Tools for managing intense emotional states

Dr. Linden does morning Wim Hof breathing & meditation with a tree on Mount Tabor

The most important thing we can do to support nervous system health is to engage in good daily habits and dietary practices that especially support good sleep, good digestion, and daily bowel movements. The Ayurvedic Daily Routine (p.1 of Dr. Linden’s Ayurveda Booklet) is a very good roadmap for achieving these goals. In Ayurvedic terms, good habits and routines especially balance Vata dosha (and Rajas mahaguna) which, when unbalanced, will likely show up as anxiety, and affect our sleep and digestion. Vata (and rajas) will also perturb all the other doshas, which will further exacerbate and prolong unpleasant mental/emotional states.

There will be times, times of life/transition, and body/mind types that tend to experience greater challenges with difficult mood states. Some of us are just more sensitive to things like monthly (or peri/menopausal) hormone shifts, or have a strong family history of so-called “mental illness”, or have a history of trauma or adverse childhoods that make us more prone to mental health challenges.

While we should certainly do all we can to diagnose and address the physical and medical reasons we may be experiencing challenging symptoms (such as anemia, thyroid conditions, hormones imbalances, etc), and we should definitely seek professional support for mental health crises, we can all benefit from learning techniques to manage and live with bodies and minds that experience intense emotions and sensations. Below is a list of practices that I have found particularly helpful.

Quick Fix Chart

Anxiety = Vata: Breathwork, warm bath & oil massage, warm tea, compassionate support

Dissociation = Vata: Yoga Nidra, Embodiment practices, warm tea, grounding touch 

Depression = Kapha: Breathwork, Exercise/movement, upbeat music, being with other people

Stress = Pitta/Vata: Breathwork, slow graceful movement, healthy sweet flavor, journaling

Irritation/Rage = Pitta: Step away! Cool tea or juice, left nostril breathing, flowers, acupuncture

Ladies, know where you are at in your menstrual cycle so that you know how weekly hormone shifts affect your mood and energy levels! It helps to know what to expect and why you are suddenly experiencing anxiety, depression, sadness, low libido, or anger. Knowing there is a transient physical cause for symptoms can help you to not spiral about the current moment so that you can deal with it and move on.

Keep track of your cycles and symptoms. P-Tracker is my favorite app for this. Report findings to your various healthcare practitioners, especially Ob/Gyns and Chinese Medicine practitioners.

Get the Hormonology app by Gabrielle Lichterman. It will show you how your hormones change and affect your mind/body every day of the month. There is a book by the same author called 28 Days that has even more of the same information. All the information is based on high quality Western research.

Breathwork and Pranayama: There is no quicker and more effective tool for changing your mind/body state than breathwork practices. I spent years looking for the herbal (and even pharmaceutical) cure for anxiety and, after years of rejecting it, had to finally accept that breathwork (I use Wim Hof method) was the most immediately effective treatment for the intense anxiety I can experience. Others have reported similar results and a quickly growing body of research supports its use.

Watch YouTube video tutorials on the Wim Hof breathing method and use the Wim Hof Method app to do a daily and/or as-needed practice. This method is somewhat intense, “crude”, and less subtle than many other methods available, but I find that it works well to “grab the tiger [of intense emotions] by the tail” when in need of a quick fix. Experiencing the effectiveness has been a gateway for me to re-engage with more refined practices I learned from my Ayurveda and Yoga teachers.

Ashley Neese is a trauma informed breathwork/pranayama teacher that has a book, affordable video offerings on her website, and some free YouTube videos.

Kundalini Yoga employs many styles of breathwork to quickly shift mental/emotional states. Go to a local class, consult an experienced teacher, or check out some various videos on YouTube. There are many free/low-cost resources for this method. Below is a Stress Busting Kundalini Meditation with Guru Jagat that I really like:

Essential Oils and aromatherapy can enhance your breathwork practice: Use oils such as lavender or jatamansi for anxiety, lemon for depression, rosemary for mental clarity, or ylang ylang for low libido (it temporarily boosts testosterone!). If you are a patient of mine, I can add these oils to your Wellevate online dispensary account.

“Tapping” or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is very popular and there is good research to support its effectiveness for quickly shifting difficult emotional states.

 The Tapping Solution app has free exercises always available

There are many YouTube videos as well:

Somatic Experiencing, “Embodiment” practices, trauma work, and working with the nervous system to increase our “window of tolerance” is an effective way of working with intense emotional states. I’ve found these approaches to be more holistic and compassionate than Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). This learning to “be with” unpleasant sensations can have the paradoxical effect of lessening their intensity over time, as much of the unpleasantness we experience is our resistance to fully experiencing these feelings.

These are all practices that need the guidance of a qualified practitioner or teacher to be learned appropriately, but there are good online programs that most functional adults can safely access and benefit from them, especially in conjunction with professional mental health support from a qualified practitioner/therapist.

Basic Embodiment: Often we feel a combination of bodily sensations we label with diagnostic terms like “anxiety” or “depression”. But what are we actually feeling? Usually, it is a shifting cloud of simple bodily sensations, maybe things like tingling, lightness, a racing heart, an odd sensation in our hands, or a heaviness.

Rather than building a story (unless it’s to check the Hormonology app to see what hormone might be contributing to our current state), try simply feeling each sensation fully. You might even make a journal list of each sensation. This helps to both truly ground you into your body, while also getting some appropriate perspective to help pull you out of a spiral or off a ledge.

