Body of Knowledge

I had an epiphany the other day.  I realized I knew me more than I thought.

self awarenessSomeone asked how Oriental medicine worked.  I began talking about my own experience with the modality.

I have received Oriental medicine since 2009.  I originally came to this path because of numbness in my hands and feet.  

That issue has passed.  Why was I still going?  I am sure they were looking for a one or two word “problem.”  Instead, I started telling them this whole “crazy” list of symptoms:

  • a feeling that I have in my midsection, a feeling of uncomfortable fullness
  • this feeling always mirrors my mind being too full; it gets worse when I am closer to my monthly cycle  
  • this feeling of fullness affects my breathing, which creates a particularly painful feeling right underneath my diaphragm  
  • my clothing feels tight even though I have not gained any weight
  • everything feels heavy, as if my stomach is going to fall into the earth
  • my eating is irregular and so is my digestion when these symptoms are present
  • when I feel this way, I want to disassociate, use anything to get away from how it feels to “be in my skin”
  • this feeling is worsened by lack of movement, and alleviated by movement

And then I realized: I was learning pattern discrimination.

Pattern discrimination is how Oriental medicine diagnoses.  What I was doing was not just pattern discrimination in general Oriental medical terms, but my pattern discrimination.  I was learning my body and learning how to read my body’s cues.  

We are not taught how to read our own body’s cues; at least I certainly wasn’t.  I was taught that I could not understand anything about myself without the help of some intermediary; and this intermediary came in many forms:  physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  I was taught that I needed this intercession in order for me to gain any “knowledge” about myself.  

For most of my life I have discredited my own self knowledge in deference for everyone else’s expertise.  

All of our practitioners here ask for something different.  They ask that I be aware of my body and be able to voice that awareness to them.  They have taught me that various signs that I say are “silly” or are “just a peculiarity with me” are important for just that reason: because they have to do with me in particular, not what someone else says I should feel or experience.

The practitioners here have helped me to learn my language.  They have also given me the tools to navigate my own terrain.  This has taken time and effort on my part; however, this not only empowers me but allows them to treat me better.  The more that I have self awareness and voice that to them, the more they can really shine as practitioners.

And you know what?  All of this self awareness allows me to not only feel better in general but function better in my life.  I will take that body knowledge any day.  

Are you Living, or Just Alive?

Life is described as many things by different people, but one thing it can never be defined as is stagnant.

Life is always changing, evolving, increasing, or decreasing in capacity. It is in a constant state of flux.  While you are sitting there seemingly doing nothing, your body is always on the job building and repairing tissue, creating new cells, growing hair and nails, digesting food, etc.  The degree to which your body is able to do these things depends primarily upon the health and vibrancy of your meridian system. There are certainly other factors that come into play such as proper nutrition, level of exercise and adequate rest, but even their potency is diminished when shackled by a weakened supply of energy flowing through the meridian system.  Life is supported by the meridian system and emanates outward into all of your cells, muscles, nerves, organs and tissues.  All other variables being equal, the body is at its healthiest when there is a steady and free flow of energy within the meridian system.  When the meriLiving or Dyingdian system is blocked, or out of balance, your quality of life diminishes.  Think of it as a hose that is pinched and not able to supply the adequate amount of water to a growing plant. Eventually the plant will  die from lack of water.

It is not necessarily safe to assume that you are at your healthiest, or to put it another way, at your most alive, simply because you are living, breathing, and exhibiting no obvious pain or symptoms.  While your level of health may seem completely stable on the outside, in actuality it can be fluctuating under the surface.  A cavity quickly becomes a very painful toothache when the nerve is exposed, but the process leading up that point can take months, or even years.  Nobody would argue that all the while the tooth was unhealthy under the surface even in the absence of symptoms.  To ensure that your body remains at its healthiest, it is essential to maintain a balanced, optimally functioning meridian system and to continually supply your body with the power that it needs to thrive. To merely be symptom-free is not enough.  While many people associate acupuncture with pain relief, the true essence of an acupuncture treatment is to support the normal and balanced flow of energy within the body.

Hungry Thoughts

Someone pointed out that I often say, “I shouldn’t be hungry!”

Hunger

Which, if you think about it, is a very ludicrous thing to say.  

This statement points out that I believe that one day I will get to the point where I will no longer feel hunger or need to feed myself.  

And I will get to that point someday: when I die.

But for now, I need to eat and I need to eat more than once every couple of weeks because I am not a snake.  

And you may be thinking, of course you need to eat, this is silly.  But many people have these same kinds of thoughts about taking herbs:  

  • I just need to take this herbal formula once, right?
  • I took the herbs the practitioner gave me but nothing happened.  It must not have worked.
  • The practitioner gave me herbs and I took them for a couple of days but I got bored, could not remember, did not like the taste, etc and I quit taking them.  
  • Awhile ago I took an herbal formula; I should never have to take an herbal formula again, should I?

Chinese-Herbs-for-Weight-Loss

Herbs are food.  If you need food to live everyday of your life, it would stand to reason that you could use herbs everyday of your life as well, especially if the quality of life that you are experiencing is not what you want.  Herbs are superfoods, packed densely with quality nutrients.  When so much food is becoming denatured and void of nutrition, it is important to get it from high quality sources.  

I tend to be the kind of person that prefers to eat different things, not the same thing everyday.  Different kinds of food provide my body different compounds that it needs.  Just the same, different herbs give us different minerals and benefit different acupuncture meridians; so different formulas could be needed as the body’s needs shift and change.  

The only way to determine which herbal formula is good for your body at this moment is to notice what is happening and let your practitioner know what you are experiencing.  Your practitioner will be able to take your pulses and adjust your formula to give you herbs that will benefit your body where it is right now.  

Herbs only work if you take them, just like good food only nourishes us if we eat it.  We can think about leafy greens all we want but until we put them in our mouth, we are not getting their nutrients.  A practitioner may give us herbs but if we are not taking them they might benefit the container they are in but won’t do us a bit of good.  

Herbs, as a general rule, do not stay in the body for long periods of time.  If you are not taking your herbs in the recommended dosage and schedule that the practitioner has laid out for you, chances are you won’t notice them doing anything because they have not been able to reach the level in the body that is necessary to effect change.  

Herbal formulas may need to be taken for longer than the original amount given.  Practitioners tend to give small amounts in the beginning, maybe a weeks worth, to see how an herbal formula works for you.  It is important to check back in the time frame that a practitioner determines so that they can monitor how things are going.  A formula may be too strong or you may be experiencing issues that could be better served by another formula.  

Herbs can be a wonderful compliment to many different wellness and longevity plans.  But wait: do you hear that sound?  Yup, that is the sound of my stomach growling.  I need to go give it some grub with a side of herbs; because I do plan to live a long time!