Nan Lu, OMD examines the mind-body connection.
by Nan Lu, OMD
The mind serves a practical purpose; we couldn’t manage without it in the “real” world. We use our mind to control many things. We also use it to send many messages to our bodies. Unfortunately, when it comes to health, these messages are frequently negative and undermine the self-healing skill that is our birthright. It’s necessary to go beyond the mind when exploring concepts of wellness and prevention.
The outside world engages and dazzles the mind. The chatter we experience and the data coming through our five senses only serve to obscure our true self. In our lives today, there is little opportunity for silence or little time to escape from continual stimuli. The mind is bombarded by external messages, especially from all kinds of media.
Let’s examine some common messages about health. We’ve become somewhat suspicious of real foods, so we avoid things like eggs, butter, milk, teas, among others, because we’re taught to worry about cholesterol, too much sugar, salt, caffeine, etc. We’re encouraged to turn to foods that may have been stripped of nutrients, de-fatted with foaming agents, or formed into new foods we’re told will keep us healthy. We’re urged to get tested for many different conditions. We’re told to run for miles on treadmills. These actions are supposedly “preventive” in nature, but often they create a fear-driven battle to “conquer” health, rather than a joyful state where life’s riches can be embraced.
Take prevention and food allergies, for example. Why do you have a food allergy today when you didn’t have one five years ago? Little by little, a particular food has caused you problems until one day, you say, “This food is bad for me.” Practically speaking, it’s useful to avoid this food, but the food itself is not the issue. Avoidance is not prevention. The food has assumed enemy status – something to fear.
For the TCM perspective, a food allergy signals that an unbalanced relationship exists in your life. The food item acts as a messenger to point this out. If you go deeper, you might see where this problem exists and rebalance this relationship. Once addressed, true health can return. Is the unbalanced relationship between your body and mind? Is it between you and the environment? Is it between you and your family? You and work? If these relationships are not healed, then you might develop allergies to even more foods until the root cause is fixed. Food has a natural purpose – to nurture and sustain us. Food is not bad.
Many of my patients appear to be in a state of fear about “what if.” What if I have breast cancer… heart disease… diabetes… high blood pressure? Vibrant health is light years away from the absence of illness and disease. It is not a perpetual state of fear, avoidance, and denial. Finding true health requires a 180-degree about-face to appreciate the body’s innate ability to make healthy choices, or itself when things go awry. Respecting the body’s signs and signals and understanding its interior dialogue is more useful than listening to external sources like media, advertising, and others who would deter us from exploring our inner guidance system.
How can we cultivate wellness and true prevention. Prevention is not a state of mind over matter, nor is it about preventing future health catastrophes. It’s about understanding the origin and spiritual purpose of illness or disease. Good health emanates from healthy belief systems, emotional balance, and healthy relationships among the organs themselves, and between the human organism and its external environment and the Universal.
Each of us is a part of and a reflection of the Universal. We are all under the same law. With the proper tools, we can self-heal and rebalance our systems, just as surely as Nature can.
An effective framework for prevention calls for a new belief system and new kinds of inner listening skills. We should respect our spirit and not abuse it by refusing to acknowledge our powerful self-healing abilities. Train yourself to trust and listen to your body, not your mind.
Other articles by this author:
- Listening to the Heart
- Beyond the Mind: An Eastern Exploration of the True Causes of Illness and Disease
- Beyond the Mind: How Families Fulfill the Soul’s Purpose
- Beyond the Mind: Spirit – The Ultimate Technique
© Traditional Chinese Medicine World Foundation. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission.