Thank you, thank you, thank you


They say you teach what you need to learn …. in two weeks I will be teaching and cooking for a weekend retreat on Stomach & Spleen in Chinese Medicine.  I know one of my habits can be to see the things I didn’t do or didn’t get right.  I may have cooked for a group of 30 people all week but focus on not having made one salad quite as I liked.  I may have played games with the kids, baked cakes but still gone to bed feeling like a bad mum because maybe I gave out to them.  Sometimes enough is never enough for me.  I focus on the one little bit thats missing rather than seeing how fantastic the bigger picture is.  So Im grateful to write this blog,  to remind myself that gratitude is the key.  If Im not thankful for what I have, Im like an empty hole which will never be filled and I’ll never be satisfied.  As I type I can feel deep gratitude welling up and expanding out.  So thankful for all I have and all I am.  I want to snog the face off life and embrace it all……..  mouth & lips & flesh -all directly linked to the Stomach/Spleen meridian.


It can be difficult to ask for support in our lives and sometimes just as hard to receive it. Even if someone has cleaned the house for you, peeled the potatoes, mowed the lawn or made you a cup of tea, maybe its not done quite the way you like it. The world with all its gifts isnt meeting our needs in exactly as we expect. So instead of generating a feeling of gratitude for the care given with the thoughtful cuppa, we reject it along with the person who made it. We miss an opportunity to deepen our understanding of what we want by experiencing what we don’t want and then communicating that need or desire. By communicating our needs we are more likely to have them met but to communicate means making ourselves open and vulnerable. We are out on a limb by really saying what we want because perhaps we will be rejected or judged. Sometimes its more comfortable to become a victim, a “poor me” – unsupported, isolated and misunderstood. These feelings can often be more manageable than the imagined abandonment by another if we show them who we are and what we really need. Ships operate constantly on feedback loops. Their course is never the same every day. They constantly change direction to compensate for tides and currents. They have a fixed destination but to reach it they must constantly change direction. Our journey throughout life is the same. We may have a fixed goal such as peace, happiness or love but how we get there will change due to outside experiences and internal perceptions. Enjoy the ride, keep talking, keep communicating, especially with yourself. Observe your process and ask for what you need, then have faith that your are completely loveable and fantastic enough to receive it.

Sometimes low self esteem can mean that we find it increasingly difficult to receive. We are not worthy, we don’t deserve of the gifts or compliments given to us. Perhaps the culturally induced idea that nothing comes for free means that openhearted receiving can be difficult. The idea that giving and receiving is conditional upon effort or worthiness is often deeply culturally ingrained.   However it’s possible to break these patterns by understanding the Stomach & Spleen in Chinese medicine.

The Stomach/Spleen in Chinese Medicine is at the time of transformation when summer is turning to autumn. The berries are ripe and the earth is fruitful. In a Christian tradition this would be celebrated as Harvest festival when we give thanks to Mother Earth for her bounty. It is a similar energy in Chinese medicine. The stomach spleen is all about the bond between mother and child. It’s how we cherish our bodies and nuture it as a mother would with deeply loving touch and embrace. Stomach/Spleen is in charge of the flesh of the body, it’s tone and texture, it loves to be touched, to be hugged, to be stroked, to be held. The flavour for Stomach/Spleen is sweet but instead of reaching straight for the chocolate bar which may give momentary satisfaction, rather feed yourself with wholesome sweet flavours within grains such as millet or rice. Mix them with starchy root roasted vegetables such as carrot, butternut squash and sweet potato. There are many ways in which to support the stomach & spleen so when we learn to connect with the abundance of the earth and our own wisdom to discerne what we want from it then we can feel truly satisfied and loved.

