Emotional Healing In A Time of Crisis

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

We are living in unprecedented times in our world. We have just lived through a global pandemic of COVID-19 and the world we knew no longer exists. Anger and frustration are coming out in so many ways all over the world as people struggle with the new reality and many struggle to survive. 

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To me, it isn’t the physical challenges that the virus presents that worry me, it is the emotional state of our global population. In the US we see riots, campaigns to defund the police, racial tensions, destruction of property and businesses and unprecedented violence. No matter how many of us may want to politicize what is happening, I think it points to something much deeper that has been brewing for much longer than many people realize. People are angry. They are frustrated. Life is getting harder. People work more for less money. There is so much uncertainty about the future. Many have lost their businesses. Their jobs. Their abilities to support their families. People are exhausted and scared. And they see more and more corruption at every level of business and government - which only feeds the anger and frustration that a few profit at the expense of so many. 

 


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I can’t offer a solution to the problems we face as a global community, but I think that we need to be honest about what is happening and be able to express those feelings. We have a right to be angry, frustrated and afraid. And we need to give those feelings a place to go. There is so much “political correctness” that people these days feel that they can’t say anything for fear it will offend somebody. We need to be able to have honest discussions about what is REAL and TRUE. And yes, it might offend somebody. In the present climate, the truth seems to have become a dirty word. The truth might hurt someone’s feelings. The truth might not be what someone wants to hear. And this is part of the problem. Because the truth is what is going to save us. 

For most of my life and career, I have been very conscious of focussing on the good. The positive. Practising kindness. Being loving. Having compassion. But I don’t insulate my life and not let anything negative come in. That would be delusional. When you are healing, people come and they need those things. They are hurting so they need love, kindness, compassion and your positivity and light. Those are the things that start the healing process, and support it until the end. But now I see that we seem to be having a reality problem. Some people are unable or unwilling to accept what is happening in the world. I understand this, as often, the reality is dark. It’s hard. There are things that are difficult to accept. And they hurt. 

There have been a lot of difficult truths coming to the surface lately. And if you don’t know what I am talking about, then you aren’t paying attention. This has been causing a lot of pain and a lot of grief. The new reality, for many, is difficult to accept. 

Another theme I see that is contributing to a lot of pain is that there seems to be a conscious effort to divide us. Break us apart and make us fight with each other. This breeds fear, fear of the “other” and only compounds the feelings of grief, depression, anxiety and isolation that have exploded since this all began. They want you to feel that you are alone. But the truth is, that you are not alone. There are more than 7 billion of us on the planet. We are a global community, and we have the intelligence and creativity to solve any problem we may face. But we can’t solve problems when we are angry, sad and afraid. You cannot focus your energy on solving problems when you are fighting an enemy.

I have been thinking about how we might go about trying to heal from so many of the powerful emotions we are dealing with right now. Both ones that have been building up for years, and the ones that are a result of this new situation that we find ourselves in. Chinese Medicine is really unique in how it looks at our emotions and how important they are to our health and wellbeing. As many of you know, each of the emotions is associated with an organ or an organ pair and when that emotion is healthy and in balance, it is strengthening to the body and that organ in particular. But when that emotion is out of balance, in excess or unexpressed, it is depleting to the body and its respective organs, causing problems in all aspects of your life and health. Generally in our culture, we are not taught that emotions can make us sick, but I think that most of us instinctively know that this is true. How does your stomach feel when you worry? Or how about those headaches when you are angry and stressed? How does your heart feel when you are grieving?

The good news is that because the emotions are built into the system of Chinese Medicine, it also offers solutions and practices we can use to keep emotionally healthy. Each of the seasons, for example, offer us an opportunity to really work to clear old emotions we’ve been holding on to and balance and strengthen the system. I have been thinking that this wisdom is so needed right now. 

The emotions - things that hurt us, cause us grief or stir up anger can be an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. Why are we having these reactions to things that are happening? Why does one person respond to a situation in anger when another might feel grief?

