Archive for October, 2010

Breast Health Month (and Lifetime)

Natural, Empowering Health Options

Here’s a positive and proactive way to look at breast health. There are so many healthful, non-traumatic ways to work with breast health. Below are exercises, videos, a book, some links and some simple philosophy. The first information I share is from the Qigong tradition.  

One of the main points is to keep the tissues, fluids, and energies flowing. Stagnation is the breeding ground of disease. Movement is the keeper of health and progenitor of healing.

Keep in Mind and Practice

  • Keep the Qi moving.
  • Keep the blood flowing.
  • Keep the lymph flowing.

Here are three Qigong exercises that help with breast health.

Note: The Five Flows DVD includes Exercises # 1 and # 2 listed below as well as additional immune-boosting, easy-to-learn, Qigong exercises.

Exercise #1. Shaking the Body

Shaking the Body is basically just gently shaking up and own. Shaking will stimulate circulation, increase lymph flow, and release stagnation at the cellular and tissue levels. Shaking with intent offers many benefits. One of them can be to release a stuck, stagnant or hot Liver. In Chinese Medicine thought, such Liver conditions are usually a part of the toxic stagnancies like cancers.

Exercise #2: Streaming the Fountains

One of the great benefit of Streaming the Fountains is that the arms are repetitively, rhythmically, slowly raised above the head and then lowered. Raising the arms in this way opens the lymphatic pathways through the armpit. The greatest part of breast lymph is drained through the lymph nodes in the armpit (the axillary nodes.) By slowly and smoothly practicing Streaming the Fountains, the axillary lymph nodes are gently stretched and opened; then lightly compressed. A lymph pulsation then ensues, releasing tenderness, decreasing tension, and increasing flow through your breasts.

Axillary Lymph Nodes

Axillary Lymph Nodes

Exercise #3: Press Heaven and Earth

Press Heaven and Earth is a similar exercise to Streaming the Fountains in that you are raising the arms and drawing energy up and down the body vertically. It comes from the ancient 8 Silken Brocades Set. Once learned well, it is even more effective in moving stuck Qi in the chest and opening the armpit nodes than Streaming the Fountains.

Press Heaven and Earth Instructions

Slowly, over 3 to 5 seconds, press and stretch one hand high and one low. The high hand is over the head and the lower hand at the outer thigh. The upper palm is bent on the stretches, with fingers facing inward. The lower palm stretches down at the side of the thigh. Exhale as hands go away from each other. Inhale as they come toward each other, crossing at the chest. This also is done slowly over 3 to 5 seconds. The slowness allows a smoothness of movement and empowered lymph flow to take place. The hands also twist as they rise or sink, especially the rising hand.

Raise and Lower Simultaneously

Open the lymph nodes

Open the Armpit/Push Down

Relax Arms Down and Up

Twist the Palm as it Rises

Now the Opposite Armpits are Open or Closed

Medical Qigong for Breast Health

The International Institute of Medical Qigong has a DVD on using Qigong exercises for breast health and breast cancer prescriptions. These exercises use circular movements of the hands to increase breast Qi flow and special healing sounds. The teacher on the video is Jerry Alan Johnson, my own Medical Qigong instructor.

Lymphatic Self-Massage

Here is a short video of a lymphatic pumping breast massage, basic but powerful and important. Some 70 percent of the lymph of the breasts flows to and through the axillary nodes. It is very, very important to keep these pathways open and always flowing. Flowing lymph clears stagnations that might otherwise lead to disease.

Dressed to Kill

The book Dressed to Kill makes the argument that tight bras lead to an increase in breast cancer. Some authorities pooh pah this assertion. It makes clear sense to me, however. A tight bra will compress the skin and lymph flow of the breast, especially in the most important channel along the upper, outside ribs toward the armpit. Many women, after learning about this, rethink their bra choices and bra-wearing patterns. Basically, wearing bras less often; wearing bras more loosely; and keeping the flows a going. 

Dressed to Kill with Cancer


Those that might dismiss this book as pseudoscience are missing the point: That marketing undergarments is a science, one based on profit, not truth. And from my extensive studies in Qigong, Lymph Drainage Therapy, Visceral Manipulation, and Cranio-Sacral Therapy—I think the authors of the book have a strong message that needs to be listened to and explored further. 

Chinese Medicine for Breast Health

Here is a site devoted to the natural, Chinese Medicine thinking about breast health and approaching breast cancer through Qigong, acupressure and other proven natural methods.

Lymph Drainage Therapy

The superb system of Lymph Drainage Therapy has even more sophisticated approaches to working on the breasts. Anyone who has taken the second course in LDT from the Chikly Health Institute (formerly with the Upledger Institute) has learned the Breast Drainage approach. You might want to find a qualified therapist to help with this. Note: Different states, regions or countries have different laws for which licensed therapists can work on breasts.

