But I am also, and even more importantly, respectful of my patients’ health. PLEASE don’t stress on your way to acupuncture! Remember, you’re coming to acupuncture in the first place to regain or maintain balance and harmony – getting all stressed out about not being here on time isn’t going to help that process J. Things always work out.
I actually really believe that – that things always work out. Chinese Medicine talks a lot about flow – the flow of Qi (pronounced “chee”), the “stuff” of life. Like a river, Qi flows through and around our bodies, and when it gets interrupted for whatever reason – an accident, a fall, a fight, a scare – a disturbance is created and, if not addressed, it eventually gets stuck. You could compare this to water flowing in a river; if you put rocks in the river, the water’s path will be disturbed and it will have to find another way, around the rocks.
“Go with the flow” may be a modern expression, but it’s actually a very ancient principle. Going with the flow, in Chinese Medicine, is a prerequisite to harmony and optimal health, and going against the flow – stressing out, fighting what “is” – is what creates illness and disease. When we are in harmony with the Qi flowing both within and around us, we are able to relax into the moment and experience a sense of well-being; when we struggle against the flow, we feel constricted and restricted and lash out at either ourselves or those around us.
Let’s take my frantic late patient as an example. She is calling frantic because the flow around her is what she’s interpreting as “late” – some circumstance that’s preventing her from getting here on time. But really, what’s happening is just life, and it’s not fitting into her picture of what she wants in that moment – even though what she wants is well intentioned (not being late to her appointment - which I appreciate). So she struggles against the flow and becomes frantic.
She calls the clinic and says she’s rushing she’ll be there as soon as she can. Now she has created a change in the flow here at the clinic, and now I, too, am confronted with a choice: I can fight against this new flow or just shift gears and go with it. Sure, there are times when I don’t immediately go with it (I’m human too), but most of the time I trust life around me because it’s shown itself to be trustworthy to me. I can be having the busiest day with no available slots to fit a late patient into, and if I go with the flow and trust, every single time something shifts in the schedule, or someone else comes late, or something happens so that I can accommodate whoever needs it at the time.
This is one of my favorite principles not just of Chinese Medicine but of life. It’s about trusting life, trusting the movement and flow of Qi both within and around you, and shifting gears gently when it changes – and it gets easier and easier the more you do it, especially once you realize you don’t really have to do anything; all you have to do is “be” in the flow.
When you live your life in the flow, you naturally maintain harmony and balance. Balance is like walking a tightrope – you never stay too long in the middle. Life is about flow, from left to right, night to day, summer to winter, hot to cold, hysterical to quiet. Opposites in the West are perceived as two different things, but in Chinese Medicine they are seen as extremes of the same concept. Hot and cold are two extremes of temperature – to stay in one extreme is not conducive to life; you need fluctuation, flow. Sometimes that flow is in the middle, and sometimes it’s on the extreme; the point is never to become stagnant in one position, because stagnant Qi is painful.
A good example of this is nutrition. Most of you know by now how passionate I am about good nutrition – it’s vital to a healthy condition. BUT I also believe that happiness is just as vital – actually, I think more so. Sometimes something “bad” for you is just good for your soul. I’m not legitimizing eating chocolate every day just because you want to, what I’m saying is sometimes, on certain occasions, you just want something because you want it, and that’s all. When you become too rigid with a food plan or anything else in life, you are trying to balance on one side of the tightrope.
Which leads me to one last point about flow, and an important one: The flow around you isn’t against you; you are part of it. When you are hard on yourself or anyone else, you are the one creating a disruption in the flow of Qi both within and around you, and then you react to it and feel like the world is against you.
So relax, next time you’re late (at least, if it’s here you’re late to) – we appreciate the call, but no need to get yourself all worked up! Life is too short to constantly run against what is. Calm down, be in the moment, feel what’s going on around you and within you, breathe, pay attention, let it go, and trust in life’s goodness. Because life is good. I’ve seen too many miracles in this clinic – small and big – to believe otherwise.