Welcome to Jen Marks’ L.Ac. Acupuncture website.
Jen will be posting Acupuncture articles, recipes, nutritional tidbits, news about Chinese Medicine and Herbal plant remedies. Please feel free to email her with any questions or comments you have about the articles posted, or to schedule an appointment.
February 15, 2014
A reminder to honor, and to love self.
Love After Love
The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,
and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your
- Saint Lucian maestro Derek Walcott.
January 19, 2014
Beginning the Transition: Winter into Spring, it’s 2014!
Winter is not quite gone, but Spring is right around the corner. This is not a ploy to rush the seasons, or jump too far ahead of the present moment. However, with the ever-changing seasonal weather patterns, it is no longer too soon to start thinking about clearing out the clutter in your personal space. Here I will share some ideas of ways to begin the process of cleaning out the cobwebs in your physical home, your bodily mind, and your ethereal spirit.
Winter is a time for slowing down, turning inward, spending time in solitude, and resting. Winter is nourishment, it is the down-time that conjures up and stores the energy we will need when Spring does take its’ turn. Spring is for sprouting, it is the time of action, movement forward, it is the ‘Start’ button. So hopefully, we have all been taking time to rest, reflect and nourish ourselves. If not, lucky for us – there is still time to take a step back and ask, “Have I spent anytime slowing down, building energy, and resting?” If the answer is no, then you owe it to yourself and your health to slow down.
I have found the best teacher for understanding the cobwebs of life is living in a 100+ year-old home with two animals. For some reason, when you are living in a 100+ year-old house with all the original wood floors, walls, windows, doors, etc – you keep a collection of 100+ year old dust no matter how often you try to sweep, clean and scrub. Although I am excited about the never-ending sweeping, I am grateful for my home, my cobweb teacher.
In the dark is where the cobwebs form; where the sun does not shine, in the places we most forget to look. Whether we talk of cobwebs in the home or in our bodies there is no difference to how the cobwebs of the body, mind or spirit form. In our (heart) mind the one where we store our thoughts, feelings, emotions, desires of the future, feelings towards the past and the ever-aching attempt to be in the present is where we can find a lot of cobwebs and clutter. Oftentimes we are so busy running around we forget to stop and look within. Wherever the light does not shine (where we do not look), the cobwebs will form. In other words, when we do not clean the clutter/dust of our home it is dirty and sometimes may affect the air quality. When we do not clean the clutter of our minds, we may start to become sick, mentally fatigued, emotionally fatigued, and once we are no longer well in our bodies and our spirit too may get a case of the cobwebs.
So how can we take some practical steps to clearing out the clutter, the dust and the cobwebs so that we may maintain balance of the infinite mind, body and spirit? Here are some easy action steps you can try:
For the Physical/Body:
- Dust your home, and not just the areas you can see – shine the flashlight beyond the doors, counters, tables and desks. All those places you forget to look are the places, which need attention the most.
- Get a box and make a goal to fill it with things in your home that you no longer need, or no longer serve you. If they are in good condition, donate them to a shelter.
- Log-on to your email account and take 20 minutes to unsubscribe to all those automatic emails you have signed up for that bulk up your inbox everyday. You don’t have to clear them all – but the ones that perhaps email too often, or that no longer offer any input to your day.
- Open all of the doors and windows and let there be full air-flow through your home (you will definitely want to wait until the weather warms up for this one!)
- Organize your shelves and cabinets. Chances are if you have not seen it in a year+ then you don’t need it. Also, if you haven’t used it in a year+ you probably don’t need it. If you do come across something you forgot you had set an intention with an expiration date to use it. If by the expiration date you still have not used it, it’s okay – but you probably don’t need it.
- For your physical space, your body – it is time to move it. Stretch for 10 minutes upon waking, or set-aside some time during the day.
- Spend sometime rolling around on the ground, letting your body loosen up.
- Dance and shake. Turn on some music, stand on two feet and let your body go. “Shake, Rattle and Roll!”
For the Mind (Heart):
- Take some time to turn on the flashlight and look within. Find a quiet space, close your eyes and just breath. There doesn’t need to be any fancy breath work or visualizations. Just close yours eyes, take a deep breath and breathe. Let the flashlight guide you to the dark corners of your mind and begin to clear the clutter.
