When not to meditate

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Do you find your mind spins when you’re under stress?
Do you want to be able to think clearly during turmoil?
Do you want to be more centered and less emotional when you’re in a crisis?

Despite what you may have been told, when you’re stressed, it may not be the best time to meditate.

Don’t get me wrong. I love meditation! I’ve been doing it for the past twenty-some years. I’ve even been leading meditation practices regularly (up until social distancing got started).

However, when there’s a lot swirling around, like in the world we live in today with the pandemic and the protests, I actually advise against doing seated meditation as a way to quiet the mind. Not as my first choice anyways.

Why? Because it won’t quiet the mind that’s spinning out of control. It won’t calm the emotion that’s been boiling. It won’t provide you peace amidst the storm.

I experienced this firsthand last year. After hearing the shocking news of my father’s sudden passing, my very foundation was shaken up.

But sitting quietly was agitating me more than anything. It was like braking hard on a fast moving train. The train wouldn’t come to a full stop right away. Mechanically, it wasn’t able to do that. The momentum would keep it going for quite a while.

So, what’s helpful in a situation like this?

Simple practices with movements that anchor you in your physical body are more effective in bringing you a sense of calm and peace. Here are some of my go-to practices:

    1. Walking
    2. Stretching
    3. Dancing
    4. Chanting
    5. Gardening
    6. Cooking
    7. Tai Chi

The items on this list engage my mind in a minimal way. They’re gentle. They create movement in my body, allowing emotional and mental energies to move in a way that they see fit.

They are physical by nature, anchoring the mind in the physical. That alone provides a floor, a foundation, a grounding in the midst of shifting sand, of turmoil, of crisis.

These practices are especially effective when you perform them with mindfulness. That is, to be aware of some aspect of the movements, like your feet on the ground while walking.

Among all these practices, Tai Chi is my favorite. It requests a little more attention than walking or weeding. It requires no equipment. It doesn’t need any special gear.

Tai Chi has a lot of other benefits that you can learn more about online. To get a feel of Tai Chi check out my YouTube video on eight standing movements for health, a Qi Gong exercise that is closely related.

For those of you who’re local to South Florida, I have a weekly Tai Chi class at Boca Regional Hospital that’s on hold right now. Drop me a note if you want to be notified when it resumes.

What’s your go-to practice when you’re stressed? If you don’t have one yet, which one will you incorporate in the next 30 days? Please share with me here.

Dr. Dan ZhouWhen not to meditate
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A natural way to better your sleep & immune system

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Do you want to sleep better?
Do you want a simple way to boost your immune system?
Do you know sunlight’s role in these?

Most of us are aware that sunlight helps the body create Vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption in the gut and supports bone health.

But do you know other ways that sunlight makes your body healthy and strong? It blew my mind when I researched the topic.

Firstly, exposure to sunlight helps to set up a proper daily rhythm for body’s two major hormones, cortisol and melatonin. Hormones are control signals that instruct the body’s organs to function in certain ways. Both of these hormones play a role in better sleep.

Secondly, exposure to sunlight also helps our body to produce Vitamin D, which plays a key role in our immune health.

Here’s a closer look at these hormones & Vitamin D.

  1. Melatonin
    • Melatonin, a 3-billion old molecule secreted by the tiny pineal gland, is known for its ability usher in sleep.
    • In addition, researchers have discovered that it’s your body’s best antioxidant. They also discovered its supra ability to boost immune system & treat cancer in lab animals.
    • Melatonin secretion goes through a 24-hour cycle. It’s highest at night and lowest during the daytime.
    • When you exposure sufficiently to sunlight, your body secrets a healthy amount melatonin at the right time.
  2. Cortisol
    • Our sense of being alive is fueled by hormone cortisol. It enables you to jump off the bed in the morning. It provides you with energy to go from task to task during the day.
    • Cortisol also goes through a 24-hour cycle. It rises around midnight and falls around the midday. It peaks in the morning to give you that boost to start your day on the right note.
    • Cortisol is also a stress hormone. Stress from daily life can cause cortisol to deviate from a healthy 24-hour rhythm. It can be low when it should be high and vice versa.
    • Exposure to sunlight in the morning, helps to trigger cortisol secretion, the right amount at the right time. Getting it in line with body’s natural circadian rhythm allows you to sleep better at night.
  3. Vitamin D
    • According to research papers from National Institute of Health and Harvard University, Vitamin D helps your body to boost immune function, reduces inflammation and fight infection.Studies found that Vitamin D reduces the onset of flu by about 40%. It may also prevent people from getting flu.
    • A recent study found out that there is correlation of Vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19 infection.

