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One of the paramount lessons that Chinese medicine teaches is the importance of living in harmony with the cycles of nature. When one resists our ignores these cycles, imbalance sets in and illness is not far off. These discussions were taking place over 2500 years ago as recorded in one of the oldest classics of Chinese medicine, The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine (The Huang Di Nei Jing, Su Wen), wherein the Yellow Emperor had the following conversation with his teacher:

Yellow Emperor asked: I have heard that in ancient times the people lived to over one hundred years, and yet they remained active and did not become decrepit in their activities. But nowadays, people only reach half that age, and yet become decrepit and failing. Is it because the world changes from generation to generation? Or is it that mankind is becoming negligent [of the laws of nature]?

Ch’i Po answered: There was temperance in eating and drinking. Their hours of rising and retiring were regular and not disorderly and wild. By these means the ancients kept their bodies united with their souls, so as to fulfill their allotted span completely, measuring unto a hundred years before they passed away.

In most ancient times, the teachings of the sages were followed by those beneath them; they said that weakness and noxious influences and injurious winds should be avoided at specific times. They were tranquilly content in nothingness, and the true vital force accompanied them always; their vital spirit was preserved within; thus, how could illness come to them? They exercised restraint of their wills and reduced their desires; their hearts were at peace and without any fear; their bodies toiled and yet did not become weary. Their spirit followed in harmony and obedience; everything was satisfactory to their wishes, and they could achieve whatever they wished. Any kind of clothing was satisfactory. They felt happy under any condition. To them it did not matter whether a man held a high or a low position in life. These men can be called pure at heart. No kind of desire can tempt the eyes of those pure people, and their minds cannot be misled by excessiveness and evil……..they are without fear of anything, they are in harmony with the Dao, the Right Way. Thus, they can live more than one hundred years and remain active without becoming decrepit, because their virtue was perfect and never imperiled.

It’s hard to imagine that the Yellow Emperor and Ch’i Po could in their wildest dreams (or nightmares) ever predict the extent to which our society ignores the rhythms of nature and how far removed we are from living in accord with nature. If 2500 years ago this was an issue, can you fathom what the industrial revolution, capitalism, the stresses that people are subjected to, the state of the earth, crops, preserved and denatured nutrition, microwaves, forced air etc. have done to our generations health?

In a previous post I have brought up the issues of toxicity and neoplastic conditions (which is epidemic as revealed through the pulse), as well as shock and trauma, of which birthing practices are a significant cause. In December, an article in the New York Times uncovered a significant trend of doctors and parents unnecessarily inducing childbirth for convenience and monetary gain. If living contrary to the cycles of nature negatively impacts adults in significant ways, can you imagine the profound detriment that infants will experience and the health concerns they will encounter from such practices. The impact of trauma on an infant who has immature organ and nervous systems can be potentially life threatening, and at its best a significant challenge to one’s health (emotional and physical alike). Such patients often present in the clinic with profound illnesses and lifelong struggles.

I suggest that we all evaluate how closely our lives conform to that of the sages above, and perhaps modify certain aspects of our lifestyle to attain even just a sampling of the peace and contentment they achieved.

You can access the New York Times article referenced above here.

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