Irene Lyon is a very knowledgeable resource. She has many YouTube videos/podcasts and has a program called The 21 Day Nervous System Reset that introduces her somatic theory and nervous system practices. You can access her site HERE

Atarah Valentine (formerly a coach with To Be Magnetic) described an effective practice he uses: If he was feeling a strong emotion (loneliness), he would set a timer and fully allow himself to really feel whatever was showing up for him rather than trying to avoid it/run away/suppress it. After the timer went off (maybe 5-15 minutes later), he would then commit to shifting out of the emotional state to move on. This might mean doing some additional breath work/aromatherapy or journaling.

Yoga Nidra is a type of yogic guided meditation similar to hypnotherapy than can help us to relax deeply by grounding into our bodies.

            Here is a short one that I really like:

Yoga Nidra for Chakra Balance by Cheryl Fenner Brown and Sharon Olson is my most favorite yoga nidra audio recording. It has usually been available on streaming services, but recently it disappeared from Amazon streaming. It is currently available on Spotify and YouTube -but be cautious about being interrupted by ads. Each chakra meditation is about 35 minutes long.

In conclusion,there are many, many more options, but these practices I’ve shared above are some that have helped me personally to manage my own anxiety.

Banishing Cold and Balancing Vata

I thought I’d share some tips from both Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine to help get you thawed out and warmed up.

Over the summer, I had an encounter with Cold in the Mount Jefferson Wilderness that was quite educational, especially to me as a Chinese Medicine practitioner, because “Cold” is considered a primary “pathogenic factor” in that system. The first night we were there, even though it was early August, a very strong, unseasonable, very cold wind storm swept through our camp and I had the first experience in my life of being so cold that I couldn’t sleep -and it actually made me kind of scared! (In Ayurveda, fear is a prime symptom of excessive Vata dosha, comprised of the Air/Wind & Ether/Space elements. My recent experiences with intense Wind gusts while hiking high on Mount Hood and the Cold discussed here have shown me how Wind and Cold both invoke a very primal fear).

The next morning I was able to warm myself up by drinking warm ginger tea, walking around until the sun came up, and then lying in the sun in my black down coat. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more grateful than I was that morning to see the sun crest over the mountain, bringing the much needed Fire Element to all the Air, Ether, and Water and Earth Elements around me! Warmed up and armed with a few more ideas about how to generate Warmth, we ended up staying two more slightly less cold nights -which was fortunate, as only a couple weeks later the area was engulfed in flames (though it appears it may still be open to camping next summer).

I was also fortunate to escape the worst of this past week’s Mega Freeze. We got hit pretty hard by the snow and ice storm, but we had power at our Portland home for the duration and things never got as bad here as they did in my former home of Austin, Texas. Below you’ll find a handout that I made with some great Vata Balancing, Channel Warming tips.

Balancing Vata:

Warming and Moistening

Drink: Drink warm fluids until the weather warms up and/or until you feel warm again.

Drink: Ginger Cinnamon “tea”with Honey is a great combination for deeply warming the body. Use dry powdered or cut/sifted herb from your grocery store. Honey is warming according to Ayurveda.

Eat: Focus on warm, moist foods and simple recipes. Soups and stews that incorporate the flavors of Sour, Salty, and Pungent will be warming and healing. For example, a miso-based soup with ginger would be great! Lamb meat is considered warming in both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda.Warm oatmeal with cinnamon, ginger, and honey would also be great. *Avoid excess chili pepper, as it is drying and cooling.

Abhyanga/Self Oil Massage with an herbalized Vata Balancing Oil or plain sesame oil (available from Banyan Botanicals). Apply the oil to the body and then take a warm bath or shower and continue to massage the oil into the skin. See this handout for details:

Click to access Elements_of_Ayurveda_Self-Massage_Guide.pdf

Exercise: Get simple, warming, rhythmic movement but stay warm while you do it especially if you’re going outside. Do not get sweaty and then get chilled! Keep your neck covered! A Vata balancing yoga routine would also be great -there are many on YouTube:

Banish Cold from the Channels

Moxa Sticks for Deep Warming: Get this important warming therapy from your Chinese Medicine practitioner and/or watch this or other YouTube videos for instructions on how to SAFELY do moxa on yourself at home. Please do not touch the stick to your skin and do not burn yourself! You can use the moxa stick over any area that feels very cold. Stomach 36 is a great point (see picture), and the sole of the foot at acupuncture point KD1 is also a spot that can help warm up the entire body.

You can buy Hua Tuo brand moxa sticks here:

I hope I’ve given you a couple easy ways to start to you warm yourself up and thaw yourself out after this intense encounter with Cold many of us have had. I want to stress that it is really important to address deep Cold in our bodies, as Chinese Medicine theory explains that Cold can become lodged in the body, especially within the joints, and cause a range of issues, especially pain, over time.

If you feel extremely cold, these home remedies don’t help move the dial,and/or you start having flareups of chronic issues (esp musculoskeletal pain or menstrual pain) or start having new issues arise, I strongly recommend that you consult with a Chinese Medicine practitioner who can help you get that Cold moving out of your body!

If you don’t feel warmer soon, please connect with your Chinese Medicine practitioner! They have lots of tools to help get that cold moving out of your body for good!