BTW, sunlight exposure through windows in your car, home or office is far less effective than being exposed to sunlight directly. So go outside & soak in the sun, especially between 6am and 8:30am. Do it while protecting the safety of your skin.

Even though it’s not certain that sunlight can prevent you from getting flu or COVID-19, it for sure can boost your immune system & improve the quality of your sleep.

Let me know what else you’re doing to sleep better & strengthen your immune system. Leave me a comment below.

Medical disclaimer:
The content on this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor, go to the emergency department, or call 911 immediately.

Dr. Dan ZhouA natural way to better your sleep & immune system
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How to calm anxiousness in times of chaos

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Do you feel overwhelmed or anxious?
Do you want to remain centered in times of chaos?
Do you want to be an island that supports your family & protects your friends?
With this energy movement you can learn how to calm anxiousness, the prevalent emotion that’s floating around us.
Please let me know how I can support you in these uncertain times.   I’m offering remote healing sessions to clients to help them stay centered, calm anxiousness, and boost their immune systems.
Email me directly for a free consultation.

Dr. Dan ZhouHow to calm anxiousness in times of chaos
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One proven exercise for this time of uncertainty

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It’s been a few weeks now since we’ve been practicing social distancing.  That is, your normal routine has been interrupted for a few weeks now.
A routine is something that centers you.  It’s familiar.  It’s what gives you comfort.
Without a routine, you have nothings to ground you.  More than the scare of the COVID-19, it contributes to that sense of being anxious and nervous.  Especially when it affects your ability to engage in physical activities, that feeling of being anxious can really undermine your immune system.
It’s a time of uncertainty for sure.
I’ve been dealing with this very issue myself, having made a decision to be contained in my house.
Fortunately I have re-discovered one proven, simple activity that can anchors you in this time of uncertainty.  It gives you a way to move physically in a small space. It calms nervous system, loosens up joints, and boosts your immune system.
It is the ancient Qi Gong practice for health, the Eight Standing Movements, a Qi Gong practice with over a thousand year history.
I’ve made a video of this 10-minute, ancient Qi Gong practice for Health.
Add this to your routine if you have established one already.  Or create one if you have been struggling with it.  Do it daily, early morning is great.  So is late in the evening before you go to sleep.
Take good care of your precious self & be safe. Leave me a comment below on how this works out for you.
Dr. Dan ZhouOne proven exercise for this time of uncertainty
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9 Natural Remedies to Boost Your Immune System against Cold, Flu & COVID-19

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Oregano oil

Oregano oil

Given the ever-increasing measures that are in place to keep us safe from COVID-19, are you wondering:

  • Do I have sufficient protection for myself and my loved ones?
  • What else can I do to better protect us?
  • Is there anything that provides the ultimate protection against this highly contagious yet invisible virus?

As I’ve been following the spread of COVID-19 from Wuhan across the globe, one thing I learned from the experts is that the last line of defense is your immune system.

That’s right. The strength of your immune system is your ultimate protection.

There are various things that can help boost your immune system: exercise, diet, energy movements, comedy, and natural remedies.

Here is a list of natural remedies that you may already have in your panty that can help you better safeguard your family. I’ve been using all of them before the outbreak of this pandemic.

If you don’t have these on hand, many of them are still available through Amazon or other health food sites (Vitacost.com is one such example).

