Emotions: health and disease

The emotions that you experience have nothing to do with who you really are. 

Most people are so attached to their emotions that if asked to simply drop their “frustration” or “anger” or “neediness” they find themselves unable to do it.  Emotions are at the root of most suffering and will eventually manifest physically in the body.   Emotions move on a continuum in the same way as the elements described in my post Five Elements: the Foundation of Chinese Medicine, and when emotions linger at the extremes of the continuum, the result is dis-ease, literally.

Acupuncture and Emotions
In my opinion, the most beneficial use of Traditional Acupuncture is in it’s ability to regulate emotions.  Treatments designed to even out emotional imbalances result in feelings of ease and well-being that can transform a person’s view of themselves and life.  This is a level of healing that cannot be bottled, will never be made into a pill and is priceless.

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Emotions as Five Element Correspondences

Take a moment to read through this chart, carefully, and be honest with yourself; what are the emotions that you get caught up in?  Do you think that being aware that these emotions will damage your body, changes the way you will associate with them?

Living the Middle Way
What is important is not to strive for perfection (I don’t know anyone personally who can live in the middle column all the time).  What is more important is to begin to recognize when you are experiencing an emotion that falls in the “deficient” or “excess” column.   Recognize it for what it is, suffering that you have the power to change.

The Answer is in One Breath
The best way to pull yourself out of these unhealthy emotional states is to take one deliberate, conscious breath, and at that momeDSC_0013nt, bring the attention to your body as you breath, and distance yourself from that feeling, observe it move out of you.  It is not you.  This takes no time, no time.  The more frequent you acknowledge the unhealthy state for what it is, the quicker you will be able to even know when you are in it.  Most of the time we are on automatic pilot and do not even know that we are in reaction.

Most people that I work with are completely unaware of the power that emotions have over our health.   It is not a stretch to see the extremes of deficiency and excess as they are playing out in our culture and the world we live in today.   Look around you, begin to observe people, see how quickly emotions take over situations and cause suffering.  Could life be different?

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What is Prevention?

In considering what I focus on when I teach, and the variety of skills that I use in teaching, I am really honing one message …. health and healing can only be realized by building awareness.  Our bodies are speaking to us everyday, sometimes desperately trying to geIMG_1190t our attention.  Our bodies are trying to guide us, to redirect us from peril and move us toward balance. To build awareness we have to wake up and start listening.  And, we can not build awareness if we blindly shut down symptoms. Our symptoms become our guides, showing us how best to care for ourselves.

Prevention happens everyday.
It happens with how we move our bodies, with how we move through our emotions.  It happens with the food that we consume and how we consume it. It happens with with what we choose to put in our minds.  It happens with our relationships: the people we choose to make our friends, our relationships with animals, and our relationship with our environment.  It comes down to integrity, are you living in alignment with your beliefs. Prevention is about building awareness and educating ourselves about what this awareness reveals.  Every day.

Prevention is not about taking action after we are afflicted with some condition, disease, or misfortune, it is about preventing what has not yet formed.

Lao-tzu says it best in chapter 64 of The Tao de Ching:

“What is rooted, is easy to nourish.
What is small, is easy to scatter.
Prevent trouble before it arises.
Put things in order before they exist.”

This was written 2500 years ago.  Simple, and yet when truly understood and applied in life…profound.  And of course, you will only come to understand this when you have built it into a daily practice.

The daily practice starts with your breath.  Pause and take a breath, and focus only on the breath.  Your breath is all it takes to begin to move you into the present moment.