- If meditation, breath work, and/or visualizations are something you have experience with, then get back in touch with those processes. Make time, put it on your calendar, place a sticky note on the bathroom mirror – whatever it takes. Spend some time with your practice. You will certainly find some clutter to dispose of.
- Do something creative. You don’t have to be a ‘creative person’ or an ‘artist’ to do something creative. All you have to do is get some paper and a pen and just let your mind go, see where the pen takes you. You will always find something to draw – and whatever you put on paper becomes one less cobweb that was in your mind. You don’t even need to analyze it, just free up a little internal space.
For the Spirit:
- If you have done any of the above mentioned for the physical/body and for the mind, then you have already done for the spirit.
December 19, 2013
Project: Manifestation Jar 2014
As the new year approaches the chatter rises, the most famous new year’s question; “what is your new year’s resolution?” Personally, I have never really been interested in New Year’s resolutions. I find they come on too strong , create too much pressure, and put all the eggs in one basket. Being open to the idea of change and creating a better version of oneself is always important. However, the ‘new year’s resolution’ has the potential to be another way for wellness companies to tap into your pocket and use this time for marketing. Everyday is a chance to create a positive change, so why not use the New Year for what it truly offers? Make your own Manifestation Jar.
A friend shared this idea me with me last year and I gave it a go, 2014 will be the start of my 2nd manifestation jar.
Who? You, your friend, your partner, and anyone else you would like to share this experience with.
What? A jar filled with pieces of paper with handwritten goals, dreams, desires – whatever you want to manifest during the new year.
Where? Anywhere. Your home, a park, near the water, under a tree….the where’s are limitless.
When? December 31, 2013
Why? You are now free to create an abundance of ideas that you would like to manifest, you are planting seeds for manifestation and for creation. Your manifestations can be ideas that can be manifested in a day, a week, a month, many months, a year, and even for years to come. The manifestation jar will hold space for all the seeds you want to plant, and will help you to care for them throughout the year to come. Here are some examples of what manifestations might be:
- starting a new garden, or revamping an existing one
- a place you might like to travel
- reading more, pick a book or a topic you want to spend time divulging into
- going for daily walks or riding your bike more often
The more specific the better, yet not so much that you feel trapped. The ideas can be as simple as getting a haircut to finishing writing that book you started 4 years ago. You are merely planting seeds for manifestation. This is your jar, use your imagination, tap into your desires and use your will to create.
How? You will need:
- A jar – I use a 16oz mason jar. I like that the jar is clear and has a lid.
- A writing utensil – Pick your favorite pen, marker, pencil and in any color you desire. These are your manifestation seeds after all.
- Paper – I like to use colored paper.
- Scissors or your hands to rip up the paper in whatever length/shape you would like.
Once you have all of the tools find a comfortable place to sit. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. If you are able to sit still for a few minutes, take this time to clear your mind and focus only on your breath coming in and going out. Once you have sat still for a period of time that feels good for you open your eyes and when you are ready start writing down your goals, dreams, desires – all those things you would like to manifest in the new year. I suggest writing each manifestation on its own sheet of paper, fold it in half and then place it in the jar. You are free to write as many as you want. Remember, they do not have to be finished just within the year. Seeds once planted take time to grow, some may sprout and grow rapidly, some may seem like they are never growing – but they are, at their own pace. Once you have written down all of your manifestations seal your jar and place it in a location where you will see it and be reminded of your manifestation jar, but will not be consumed by the thought. I keep mine on the top shelf in the closet so I can see it daily, but it remains enough in my subconscious that I do not obsess what is in my jar.
On December 31, 2014 you can take out your manifestation jar and see what seeds grew, what seeds you outgrew, and perhaps what seeds need more time. Then you can make a new manifestation jar for the coming year. If there were any goals left unfulfilled and you still want to fulfill them, place them back in the jar. Spend time reflecting on the previous year and what you want to create for the year ahead.
I wish you all a wonderful Solstice, New Year, and time filled with love and joy to share amongst friends and family.
