Happy Lungs In Smoky Skies | episode #024
by Maria Furlano, DMQ/DCTM (China), MTOM, L.Ac.
On the West Coast we’ve been dealing with smoky skies from an outbreak of severe fires for quite a while now. And it seems like every year. If you’re dealing with, or have experienced smoky air, you know how tired and irritable it can make you. The lungs are your center of vitality. When they become distressed, fatigue, emotional issues, digestive, chronic cough and sinus conditions can occur.
How’s it all connected?
The lungs in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) are responsible for physical vitality and govern the energy (Qì) in the body. In TCM, the lungs include the nose, sinuses and respiratory system. Their internal pairedorgan is the large intestine, their external pairedorgan is the skin.
The stronger the energy of your lungs, the stronger your “wei qi” field. (translation: “Wei Qi” = “protective energy”)
The lungs are responsible for your first external defense system. In TCM and Medical Qìgōng, the lungs are a significant factor in a person’s vitality. When we inhale, we take in oxygen and energy, which begins the movement of energy cycling through our entire meridian systems. This is why beginning your morning with deep breathing, or other stimulating and opening breathing skill sets, is so beneficial. Pathogens (any disease producing agent)are most often ingested through our respiratory or digestive systems. The strength and emotional well-being of our lungs and colon (in digestive absorption & elimination) directly effects our state of health.
Emotions’s affect the lung’s energetic strength
The lungs circulate Qì (energy) throughout the body. When the lungs are weakthere can also be a feeling of depression, sadness, or grief. In TCM and Medical Qìgōng theory,each organ holds the balanceof specific emotions. Because our emotional state impacts the vitality of every cell in our body, in medical Qìgōng training and treatments, we work deeply to discharge and restore emotional energy to flow freely.
Emotional States: Congenital vs. Acquired
As with everything, each of our experiences is unique and there will be different stages and levels to each emotional state experienced. Our congenital emotions are the balanced emotional state we are born with. Congenital emotions for the lungs include: Dignity, integrity, and the ability to speak up for what is right (for others and for yourself). Our acquired emotions are the emotional extremes that impact us (that we acquire) during our lifetime. Acquired emotions for the lungs include: Sadness, shame, guilt, despair, sorrow. Understanding how our emotions impact our flow of energy, is extremely valuable to maintaining a state of empowered well-being.
Breathing patterns are directly related to a person’s thoughts and emotions
When we’re going through difficult experiences, such as the loss of a loved one, the lungs energy often becomes weak and stagnant. This will also contribute to emotional overwhelm, loss of stamina, vitality and the ability to move forward in the ways we would like. For example,respiratory patterns for lungs dealing with grief or sadness, will be choppy, broken and obstructed.
The “Doors of Qi”
The skin is the the largest organ in the body, and it reflects through it’s condition, the physical and emotional health of our lungs and colon. In TCM,the pores are known as the “doors of qi”because through them there is an exchange with our environment. Substances are released from our body (through our pores) to the external environment. We also receive input (through pores), such as temperature reaction, pathogens and toxins into our internal physical body.
Should you exercise during smoky skies?
Working with the energy of clean air, is just as important as drinking clean water. Please do not exercise outside until the air is clean and clear. When you exercise vigorously, walk, or do body/mind practices such as Qìgōng, a larger amount of oxygen is needed to produce ATP (adenosine triphosphate – energy transmitting molecules). Your body needs to supply your muscles with more blood and oxygen as your metabolic rate increases.
Wait to go outside after indoor exercise:
After exercising indoors, it is ideal to dry off completely and allow time for your pores to reduce. During your workout the pores open (“door’s of qì”) to release toxins through sweat. By allowing our pores to release and reduce (beforemoving into the outside air)will help protect our system from ingesting more toxins than are necessary.
2 Helpful Tools for happy lungs in smoky skies…
If you’re allergic or sensitive to essential oils… Please move down to #2 for an Invigorating Alternative.
#1 Let’s steam!
To open & clear the lungs.
- 1 large pot.
- Very warm water (NEVER boiling).
- 1 large towel.
- Organic essential oils of Eucalyptus or Tea Tree, Rosemary and Lavender.
In a large pot put 2 cups of filtered water. Place pot securely on counter top before moving to next steps.
2 drops of:
- Eucalyptus Globulus essential oil (or Tea Tree organic essential oil).
- Rosemary essential oil
*IF YOU WEAR CONTACTS, REMOVE THEM BEFORE DOING THIS STEAM.
- Sit down comfortably
- Use a large towel over your head (creating a tent over you and the pot).
- Inhale and exhale through your nose (SLOWLY) begin with about 10 seconds and see how you feel.
- Remove towel and breath normally.
- Keep your face far enough away from the pot and DO NOT burn yourself.
- STOP immediately if you get dizzy.
Properties of Eucalyptus:
- Anti inflammatory, antiseptic, antibiotic, diuretic, analgesic and deodorizing. Well known for it’s effectiveness in treating coughs and colds.
Properties of Tea Tree:
Properties of Rosemary:
- Antiseptic and positive mental stimulant.
If you’re feeling like you need to relax during your day as well…. There is a great essential oil I’ve found from EdensGarden.com called “Spike Lavender.”
#2 Invigorating Alternative
If your skin is consumed with chemicals and dead skin cells, it can’t optimally support you in getting rid of excess waste from your body. Remember, your skin is your physical protective shield that interacts with your environment every moment. Also remembering the connection between the lungs, colon, and skin (Pores = “Doors of Qì”), stimulating and invigorating circulation benefit the energy of our lungs. Dry brushing invigorates circulation, stimulates the lymphatic system and exfoliates your skin. Your skin can breathe again, because dry brushing unblocks pores that are congested with debris.
Of course NEVER USE dry brushing on injured, broken, irritated, or burned skin. Choose a “dry brush” with bristles made from natural materials and a long handle so you can reach your leads, feet and back easily.
- Firm but not painful.
- Don’t irritate your skin (please don’t scrub).
- Skin color may be pink but it should never be red after brushing!
How to do it?
DIRECTION: TOWARDS YOUR HEART. Begin at the soles of your feet and move all the way up your body (all parts of your legs, buttocks, stomach, back, arms)
- Don’t use this brush on your face.
- Don’t brush sensitive areas, such as your genitals.
- Don’t brush any abrasions, cuts, irritated skin, or varicose veins.
How long and how often?
A “brushing experience” can last as long as you like (providing you are not irritating your skin). Covering your entire body can take anywhere from 3 – 20 min. Once a day is great! If you wanted to do it 2 times a day that is just fine too.