Healing Foods for Spring 2020

Simple Dietary Recommendations for Supporting Good Digestion & Immunity, Reducing Dampness, and Preventing and Transforming Phlegm

Giclee Print- 'Branching' Anatomical Watercolor Painting of Lung ...My dear friends, we find ourselves in Strange Times! But we also find ourselves in a very familiar time: Spring, which seems to be doing her thing, despite all the disruption we are feeling in our Human lives.

Below I have listed some simple common sense and Kitchen Medicine ideas for keeping healthy during not just this Spring, but any Spring. The suggestions below are based on my training in both Ayurvedic and Chinese Medicine. I hope you find something useful here. Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns or need clarification. And please contact your healthcare provider if you need more in-depth support.

Good Immunity starts with Good Health

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  • Reduce stress. Stress impairs the immune system.
  • Stay positive, Remain Calm, Don’t Panic!
  • Get plenty of sleep/rest
  • Get regular movement and exercise, but don’t overexert/over exercise
  • Keep lymph moving (movement, hot/cold showers, dry brushing, self massage w/sesame oil)
  • Drink plenty of warmish fluids (start your day with a large glass of warm water)
  • Support good lung (and overall) health by having daily bowel movements. In Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda, the Lung  (which is responsible for immune function in Chinese Medicine) and the Large Intestine are paired organs. It is important to keep both healthy and moving.

The Health & Beauty Benefits of Dry Brushing Your Skin

Good Digestion Supports Strong Immunity

  • Avoid heavy/sticky foods: Especially avoid all dairy (ghee ok) and reduce/avoid processed wheat foods
  • Avoid cold and cold natured foods (cold foods, raw foods)
  • Avoid sugar (but raw honey -especially “old” granulated raw honey- is actually good, esp with warming spices like ginger and turmeric)
  • Use warming, drying spices to support good digestion (ginger, black pepper, cardamom, turmeric, ajwain, mustard, oregano, thyme…)
  • Follow the Ayurvedic diet for Spring/Kapha, links provided below to various practitioner’s particular lists. A Spring/Kapha balancing diet is warming, drying and lightening and promotes good digestion and reduces dampness and phlegm production in the Lungs.

Banyan Botanicals Kapha/Spring Diet:

Joyful Belly Kapha/Spring Diet:

Dr. Vasant Lad & The Ayurvedic Institute Kapha/Spring Diet:  follow the Kapha diet recommendations

“Phlegm is Produced in the Stomach & Stored in the Lungs” -Ayurvedic saying

  • Avoid Dampness and Phlegm-generating foods (esp dairy, sugar,alcohol, and excess greasy foods, but especially low quality fats)
  • Eat foods that reduce Dampness (see the Spring/Kapha diet recommendations above)
  • Eat warming and warm foods (see the foods listed below and the congee recipe ideas)

Include foods that “transform” Phlegm and/or reduce dampness and support digestion

(this list is definitely NOT exhaustive and only includes some foods that are esp indicated for the Lungs, Large Intestine, and Digestive systems and are strong enough to classify more as medicinal foods)

  • Almonds (esp raw European almonds) Ayurveda says soak and peel the skins off
  • Ginger
  • HoneyWhy Does Honey Crystallize?-- How to de-crystallize and prevent
  • Green & black teas
  • Cocoa & coffee (Without animal dairy)
  • Seaweeds like Dulse flakes and Hijiki (these are both moistening and reduce phlegm)
  • Mung & aduki beans, lentils (drain dampness and contain protein but aren’t “sticky”)
  • Pumpkin/squash seeds (very high in zinc)
  • Onions, garlic, leeks, scallions, chives
  • Apples & Pears (baked/stewed with spices, skins contain quercetin -is anti inflammatory)
  • Dandelion greens (and other bitter spring greens, esp spicy ones like arugula)
  • All leafy greens (contain a pre-biotic, and are anti inflammatory)
  • Coriander/Cilantro
  • Celery
  • Mustard seed (warms the lungs and dispels phlegm). I like mine popped in ghee before sauteing veggies
  • Carrots
  • Citrus (small amount if high in Pitta) is a natural source of vitamin C
  • Citrus peel, dried (includes orange and grapefruit peels used in tea or jams)
  • Fennel seeds & fennel root (cooling in Ayurveda, warming in Chinese medicine)
  • Bamboo shoots
  • Chili pepper (use in moderation, as in excess it can be drying and cooling)
  • Figs
  • Mushrooms (more “medicinal” varieties like shitake are best, support good gut bacteria)
  • Fermented foods (small amount if high in Pitta) supports healthy microbiome
  • Raw Apple cider vinegar (very small amount if high in Pitta) supports digestion and metabolism, 1 tsp in large amount of warm water, or put on foods (ex: as salad dressing).

Pork and Shiitake Congee Recipe | Bon AppetitConsider favoring simple foods such as congee based soups, as they are easy to digest. Congee is basically just rice cooked in a  lot of extra water to form a soupy porridge. It is super easy to make in a crock pot or Instant Pot (or stove top) and can serve as a fabulous “vehicle” for many of the spices and foods listed above, especially the immune-supporting spices. You can make a congee more like a savory soup with spices, veggies and seaweed and then add in pumpkin seeds and miso to flavor or as a sweeter porridge with cooked apples and warming spices, then add almond milk and raw honey.