Treating Emotions in the Real World

Helping us to manage the tsunami of emotions we are all feeling right now is the understanding that we must first become aware of the emotions, and then work to change not WHAT we are feeling but how we REACT to those feelings. Read that again. It's so simple, but it will likely change the way you think about how you may be feeling.

In my work with patients, we often start with simple awareness. Let's use an example.

If you are struggling with a particular emotion, let's say grief. Usually (but not always), the person is aware of the grief. The cause is the death of someone close to them, their loss is causing the grief. The lungs in Chinese Medicine are associated with grief, so there might be lung symptoms as well- shortness of breath, asthma, dizziness (not enough oxygen), coughing, etc. Their grief can literally be causing the lung symptoms because intense or excessive grief weakens the lungs' Qi. The person is describing how they are feeling, saying they feel consumed by their grief, out of breath, have no energy and are anxious and stressed because the grief is making it difficult to function because they still need to go to work and look after their young children. And this is it. The grief is a completely natural result of someone important in your life passing away. But the reaction is an increasing feeling of anxiety and panic because there is no space for the grief in their life because they have to keep going to work and looking after children.

So, we look at those feelings first - the anxiety and panic - and we figure out a way to help to manage them. Are you able to take some time off? Could the children go to stay with a grandparent for a few days? Can you take some time to allow yourself the space to grieve? Do you have someone you can talk to about everything you are feeling? All of these things will help release some of the pressure that can make these emotions so overwhelming. Just the acknowledgement begins the healing process. We start with the reaction - the anxiety because of the pressure to keep going normally while you are suffering - and work backwards to the grief itself.

When we get to the grief, there are a few ways that we can help reduce its intensity. We work to strengthen the lungs and build up their Qi, which very often helps lessen the grief's potency. We create a space for the grief to be felt, fully allowing those feelings to be expressed. In Chinese Medicine, the way emotions can be causes of disease is if they are repressed or unexpressed, leading to a stagnation in the body and eventual toxicity. Anyone who has a secret or something in their past they have been holding on to for years can tell you. It has an effect. Holding on to emotions isn't good for you, so finding the proper avenue for their expression is an important part of the healing process.

We are living in challenging times that are unprecedented in our history. Our struggles are multi-faceted right now. People are struggling to find their way in the new reality we face as a global community. The good news is that human beings have incredible intelligence, adaptability and resiliency. If we are able to stay positive, stick together and express what we are all feeling honestly, we can come out the other side of these difficult times stronger and with a new appreciation for everything good that still exists in this world.

If you need help working through what you are feeling right now or healing in general, I am here for you. My information is below.


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Exercise Is The Perfect Complement To Traditional Medicine

By Sally Perkins

Being told to exercise is likely one of the most common treatments ‘prescribed’ by contemporary doctors. It’s not without merit, and there are a multitude of benefits to be gained from exercise that are discovered every day. For example, medical researchers have recently found that 10% of advanced lung cancer patients benefited from exercise.

What role does exercise have to play in traditional medicine? The likes of tai chi and tui na already have a physical aspect and the benefits of those practices are well known. Both within Chinese medicine and other non-western medicines, physical activity has been shown to have a positive contribution to overall health when used in conjunction with other methods.

Tai Chi, Yoga, and The In Between


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Coming from different corners of the continent, tai chi and yoga have remarkable similarities despite their differences. Both rely on stretching movements, but yoga is more energetic and pushes into stillness; whereas tai chi relies on fluid movements to relax the muscles in preparation for stretching later. Recently, they have ‘combined’ in a way to create yin yoga. Early studies have suggested that this particular type of yoga, when conducted safely and with the proper equipment, can have a strong positive influence on health. One study, conducted by Lund University, Sweden, found that yin yoga could significantly reduce physiological and psychological risk factors. The study found that those taking part in yin yoga had reduced levels of ADM, a marker often found in those developing non-communicable disorders such as cardiovascular disease.

Is Vigorous Physical Activity Possible?

Vigorous activity is not part and parcel of Chinese medicine. As the Traditional Chinese Medicine foundation have noted, sweat is the fluid of the heart, and vigorous activity will unbalance your Qi creating a deficiency. What’s the solution?