Due to a cancellation there is one place available on the Asking & Receiving Retreat – 

A weekend Health Retreat focusing on Satisfaction & Cravings – Using Tai Chi, Chinese Medicine & Healthy Cooking 

27-29th May 2016  –  Bobbio Centre, Co Wicklow

to book a place call me on 086607 0432 or for more info click here Asking and Receiving

baked peaches





My twin boys are growing up – Yes, Yes, Yes

aaronMy twin boys are growing up, they’re becoming men, transitioning from cuddles and tantrums to spotty faces and smelly armpits.   Unfortunately this coincides with a fear of water so showers are unpopular. Nevertheless the road to hygiene and increased hormone levels is upon us.   So to celebrate and mark the occasion they have the sacrament of confirmation. In school they have prepared, on large sheets of coloured paper, their hopes and fears for the future; named the people they respect and the people they would like to become .

zephTo emphasize the men they’re becoming they need the clothes to match for the confirmaation day. Shopping is not my favorite activity especially with three children in tow. The dreaded Sunday arrives and off we go to shop. Because they are transitioning it proves a very difficult 3 hours to find clothes that fit. Boys clothes are too small but mens clothes are too big. The boys are bored and unruley, I am frustrated and cross and loose my temper on more than one occasion. Especially when Sam, the twins younger brother, puts a waste paper basket on his head in the shoe shop and pretends to be a lamp.

All very funny in hindsight and with perspective but at that emotionally charged moment, rage enducing. Finally with bags full we arrived home and all breathed a sigh of relief I began to cook dinner and reached for a glass of red wine . Ahh I thought this will relax me, then I stopped, remembering that for an easter detox I had given up alcohol. So I left it in the bottle. I couldn’t use the sour flavour of red wine to relax an uptight liver and unwind after a stressful day, I was going to have to find another way. I played a board game with the kids and we watched a film, it was ok but it didn’t release any tension, it just established a status quo so when I woke in the morning my neck and left shoulder had become stiff and painful. The yang emotion of the anger and frustration had become a solid, stuck yin in my shoulder.

flower-tree-growing-concrete-pavement-21If you have my book you might remember that the spring is the time for regrowth and creativity. We see it in all the new shoots and green pushing through. Sometimes, however the regrowth can get stuck or blocked by plant pots or rocks above. But unlike me, faced with a shopping centre and three unruley boys, the new growth remains flexible and always finds a way around the immovable object.

Flavour Season Meridians & Organs Properties Emotion Colour
Sour Spring Liver/Gall Bladder Dynamic, Flexible and Effective Anger, frustration or Creativity Green

I had tried to use the appropriate sour flavour in the alcohol to remedy and release the frustration but it’s not always good to rely on a substance for release which is precisely why I had decided to cut it out for a while to see how I managed the stress and frustration of everyday life. Not well it would seem because it has taken me almost two weeks to release the tension from the shoulder. I did yoga and stretches everyday. I grew and ate fresh sprouts and plenty of raw greens, yet it didn’t shift. In the end I needed outside help, one shiatsu, one hot stone massage, some wild woman dancing and a jacuzzi later, its finally shifted.

This has shown me how easily the passing winds of emotions can become physically lodged in our bodies. There are plenty of tools at our disposal to remedy physical conditions but I waited too long to use them. The day was full of “no, …….. don’t do that, …….stop doing that ……. Leave your brother alone …… no ….. stop ….. no…..”   I needed to bend my way around the immovable object and find some yes, yes yes. A massage? Oh yes please, a night out dancing, oh yes please, taking the family for a walk on the beach? ahh yes.

I lost perspective, let my anger take me over and to show how badly they had behaved I carried on being angery. Its not ok to for the boys to try shoes on that are way to big for them so they look like clowns, its not ok to throw shoes at each other and its not ok to get distracted by toy shops when suits and shoes are the focus but sometimes boys will be boys, I will say no, set boundaries and enforce consequences. But I don’t have to be a furious, hair pulled, put upon, screaming haridon of a mother just to prove a point.

