The Mother of all Elements

  Rice fields at the base of the Himalayan Mountains in Central Nepal 3-week trek in 2011 LESSONS FROM OUR SPLEEN and Stomach, the organs of the Earth Element Excerpted from Helping Ourselves: A Guide to Traditional Chinese Food Energetics Organ … Continue reading

Fire/Water Solstice Balance

 By Licensed Acupuncturist Austin Dixon Am I the only one feeling like there is too much happening and too many places to be right now? Probably not. This feeling is typical for this time of year. There is a lot … Continue reading

May and June Fundraisers benefit ALS research

May and June Pay-What-You-Can Community Acupuncture Saturday fundraisers at Armonia Health LLC have been dedicated to raising funds that support ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis aka Lou Gehrig’s disease) affecting people in our Durham community.   May’s fundraiser supported the Freelon … Continue reading


Grand Opening Office Warming Spring 2017


What a beautiful Saturday it was at Armonía Health LLC’s Grand Opening April 8, 2017!  It was an afternoon celebrated with multi-cultural ceremonies, music, and food and Li-Lan Hsiang Weiss’ long-time clients and friends shared some heartfelt words.



A big thanks to Li-Lan’s parents flying in from Taiwan and Paraguay and brother coming from Mexico City and creative husband Alex Weiss.

Purchasing an office condo is no easy task and Li-Lan is so grateful for the people that made the process fun, timely, and organized:  commercial realtor with Century21 Elaine Boyle, intuitive Aninda Valentini, Nancy Mayer attorney-at-law, Steve Carscadden of Carscadden Financial Services, and James Samson who started the business loan process for M&F Bank in Durham.


Thank you to our multi-ethnic caterers: Maria Espita from Toledo’s Mexican restaurant on Hwy 55/54 in Durham, Rangadevi Hernandez of Govinda Catering in Hillsborough, Hong Kong Dim Sum Express on Guess Road in Durham, and gluten-free baking by Antonio Gonzalez.


Heartfelt thanks for our invited speakers who shared about creativity, diversity, service, friendship, faith, and ways that Chinese medicine has helped them: Judith Winston of Health Touch NC LLC, Adriana Suarez and Oscar Garcia, Diane Dorney Hayes, Rosa Galvan of Rosa’s Cleaning and Painting, and Roberto Copa Matos of Old Havana Sandwich Shop in Durham.  Your shares provided such richness to the event.  Fun video clips of the event are at Armonía Health LLC’s YouTube channel!


Armonía Health and Li-Lan’s vision of affordable, quality Chinese medicine and wellness care with Spanish-English speaking practitioners and interpreters would not be possible without our community acupuncturist Austin Dixon, Reiki and Life coach practitioner Raquel Dominguez, and Li-Lan’s assistant Monica Paredes.

The afternoon was best summarized by one of the event’s caterers Rangadevi Hernandez of Govinda Catering:  “The first event of my afternoon was the Grand Opening of Armonia Health’s community acupuncture clinic in Durham. Li-Lan Hsiang Weiss first envisioned this bilingual community-centered health center nine years ago, and was celebrating the manifestation of that long-awaited vision.

Boy, do Lilan and her  husband,  musician Alex Weiss,  know how to    throw an interesting party! One of  Lilan’s signature traits is her reverence for diversity, which was  evident in the crowd of friends and well-wishers who came to bless the  new space. The ceremony began with  a Taiwanese prayer to the Four Elements of Nature, followed by Alex  playing a native Earth-healing song  on his  Cherokee-made wooden flute.  Next there was a Taiwanese style ribbon-cutting and ceremonial  entrance into the office,  accompanied by Alex on his trumpet.  You can see a brief video here (Instagram literally only gives you a minute to work with). I also want to mention that the entire ceremony was translated into both English and Spanish  (with some Mandarin thrown in for extra exoticity)”

Vocalist friend Shana Adams rounded out our Open House ceremony with a powerful rendition of Amazing Grace to honor the power of faith and spirituality.

And then the FIESTA!  Good food, nice people, fun music with Steve Fishman and Alex Weiss of The Un-Incorporated followed by Juanito Lagina with Latin American folk traditions!!

Winter, Water, and Reflection

This blog post was first published in December 2013.  It has been updated with tidbits of how to connect with this element and it’s associations, and enhanced with another reflective video at the end. Water is the first of the … Continue reading

What Is Qi Gong?

