Working with Subtle Energy and Chakras – Awareness Intensive Week 5


Thank you all so much for being here today. It’s such a pleasure to share this space with you. Most of this session will be guided meditation, and at the end we will open up space for questions or comments. Please refrain from hitting the bowl to my right as everyone can hear it and it will be used as a tool for the meditation. Thank you.

Let us take a moment to dedicate this practice to those who we want to remember. Please type the name or relation into local if it suits you.

Over the first few weeks we dealt with embodiment, feeling, or the felt sense, and lastly with breath. Let us start delving into our awareness by practicing these a bit. I will lead a guided meditation in voice. Please follow along if you’d like or you can mute sound and do your own practice. I will ring the bowl once to start and twice to end, so make sure your sounds are on so you know when we are continuing the practice.

Today we will bring our attention to a different level of awareness. In our bodies there are many energy channels. Depending on what tradition you come from these may be called nadis, meridians, or various other things. These carry the prana or qi thoughout your body. There are three main channels that run from the root of our pelvis up to our third eye centre. The main one is called the sushumna nadi. Energy moves with breath. Each time we breath we are sending energy throughout our bodies.

Today we are going to work with this subtle energy, prana or qi. Bring your attention to this central channel, running from your pelvic floor to the space of the third eye. Each time you breath in, the energy moves up this column, and each time you breath out the energy moves down this column.

When you feel comfortable with this, we will try expanding this awareness outwards horizontally. You can do this simply by expanding this central channel outwards, or, work more precisely. I will walk you through the more precise practice, but if you feel more comfortable just expanding it outwards please practice that way.

Bring your attention to the root of your pelvis, or the muladhara chakra. Imagine a glowing red light there. When you breath in, this light expands horizontally in a complete circle. The light should therefore expand in all directions, each diagonal, forward, backward, right and left. When you breath out the light will pulse back into centre, and continue this motion with the breath like a wave.

Next, moving up the channel, bring your attention to the heart level of this central channel, or the anahatha chakra. Imagine a glowing green light there. When you breath in, this light expands horizontally in a complete circle. The light should therefore expand in all directions, each diagonal, forward, backward, right and left. When you breath out the light will pulse back into centre, and continue this motion with the breath like a wave.

Next, moving up the channel, bring your attention to the eyebrow centre of the central channel, or ajna chakra. Imagine a glowing indigo light there. When you breath in, this light expands horizontally in a complete circle. The light should therefore expand in all directions, each diagonal, forward, backward, right and left. When you breath out the light will pulse back into centre, and continue this motion with the breath like a wave.

This is feeling yourself as Stillness, the formless in form.

Take your time slowly coming out of the mind-practice. Bring your attention back to your body. Deepen your breath. Slowly wiggle your toes and fingers, and when you feel ready, slowly open your eyes. As you are opening your eyes, try to notice how you are feeling.

What did you notice in this practice?
Has your definition of awareness changed doing this exercise?

TCM Transcript July 17 2012


A lot of really great questions were asked on Tuesday’s TCM discussion, so I wanted to share this with you all. I’ve removed everyone’s names and inserted their initials. Any additional comments I’ve added are in brackets []. Thanks everyone for coming!

