Ultimate Health – It’s All About Balance…

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

2014 is supposed to be an auspicious year. For the first time in 19 years, the new year started on a new moon, or super moon, which is defined as a new or full moon that occurs with the moon at or near within 90% of its closest approach to earth. The themes for this year are major detox and cleansing and letting go which prepares us for rebirth and new beginnings.

The new year is also a time when people make resolutions, and many are focussed on health. We all want to be a little healthier, exercise a little more, eat better and have more time for ourselves. One of the things that I love about Chinese medicine is its emphasis on lifestyle. It is not simply going to the acupuncturist when you are having a hard time sleeping or taking herbs for trouble with digestion, in its purest form it teaches how to live so that we can achieve balance in every aspect of our lives, which is the goal to ultimate health.

Living your life with complete equanimity is no small task. It seems logical and is a wonderful goal, but anyone who has tried knows that balance, which seems so simple, is unbelievably difficult in the modern world. Below are some ways in which you can work towards balance in your life for every aspect of yourself, body, mind and spirit.

Meditate

The word “meditation” may be intimidating for some as you may think that you need to “learn how” to meditate, or “do it properly” to receive any benefits from it. I believe that simply taking as few as ten minutes, a couple of times a day to sit somewhere quietly without distractions is extremely beneficial for your health and wellbeing. You don’t really have to “do” anything except just sit and try to relax your mind and body. You will find that, at least at first, your mind will race around wildly and it may not be relaxing at all – this is called monkey mind. The thing is, that we seldom actually give out minds time to simply relax and let go, allowing them to go where they like. Instead we are constantly forcing them to do this and that, so meditation is an excellent opportunity to allow the mind to relax, and then hopefully, to quiet down completely. Meditation is a way to take yourself out of the chaos of your life and get back to yourself. A bit of a reboot if you will. The results will leave you feeling calmer, more relaxed and better able to handle the stresses of everyday life with equanimity.

There are of course many meditation techniques, and each person should find the ones that resonate with them. But for the beginner, just simply taking some time out once or twice a day to sit without distractions is an excellent way to get back to balance.

Eat Seasonal, Local Food

It is wonderful to see how important things like farmers markets and clean, organic foods have become to many people. There is a definite correlation between the food we eat and the state of our health. We cannot live on a diet of fast and processed foods and expect to be healthy, and the increase in degenerative diseases has borne this out. The best way to stay healthy is simple. Eat foods that are as close to the way they came out of the earth as possible. This means staying away from foods in cans, boxes and bags. The chemicals used to process these foods are detrimental to your body and your health. They are put into the foods to help them last longer, not to make you healthier. Eat organic whenever possible. Eat foods that are in season, as this is the way our digestive systems have evolved over many hundreds of years.

We live in an age of complexity disguised as convenience, but I am a believer that as far as the digestive system is concerned, simplicity is key. When it comes to food combining and choosing ingredients, simplicity is what the belly likes and Chinese medicine has much wisdom when it comes to choosing foods, combining and preparations that are in harmony with the seasons. Being mindful when we cook and prepare food is also important, as the intention we put into it is as nourishing to us as the food itself. Ever wonder why anything your mom or grandmother makes for you tastes so delicious? It’s because they are making it with love and intention just for you, and you can taste it!

Go Outside

go outside for health

There is nothing more healing to our bodies and spirits than nature and connecting with the earth. Many of us have lives lived in front of computers or in offices and get precious little time outside. Making the time to be outside, even for a little while every day will give you much needed energy from the planet and allow you to reconnect with yourself. Take off your shoes and walk in the grass, or on the beach. Breathe deeply. Lie in the sun. You can feel the energy of the planet washing over you, becoming part of you. Being outside reminds us of what is important and gives us perspective – that we are not living on the earth, we are part of the earth and its energy is incredibly healing to us.

Move Your Body

capoeira move your body for health

Many illnesses in Chinese medicine are caused by stagnation, or blockages of Qi in the body. Part of the reason that stagnation is so common is our sedentary lifestyles. Our bodies were designed to walk, run and jump – to MOVE. We spent thousands of years in our history hunting for food and living nomadic lifestyles, always on the move. The good news is that there are many, many ways in which to move your body and get your Qi flowing. While these people above and doing Capoeira (a Brazilian martial art) you don’t have to go out and start throwing yourself around (unless you want to of course!). Simple things like walking are very moving for Qi. Qi Gong and Tai Chi are also excellent ways in which to cultivate and move Qi – and are considered internal martial arts. There are limitless possibilities, so choose something you like. Walk on the beach. Hula hoop in your living room or chase your children around the backyard – just moving your body will move Qi and help you be a healthier, happier being.

Be in Love

having love in your life is good for your health

Feelings of love, appreciation, joy and gratitude are excellent for your health. They feel pretty good too. The endorphins released when we experience emotions like love are powerful and very healing to both body and mind. The good news is that love (appreciation, joy and gratitude) are everywhere. Smiling at someone on the bus – that’s love. Holding the door open for someone who has their hands full – that’s love. Petting your cat – that’s love. Appreciation, gratitude and joy are largely a choice. I have a tiny rock that I often carry in my pocket, and whenever I touch it, I think about all the things that I am grateful for. This is an excellent reminder that the list is long and by simply becoming consciously aware of them, I am bringing more wonderful things into my life. I try to remain in “an attitude of gratitude”. Of course, life is not easy and difficult things happen, but consciously focussing on the positive will do wonders for how you feel and ultimately, make you a happier, more positive person which is… you guessed it, good or your health. :)

Learn to Let Go

letting go is good for your health

This is one of the most powerful things we can do for our overall health and wellbeing. I see so much imbalance in the body created by people needing to control things in their lives and an inability to let go. Letting go in Chinese medicine is associated with the lungs (sadness and grief) and the large intestine (our physical ability to let go of wastes in the body). Many people have had difficult and traumatic things happen in their lives and for some reason or another have not been completely able to deal with these events and let them go. The result is that we bring these issues, hurts and demons with us into the present where they continue to hurt us. Having the awareness to be able to look back and work through those hurts and be able to let them go will help you make space for things that will serve you, like love, friendship, joy and peace. Acupuncture can help with this by keeping the lungs and large intestines strong. Other things like journaling, walking outside and meditation are helpful to help develop our ability to let go. Letting go is incredibly liberating, and the more we can let go, the healthier and happier we will be. It isn’t easy, but it is definitely worth the effort, because no one deserves a healthy and balanced mind, body and spirit more than you do!