Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a holistic approach to health based on the understanding that the mind, body, and spirit are all connected and that illness and disease arise when there is some kind of energetic imbalance in one or more of these areas. While TCM practitioners are highly trained to use specific healing techniques such as Acupuncture, Cupping, Chinese Herbs, and Moxibustion, you can also integrate practices based on TCM into your everyday life to improve your overall health. Here are some simple ideas to get started.
Like all aspects of TCM, a healthy diet is based on the idea of balance. But unlike the Western concept of a balanced diet, a TCM balanced diet includes consideration of the flavours in the food, the temperature, and speed at which it is eaten, and the mental and emotional experience of eating. According to TCM, your diet should be made up mainly of:
A TCM diet also takes the seasons into account. For example, winter meals should be warm, slow-cooked foods like stews, whereas summer meals should be cooler and faster to cook, like stir-fries.
Finally, the environment in which you eat your meals is also important in TCM. When you sit down to eat, you should choose a quiet, peaceful place where you can focus on eating. Eat slowly and chew your food properly, and avoid arguing while you eat, eating on the go, or taking your meals in front of the TV.
While acupuncture requires extensive training to perform safely, acupressure is an effective needle-free tool that you can use at home to boost your health and treat mild ailments. According to TCM, your qi, or vital life force, flows through the meridians in your body. When this energy becomes trapped or stagnant, problems can occur. Acupressure involves applying pressure at specific points on your meridians to help improve the circulation of your qi. When performed correctly, acupressure can help relieve stress, headaches, and pain, improve sleep, regulate digestion, and relax your muscles and joints.
Movement is an essential part of health, but unlike Western Medicine which often prescribes specific exercises and intense workouts, healthy movement in TCM can be whatever feels good for your mind and body. Make sure you move your body every day, preferably outdoors where you can get some fresh air and spend time in nature. If it’s not possible to exercise outdoors, open the windows wide so you can enjoy the breeze while you move. Tai Chi is a special form of movement used in TCM to energise and rebalance your body’s qi. Integrating an outdoor Tai Chi session into your daily or weekly routine can make great improvements to your overall health and well-being.
In TCM it is understood that your thoughts and feelings can have a significant impact on your physical and spiritual health. Negative emotions and thoughts can deplete our bodies, increase inflammation and weaken our immune systems, making us more susceptible to both short and long-term illnesses. One of the most beneficial daily practices you can incorporate into your life is a short meditation. While meditation and mindfulness are becoming increasingly trendy in Western medicine and popular culture, this practice has been part of TCM for thousands of years.
TCM understands that the human mind, body, and spirit thrive off rhythm and rituals. Having a set rhythm to your day can help your body know what to expect, making the day flow more smoothly, while rituals can help restore peace and balance to the brain and promote mindfulness. Rituals don’t have to be complicated to be effective; they can be as simple as preparing a pot of tea to drink in your garden each morning or taking a calming foot bath each evening before bed.
TCM is based on an understanding that good health is all about balance. Changing your daily habits to align with TCM principles can help to maintain your long-term health and prevent illness from occurring. If you’re interested in learning more about TCM, why not check out the Sydney Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine? Contact us today to learn more about our Diploma or Bachelor level courses in TCM, or to make an appointment at our teaching clinic.