Submitted by Dove Sprout, co-owner of Creston Acupuncture and Natural Health Centre alongside her husband, Paul Gaucher
Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic form of medicine. From a TCM point of view, the body, mind, and spirit cannot be separated. Disorders of the body can be straight forward to treat. For instance pain, especially acute pain that relates specifically to an injury, can be managed or relieved by “invigorating blood and removing stagnation”. There is a saying in TCM that basically states that “where there is pain there is stagnation, and where there is stagnation there is pain”. When there is an injury, the damaged tissue can bruise, swell, and become inflamed (stagnation), and your body sends a crew of helpers to help heal the area and this can be a fast process or it may take a while depending on the health of your body and the extent of the injuries.
Mind and spirit have different meanings for different people, depending on your religion or belief system. In this case, “spirit” can be defined as your most authentic self. It is the part that animates you and makes your eyes light up when you are happy and aligned. It’s what makes you – YOU. Disorders of the mind and “spirit” can bring about anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), phobias, narcissism, other mood or personality disorders, sleep disorders, a “mid-life crisis”, boredom, or disconnectedness to name a few.
TCM defines 5 different “Spirits” associated with different organ systems.
• Heart: Shen (Mind) Represents our consciousness and is the basis of our humanity. It is in charge of our identity and self-awareness but also governs how we interact with others and in the world. When the Shen is vibrant, there is clear thinking and consciousness, sharp insight, a strong sense of self, good judgement, clear speech, eye contact during conversation, sparkle in the eyes, compassion, empathy, sound sleep. When imbalanced there will be cloudy consciousness, poor insight, low self esteem, difficulty expression one’s self, difficulty relating to others, dullness in eyes, no compassion/empathy, irrational thoughts/phobias, and disturbed sleep.
• Lungs: Po (Corporeal or Animal Soul): Your instinct, impulses and moment to moment experiences. In balance the Po allows us to stay connected to the present moment through our breath. It allows us to remain assertive, yet fair, speak with a strong voice, breathe well, and to act with the virtue of justice. When there is weakness in the Po, there may be unresolved grief, a lifeless voice, lethargy, depression, or constant feeling loss or of being incomplete. Other respiratory symptoms may accompany this sense of sadness such as frequent colds, long-standing cough, or asthma.
• Spleen: Yi (Thought): The Spleen being a main digestive organ in TCM, on the physical level sorts the clear from the turbid in food and supports healthy digestion. On a spirit level the Yi has the same process with thoughts, sorting the clear from the turbid and if healthy can help in clear intention, structured plans and goals, and virtues of faithfulness and loyalty. If unhealthy there can be “brain fog”, boredom, obsession or ruminating thoughts, “stifling” loyalty, exaggerated sympathy and giving too much to others at the expense of your own self (poor boundaries and difficulty saying “no”).
• Liver: Hun (Etherial Soul): Hun is tethered at birth, has a will of its own, survives the body at death and returns to the source of all life (the great unknown, heaven etc). The Hun comes and goes as it pleases and is considered to be out of body during sleep and dreaming and in body in the planning and pursuit of our dreams. In strength, a person will be strong in self-leadership, management, structure, and routine. A person will be connected to their intuition, able to envision a goal, and feel like they have direction for their life. They are also able to “go with the flow” and be flexible in their pursuits. When imbalanced or stagnated, the mind will lack stimulation and the person will feel apathetic and depressed, lacking direction and purpose, and feeling stuck in their life. A “disembodied” Hun is indicated in involuntary dissociation, such as seen in PTSD, and conscious escapism, as seen in substance abuse and addiction issues.
• Kidneys: Zhi (Will): Our Yin Will can be related to our destiny/fate, while the Yang Will has to do with conscious efforts and fundamental decisions that allow your will for certain decisions and outcomes to come to fruition. This is said beautifully in the statement “choose your hard”. Life is not always an easy road and it is the Zhi that gives us the courage and strength to change our lives when we not aligned with our destiny. In health, there is trust and faith and a willingness to wade into the unknown in pursuit of our goals. When imbalanced, one can become fearful of life and lack willpower that may lead to chronic depression. The Zhi can also become destructive and cause recklessness and excessive risk taking. These may also be combined with other kidney symptoms such as premature aging, low back/knee problems, bladder issues, burnout, exhaustion, prolonged illness, tinnitus, edema, and memory loss.
Acupuncture and TCM has been successfully treating people for thousands of years with an all encompassing approach. I offer these definitions as insight into the deeper aspects of our humanity. In some cases, the language may be a little outdated. But yet, it is still interesting to believe that we are more that just our bodies, and we have multiple aspects to our personalities that makes all of us unique as individuals. The more knowledge and understanding we have, the greater compassion and empathy we can have for those who seem “different” – regardless of region, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, or ability. We all share triumphs, victories, failures, and hardships to varying degrees as a result of being born human.
Dove Sprout and Paul Gaucher co-own and operate Creston Acupuncture & Natural Health Centre from their brand new location at 219 10 Ave N in downtown Creston. For more information or to book an appointment, call the clinic at 250-428-0488, check out www.acupuncturecrestonbc.com, or follow us on Facebook and Instagram.