31 Mar A Brief Reflection: Traditional Chinese Medicine
To define Chinese medicine is to look at the human body through the eyes of a monk, animal, and tree all at the same time. It sees a complex being, made up of spiritual, energetic, and physical properties and listens to what the body reveals rather than trying to superficially command the body sans diving deep into perceptive understanding. It is a remarkable science to find us integrated within nature rather than isolating us into fragments within our own species. That is why Chinese medicine seems so vast; it attempts to comprehend and gather as much of the universe’s themes in order to restore health to us.
The concept of balance is at the epitome of Chinese medicine–symbolized by yin and yang as two coexisting ends of the continuous spectrum of life. Within this balance, the person finds health and contentment. Finding the root imbalance is of utmost concern in this medicine, with each part of the body symbolizing more than its physical function, but understanding it as a metaphysical metaphor for our behavior, constitution, tendencies, and personalities as well. Associating the state of anger or having a lack of self-control to the energetics of an organ, for example, is an entirely unconventional (to Western standards) yet intuitive way of looking at the body. Acupuncture, herbs, cupping, qi gong, and bodywork are among the common tools within the healer’s workshop. Each has a unique approach of reaching the common goal of balance.
The medicine carries a sense of faith to it intrinsically in the fact that it promotes belief in things that we cannot see per se, yet are all-so-familiar to our deepest sense. It engages our understanding of what our body naturally deems fundamental–that is qi, which is loosely defined as life force or vital air. By far, Chinese medicine is a more complete attempt to understanding the complexity of our health as functional human beings within the vast network of life. With thousands of years of empirical legitimacy, Chinese medicine can be likened to a wise and vibrant elder to our younger and eager medical system in the West; it has so much to offer.
More to come.
This was part of a brief journal entry I wrote years ago when my journey in traditional Chinese medicine began.
Let me know in the comments below what you would like to know about East Asian medicine and what your experiences (if any) have been.