Daoist(Chinese) Medicine, a deeper study.
Daoist Medicine (Daoyi), mostly known as TCM or Traditional Chinese Medicine, is a system that I personally see as Classical Chinese Medicine. In this differentiation, I look back on the body of work before Mao took over in the early 1950's after which began the resulting practice classification as TCM. Both Classical and TCM traditions base themselves in the philosophy of the relationship of Nature and human beings, observing that humans are part of Nature and not separate.
Chinese Medicine is rooted in Daoism (Taoism in Wade Giles)
One of the world’s oldest philosophies, Daoism has a long and full history, which goes back thousands of years. In that span of time, Daoism has left it's influence within Chinese Medicine.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) originated from practitioners of Daoyi.
The TCM which is being taught, however, bears little resemblance to the spiritually based, enigmatic and energetic root.
In the practice of Daoyi all levels of awareness are observed and treated: Jing, which makes up the physical being, Qi which animates the physicality of the being while manifesting the emotional being, and Shen which is refined Qi and comprises the spiritual and mental being. Here we can break that down to treating the body that is form by using principals which treat the formless. The Daoyi practitioner is then treating the whole being, physical, emotional and spiritual.
Daoyi gives weight to what is classified in Western interpretation as a psycho-somatic cause of a particular disease.
With this concept, the Daoyi gives importance to the principal that altering a thought pattern, thus also changing behavior, leads to impact the patient's state of health or illness in a positive manner. In other words, work on the issue that is the root cause of a disease, rather than the symptom, and the illness is more likely to be resolved.
The fundamental principle of Yin and Yang, the two basic complementary energies of the manifest universe are also important. In this philosophy, everything that the Universe manifested, is made up of a unique blend of these two forces.
A healthy body has a balance of yin and yang in each of it's 5 phases. This balance expresses itself in many ways, but the most basic is the way that Qi (life force energy) either flows, or pools. As Qi flows through each system of the 5 phases and their meridians or conduits it moves much like the earth`s rivers and streams. This Qi is responsible for animating all of the body's physiologic functions.
In TCM there are 5 different methods to manipulate the way Qi flows in order so that the body can repair itself the way nature heals. Acupuncture uses needles, articulating with a single point in a specific meridian where Qi flows through a body. In moxibustion, the practitioner applies heat in the form of the smoldering herb moxa on those same points to manipulate flow. In the Daoist Bodywork called Tuina (Literally "push/pull"), that practitioner uses fingers on those points for the same purpose. An Herbal medicine practitioner uses plant, animal and mineral substances as well as special diets to balance the relationships of the five phases. The fifth branch of Taoist Medicine, the oldest and truest classical Daoist Medicine is Qi Gong, which uses exercises and mental intention with imagery to balance the flow of Qi. It is practiced in a clinical setting, by the directing of the flow of a patient's Qi to achieve Nature's harmony.
Two vital substances in our body, Qi and blood, are Yang and Yin in respect to each other. The nature of Blood is Yin. It is liquid, flowing, nurturing and has substance. Qi's nature is Yang. It is active, energy, and etherical. These two substances work with each other in synergy to balance our system.
Yin and Yang interact in the universe as opposing forces that work to create harmony. This teaches us that an oppositional aspect doesn't mean an enemy force. The Five Phase theory in Daoyi differentiates this dynamic into stages of existence. Each phase depicts a season as well as a phase in life. birth, growth, maturation, death, and rebirth. Movement through each phase reflects seasonal change as well as growth and demise. The 5 cycles are repeated and expressed in every aspect of the manifest universe.
Relationships of the 5 Phases
Each Phase or Element has a relationship with each of the other phases.
Going clockwise around the circle of the phases we will begin with wood, which is like the parent of fire, as it nourishes fire. However since it is like the child of water it controls water. The grandparent has the ability to harm the grandchild as wood depletes earth, but the grandchild can wear out the grandparent as wood insults metal. This same pattern is recreated around the wheel.
This metaphor is helpful is diagnosing where a core issue comes from. Along with the story we get from the pain, how the pain manifests and how long it has persisted as well as where in the body it presents itself.
Let's use an example of chronic low back pain that manifests on the right side of the L5/S1 vertebra, both above and below the iliac crest of the hip, By it's location, on the bladder meridian, we know we are dealing with the water element. It is chronic and not acute, so we are looking at an ongoing issue. If when we ask the patient if is hurts when weight is applied to the right side and there is more pain, it is more likely than not a physical compression at L5/S1. If it feels better when walking for awhile but hurt when sitting, it is more likely a muscle reacting to fascia bundling.