Common Herbs/Spices/Substances that support immunity and lung health:

  • Raw honey
  • Chyavanprash (Ayurvedic Herbal “jam”) Builds Ojas/Immunity, 1-2 teaspoons per day
  • Tulsi leaf tea (or powder, mixed into warm water with honey and warming spices)
  • Mint family herbs (like peppermint, spearmint, lemon balm, basil, tulsi, 10 Best Tulsi Tea Benefits (Holy Basil Tea) For Skin and Healthrosemary…)
  • Loquat (it will be fruiting in the next several months, esp in Texas, make freezer jam/syrup without sugar)
  • Ginger (fresh or dried)
  • Cardamom
  • Turmeric (in meals/cooking, in warm water with honey, make a honey paste and eat)
  • Black & Long pepper (or Ayurvedic “Trikatu” spice mix). Put in food, or take as a tea w/ honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Ajwain (as a spice in food or as a tea)

Supplements that may support the immune system

  • Vitamin C (with caution, plant based sources best): The Ayurvedic formula Triphala contains Amla which is renowned as a plant-based source of vitamin C. It is also an Ayurvedic digestive tonifier and helps keep the bowels moving. Citrus and citrus peel is also a great way to get plant-based vitamin C.
  • Vitamin D or common sense Sun Exposure (with caution, do not take excessive doses, consult your practitioner)
  • Zinc (with caution, do not take excessive doses, consult your practitioner)


This list is not exhaustive and is provided for inspiration and to promote your own process of discovery.

This discussion is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease.

Please contact your practitioner for a consultation, especially if you are experiencing health concerns.

Wise Words About Perimenopause…



I consider Dr. Claudia Welch to be one of my primary teachers on this path of being an Integrative Medicine Practitioner. While I surely spent many, many more classroom hours with many other teachers, my short but sweet time with her has grounded me in my principle of practice.

Today, August 16th, 2017, she sent out one of her relatively infrequent newsletters -the infrequency of which makes them all the more anticipated. It was such important information – and also very relevant to my own experience – I wanted to share it here with anyone who might stumble upon this seldom-updated blog page. If you connect with what you read below, and I hope you do, please visit Dr. Welch’s site to learn more about her offerings.

“Dear Friends,
Hi. I hope you are navigating life with well-founded aplomb, and any assistance you might require.
I’m awfully close to turning 50…
I was thinking to share some of the physical, spiritual and energetic changes I’ve encountered in my forties, and how things are going. I’m doing this for a couple reasons. The first is to give a heads up to younger women. Another is to share experience with sisters in the roughly the same age ball-park, so we can learn from each other (I’d love to hear from you, and did hear from many of you with such interesting experiences and observations on the Dr. Claudia Welch fb page). And, I suppose, to share with anyone else who might be interested in musings on this transition phase of a woman’s life.
Let me start with the physical and get progressively more esoteric. You know, just to ease us into The Weird.
The Physical 
When I was, oh, about 43, I was driving on Interstate 40, heading east in Albuquerque, NM. I was asking myself, “am I going insane?” I considered going to an MD to just check that nothing horrible was going on. I was panicking a little.
I took some deep breaths, disciplined my thoughts and asked myself, “is this discomfort physical or energetic? What is my actual experience?” I named it with something like, “I I feel like I am seeing things differently, and that is freaking me out.” Naming my experiences was a good start at addressing them. So, I thought, let us attend first to the freaking out part, and then go from there. Since I often like to treat energetic problems with energetic medicine, and freaking out lands in the, “energetic” category, I went to have an energetic, polarity-ish treatment with a gifted friend, Dr. Don Cornwell. Afterwards I felt good. I knew nothing was wrong physically. Though something was indeed changing physically. And it was exactly what I’d named. I was seeing differently. My vision was different.
Honestly, from the time my vision started changing, it took me a couple years—years (!) to realize it was the reading glasses thing. The change wasn’t—and still isn’t—drastic. But my vision has changed, and it doesn’t only affect reading—though that is the obvious change. When vision changes, we see the world differently, even if only subtly so. And this is a big deal. In Ayurveda, when we look at manovāhasrotas –the channel system of the mind, we see that the two vessels associated with the two eyes are two of the ten, “vessels” that hold considerable sway over the mind. When vision changes, the mind is altered. When the mind is altered, we perceive things differently. If we don’t roll with that, we feel like the ground is shifting and might even wonder, “Am I going insane?” But no. Our world view is just shifting.
Since then, I have progressively less and less enjoyed things that strain my eyes. And I have come to feel that there is a natural wisdom in gradual depletion of the sense organs’ acuity (leave aside for the moment that there are Ayurvedic—and other—approaches to dealing with this such that the vision may not change or can be restored).

I feel I am being invited to look inwards more and focus outward less. Going with that has taken a bit of courage, even though (or maybe because) it is a direction I’ve always wanted. When I have an urge to research or read but my eyes feel tired with that effort, find it feels right to do something else that feels natural, easy and good. Sometimes that is nothing.

