Submitted by Dove Sprout, co-owner of the Creston Acupuncture and Natural Health Center with her husband Paul Gaucher
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic medicine. Body, mind and soul cannot be separated from a TCM point of view. Diseases of the body can be treated directly. Pain, especially acute pain that is specifically related to an injury, can be treated or alleviated, for example, by “revitalizing the blood and removing stagnation”. In TCM there is a saying that basically says: “Where there is pain, there is stagnation, and where there is stagnation, there is pain”. When injured, the damaged tissue can squeeze, swell, and become inflamed (stagnant), and your body sends a crew of helpers to heal the area. This can be a quick process or it may take a while depending on the situation, your body’s health and the extent of the injury.
Mind and soul mean different things to different people, depending on your religion or belief system. In this case, “mind” can be defined as your most authentic self. It’s the part that animates you and makes your eyes light up when you’re happy and aligned. That’s what defines you – YOU. Mental and “mind” disorders can bring about anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, narcissism, other mood or personality disorders, sleep disorders, a “midlife crisis,” boredom, or disconnectedness – just to name a few.
TCM defines 5 different “spirits” that are connected to different organ systems.
• Heart: Shen (spirit) represents our consciousness and is the basis of our humanity. It is responsible for our identity and our self-confidence, but also regulates how we interact with others and in the world. When the shen vibrates, there is clear thinking and awareness, keen insight, strong self-esteem, good judgment, clear speech, eye contact during conversation, sparkling eyes, compassion, empathy, sound sleep. Imbalance includes cloudy awareness, poor insight, low self-esteem, difficulty expressing yourself, difficulty relating to others, dull eyes, no compassion / empathy, irrational thoughts / phobias, and insomnia.
• Lungs: Po (body or animal soul): your instinct, your impulses and moment-to-moment experiences. In equilibrium, the bottom allows us to stay connected to the present moment through our breath. It allows us to be assertive yet fair, to speak in a strong voice, to breathe well, and to act with the virtue of justice. When the buttocks are weak, there may be unresolved grief, a lifeless voice, lethargy, depression, or constant loss or imperfection. Other respiratory symptoms can accompany this feeling of sadness, such as frequent colds, prolonged coughs, or asthma.
• Spleen: Yi (thought): The spleen as the main digestive organ in TCM separates the clear from the cloudy in food on a physical level and supports healthy digestion. On a spiritual level, the Yi has the same thought process of separating the clear from the troubled and, when healthy, can contribute to clear intentions, structured plans and goals and virtues of fidelity and loyalty. When unhealthy, it can lead to “brain fog,” boredom, obsession or ruminating thoughts, “stifling” loyalty, over-compassionate, and giving too much at the expense of self (poor boundaries and difficulty saying “no”).
• Liver: Hun (ethereal soul): Hun is bound at birth, has a will of its own, survives the body at death and returns to the source of all life (the great unknown, heaven, etc.). The Hun comes and goes as he pleases and is considered out of the body while sleeping and dreaming and in the body in planning and pursuing our dreams. In strength, a person will be strong in self-direction, management, structure, and routine. A person becomes connected to their intuition, can envision a goal and feel that they have a direction for their life. They are also able to “go with the flow” and be flexible in their activities. In imbalance or stagnation, the mind lacks stimulation and the person feels apathetic and depressed, lacking direction and aim, and feeling stuck in their life. A “disembodied” Hun is indicated for involuntary dissociation, such as PTSD, and conscious escapism, such as substance abuse and addiction problems.
• Kidneys: Zhi (will): Our yin will may be related to our destiny / destiny, while the yang will has to do with conscious efforts and fundamental decisions that bring your will to bear for certain decisions and results. This is nicely said in the statement “choose your party”. Life is not always an easy path and it is the zhi that gives us the courage and strength to change our lives when we do not agree with our destiny. In health there is trust and belief and a willingness to go into the unknown in order to pursue our goals. When one is unbalanced, one can develop fears of life and lack of willpower, which can lead to chronic depression. The zhi can also become destructive and lead to recklessness and excessive risk-taking. These can also be combined with other kidney symptoms such as premature aging, back / knee problems, bladder problems, burnout, exhaustion, prolonged illness, tinnitus, edema and memory loss.
Acupuncture and TCM have been successfully treating people with a holistic approach for thousands of years. I offer these definitions as a glimpse into the deeper aspects of our humanity. In some cases the language can be a little out of date. However, it is still interesting to believe that we are more than just our bodies and that we have multiple aspects of our personality that make us all unique as individuals. The more knowledge and understanding we have, the more compassion and empathy we can have for those who appear “different” – regardless of region, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality or ability. We all share triumphs, victories, failures, and hardships to varying degrees because we were born human.
Dove Sprout and Paul Gaucher own and operate the Creston Acupuncture & Natural Health Center from their brand new location at 219 10 Ave N in downtown Creston. For more information or to make an appointment, call the clinic at 250-428-0488, visit www.acupuncturecrestonbc.com, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
READ MORE: Natural Approach to Health: The Concept of Wind in Traditional Chinese Medicine
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