My personal life changed in the late summer of 2016. Suddenly I found myself alone on a Sunday something I had never experienced before then. The first Sunday was spent crying on the sofa, feeling sorry for myself, missing my children so much it physically hurt. Then something remarkable happened. Actually I should change that to someone remarkable turned up on my door step the following Sunday and opened my eyes to all the wonderful things I had always wanted to do but somehow had never found the time.
Emily my co worker and dear friend turned up at my door and instructed me to wear some wellies and off we headed up to the woods. I am incredibly lucky to now live surrounded by woods of Beech, Oak, Chestnut and Pine trees. When we reached the large forest Emily told me to go and hug a tree. I hesitated and laughed nervously thinking that she had finally gone mad. Then I stood by a magnificent beech tree and lost my inhibitions and hugged it. I managed to quieten my mind for a few moments and started to tap into this strong tree and its energy. As an Acupuncturist my job revolves around reading, moving and feeling energy of humans. This was a completely different type of life force energy. Its gentle vibrational energy subtly started to affect my own energy and I felt grounded, strong and at peace. When I got home I started to research tree hugging and discovered (much to my left hand side of my brains delight) that there is lots of scientific research to prove that trees really can affect biological behaviours. I discovered that Qigong Master Chia worked with trees to mediate explaining that trees are natural processors that can help you transform your body’s sick and negative energy into positive vital life force energy (Qi).
Then I thought back to my childhood the one place I always went to when I was sad, or needed some space alone…I would walk to a wonderful old oak tree in Dorset.
Now I was starting to discover how our outside environment around us can be utilised and harnessed into our own healing, helping us on our paths towards self discovery.
Slievenamon is a mountain here in Tipperary. She is known as Sliabh na mBan meaning the mountain of the women. This modest mountain has been my backdrop for well over a decade. I watched her from afar, always admiring the way the colours changed as the sun rose and set. This mountain stands 721m tall and whilst she is smaller than many of her neighbouring mountain ranges, her history is steeped with folklore and legends, hence her name.
This mountain was my second Sunday adventure, again with Emily. Whilst I had admired this mountain for many years, I never found the time to climb her. So with a brand new pair of walking boots off we went. I am quite fit I run a bit but running on the flat isn’t quite the same as climbing up a hill/mountain my calf muscles kindly told me this as we started our ascent. I found it challenging to begin with my heart rate was up and I found myself stopping to admire the view a lot! Once we reached the top it was breathtaking.
How do mountains benefit our own individual energy? Picture a mountain; energetically they represent strength, balance and stability. The energy created to manifest a mountain is incredible, each mountain is different and I believe has a different affect on you. From a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) point of view when you walk up a mountain (or steep hill) the emotions that will really benefit from this experience would primarily be the Heart and Lungs and Kidney energy. In TCM the heart emotion is Joy, many of us have suffered heart ache, and being up a mountain can bring the Joy back into balance. Moving to the lungs where the emotions of anxiety and grief can be held, with each breath of air (providing you’re not climbing Everest) starts to move stuck energy, helping to clear the anxiety many of us carry in our shoulders, neck and face.
I have found lots of milky quartz and clear quartz crystals as I climb these crystals alone can have a powerful affect on our energy.
To summarise I have discovered a lot from being outside and tapping into the energy of mother nature, something many people already know and that’s healing starts from within. In order to do this we must often have to move out of our individual comfort zones. Challenge our bodies and work with the emotions that come from this. Do what truly makes you happy. For me I found Mother Nature and being surrounded by her and all her beauty helped me start to heal. Many of my patients come to me having lost the battle to balance life and work. It is incredibly easy to get to this point at this time. Many of the mothers that come to me have lost themselves in the process of giving everything they have to their children. I have learnt that in order to be the best mother, therapist and friend I must look after my emotional and physical health.
Try for yourself if you haven’t already. Go for that walk in the woods. Climb up a hill, then go for it and experience the energy of those mountains, but be warned… the mountains will call you back again...
The middle of August signifies the summer holidays are drawing to a close. Many of our children embark on a new school year, some for the very first time. It is really important to help prepare them for this transition, to allow it all to flow as smoothly as possible. By doing this it makes their and in turn your lives easier in the process.
During the summer months routine tends to fall by the wayside. Late nights become a regular occurrence in many homes. I believe this is good as we tend to, especially in the western world put our children under a lot of pressure to conform to busy time tables. Structure is a necessity to get to school/work on time, but at any age being constantly hurried along, living in our go, go, go age can be both physically and emotionally draining on our children
Whilst many breathe a sigh of relief when the first day of summer holidays start. It gives us all a chance to stop and recharge. Now that the summer holidays are starting to draw to a close it really helps to bring some of these tips into play for an easier transition back to school life:
KatIe Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI
This blog is not intended to replace the advice of a medical doctor.
