The Season of Spring In Chinese Medicine: Riding The Winds of Change With COVID-19
When the winds of change blow, some people build walls while others build windmills.
The season of Spring is upon us. Spring in Chinese Medicine is a season that reflects the initiation of movement and new beginnings. It is associated with the Wood phase, and corresponds to the organs of the Liver and Gallbladder and the environmental condition of Wind. Out of balance, its emotion manifests as judgment, anger, frustration, and stubbornness.
When our Wood Phase is in balance, we are able to stay grounded with roots like a tree, while staying flexible allowing the wind to shift and move our branches with ease. If we become too rigid and stubborn, we snap and break against the winds of change. The Wood Phase teaches us to accept the inevitability of change allowing us to move through the world with more peace in our hearts.
The Wood Phase also rules the eyes. It reflects our ability see the world around us on a physical and philosophical level. Our beliefs and past experiences directly impact the way we see the world and our roles in it. Therefore, our ability to judge a current situation, whether it is with optimism, pessimism, or apathy, directly reflects how we think about the world at large.
As we emerge from the darkness and seclusion of Winter (opening our eyes) we are coming into a new beginning, a new story.
As a nation, we are facing a great moment of change with the presence of COVID-19. Our handling of this issue brings an awareness that as a nation, our Wood Phase is truly out of balance. We are acting like uprooted trees by allowing the presence of a virus to throw us into chaos. There is fear, panic, judgment, rigidness, and guarding instead of calm preparedness, flexibility, acceptance, mindfulness, and compassion.
As a practitioner of the healing arts, I strive to serve as a compassionate witness to the suffering of others. When someone is presented with a diagnosis of any disease (cancer, auto-immune condition, heart disease, degenerative disc disease, etc.) there is often a knee-jerk reaction of fear, panic, anger, and guarding. As human beings, this is a natural response. However, it is our choice as to whether we stay stuck in this state. People ultimately either become paralyzed by their fear, refusing to make the dietary and lifestyle changes that are necessary for their healing and thus continue to decline OR they use their illness as a catalyst for transformation. The presence of an illness can be a motivation to be more kind and loving towards ourselves and others. Many times, this type of life-affirming change in our mindset allows us to make better choices thus allowing us to gain access to a path of healing that we couldn't see before.
The presence of COVID-19 is a macro-cosmic reflection of the above situation and people are suffering. You yourself may feel confusion, fear, anger, or anxiety for yourself or loved ones. What the Wood Phase is asking us to do, is take a step back and ask ourselves if the fear and anxiety is truly serving us. Can we maintain proper awareness and educate ourselves about the situation without unraveling into a state of fear and anxiety? I believe that the answer is YES WE CAN!
Spring is here and it is time for you to check in on your own Wood Phase. Become mindful of how you are reacting to the world around you. Can you stay calm in the midst of chaos? If you notice yourself succumbing to anxiety and fear, what tools can you use to put yourself back on track? (see below for suggestions)
Being Proactive In the Midst of COVID-19
Office Cleaning & Preparedness
As an acupuncturist and massage therapist, I am required to adhere to OSHA standards and Clean Needle Technique. Frequent hand washing has always been a necessity with what I do and this will continue. I have also increased cleaning measures (using hospital-grade supplies) by wiping down commonly touched surfaces between treatment sessions in addition to doing a deep clean of the treatment room at the end of each workday. All sheets are switched out between each treatment (as they have always been) and washed on "sanitary" mode. I also have face masks on hand. If you ever come for an appointment and would like me to wear a face mask while I work with you, please request this. I would be happy to accommodate whatever measures make you feel the most comfortable. Please reach out to me with any questions or concerns that you may have.
Movement: Engage in daily movement exercises that feel good for your body. It does not have to be rigorous exercise to be effective. Moving your body and gently activating your muscles positively impacts the immune system and helps move stuck energy. Yoga, walking, gentle weight-lifting exercises can be wonderful.
Meditation: Not only is it important for us to exercise our bodies but it is equally if not more important to exercise our minds. If you have never meditated before, now is a good time to start. Please remember that meditation is a practice that helps us become aware of our thoughts and feelings. With that awareness we can begin to un-attach to our thoughts and emotions. This helps us truly understand that any trials or tribulations will pass just as our thoughts come and go. If you've never meditated before, I highly recommend that you start with guided meditation. The Calm App, Insight Timer App, or even youtube.com are good places to start.
Positive Forms of Entertainment: Check out Oprah's Super Soul Conversations podcast and watch tv and movies that reflect a positive view of the world and listen to peaceful or happy music. This will help calm the nervous system. Every-time we watch movies or tv shows that focus on violence or drama it reinforces a negative stress-filled view of the world. We can all use a lot less of that right now.
Sleep: Getting enough sleep is essential to our well-being. Practice good sleep hygiene by turning off any tv, computer, or phone at least 3 hours before bedtime. The normal light emitted from these devices tells our brains that its time to be awake. It screws up our biorhythms and negatively impacts our ability to sleep. If you don't want to turn these devices off, you can wear blue light blocking glasses or activate the blue-light filter on your devices.
Food: Eat unprocessed organic whole foods as much as possible. Stay away from all refined sugars. Stay hydrated with good quality, filtered water instead of sodas and juices.
Wash Your Hands and Don't Touch Your Face: For your sake and the sake of others wash your hands a lot. If you have to sneeze or cough, please do so into your elbow. Also, limit the amount of times you touch your face. I've never been so aware of how much I unconsciously touch my face. This has been a difficult habit for me to break but awareness brings about change. So stay aware and if you slip up, wash your hands.
NIH (National Institutes of Health) has reported that Eastern Medicine including acupuncture & herbal medicine has proven to be superior in 55,000 reported cases to Western/Allopathic medicine.
Acupuncture & especially Moxa (a heated compound used during treatment) and electro-acupuncture has shown to increase the number of immune defense cells circulating in your blood which are needed to fight the virus.
If you are feeling sick or are a "high-risk" person, please stay home and practice social distancing.