Acupuncture is just one of the many modalities of Chinese Medicine. Other methods of Chinese Medical treatment include herbs, massage, exercise, diet, and meditation. Depending on the concern of the patient, any one or a combination of these methods may be recommended by a Doctor of Chinese Medicine.
The West now recognizes the multiple health consequences of living in a stressful world. The pace of our lives and how we respond to stressful events has been an important factor in the development disease from the Chinese Medical perspective for thousands of years. Here is a quote from the first medical text known to Chinese Medicine, written it is estimated, about 2,500 years ago:
“In the past, people practiced the Tao, the Way of Life. They understood the principle of balance, of yin and yang, as represented by the transformation of energies of the universe. Thus, they formulated practices such as Dao-in, an exercise combining stretching, massaging, and breathing to promote energy flow, and meditation to help maintain and harmonize themselves with the universe. They ate a balanced diet at regular times, arose and retired at regular hours, avoided over-stressing their bodies and minds, and refrained from overindulgence of all kinds. They maintained well-being of body and mind; thus it is not surprising that they lived over one hundred years.”
-Ni, Masohing, “The Yellow Emperors Classic of Medicine.”
Most of the activities that maintain and preserve health are absolutely free. We can take a little time to stretch, to pay attention to our breath, and learn how to quiet our mind in the comfort of our own home. By giving ourselves a little time each day, we can maintain our health as well as have a profound impact on the quality of healing from illness.
In the very beginning of these practices- keep things very simple. It is more important to form the habit of turning your attention inward than trying to perfect a certain practice.
Move a little- take a short walk or swing your arms around, move all your joints-do any movement that feels good for about 10 minutes, letting your mind wander and drift while feeling the motion of your body and the rhythm of your breath.
Next, in a quiet room, sit in a comfortable chair, keeping your back as straight as possible. Let your shoulders relax and eyes soften or close. Engage all of your attention to your breathing. Just follow the air into your nose and to your lungs- then follow it back out again. Practice this for 10 breaths each day.
Slowly add more cycles of breathing, until you find you are able to attend to your breath for 10-15 minutes at a time.
When you are finished, slowly move your body, notice your attention shifting outwards, and go back out into the world!
For more formal instruction in Taoist exercise and meditation, check out the International Taoist Tai Chi Society