  1. Baking soda: Baking soda mixed with water balances the acid in your body. Viruses don’t do well in a body that’s alkalized; they thrive in an acidic environment. Mix a pinch of baking soda with water and drink between meals. Don’t do so if you have high blood pressure.
  2. Apple cider vinegar: It is antiseptic, antifungal, and antiviral. It supports the microbiome and immune balance of the body. Mix apple cider vinegar with water and drink first thing in the morning.
  3. Lemon juice: It has benefits like apple cider vinegar. Squeeze lemon juice into warm water and drink with a meal.
  4. Sea salt: A sea salt solution can help clear out bacteria and viruses from your mouth. Gargle it in the morning.
  5. Oregano oil: Research has shown that oregano oil is antiviral and antioxidant. It’s a popular alternative remedy for cold & flu symptoms. Mix a few drops in a glass of water and drink up to 3 times a day. Only ingest oils made for internal consumption.
  6. Grape seed extract: According to a research paper by the National Institute of Health, grape seed extract has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties. Mix a few drops with water and drink.
  7. Colloidal silver solution: Its antibacterial and antiviral properties have been known through the ages. Spray into your throat/mouth and hold under your tongue for 30 seconds before swallowing.
  8. Bach Rescue Remedy: It is a popular type of Bach flower remedy. It helps calm the nervous system, therefore stopping emotions that might weaken your immune system. It comes in a liquid and candy format. Use as directed.
  9. White sage leaves: The smoke of white sage leaves has been scientifically proven to clean air. What’s more, the smoke gets inhaled into the your respiratory system. It weakens whatever viruses and bacteria have lodged there. Burn the leaves inside a cast iron, urn or a ceramic container. Use with caution.

Please do your own research before ingesting any of these natural remedies.

What do you already have in your pantry? What do you want to add? Let me know by leaving a comment below.

Dr. Dan Zhou9 Natural Remedies to Boost Your Immune System against Cold, Flu & COVID-19
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How to make a difference to someone in grief

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Are you at a loss for words when someone you know loses a parent, a spouse, or even a child? Do you want to show them how much you care but you don’t know how? Do you want to make someone feel deeply supported and loved?

I didn’t know what to say or do when my friends lost their parents, one by one, over the last two years. I watched other people comment on social media. I learned to say, “I’m so sorry for your loss.”

After that, I didn’t know what to do, so I did nothing.

Then, the tables turned. Three months ago, my father passed away suddenly from an accident. I bought a one-way ticket to China and got on a plane the same day. Forty-eight hours later, my sister picked me up from the airport and took me home to my mourning mom.

Over the two weeks I was in China, many friends in the States texted me that they were “sorry for my loss,” and “their thoughts were with me.” People sent prayers, sometimes healing light. I always sent back a ‘thank-you’ or a heart symbol.

I was grateful to everyone who reached out to me; many are friends, while some are acquaintances who learned about my loss through the grapevine.

After I returned to the States, I got hugs and people asking how my family was doing, especially my mom. I told them that we were adjusting well. My father had just turned 79, so it didn’t feel like his life was cut short. He died instantly, so he didn’t suffer from long, lingering pain in or on the way to the hospital. Also, my mom had told him that it would be better for both of them if he went first, because she’d always been the caretaker in their marriage. It happened in the order she wanted.

Whenever someone told me in person “I’m so sorry for your loss,” I simply looked them in the eye and replied, “Thank you.” I didn’t know how else to respond.

A couple of people stood out in the aftermath of my father’s passing. They taught me what to do to make someone feel deeply supported and loved.

A girlfriend from my Buddhist group texted me every day for a week: “You are in my thoughts. Hope your day is filled with joy.” After a few days, I understood that she wanted me to know that she was always here for me. It felt reassuring to know she was there.

A colleague in the same personal development program as me called after I came back from China. I thought he wanted to share his progress. He said, “No, I called to see how you’re doing.” That simple statement made me feel how much he cared. For the following month, he texted me every few days, “Hi Dan. How are you?”

Nobody made me feel as supported as he did; someone I’ve not met in person, someone whose face I don’t know.

And his words were so simple.

What made the biggest difference to me was his consistency. When everyone had stopped texting me, when people had stopped asking how I was doing, he continued.

So, here’s a simple recipe to show someone how much you care after a loss or any type of life event. Text them every few days, “Hi, how are you?”. You can put it on your calendar as the first thing to do in the morning, a repeating task. It takes about 30 seconds each time. The impact is long lasting. You’ll have a special place in their hearts forever.

I followed that recipe myself after my friend Jane’s daughter got sick. Jane said, a few weeks later, “I so appreciate you checking on me all the time. I wouldn’t have thought of reaching out to you at all, given how much is going on. You made a big difference for me!”

Try it with someone in need. Let me know how it works for you.

Dr. Dan ZhouHow to make a difference to someone in grief
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How to Stay Away from Anxiousness This Summer

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Did you know that the heat in summer could cause more anxiousness than normal?