One potential is swimming. Swimming can be moderately vigorous, requiring every muscle in the body to work in tandem to stay float and propel. However, it can be moderated, and sweat is greatly reduced when in a colder pool. There is also evidence to show swimming can work well in tandem with traditional Chinese medicine. Researchers from Zhongshan Hospital, Shanghai, China, found that songyou yin and swimming aided liver immunity when used in conjunction. Ultimately, this reduced the levels of liver cancer in the study group.

The Bottom Line


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Bringing in more energetic forms of traditional exercise, and more mainstream methods, such as swimming, have an overall contributory effect to your health. However, multiple studies have shown the well established link between traditional Chinese exercises, like tai chi, and good health. As this South China Morning Post article clearly outlines, the holistic use of traditional Chinese exercises, good diet and mindfulness (or meditation) mitigate many cardiovascular ailments, regardless of country; the study cited pointed out that over 2,000 people across 10 countries reported on.

Traditional medicine has shown its effectiveness when paired with exercise. There are ways to augment this in order to provide the maximum benefits for your health. However, while these have been shown to help, the best way to stay fit is through traditional routines.

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Alignment - Part 3

By Steven Lubka

Performing a Cranial-Spinal Reset

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Finally, I want to offer a technique for resetting the whole system when it is under stress. Anytime you feel tension or discomfort you can perform this to initiate a relaxation response.

The first step is positioning oneself in the above posture. The key points are as follows:

  1. You are lying on a firm surface
  2. The angle of your thighs to your spine is close to 90 degrees
  3. The angle of your shins to thighs is close to 90 degrees
  4. The ankles and feet are pointed
  5. The hips are positioned directly over each other, as well as all joints in the legs.
  6. The forehead is resting on the hands. It is very important that you are not resting the head on cheekbones or jaw joint. Resting the weight on one of these areas will be counter productive

Once one is in the following posture it is important to spent a moment attending to the breath. Allow the breath to shift into the lower belly, this will often happen automatically as the chest is pressed to the ground through the position. As one breathes they will feel an opening in the sides of the back. This mechanism of the breath force kicking back against the chest which is pinned to the floor serves to reset the spinal vertebra.

After one has spent a moment in the position it is time to address the skull. While in the position you now move to adopt correct oral posture. To really perform the reset you want to bring the molars together with a degree of force as you push the tongue against the roof of the mouth with 80% of the total force available to you at that time. If the amount of force available to you at the time with your tongue is enough to overpower the strength of the jaw muscles which keep the molars together decrease the force of the tongue. The aim of this is to release the jaw joint and it will only occur if the bite muscles are being engaged in this way. Performing this oral exercise while the body is rotated in this will serve to remedy any twisting of the skull, as well as the rest of the body. Once you have performed this on one side of your body flip yourself over and perform the same exercise on the other side. I recommend this highly as correcting the various ways the body is rotationally imbalanced is something which is often neglected.  

Finally, there is a quality which is essential the individual cultivates to really bring the total force of their being towards the journey of physical healing. This quality is the driving force of the whole process and if one were to do nothing else, I would simply suggest they cultivate it. The quality I am describing I would call , in my own words, a “felt sense” of the body. In other terms would could call it interoception and proprioception, the sensing of the internal condition of one’s body. This means that one must deepen their awareness of what their body feels like and be able to respond intelligently to the feeling state of the body. This carries emotional connotation as well. It is the refining of one’s sense of the emotional energies that circulate in the body, and the cultivation of a perspective of consciousness which is able to simply observe the impact of emotions without being drawn into reaction or identification with them. This quality can be cultivated through practicing continuous awareness of the various tensions once experiences in the body, as well as attending to each body part individually. What this means is to take a moment in meditation to feel what each body part is feeling. In one sense this is a coming home to the flesh, which we often turn away from or neglect. In another sense it is simultaneously important to develop an observer consciousness which is not attached to these things. This is a coming home to the spirit. If one does nothing else, cultivate these essential qualities.

