How to Get Healthy in 2021 with Traditional Chinese Medicine
Tune into yourself and the cycles of your world to better harmonize with the conditions that move you
Traditional Chinese Medicine, with its long history, has many ways to stay healthy in these uncertain times.
An important concept in Traditional Chinese Medicine is awareness – awareness of your surroundings as well as your inner world. One form of this inner awareness is attunement to our own body. Our bodies speak a language that we have largely forgotten. Our bodies communicate through pain, feelings of energy or fatigue, or a bad feeling in the pit of the stomach. Becoming sensitive to our body and what it is trying to tell us will let us know when something is wrong. This knowledge will give us the opportunity to make a difference and give our bodies what we need to stay healthy.
Another element of our inner world is our emotions. Emotions can fade into the background as our busy minds deal with the business of the day. But just as listening to our physical feelings can tell us if something needs attention, listening to our emotions can make us aware of other issues.
One of the ways we can connect with ourselves is to take time each day to check in and listen. How are you? How are you emotionally? Does anything hurt? how is your sleep? Have you eaten today? This simple gesture may seem small, but it can have a big impact. Once you start incorporating it into your daily routine, you’ll start feeling the little things and can make adjustments before they turn into big things that can potentially make you sick. You remember how to listen, and your body will love you for it.
This simple gesture can be transformative as it helps you recognize cause and effect in certain aspects of your life. You’ll notice how your body reacts to certain foods, how your mood can change over time, or how exercise can lift your spirits. This self-awareness can give you the motivation you need to make healthy changes and do things that make you feel more alive.
Listening to the environment is an extension of listening to oneself. Have you ever noticed how good you feel walking in the forest? It’s reconnecting you with the natural world, a connection that people have had for thousands of years. This bond has been severed in many ways as we have come to spend more and more time indoors and working in jobs disconnected from the cycle of the seasons and the outside world.
Traditional Chinese Medicine teaches us the beauty and practicality of living in harmony with the seasons.
As the seasons fluctuate throughout the year, our diets and behaviors need to be more in tune with our natural environment.
In winter, the energies slow down and go inward. Warming up soups and stews using root vegetables cooked for long periods of time to increase their warming properties is best for preserving our yang or fire energies in this ultimate yin time.
Spring energies are beginning to rise to the surface and expand outward, like new plants emerging from the ground, craving for the sun. Liver-cleansing green foods are best eaten in the spring to “cleanse” the system of anything that has been built up over the winter.
Summer represents the outward expression of energy and is about growth, expansion and abundance. Summer is the time to get up early and go to bed later to take advantage of longer days and abundant sunshine.
And fall is when the energies start to move inward again and we find ourselves going to bed a little earlier. It’s a time to wrap up projects, clean out our closets, and process old emotions that are taking up space. Autumn energy teaches us the beauty of letting go.
What can I do?
Become aware of the seasons and modify your behavior and diet accordingly. This, in addition to helping you stay healthy, will also help you reconnect to the natural rhythms we have evolved to follow.
You don’t need to make big changes; subtle changes can help us transition smoothly from season to season. For example, while the Western world has a tradition of setting a New Year’s resolution at the height of winter, Chinese tradition teaches that it is far better to start a new habit in the spring when the expansive energies of the season beckon you. encourage to expend new energy.
Listening to yourself and listening to the season can help you become more aware of how you are connected to the natural world and its major cycles. It’s insight you can apply in your daily life.
Emma is an acupuncturist who has been practicing since 2006. She has a consulting practice called Thrive Consulting and runs a website called Chinese Medicine Living where she writes about how to use the principles of Chinese medicine to live a healthy life in the modern world. She loves martial arts, the natural world and a good cup of tea. To learn more, visit @ThriveConsulting.