On one of my first visits to a Chinese doctor she took my pulses and said, “You’ve been pretty grumpy this week, I guess.” She was, of course completely accurate, it was a statement of how things were, which she was able to glean from taking my pulse (I thought that was pretty magical at the time!) What was so wonderful for me was the feeling of being treated as a total person, here was someone seeing ME, grumpy bits and all.
My less than charming side was just part of the total picture, no less and no more acceptable than all the rest. This sense of all of me being taken into account continues to be a vital part of my dedication to the Chinese approach to wellness. In that setting one is always seen as a whole; one’s symptoms are not divided off and taken in isolation. I am all of me and if my big toe is uncomfortable that is meaningful to me, to the way I manage my life, the way I walk, sleep, balance, etc as well as to what is going on on the inside. As my doctor takes all this in I am truly heard and the remedy is designed for me, for my well-being, not simply for ‘a sore toe.’
No matter whether I am grumpy or not; the sad bits, the lumpy bits, the things that are hard to talk about, as well as my cheery voice and determined smile, these are all me at that moment. Accepted and acceptable I can have confidence that whatever ails me the remedy will be directed to the re-balancing of me and my whole being will feel refreshed and restored. This is a great solace, whether I am feeling just a bit ‘off’ or thoroughly unwell. The experience of being taken seriously and not judged contributes greatly to the healing because being accepted encourages me to accept myself and to take my needs seriously.
This is, of course, one of the most important ways in which we can boost the health and well-being of those we love, actually to listen, especially when the topic is not cheerful. Genuine attention means to hear and to accept without judgement and without feeling the need to do something, be helpful, correct or make things better. Recently I heard a woman say, “When you are in trouble a sister listens and is one hundred per cent on your side, no criticism, no advice.” When we receive that kind of attention we are more able to deal with whatever our problems may be, because we feel re-assured and accepted as we are, not just in the ‘good’ bits.
We are constantly being encouraged to take time to be quiet and to diminish the stress in our lives, these are everyday ways to take proper care of ourselves but they require a degree of self-acceptance, and this is the hardest part. When we have learnt to accept ourselves without false judgement, our nice bits and our nasty bits, we have created an optimum state for true health. That is not to say we do not have to work at improvement, to eliminate toxins of both body and mind, and to reach for the best but there is a world of difference between a healthy self-assessment and adjustment and the shame and guilt of self-despising. Chinese medicine is one of the best forms of support for this optimum state.
Happily, contemporary medical research, led by the extraordinary insights of quantum physics, is at last ‘catching- up’ with what Chinese medical practice has always known, that our mental and physical states cannot be divided or seen as separate. Western medicine is rediscovering the truth that what goes on in our minds affects our state of health, our wellness and our illness. There is a whole field of what is being called ‘energy medicine’ opening up which works on the basis of mind/body interface. Inevitably, this ‘new’ kind of medical care utilises the ancient maps of the body’s energy systems and the acupressure points to re-align what is off key or out of balance in a patient’s system, whether the symptoms show up physically or psychologically. When Western-trained doctors are beginning to prescribe meditation rather than medication we know that the change is really on the way.
East or West dedication to the total well-being of patients, clients, friends or family is felt first through acceptance, which comes generously, without judgement and that is the best gift we can give to others and to ourselves. It is love by a less loaded name.
Our thanks to Josephine for sharing this thoughtful article with our readers – Ping Ming Health.
Josephine Griffiths is a Life Skills Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Author in Perth W.A. Her latest book This Above All – Hamlet and the Art of Ageing Brilliantly is designed especially for mature women who have had the customary diet of self-help books and want something more to feed and enliven them. Josephine also gives Retreats regularly for women, visit Josephine’s website at www.sophiaspirituality.com.au