I clearly remember the first time I ever tried to make myself feel better. Such a normal and commonplace action yet it struck me even at the time. I was 8 years old and I was looking forward to going to a favorite store when I found out it was closed. In that moment my mind reached for something else I could do to cope with the disappointment, something that might bring me pleasure. This is something we often do, and we even raise our children in this way. When there is emotional upset we seek something external to change our experience of those feelings.

However this represents a turning away from Self, from the ever present ground of being. It was my first encounter with the aspect of the ego which is focused on how it feels and is always desiring to feel better. What a mechanism! This was the beginning of my later drug addiction, at 8 years old. Addiction could not possibly exist in a being who is not seeking to experience pleasure and push away pain. And yet this function of egoic consciousness exists in many forms besides that of drug addiction. I think if we look at ourselves with an honest sense of inquiry we will find that we are all seeking a better experience most of the time. If we look with an even more discerning gaze we will also see that in doing this we actually create more pain for ourselves than if we didn't try to do anything about our negative feelings.

It is an important step in our journeys to heal the state of our body-mind, indeed this whole article has dealt with the process of healing. However, it is important to be aware of our motivation for doing so. Are we attempting to run from pain, to push it away as unacceptable, or are we seeking to meet our pain with the redemptive force of our loving attention?  For the rare individuals who are after Truth and not simply a better experience this is of the utmost importance. The path of self-improvement and healing is an ENDLESS path. One never reaches an end point. The only thing left for those who’s goal is something beyond this is direct insight into the nature of the Self. The act of trying to heal oneself or feel better is a pointer and a path in of itself, however this path does not lead to the ultimate goal. It prepares the seeker to be able to recognize and accommodate the divine perspective which will emerge later.

For me remembering the first time I ever engaged in the act of turning away from my pain, also always reminded that there existed something outside of it. It indicated that there was another state of being which was not concerned with how it felt and never attempted to change what was.

As always, this is a fantastic teacher for me. In remembrance of the Great Self, we turn ourselves towards our source , with endless devotion, without ceasing. The true God is a silent one, and a small one. There is nothing other than this.

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Why Colleagues Matter

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I am blessed because every day when I wake up and think about going to work I feel happy about it. Yes, that is what I said... HAPPY. There are many reasons for this. One is the fact that I happen to have wonderful patients who enrich my life, humble me and teach me as much about healing as I hope I can teach to them. This, in itself is a reason to grin with delight as you get out of bed and go to work. But there is more. Second, I really, really love what I do. I have never for one moment since I started on this path had any doubt that this is absolutely the thing I am supposed to be doing. That really helps you get up in the morning (and I am not a morning person so I need all the help I can get). But the other reason, and one that is so rare and wonderful, is the other healers I have the privilege of working with. My colleagues. My peeps. My soul family.

Do What You Love, Love What You Do : Chinese Medicine Living

I have the pleasure of working in a sweet healing centre in downtown Sarasota, Florida. For those of you who don't know Sarasota, it is a lovely place on the ocean, with world class beaches and full of spiritual people, yoga studios, acupuncture clinics, Buddhist meditation centres and metaphysical churches. It is sort of like the Shangri-La of Florida. I am amazed at the wonderful community of spiritual people, healers and other awesome human beings that I know here. Not an evening goes by when there isn't a kirtan, concert, meditation or documentary film happening to delight you. This is the place I get to work and live.

The centre where I practice is a very lovely space, that always smells of incense, is smashed with plants and anyone is always welcome to stop by the tea room in the back for tea and a chat. It is warm, inviting and friendly. We have a sandwich board outside which boasts different quotes every day to uplift the spirits of those walking by. We have an excellent relationship with our neighbours which consist of a tattoo shop (which is dangerous as we are all lovers of the ink), a catering company (where we often grab food throughout the day) and a sweet French restaurant and cafe where we are all on a first name basis with the owners and staff, who regularly bring over chocolate croissants which we never, ever refuse. Have you ever had a real French chocolate croissant? They are ridiculous.

One of the best things about arriving at work every day is that I get to work with two of the best healers and human beings I know. They are my colleagues. Now, I have worked in a LOT of clinics in my life, with a lot of different medical people, Western doctors, healers, you name it, which is why I know how lucky I am to have these two to work with. It is like the culmination of 10 years of working to get to the people you are meant to work with because everything is so harmonious. There is no competition. There is no jealousy. There is only respect and love for each other. Respect in each other's talents, and our unique abilities to help our patients.

