This semester I have had the privilege of studying some of the most ancient forms of medicine. We have looked at Eastern European Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine. One thing that has really stood out to me when looking at these forms of medicine is the belief that we are all unique. They consider each person to have their own individual constitution which helps to determine their most optimal diet and lifestyle. The first thing a practitioner will consider is their constitution. They will look at physical features, lifestyle factors, diet, occupation, personality, emotions and overall demeanour. All of these factors will impact the types of healing they prescribe to their patient.
The main healing measure we have focussed on is diet. There are certain types of food that will aggravate and support a person. For someone who is really angry, sweats profusely, is overly stimulated, has a diet of really hot and spicy food, who doesn’t exercise and is really stressed is likely to benefit from foods that are cooling like cucumber and melon. The idea of implementing a diet of cooler foods is to relax the person down. To give the body food that is easy to digest and that will calm down the fire they have going on inside them.
There seems to be a trend in the health world right now about “listening to your body.” I have used this to an extent too. It is often used to encourage people to eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full. This is simple implementation of what I think is a much more complex maxim. You see hunger is only one feeling. It doesn’t encapsulate anything to do with our unique constitution. Sure if you are hungry eat something, however, the second question is always “well what do I eat?” Unless we have a particularly strong craving, it can be quite difficult to know what to eat.
My studies in this field of traditional medicine have really encouraged me to look beyond my physical feelings of hunger. I have had to consider my personality type, my predispositions to disease, my mannerisms, my physical characteristics, my emotions, my bowel movements, my lifestyle, my routine and my sleeping pattern. It has also helped me to understand why some people can tolerate certain foods while others can’t.
Now I am by no means suggesting that every single person has to go on a journey of constitutional self-discovery, however I think that some thought on it is warranted. I will use myself as an example here. I know that when I am in a state of “balance” I am a positive, upbeat, lively, motivated and cheeky kind of person. I am of medium build, I am energetic, I digest regularly, I sleep through the night and I wake feeling refreshed. When I am in a state of “imbalance” I can be really sad, irritable, regimented, exhausted and dull individual. Physically I lose weight, I have very restless and active sleep, I am really cold, I am constipated and I wake extremely exhausted. They key to reclaiming “balance” is to find the things that caused the imbalance in the first place.
Lately I have definitely been in a state of imbalance and for the first time I can actually admit what has caused it. Making excuses to continue working until 8:00pm, waking up at 5:00am even though I am tired, stressing excessively, not prioritising sleep, not being out in nature, allowing myself to be consumed in negativity, eating my food cold and excessive screen time have definitely done it. All of these things I have control over. Now I am not going to sit here on my electronic device as I type this claim that I am doing every possible thing in my power to get myself in balance. For some things it is unrealistic. All my work for uni is on my laptop, I eat on the go a lot of the time so my food is cold and it is peak assignment time so stress is high.
"Getting in balance is not so much about adopting new strategies to change your behaviors, as it is about realigning yourself in all of your thoughts so as to create a balance between what you desire and how you conduct your life on a daily basis." - Wayne Dyer
Instead of thinking of the things I am not prepared to change I am looking at the things I can change.
One thing I have absolutely been loving is incorporating more warming spices into my food. I have been concentrating on ginger, garlic, cinnamon, chilli and nutmeg. I have been having them in my teas and in the marinades I use when I cook dinner. Another thing I have been doing is taking the time to write. Writing these blog posts is one of my favourite things to do in the week. I get to express my thoughts and feelings in a way that is creative and in a way that lets me deal with my emotions in a positive way.
I know I could go extreme to find my “balance” but that is not realistic and it is not a holistic way to do so. The positive I am taking from this is that one day I will be really understanding of my patients when they can’t seem to turn off. My next step is to find easy ways that I can encourage people to switch off and take time for themselves. Today I went for a little walk with my sister. We just waled to Coles to get a couple of things. Sure I could say “I don’t have time to walk there” but really the whole commute went for 20 minutes. Just 20 minutes out of the whole day. I know that it helped refresh my mind and I came back feeling much more productive than I would have been if I was just sitting at my desk staring out the window.
We just need to do little things every day to find our balance. We can’t fix things over night. Often times it takes months to reach a state of “imbalance” so we need to be patient and take the time to get better. Everyone is on this journey together, give yourself grace and do something a little bit special everyday just for YOU and your body will thank you for it!
Standard walking snacks - I take an apple and she takes a piece of cheese the size of an apple hahaha