Tuesday, May 25, 2010
In school whether its grade school, high school, college etc we study the body by systems. When do we put all of these systems back together to understand how the body functions as a whole?
The body has the amazing capacity not only to maintain homeostasis but to remain in the present moment. What most people might not understand is how choices impact this. For example, the body's ph is 7.34 and no matter what we do it will stay this way as long as we are alive. If you drink a coke which is very acidic (somewhere around a 2) the body will compensate to keep homeostasis by leaching calcium out of the bones. One coke might not change the body, however, overtime all of that compensation could lead to many problems from muscle cramping to osteoporosis.
So how do we find balance in our lives when everything we do contributes to our health and most things that knock us off kilter are necessary? Perhaps we should learn a lesson from our bodies. In order to maintain homeostasis in the moment the body compensates after drinking that coke and borrows some calcium. It doesn't consider the detrimental effect this loss of calcium will have long term it is trying to survive in the present moment. The easy answer then is, if we stay present in this moment, the future is planned for.
Let's talk about work/life balance. What does the concept of balance look like to you? Perhaps an image of a judicial scale comes to mind. This idea is very static and rigid, life most times is not. I'd like for you to consider the idea of harmony. This concept is more fluid. The idea of Chinese Medicine is that each system supports the next and they all work together to keep the body healthy.
If a disharmony occurs it doesn't happen in isolation to one organ system- the entire body is impacted, emotions are impacted, the individuals life and all those a part of it are impacted. Kind of like that saying, "if mom's not happy, ain't no body happy." To find harmony we need to look at what caused the dis-harmony. As the body becomes healthier all areas become healthier. Its a domino effect in the right direction.
So where do we start? With awareness.
Take some time to think about your day from turning the alarm clock off, showering, eating breakfast (if you ate breakfast), driving to work, tending to your family, phone calls, emails, going to the bathroom etc etc. As you are thinking about your day notice your body, notice your breath. How does your life feel in your body. How is your body compromising to maintain homeostasis? Are you bracing your body with tight muscles? Holding your breath?
You might imagine how over time this un-awareness of how your body manages your day can contribute to disharmony in the body, in relationships, in the very activities that we enjoy.
With that in mind, could you use a little more energy to use during your day?
In Chinese Medicine it is believed we get our energy from 2 places: our parents and our lifestyle. There's not much we can do about our parents. The rest of the equation we have a little more control over. Da Qi + Gu Qi = Zhen Qi. What in the world does that mean? How you breathe and how you eat contribute to how much usable energy you have and how good you feel.
Da Qi: The Breath
The yogis believed we have a certain number of breaths to live, so they practice slow, deep, mindful breathing. An easy way to shut off fight/flight is to exhale deeper then your inhale. This will not only calm you it will help tone your abdominal muscles strengthening your core and lower back in addition to taking stress off of the neck and shoulders. For more information visit here.
When you can, take a moment to check in with your breathing or take one or two deep breaths for a quick time out in the middle of a stress filled moment. You might end your day with some deep breaths as well to drift off into more restful sleep.
Gu Qi: Food
There is gobs of information on what you should and shouldn't be eating. Alot
of it can be confusing as many ideas are contradictory. One thing just about everyone agrees on is that twinkies
will never be a "superfood
". I tell my patients to eat food that is alive. Anything that can live longer than you can on a shelf try to avoid. The best thing you can do when you eat, whatever it is that you eat is to eat with awareness. Don't multitask when you eat! The spleen/stomach controls digestion and is damaged by overthinking
. If you are answering emails while munching you could be setting yourself up for digestive problems, period issues, obsessive thinking and not to mention overeating. for more info on the spleen revisit here
Zhen Qi= True Energy
The gist of TCM is to keep harmony in the body by keeping the circulation of blood and energy flowing unimpeded. When blockages happen this causes the body to not be able to function as optimally as it could which can eventually effect every part of the body. Acupuncture can be a gateway to awareness. It literally forces you to be still for awhile. After treatments most people feel better, "cleaned out," energized and relaxed. With this new awareness they naturally start to make other changes in how they respond to situations that used to "stress them out."
Sarah Zender LAc
Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929