Making Change Happen – According to Chinese Medicine
Chinese Medicine has change at the heart of its philosophy, which aims to explain links between the personal, seasonal and daily rhythms of change. This philosophy also addresses changes of bodily energy, as expressed in the Chinese Clock, which has similarities to the now well-known circadian rhythms. Daoist yearly seasonal changes also guide us how to live according to the natural elements. The energetic cycles of women (seven years) and men (eight years) are defined according to longer cycles of change, as documented in the Classical Chinese Medicine books.
How do we stay in balance when change is thrust upon us and disrupts the natural cycles? Acupuncture can help to bring balance back into the body and to guide us through all kinds of changes, however stressful these may be. One of the gifts in life is to realise that things will pass, and that change will occur. Acupuncture treatment can help a young girl navigate puberty, and it is a valuable tool to help menopausal women deal with personal challenges, such as hot flushes, mood swings, and sleep problems during ‘the change’.
The theme of this blog is about making change happen. What can we take from Chinese Medicine and its philosophy in this regard? Here are a few pointers. Hopefully some will resonate with you.
Make changes at appropriate times. The sacred I Ching (Book of Changes) is a divination book, which guides the reader when to act and when to stay still. Personally I postpone my New Year resolutions until the Chinese New Year (which represents the start of Spring in the Chinese Calendar). The uprising, surging Wood energy at this time makes it easier to manifest new plans, and lends itself to new activity. On the 1st January we are still in the midst of Winter and, according to Chinese Medicine, we should be preserving our energy by getting to sleep earlier and creating the right conditions for new seeds (literally or metaphorically) to grow. So according to Chinese Medicine, it may not be the best time to actually start lifestyle changes.
2) Prepare the mind first through the gathering of information. If we want to make change happen in our lives it is important to understand how best to achieve our goals. In Chinese Medicine the link between the Fire and Water elements is crucial for mental and spiritual development. The Heart (Fire) is related to the Mind while the Kidney (Water) energy is related to willpower. Acupuncture can help to connect these elements, as there are acupuncture points that overtly strengthen this vertical mind-body axis. Most people have heard that ear acupuncture can help someone to stop smoking, but this really is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what acupuncture can do. If we prepare ourselves to develop willpower, this will help us to make significant change happen.
3) Be conscious of your nutrition. If you are thinking about trying to diet or lose weight, make sure you are eating the correct foods to support your Stomach and Spleen energy. In Chinese Medicine, these Earth organs are responsible for the transformation of food (and air) into abundant Qi and Blood, which are vital substances in the body. Make sure you are eating warm foods, for example soups and stews, and avoiding ice and food taken straight from the fridge, as these take more energy to digest. If you are cutting down on calories, you will need to preserve as much energy as possible. The Earth Organs also like sweet flavours. Note, however, that here we are talking about naturally sweet foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, and roasted vegetables. These are not normally the sweets we choose.
4) Clear some space. Often when we are making changes we need to let go of some unneeded stuff to make room for something new (anyone who has had a decent declutter will have hopefully realised this). The Small Intestine in Chinese Medicine has the role of discriminating between what things to keep and what to let go of. If the Small Intestine energy gets imbalanced, we can hold onto things that are not of any use any more, including pain. We all ultimately want to be as healthy, strong, and happy as we can be but it is possible to get stuck in certain patterns, particularly when we have had either a chronic or a debilitating illness. Acupuncture can sometimes help to shift those patterns, to bring the body back into balance.
So, if you are trying to make new changes at this time of the year, I wish you all the best. Remember that you have another shot to make change happen … as February 16th signals the start of Spring in the Chinese Calendar for 2018 and this is also a great time to embrace new beginnings!