Too much heat entering the body can make you more irritable and less energetic. Worse yet, it makes you more susceptible to lightheadedness and a rapid pulse. That can make you anxious.

According to Chinese Medicine, there are five elements: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. Summer is the season for fire. Water controls fire.

To prevent fire from getting out of control, we can either strengthen the water element in our bodies or prevent heat from entering our bodies.

Here are some tips to avoid anxiousness this summer:

  1. Drink high-quality water.
    This will help strengthen the water element in your body. I love adding a pinch of Himalayan pink salt to my water, so that my body can replenish its minerals.
  2. Choose what colors you wear carefully.
    If you have an issue with your heart, do NOT wear red. Light blue, which shares the vibration of water, helps dampen fire and heat.
  3. Massage key acupressure points on your body.
    The body has specific spots, which are called wind gates, that are more open to environmental influences. They are like screen doors that keep the mosquitoes out and allow the breeze in.Here are several ways to help your body’s screen doors keep the heat out:

    • Massage your shouldersPlace your hands on your opposite shoulder, and give yourself a nice shoulder rub. Better yet, swap a shoulder rub with a friend.There are big wind gates on the tops of our shoulders. When our shoulders are tense, these points are mostly responsible for the problem.
    • Massage the top of your headWith one palm, make counter-clockwise circles on your crown for a couple of minutes. End with a few clockwise circles.The acupressure point Bai Hui sits on the top of your crown. It’s a big wind gate. It’s also the meeting point of all the yang meridians in your body. Keeping it healthy will go a long way to help you stay centered and grounded.
    • Massage your temples
      Cup your ears by placing your finger pads on your temples, and your thumbs on the bones behind your ears. Massage your temples. You can also massage on the tip off the bones behind the bottom of your ears.This’ll dampen the fire in your body. It’s a soothing exercise. You’ll love it.

I recommend you spend a few minutes every day doing these exercises, especially if you are prone to anxiousness or have a known heart condition.

Let me know which one makes you feel the best by leaving me a comment below. That’s the one you need the most.

Enjoy your summer!

Dr. Dan ZhouHow to Stay Away from Anxiousness This Summer
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Want to Have a Head Start on Your New Year’s Resolution?

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Each year, around this time, we make a New Year’s resolution. We re-sign up for the gym. We recommit to improving a relationship.

We’re so hopeful that this time around, it’s going to stick. It’s that wonderful New Year’s bug.

If the only thing that has changed from the year before is our sincerity and earnest, we may want to get additional support to actually have a chance of making a difference this year.

You see, when you make a New Year’s resolution, you bring your whole self to this new vision, this new commitment. You bring your habits, your tendencies, your doubts, your emotions, as well as your discipline (or lack thereof). It’s like if I told you that I wanted my old Chevy to have better gas mileage without changing anything.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” you’d say.

What if, however, I told you that I’d deep cleaned the whole combustion system, cleared out all the filters, and changed all the sparks? Then, that would make sense to you; I installed a transmission system, and now, you’ll believe me.

On Jan 4, 2018, I went to a fire burning ceremony at the local Unity Church. It’s a yearly ritual at the beginning the year to release everything unwanted from the year before, so we have a clean house for the New Year.

Here’s what you can do to clear out your internal filters and pipes:

  1. Mark on your calendar 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. You can get your spouse or a friend to do it with you.
  2. Grab a pen and a piece of paper for each person.
  3. Set a timer for 10 minutes. When the timer’s up, you can extend it for a couple more minutes if that feels right to you.
  4. Write down what you want to release:
    • People: your boss or your ex-boyfriend
    • Places: the old house that you moved out of
    • Events: Liz’s birthday party
    • Institutions: the government, the church, or the company
    • Guilt: for lying about what happened
    • Resentments: that you didn’t get the promotion
    • Regrets: that you didn’t ask for what you wanted
    • Blame: your mom for being so controlling
    • Disappointments: wishing you could’ve gone to Italy on vacation
  5. Bless the items on your list and lovingly release them. They were a part of your year, regardless of how displeased or disgusted they made you feel. Ask God, the Divine, or the Universe to take them and make light from them.
  6. Bonus: Burn the piece of paper.

What’s your New Year’s resolution?  Share with me below.

Best wishes for 2018!

Dr. Dan ZhouWant to Have a Head Start on Your New Year’s Resolution?
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