At this time of the year, we all make resolutions to change our lives for the better in the upcoming New Year. It may be that our physical bodies feel battered & scarred by the stressors of daily living complicated by poor choices, and so we resolve to lose weight, eat right, exercise more, sleep later. Or it could be that our Emotional/Mental bodies have been worn down by stress, despair, loneliness and loss, so we affirm our intentions to meditate, cuddle, release and ‘let go’. During the holidays, we have a tendency to forget the true spirit of the season, getting caught up in the glitz, glamour and bling of lights, gifts, and excess. We outdo our neighbors in our decorations, and we buy love with gifts that put us under unnecessary financial stress the minute the magic wears off and the bills come in. Some of us withdraw from the festivities and hide away, cocooned within our feelings and emotions. It is no wonder so many people are left with a sense of dread each time the holidays roll around. So was this a blog to bring you down? No! You know as well as I do the truth of what was just said. There were many times where I, myself, was limited by the emotional, mental and physical aches, pains and scars of my very own body. I have felt like that dock in the picture – a little “beat-up/run-down”, uncared for. And so, because “Namasté” means “Thee in me I see”, I usually get a patient (or two, or three… :-) who comes to me seeking the “MagicOfChineseMedicine” to fix physical, emotional, mental and Spiritual complaints.
Now, back to the picture above: at the top of 1 of those poles, what you can’t see is a sign that says “Resume normal safe operation”. So one of my patients comes to me with musculoskeletal symptoms and says he is limited by his budget and time, but wants me to fix him so he can go back to normal again, i.e. “Resume normal operation”. Like the pole sticking out of the water and the rusty pilings of the dock in the picture, he’s got visible signs of wear & tear: a guarded limp, bags under the eyes, brittle hair, and numerous varicosities to name a few of his visible battle scars. And – like the pole in the picture – beneath the surface lie all the factors that make this request a real challenge for me, his #Acupuncture Physician: age, years of dietary indiscretions, minimal & interrupted sleep, repeated overuse & strain on the musculoskeletal system, and several internal medicine diseases (obesity, diabetes, tobacco use, and high blood pressure) . All of these darn inflammatory factors compound the problem, contribute to further dis-ease and challenge the wellness plan I want to create for him. So can I fix him in 1 magic treatment? Uhmmmm….. .... Nah, I think not! So in our first visit, we spend some time talking about his multiple TCM diagnoses, treatment plan, projected number of sessions, and expected outcomes. We work together to set goals for him that are measurable and attainable, and spaced out over a realistic time period (sorry Buddy, there’s no magic bullet here today!). As his Acupuncturist, can I help him “resume normal operation”?
Well, for starters I am limited by several factors in his constitution and lifestyle that I cannot change, but here’s where his, your <and my> commitment to wellness begins:
a) Be committed to the wellness plan – this means you have to make wellness your priority: show up for appointments, take your medicine, do those physical things you resolved to do for the New Year, like exercising, making healthier food choices, detoxing, going to bed on time…. etc.
b) Be patient - it took time for you to develop these health challenges so I have no special abilities to turn your life around in 1 or 2 treatments. Situational or acute crisis challenges (e.g. stress, ankle sprain) can be significantly minimized or eliminated in fewer treatments than constitutional, chronic diseases (e.g. diabetes, substance withdrawal).
c) Be willing & open to change – I’m going to ask you to do some things that some may consider far out or spacey. Energy is like the wind – invisible to the naked eye but boy, can you feel its power when it unleashes its force! I may suggest rolfing or EMDR; I may ask you to do some tapping exercises (EFT), chakra balancing meditation, journaling, or grounding techniques, for example. Amongst other things, you are a product also of your thoughts, beliefs and feelings, so we will work on physical, emotional, mental and Spiritual levels.
d) Be brave – the space I have created for you while in my care is a safe place. It is where you can let your guard down and trust me as I care for you during our time together. And although I am no psychotherapist, it is where you can bare your soul. Deep within the recesses of our minds (as in the picture above where the poles lay buried below the surface), are the thoughts & feelings we hide that contribute to making us feel not complete, not lovable, not good enough, or not worthy. They weaken our resolve so that we make unwise choices. They are masked by the external trappings of the clothes we wear, or our outside appearance, as we project a certain image to the people who “see” us.
There is an old spiritual song that says “Wade in the water; Wade in the water children; Wade in the water, God’s gonna trouble the water”. I know the cultural history of this beautiful song, but for some Medicines, the Water element represents the emotional plane, so I’m challenging you now to take a step into looking at how your emotions enslave you and cause you to make the wrong decisions. Let the energy of Water cleanse you as you prepare for the New Year: go to a body of water, listen to it; look deep into the stillness of water; inhale its Essence, wade in it, bathe in it, and set intention to release – through the power of water – all that bogs you down on the emotional plane. As your Acupuncturist, I can help polish the barnacles off your exterior, but through the power of Chinese Medicine, I will have to go below the surface to stimulate and move Qi, tonify Spleen, drain Damp, transform Phlegm, nourish Yin, Invigorate Yang, soothe Liver, calm Shen, strengthen ligaments, bones & tendons, warm the Gate of Vitality – whatever it takes, to correct those imbalances that have accumulated over the years, so that Yes, you can have a healthier New Year. With the holidays coming up and 2014 only weeks away, go ahead and make those resolutions for living a fuller, healthier more balanced lifestyle. Chinese medicine can help you do all of that, and I am here to serve.
Audrey Steele, Lac.
The moon does not think to be reflected, nor does the water think to reflect in the Hirosawa Pond.(Tesshu)