However as a chronic issue, this body as being part of Nature, has a message to give to it's occupant. pressure applied with the fingers can give us more clues. if it feels better when pressure is applied, then there's a depletion of Qi in that area. If it hurts, then there is stagnation. Either way, in the bladder meridian, the message is speaking to letting go of what is lacking in this persons life.
If we are looking at a depletion in the water element, then it would be prudent to also look at the earth element, because Earth dries up water. We should also look at fire, which can insult water. Worry about money, would mean the earth element is stagnant with worry, possibly causing the feel of "not having enough," in the water element. We can ask about stomach or body temperature issues, to see if there are secondary related symptoms.
On the other hand, if we are observing stagnation at the sight of pain, we then also look at the fire element, as water quenches fire. If fire is depleted, the joy of life is dimmed and one goes into depression, a water element issue. With chronic issues, we may need to look deeper in to the relationships, but we still start with the basic area of pain and then just keep searching!
The five elements are metaphors for the processes of nature. This is true whether it be the cosmos, the earth or our own vehicle, our body. We see the process repeat in physical body (Jing), emotional body (Qi), and our spirit (Shen). Each depicts Energy as actions that interact as they both conflict and support one other.
Matter at it's most basic form is energy. In the macro realm, he entire universe is a sea of energy! This is a massive energy body which moves and interacts as one vast interconnected being. In the micro realm, within our own body, is an entire Universe that mimics the macro realm. We are a microcosm of the macro Universe, There may well be as many Universes as there are people on the planet. We are a microbe on a speck orbiting a burning ember thrown off from a vast eruption of energy at the heart of our galaxy. We are aware of more than 100 million galaxies in our Universe. Do you think we've counted all of them?
So why did the Daoist thinkers choose these five symbols? Wouldn't Air be a more fundamental element of the Universe than Wood and Metal? These ancient thinkers saw Air as Qi, equating breath and the energy of Qi, Therefore, to depict the behavior of Qi, and it's energy, they chose wood and metal.
Water flows down the terrain where it nurtures all plant species, the wood element. Here they grow upwards towards the Sun (Fire), which eventually dries them and turns the plants into Earth from either their dried mass or ashes. Over time, bacteria and fungi in this new soil changes the compost into life supporting minerals. Slowly it is compressed into stone, and crystalizes into palatable mineral deposits, the metal element. These minerals are then taken into the earths waterways by rainfall and absorbed into water, giving it nutrients. This enrichened water is absorbed by plants, the wood element and the entire cycle begins once more.
The season of winter is water. All of Nature moves down and inward as hibernation time has come. The days are at their shortest, Yin is full. Nature conserves its energy in this Yin season. Any seeds from the fall harvest time stay hidden in the soil, awaiting the moment of awakening.
Spring brings wood to life! Seeds open and life moves through the soil. The plant kingdom then pushes through the ground to reach for nourishing light. There is an expansion of energy rising up and out. The world is fresh with the celebration of life!
Summer, represented by Fire, reveals that nature is alive and active! The days are the long, filled with Light, Yang is at its fullest. Nature matures and its fruit ripens. Nature also recognizes that there is a subtle shift. The days, although abundant now with Light are beginning to get shorter.
Earth element's season is at the end of summer. Nature is stable. The weather is fair and the food is harvested. Peace and contentment abound. There are no worries and the preparations begin for transition time.
In the time of Autumn, the season of metal, nature starts its cool-down. Trees let go of their leaves to teach us to let go of things when you are finished with them. The animal kingdom stores food to account for winter time. Here, life begins to withdraw, and concentrate, keeping only what is necessary for survival. Everything else is released.
Here, the 5 Elements are representing energy cycles. Water emanates the energy of conserving, Wood symbolizes energy activation. Fire depicts Energy at its fullest potential, Earth is stabilized energy. Metal shows us energy condensing.
It's all energy, we are all just energy! Whatever challenge we come across, know that it is just an energetic response. It is something to observe, but nothing to fret about.
Daoist view of Pain
When you want mastery, you're provided the tools...
I asked for Strength
And was given Difficulties to make me strong.
I asked for Wisdom
And was given Problems to solve.
I asked for Prosperity
And was given a Brain and brawn to work.
I asked for Courage
And was given Danger to overcome.
I asked for Love
And was given Troubled people to help.
I asked for Favors
And was given Opportunities.
I received nothing I wanted.
I received everything I needed.
Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
And one more...
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