Energy Healing : Chinese Medicine Living

This lovely image from GPyoga on Etsy.com

One is a massage therapist (who gives the best massages I have ever had in my life), a yoga instructor (whose class I have been enthusiastically attending since I arrived here) and reiki healer (who consistently blows me away with the things she sees without me having to say a word). She does each with expert skill and many years of experience. Most work a lifetime to master one of these complicated disciplines, she has mastered all three. She is going to kill me when she reads this. ;)

The other is also a massage therapist, with a completely different style and equal skill. He is also a martial artist (Aikido), meditator and medium (oh my!). He has lived in the spiritual world his entire life, and has been teaching martial arts and spiritualism and meditation for many, many years. I am constantly humbled by his wisdom and the selfless way he shares it with us. These are the people I get to work with every day.

The wonderful thing is that we all vibrate at the same frequency. We all like each other. We respect each other. We treat each other. We refer patients to each other. We go to each other's houses for dinner and hang out together on days off. We are friends. Family.

I always say that they are my health care. I get treatments from each of them as often as possible. Once a week if possible. I am a believer in preventative medicine, so I, and they need to make sure that we stay healthy so that we can be there for our patients. We treat each others families and friends. We take care of each other. Our health and well being is each others concern.

Once a month we do reiki share where anyone can come and everyone gives and also gets reiki. These are wonderful for us and for the community. Twice a month we have meditation, where my colleague teaches meditation techniques and we learn about spiritualism. Once a month we have a philosophy class where my other colleague, who started the path that eventually led to yoga with philosophy, leads the discussion. All of these practices build up a powerful energy in the clinic that helps build us up and floods the place with healing energy that washes over everyone who visits.

The cohesive nature of my colleagues and I is palpable and can be felt by everyone who comes into the clinic. It is calm, nurturing and most of all... healing to all who enter there. And that is because, we try to create that environment. Thankfully, it has happened organically because we are all in harmony with one another and have the same goals. This helps our patients heal and is a wonderful healing environment to spend my days in.

Why Colleagues Matter : Chinese Medicine Living

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900 Needles Documentary : Chinese Medicine LivingI Love Acupuncture Men's ShirtAcupuncturist. Mug : Chinese Medicine Living

Why Colleagues Matter : Chinese Medicine Living


Faith is Powerful Medicine

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

A subject that I have been thinking about a lot lately is the subject of faith. Specifically the role of faith in healing.

I have, of late, had some experiences that have shown me how important faith is in healing from disease as well as emotional traumas (and the two often go together). It is always humbling to think about how much is involved in healing. It is not just going through medical school, knowing your points, learning the protocols and memorizing herbs, nor is it learning medications, biology, physiology or any of those huge subjects. It is so much more than that. I had no idea when I was in school where a career as an acupuncturist and healer would take me. I feel like school was just a taste, a taste and a viewing of the entire banquet of possibilities, so you could see how much you had to learn. Once you get out of school is when the real learning begins.

Faith is Powerful Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living image from faithunitedmethodist.com

Once you get out into the world and start treating patients you realize that what you have learned in school is only a tiny, infinitesimal fraction of what is involved in the healing process. And that it isn't at all about you. You are a helper, a facilitator of the healing, and that healing is innate in every living thing. You are just supporting it, helping it along. Your healing isn't about me, it is very much about you.

The body is of course, an important aspect. It is the vehicle. It is the physicalness of your being. We must take care of the body, like a temple we should worship every day. But, there is so much more to us than simply a body. We are a soul, a spirit, a mass of emotions, thoughts, and beautiful light. And they are all intwined together, inseparable and interconnected to make up the awesomeness of the one that is us. As all these parts, working together are important in health, they are also just as important in disease. The Newtonian model of physics that led to Western or allopathic medicine sees the body in a mechanistic way, as a machine, and that medicine has been developed with this thinking. The body is reduced to parts, doctors specialize not taking into account the whole, the fact that the pieces are working together and cannot be separated for health to be achieved. In my opinion, Western medicine has made many advancements which have saved the lives of many people, but it is its inability to consider the whole that is its weakness.