Chraeloos: Last week we ended with a description of the spleen, I do believe.
NT: was there a simplified conclusion/summary?
Chraeloos: NT, I can do a quick summary if you’d like.
BT: hi glad to sit in
Chraeloos: first off, though, lets start with a short qi gong exercise.
Chraeloos: You can do this standing or sitting, whatever is more comfortable for you. Straighten your spine – pretend as though there is a string someone has attached to it with a rod and is pulling up from the top of your spine. Make it tall and straight. Next, relax your joints.
Chraeloos: Let your shoulders relax, your elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles, everything; just let it all relax. You should almost feel heavier, as though there is more gravity pulling on you. Now, breathe deeply, bring the breath all the way through your body.
Chraeloos: Fill your meridians with the air, all the way to your toes and finger tips. Stay like this for a few minutes, breathing deeply and steadily, and try to clear your mind. Listen to the music stream if you want something to focus on. Just sit or stand and breathe, joints relaxed, and spine straight.
Chraeloos: Lets rest here for a minute or two
Chraeloos: Alright, take some deep breathes, and lets begin
Chraeloos: If you’d like to try staying this way for the discussion, by all means feel free. Make sure you stop if at any point it hurts or you feel dizzy. Any movements from this position should be slow and done in time with your breathing. Drink some water to help bring yourself back to center when you stop.
Chraeloos: So, last week we went over the three of the five zang viscera: the heart, lung, and spleen. Today we will continue with the liver and kidney, but lets do a brief summary first.
Chraeloos: The heart is the lord of all the systems in the body. It is the home of the spirit, and controls all the vital functions of the body
Chraeloos: Both Qi and blood run through it.
Chraeloos: The heart is surrounded by the pericardium, which is a sac type tissue that holds it in place and acts as a shield for this vital organ.
Chraeloos: The lung is an extremely sensitive organ that regulates respiration and movement of qi throughout the body.
Chraeloos: By breathing naturally (deep into the abdomen, not shallowly in the chest) one can optimize the function of the lungs. Also, breathing through the nose is best as the nose cleans the air before it reaches the lungs.
Chraeloos: The lungs also ensure that the heart functions properly
Chraeloos: The spleen works with the stomach and small intestine by storing fluids processed by the stomach, and sending them to all parts of the body to be used, and then sending them down as waste.
Chraeloos: It sends fluids to tissues, muscles, ligaments, organs, and everything else you can imagine. It is also considered the source of qi and blood because no process of digestions or absorption of essential substances would be possible without it.
Chraeloos: Any questions about that?
NT: no
BT: nope
Chraeloos: ok, great. Feel free to ask questions at any time. And if you want to get my attention stick the @ symbol in local and I’ll pause
Chraeloos: So, this week we’ll start with the liver.
Chraeloos: The liver is located underneath the diaphragm, on the right side behind the ribs. It is connected to the gallbladder via the meridians, and is part of the wood element. “Its main functions are storage of blood, regulation of the total quantity of circulating blood, regulation of the emotions, promotion of the circulation of qi and blood, promotion of the metabolism of fluids and regulation of menses.”
Chraeloos: In general, the amount of blood circulating is constant, but depending on your physical activity, such as running or sleeping, and emotional state, the amounts needed by the viscera will vary. If the liver is damaged it will not send out enough blood, causing dizziness, blurred vision, night blindness, numbness of the limbs, etc. If damaged, it will also not store unneeded blood, which could cause vomiting of blood, coughing up blood, nosebleeds, uterine bleeding, etc.
Chraeloos: The blood and qi both flow through the body in the same way, so the liver not only stores the blood but the qi. If the mental outlook is optimistic, the mind at ease, then the qi and blood will be harmonious and therefore all the viscera will function properly, and vice versa.
Chraeloos: The liver has its main manifestation in the tendons, nails, and eyes. “The liver controlling the tendons means that the relaxation or contraction of all the tendons in the body is related to liver function.” The liver is the source of nutrients for the tendons. Lack of this source will cause tremors in the hands and feet and reduced ability to flex or extend.
Chraeloos: “All syndromes of shaking, dizziness and vertigo belong to the liver.” – Plain Questions.
Chraeloos: In CM the nails are external portions of the tendons. When liver-blood is adequate the nails are well nourished and strong, bright, and lustrous.
Chraeloos: The eyes require blood to see, and therefore the liver is directly linked to them. If there is a deficiency of liver-Yin, for instance, there could be blurred or impaired vision, dry and screechy eyes, and night blindness. The eyes are also connected to the other zang and fu viscera, so not all signs of the eyes would link to the liver.
Chraeloos: scratchy*, not screechy, lol
Chraeloos: So, the nails are a good sign for practitioners of Chinese medicine to diagnose the patient.
Chraeloos: Each nail on the hands relates to a specific organ.
H: cool 😮
Chraeloos: The pinky nail is the heart and small intestine, ring finger the triple heater, and thyroid, the middle finger the pericardium and reproductive system, the pointer finger the large intestine and the thumb the lungs.
Chraeloos: the nails on the toes also have a direct link to systems
Chraeloos: The pinky toe is the bladder, ring toe is the gallbladder, middle toe doesn’t have one, the pointer toe is the stomach, and the big toe is the liver and spleen.
BT: @is it the same for left and right hand fingers?
Chraeloos: So if you notice a specific finger or toe nail grows more than the rest perhaps you have an abundance of that organs qi or yin/yang
Chraeloos: yes it is Bhang
Chraeloos: if you massage these toes, you’ll also be able to affect the organs
NT: my right big toe has issues
Chraeloos: what kind of issues, if you don’t mind me asking
NT: well a little gout, and dry skin cracking
NT: toe nail is alittle off color
NT: in a sexy way thoug, lol
Chraeloos: I’d say then that the liver and/or spleen are not functioning properly, likely a deficiency of spleen-yin.
NT: ok i will try to nurse it and see what happens
Chraeloos: As they deal with transport of fluids, sounds like they aren’t transporting enough