For someone practiced at looking for the Big in life, in my younger years, surrendering ambition at the altar of Reality has been a call that began in my early 30s. In my late 40s, surrendering my desires to research, read and scrutinize as much as I used to, to the apparent limitations of my vision is another manifestation of that surrender. It nudges me to choose to do nothing more often.
There are tons of other physical changes worth discussing. I go into some in Balance Your Hormones, Balance Your Life, and in my in-person women’s health workshops and online Healthier Hormones course. Today I just picked the vision thing and its role in doing less, or nothing, more often, because it is one of the more interesting facets of physical change, to me.
The Energetic
In Chinese medicine, we consider a human being a conduit between heaven and earth: the upright human’s head reaches towards the heavens and feet are grounded in the earth. The heavens represent the immaterial, the earth the material. The heavens the spirit, the earth the corporeal. The heavens the subtle connection to ethereal concepts and thought, the earth facility with flesh and bone.
For a human being to effectively be a conduit between heaven and earth, we need adequate circulation of prāṇa or qi (same thing—the life force or energy of the mind/body). Qi from the earth needs to rise, and qi from the heavens needs to descend; the qi and the qualities it carries need to circulate throughout our organisms.
While qi needs to reach and nourish every cell of our body, it concentrates where our attention is focused.
One phenomenon I often see, is that our attention is often coopted by our senses: smelling, tasting, seeing, hearing, and touching. Since most of our sensory organs are situated in our heads, and we easily indulge in excessive thinking, worry, scheming and planning, we can tend to keep our attention focused in our heads, without allowing sensory impressions, observations and thoughts deeper into our organisms, to digest, assimilate and circulate, or connect with the earth energy. if our attention stays in our head, qi follows, and stagnates there. Stagnation causes discomfort, so we can get headache, eye strain, insomnia and worry.
One thing acupuncture does very well is to move qi. When I was in private practice, I noticed that, if I released qi that was stuck somewhere in the body, the liberated qi would simply rush to the head, if the patient’s focus was in their head. This would cause them a headache. For these patients, before I could address other issues, I would first have to stimulate some strong distal points on the hands and feet, to pull the qi down from the head. That way the qi liberated by the needles would circulate instead of beelining for the head.
In practice, I clearly learned and experienced more times than I could count that, if you have a headache, you want to move qi down, out of the head. Ground it to the hands, feet, lower body. To the earth. Get it away from the head—and the heavens—and it will start circulating and the headache will resolve.
But there’s another possibility. One I didn’t think too much about until recently.
About a year ago, I was at the tail end of teaching a two-week intensive—a process whereby I felt a palpable connection to the heavens, but was also managing a lot of details of earthy affairs. All was going well (save the only sinus infection I’ve ever had in my life).
And then, on the last day of the two weeks, I felt like my head might explode (despite the fact that said sinus infection had resolved). I felt energy was stagnating in my head. My previous experience led me to think grounding it would be the right medicine. I kept trying, and it didn’t help. So I asked my friend and colleague, Emily Glaser, if she would give me a cranio-sacral treatment, to assist me in this process. She agreed.
As I was laying down and Glaser was working, my eyes were closed. I felt a clear wave of qi move from my feet, and begin to move up through my body, towards my head. I thought, “No, that’s not right. The qi should be moving down.” But, gratefully, awareness vetoed thoughts. It felt right and healing, whatever the qi was doing. I let the wave move up. It moved up and straight out the top of my head. Like it blasted a hole in the top of my head, and allowed all the qi stuck there to move out—towards the heavens. The qi was no longer stagnant. And the headache was gone.
This was a healing moment for me. And a tremendous education. I realized that grounding and circulating qi are possible ways to release stagnation. Another way is to allow it to move up. In different circumstances, different strategies are called for.
My recent experience doesn’t change my previous strong experiences of the value of grounding qi, but I am more curious now, when qi is stuck, about which way it is wanting or needing to move to relieve the stagnation in the most cooperative, natural way.
In India, we talk about four roughly consecutive stages of life, that can sometimes overlap. If we look at these in connection with the Daoist ideas of heaven and earth, we might say that that the first two stages—roughly the first 50 years of life—are more related to earth and earthly matters. The second two stages more with the heavens, as we move closer to returning to the ethereal.
These thoughts have made me consider whether, as broad generalization from which to experiment, when we are stuck in our heads if, in the first half of life it might be more effective to draw the energy down to the earth and, in the second half, support its liberation to the heavens. Naturally there are considerations other than life stage, including how the person is spending their time, or which way the qi naturally wants to move, but this new awareness has made an impression on me and refined the way I understand stagnation.

The Spiritual
Speaking of the four stages of life, as I push 50, I am entering into the vānaprastha (forest dweller) stage of life–the stage where one begins to detach more from earthly pursuits of profession, money, position, family, stuff and affairs, and to retreat into the (literal or figurative) forest part time. It is an acknowledgment that we are closer to death and, ideally, a time to cooperate with that ultimate detachment.

In practicing this, as I mentioned above, doing nothing seems to have a real part to play.

Doing nothing is quite a thing. For someone who has historically done a lot (and often enjoyed it), I have felt increasingly that the courage it takes to do nothing is a courage worth mustering. And it has taken courage. In doing nothing, I am not actively pursuing bookish knowledge, I am not increasing my fame or fortune, my facebook following, or my knowledge of current affairs. And that, from a certain perspective, could be downright humiliating.
Those of you who have known me or followed my work over the last couple decades know that slowing down, stopping, taking time to do nothing is not a small part of my prescription for a hurried, worried, spent world. I have filled that prescription for myself on many occasions. But there has often been a motivation akin to, “okay, I’m tired. I’ll stop now, so I can keep going later.” I’ll stop so I can start again.
Increasingly for me, the stopping is becoming longer and it is not a medicine to take to fuel the continued pursuit of my endeavors. It is more of an end in itself. Stopping to stop. And I’ve consciously both taken steps towards Nothing and cooperated with the natural shifts in my body and energy, that are requesting more of Nothing.
I had Big plans for Nothing. The resulting space in my life was to be an invitation to Grace. And Grace would rush in to accept the invitation. And Grace would feel Big. 