Seeing the humourous aspect of my childrens behaviour helps and of course breathing. It’s the breath on which we can place the emotions – feel them, breathe, count to ten, get perspective and see the emotions come and go like passing clouds. They are not who you are, they don’t bring power or re-enforce who you are, they are just a way of expressing how you feel. The Liver is linked to the eyes so rather than see through the red mist of anger Im going to look from different angles and see the funny side. My kids are hilarious and they wont be kids for long. The lightness of laughter can relieve the tension of the body and the frustration of the liver. Laughter doesn’t come easy when you are tired and overworked so ask and look for the support you need. Say yes, yes, yes when it comes your way, especially if it’s a Shiatsu massage.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For it is in Giving we Receive – St Francis of Assissi

Card_JoanneLandscapeSo we are really into the yang and busy season of giving but with the preparation of the new gift voucher, I have been also drawn to focus on the yin aspect of receiving.  Both are related to the Stomach & Spleen meridian which if overworked by a busy mind, worried by organizing for Santa and planning the Christmas Day meal can become drained and frazzled like an overworked mother. Many of the strong Spleen points are on the feet so make sure you take time to stand on the earth and receive its blessing.  

spleen 3

Spleen 3

Breathe in the trees we bring into our homes, give thanks and make sure you receive the joy and energy of Christmas with all it’s lights and twinkle.  It may not work out exactly as planned but it will be perfect. With warm wishes and lots of love I wish you happy holidays xx………..Talking of giving and receiving 

Treat yourself or someone else with a Special Offer Gift Vouchers  
Perhaps a friend or family member needs help with their health & diet or would like to find out which meridians and organs need balancing  or would simply love to relax in a deep an nourishing way
Baldoyle Clinic
***Full Shiatsu Treatment @1hr15mins, incl recipes and dietary recommendations & Cookbook  €50

***Taster Shiatsu session @ 30 min & Cookbook €30

Dervish, Dublin City Centre Clinic
^^^Full Shiatsu Treatment @1hr15mins (incl recipes and dietary recommendations) & Cookbook  €65

^^Taster Shiatsu session@ 30min & Cookbook €35

Fantastic for deep relaxation, stress relief and pain reduction.

Visit to order through paypal or call me on 086 607 0432 to book your session




Anyone for detox?


New Painting – Spot the orb?

Following on from the last post where my body was stiff but became soft, supple and full of joy through some creativity – I decided to further support that by doing a little detox. Usually at easter I get almost a week to myself as the kids are with their dads so this seemed like a perfect time to start. Its too difficult to stay on track when you are making pesto pasta, ham and cheese toasties or roast chicken for the kids. My aim was simple, only fruit, vegetables and whole grains for a week. The main ingredients to cut out where caffeine, meat, wheat, sugar and everything else.

Gallbladder 30&31On the whole it went really well. For the first few days I had an ache on my right side around the Gall bladder 30 and 31 spots. I massaged stretched and pressed these which helped to take away some of the soreness. On the third day of the detox I had the strangest sensation down the outside of my leg, gall bladder meridian. It was almost like a bubbling gurgling stream moving down toward my ankle. I took this as a good sign as the soreness dissipated.

On the last day of the detox I was preparing to cook for a group for the weekend. All the food would be vegetarian but there would be cake which was not on the detox menu. The Friday was buzzing about preparing ingredient bags and picking up supplies. Ive cooked for many weekend groups and theres almost a ritual in the preparation that I enjoy. Part of it is to stop into Malahide for a coffee from one of my favourite coffee shops. I was really torn – should I have the coffee and completely break the detox –  ahh why not so off I pottered for coffee – the people in front of me in the queue were taking ages so I thought” I’ll go to the bathroom” but instead of rejoining the line when I came back I simply left the shop, without coffee and went back to the car – wow who was this girl who could be in Malahide and not drink coffee. It could be a whole new me.
Then for some leftfield reason old friends popped into my mind, friends that I used to share coffee with in Malahide but that had drifted away and I began to feel irritated mixed with a sprinkling of “poor me”. It occurred to me if I could let go of the girl who drank coffee I could also let go of the girl abandoned by friends. I could be anyone I wanted to be if I were willing to let go. So detox seems to not just be about losing pounds, toxins, fat and fogginess it seems to be about shedding parts of myself that no longer serve. If I could make a commitment, stick to a detox, let go habitual eating patterns and who I think I am, then the universe is my oyster – I can be my own heart’s desire.


