“In the old days the sages treated disease by preventing illness before it began, just as a good government or emperor was able to take the necessary steps to avert war. Treating an illness after it has begun is like suppressing revolt after it has broken out. If someone digs a well only when thirsty, or forges weapons only after becoming engaged in battle, one cannot help but ask: Aren’t these actions too late?”
—–Huang Di Nei Jing (Yellow Emperor Inner Classic) Suwen Chapter 2: THE ART OF LIFE THROUGH THE SEASONS
Health is a foundation of life; with good health you can enjoy your life more. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been catching the attention of the World War II baby boomers as they’re approaching retirement. The more senior of baby boomers are slanting towards natural foods and natural body, mind, and spirit cures. They are realizing that Western medicine’s high technology treatments have limitations when it comes to promoting their health and managing chronic health problems. That’s why modalities like Acupuncture, TCM diet and TCM exercises are getting popular in North America. Over several thousand years the East has developed a philosophy and special customs designed to maintain good health that are quite different from that of Western kinetic medicine. Now the Western world is starting to pay attention and even study them. Here is introduction to TCM concepts and the way of the TCM health regime.
The TCM concept of health:
1.Emphasizes the universal: The human body is viewed as part of the cosmos. Traditional Chinese medicine considers our human body as a small universe; one that is in communication with the cosmos. Mother Nature influences human beings all the time, therefore TCM emphasizes the human body in unity with Mother Nature. To be suitable, the way of anyone’s health regime must be adjusted to follow climate changes and the four seasons.
2.Body and mind are part of an undividable whole. TCM emphasizes both body and mind; not only the tangible body’s health, but also practising the mind and spirit. Body does influence the mind and the mind also will affect the body: both need to be balanced.
3.Yin Yang is in balance: According to TCM thought, when your Yin Yang is balanced you are a healthy person. The objective of any health regime is to get the Yin Yang of body and mind balanced. What is Yin? In simple terms Yin is the material base that constitutes our body. And what is Yang? Yang is the energy. Yin and Yang are opposites but they can’t stand alone; they influence each other and depend on each other. Whatever is upward, outward, external, active, dry or heat belongs to Yang. Whatever is downward, inward, internal, passive, damp or cold belongs to Yin. So illness occurs because of too much or too little of either Yang or Yin. As you do things to decrease excesses and increase deficiencies thereby rebalancing your Yin and Yang the illness will naturally vanish.
4.The five Primary Elements are balanced. The Five Primary Elements are metal, earth, fire, water, and wood. They complement each other much in the same manner as Yin and Yang: they can’t stand alone; they influence each other and depend on each other. Wood can produce fire, fire produces earth, earth produces metal, metal produces water, and water produces wood. Wood hurts earth, earth hurts water, water hurts fire, fire hurts metal, metal hurts wood. The liver and gallbladder belongs to the Wood element, the heart and small intestine to the Fire element. Spleen and stomach is ruled by Earth, lungs and large intestine by Metal and kidneys and bladder by the Water element. A deficiency or excess in any of these elements produces illness in its corresponding organ so correcting the imbalance will restore health.
The TCM way to keeping good health:
1.Keep a regular pattern to your daily life and balance to your diet. This is the easiest aspect of the TCM health regime. Many of us do this naturally. It is best if you go to bed before eleven o’clock every night. This is because TCM thinks that from11:00pm to 1:00am your gallbladder rests and from 1:00am to 3:00 am your liver rests. If you always stay up late or even all night this will damage the function of both. Variety in your diet is important. After I moved to Canada I saw how lots of people eat too much meat and too little fruit and vegetables.
2.Suitable and sustained exercise. Everyone knows that doing exercise is very important to promoting health but not every body will do it. Also not every exercise should be practiced as a part of a regular health regime. From research we know Yoga, Tai Chi, and Chi Kung are good choices. If you can do it every day then you can easily get the benefits.
3.Keep an unconcerned frame of mind. The speed of modern life, multitasking and frequent interactions with other people causes a lot of stress in many different ways. We see more and more people with nervous disorders like panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, maniac-depression and even Schizophrenia. What causes this? It is because people just care about the body’s health yet ignore mind and spirit health even though body, mind and spirit are together. But how can we strengthen and keep healthy our mind and spirit? For over two thousand years Taoist and Buddhist philosophy have told us how to practice our mind and meditation is a good way to eliminate stress.
Below is a research article link about meditation:
“More than just relaxing, meditation helps improve self-image of anxiety sufferers” http://news.stanford.edu/news/2009/june3/meditate-060309.html
Traditional Chinese Medicine arose from our ancient people’s conflict with their natural environment. Generation by generation the unceasing accumulate of experience gained through continuous trial and error resulted in the practices of today. I hope this introduction can offer some different ideas and alternative practices to people looking for improvements to their health regime.