As I did more nothing, space did start to open up. 
And, lo, I felt empty.
At moments, I wondered if I was just marking time until I die. I found this confusing because, while I saw evidence of Grace everywhere in my life, I didn’t feel it. 
At one point, I was walking with a friend and I shared, “Sometimes I ask myself: Am I sacrificing everything for Nothing.”  Because, while I’d hoped to sacrifice everything—professional ambition and projects and personal material gain, etc.– in order to make an invitation for Grace, I felt nothing. I didn’t feel grace.
Until I did. Sometimes.
I don’t always feel it. When I do, it’s rarely flashy or BIg. And I realize that the efforts in my life thus far to curb my ambitions or tendencies toward Big may well apply to a new life stage. Assuming or expecting Grace to feel Big all the time may be as foolish as chasing the Big in other forms in other life stages. I’m only just embarking more fully in a new phase of life. This is, God willing, not the end of the story.

Recently I read something my Guru said about living a simple, humble, loving life at the feet of the Divine going a long way to creating heaven on earth. It was not exactly those words, but that was the gist.

Which rather brings us back to the idea of humans as conduits between heaven and earth. And adds the idea that a simple, loving, humble life is an aid in that ideal. (NOT that I’ve got that down, friends.)
I think nothingness is worth inviting, sacrificing for, and embracing. And that the courage it takes to do this is worth it. Just a hunch, but one I care about.
Okay, dear friends. That’s all from me for today.
If you feel comfortable sharing, I’d love to hear from any of you who are in your very late 40s or later….what did you feel in your late 40’s heading towards menopause? I don’t mean so much the nitty gritty physical changes like irregular periods and hot flashes, though you are welcome to share that if you like. I more mean the good, the hard, the different, the weird: What FEELS different about life, about God, about how energy moves…I think this will be nice for the younger women to hear, as well as curious for those of us who are older—so they know where they might be heading, and so we might become more aware of subtle changes in ourselves. What is different? Please feel free to email me your experiences, let me know if you are okay with me sharing them publicly, and I will plan to post some of them in a newsletter, for the benefit of many, God willing, in a newsletter to come.

Okay. Thank you for being there.
in Love, 


Flax/Chia/Apple Smoothie: Vata-balancing, Grain-free Meal Option

photo credit: a nation of moms

This smoothie recipe is for the Vatas out there who need a quick, easy to make meal that is warming and moistening and will also help relieve constipation. It is a great smoothie for anyone during Fall/Winter, when the weather is cool, cold and dry.*

1 sweet apple 

1 Tbsp ground flax seed (or a 50/50 flax/chia mix)

1 -2 tsp ground Chia seed (or a 50/50 flax/chia mix)

a pinch of cinnamon

a pinch of cardamom

1/2 – 1 inch sliced fresh ginger root

Enough room temperature/slightly warm water to completely re-hydrate the flax/Chia seed powder (at least 16 oz). You can add more water depending on how thick you want the smoothie to be.

Possible Additions: 1 tsp maca powder*, 1 tsp cacao powder, 1 tsp raw honey, 1 – 2 tsp coconut oil, 1 tsp ashwagandha*, 1 tsp fine grind slippery elm* or marshmallow*… (*check with your healthcare provider about adding  the right herbs for your constitution or imbalances)

Directions: Add the ingredients to your blender and press “play”. Blend (and add water) until it reaches the consistency you want. Allow the smoothie to settle for a few minutes before drinking in order for the air bubbles to settle out. Vatas don’t need extra air in their system!

This smoothie is nice! It’s rather similar to oatmeal or hot cereal without grains. Additionally, it’s filled with high quality fiber, lignin and warming digestive spices to help warm and moisten a dry, cold digestive system. Let me know how this smoothie works for you!

Disclaimer: these recipes are not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. Consult your healthcare practitioner and use at your own risk. They are intended for use by Vivian Linden’s clients who have been assessed in her practice. 

Smoothies: Good or Bad?

zelenismoothie3_jpg_1360410717My teachers in Ayurveda school made an extremely good case against smoothies: They are [often] cold, they contain too many ingredients, they [often] contain incompatible ingredients and this makes them difficult to digest -which means that they should be avoided. I admit, I had been occasionally sneaking smoothies of various kinds for years (especially cold, fruity ones in the hot Texas summers), but I had certainly not, like many people, been making them a regular part of my daily diet… until the past month when I started making a green smoothie for breakfast each morning. What?!?

I know, right? This sounds like a classic Prajnaparadha or “Crime Against Intelligence”, one of the 3 causes of disease in Ayurvedic theory. But after a month of using my green smoothie recipe, I think I may have shifted my blanket attitude about smoothies -for the time being at least. Contrary to what could have “theoretically” happened, I can report that I don’t have indigestion at all, I feel better generally and I certainly haven’t acquired a dreaded funky tongue coating that would indicate the presence of Ama, the toxic sludge that results from poor digestion.

