My approach to acupuncture has been shaped by my interest and practice of the Taoist tradition of yang sheng – Nourishing Life. This tradition can be traced back to the 2nd century BCE and rests on the observation that vitality thrives through maintaining harmony with nature. As human beings – inseparable from nature – we are influenced by changes in the environment around us, the daily and seasonal rhythms, the quality of Qi (vital energy) in what we eat or drink, the type of activity we engage in and by our emotional responses to the relationships we surround ourselves with.
Chinese Medicine recognises three types of causes of disease:
- external i.e. invasion by climatic factors (wind, cold, dampness, dryness or heat);
- internal i.e. emotions (anger, sadness, grief, fear, shock, worry and excessive joy); and
- “neither external nor internal” – created by poor constitution and lifestyle (unsuitable diet, overwork, too much or not enough exercise, trauma, parasites, poisons or incorrect treatment).
It matters, therefore, how we look after ourselves, or – how we nourish our life.
Our bodies have an inherent ability to regulate the flow of Qi and maintain a state of balance and health, whilst coping with occasional or even sustained stress, such as poor diet, overworking, emotional strain, insufficient or excessive exercise, poor sleep, exposure to unfavourable weather conditions, pollution as well as recovering from injuries or trauma.
From time to time, however, the intensity or amount of stress can overpower our capacity to cope with it. Helping ourselves may simply involve resting more or improving our diet. Often, though, we tend to continue with our lifestyles, ignoring small signals until they become more serious and more difficult to cope with by ourselves. A disease can begin slowly and gradually, without our being aware of subtle changes happening within our body. Even when we do notice some signs of this process, we are often too busy or preoccupied with other concerns to reflect on the situation and take appropriate action. This may allow the disease to progress beyond the point where simple changes can restore the balance and thus the intervention of a doctor or a health practitioner is needed.
Based on the same energetic principles, the Nourishing Life approach supports and complements acupuncture through actively engaging the person in observing their own energy patterns, inter-relationships and resonances within themselves and with their environment. In practice this involves using the principles of Chinese Medicine to explore the person’s dietary habits, lifestyle and emotional patterns. Through this it offers greater insight and understanding of one’s own health and ill-health, and deepens and prolongs the effects of acupuncture.
Diet and Nourishing Life
Dao yin movements
In addition to dietary advice, I may suggest simple Dao yin movements – these are easy, gentle stretches and self-massage movements, which are extremely effective and bring noticeable and cumulative benefits to your energy levels, circulation and flexibility of the body. The movements are not demanding and are always done within the patient’s capability. They also bring an increased sense of familiarity with your own body, which many people feel detached from nowadays.
Acupuncture and emotional awareness
Awareness of our emotions and the way they affect the flow of Qi is another important aspect of maintaining health and Nourishing Life. The arising and movement of emotions is an integral part of life. However, intense, prolonged or repressed emotions, or strongly-held mental attitudes, can easily disturb the flow of Qi, cause tension and, in time, manifest as a disease. It is therefore crucial to develop sensitivity to the quality and patterns of our own emotions, without either letting them build up and overwhelm us or feeling the need to suppress or deny them. This becomes easier to reflect on when our minds slow down and enter the state of peace and relaxation which accompanies acupuncture treatment. By harmonising the flow of Qi in the body, acupuncture also helps us to feel more open and receptive to the transient nature of emotions.
Understanding and insight into what the state of harmony feels like and into what benefits you can offer hope and confidence to overcome illness, which in turn encourages you to make the necessary changes in your life to maintain a balanced lifestyle and a state of well-being.
If you have any questions regarding acupuncture treatment or would like to have an informal chat about how acupuncture could help you
please call me on 07941 872 814