Put some sugar in my bowl

The average person in the UK is on average 3 stone heavier than they were in the mid-60’s. But people haven’t become especially greedy and contrary to popular belief, our physical activity has not changed drastically to that of 50 years ago. So what has changed? It’s our diet and more especially the high levels of sugar within it. Sugar, according to David Kessler former head of the US food agency FDA, is highly addictive; it is “highly pleasurable. It gives you this momentary bliss. When you’re eating food that is highly hedonic, it sort of takes over your brain.” A 2008 study showed that sugar affects dopamine levels in the brain and creates behaviours such as bingeing, withdrawal and cravings. Through these neurochemical changes, just like cigarettes or alcohol, we can become addicted to sugar. So why doesn’t our highly sugared food such as fizzy drinks, come with a health warning? Amazingly today as I type this I see New York has banned the sale of sugary drinks over 16oz. Well not to get too political about it but I believe only when the cost of caring for obese people outweighs the revenue that governments receive from large food lobby groups,  we will see change. Until then it’s our own responsibility which really it always has been, to nuture our own sweet selves and those around us.

In Chinese medicine the sweet flavour is linked to cravings and addictions, also to the stomach/spleen and this time of year which is abundant harvest of mother earth. From the Chinese perspective there is nothing wrong with sweet food, however if we over indulge, as with any area of life it will cause problems.

If you have found yourself in a habitual eating pattern or caught up in a cycle of addiction. Here are a few simple tips from Traditional Chinese Medicine to eat more consciously, break the habits and feel satisfied.

Firstly CHEW CHEW CHEW. This is an integral part of our digestion often missed out in our busy lives when food is eaten rushing down the street or inhaled in the car running from one appointment to the next. When we chew the saliva transforms the carbohydrates into sugars and our taste buds will pick up on that releasing chemicals in the brain to promote a feeling of satisfaction.

Eat foods that are naturally sweet such as sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, and butternut squash. Take time to roast them so all the natural sugars are slowly released into your blood stream. Sprinkle them with sesame seeds and eat with a bowl of brown rice for a perfectly balanced nourishing sweet soul dish. Many diets and slimming groups would steer you away from these foods because of their natural sugar content. But from my point of view that doesn’t help you to love your body in the long run. With cravings listen to them – it’s your body trying to tell you what it needs. That doesn’t mean to say that you have to exactly what it asks for. Remember the saying “Follow your heart but take your brain with you”. After being pregnant with my twins my body asked for a magnum ice cream everyday but really already being 14stone (I’m only 5ft tall) it wasn’t what it needed. But my body was crying out for extra energy and support. I ate some carrots but really what helped was making sure I had time for me, especially to receive shiatsu. This helps to nourish the flesh, the stomach/spleen and bring us back into connection with our body. (for more info on this topic see – Shiatsu and Children page) Any type of physical touch will help the body and alleviate cravings so go get a hug or give yourself a foot massage.

How to find

While you are down there you can work on pressing Spleen 6. This is a great point for many different conditions such as heavy painful periods, infertility, genital itching, difficult labour, impotence, seminal emission, genital pain, digestive disorders, diaorehhea, abdominal distention, insomnia, low back and knee pain. It is such a powerful point it is not advised to use if pregnant. It is used widely for general wellbeing and stress reduction. It gets things moving, emotionally and physically so bringing a sense of balance and satisfaction.  Its three fingers above the ankle bone on the midline of the inside of your leg and can be quite sore.  Just hold it till you feel is soften or fill with energy.

Another point I feel drawn to but this time typed, is beware of low fat foods, these are often high in sugar or sugar related products such as corn syrup. The body can store these sugars around the liver which can lead to type2 Diabetes.

If you would like to learn more about nuturing your stomach/spleen, breaking eating compulsions and regaining a sense of abundance in your life Joanne Faulkner of Shiatsu & The Art of Conscious Cooking together with Jasmine Itter of the Galway School of Shiatsu have put together a unique weekend workshop which will address the cycle of cravings and how to bring a sense of calm satisfaction to your life.

There will be 2 cookery lessons looking at how to give the body sweet soul flavours without over using sugar. There will be bodywork, movement and use of acupressure points and meridians to relieve cravings and promote a sense of abundance.