It is, of course, probably that this is because the ingredients of my particular smoothie are just what my Pitta/Kapha body needs right now to balance residual heat and dampness from the Endless Summer of Central Texas and that in a few more weeks, my body may decide to tell me that it’s had enough green smoothie. It’s also probable that this particular smoothie would be a nightmare for another person (a high Vata constitution or someone with very low Agni) or someone in another climate -Austin is often warmer during the winter than the rest of the country. It’s also possible that using some Ayurvedic principles (shared below) I managed to concoct a reasonably digestible smoothie recipe.

General Rules for Making Smoothies More Digestible:

no_ice-Make sure they are room temperature. No ice, balance frozen fruit with non-frozen items, rinse cold greens in warm water bring them to room temp, add a touch of hot water, etc.

-Don’t add dairy (milk, yogurt, kefir) to your smoothie. I tried kefir and almond milk in my smoothie and neither gave me noticeable trouble, but they are best left out as per Ayurvedic Food Combining Rules. I found that using flax, chia seeds and coconut oil, I was able to create a nice creaminess.

-Don’t make your smoothie a Carb Bomb! Keep fruit low. I only use 1 cup of blueberry (and sometimes one apple) in my smoothies which are for two people. These are low glycemic fruits. Apple has lots of healthy pectin/fiber for the digestive system and helps with Liver and Gallbladder health and blueberries are a veritable super food, help with eyesight and cardiovascular health and also help balance insulin levels.

13bb7ee4431ada27b95969c2f215588e_large-Add fresh ginger and/or fresh turmeric root to help warm the smoothie and aid in digestion. They are also anti-inflammatory!

-Spinach and chard contain a phytonutrient called oxalic acid that binds to calcium and also give some people (like me) digestive trouble. Best to avoid them raw -cooking deactivates the oxalic acid. If one is hypothyroid, avoid large amounts of kale and other veggies from the Brassicaceae family as they can depress thyroid function.

Vivian’s Pitta/Kapha Balancing Green Smoothie (makes 2 generous servings): 

1 cup blueberries

1 small apple (your choice of variety)

1/2 – 1 bunch of rinsed Dandelion greens (green or red)

2 leaves of Kale (rinsed in warm water, de-stemmed)

1/2 – 1 inch of raw ginger root

1/2 – 1 inch of raw turmeric root

1 teaspoon – 1 tablespoon of powdered flax seed

1 tablespoon of chia seeds (powdered or soaked overnight in water)

1 scoop of organic Wheatgrass Juice Powder

1 tablespoon of powdered nettle leaf

1 teaspoon of Coconut oil

room temperature water

Directions: Soak the wheat grass juice powder and powdered nettle in 12 oz of water overnight (you can also add in and soak any other powdered herbs you take regularly, for instance I add some goji berries and shatavari). You can also soak the chia seeds in 12 oz of water overnight as well (or powder them in your dedicated herb/seed coffee grinder and toss into the smoothie). In the morning, just combine all the other ingredients into your blender and hit “play”. If the smoothie is still a little cold, add some warm water into the blender and re-mix.

Additional Benefits: As the recipe title states, this is a Pitta/Kapha Balancing Smoothie, which means that it is both cooling and drains excess dampness. Because it is super high in fiber, it is also bowel cleansing and promotes healthy elimination. The mega dose of dandelion greens, wheatgrass and nettle is great for balancing Pitta (cooling) and Kapha (drying) and also contains a good dose of iron for building blood. (If you use freeze-dried nettle -available online- the nettle will also have an antihistamine effect). Chlorophyll is also said to bind toxins and help ferry them out of the body. Flax and chia also help promote regular elimination which is important to detoxing the body. Flax and chia also contain inflammation-reducing Omega-3 fatty acids. Coconut oil is antiviral, boosts metabolism and supports the health of the cells that line the digestive tract. The fats in this smoothie also help give it a “smooth” texture and increase satiety so you feel full longer. Flax is also great for helping balance estrogen in the body, which is important for women, especially those who get PMS or have estrogen-excess conditions such as uterine fibroids.

Cautions and Contraindications: This smoothie may not be a great fit for a Vata-type person with delicate digestion who is prone to gas when consuming raw veggies/greens. It is also probably not recommended for someone in a cold winter climate. As with all things, it is best to consult with a qualified practitioner to find out what will work best for your body and it goes without saying that if you try this recipe and it does not agree with your body, do not keep using it!

Disclaimer: these recipes are not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. Consult your healthcare practitioner and use at your own risk. They are intended for use by Vivian Linden’s clients who have been assessed in her practice. 




Cedar Fever: Breeding Juniper Trees Wrecking Havoc on your respiratory system…


In Austin, Texas winter weather gives us a well deserved respite from the blazing heat that plagues us for a good portion of the year. Unfortunately, winter is also the time for Cedar Fever. Cedar Fever actually has nothing to do with cedar trees, but is caused by the pollen of our local Hill Country Juniper trees. For some people, this time of year brings allergies so bad that they can hardly go outside at all for fear of triggering a strong allergic reaction. For others, it’s just mildly bothersome, causing itching eyes and irritated respiratory membranes. Although I’ve never had a really strong immune reaction to Juniper pollen, on really high pollen count days, it feels like being coated with fine particles of fiber glass… Delightful!

photo credit: Ashley Neese

Both Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda have some great strategies and treatments to help combat the symptoms of pollen allergies caused by Juniper or other pesky plants. There are also courses of treatment that can help modulate the immune system in general for those who experience very strong hay fever-type immune system responses to pollen allergens.