December 3rd, 2013
Jen is heading to New York for a weekend class to study Abdominal Acupuncture. This is a style of treatment using only the abdomen to treat. This is done by mapping out the entire body on the abdomen. This is what is known as using a microsystem to treat the whole (macro). There are many microsystems used in Acupuncture; such as the ear, hands, feet, and even mapping out the body on the legs and the arms. I will be studying with, Paul Ryan L.Ac , who has just returned from China, spending the last 18 years studying this system with Dr. Bo, the excavator of Abdominal Acupuncture. I am excited to learn and be able to share this method with my patients for a greater way to treat and help the body to heal.
September 15th, 2013
Making Educated Decisions About the Brands You Buy, and the Companies You are Supporting
Majority of my shopping takes place at the Savannah Co-op, this is where I purchase my dairy, eggs, pasta and produce. All of the products come from local and organic farms. It feels great to know all of my produce is in season, was delivered from a short distance in a truck, and that I am supporting the local farmers. However, I still do make occasional trips to the grocery store or my local health food store to fill in the gaps between Co-op pick up days. I do my best to buy organic and non-GMO products from companies that I trust are true to their word. I recently read, Blacklisted: 12 Food Companies to Avoid and was disheartened to learn that some of the major health brands are actually sub-companies of the larger corporations who are actually attempting to prevent the forward progress of GMO and non-GMO product labeling.
Blacklisted: 12 Food Companies to Avoid, is an interesting article about the brands we think are in the clear, but are really sub-companies under the big guys. This article first shares information, then shares the big bad bullies and their sub-companies, but keep going for the silver lining – they also inform which companies still maintain a sense of pure intention and honest truth to their product and their word.
July 28th, 2013
Unplugging: From Technology and Yourself
The mind is a wonderful tool, the mind is a most unhelpful tool.
Think for a moment how you typically start your day. Chances are if you are like 99% of the population within the first hour of being awake you are on your smart phone, computer or tablet. What an age we are living in…so many options for how we will check our email, latest updates on social media and see what is going on in the world. Information is readily at our fingertips nowadays and it seems we are taking in far more than we can process.
This is our current reality, and I am not suggesting whether or not we change these ways. I am however suggesting we find some time throughout the week to slow down. The article, The Surprising Weekend Habits Of Highly Effective People offers a gentle reminder of what it means to slow down.
May favorite example from the article of slowing down was Warrior’s, “digital detox” and meditation. Our minds need space to process the same way our food must digest. If we were to keep filling our stomachs the way we fill our minds, we would explode! Chinese Medicine believes over thinking and obsessive thought weakens the digestive system. It is important that we find time to unplug, let go, and digest everything we have seen, touched, tasted, thought and experienced so that we may prepare for the real work before us.
July 10th, 2013
Where does disease come from, and what can we do about it? – From the perspective of a Chinese Medicine practitioner and Acupuncturist.
“All diseases come from the Heart” – Heiner Fruehauf
The above quote comes from a well known Chinese Medicine practitioner. The words that follow are my interpretation of his quote.
The first thought that comes to mind in regard to diseases manifesting from the Heart are in relation to the Shen; the emotions, and the Spirit. Disease that begins as a non-physical emotional imbalance tends to transform into the physical. An emotional imbalance left untreated for a long enough duration will begin to cause stagnation in the body, first damaging the superficial aspects, and over time will penetrate deeper into the body leading to more severe damage. I am not sure it is possible to say that all disease does or does not come from the Heart. There are people who follow this trajectory of emotional imbalance and with enough time will develop tumors or cancer that seem to manifest out of thin air. The physical expression that appears seems correlated to the aspects of the mind and body that are not visible to the eye (or CT scan/X-ray) but do co-exist within the physical. The potential for recovery of a person who has been suffering from the Heart for such a long time will have a greater chance of giving up, because they have nothing to hold onto, as they are living with void. Then there are those lying on their death beds whom you would have no idea are suffering, because they are so intact emotionally, and their spirit is at such peace. Only one of these two people can I confidently say became sick from pathology of the Heart.