Daily Breast Massage

Here is a video that is more of a teaser; it doesn’t show the breast massage techniques, just some women talking about the process. The video looks like it might be worth exploring, worth getting the DVD if it speaks to you.


Inexpensive Acupuncture

For those that don’t have health insurance (a large number of us, it appears), cheap healthcare is a must. Taking classes, such as Qigong or Yoga, is one inexpensive way to invest in your health with but a small financial outlay. Another way is through such programs as affordable acupuncture.


My healing colleauge in Bellingham, Washington, Ed Layton, is an acupuncturist and herbalist who offers sliding scale acupuncture treatments. He has a room with four tables in it, so he can work on four people at a time. The fees for these treatments are $15 to $40 on a sliding scale.

Ed Layton

He also offers private sessions for those that that need more in-depth attention. If you could use some extra health help, but can’t afford private sessions, check out the superb option at Hamsterpuncture. “Hamster”, buy the way, is a play on what some folks around here call the locals: Bellinghamsters.

This is a growing trend, the offering of lower fee services for a group of people.

Both Public and Private Sessions

Myself, I offer private sessions and lessons for the reasonable price of $75 an hour. I also ofter Qigong courses that come to just $10 an hour, or less. A lot of great healing can be had for just a little money. And sometimes, more intensive, personalized work is needed to really get at issues.

I believe that our current medical system in the modern world is so bloated and overloaded that it is likely to soon collapse. We, as a culture, will soon need practical, inexpensive, accessible methods of dealing health and illness. We will need them badly. Many of us need them now. Ed and I and many others are doing what we can to prepare for the day when health care will be a neighborhood boon and an easily accessible neccessity.


Inhale Well and Speak Easily

One of the prime reasons to pursue Qigong is to get more energy. One of the Qigong ways to get more energy is working with breathing. Qigong breathing practices could be looked at as the foundation, or the essential aspect, of Qigong.

Sudden Inhalation Syndrome

There are many aspects to becoming a better breather, and many benefits. One of the aspects is becoming aware in your daily life of how you are breathing. Lately I have been noticing how some people have a pattern of speaking that can’t be good for them. I call this pattern Sudden Inhalation Syndrome.

What people with this habit do is take a rapid, high-chest, short, intense inhale before quickly speaking. It is a quick, strong sniff followed even more quickly with talking. Most people with such patterns are not aware of them.

This is Shock Breathing

Grasping such fast, small breaths emulates the kind of inhale a person takes when they are suddenly shocked by something unexpected or fearful. It is the breath of surprise and fear. Try a few of those breaths yourself, right now. Do you feel how intense the experience is? Such a breath can immediately lead to feelings of anxiety, uncertainty, unsteadiness, and dizziness. This breath method uses only secondary or tertiary breathing muscles to pull in air, creating muscular tension in the upper chest and neck and throat. It compresses the heart, constricts the throat, and compromises the lungs.

This collection of mental, emotional and physical states is not the ideal platform for speaking.

So Many Symptoms from Shock Breathing

Other possible symptoms include headaches, jaw pain, back pain and shoulder issues. Because the heart is being compressed along with very little abdominal expansion on the inhales, high blood pressure will come. Stress, fatigue, low grade frequent illness, digestive issues and elimination issues are likely as well. Sudden inhalations into the chest before speaking is a type of stress breathing. It overstimulates the fight, flight, fright, freeze mechanisms of the Sympathetic Nervous system. (By the way, the Sympathetic Nervous system doesn’t have much sympathy; It is all about survival in the midst of danger.)

Causes of Sudden Inhalation Syndrome

There are many reasons someone might be a a quick breath speaker with Sudden Inhalation Syndrome. Most of the reasons have to do with upbringing and emotional trauma earlier in life. For most people there is a something about having to get in a word as soon as possible after someone else was speaking. Whatever the causes, becoming aware of the pattern and retraining it, will lead to much healing.

I doubt recreating the experience of shock over and over again all day long is what most people want to do.

Breathe with Relaxation

Breathe...Then Speak

What to Do

Watch how you talk. Learn to notice when you breathe-speak this way. Give yourself reminders to check in frequently on yourself. Little stickers posted around are good for this. I like to give little green dots to my clients and students. This is a simple, cheap, and effective retraining technology.


Another method is to find a kind (a sympathetic) friend or coworker to help you notice. In Toastmasters, budding speakers are taught to eliminate verbal fillers like “ah,” “uhm”, and “you know” with a bell. Every time a speaker says a filler, the bellmaster rings the bell. In real time the speaker gets feedback. It takes only a few weeks to drop fillers to 5 to 10% of what they were. Have your watchful friend say “ding” or something else you choose when they catch you suddenly inhaling before speaking.

Also, when someone else is speaking, keep breathing. Don’t hold you breath.

Teach people who interrupt you to give you a chance to collect your thoughts and your oxygen when it is your turn to speak. As an adult, you don’t have to rush in to be heard, at least not in most of your life.