Do you notice how you feel when you are depressed or sad? How your body feels? How do you react when you get a phone call with bad news? That someone you love has been hurt, or someone you are close to dies? Could you say that your emotions do not have an effect on the body? That how you feel doesn't have an effect? It is the same with our thoughts because they are so powerful. People live for years with cancer, but it isn't until they go to a doctor and get a cancer diagnosis that they get sick and die.

Faith is Powerful Medicine : Chinese Medicine Livingimage from www.mariashriver.com

Have Faith, it Could Save Your Life

So where does faith come into all this?

It has been proven that when diagnosed with a terminal disease, the people who tend to heal faster and ultimately survive, are the ones who THINK they will. The ones who have faith that they can and will get better. Faith is powerful. This concept has been played out over and over again with patients who have been diagnosed with a life threatening illness. Faith, or the belief that you will heal and survive, seems to be as, or more important than any "medicine" you could take to save you.

Think about this. People can live for years with cancer, but it isn't until it is diagnosed by a doctor that they get sick and die. A statement from a Deepak Chopra book I read as part of my final year thesis when I was studying Chinese medicine. My thesis was about the role of the "mind" in healing. Chopra's argument was that it was having someone tell you the words - that you had a disease that immediately gave it the power to kill you, but when looking at the survival rates, the people who seemed to survive were invariably the ones who thought it was a possibility. That didn't see the diagnosis as a death sentence. Thoughts are powerful.

Faith is not easy. When you are struggling with a life threatening disease, something shifts in your mind. Suddenly you become very focussed and your perspective changes. I believe it is a part of the society that we live in that gives so much power to the words of doctors and not enough power to the healing capabilities of our bodies. I believe that if the body has what it needs it can heal itself. Every time.

Physiologically, it has been proven over and over that worry, doubt and stress put a huge burden on the immune system and weaken the body making it more difficult to heal from disease. Having faith and being positive have been proven to strengthen the immune system and these attitudes lead to better outcomes in instances of illness. It makes sense, doesn't it? Think about how your body feels when you get some really bad news. You can feel it in your body. Maybe you get nauseous, or get a headache or feel faint. Now think about how you feel when you get good news. When you pass an exam, or when you fall in love. Your body feels wonderful and alive, like every cell is vibrating at a higher frequency than it was the moment before.

So, in my experience faith is just as (and often even more) important to the healing process than medicine, or any other physical thing you could be doing to the body. This is why I love Chinese medicine so much. It isn't just about the body, the body is only a part. You are treating the mind, body and the spirit in tandem, because they are all part of you. And all equally important. So have faith, it will keep you healthy and it could very well save your life. :)

Faith is Powerful Medicine : Chinese Medicine Living

Faith is Powerful Medicine


How My Curse Became My Gift.

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

I was a sensitive child. I felt things deeply. But when you are little you don’t understand this about yourself.

I always found it hard to be in a room with a lot of people. I could FEEL what everyone in the room was feeling. It was overwhelming. Because of this, I spent a lot of time by myself. This wasn’t the only reason. I grew up an only child, and we moved a lot. I was good at being by myself. I could spend hours playing by myself, I lived in my imagination. The external world was intense and overwhelming for me, sounds always seemed too loud, smells too strong. When it came time for me to go to school, the experience was terrifying. I was painfully shy and had a hard time in crowded classrooms full of excited children. I begged my parents to let me stay home, but alas, I could not. I had to go to school. These reactions prompted some concern for my parents. I think this is why my father took it upon himself to try to “toughen me up”, which for most children would have been fine, enjoyable bonding perhaps, but for me bordered on brutality. They were worried about me and how I was going to survive in the cruel, harsh world.

