TCM Secrets to Achieving Spiritual Health
Since ancient times, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has believed in the interconnectedness of humanity with the natural world and the greater universe.
A certified psychiatrist and acupuncture doctor, Dr. Jingduan Yang has studied the connection between spirituality, health and the human body. Through his studies and personal experience, Yang has concluded that when the spirit suffers, the body suffers as well. Likewise, when the body’s chemistry is out of balance, spiritual health will also be affected.
In an earlier interview with Magnifissance, Yang talked about the Chinese body clock and the importance of synchronizing with the body’s natural rhythms. In this article, he shares with us how to manage stress and achieve greater spiritual and physical well-being.
TCM has a unique view of the human body and its energetic system. How can the wisdom of TCM help us to lead a healthier life?
There are five areas of human life: physical, social, emotional, occupational, and spiritual. They’re all connected. TCM does not isolate one from another but treats them all to achieve harmony and balance.
I always use this analogy. The human body is more or less like a car. It has three parts: body, chemistry, and energy.
The human body’s energy is the hardest for us to comprehend because it’s invisible.
We can measure the chemical activities in the brain, heart, muscles, and nerves, but we don’t see how the body is energetically structured.
In our contemporary medical facilities, we don’t see the energetic aspect of the human body. We don’t understand it.
The best medicine for the human body is ancient traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). It’s the medicine for human energy.
What determines our health?
In my understanding, health comes from spiritual health. This is connected to mental health, which leads to good behavioural health. Good behavioural health results in better physical health. That’s how they’re related.
To be more specific, our interpretation of the significance of life events is determined by our belief system, by our spirituality. Therefore, our interpretation of life events determines what we believe about them. Our worldview determines what we’re going to do. And what we’re going to do is going to have a tremendous impact on our body chemistry, body physiology, and social behaviour.
All those three are going to affect our physical outcome. They’re all interconnected and, of course, they also determine our productivity, occupational performance, and finances.
This sounds like a different focus from that of Western medicine where the emphasis is on physical health. Can you explain why spiritual health is so important?
I believe that a human being has two lives. One is the mortal life, and that consists of our structural body, chemical body, and energetic body.
Then, inside this body, there’s an immortal life that includes our souls and spirits. They don’t die as the body does. So, that’s what I consider as the immortal life.
Most people would agree that the immortal life is far more valuable than the mortal one, just as a driver is far more valuable than the car. So, taking care of the driver is much more important than taking care of the car. Of course, when you’re inside a car you want to take good care of it as well.
Can you further explain this relationship between our spiritual health and our physical health?
If you’re a good driver, you probably take better care of your car. You wouldn’t hit other trees or other people, and you would maintain your car. You’ll fix whatever is wrong. You’ll nourish your car, and you’ll give it a break when it needs one.
Similarly, we should eat healthy, nourishing, and clean food; meditate and sleep; try to think less, and have fewer desires and stressors. All of this is going to help the body and the spirit. In this way, we’ll be physically stronger with a clearer mind and a wiser spirit.
What advice would you have for someone who is feeling stressed both physically and mentally and wants to make a change, but doesn’t know how to get started?
This is a two-part problem and it requires a two-part solution. It’s not enough for people to focus on the body’s problems. They should also focus on the spirit dwelling within.
People should start asking questions about their meaning and purpose in life, what they want to accomplish, and why they want to accomplish those things. They need to examine their belief system.
When they examine their belief system, they will probably start to see how to handle the sources of that stress.
Of course, at the same time, they have to fix any imbalanced biochemistry in the body because if there is an imbalance in the body it will cause stress. For example, we test people for their nutritional deficiencies that are contributing to their lack of tolerance for stress.
The spirit and the body have to be considered together. There’s no one single solution that will solve the problem.
What do you do to take care of your mind and body?
I try to read my spiritual book every day to keep my mind clear and to keep reminding myself, ‘What are the most important things in life?’ so I don’t get any unnecessary stress.
I try to meditate and do my qigong practice every day, even if it’s just for half an hour so that I can energetically maintain balance.
I also try to protect my sleep.
I eat less, opting for clean and varied foods. I try to eat a gluten-free diet and reduce the number of carbs. I eat vegetables, nuts, and drink a smoothie in the morning. I’ve lost 10 pounds in the last few months. Following the dietary changes, I feel better.
I try to do some physical exercise with lifts when I can. I enjoy seeing friends here and there.
Any additional advice for living a healthy life?
Chinese medicine has much wisdom on keeping in harmony with heaven, earth, and nature. TCM doctors are well-versed in the energetic rhythms of nature and the human body and how they should be synchronized.
If you follow what we have talked about, you can develop harmony in life. To me, this means harmony with nature—structurally, chemically, energetically and spiritually—because we’re part of nature.
Nature has its rhythm, and so does the human body. When the human body synchronizes its rhythm with the rhythm of nature, we’re in the best state of health. To me, it’s very logical. If we want to be physically healthy, we have to assimilate to the physical laws of nature. If we want to be spiritually healthy, we have to assimilate to the spirit of nature. It’s as simple as that.