As a student of feng shui and Taoism, we learn that our health is a part of our holistic well-being. Feng shui is about “living in harmony with nature”. This means not only living in harmony with our living environment, it also includes how to take care of our bodies as well as our mind and spirit.
Dr. Hsu is knowledgeable in all aspects of Chinese philosophy, art, science, and medicine. Honestly, he’s like a Chinese encyclopedia! Whenever I have any form of ailment, he always has wonderful advice using natural remedies and exercises. It makes me want to learn more on ways to heal myself.
In Taoist tradition, one should strive to live a long and healthy life. There are four simple guidelines to maintain our health:
- emotional balance
- get a good night’s sleep
- eat balanced and nutritious meals
Although these four points seem so simple, many of us aren’t able to follow them. Why is this so? How can we avoid getting sick and falling to disease? So, what causes disease?
There are two ways in which we develop disease:
Last week I had an opportunity to learn more about Chinese Traditional Medicine, also referred to as CTM from Mayme Fu, a certified acupuncturist and herbalist. According to Mayme, 80% of acquired disease is caused by our emotions! – I am translating this as “stress” in one form or another.
Stress disrupts our emotional balance. The most common symptom is we lose sleep. We wake in the middle of the night and our mind begins to tick, and as we keep thinking, we just can’t calm our thoughts to get back to sleep. It’s no fun starting our day tired. And the cycle repeats itself over and over again.
Another common symptom to relieve stress is turning to food and drink for comfort. Well, we all know there goes our balanced and nutritious meals! In TCM, they say food is the source of chi energy. Excess or imbalance obviously has an impact on our energy levels. This in turn reflects our desire to exercise. And this cycle disrupts the balance of our health.
Although the four guidelines look so easy, it’s not so simple to follow when stress is involved. If you also noticed, when only one of the four guidelines is out of balance, it affects the others. Therefore, balance of all four is necessary.
One of the biggest differences between Western and Chinese medicine is the approach of how to treat disease. In the West, treating disease is about treating microbial agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. On the other hand, the Chinese see disease from a macro view and they do not treat disease. Instead they treat the symptoms of disease. For example, let’s say three patients have a cold from the same virus, but one has a dry cough, another has itchy eyes and the third has a runny nose. The Western approach would be to treat the virus with the same medication. The Chinese approach would be to treat the individual symptoms of each patient. This means the treatment for each would be based according to their particular symptoms; the dry cough would be treated just for the dry cough, the itchy eyes would be just the eyes and the runny nose would be treated for just the nose.
So, to treat disease we must find the cause of the problem to help cure the symptoms. Acupuncture is a tool to help maintain good blood and chi flow throughout the body by stimulating our meridians. It also helps get rid of toxins. Herbal medicine then treats the symptoms by balancing the body and it’s functions. By combining the two, it becomes a holistic way for healing.
Identifying that there is a problem is a step in the right direction. When we are out of sync, we must learn to ask ourselves, what is the cause of the stress and what can we do to help alleviate this? There is usually no easy answer to this question, as stress is usually not caused by just one thing. It’s always a combination of things. But, we can deal with stress one step at a time. In the same fashion, we can start with working on just one simple step of maintaining our health at a time.
Since acupuncture is a tool to help maintain our physical balance by allowing more blood and chi to flow while also getting rid of toxins, we can also do this on our own by massaging those pressure points by ourselves. One of the most basic pressure points to maintain health is in our hands. The point is between our thumb and index finger, where there is a slight pocket at the edge of the bones. Using the other hand’s thumb and index finger, gently massage the pressure point. You may feel a little pain, if so, that’s okay, or you can just use less pressure. This simple massage can be done anytime and anywhere; while watching T.V., waiting at a red light, during a meeting, and any other time when both hands are free! Try massaging each hand for about five minutes each day. This simple first step will help you move in a positive direction to maintain your own health. It will also remind you to be aware that our health is in our own control, in our hands.
Simply being aware of the four guidelines to maintain our health is most important. Now we can focus on small steps in the right direction.