Daydreaming

It was at this point that I started to realize that perhaps something was wrong with me, or that I was different in some negative way. I started to notice my parents reaction to my sensitivity to things even though I didn’t know it as sensitivity then. Whenever animals got hurt, I would cry. I still can’t watch humane society commercials. I worried about the environment. I worried about my parents dying and where they were going when they did. I worried a LOT.

But, there were many things that were my solace from the worries of the world. I felt deeply connected to animals, especially my pets. I could feel what they were feeling and always knew what they needed. I loved being outside in nature and the gentle hum that came from the plants and environment was comforting to me. I spent hours outside playing, building, walking. I was a daydreamer. I still am. I thought up entire worlds, people and complex scenarios where I would spend time in my imagination. This is what made me happy as a child, I had a rich inner life, but the real world and all its darkness, violence and death worried me deeply.

The importance of imagination

I think that my parents really worried about how I was going to make it. Of course they loved me and thought I was wonderful, but I suspect they wondered how I would deal with the harsh realities of life. I had heard them tell people what a “sensitive” child they had, and this was always accompanied by an expression of concern and received with a knowing look of sympathy. Being a sensitive kid was tough. My best friend's mother died suddenly in her sleep one night when we were 11 and I cried for a week because I was so sad for her and terrified my parents were next. When my pets died I was beside myself and couldn’t function. When I saw injustice or cruelty, I became angry and depressed that people couldn’t be more kind to each other. I worried about the state of the planet and the people on it. I still do.

Making it through high school was a miracle. As a shy, awkward teenager, high school is a special kind of hell. Thankfully, I went to an arts high school and found a lovely group of people just like me, and we all got through it together.

Much later when I had a little more life experience and some more tools at my disposal I figured out a way to explain the way I was and why I was so easily overwhelmed by certain situations and felt everything so deeply. I realized that the bandwidth in which I take in stimulus is waaaaaaaay bigger than it is for a normal person - so, for most people parties with lots of people are fun and a place to relax and enjoy themselves, but for me they are overwhelming, over stimulating  and exhausting. For some people seeing an animal being hurt is sad but manageable, but for me it is devastating and will haunt me for ages.

Years later when I was in school learning Chinese medicine something amazing happened. In those years, you are learning to heal by first healing yourself, and it is an intense process that can take you to unexpected places. In second year we began our clinical hours in student clinic treating patients.  I began to realize that I was easily able to tell why someone wasn’t feeling well and what they needed. I could organize my questions around what I felt from them instead of following a protocol or instructions. Instead of feeling three levels of the pulse, I could feel eleven. I could tell within a few minutes when someone in clinic was sad, or depressed or afraid and that this was the reason they weren’t well, often without ever speaking to them. I knew when holding a patient’s hand would do more than sticking them with needles. I knew when listening was far more important to someone's recovery than herbs or dietary therapy. I knew the problem and the reasons for it, even if the person's words were telling us something completely different. It was incredible, I knew what people needed without even trying.

It was while I was in school that I changed the way I felt about myself. Instead of being someone who had a weakness that needed to be overcome, I became someone with a gift. I just hadn’t ever known how to use it before. This thing I had, it turned out, made me very capable of helping people feel better. Figuring out why they weren’t feeling well and what to do about it. This sensitivity allowed me to feel on many deep levels and ascertain the root of the problem and how to correct it.

Now, after being in practice for many years, I have been able to hone my sensitivity which allows me to get to the root of a patient’s problem quickly and efficiently. I use what I “feel” from them as much as listening to the words they are telling me to diagnose and treat them. Because of this, I am able to resolve their problems because I know what caused them and how to best approach their treatment. What I love about Chinese medicine is that it is about the person you are treating, not the disease. The way they feel is just as important as what is happening inside their bodies, and being sensitive is the best tool I have to be able to help people rebalance and get well.

I am so grateful that I was able to find a profession that allowed me to realize that this thing that had always made life more difficult, actually made me a better healer. Accepting that being sensitive was not in fact a curse, but something incredibly valuable was very healing on many levels. The whole experience made me realize something else… that there are no such thing as curses, there are only gifts.

The gift of sensitivity

I urge you to find yours, and go out and use it to change the world.

words of wisdom

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How my curse became my gift | Chinese Medicine Living