Acupuncture and the Mind-Body Connection
There was a time when the primary causes of harm to human life and health were the result of external factors. Animal predators, infectious disease, trauma and birthing complications greatly limited human longevity. Today the great danger to human life and health is more often ourselves. When we live lives that are out of balance it creates stress on the body. We can not exist out of balance for long. Our bodies do an admirable attempt to rebalance, but the do so at a cost- stress. Our lifestyles, diet and emotions, when left unchecked create stress that quite literally wear us down, create disease, unravel our DNA, break our bodies and ultimately kill us. Research into stress over the last few decades clearly show how broadly reaching and severe these effects can be. This research confirms just some of what the ancient Chinese discovered about these stressors thousands of years ago.
The ancient classical texts of acupuncture are quite specific about what the relationships are between the physical and emotional aspects of human health. The mind and body are not seen as “connected” so much as they are simply two aspects of the same thing. Let’s look at how our emotions can affect our physical bodies.
Holding onto or creating excessive anger is said to poison the liver. This can manifest as headaches (often migraines), a compromised immune system, muscle weakness, twitching or cramping, dizziness, a feeling of fullness in the head, and issues with the genitals or eyes. Also the heat that rises off of the liver can then damage other organs- especially those above it in the body, such as the heart and lungs.
Lack of joy or excessive joy (perhaps from drug abuse) in life creates a direct impact to the heart. We all know what “heartbreak” means, and this term is not simply a metaphor. Difficult and disturbed sleep (often with vivid or disturbing dreams) are often seen in this case. With the heart impacted people simply don’t shine as brightly and their eyes will appear dull and lifeless- like nobody’s home. The heart is said to be the “seat of the soul”.
Pensiveness and worry impact the spleen and pancreas. This may manifest as “analysis paralysis” where thoughts repeat like a broken record, yet no action is taken. The digestion and appetite may be affected as weight (fat) is put on or lost. It is no wonder that we are seeing an epidemic of obesity these days.
Sadness and sorrow attack the lungs. Even holding ourselves as victims can create this dynamic. When the lungs are impacted our energy is affected. We also may become insensitive or hypersensitive in the physical or emotional sense of the word.
Fear is the emotion that impacts the kidneys. Along with the heart the kidneys’ energy exist at the deepest, most core level of the body. So fear hits us at a deep, primal level. This is why fear creates such a deep stress response in the body. The adrenal glands that sit atop our kidneys produce hormones like adrenaline and cortisol in response to fear and anxiety. These cause us to age and become sick prematurely. Many fine articles have been written about the effects of stress lately that go into these effects in great detail.
These relationships between the emotions and organs are two-way. The emotions (healthy or unhealthy) impact the health of the organs and the health of the organs create the particular expression of the emotions (healthy or unhealthy) that we experience. One consequence of this interaction is that by creating a healthy relationship with our emotions we are able to go a long way towards preventing many kinds of disease. The corollary is that by fostering health in these organs, particularly at the energetic/functional level, we are able help foster mental health (which in-turn fosters physical health). Acupuncture is uniquely positioned to help here as it is an “energy modality” that is highly specific and able to target the unique imbalances present in each unique individual.
Both transformational work and acupuncture are able to create an interruption to the unhealthy energetic and behavioral patterns we all invariably fall into now and then. That both approaches are able to act at different points in these unhealthy cycles makes combining the two all the more powerful.
Jon-Erik Lido, Licensed Acupuncturist is a graduate of Jung Tao School of Classical Chinese Medicine in Sugar Grove, NC. Jon-Erik came to Chinese Medicine from an unusual path- a thirteen year-long career as a computer software developer and IT professional. The choice to pursue a career in acupuncture stemmed from a desire to have greater and more direct positive impact in peoples’ lives. In his view, nothing is more fundamental to a joyful experience of life and human connection than a healthy mind and body.
Jon-Erik was introduced to the theory of Chinese Medicine through Chinese martial arts. The theory and practice of the internal martial arts Xingyiquan and Baguazhang opened up a new world to him. They provided him with a visceral, personal experience of the theoretical and energetic underpinnings of the Daoist philosophy, cosmology, and channel energetics that are at the heart of Chinese Medicine. They also introduced him to the practice of one branch of Chinese Medicine– Tuina, or medical massage.
From this starting point the education at Jung Tao School provided him with a seamless introduction to acupuncture. Its curriculum placed heavy emphasis on theory so that the medicine could be understood thoroughly and applied to the particulars of any situation. He was encouraged to personally discover the medicine through immersive self-study in addition to time spent in the classroom so he could develop a rich, deep theoretical foundation upon which to build a lifetime of further discovery. This was an invitation he took (and continues to take) to heart. Meanwhile the Taiji (Tai Chi) courses continued to develop his skills of sensitivity and awareness.
Jon-Erik continues his study of the classics of Chinese Medicine to this day. He has added Yoga to his routine for personal internal development, through which he strives to awaken new levels of awareness, sensitivity, and compassion for all people.
Jon-Erik is a graduate of NC78 Leadership Program.