I am a fan of New Years’ – not because of the party on New Years’ Eve (I don’t do, have never done, New Year Eve parties) but I like the sense of closing out one year and beginning a new year with a fresh outlook. I like to celebrate the successes of the year past – and to set some goals for the future. What is it that I want to achieve, to accomplish, and to do in the coming year? What can I do to take these thoughts and dreams from paper or from my mind and make them reality?
Because my life has changed in so many ways, 2019 has me evaluating my journey with Traditional Chinese Medicine
For me, Traditional Chinese Medicine had the power to unlock my true potential and help me develop into a person I am still meeting for the first on many days. TCM has taught me to see both the wisdom and ability to understand and address health needs. TCM empowers individuals by uniting the body, mind and spirit. Truly, Traditional Chinese Medicine, by teaching you how to live a life of balance, wellness and harmony provides the foundation for lasting – and authentic – healthy living.
Research will tell you that TCM can effectively be to help heal anyone and any health issue “no matter what year it is because it’s rooted in unchanging natural law, which has its source beyond time. This unique paradigm of medicine grew out of penetrating observation of how everything in our reality functions at the deepest, invisible levels and interacts with the surface or visible physical levels. It’s a medicine of extraordinary relationships. Every TCM principle, theory, and healing practice reflects and harmonizes with the relationships that exist within natural law.”
Here’s what I say: I have felt as if I was learning a new language these past two years. Everything I thought I knew about diets and nutrition, behavior modification and pharmaceutical products has been either dismissed or altered dramatically. I have begun to – and continue to – question much of my training in education and psychology as well as much of what I used to believe.
Yes, I fully accept my friends’ comments that I have drunk the “TCM Kool Aid”.
Traditional Chinese Medicine is based on four key principles. First, your body is an integrated whole unique to you. Every structure within our bodies is an integral and necessary part of the whole. Along with an individual’s mind, emotions and spirit, the physical body structures form a complex, interrelated system. This system needs to be honored for the miracle it is.
Secondly, TCM believes that all individuals are completely connected to nature. Changes in the weather, in the environment are always reflected in your body. Traditional Chinese medicine factors in the season of your geographical location, the time of day and/or night as well as an individuals’ age, genetics and the current condition of your body.
Thirdly, TCM believes that every individual is born with a natural self-healing ability. TCM views an individual’s body as a microcosm that reflects the macrocosm. This is readily apparent in just looking at nature – if nature has regenerative capabilities, so do humans. Trees, lawns, and plants come back to vivid life after pruning, proper nourishment, then so can we. Sometimes, this ability may appear to be lost or difficult to find. Sometimes it takes too long a time for those of us who crave instant gratification.
Lastly, TCM believes that prevention is the best cure. TCM teaches you to interpret the signs and symptoms that the body is telling you about your health. We tend to ignore signs and symptoms until it’s too late and something complicated arises.
The National Institute of Health tells us that TCM is rooted in ancient philosophy of Taoism and dates back over 4000 years. TCM encompasses many different practices, “including acupuncture, moxibustion (burning an herb above the skin to apply heat to acupuncture points), Chinese herbal therapy, cupping, Chinese therapeutic massage, dietary therapy, and tai chi and qi qong (practices that combine specific movements or postures, coordinated breathing and mental focus.)”
By the end of 2018, more people than ever before were actively seeking some form of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The numbers are staggering; in 1997 it was estimated that some 10,000 practitioners served more than one million patients each year. In 2017, a National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) revealed that an estimated 5.1 million adults and children have used some form of TCM – be it acupuncture, Chinese herbal therapy, cupping or dietary suggestions. According to a 2017 related study, an estimated 3.4 million Americans practiced tai chi and qi gong.
So I am definitely not alone on my journey.
Life is tough; things do not always turn out the way I planned or the way I think they should. There are things that go wrong and things that get broken. While the psychologist in me recognizes that things don’t always get fixed and some things stay broken, the my inner (wilting) flower child has spent years railing against the injustices, nursing the injustices, spending untold amounts of energy on injustices over which I had no control. Traditional Chinese Medicine has made me realize that my energy could be better spent – be re-directed – for my own health. TCM has made me realize that it is essential that I use my energy wisely.
People have been making New Years’ Resolutions since 153 B.C., and I suspect they have been breaking them for just as long. I do not make yearly resolutions any longer; this past year, I have learned to set an intention for the day, to resolve to find something good in each day, in each experience. TCM has taught me to shift my thinking from “Why is this happening to me?” to “What can I learn from this?” I have to admit, this mental shift was difficult for a hard-wired whiner, but with the help of TCM practitioners, it has become easier to view the broken, the “un-fixable”, as something from which to learn, not to wallow.
There is a Chinese proverb that says “Vision without action is a daydream. Action without vision is a nightmare.” TCM teaches you that “Vision” is the ability to see something so clearly in your mind that you can manifest physical reality – that what you conceive you can create. When you bring your consciousness to your vision, the invisible and powerful forces of your sub-conscious mind go to work to bring your new vision into reality. TCM has taught me that when the bad times come, getting through them is easier if you look at what you can learn from the situation rather than screaming “Why is this happening?”
My acupuncturist said something to me last week which was the inspiration for this post. He suggested I identify the “kryptonite” to my “Super Woman”. He asked me to identify which lifestyle choices – food, drink, exercise – serve me and which do not serve me. What people and situations serve me and which do not serve me. Like Super Man, exposure to kryptonite is a slow draining of power; am I willing to stop the emotional drain to save myself? Some habits and behaviors, like some people, may have served me in the past, but now they do not – why would I continue to expose myself to this emotional drain?
It was a reminder that I am in control of my life and my health. Just as I had changed conventional medicine doctors over the past year, just as I sought out complimentary treatments for specific symptoms, I needed to take that self-advocacy to the streets of my mind. A healthy lifestyle is a daily exercise; choices have consequences.
I intend to use my energies more wisely in 2019. I have learned that I am much stronger than I originally thought and that I can still be successful as I pick myself up from the floor of disappointment and misjudgments.
I have changed a great deal in this past year, and I make no apology for it. I recognize that I am extremely fortunate to have people in my life who teach and encourage me to nurture both my body and my mind; people who gladly share the “TCM Kool-Aid” to toast the New Year.
People who believe that “being authentic will get you steps ahead of the game in the New Year.”
- Dr. Landon Agoado, Care Wellness Center