Like many people in my community, my clients and my patients, I have been reeling this week from the results of the American election. I react to these events from my own life as a Jewish woman, a queer person, an immigrant, and a friend and family member of people of color, Muslims, transfolk, immigrants and others who have been targeted and scapegoated by the individuals and forces represented by those who are claiming a victory this week. My response is shaped by my history and my training, and in that spirit I share some resources from traditional Chinese medicine as I have been taught. I encourage all of us in the days, weeks, months and years to come, to continue to turn to our teachers, our ancestors, our guides, for resources and support. I am not a scholar of TCM, but a practitioner, so these thoughts reflect my lived experience of these teachings, not necessarily academic understanding.
(quotes from Statements of Fact in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Bob Flaws. The statements are traditional conclusions based on millenia of practice and observation and are used to ensure our treatment decisions are sound and consistent. Bob Flaws has translated and compiled these statements for the English speaking student)
“In acute disorders, treat the branch (aka the symptoms)"
“In chronic conditions, treat the root (aka the causes)”
In holistic and traditional medicine, we recognize that both relieving symptoms and treating the underlying cause are necessary. The immediate must be treated immediately. The underlying must be treated over time. Both are called for.
“Act in accordance with seasonal, geographic and personal factors”
We are not all the same. Healing comes when we recognize where we are, and apply the remedy that is needed for the particular situation and history. All the different approaches to social change that are underway are part of the medicine we need, for so many different approaches, insights, actions and strategies will be needed to address the many different stories that have brought us to this moment. Before acting, reflect on the ‘seasonal, geographic and personal factors’ at play - both for you the actor, and the situation or persons you wish to bring healing to.
“If one does not have righteous qi to recover, evil will not retreat”
One cannot treat disease without nourishing the strength of the body. It takes qi (energy, vitality, strength) to cast out and heal from external disease. If we only focus on treating what is wrong from the outside, without strengthening what is within, we will not heal. On an individual level, this means caring for our well-being while we do our work for a better world. On a larger level, this means we nourish the physical and mental well-being of our communities, organizations and even nations and world. We strengthen from the inside while we push against what assails us.
“Yin and yang may transform into each other” or in the words of modern day prophet Octavia Butler (z’l)
All that you touch
All that you Change
The only lasting truth
Nothing is fixed. Nothing is over. The very fabric of reality is change. This is the very, very, very long view, and it’s available to us to step into whenever we need it.