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  • Writer's pictureCait Donovan

#straightfromcait: The Collective Sigh - What To Do When You Can Finally Breathe Again

Updated: Oct 1, 2022

Hi FRIED fan,

I started a FB post this week with: “Didja hear it? The collective sigh?” And then deleted it and posted something else, probably about a bird beak face mask, or Michelle Obama’s belt. An hour or two later, my fave business coach Deepshikha Saraim posted nearly the same message with the words: “Collective sigh” in it.

Collective sigh. Even as I type it, I take a deeper breath and let it out noisily. Sighing, in Chinese medicine, is a symptom of Liver Qi Stagnation (don’t worry, I’ll explain).

Liver Qi Stagnation is a Chinese medical diagnosis that happens when there have been an avalanche of emotions that your body simply cannot process, when this happens - the unprocessed emotions are stored in the Liver system (this doesn’t mean the actual ORGAN - the system in Chinese medicine includes the organ, it’s energy, it’s function, it’s energetic pair the Gall Bladder, and it’s meridians or channel pathways that carry its energy, it’s physicality, emotionality, and spirituality).

When too many unprocessed emotions are sitting in the Liver system, they create an energetic and emotional traffic jam and sighing is one of the ways the body tries to push the energy through the Liver, to help those emotions move a little better, move a little more, and make room for clear traffic. So, if you found yourself releasing a big sigh this week, my encouragement would be to intentionally release a few more. Sigh on purpose. With Intentionality. Sigh with your friends. Sigh on Zoom. Keep this energy moving out. Having an outward threat end does not automatically mean the built up emotions of the past era have been processed. It means they are sitting there, waiting for your help. Now is the time to return to your body. To care for it. To move through emotional patterns. It means MORE discomfort just when we are looking to have some ease, but it’s worth it because when we avoid this process, it ends up biting us in the ass.

Here are some of the symptoms that Chinese medicine relates to the Liver energy being stuck:

  • Indigestion

  • Stomach pain

  • Depression

  • Sighing

  • Hiccups

  • Easily Frustrated

  • Explosive/Inappropriate Anger

  • Plum Pit Qi (a feeling of a lump in your throat)

  • Cough

  • Diarrhea and Constipation (often alternating like IBS)

  • Tight neck and shoulders

  • Headaches, Migraines

  • Heightened PMS symptoms

  • Menstrual cramps

  • Sore breasts

  • Discomfort in flanks/diaphragm/etc Bitter taste in mouth

If you just listened to that list and thought, Holy shit, that’s me! I want you to do these three things: 1. Keep sighing, do it on purpose.

2. Exercise. This is a great way to move Liver Qi - it can be freeflow dance or HIIT. When my liver qi is all built up, I like to do kickboxing classes online - moving through anger that way helps me.

3. Stretch your sides. Stand with your feet hip width apart, relax through your knees so that they aren’t locked, raise both arms above your head. Reach over with your left hand and grab your right wrist, allow your side body to open up as you stretch toward the left. Go to 75% and when you’re there, take 3 deep breaths. Come back to center and repeat on the other side. Grab your left wrist with your right hand and allow the left side body to open up, go to 75% of your stretch and then take 3 deep breaths. Do this multiple times a day.

Then, go on and book an appointment with your acupuncturist.

For now, I’m still taking new patients in Manhattan and I LOVE treating this, head to to book. If you know you need my help as of yesterday but you aren't in NYC, head to to book your FREE Breakthrough Burnout Consult. You'll feel lighter in 30 minutes, promise. XOXO C

1 Comment

Jan 24, 2021

What you were saying about now is not the time to just move on, we have to process in order to heal makes me think of the current, related discussion about unity and healing and consequences. The sides seem to be “let’s just move on” vs. “impeach/arrest and convict.” I think we need both processing and admitting what went wrong and atoning for it (consequences) and then can come healing and unity. I hope!

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