NT: lol, not nurse it
NT: oi
NT: i will tend to it
Chraeloos: try cool herbs, to calm down the yang. But honestly, there are many more signs to look for to give a proper diagnosis
NT: cool herbs?
Chraeloos: so I recommend talking to someone about it first, a doctor who can actually see you in person, etc.
NT: yes ok
NT: good idea
NT: <<not that worried about it
Chraeloos: Well, some examples of cool foods would be apples, barley, raw celery, cucumber, green tea, lemons, lettuce, pears, radish, spinach, tofu, tomato, watercress, and whole wheat.
NT: ok
Chraeloos: Yeah, if it’s just your toe and not a bigger issue, just keep your eye on it and make sure it doesn’t spread or get worse
NT: nods
Chraeloos: Alright, any other questions so far?
Chraeloos: ok, lets continue.
Chraeloos: Kidney (including the vital gate)
Chraeloos: The two kidneys are located in the posterior part of the abdomen, one on each side of the spinal column. The kidney is linked to the urinary bladder by the meridians, and is part of the water element. “Because the kidney houses the innate essence, it is the foundation of the Yin-Yang of the viscera and the source of life.” It is also known as the “innate foundation.”
Chraeloos: The kidney stores and preserves essence. Essence has two meanings in CM: a) the basic substance which constitutes the body and maintains all vital activities, ie. qi, blood and fluids, and nutritive substances, and b) specifically the generative essence, both the prenatal and postnatal qi.
Chraeloos: (Remembering here that everyone has prenatal qi – ie qi that they don’t have to acquire, but only a limited amount. If the kidney’s don’t function properly, you may run out prenatal qi, especially if you don’t maintain your postnatal qi)
Chraeloos: To maintain qi you can eat a healthy diet, practice qi gong (exercises, meditations, etc), among many other things. Again this is the Chinese view of preventing disease rather than fighting it once its already there.
Chraeloos: The kidney’s control reproduction, through both sexual functionality and reproductive capacity. They provide the original substance for the embryo and are the material foundation of the vital activities. The kidney’s also promote growth and envelopment through all stages of life. They also have an important part in resisting disease and delaying senescence. The last thing they do is facilitate the production of blood.
Chraeloos: development, not envelopment, lol sorry again typos
Chraeloos: Since the kidney holds both yin and yang, it is known as the “house of Water and Fire.”
Chraeloos: You may come across this term both metaphorically and literally, in medical texts
Chraeloos: If the kidney’s are out of balance you will get signs such as hotness in the palms, afternoon fever, night sweats, wet dreams in males, and sexual dreams in females.
Chraeloos: Of course, these things occur naturally as well
Chraeloos: The kidney provides the basic motive power of the water and fluid metabolism due to its warming and evaporating functions. It controls the opening and closing of the bladder, which lets the urine flow or be retained.
Chraeloos: This is why if you get a bladder infection, common in females, it can very quickly progress up into a kidney infection, and then a blood infection, at which point you’re likely hospitalized.
Chraeloos: So, ladies, if you get a bladder infection, don’t ignore it!
Chraeloos: The kidney’s also accept the Qi that has been inhaled by the lung. “Although the lung controls respiration, it is the kidney that maintains its regularity.” Specifically, the depth, smoothness, and evenness of respiratory movement can be maintained only if Qi inhaled by the lung has descended into and has been accepted by the kidney.
HS: heh, ignore shooting pains; yeah, I do that all the time
Chraeloos: oh, and the itch!
Chraeloos: NT, lol, we aren’t at all trying to sound sexy here, so dont worry hahaha
Chraeloos: This is why we practice qi gong breathing, pulling the air all the way into our lower abdomens (this is called “natural breathing”, since all animals and babies breath like this). Most adults have constricted themselves and breath shallowly into their chests. Based on CM theory, this is not good, as it stagnates the air and qi, and doesn’t allow it to reach all the viscera to complete their vital functions. Bronchitis, pulmonary emphysema and lung-induced heart disease often show symptoms of the kidney failing to accept Qi.
HS: The itch is impossible to ignore. I don’t even try
Chraeloos: lol
Chraeloos: In CM, kidney stores essence and essence engenders marrow. This promotes bone growth and therefore growth of the body. There are three kinds of marrow: bone marrow, spinal cord, and brain. All three are derived from the kidney’s essential qi.
Chraeloos: “Bone” includes the teeth. The kidney’s are also manifest in the hair. If your hair is fast growing and healthy then your kidney’s are likely healthy. The ears are also closely related to the state of the kidneys. If kidney-essence is strong, hearing will be acute; if it is weak, it may be as extreme as deafness.
H: @So i’m supposed to breathe like this all the time?
Chraeloos: H, ideally, yes
Chraeloos: its what most natural for your body, although as we age it becomes harder to do because of habits
HS: No, not all the time, just when you feel you need it; you have to be sensitive to your body’s needs
Chraeloos: So you can see why the chinese see the body as a whole system, not just individual organs
H: are there any situations when it’s not recommended? like, i don’t know, air in some places is too polluted and i might get too much toxins by breathing deeply?
Chraeloos: H, definitely. You’re body will react as it should if you let it. Being relaxed is key to breathing properly
Chraeloos: and breathing properly is key to being relaxed
Chraeloos: OK, here’s a good example for you all…
H: being relaxed – hard stuff o______O
BT: my tai chi instructor talked about focusing on the breath
Chraeloos: In WWII, a qi gong teacher was walking through a field with his student. They were chatting about something, likely a lesson was being taught. The teacher was so relaxed and natural that when he stepped on the mine he felt it before any pressure was applied, and was able to jump back and push the student away – all without the mine ever exploding. This method of breathing is a major way of how the teacher was able to do that.
Chraeloos: H, it sure is. But it really shouldn’t be. It is our natural state
Chraeloos: BT, yes tai chi is part of this system as well
BT: i like to practice after coffee is that bad?
BT: hard on the liver and kidney?
HS: Bhang, not necessarily bad, but you are putting an obstacle in the way. lol I do it all the time
