Working with Chinese Medicine for many years now, I can best summarize what I do as reconnecting individuals to the true process of healing. All too often, patients visit me with beliefs about illness and healing that reinforces sickness, separation and dependency. When we examine these presumptions together, there is often a feeling of empowerment and a sigh of relief. The subconscious resistance to healing is disarmed.
In this article, I would like to explore 10 unexamined myths about healing and replace them with truths as understood by Chinese Medicine.
1) Myth: Our bodies are mechanical like cars.
Truth: We are sentient beings, which means our consciousness, feelings and senses affect our bodies and vice versa. If a car runs out of gas, we simply fill the tank and it gets going. In the human body, a complex web of internal and external factors may lead a person to run out of energy and a complex web of resources may be needed for that person to regain energy. Chinese Medicine recognizes this and compares our bodies to more ephemeral states of being like the weather.
2) Myth: Our mind, emotions and bodies are separate.
Truth: Your feelings are reactions to the thoughts you are having and your body responds physiologically to the feelings. This is why you are flying high when you are in love and why you fall sick when you are under lots of stress. Chinese Medicine understands how inseparable these three factors to health are, associating feeling and thinking states with internal organs and biochemical processes.
3) Myth: Health is a destination.
Truth: Health is a journey with peaks and valleys and no destination. In Chinese Medicine, balance is emphasized. The reason for this is because a state of balance is a state of motion and fluidity. It is not static. The art of maintaining health is about maintaining a balanced state as we go through the ups and downs of life. The body is perpetually adapting and changing.
4) Myth: Healing is something that doctors and health professionals make happen.
Truth: Healing is something that is happening all the time with or without a health professional. It is a natural law of the universe, like gravity. It is your body’s constant attempt to reach homeostasis, balance and wholeness. When you cut yourself, your body starts to heal itself with a release of chemicals, clotting and specialized cells that repair the site–automatically. We seek the assistance of health professionals when our illness or injury outweigh our natural ability to heal. Often times this happens because our habits and lifestyle are inhibiting the natural healing mechanism. Healing, however, happens all the time. It is not manufactured by health professionals. Healing happens best when we relax, when we sleep. This is partly why people reach a deep state of sleep or relaxation when they receive acupuncture. They get out of the way so that the needles and nature can take over.
5) Myth: We must fight illness.
Truth: The spirit of fighting anything is a spirit of resistance, power and separation. In contrast, Chinese Medicine understands everything as connected so there is nothing to fight. Rather processes that help transform an existing imbalance: harmonizing, moving and strengthening are emphasized.
6) Myth: Health looks like the cover models of health and fitness magazines. It is state of constant youth, vigor and strength.
Truth: Health is a state of connection to our authentic self and the world. Health is being alive to all that is and that can look like anything under the sun at any given moment. Sadness is as much a sign of health as joy. Bodies come in all sizes and shapes and regardless of what that looks like, if we are feeling fully alive and connected, we are in health. In Chinese Medicine, the vitality of qi (energy) and shen (spirit) are essential to health. Those qualities have very little to do with physicality and are more associated with a quality of energy and radiance.
7) Myth: It is our fault we are sick. It is not our fault that we are sick.
Truth: Illness is not about fault. It happens. To everyone. And the reasons are complex. When we label it as bad or wrong then we start to assign fault. Feeling completely victimized by illness is disempowering. Feeling like we can have full control over our bodies is also disempowering when we are confronted with the truth. We are born, we will fall ill at some points in our lives, our bodies will deteriorate, we will die. Chinese Medicine embodies the wisdom of this acceptance, understanding that health is alignment with nature and connection. There is also something called prenatal jing, which is the strength of our health inherited from our parents and ancestors. The best we can do is care for what we uniquely get. Everything that we inherit is an opportunity for healing and for growth in this lifetime.
8) Myth: Minor aches, pains and discomforts are just a part of life and I should ignore them.
Truth: Bodily discomforts, no matter how minor, are imbalances that can be addressed for better quality of life and prevention of more serious illness. Chinese Medicine recognizes minor discomforts as signs of imbalance. As a society, we put up with much more discomfort than is healthy. Some things considered “normal” or an acceptable part of life such as: digestive distress, headaches, menstrual cramps, PMS, low energy, poor sleep, jaw clenching, muscle tension,aches and pains, excessive worry or irritability can all be treated by Chinese Medicine.
9) Myth: Doctors and other health professionals are experts at knowing YOUR body.
Truth: Doctors and health professionals are experts at knowing THE body according to their respective systems. You are the expert of knowing YOUR body. You have inhabited it from the moment you were born. You have tended to it, cared for it, lived through it, derived pain and pleasure from it. There is no one that knows your body more than you do. No one. A practitioner sensitive to that will ask you about and consider all aspects of you and will understand your specific concern in the context of that. Chinese Medical practitioners will often ask you questions that will feel completely unrelated to your symptoms but will give them lots of information. Your relationship to your boss may have more to do with your indigestion than what you ate.
10) Myth: We suffer alone.
Truth: We Heal Together
Chinese Medicine is a medicine that understands the true nature of life: relationships. Not only is each aspect of our bodies related to one another internally, but we are connected to a larger ecosystem externally that affects our health. In fact we are more than connected, we are inseparable from it. We can’t disconnect, except in our own minds. That is often when we suffer. The truth is we are all in this together. When you heal, we heal.