Here’s what you need to know
“Health is the greatest possession.” Lao Tzu
Although I’m not Chinese, I’m more a mix of many cultures and ideas but I’ve always felt close to the Chinese culture’s healing practices from Tai Chi & Qigong to my approach helping my clients sleep health to even in my art project above in 2018 called the Divine Masculine. Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has been tremendously impactful in the world of holistic health and wellness.
For thousands of years, practitioners of TCM have used a variety of methods to prevent and fight disease. From acupuncture to herbal teas, patients have benefitted from numerous types of treatments that target specific internal systems and organs. Although TCM takes a drastically different approach to health compared to western medicine, it plays an important role in the lives of millions of people.
As a Personal Energy and Potential coach, I’ve found a lot of value in incorporating elements of TCM into my practice. So many of us have been brought up in a culture in which pharmaceutical intervention is the best way to address acute illnesses or diseases. While western medicine is necessary, it doesn’t always provide the best answer for every person.
“The integration of movement, breath, and voice helps to integrate and balance the body, mind, and emotions.” Roger Jahnke
Here, I want to provide a high-level overview of TCM so that you can understand how it differs from western medicine. My hope is that doing so will restore some balance to a modern definition of health that has tipped too far in one direction.
The Core Elements of TCM
The TCM approach to health focuses on balance, harmony, and energy throughout the body. Rather than emphasize and treat individual components, TCM concentrates on how to promote the healthy flow of qi, or “life force” in every area.
Qi has two opposite, complementary qualities that are likely familiar to you: yin and yang.
Yin is the more passive force of the two. It represents darkness and coldness. Yin reaches its peak in winter and is tied to the moon rather than the sun.
Yang, on the other hand, is the bright and energetic half. It is aligned with the sun, warmth, and summer.
“In Taoist philosophy, ‘yin’ is the feminine principle, representing the forces of earth, while ‘yang’ is the masculine principle, representing spirit.” Marianne Williamson
In Chinese medicine, one force is not better than the other. Instead, they should be in balance. Think about the universally known yin-yang symbol – the forces wrap around each other in a perfect circle. The symbol is excellent at demonstrating their distinct yet interconnected relationship.
Health interventions, such as movement meditations, acupuncture, and cupping, help restore harmony to this balance within the body.
medicine, each with unique characteristics and functions:
These organs are affected by much more than viruses and diseases. For example, the liver is particularly vulnerable to excess stress or emotional stimulation. The heart represents a person’s contentment in life and is negatively impacted when one’s self-expression is repressed. Chronic anxiety hurts the spleen and, as a result, damages stomach health.
These examples show how intimately connected the mind and body are in TCM. Physical and emotional health doesn’t exist in isolation. They affect each other in profound ways, which means we can’t focus on one and expect to be at our best.
“Integrative health is a state of well-being, an east meets west approach to body, mind and spirit that reflects aspects of the individual, community, and environment. Mag
Western medicine tends to undervalue the impact that spiritual and emotional factors have on our holistic well-being. We are the best versions of ourselves when there is alignment between mind, body, and spirit in our lives.
When we have harmony and balance, the different aspects of our being complemented each other. When we are out of balance, we can spiral downward.
I’m sure many of you can think back to times in your life when your mental and physical health plummeted at the same time. Or, perhaps they both skyrocketed simultaneously in a particularly healthy season!
Regardless of whether or not you decide to incorporate specific TCM practices into your life, you should at least acknowledge the multi-dimensional nature of our health. Then, you will begin to understand why medication can’t be the only solution to solving our health problems.
“We don’t see or know things as they are, we see and know them as we are already.” adapted from Anais Nin
Below are three acknowledgements to help you begin your journey in this area:
- Know that you have power over your health
It’s easy to feel like a victim in the face of major health problems. Under the TCM approach, you can actually nourish your physical body by focusing on your mental and spiritual health.
2. Know that you can start practices today that promote healthy living
Even today, you can begin incorporating new, positive practices into your life that bolster all areas of your health. Give a moving meditation, like Tai Chi, a try and experience the fullness of life in a single activity.
3. Know that there are people around you who want the best for you
In times of health and sickness, always remember that there are communities of people who want to love and support you well. I am also here and want the best for you!
“It is health that is real wealth and not pieces of gold and silver.” Mahatma Gandhi