Chraeloos: Bhang, yes, lol. Ideally you should practice on an empty stomach, as anything in the stomach restricts the amount of movement of blood and qi and other vital functions – as well as restricting the expansion of the body with breathe.
H: so i should try deeper breathing during the day spontaneously? or just once/twice as exercise?
Chraeloos: Coffee in general is hard on the liver and kidney as its so acidic and as we buy it has many chemicals added.
HS: Well, that’s like asking when should I take a crap during the day? Whenever you need to, ideally.
Chraeloos: H, whatever you feel comfortable with.
Chraeloos: I practice it whenever I think of it – all day every day
Chraeloos: Hunt, exactly lol
H: ok
H: lol
Chraeloos: and after even just a week my body became used to it, and started doing it naturally again
H: oh
BT: cool
Chraeloos: it is something that should become habit, you shouldn’t have to think about it after a while.
Chraeloos: As babies and children we all do it
Chraeloos: but as the stresses of this modern world affect us more and more we breath more and more shallow, until when we are adults most people breathe into their chests all the time.
Chraeloos: alright, well lets talk about the vital gate for a few minutes
Chraeloos: The Vital Gate
Chraeloos: “The left is the kidney and the right is the vital gate. The vital gate is the house of essence, spirit and vitality. in the male it stores essence; in the female it maintains the uterus. Its qi communicates with the kidney.” – Classic on Medical Problems.
Chraeloos: The vital gate has also been said to reside between the kidneys, in both kidneys, and it was the motive force of qi (residing between the two kidneys). Most importantly, is that the vital gate is the source of genuine qi, the birthplace of the body’s warmth and energy, and it plays a part in the reproductive and sexual functions of the body.
Chraeloos: No school of TCM seems to agree where exactly it is located, but we could say its in the middle section of our abdomen, where the kidney’s are either way.
Chraeloos: the vital gate can be compared to the chakras of reiki and ayurveda.
Chraeloos: it is a center of energy within the body
BT: dan tien?
Chraeloos: exactly
BT: k
Chraeloos: the vital gate is the center dan tien
Chraeloos: there are three, according to some, essentially compared to the root chakra, or located in the pelvis, the middle compared to the solar plexus chakra, and the third compared to the third eye chakra, in the head
Chraeloos: The three dan tiens are the humans centers of energy in the body, or even qi. These are utilized in meditation and all energy work, and tcm practitioners will also use them, although they are more oriented towards qi gong and are not used as diagnostics as in reiki or chakra healing
Chraeloos: But of course, that also depends on which practitioner you go to, as they all have their own styles and strong points.
Chraeloos: So, last but not least for today…
Chraeloos: As a whole, the all the zang viscera take part in the metabolism of water and fluids. The process is completed with the dispersing and lowering function of the lung, the transporting and transforming function of the spleen, the conducting and facilitating function of the liver, the water-passage dredging function of the sanjiao, as well as the transforming function of the kidney.
Chraeloos: That is the end of the notes for today. Please feel free to leave a donation in the tip jar if you want to support this event and ones like it! Thank you all for coming! Please feel free to stick around and ask any questions or just chat 🙂
BT: @would qi be comparable to fire and blood to water?
Chraeloos: BT, that depends. Everything is relative to what you are comparing it to
Chraeloos: I’d say the other way around when comparing blood and qi, qi would be more water like and blood fire
Chraeloos: But when comparing the blood to the skin, or to something else, it could take on another element
H: would changing my breathing habits help with that dust allergy i asked about week ago?
Chraeloos: H, likely yes.
Chraeloos: If nothing else it would enhance your lungs ability to protect against the dust
H: what about reverse crane breathing, this can be used to like, clean my lungs when i get too much dust? xPP
Chraeloos: lol!
H: xDD
Chraeloos: reverse crane breathing is very challenging. I’m not all that familiar with it, but any kind of reversed breathing is challenging and should only be used in minimal amounts
H: ok
Chraeloos: If its anything like the reversed breathing I’ve heard of, you suck your stomach in when you inhale, and push it out when you exhale. Which can be very good for building control and awareness, but should only be practiced minimally
H: does tcm say anything about best hours to go to sleep and get up to feel healthiest?
H: ok, i won’t overdo reverse breathing then, thanks 🙂
BT: isnt it with the sun?
Chraeloos: The best sleep happens between 11pm and 6am. I usually aim to be in bed for 10:30 and up by 6:30, as I seem to need more sleep than 7 hours.
Chraeloos: let me see if I can find this chart I had about the hours each organ is at its peak…
TCM Qi Cycle Chraeloos: There, so that is the chart for the hours each organ is most active
H: ah you see because my sleeping patterns are so f***** up lately
Chraeloos: I’d say if nothing else you should be able to get to your deepest sleep by 1 am, so the liver can function as it needs the rest more than the others
H: it happened when there was this annoying weather
H: i mean super-hot summer that i couldn’t handle xD
H: and i started to sleep at weird hours
H: during the day and all
H: and now there are storms all the time
H: and my hours changed again
Chraeloos: ah yes, well thats not necessarily affected your organs, it could just be the heat that keeps you up. But it would affect all your yin-yang balance, which could affect a certain organ depending
Chraeloos: and BT, yes, it is kind of with the sun, more or less
H: i started to go to sleep at 9 sometimes 10 pm lately but i feel shitty xP
H: i mean i ‘normally’ go to sleep at 6am *cough* (i know it’s weird) and i feel amazing when i wake up
BT: i just quit sleeping that seems to have done the trick
H: ha
Chraeloos: thats not good H! it is possible to get too much sleep also
Chraeloos: BT, that is horrible for your system lol
H: it’s like when i sleep most of the night it makes me feel worse, but when i’m up during lots of night hours i feel good, dunno xPP
BT: if i get enough yang saved up it’ll turn back into yin and balance out
[this isn’t entirely true…it mostly depends on timing. yes, when either yin or yang “overflows” it will revert back to the other, but not after causing much damage to your body, and perhaps not before death. The idea in TCM is to keep a balance, so any imbalance is not good for your body.]