On the surface, this quote represents the idea that any ailment will develop from an emotional imbalance, or hallowed space of a person. I believe the core of this quote is not to say whether or not all disease does or does not manifest of the Heart, but instead to show the underlying importance of a peaceful Heart. One can only suffer if they identify with the suffering. One who cannot see clearly, or is veiled from the light will suffer a great deal in his or her life. One who loves themselves can then learn to love all beings. One who is capable of only love can know the art of living, with or without a disease or diagnosis.
In the end, it is the spirit that decides. Once the mind begins to go, the soul leaves the body and there is only one solution left. I can say that with a strong Heart one can overcome anything and be protected. I cannot say all disease comes from the Heart, but perhaps instead that the Heart can cure all disease.
“The Heart holds the seat of Monarch from whence the spirit light emanates.” (Xin Zhe Jun Zhi Guan Ye, Shen Ming Chu Yan.)[i]
[i] Statements of Fact in TCM. Flaws, Bob. Pg. 26
June 7th, 2013
Cravings: The Cultivation of Self-Awareness
My on-going studies as an Acupuncturist/Herbalist in Chinese Medicine remind me on a daily basis that nothing is definitive and there are no absolutes.
What does this have to do with cravings? Well, for one, why you or I might crave something will be different. Why he, or she, craves sweet or salty food might be different for each person. Sometimes we crave foods or flavors that our body truly needs, and other times we crave foods that may cause more harm than good. So how do we know if what we are craving is good or bad for us?
Walking home after a recent yoga class I had a sudden craving for fast food. I thought, “This is not good for me, so why am I craving it?” Then I had a flashback to 8 years ago when I used to smoke cigarettes; I would walk out from the gym and get one of those pesky cigarette cravings. How is it after we have done good work for our bodies we could crave that which does not strengthen us? While we are doing this good work we are circulating more oxygen and blood and in turn flushing out old cells. When our minds and bodies detoxify our cells begin to break down. The toxic build up from unhealthy food, environmental or daily stress and emotions start to release and our bodies prepare for the process of elimination. This is a very crucial time, a time when we must practice restraint and go above the natural tendency to act on our cravings. As the cells release from where they have been stuck the memory of the cell’s past kicks in and the brain wants to fix ‘the problem’. The only problem is, there is no problem. The brain thinks there is a problem, but the body is merely detoxifying. So rather than send a message for steamed broccoli or cooked carrots the brain tells us to smoke a cigarette or eat fast food because this is what we have done in the past, and perhaps what used to serve us, but no longer does.
So what do we do? This is the time to drink water and help your body flush out those pesky toxic cells. Craving a cigarette after the gym is the same as craving fast food after yoga. Mind you, I have not had fast food in years. So why did I have a craving for fast food? Perhaps the cells released during yoga were from a time in my life when I ate fast food, maybe from childhood or college. Perhaps these cells were a time of sadness from my past and have been stuck all this time deep within my muscles and my mind and body relived that moment when I was upset and met my sadness with fast food as a coping strategy. There are so many reasons why. As someone once told me, it is easy to be tortured by the why. In this case, I don’t think the why is necessary. The key to understanding our cravings is to step back and give time and space to ask, if I act on this craving, will I feel fulfilled, loved and healthy? If the answer is no, this is reason to celebrate; your body is letting go of toxic build-up which no longer serves it. Take this time to let your body do its’ work and flush out the old cells.
So what about those good cravings? How can you tell the difference? Stop and check in with yourself. Ask yourself, is this something my body is craving because I am lacking in this vitamin, mineral, flavor, etc. or, am I craving this because I have just been through an experience where emotions, toxins, the past, or stress are being released? General rule of thumb, if what you are craving came from the earth as a plant, vegetable, fruit, grain, legume, etc. chances are you will be doing more good than harm. “He who knows others is wise; He who knows himself is enlightened.” – Lao Tzu
Note: The ideas in this article are the opinions of Jen Marks, L.Ac.. This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a Chinese Medicine Practioner or Primary Care Physician before attempting to diagnose and treat your condition.
If you would like to discuss cravings, or anything else that came up for you while reading this article, please feel free to e-mail me. If you are interested in receiving Acupuncture or any other modality of Chinese Medicine, please visit my webpage or contact me at JenMarks8@gmail.com . Blessings and Balance to all.
