Another patient asked what she could do while she is away for a couple weeks to maintain the well being she feels after a treatment. I told her about the concept in Chinese medicine that the emotions are considered interior weather, we protect ourselves from exposure to exterior climatic weather but are likely to be caught up in weather inside, not recognizing the emotions as separate from us, again a cultural relic. The seven emotions are our interior weather patterns and we should shelter from them like we do external weather patterns.
The emotions recognized as impacting our health are: anger, joy, pensiveness, worry, sadness (grief), fear and shock (fright). Each of these affects the Qi differently. Anger makes the Qi rise up, joy makes the Qi slow down, pensiveness and worry make the Qi stagnate, sadness consumes the Qi, fear causes Qi to descend and shock scatters Qi.
In meditation we can come to recognize how the body-mind feels when at our peak of well being and see how the different internal factors impact that. Then we can learn to adjust or shelter from the influence of emotions and maintain harmony. Just as the emotions can change the Qi so can our willed intention. Treat the body-mind with love and respect and it will respond in time.
A patient asked "why am I never balanced?" the other day in clinic. There was a degree of stress in the question, a misunderstanding that balance was a thing that could be achieved. It's probably a cultural misapprehension, a belief in absolutes. Absolute balance cannot be achieved, only nearly and persistently maintained. Even a yogi holding the posture of standing on one foot for hours or days is not still, but always in " dynamic equilibrium," (one of Dr Kim's aphorisms.) Absolute balance would not be a state for a living being, change is still the only constant, we just want to stay close.
What is going on when an acupuncturist takes your pulse?
So much more than counting the beat. There are four parts of investigation: looking, listening/smelling, palpating and asking. Pulse taking is part of palpation - it is a tactile inquiry. There is an exchange of information that occurs during the palpation and this begins the therapeutic effect of the interaction. From superficial exchanges and assessments by both parties there is now a distinct line crossed into roles of practitioner and patient. Beyond the actual pulse the tissue is palpated here, regions of the hand and forearm correspond to and offer insight into different areas of the body. Texture, temperature, and humidity are taken note of. The pulse in different locations corresponds to different body systems. Rhythm, intensity, texture, and speed all reflect different patterns. There are several varieties of pulse locations used by different traditions. Despite these differences there is no obvious advantage to any one over another.
However when two or more pulse locations are palpated and compared as in the style taught by Dr Jae Hoon Kim, this does offer an obvious benefit. Using the bilateral carotid and radial pulses to evaluate the ratio of Yin to Yang and left to right we are able to determine where in the body a deficiency or excess exists and then restore harmony. When Yin and Yang are out of balance it's analagous to standing on one foot while balancing something on your head and juggling a set of plates. How are you going to answer the phone? In other words if Yin and Yang are out of balance and a virus or trauma comes along, how capable is your body of responding effectively to it? If Yin and Yang are restored to harmonious balance the body can deal effectively with the challenges that life presents.
Licensed Acupuncturist, RN, Former Buddhist monk
"The pursuit of health is invariably a spiritual quest."