TCM Series Intro Notes: Chinese Methodology


(c) 2012, Chraeloos Resident
Welcome everyone to the Traditional Oriental Medicine series. Thank you for coming! Please tip if you feel so inclined. All tips are split between the venue and myself in order to keep these events going and to enable the growth of the sim. The tip jar is one of the candles on the table. If you’d like a copy of today’s notes you can find them in another candle on the table.

Thank you for visiting Peaceful Dragon Oriental Medicine Centre! The centre is currently under construction, but is intended to be an Oriental medicine learning centre. If you have a suggestion for an activity or an event here, please contact either Xandria Winterwolf or myself.

I just want to remind everyone that none of the information presented here is advice and therefore should not be put into practice without first consulting a professional.

Today we will focus on CM Methodology.

The main sources used today are: http://www.tcmworld.org/what_is_tcm/, “The Way of Qigong” by Kenneth S. Cohen, “Traditional Chinese Medicine” by Daniel Reid, “Natural Healing Wisdom and Know-how” compiled by Amy Rost, http://www.yinyanghouse.com/theory/chinese/what_is_qi, http://www.sacredlotus.com/theory/substances/qi_forms.cfm, “Essentials of Chinese Medicine, Vol. 1” edited by Zhanwen Liu and Liang Liu, “Secrets of Dragon Gate” by Dr. Steven Liu and Jonathan Blank.

**

Today we are going to begin with something a little different. We’re going to start with a short exercise. I’d like you all to take a few minutes and do this with me.

You can do this standing or sitting, whatever is more comfortable for you. Straighten your spine – pretend as though there is a string someone has attached to it with a rod and is pulling up from the top of your spine. Make it tall and straight. Next, relax your joints. Let your shoulders relax, your elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles, everything; just let it all relax. Now, breathe deeply, bring the breath all the way through your body. Fill your meridians with the air, all the way to your toes and finger tips. Stay like this for a few minutes, breathing deeply and steadily, and try to clear your mind. Listen to the music stream if you want something to focus on. Just sit or stand and breathe, joints relaxed, and spine straight.

Pause for three minutes.

Now we will start.

**

“Disease is the process in which an evil Qi causes an illness and the genuine Qi of the body fights off the disease-causing agent. In this process, the unity within the body and the unity of the body and its environment mean that there are continuous interactions. It is only when the body’s genuine Qi is too weak to resist the evil Qi or the intensity of the evil Qi exceeds the genuine Qi’s ability to resist that illness occurs. This struggle of genuine Qi and evil Qi persists from the moment of attack through treatment. It continues until the body’s genuine Qi has gained sufficient strength to overpower the evil Qi.”

