Classical Chinese acupuncture strives to restore balance and encourage free-flow of energy which is thought to encourage the body’s natural ability to self-regulate. Acupuncture is not only beneficial when we are feeling unwell or out of sorts, it has a long history of use for maintaining health and wellness. In ancient times, the role of the acupuncturist was to maintain the health of the workforce or the warriors; legend has it that they were paid only if the workforce remained healthy, punished if they became sick. There are some core principles of ancient Chinese medicine that can be applied to modern life; learning how to see everyday life through the prism of these principles can help us achieve a greater sense of peace and harmony.
For many people Christmas is a time of high stress, high expectations and high anxiety. Christmas relates strongly to Yang energy due to the whirlwind of activity and social interaction, light, colour and noise that we associate with the festive season. In comparison, winter is a very Yin time of year when the energy of nature is very deep, dark, quiet and introverted. The fun, bright, social, loud, busy events associated with Christmas contrast starkly with the cold, dark dampness of the deep winter and the overall effect can be very draining. Bring balance to the festive season by making some time to nurture yourself with activities that resonate with the Yin; spend some quiet time by yourself, snuggle up with a book by the fire, light some candles and take time to relax and breathe deeply.
An ancient Chinese proverb states that where there is stagnation there is pain, where there is free-flow, there is no pain. In essence this means that a healthy system is in balance with free-flowing movement, whereas an unhealthy system has extreme ranges of tension and emptiness. Acupuncture works to rebalance the system by dispersing tension and stress and encouraging the energy to move towards areas of depletion and emptiness. The dynamics that work on the inside can also be applied to the outside, so the same basic principles can be applied to everyday living. These principles are especially useful at Christmas when many extended family groups or groups of friends get together to celebrate Christmas. The same few people bear the brunt of the chores to often, while others seem adept at dodging their share. In energetic terms, this creates imbalance and that can generate friction. Share the load of Christmas preparations; if you feel overloaded or overwhelmed, ask your family to take on some of your workload; if you have energy to spare, see if someone dear to you is struggling under the weight of their list of tasks and offer to help them. Christmas is a time of giving and receiving, but these gifts do not all have monetary value; giving and receiving of time and help has just as much significance, donate a little of your time or graciously accept help if you are overloaded, be brave enough to ask for help if you are carrying more than your share of the burden – it will help to keep that sense of balance and flow of energy and lead to a less stressful, tiring Christmas for everyone.
Another way to bring balance to the festive season is to reconnect with nature to strengthen our yin energy. In the winter when the weather is cold and wet outside, we may stay indoors and keep warm and dry too much which can mean we end up feeling disconnected with nature; that sense of disconnection is not good for our deep energies. To counteract this, make a conscious effort to spend time outside to strengthen your connection with the environment in which you live; go for a walk along our beautiful estuaries, trudge through the fallen leaves in the woods of Danbury and Little Baddow or stop for a cup of tea at the Lock Tea Room overlooking the Blackwater and Chelmer canal at Papermill Lock.
And if you practice meditation I have one final tip for a calm, relaxed Christmas. Try visualising yourself as a mountain; invoke the sense of stillness and calm, of solidity and rootedness that is the very essence of the mountain; the mountain is able to maintain its sense calm stillness even when a storm or a hurricane is sweeping around it. Visualising this sense of solidity can help you to maintain a calm centre amidst the whirlwind of Christmas festivities. When it all gets too much, take a deep breath, feel your feet on the ground beneath you and ‘be the mountain’.
And remember, spring is just around the corner . . .
Wishing you health and happiness over Christmas and into the New Year,
Alexandra O’Connor LicAc MBAcC