Book an appointment with us and we can discuss treatment options and give you some acupuncture and herbs to help you start feeling better immediately. Remember, at Rosewood Acupuncture & Ayurveda, we have a super awesome sliding scale Monthly Membership option for weekly visits. We’re also exploring the idea of an All-Inclusive Allergy Season Package which would include all your allergy herbs and once (or twice weekly) acupuncture treatments for duration of the Cedar Season. Let us know if you’re interested in this. We are here to help you!

Book an Appointment

Digestive Tea Recipes

Ginger Tea


There are several ways to make ginger tea:

Fresh Ginger Root:
Cut/grate/chop some fresh ginger root and put into a cup. How much you use will depend on your personal preference.
Then just pour boiling water on the ginger and allow for it to steep for several minutes and drink. This method is called an “infusion”. (You can strain the ginger out before drinking, if you want).
Alternately, you can also place the cut/grated ginger into a small saucepan, add water and boil for 5-10 minutes. This preparation method is called a “decoction”. This version will be stronger than the cup infusion, but either way works. If you used chopped fresh ginger in a cup, you can actually re-use the ginger for several cups of tea!

Dry Ginger Tea:

This is the easiest way to do ginger tea when you’re not at home. Just buy some ginger root tea bags, such as Traditional Medicinals or Yogi Tea brands. Prepare as usual (boiling water over teabag).

Another way to use ginger on the go is to carry a small baggie of dry ginger powder. Just add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon to a cup of hot water, mix well and drink. If you are sensitive to particulate sludge, just let the let the ginger powder sink to the bottom of the cup, then drink.

Cumin, Coriander & Fennel Tea (AKA: CCFT)

ccf teaThis digestive tea mix is considered a little more cooling and is preferred for those who have a very high Pitta constitution, are experiencing a Pitta aggravation or for those of us who will be enduring long, hot summers!

Mix equal parts of whole cumin, coriander and fennel seeds together into a jar or baggie. Then make tea by using 1-3 teaspoons of seeds in a tea ball strainer in a mug of hot water. You can also make the tea in a jar or teapot and then strain into a cup to drink.

Any combination or single one of the above seeds is also a fine tea on its own, so if you only have fennel seeds, do not fret! Fennel is a lovely and healing tea on its own! You can also use Anise seed in the same fashion (or mix it into the CCF tea blend).

Disclaimer: these recipes are not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. Consult your healthcare practitioner and use at your own risk. They are intended for use by Vivian Linden’s clients who have been assessed in her practice. 

Recipes: Rice Cereal, Mylk & Ojas Drink


IMG_20150903_110444Super Easy Tridoshic Rice Cereal: This simple meal can be made to suit all doshas and seasons. Plus it’s gluten-free (and dairy-free if you use a milk-sub).

Directions: In a clean coffee grinder, grind 3 tablespoons of white basmati or sushi rice until fine. Place in a small saucepan, cover with cold water (at least an inch). You many need to add more if it seems too thick. Heat and stir frequently (to avoid lumping). Add in dried fruits like raisins, currants, goji berries, etc. Add in digestive spices like cardamom, fresh ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric. Add 1-2 teaspoons of ground flax seed and a teaspoon of maca powder. Once smooth and completely cooked (~10 minutes +/-), spoon into bowl. Add a tablespoon or two of toppings like hemp, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds and a teaspoon of ghee or coconut oil. Finish with the milk of your choice -organic, low-heat pasteurized cow/goat milk, or a vegetarian substitute like almond, sunflower, coconut etc. Enjoy!

Pitta: Use ghee or coconut oil, more turmeric (or even some fennel). Use almond, coconut or sunflower milk.

Kapha: Use a nut/seed milk instead of dairy. Reduce or delete the ghee/coconut oil. Reduce the amounts of dried fruit and seeds. Increase digestive spices, especially ginger. Add a teaspoon of raw honey (after adding the milk sub).

Homemade Nut/Seed Milk (aka “mylk”):

Shiva_Sunflower_Exports-22-880x587Nut/seed milks are a great way to get the milk function satisfied without using dairy. While organic, non-homogenized, full-fat, low-heat/vat pasteurized milk is perfectly acceptable in Ayurveda and is actually considered a “Sattvic” food, there may be situations where nut milks will be preferable -such as for those who are dairy intolerant, those with high Kapha or when high quality dairy milk is unavailable. Here is a link to YumUniverse’s exhaustive nut/seed milk How-To. Common sense caution: Do not use nut/seed milks as infant formula. (photo credit: The Local Rose).

Ojas Building Bedtime Drink (one serving)

  • 1 cup of full fat, non-homogenized organic milk or almond milk (w/out carrageenan)
  • 10 almonds, soaked overnight, peeled and chopped (you can also do a quick soak for 10 minutes in hot water)
  • 2 whole dates, chopped (if you are avoiding sweets, you can delete the dates)
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon powdered cardamom
  • Optional: Pinch of saffron threads
  • Optional: ½ – 1 teaspoon of ashwagandha root powder

Place all ingredients (except saffron) in a saucepan. Bring to a low boil. If you like, use a standing blender or immersion blender to blend the mixture to a creamy consistency. Pour in a mug and add a pinch of saffron. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: these recipes are not intended to diagnose or treat any health condition. Consult your healthcare practitioner and use at your own risk. They are intended for use by Vivian Linden’s clients who have been assessed in her practice.