The struggle of the genuine Qi and the evil Qi directly affect the course of the illness, as well as the treatment.

“Huangdi’s Internal Classic” tells us that in order to be an excellent physician, one must have a very wide knowledge base including, but not limited to, “astronomy for phenomena above us, geography for phenomena beneath us, and the social sciences for events among us.” This is because they recognized the influence the entire world and our social, economic, and physical environment have on our health.

**

Chinese medicine uses a few approaches to treat patients. Firstly, they use the holistic systemic method, which utilizes the Five Elements theory to divide the “vital activities of the human body into five functional systems and which then links all the phenomena of the universe into these systems. Thus, the human body is not merely an isolated whole, but is part of a much larger ecosystem.” This method also utilizes yin-yang theory, separating everything into opposites.

The second approach is a classification by analogy, where things that are similar in properties or appearance are assigned to the same classification category. This helps the doctor to figure out a diagnosis. For example, the flow of the blood in the veins can be compared to the flow of water in a river. When water is chilled it freezes, and when heated it boils. Blood should therefore have similar characteristics. This provides a clear explanation for the symptoms of illnesses of Cold and of Heat. This method has its limit, as it works on probability, not fact. All the actions taken here are corroborated by experience. It is also within this method that herbs are classified according to their properties.

The third approach is to infer the interior from the exterior, or, to observe the outward appearances in order to infer the changes inside the body. Chinese medicine believes that the five zang organs (heart, liver, lung, spleen and kidney) and the six fu organs (stomach, small intestine, large intestine, gall bladder, urinary bladder and san jiao) are closely linked to the organs and tissues on the bodies surface (five sense organs, four limbs and the head, and the nine orifices). The internal and external are linked mainly by means of the meridians and the activities of Qi and blood. The signs a practitioner will look for are the five facial colours, the changes in the tongue, the profiles of the pulse, the appearance of the ear, among many more. Every sign they see will help narrow down the diagnosis and treatment. A fuzzy, yellow tongue with a flushed complexion means something different than a fuzzy, yellow tongue with a red complexion.

**

Illnesses will have certain symptoms depending on the stage of its course. For instance, peptic ulcer disease may be diagnosed with a) deficiency-Cold of the spleen and the stomach, b) excessive liver-Qi attacking the stomach, c) accumulation of Dampnesss-Heat in the stomach, or something else. Throughout these different stages different treatments need to be applied. Because of these stages, many illnesses may be treated the same way; for instance, chronic lumbago, edema, diarrhea and enuresis all have a deficiency of spleen-Yang and kidney-Yang, and therefore can all be treated by the method of warm tonification of spleen-Yang and kidney-Yang. Different herbs may be used based on the other symptoms the patient shows, but the purpose of the herbs is the same.

**

“Quiescence is the opposite of activity. It includes serenity (absence of stress) of the mind and quietness of the body, and occupies an important role in the CM theory of health preservation.” Much of the typical Chinese exercises include little action, and instead focus on inaction, or even a slow movement between postures. For instance, certain aspects of Qi Gong do not involve any movement of the limbs or trunk, where others involve constant movement. “By assuming certain well-defined postures and engaging in specified breathing techniques and meditative exercises, the person can carry out self-training and self-regulation and attain the goal of regulating, restoring and improving the body.” Of course, you don’t want to do all activity or all quiescence, as any excess or insufficiency is not good for your body. As I usually say – everything in moderation! In other words, those guys that walk around like brick walls with huge muscles and spend four hours a day at the gym, actually aren’t healthy. They are harming their bodies by weakening their genuine qi, by excess of ‘active’ and absence of quiescence, and will deteriorate quicker. They will have harder times fighting illness and recovering from injuries than people who balance their activities and quiescence.

The Chinese emphasize the importance of preventative medicine. In order to stay healthy, both your body and your mind need to be maintained. The idea is to facilitate the movement of Qi and blood to avoid stiffness of the joints, and to ensure there is no stagnation of the meridians or organ systems. the key to promote and preserve genuine Qi is to practice physical training, have a proper diet, regulate mental activities and establish a science-based lifestyle.

**

The human body is obviously very complex. It is composed mostly of the zang and fu viscera, the non-organ structures, the sense organs and orifices, the material bases of vital activities (essence, Qi, blood, body fluids, etc.) and there meridians. “Knowledge of the structure and functions of the body systems in CM has been obtained through observation of the manifestations of many physiological functions and pathological phenomena in the body. As this knowledge accumulated, it was taken a step further and became formulated as the visceral manifestation theory. The foundation established by this theory comprises principally the following three aspects:”

1. Ancient Anatomical Knowledge. As early as the eras of Spring-Autumn and the Warring States there are already descriptions of findings from the dissection and research of the human body such as circulation of blood, describing not only the formation of blood but its nature, functions, source that powers its circulation, internal organs it flows through, and its rate of flow.

