your step, the vibrancy in your personality.

Here are three tips for strengthening your spirit, opening your heart and inviting reverence into your life.

Balance warm weather with cool foods. Cool down naturally this summer with yummy treats like watermelon, cherries, cucumber and fresh mint. (You can put mint in your salads or add them to your smoothies.) Bitter but tasty vegetables like rhubarb, bitter greens and kale are heart-loving foods. No matter the weather do your best to avoid eating lots of hot, spicy and/or fried foods.

Cleanse your heart, soften your mind, uplift your spirit. The heart is related to the Fire Element, which helps us cleanse our mind, body and spirit of emotions like excitement, panic and overwhelm. Click here to learn how to cleanse your heart using simple and gentle Qigong movements.

Cool off by getting wet. Go to the pool, party at the beach or jump in the lake! Soak up vitamin D this summer (remember your sunscreen!), drink lots of filtered water, and fill your heart with laughter and joy. Indulge your inner 11-year-old and start building sandcastles. Stay open and reverent as they’re washed away. All is well.

Love and Gratitude,

Chris & Parisa Shelton and the Morning Crane Team

Let the Light In: Heart Advice for Hard Times

Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over again to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.” – Pema Chödrön, author and American Tibetan-Buddhist nun

As May unfolds and Memorial Day approaches, take a moment to remember the people you’ve loved and lost. Perhaps it’s a person you still feel anger and resentment towards? Take a moment and check in with those feelings. No judgement; just look.

When people die we’re often rushed through our grief and mourning.  We get a sanitized unrealistic image of death from TV and movies.  Most people think that if we blur through our pain, our pain won’t find us. But just as laughter and joy are divine so is heartbreak and tears. Grief and sadness, like anger and resentment, demand expression and release. What we resist persists. What we think about we bring about.  What we honor grows stronger.  It’s the Law of Attraction.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) sadness, grief and sorrow are stored in the Lungs. If these powerful emotions are stifled or shunned, we suffer even more. Symptoms of depression and anxiety appear.  Physical aliments such as a soft low voice, a scratchy throat, and a dry cough manifest.  Lung Qi opens into your skin so you may experience skin irritations, rashes and acne.  Also digestive issues like constipation or diarrhea may appear.

As uncomfortable and heartbreaking as grief feels, when we lovingly honor and express our sadness, we begin healing our mind, body and spirit.  Knowing the limitations of a circumstance can enable one to create the best possible opportunities from it, and thus enjoy the fruits of any time or any situation. Know and understand that all physical forms on this planet are impermanent; this too shall pass.

The word “courage” comes from the French term  coeur, which means “heart.” Tune into your heart as you remember the people who’ve passed before you. Tune into your lungs as you breathe in courage, strength and acceptance. Take a moment to practice this simple Qigong Lung Clearing exercise . Give yourself the space to remember that love never dies and pain never lasts.

Love & Gratitude,
-Chris & Parisa Shelton and the Morning Crane team

Bring your body back to balance this Spring!

Spring is in the air!Take a look around today and check out the magnificence of our green, glowing Earth. Lovely spring bulbs are reaching for the sun. Mother Nature is making her annual promise to birth new life and offer sweet renewal.

As the months become warmer and sunnier, our liver – a powerful Yin organ – kicks into overdrive. Springtime is liver time! Your liver is the ultimate spring cleaner that clears out the muck from bad habits, bad moods, and bad karma.

In Western medicine the liver is considered a filter that detoxifies the body’s blood supply. As blood passes through the liver, substances such as prescriptions/over-the-counter medications/illegal drugs/alcohol are broken down. The liver diminishes the negative effects that potentially toxic materials can have on our bodies.

In traditional Chinese Medicine the liver houses the negative emotions of anger, frustration and rage. The liver’s tissues are sponge-like and absorb negative emotions so they don’t “spill over” into other organs. Think of the liver as a powerful de-weeder that encourages your flowers to grow and blossom.

Here are three simple tools that blend Eastern and Western wisdom so you can re-balance your liver and glow this spring.

Do gentle Qigong movements. When you practice these soft meditative movements you are “ringing out” toxic emotions that block and distort energy.

Drink warm water, coconut oil and fresh lemon. This special concoction is a gentle way to detoxify and cleanse your liver and gallbladder.

Develop kindness and compassion. The most powerful virtues in the world are also good medicine for your liver. Be kind, be compassionate. No faking allowed!

The human body is an amazing display of Yin and Yang, ebb and flow, balance and harmony. We believe that by blending the wisdom of both Western and Eastern medicine, each one of us will be led into a new level of human evolution.

May you evolve into perfect well-being, peace and harmony in your body and in your life.

Chris & Parisa Shelton and the Morning Crane Team