Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Simeon’s Tips for a Healthy 2016

Practiced for about 4,000 years, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a way of reaching wellness as defined by an individual living in harmony with his or her environment.  It involves living in a way where our energy is flowing in harmony throughout the channels or meridians in our bodies.
TCM holds that wellness is best-preserved when used as a matter of prevention and is a better starting place than looking to restore health constantly.  It works from a basis of wholeness, putting body, mind, heart and spirit together rather than viewing the human body in separate parts. TCM also works with the concept of balance of "Yin" and "Yang" energies. Since we just started a new year, when many of us set goals for health and other parts of our lives, I'd like to share a few tips adopted from TCM that I incorporate into my health philosophy and practice:
-- View yourself as your most precious asset.  Treat yourself as such by taking care of yourself and your body. In return, your body will take care of you. But over-manage it with too much of anything and your body will also not perform as well.  One has to strike the right balance -- and therein lies the rub.  With time, education, awareness and other aspects, you will have the ability to figure out how best to care for your body.
-- Our emotions drive our being. We are all affected by the emotions we are feeling as well as the emotions directed at us.  Health is affected on so many levels by our emotions and the emotions of others around us.
-- Try to surround yourself with positive people and avoid negative people. Don't listen to people who are always complaining about this or that -- they project negativity and that negative energy will affect you and sap your physical and emotional reserves.  Worry is a non-productive energy-sapper and depletes the immune system.
-- Moderate exercise is best.  How much and how often depends on each individual but usually daily exercise is best.  When I say moderate, I envision activities like walking at a moderate pace or tai chi or yoga.  Americans tend to over-do so much, including exercise. With our bodies, we should always look to maintain homeostasis or an equilibrium. The extremes we put our body through in order to achieve the perfect body image are detrimental. Extremes we put ourselves through to achieve "success" are often detrimental as well. Balance and moderation in everything is key!
-- We tend to multitask too much and that is not a good thing.  Being purposefully mindful as we go through our day allows us to center ourselves, ground ourselves and do everything better.
-- All types of food have benefit.  No one food group or types should always be excluded from your diet. There are foods that are more appropriate for some than other individuals depending on their health needs as well as the area and the season in which the person lives.  For someone who is cold and fatigued, "yang" warming foods would be beneficial.  However, the same foods can cause irritation and headaches for someone who is thirsty and experiencing night sweats.
-- Care of the spleen and the liver energies through diet is essential because of the important functions of these two energies in the body.
-- Raw fruits & vegetables tend to be "cold" and "damp" according to TCM, and over-consumption of raw fruits & vegetables can damage the spleen's energetic properties and ability to function.  In Chinese medicine, the spleen is paired with the stomach and is central to good digestion and transformation of food into good energies.
-- Enjoy your meals and take time to eat rather than eating in a hurry.