2. Long-Term Observation of Physiological and Pathological Phenomena. Through the approach of “inferring the interior from the exterior” the ancient people figured out the physical and pathological patterns and rules of the human body. For instance, when the skin was chilled the common cold could develop easily and manifest such symptoms as nasal discharge, cough, and the absence of sweating. From this observation they inferred the relationship of the nose and skin to the lung. Or, in other words, the “lung has its orifice in the nose” and the “lung governs the skin”.

3. Summarization of Practical Experience. Not all connections between the body are outwardly obvious. Through practice and experience they were able to figure out some odd connections. For example, Many types of eye disorders could be cured by techniques that treated the liver. Based on that, they gradually formulated the theory that “the liver has its orifice in the eyes.”

The Visceral Manifestation theory includes the five zang organs (heart, lung, spleen, liver, kidney), the six fu organs (gallbladder, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, urinary bladder, sanjiao), and the five irregular organs (brain, bone marrow, bones, blood vessels, uterus).

The zang viscera share two main functional characteristics: the mental activities, ie. “the heart houses the mind,” “the lung houses the soul,” “the spleen houses intention,” “the liver houses the ethereal soul,” and “the kidney houses the will.” The second is that they house essence and Qi.

The fu viscera share the functional characteristics of receiving, digesting, and transforming food and drink.

“The five sang viscera house the essence and Qi but do not discharge it; thus they are full but cannot be filled up. The sic fu viscera transform and digest matter but do not store it; thus they are filled, yet are not full.” – Plain Questions

We must realize that although the names of the organs are the same as modern western medicine, their physiology and pathology are quite different. “In the theory of visceral manifestation of CM the functions of a particular zang organ can encompass the functions of several organs of modern anatomy; and the functions of a particular organ in modern anatomy may be attributed to several zang and fu organs.” For example, the functions of the heart in CM include the nervous system, as well as the functions attributed in modern anatomy.

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There are many practices to induce good health, including qi gong, tai chi, meditation, etc. Leaning against the piano, I’ve got a chart for you all with 24 basic tai chi moves. We began with a qi gong exercise that you can feel free to do whenever you like. And now, I’m going to end the notes with a qi breathing exercise.

The following is a basic breathing exercise:

Find a comfortable place to lie down or sit. Make sure that there are no major distractions such as noise, weather, etc. Make sure that you have nothing binding on your body, so remove your shoes and if you are wearing a belt, undo it (it’s also a good idea to loosen your pants or skirt). Allow your body to relax completely. It is often helpful to think of yourself floating down a stream. Inhale slowly, steadily and deeply to your abdomen, focusing on your navel. As you inhale relax your entire body and especially your abdomen to allow your lungs to expand to their full capacity. Exhale slowly and steadily, making sure to completely empty all the air in your lungs. Now, slowly fill your lungs again and expand them to their full capacity. And breathe out slowly, emptying all the air in your lungs. Repeat this as many times as you like.

If you have some water nearby go drink some in order to help ground yourself once you have stopped the practice.

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I want you all to experience the benefits of Chinese practices. If you practice these exercises even three times a week you will quickly start to feel better. Personally, I work at an office so I sit at a desk all day. I find if I practice breathing deeply and sitting straight while relaxing my joints I don’t get stiff by the end of the day. You can do these practices anywhere, any time.

As a discussion point, and to finish us off, what do you think is meant by this quote?

“Yin-yang and the seasons are the beginning and end of all things.” – Plain Questions

TCM Series Intro Notes: The History of Chinese Medicine P1


(c) 2012, Chraeloos Resident
Welcome everyone to the Traditional Oriental Medicine series. Thank you for coming! Please tip if you feel so inclined. All tips are split between the venue and myself in order to keep these events going and to enable the growth of the sim. The tip jar is one of the candles on the table. If you’d like a copy of today’s notes you can find them in another candle on the table.

Thank you for visiting Peaceful Dragon Oriental Medicine Centre! The centre is currently under construction, but is intended to be an Oriental medicine learning centre. If you have a suggestion for an activity or an event here, please contact either Xandria Winterwolf or myself.

I just want to remind everyone that none of the information presented here is advice and therefore should not be put into practice without first consulting a professional.

Today we will focus on the history of Chinese medicine, with some added notes about things we’ve previously talked about..

The main sources used today are: “Essentials of Chinese Medicine, Vol. 1”, “Traditional Chinese Medicine” by Daniel Reid, “Natural Healing Wisdom and Know-how” compiled by Amy Rost

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Chinese Medicine emerged in the ancient Shamanic systems of China, and grew with the beliefs of Taoism. The theoretical foundations emerged, as far as we have records, in the fourth the first centuries BC with “Huangdi’s Internal Classic”. This was followed by the “Classic on Medical Problems” in the First Century BC. This work elaborated on the medical theories of “Huangdi’s Internal Classic.” The clinical medicine model then emerged at the end of the second century AD with the “Treatise on Cold-Attack and Miscellaneous Diseases”, which gave diagnosis based on the Six Meridians Theory. Next was the earliest materia medica, “Shen Nong’s Herbal Classic,” in the first to second centuries AD. This was a compilation and basic theory of 365 Chinese herbs and their properties, classification, and flavors.