All of this will take place at the stunning Crann-ogg organic farm, which will provide the accommodation, ingredients and access to glorious countryside.

€255 includes all food, instruction and accommodation. Early Bird (Sept 30th) €195 For more information, a full schedule or a booking form please contact;

Joanne Faulkner(Dublin) 086 607 0432

Jasmine Itter (Galway)

Building Heart Blood

It’s been a while since the last post – summer holidays together with work and kids around is leaving little time for random thoughts which can formulate into a post. These thoughts on heart blood have been floating about since the “Building a Home for your Heart” weekend, so let’s see how it manifests. To recap the last post was about building yin so the shen/consciousness could remain calm and unflustered, promoting clear thought and maintaining healthy sleep patterns. This post focuses on building blood so that the heart shen can remain grounded in the body ensuring the mind can’t become overactive, searching outside for satisfaction and peace because as we know “there is no way to happiness, happiness is the way” – we have to find that peace internally.

How to find

As the stomach breaks down food, the spleen extracts the food essence which together with the small intestine is used to make blood. A great point for building and regulating blood is Spleen 6. You can use this point for any blood irregularities and the blood is not flowing properly such as painful periods, anaemia, dizziness or physical exhaustion. This is a very easy point to find. Sit down and look at the inside of your leg and the arch of foot. Place three fingers directly above the tip of the inner ankle bone and the place your thumb above them and in the grove behind the bone on the midline of the inner leg.

Other great points for building blood is Bladder 27 and Bladder 32. To find bladder 27 on your self, place your fingers on your lower spine where your buttocks begin and move your fingers outward (approx 1.5 finger width) you may feel a dint or dimple where the sacrum begins. That is Bladder 27, from there slide your fingers diagonally back towards the spine, they will fall into a groove, that is Bladder 32. If you are not sure massage the whole area with the knuckles of your fist and you can’t go wrong . There’s loads of great points in that area that always need a little TLC.

Overuse of sweet, fatty or salty food will weaken the blood so strengthen and keep blood clear eating foods like Spinach, Watercress and all leafy greens. These are full of chlorophyll; calcium and magnesium essential for healthy blood (see earlier posts). Other good foods for building blood are beetroot, for yummy recipe for summer go to ………Finally great blood builders are stocks from bone marrow or eating the actual bones in tinned sardine, herring and mackerel. This has links with the western view of blood building which says cells within bone marrow are responsible for making blood. As you are eating the very essence of an animal it is important that the animal has lived a happy, chemical free life, so organic and free range where possible. Here is a recipe for blood building, crammed with chlorophyll greens and especially good for the heart with the inclusion of the bittersweet pomegranate, the love apple.

Blood Building Salad

Watercress contain extremely high levels of Vitamin C which as well as boosting the immune system, provide vital antioxidants, essential for removing any waste or toxins from the blood. The salad can be quite bitter so the orange and red onions should sweeten the flavour although curiously the flavour for the high summer and the heart is bitterness. It is as the without the unavoidable pain and sadness of life the joyous expansion of the heart cannot fully be experienced.

• 200g Watercress or baby spinach leaves or a mix of both

• 100g Rocket

• 1 Orange

• 1 Pomegranate

• 1 small red onion

Wash and drain the green leaves, shred them by hand into small mouth size bites. Peel and cut the orange into chunks, tip these along with the juice onto the leaves. Cut the pomegranate in half and using a fork, scrape out the red fleshy seeds. Ensure that none of the pomegranate pith falls into the salad as this is really too bitter. Chop the red onion in half after peeling off the outside layers then thinly slice into half moons, these should come apart when tossing all the ingredients of the salad together.

