What exactly is "health?" | TheUnion.com

What exactly is "health?"

During my 20 years of experience in treating patients with acupuncture and Chinese herbs, this question has interested me deeply.

Often, my patients come to see me with a particular symptom that is causing them pain or discomfort, and interfering with the quality of their lives. When the symptom ? or symptoms ? are gone, then what should remain is health.

Is this the case? Often when suffering is relieved, a person will have an opportunity to look at their life from a more spacious vantage point. Taking this opportunity involves some risks and feelings of vulnerability.

For example, if a woman with chronic back pain finds herself able to ?do? more, she may notice that all of her doing has been for others. Not ?doing? for herself may indeed be a part of her chronic pain. If the pain is treated successfully with acupuncture, then the next step may be for her to ?do? for herself. This may involve learning a new language, taking a photography or art class at Sierra College, or arranging to spend more time in nature.

Chinese medicine teaches us that balance and harmony are dynamic processes that involve the elements of nature: fire, earth, metal, water and wood, and their reflection inside our bodies. Are we too hot? Too cold? There are ways of balancing ourselves through acupuncture therapy that have a profound effect on our health. A deep peace arises from a harmonious relationship with ourselves. Acupuncture can help get you there.

Sometimes it is not the actual symptoms that change, but our relationship to them. From my own life, I can cite my diabetes as an example.

Although at first I was angered and frustrated by my diagnosis, I quickly saw how my bad attitude was affecting my life and hindering my ability to experience happiness.

Now, 39 years later, I do not begrudge my four insulin injections per day nor do I begrudge the six or seven blood glucose tests I must perform in order to remain healthy. The diabetes has taught me appreciation for life and shown me how, even in the face of adversity you can be disciplined and, with the right effort, live a full and happy life. I have been able to maintain an harmonious relationship with diabetes because I am open to learning the lessons it has to teach me.

Each of us comes into our lives with different circumstances from which our own unique expressions (our bodies) arise. The essence of our parents (their jing essence) combined to form our prenatal bodies, that which is predetermined and not within our control. Our postnatal energy arises from our experience, life style, diet, mental outlook, and our chi, or vital force.

This vital force has a spiritual quality for me, and when I palpate a patient?s pulse at their wrist, I can feel how it flows through the acupuncture meridians (pathways of energy) throughout their body. This pulsation of life moves through all of us. We are all part of it, and it is a part of us.

Connecting ourselves to our vital force can come in different forms. Traditionally, people have used meditation, yoga and martial arts to connect with their chi, to nourish their essence.

What do you do in your life? Is there something that is sweet and lovely for you that puts you in mind of something beautiful and good? Perhaps what nourishes you is serving your favorite salad to friends on a warm summer evening. Perhaps you play a musical instrument. We don?t have to be experts to express or quiet ourselves and allow our vital force to illuminate our lives and the lives of those around us.

Chinese medicine is an ancient tradition that holds much wisdom in its potent ability to restore balance and harmony to the body, mind and spirit. One of my teachers addressed the definition of health by asking herself if her patient was able to give and receive love. This is truly one of our great privileges as human beings — connecting through our hearts. Our bodies also are a great gift, filled with teachings and abounding with a deep intelligence that surpasses the comprehension of the rational mind.

When our symptoms of disease arise, Chinese medicine may be a potent adjunct to help you realign with your vital force. Removing the obstacles to health comes from the opportunities we take in our relationship with our symptoms. The elimination of our pain is an opportunity to expand our horizons. Also, an acceptance of our pain gives us the freedom to love ourselves as we are.

Cynthia Yaguda is a licensed acupuncturist with a doctorate degree in Oriental medicine and a private practice in Grass Valley. Contact her at 272-8935.

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