(By Misook Lee, LAc.) A big difference between Eastern medicine and Western medicine is how to view the mind. In modern Western medicine, the mental and emotional ailments are treated by focusing mostly on the brain. However, traditional Eastern medicine uses a more holistic approach in treating mental and emotional ailments. In traditional Eastern Medicine theory, there are three basic elements in our life, which are Jing (精), Qi (氣) and Shen (神). Jing is the essence of the body and a very refined material; Qi can be the flow of energy; and Shen is corresponding to the spirit or mind. If I compare life to a candle, Jing is the substance of the candle, Qi is the flame and Shen is the light coming out of the flame of the candle. Because Jing, Qi and Shen are closely integrated, we need to view and treat all three aspects of our life.
I experienced the connection between the three elements through the struggles of my life. When I was a young mother. I could not adjust well to the sudden changes of pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting. Some people take to their roles as mother and housewives very naturally. In my case, it was not so. I was depressed and sick all the time. It was hard for me to live day by day and I felt lost at that time. I never thought it was depression, though.
One day, I came across Kouksundo, the traditional Korean abdominal breathing and Qi training practice, and I started practicing Kouksundo every morning. I learned how to concentrate on my abdomen while breathing. Through daily repeated stretching movements and breathing practice, my body became more flexible, and I felt refreshed. When I inhaled, I felt fresh air purifying my body and as I exhaled, I thought I was expelling all waste from my body.
The concept of Qi became clearer as I practiced and meditated. I learned the basic meridian theory and some important acupressure points from Kouksundo training. After six months, I felt healthy again. It was when my body got better that I realized how mentally and emotionally unstable I had been before. Since then, I realized the value of traditional holistic Qi practice and especially the integration of Jing, Qi and Shen. Through those experiences, I gradually became interested in the Qi dynamics of the body.
Acupuncture is one of the great modalities to affect the Qi movement of our body. It enhances natural healing power by releasing what is blocked and stagnant in our system. In the clinic, I sometimes see patients whose main complaint is mental and emotional issues. Patients usually have their own family dynamics and long or short history of taking antidepressants or other medications. Patients who suffer from mental and emotional issues usually have some physical issues too. It might be some digestive problems such as low appetite or bowel movement problems. Some patients feel disturbances on their chest and uncomfortable feelings in their throat. Others have tight necks, headache or sleep issues. I try to balance the Qi mechanism of patients to resolve patients’ mental and emotional issues and physical discomforts at the same time. Because they are all connected.
I want to give some tips to those of you who struggle with mental and emotional issues. I do not want to say life is easy because everyone has their own difficult times in their life. Sometimes all bad things happen at the same time. However, we have the right to pursue our own happiness in spite of those difficult situations. In the meantime, I can give gratitude to small things such as the clear blue sky, the yellow dandelion blooming on the roadside. We all take it for granted but my life has been the greatest gift I have ever received. Enjoy the present moment because it is a precious gift that will never come again. It will be the starting point of true change that you realize how precious you are. If you become the best supporter for yourself, I can be one of your supporters as an acupuncturist. Make sure of the integration of Jing, Qi and Shen. A healthy mind makes a healthy body.
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