Building the Yin

Me cooking at the thoroughly enjoyable “building a home for your heart” weekend

So in my last entry posted just before the “Building a Home for your Heart” weekend workshop I typed about the heart being represented by the eternal flame within us. That this flame is our unique, divine consciousness, our “shen” in Chinese medicine, and needs to be nurtured and protected, not allowed to rage out of control, fuelled by the externals of thoughts, judgements and emotions. Finding an activity such as meditation, swimming, walking in the park, singing, jogging or watching the waves on the beach as I am doing now allows us a healthy distance from our thoughts and emotions and reduces the power they can have over us so we don’t literally take them to heart. In this post I will list points and foods that can further support this Yin in the body and enhance peace within us. The first two recipes are for my favourite loaves of bread. Don’t be put off by baking your own bread – I promise it’s really easy and these loaves don’t need kneading, a big wooden spoon and you are away. Being able to bake your own bread gives me a connection to my kitchen and a real sense of accomplishment.

The first loaf may be a little controversial as it is wheat with extra added wheat and abit more wheat. Many people have developed an intolerance to wheat, it can bring on bloating and/or IBS. It’s unfortunate as wheat in its unrefined state has a positive effect on the heart, its underlying bitter flavour and fibre content can bring health benefits and a sense of grounding to the body. It is one of the few foods that can calm the mind and build the yin. I believe that we have over used and over-refined wheat and that is what has lead to many problems. It is so good at building up the body that if you hold onto weight or are prone to developing growths or tumours move on to the spelt loaf. If you are convalescing, need building up, calming down or are recovering from a broken heart, here’s the loaf for you.

Wheat Soda

• 175g wholewheat flour

• 75g cream flour

• 50g wheat germ

• 50g wheat bran

• 50g porridge oats

• 50g soft brown sugar

• 2 tsp bicarb of soda

• Pinch of sea salt

• 1 egg

• 450ml buttermilk

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl ensuring the bicarb is well sieved through. In a jug mix the buttermilk and egg. I often use soya milk or goats milk for this recipe. By adding the juice of a lemon the milk or soya will sour and work as buttermilk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix, when combined pour into a buttered loaf tin. As this loaf is quite wet, bake for at least 75 mins at 170 which is a fairly long cooking time but I once heard a man say “if you don’t have time to bake bread, you don’t have time to live”. When I heard that I thought, with a strong dose of internal sarcasm “yeah …. right” but now when I cut the bread for my kids school sandwiches I get it and he was right.

Spelt Bread

Spelt is a very ancient grain that hasn’t changed much in over 4000 years. It can be tolerated by those who cannot normally eat wheat because its especially thick husk, which protects it from pollutants and insects also keeps it fresher and prevents it from becoming rancid. It is very high in protein and water soluble fibre which also allows for easy digestion and assimilation. This is the bread I started with and I still make it at least twice a week. The honey in the mixture gives the crust a real chewy sweetness. Try adding a couple of handfuls of pumpkin seeds for a very professional artisan bread.

• 500g Organic Wholewheat Spelt Flour

• 1 tsp salt

• 1 tsp fast action yeast

• 14 fl oz warm water from recently boiled kettle

• 1 tbls honey

• 1 tbls olive oil

Mix together dry ingredients in a bowl. Dissolve the honey in the warm water and pour into the dry ingredients. Stir together well, adding the oil at the end to loosen the mixture. Grease a bread tin and pop the mixture in, cover it with a cloth and leave it to rise for about half an hour depending on the warmth of your kitchen or until it reaches the top of your bread tin then put into a preheated oven for 45-55 mins at 180°C

Building the Love

A good point to build yin and help the mind to settle into the healthy heart would be Heart 7. If you place your thumb at the top of your little finger and draw your thumb in a fairly straight line down to the crease on your wrist, you will find an indentation there, that is Heart 7. Hold your thumb there until you feel the energy come and meet your thumb or if it feels very solid or strong wait until the energy subsides and softens. Sometimes I hold this point for at least a minute or so.

And my favourite point which works for all occasions CV17. This point is really for balancing energy (Ki) within the body but I also find it calms and focuses the mind knowing that all is well….. all is well ……. So how to find it, draw an imaginary line from nipple to nipple, where that crosses the sternum/breastbone is CV17. Often there is a small dint there, just the right size for the middle finger to sit into. Again don’t press too hard just meet the energy with your finger and allow, feel the expansion as your rib cage softens and the energy settles.