by Shihan Mary Bolz, L. Ac., M. Sc.
The latest statistics from the World Health Organization (WHO) showed that the United States is ranked number 1 in the world in health expenditures per capita, but ranked 37th on overall health system performance, and number 72 on level of health. The economics of the healthcare system are stressed with hospitals and providers struggling to meet margins that will allow them to stay in business while the people are stressed with poor health and worry about finances.
There is something seriously wrong with this picture. What can you do about it? Heal yourself. Yes, you can.
First of all, take responsibility for your own health. You can not leave it to the current conventional healthcare system to take care of you. Indeed, you never should have. It is each person’s own responsibility to take care of their own health and welfare; physically, mentally, spiritually, and economically. Quit making excuses. When people are seriously ill and manage to recover, they have done several things to change their lives. It is not “out there,” it is not “weird,” and it is not “pie in the sky.” People need to “come back down to earth “ and reevaluate their lives, their moral values and get in touch with their true self. It is quite simple, really. It does require a change of attitude, real trust in nature, consistent work, and simplification of one’s lifestyle. Let’s examine some of these requirements.
1. Acceptance: We must accept what has happened to us and our current state. We must accept that we are not well, we must accept whatever the condition is. Once we accept it, this puts us in a position to do something about it. Denial does not work.
2. Responsibility: We should take the responsibility for our state of health and realize that we have caused the current condition. Do not blame others, the world, or the environment, but realize that it is something we have not been doing or have been doing that has caused it or that it is our own lack of knowledge that caused it. It is something within us that has caused this condition. Who we are, what we are and our state of well being is our responsibility and ours alone.
3. Act: We must find what it is that has caused our imbalance and act to correct that, to change what we are doing in our life. For example, most common diseases are caused by lifestyle, dietary, and activity habits. We will probably need to change our diet completely or partially, change our work schedule, our exercise, (or lack of exercise) habits, our values. If our line of work is not helping our health, we need to change it. Yes, I mean change it. Do whatever it takes to be well. If there is a will, there is a way. That old adage is true. You must take the responsibility to realize that. No one is “stuck.” We all bring upon us what we want, whether we immediately realize it or not. Getting in touch with yourself can help you to realize that.
4. Change without fear: Do not be afraid to go outside of conventional medicine. I have found in my experience that my patients get well much faster when they are willing to get rid of pain medication, both prescribed and over-the-counter. When they discover they can live without it and get better and be pain-free or at least to a manageable level, they can start living again. Do not be satisfied with just a medication for a fix for any disease or imbalance. There are only a few prescribed medications that are absolutely necessary. They are not natural and are even harmful, even over-the-counter medications.
5. Humility: We must keep a spirit of humility and awe at the universe, nature, humans, and all that is around us. We must have a “beginner’s mind.” That means a nonjudgmental one and one that realizes that there is a power or powers greater than us human beings. Become a beginner in understanding life. You did not know all the answers or you would not be in this situation.
5. Great faith: We must really and truly know that nature heals itself when the conditions are right. Nature is very honest. If we follow its path, it will be in balance. Nature has a great desire to be well. It is Nature that heals and we must let it. That is what we call the miracle of homeostasis. No matter what, nature tries to stay well and keep going. It does this in spite of the fact that people live abusive lifestyles. It really is amazing how well the human and other organisms survive in spite of the abuses it takes.
6. Persistence to stick to the treatment program. Do not expect to get well over night or in a short time, unless you have a very recent condition. Most people have spent years getting sick, why do you expect to be cured in a few days or weeks? Sometimes it can take months to a few years to get well in very serious and chronic situations. Nature does not work by taking years of punishment and then having one short miracle cure. If you look at the entire picture, nature does incredibly well. It is amazing how soon a person can recover once they implement the correct treatment program. Twenty years or so of chronic pain can have significant improvement in a matter of weeks with acupuncture treatment, for example.
Traditional Oriental Medicine is based upon the principles of nature. Even though it follows and keeps up with changes of the new and modern, its ages-old concept never changes. That concept is based upon the philosophy of Yin and Yang. Once it is understood, one knows how to stay in balance. It is important not to fight nature, but to live with it. It is important not to look for answers from without, but from within. You will not find them through scientific research. That is endless and people get even more confused. The answers are here, all around us. Scientific research can go on, but we can all be wiped out instantly by the forces of nature. The power and workings of nature will never all be found through science. We do not have all the answers. That is why Oriental medicine looks at the laws of nature and follows them. Oriental medicine allows for the ambiguity of nature and has an affinity for vagueness. This is due to an appreciation that in nature things are rarely cut and dried, but instead are rather blurred.
Nature is also very honest and the way it works is unchanging. Oriental medicine looks for patterns and relationships and thus the cause of imbalances. Oriental medicine knows that nature is a great unknown to human kind and that all is not and will not be understood. That is why relationships, patterns and phenomenon are closely observed and why empirical knowledge is used.
Yin and Yang: these terms have been used in a somewhat technical sense for over 2000 years, having expanded beyond their original meanings of the shady and sunny sides of a mountain. Yin and Yang are emblems of the fundamental duality in the universe, a duality which is ultimately unified. The symbol of Tai Ji or the Great Polarity demonstrates the Yin/Yang concept in a graphic form. Herein, black signifies Yin and white signifies Yang. The two colors coil around, fade into, and penetrate each other. Both are necessary for the whole to exist. An appreciation of this close relationship is vital if one wishes to look at the processes of health and disease through traditional oriental medicine’s eyes. It must be remembered that Yin and Yang are complementary and not contradictory. Nor is one regarded as “good,” and the other “bad.” Rather, a harmony is sought between them and any imbalance avoided.
When you are ready to heal, take the above ideas into consideration. Find a medical practitioner whom you trust and relate to easily and work as a team. Look in all directions, keep a beginner’s mind. Check out all forms of medicine. Conventional Western medicine does not have all the answers. Check into other areas, such as homeopathy, massage, acupuncture, chiropractic, Chinese herbology, balanced eating (not a fad diet), and most of all, your inner self. Then, work with your practitioner. A good practitioner can be the mainstay of your path in healing and self-discovery. Be proactive to get well. You can. You will. You must. Yin turns into Yang and Yang turns into Yin. What goes one way can go the other. That is the law of nature. You just need to find what it takes. Oriental medicine is particularly good at finding that balance; it’s been around a long time.