June 2nd, 2013
Three Parts Knowledge, One Part Intuition: A Tea to Rid Your Cough Goodbye
A few weeks ago I had a cough that I could not seem to shake. It was very mild and weak, but persistent. I decided to take a trip to my local health food store to see what types of herbs/teas they sell. I came across Astragalus Root/Huang Qi. Huang Qi is an herb frequently used in Chinese Medicine herbal therapy. This herb is most well known as being a Qi tonic to boost the vitality of the Lungs and the Spleen. My knowledge and background as a Chinese Medicine practioner is what guided me to select Huang Qi for the particular type of cough that I had. I knew based on the quality of the cough and my pulses that my cough was due to deficiency.
I also selected Pau d’Arco, an herb native to the rainforests of South America. I chose Pau d’Arco due to my previous experiences with the herb for brewing tea. I was aware of its’ uses as an anti-inflammatory and immune system enhancer. According to the American Cancer Society, “Pau d’arco is promoted as a cure for dozens of illnesses and medical conditions, including arthritis, ulcers, diabetes, and cancer.” (http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/pau-d-arco), Last Revised: 01/16/2013.
The final addition to the tea were rose buds/Mei Gua Hua. Rose buds are used to treat in Chinese Medicine, they work to calm and relax the nervous system. They are known in Chinese Medicine to promote the movement of Qi.
After paying for the herbs I headed home to prepare my tea. I placed 2 and a half slices of Astragalus Root in a medium sized pot and added about 2 cups of water. I brought the water to a rolling boil and then reduced the flame to a simmer for 30 minutes. Once the 30 minutes passed I discarded the Astragalus from the pot. I then placed 1 and a half teaspoons of Pau D’Arco into a tea strainer with 4 rosebuds and poured the water from the Astragalus Root over-top to brew for about 5-7 minutes.
One cup of this tea and my cough was gone.
This article’s purpose is to enhance perception about the different ways in which we are able to treat ourselves from a natural source. Taking care of ourselves does not have to compromise our wallets nor must we sacrifice for relief of one symptom only to gain a new problem to treat due to medications that offer more harm than good. If you are interested in learning more about using herbs for treatment call a local acupuncturist/herbalist to make an appointment, find a workshop/class, or speak with an educated sales associate to guide you at your local health food store. Blessings and Balance to all.
Note: This information is not intended as medical advice. Please consult a Chinese Medicine Practioner or Primary Care Physician before attempting to diagnose and treat your condition.
May 6th, 2013
Today is a day of Love.
When we exude love onto others, we create more love for ourselves. When we are able to love ourselves, we are able to exude love onto others. When we love, our mind is clear, our body feels at peace, and our ails and woes seem to disappear. Love is the best remedy for all of our problems. Love is the key to keep our Qi moving freely.
May 4th, 2013
Chapter 12 – Tao Teh Ching – Lao Tzu
The five colours blind the eye.
The five tones deafen the ear.
The five flavours cloy the palate.
Racing and hunting madden the mind.
Rare goods tempt men to do wrong.
Therefore, the Sage takes care of the belly, not the eye.
He prefers what is within to what is without.
Translation – John C. Wu
It is easy to get caught up in what is around us, our wants, cravings, and distractions. We too easily look around in search of something we can see, taste or hear. Instead of looking out, take a few minutes today and look within. Find a comfortable seat on the floor, or on a chair. Close your eyes and place your hands on your lap, palms face up or face down, whichever feels more comfortable at the moment. Focus your attention on your breath, you can place your hands on your belly to help attune your mind to your breath. With each inhale, feel your belly fill up and push outward. With each exhale feel your belly pull into your spine to release all of the air. Sit for as long as you can, or set a goal for yourself; 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes, the important part is not for how long you sit, but that you took a few minutes out of your day to look within. Set yourself up for success, push yourself but not so much that you fall. Be kind to yourself, allow your mind time to expand and to release. Smile.
April 28th, 2013
Spring has Sprung
Chinese Medicine correlates Spring with the East, the ZangFu (OrganBowel) pair – Liver/Gallbladder, the color green, wood, wind and birth.