“To study and at times practice what one has learned, is that not a pleasure?”  -Confucius
lilan qigongQi (pronounced CH-EE) is the Chinese word for “life force or life energy”.  It is the inherent power that flows through all living things, including inanimate objects like mountains and rocks.  For humans, having healthy Qi involves having an abundance of vitality but also having the Qi flow smoothly and unimpeded through ones body.
Gong is translated as “work”, but not with a solely negative connotation as modern western society often uses the duality of “work vs play”.  Gong here relates to the benefits gained through continuous practice; I like to say “the pleasure of focused attention”.
So Qi Gong means working with life energy, learning how to control the flow of qi in body, mind, and spirit to improve health and well-being.
Qi Gong includes a wide ranging of practices that include meditation, visualization, breathwork, acupressure, energy healing, sitting practices, moving practices, spiritual practices, and Tai Chi.  The Chinese way of cultivating Qi, flow, and awareness also include the arts like calligraphy, painting, music, painting, acrobatics, poetic reflections, and community service.
For those of you familiar with Tai Chi, its principles are based on Qi Gong.  Tai Chi is a modern version of graceful choreography with the purpose to lubricate all joints of the body and create the free flow of Qi.  Many of the effects of Tai Chi are similar to Qi Gong, a main difference is that Qi Gong forms are generally much shorter than Tai Chi.
One main principle of Qi Gong is:  Where Intention Goes, Energy Flows.  So where you focus your mind and bring your attention and awareness, the Qi will flow more freely.  When Qi flows, our body’s innate circulation always flows more efficiently: our blood, lymph, and nerve flow.  So when there is pain, the Qi is stagnant/stuck there and so is blood flow.  Qi Gong is a safe practice with powerful results.
Qi Gong always begins with a focus on the body as the body and the senses are a gateway to focus and self-awareness.  The practice of being in the present moment also becomes a practice of the mind.
My earliest exposure to the practice of Qi Gong was from my father.  I was living in Honduras, so I was in middle school.  I’m not sure what prompted him to teach me some of these ancient Chinese techniques, but I clearly remember the core lessons: horse stance, the importance of both feet feeling stable and connected to the ground, resting the tip of the tongue on the top palate to connect the body’s energy line from tailbone to head, and correct posture for proper flow of Qi.  I remember liking the lessons even then, I liked them because I could feel the effect of the practice; I can’t describe nor remember in what way I liked how it made me feel, I just liked it.  Thus, I continued practicing Tai Chi when I went to college, then in Oriental medicine school, then the 18 Luohans with Nina Jo Maier (a 20 minute Qi Gong form originating from DaMo, the transmitter of Buddhism from India to China) for 6 years.
It is no surprise, looking back now, that I have made Chinese medicine my practice and my life, of which Qi Gong and the understanding of Qi is a bit part of. That was over 20 years ago and I still enjoy practicing the basics for its simplicity but profound effects, as well as having learned a lot of other fun Qi Gong exercises that I look forward to sharing in class.
Since 2014, Li-Lan and her multi-instrumentalist husband have created Tones for your Bones, an experiential workshop embodying the principles of Qi Gong and the Chinese Five Elements, set to live acoustic music.  The course can include Qi Gong, principles of Chinese medicine, acupressure, practice reflections, and nature-based rituals.  In 2020, Tones for your Bones has become a five week virtual course offered through Armonia Health LLC as well as other online platforms.

Reflection from student in the spring 2015 series: “I really am glad i was able to get a nice foundation in the Qi Gong. It was such a nice way to fully shift out of the work day. Sometimes I stay in work mode, so I really noticed the difference from how I felt when walking in vs. leaving. I taught it to my mom this weekend and hope to do some videos for her so she can remember.”

Reflection from a student of the 5 week virtual May 2020 virtual series of how the material was helpful and relevant: 

(1) It was grounding and inspiring to meet with others during this time. I enjoyed getting to know folks gradually over the five weeks and have made at least one new friend as a result of the class. It was also fun to get to know not only Li-Lan but Alex a little bit better this way! Social gatherings are really important right now and this has been one of my very favorite. (2) I loved the way the content build gradually week to week. Things were structured in bite-sized pieces so they were easy to absorb, relax, enjoy, remember, and practice. (3) I really enjoyed the way the class sessions were structured, with advance materials, and a blend of acupressure, qigong, sharing of info and insights, live music, and reflection/discussion. It was heaven, like a treat for the senses, so many different playful and informative angles on the same themes. So much fun! (4) It was great to start the week with these classes on Monday, and having two session choices was awesome. (5) I really appreciated being able to go back to the recordings of the class sessions; and to have ongoing access to other materials after the conclusion of the class. All in all, it was really an outstanding experience.
To view a cute introductory video and musical videos for Tones for your Bones, visit Alex’s beautiful website
For Qi Gong videos with Li-Lan, more musical videos with Li-Lan and Alex, and a growing playlist of Five Element music, visit Tones for your Bones Youtube channel:
To follow and interact on facebook: @tonesforyourbones