The balancing act
Somehow, I was never tempted to try walking on a tight rope. My balance was never that great since childhood. But I have always admired the ones who could pull it off – the near misses make one’s heart sink but - hey presto - they have recovered and walking again!
If you think about it, life is a balancing act. We strive to find a good work/life balance; we balance how much time we can carve for sleeping so that enough still gets done whilst we’re awake; we balance the time we have to spend with some people versus the time we want to spend with the same people (or other people for that matter!). The list goes on and somewhere there is a balance between what we can cope with having life throw at us and what we can’t.
It is our body’s “built in” function to send us warning signals in the form of aches and pains, low moods and inability to focus – to let us know it’s time to finally carve out some time to look after ourselves, to not dull the pain and wish it away but to really sit and think why now?
In my understanding, the role of Chinese Medicine and acupuncture in particular is to help us restore our original balance so that we can clearly see our purpose in this world.
Which bring us nicely to the concept of Yin and Yang balance in nature and our life in particular.
In “Tao Te Ching” Lao-Tzu describes Yin/Yang concept like this: “The ten thousand things carry shade and embrace sunlight. Shade and sunlight, Yin and Yang, breath blending into harmony.”
Balance in nature
Time and time again I hear that if there was no winter, we wouldn’t enjoy the summer quite as much and without the decay of autumn the new spruce of spring wouldn’t be the same. Of course, when it’s been raining for days on end it is hard to see any benefits of this gloomy weather but once it stops, we can enjoy the sunshine so much more. We need this cyclical dance of nature to be able to grow and develop – only after the quiet reflection of winter we can leave behind the unnecessary baggage of the last year to be able to let in new and exciting projects of spring and summer.
Balance of Body
Some of my patients call themselves “severely right-handed” which in practice means that they struggle to do certain things with the left hand. Unless you are a chosen few, you must have noticed that left and right parts of your body have slightly different flexibility, sometimes one even can’t sleep on their left or right side.
“Good side” overcompensates to accommodate the limitations of the “bad side” in case of an injury, many times it turns out that left shoulder was even tighter than the right once we eliminate the right shoulder pain which was the main complaint.
If we have been excessively stooped over the computer or sitting down too much, we can often notice that out lower body becomes chilly whilst top part becomes overheated. Don’t worry – it’s not just you. It is our body telling us to get up and get our blood flowing again. Often just a couple of quick stretches can rectify the problem if we catch it in time.
Balance of Mind
Sometimes it’s nice just to give yourself a pat on the back and have a TLC Day. Our minds tend to be busy night and day – absorbing and processing the new information, planning ahead, trying to learn on past mistakes and just worrying about the things and events which are out of our control. It’s exhausting! That’s when practicing mindfulness, breathing exercises or just letting yourself have that long soak in the bath come to our rescue. It is very important to just allow yourself be!
How Mind and Body can help balance each other.
If we tend to reside in our head – whether due to our day job or by nature – it can manifest in having vivid dreams or just being unable to fall asleep. I frequently hear it called “busy mind”. To balance this “busy mind” out we need to do some physical activity which doesn’t necessarily have to be strenuous. Light stretching such as yoga, qigong, or taichi would do.
Of course, if you like gardening or are an avid runner then that is an excellent choice too. Walking often helps clear one’s mind – and that’s exactly the balancing effect of moving our body I’m talking about.
Excessive worry or frustration can manifest in body tension if not dealt with for some time.
In acupuncture, there is a school of treating musculoskeletal conditions such as aches and pains called “balance method”. It identifies the “diseased channel” or channels and then balances them by treating their counterparts – different channels which are paired with the diseased ones. It is often called “mirror imaging” where say if your ankle hurts, we would treat your opposite wrist.
In my pre-acupuncture career, I used to run a bookkeeping business and believe me there is something very satisfying and comforting once the books are balanced, a certain harmony akin to the one of a musical piece. No wonder that so many accountants and bookkeepers play a musical instrument or sing.
When we feel balanced, everything seems somehow better, less daunting – even if our overall life situation remains the same – we can deal with day-to-day problems better. After all, my favourite patient feedback is that they “feel better in themselves”.
As Karen Horney explains in her book “Neurosis and Human Growth”, human beings have an inbuilt propensity toward self-realisation and if obstacles are removed, an individual will develop into a mature, fully realised adult, just as an acorn will develop into an oak tree. So, all I need to do as a therapist is remove the obstacles/stuck emotions to free the way for the body and mind to get back to balance.
If you feel out of balance and want to discuss how acupuncture can help you, please get in touch.