I have always loved Christmas. Perhaps one of my favourite memories being when my sister Claire and I decided to set a "Father Christmas Trap" one Christmas Eve. It involved a bean bag and a bean pole by the bedroom door, if my memory serves me correctly. We went to bed so excited - well I did, my sister I believe was humouring me, being 5 years older. I was convinced I heard the reindeer's hooves tapping on the roof, and hid under my duvet to hear a huge amount of swearing as the bedroom door opened and "father Christmas" fell over the trap. I couldn't believe he would swear like that! My poor Dad.
Now a days Christmas starts so early, we are brain washed by images of happy families gathered around a perfect feast. Children laughing, playing, and couples in love. So how does this time of year feel for someone trying for a baby? Or for a couple having had a miscarriage? I can only share with you my personal experiences. I had two miscarriages right before Christmas. The first was by far the worst namely because it was my first pregnancy, so we were completely unaware of all the booby traps that can lie in wait when you are pregnant.
We were so excited. I was dragging my Irish husband kicking and screaming to his first English Christmas in Dorset. So very excited, we were celebrating after a long week at work. That's when it started to go wrong, noticing that small show of blood. Resulting in a D&C. The next day we were meant to be celebrating Marc's Fathers birthday before we left to the UK. I will never forget the numbness. Being surrounded by such joy, everyone celebrating, yet inside I was completely numb. Being given the most beautiful diamond bracelet, seeing our beautiful pregnant friend, still so very numb.
At the airport on Christmas Eve, we stood waiting to check-in. I remember seeing the most adorable little girl, probably aged 3, dressed in a pretty red coat. She wouldn't stop smiling at me, twirling around to show me her curls. My heart broke and yet it melted all at once. That was the moment I decided we would get our baby, whatever it took. I wanted to see that love in my babies’ eyes.
I can't remember anything about that Christmas Day I must have gone into auto robot mode. On Boxing/St Stephen's Day my eldest sister Sarah dragged us to some beach on the Dorset Coastline, normally one of my favourite places. It was freezing cold, blowing a gale. My husband stood dumbstruck, I had forgotten to warn him about my families’ crazy rituals around Christmas time. Marc took me to a tiny pub nestled by the sea, he told my sister I wasn't up to the hike up the cliff. What was strange was that a lot of healing happened that day. We sat by a beautiful log fire, drinking too many hot whiskeys. We talked, proper communication something that really can stop when you are trying for a baby for so long.
This Christmas I have two beautiful angels (most of the time)! Who are so excited, the absolute joy and innocence on their faces when they wake up on Christmas Day is something I will treasure forever.
If you are reading this blog and dreading this Christmas don't give up on your heart’s desire. I wish I could wave a magic wand for you. But for now try and have a peaceful Christmas X.
Katie Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI
I can’t tell you why, but in my 20’s I started to get an inkling that babies weren’t going to come easy to me. Maybe it was because I was studying Tradition Chinese Medicine, and had begun to realise I had quite a few syndromes. There was also the fact that I hadn’t exactly been careful when I first met my soon to be husband, and yet nothing had ever happened.
When we got married, we were in the middle of building our house, in the good old days of the boom. We were living above a local pub, finding married life quite stressful. The transition from engaged to married didn’t seem to be as smooth as others. Perhaps we were both trying to hold on to our independence.
Living above a pub wasn’t the healthiest environment to be in, I am a diabolical drinker, but I was smoking at the time, my new husband enjoyed the Guinness on tap downstairs! I got pregnant 5 months after we got married, and I was delighted, gave up smoking, and took the pregnancy very seriously, but looking back, I was so unready to be a mother, as a couple we had a lot of sorting out to do. My life revolved around my work, work and more work. An incredibly un-stressful job, but a very hard one, energy wise, I remember looking back at the diary the day I lost that baby, and I had 8 sports massages in, what the hell was I playing at?
So from that moment, lots of things changed, the joy of getting pregnant personally for me was lost forever. A miscarriage takes away all your joy, it strips it from your heart. Before you have a miscarriage, you begin to love a treasure, this little person growing inside you. We even had a name, I was certain it was a boy. But when you realise that actually you are at the hands of fate. Every pregnancy after that moment can be terrifying, and joyless.
I remember I was waiting for the D&C, it was the day before Christmas Eve, and for some reason I was left waiting in the store cupboard, by the operating theatre, in my gown and manky boots. I was crying until a lovely doctor came in horrified that they’d left me wait in there. Put in the theatre, the nurses were discussing how many miscarriages they had had that week, then what they were hoping to get for Christmas.
I think something in my brain after this decided that I never wanted to go through that experience ever again, so we didn’t conceive for 3 years after that. Looking back I don’t like regretting moments in my life, but those 3 years I really wish I hadn’t put my life on hold, I wish we had gone on more holidays and had more fun, I wish I had stopped thinking I was pregnant every bloody month.
I got pregnant again, finally, but I didn’t feel it was quite right. I think as women we have incredibly strong intuition, if we choose to listen to it. My sister was working with me, we were having a great time, I remember we were going to go to Kildare Shopping Village to go Christmas shopping, I had had a dream I wasn’t pregnant anymore, and that morning I started bleeding. Turned out my dream was right, the scan showed an empty sac. I was remarkably calm, after this, until my dad rang me, and I will never forget the sadness in his voice as he cried on the phone for what his baby of our family, had lost. I balled after that.