Spring is birth, from out of the darkness and cold and into the warmth and light. The flower blooms, the seedling sprouts, and we too begin our new cycle of growth. This can be a difficult time; a time when we feel change is not happening fast enough. In the way the seed buried under the snow thinks it will never sprout and see the days of sunshine again, we too may share similar feelings with our ideas and desires. Spring is the time for new ideas that have been cultivating in the shadow to grow, to move upward and outward and to dance in the days of light. Now is the time to step outside and create. This is not to say the process is easy, it is no easy challenge to move from the still nature of winter into the upward spirals of spring. Take your time, be kind to yourself, but push yourself to move forward. Your work will be rewarded, may the sunshine be your guide.
Liver is the yin organ associated with Spring. Liver rules the emotions, ensures the free flow of qi, stores the blood, controls the sinews, and opens to the eyes.
Spring is a time for cleaning and cleansing. You can participate in the flow of Spring’s Qi by doing some household cleaning or internal cleansing. Here are a few suggestions for aiding your body’s qi to flow so that you may more easily manifest your desires during the Spring:
- Open all of the windows in your home, burn some sage or a few sticks of incense around your house. Let the stagnant energy be cleansed and carried away.
- Spring-cleaning, it is an idea as old as the Earth and as wise as the Sages. This is the time to go through and discard what is no longer necessary. Open the closet doors, the dresser doors, and the cabinet doors. Organize what you have, keep what you need, and donate the rest. Make space for yourself.
- Indulge in dark leafy greens. Take a trip to your local health food or grocery store and pick up some chard, kale, collards and if they have it, buy some dandelion (Pu Gong Ying). This bitter green is perfect for spring. Many of you might only know dandelion for being a weed, but like many weeds, this is a great medicinal plant used commonly in Chinese Medicine. You can sauté with butter and garlic, steam, boil, or add the dandelion to a green smoothie to enjoy in your day. Dandelion is bitter, sweet and cold. It enters the Liver and the Stomach. This plant will help to cleanse your Liver so that your Qi may flow better in the Spring.
- If you are familiar with types of cleansing or fasting, Spring is a great time to do this. I would only recommend fasting to those who are experienced or are under the direction of someone who can assist in the process. Fasting can be a great way to cleanse the body, but it should be done in a way that fosters healing, and does not further tax the body.
- Find a quiet place outside, sit on a patch of grass or a comfortable bench, close your eyes and breath. A 5-minute meditation to ground yourself and connect with Spring. You can also place your hands over the area of Liver and with each breathe, breath light and clarity into the organ and with each exhale, release the stagnation and toxicity. This will make your Liver happy and feel supported.
- Come in for an Acupuncture treatment. Together we will get your Qi flowing, and harmonize the meridians of your body so that your connection with Spring will expand with greater ease.
No matter how you choose to connect with Spring, remember to smile, embrace the warmth, be thankful for the day and to keep moving forward, your efforts will be rewarded.
On a personal note:
The transition from Winter into Spring can be a tough time for many of us. For me personally, going too long without a sun-filled, warm breezy day can start to feel like I am fading into the dark wilderness of Winter. For a while it seemed as if Spring was not going to happen down here in Savannah. I was recently up in New York City visiting friends and family, and it most certainly seemed as if Spring was nowhere near the north. Since I have been back in Savannah I can say, Spring has officially sprung; we can raise the blinds, open the windows, step outside and take a deep breath, Spring is here. The weather is warm, the flowers are blooming and the birds are chirping.
Arpil 6th, 2013
Sustainability, fresh food, and sharing of abundance. These are three practices we can all strive to add into our lives. Everyday is a chance to learn, grow and appreciate. There are good things happening in Seattle, the first Food Forest, is opening to the public. Plants and Fruits, free for the taking and plucking from the trees. This is a beautiful concept and more so, a reality that has been set into place by Beacon Food Forest. Great job Seattle! I hope to come pick some fruit soon, plant a tree, and see this idea begin to expand into other cities around the world.
April 5th, 2013
Starting May 1st, Jen will be practicing at Lowcountry Natural Health Center at 2431-B Habersham Street in Savannah, Ga. She is now booking appointments for May. Please feel free to contact her with any questions or to schedule an appointment.