Prior to the emergence of professional physicians in the Chou dynasty (1122-249 BC), Chinese medicine was the exlusive domain of tribal shamans (wu). These people practiced with herbs for healing from the mountains. They were the first to test and categorize the herbs.

“References to thirty-six different diseases and their herbal cures have been found inscribed on some of the 160,000 tortoise shells and oracle bones excavated during the twentieth century in the Central Plain region, dating mainly form the ancien Yin dynasty, circa 1500 BC. This proves that disease and medicine had already become a sytematic field of study in China, if not an actual profession, as long as thirty-five hundred years ago.”

“”Huangdi’s Internal Classic” conatins the popular thesis on the relationship between man and nature: “VItal qi is connected with nature.” It means that the vital activities of the human body are closely linked to activities in the universe. Firstly, the human body relies on the unceasing exchanges of both substance and energy with the natural environment to sustain life functions – ie. the digestion and absorption of foods, excretion and breathing. Secondly, the human body is capable of continual adaptation to the natural environment. When the days are hot, Qi and blood move toward the body surface, as manifested by profuse sweating and decreased urine, in order to regulate the body temperature, and when the days are cold, Qi and blood move away from the body surface, as manifested by increased urine and decreased sweating. Thirdly, the human body is not completely passive when adapting to changes in the natural environment. Indeed, once familiar with the regularities of the environment, the human body actively adjusts its activities as appropriate to the changes in the environment.”

Western scholars still refer to this period of Chinese history as mythical and refer to the founding emperor Huang Ti (the Yellow Emperor) as legendary. However, recent archaeological excavations have confirmed the existence of a major civilization that flourished in the Yellow River basin around 3000 BC, governed by an emperor named Huang Ti.

In 218 BC, the militant kingdom of Chin conquered all the warring kingdoms and principalities, uniting the empire under a single centralized government for the first time in Chinese history. In his ruthless drive to eradicate all vestiges of the past, the first Chin emperor ordered the infamous Fires of Chin, a mass book-durning campaign in which virtually all written records of ancient China’s classical heritage went up in flames.The only exceptions to this wholesale destruction of recorded knowledge were books on agriculture, divination (including the I-Ching), and medicine. Because of this, much of the knowledge and records that would help us in understanding these ancient times and the progression of ancient medicine are destroyed.

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The body must adapt to changes in the seasons and in yin-yang. The entire environment has great influence over the human body and therefore all practitioners should take into consideration all possible external factors when diagnosing a patient.

The Chinese figured out the connection of microcosmic and macrocosmic because of necessity. The first signs of the TCM theories of qi, yin-yang, and the five elements all appeared in approx. fifth century BC (or earlier; according to some the theories go back as much as ten thousand years ago). Some feel that they are found to emerge here because of the major cultural shifts going on at the time. The period from the Warring States to the Qin and Han dynasties (fifth century BC to first century AD) showed the shift from a system of slavery to a feudal one. Many sciences and philosophies (biology, anthropology, calendar, mathematics, etc.) emerged here. During this time there emerged a medical classic – “Huangdi’s Internal Classic” which explained the laws of life and the unity of the body with the natural world. “It provided a systemic discussion of anatomy – the viscera and meridians – physiology, and pathology.” It also described the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases.

In ancient China, before Chinese medicine was established, ghosts and gods were believed to be responsible for illness. When patients were ill they would turn to a sorcerer or sorceress and devout prayer for help. CM counters this belief and argues that illness is a natural and avoidable phenomenon. The reason for this is that as the year has the various weather changes of the seasons so can the human body be in states of health or illness.

CM also rejects the notion of incurability and considers that if an illness is not cured it is because the physician’s knowledge of the illness is not correct, not clear or not adequate, or because an effective therapy has not yet been found.

“Because nature is the most obvious and enduring manifestation of Tao on earth, much of the traditional terminology of Chinese medicine is derived directly from natural phenomena (fire and water, wind and heat, dryness and dampness, etc.), and a traditional Chinese diagnosis often sounds more like a weather report than a medical analysis.”

“Because the microcosmic energy system of humans (ren) stands midway between the cosmic powers of Heaven (tien) and the natural forces of Earth (di), drawing power from both sources, human health depends not only on internal energy balance within the system, but also on harmony with the macrocosmic powers of Heaven (the cosmos) and Earth (nature).”

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And for today we will leave it there. Any questions or comments?