Life moved on as it does, oddly I grew stronger as a person and a therapist. I had empathy and a deep understanding when treating fertility. I played polo cross, got help with work, gave up the physical therapy part of my work. My sister was due her baby at the end of that summer, and asked me to be her birthing partner, in the Uk. I was so excited and distracted. I had started to go for counselling with a wonderful woman, and as a couple we were incredibly strong. I conceived that month. I will never forget it, it was the only month in all those years I took my eye off the ball!!! I was sat in the hospital watching my sister in labour on my 3rd really strong coffee, thinking god this tastes rotten,,,bingo!
We have two gorgeous children, Josh and Heather; Heather came as a surprise 18 months after Josh. I have gone on a journey that millions of women have treaded before me. We are pretty amazing really. I meet women that blow me away, with their courage and strength every day.
Acupuncture has a profound effect on both mum and baby. I am so passionate about the importance of expectant mothers receiving acupuncture and reflexology during pregnancy. We have been treating pregnant women here at the Centre for over 10 years now, in that time it always amazes us how, generally speaking, our mums have a healthy, happy pregnancy, tending to go very close to their due dates. Acupuncture can be given at all stages of pregnancy. Reflexology is usually given after 12 weeks, although our Reflexologist specialises in Pregnancy and happily treats in the first trimester.
In Chinese Medicine there is a acu-point called “Beautiful Baby” Point, Kidney 9 (Zhubin) It is located on the Kidney channel, we use this point around 9 and again at around 15 weeks of pregnancy. In Chinese medicine the point is thought to calm the mind, tonify Blood and qi. We have found that this point really seems to bring a really happy baby into the world!
How can Acupuncture & Reflexology help during pregnancy?
As I am writing this Blog I realise there are so many more benefits both acupuncture and reflexology can offer to mum and baby. At 36 weeks of pregnancy we usually treat our pregnant ladies more frequently getting their bodies ready for the big event!
If you are expecting a baby and have never tried acupuncture or reflexology before, please do. Always make sure the practitioner has experience with treating pregnancy. Enjoy the wonderful benefits that both you and your growing baby will receive.
Katie Murphy Lic AC MTCMCI
Here at Clonmel Acupuncture & Therapy Centre we work with ingredients that work with your own cycle. In Chinese Medicine we like to use warm foods at this time of your cycle. This is the luteal phase of your cycle (after ovulation) and beta-carotene-rich foods are the important ingredient to include in your diet during this time. The corpus luteum (the ruptured ovarian follicle that produces progesterone to thicken the womb lining, close the cervix and maintain a pregnancy) contains a high level of beta-carotene. This nutrient is a powerful anti-oxidant that helps protect your cells from damage.
Here is one example of an ideal lunch or after work supper you can make really quickly. Ideal for those during the two week wait of an IVF/IUI cycle.
Our Luteal Phase Fertility Soup is naturally quite sweet, due to the high content of orange vegetables, so fell free to add some celery or any other vegetable that you like. We try to use all organic ingredients, locally sourced if possible
Place all the sliced veg, ginger, onion, garlic onto a shallow roasting tray, drizzle Olive Oil, herbs, season with salt and pepper sprinkle with turmeric, Bake in oven 180 centigrade/Gas mark 4 – 40mins or until tender and cooked through.
Place cooked veg into sauce pan add stock, heat through, blend to a smooth soup, adding more stock if needed. Here you can add coconut milk for a richer taste. Season to taste and add more fresh herbs, we used fresh oregano; add toasted pumpkin seeds just before serving.
This soup can be frozen, also is great for men, beta-carotene rich vegetable’s help protect sperm from free radical attack, rich in Vitamin A important for sperm maturation. So you can both enjoy this recipe!
We tend to focus on the female when trying for a baby, this is possibly due to the fact that we have the menstrual cycle, as women we get used to our bodies monthly rhythms. So it’s us that tend to get checked out first.
However recent studies show that Male fertility is the cause of 35-40% of infertility in couples. Many of our patients find a stumbling block when we mention that we would like the man to get his semen analysis done. This is often the case when perhaps the woman wants to actively try for a baby, and the man is more laid back, and wanted to leave it a bit longer. It isn’t the most pleasurable thing to do, in a sterile room, in a fertility clinic. But communication is key here, make sure you as a couple want to take the next step, and if you have been actively trying for a baby for over a year if under 35, and 6 months if 36 plus, then it is vital to get a semen analysis done, along with blood tests for the woman, testing FSH & LH and progesterone.
Here at Clonmel Acupuncture & Therapy Centre we have come up some of our top Super Duper Sperm creators!
Sperm cells take 11 weeks to mature in the testicles before they are ready for ejaculation. If you adjust your diet today, along with any of the other tips that apply to you, it will thus take three months for the better sperm to be ready for fertilisation. You must therefore keep eating the healthy diet and/ or taking supplements on an on-going basis – ideally until your partner is pregnant.
Katie Murphy Lic Ac MTCMCI