Life in the modern age moves at break-neck speeds. The pace at which we seek, encounter, and receive information is faster than it has ever been in recorded history.
We have learned how to circumvent so much of nature. We have air-conditioning to keep us cool, electric lights to keep things lit, refrigerators to preserve our food…
Most of us live within 5 minutes of multiple grocery stores, stacked wall-to-wall with more food than a king could have imagined not long ago.
In fact, one of the reasons we have so many issues with obesity and heart disease and cancer in our modern society is because we have so much food — and so we eat it. We eat more food than our bodies really need or even want. But, as I always say, our bodies love us so dearly, they’ll do their best to accommodate. But the amount is simply out of balance with nature, and pushing our bodies so far beyond their limits is what leads to imbalance and, eventually, illness.
The same holds true for our minds. We’ve created such an abundance of information that, well, we keep seeking it. Watching TV, browsing the web, checking Facebook, playing games on our smartphones… For many of us, it’s over-exposure, a result of responding to over-abundance by trying to consume it all.
So, where is the pause? The silence? The REST?
The Taoist sages intuited that the Universe was composed of many energetic forces. The primary two of these are Yin and Yang.
Yin is restful, cool, peaceful, dark, and quiet — and, it is more dominant at night and its restorative power is most active while we sleep.
Yang is active, warm, constantly moving, light, and noisy — and, it is more dominant during the day. Its activating, invigorating power is most active during the day, when the sun is in the sky.
And, these Yin/Yang responses of our bodies aren’t optional. Our entire biology is hard-wired to respond to light with increased metabolism and activity, and to dark with increased restfulness and restorative function. This is simply how nature works, whether we want it to or not.
Balance in all things. This is the Way to live in harmony, not only with ourselves but with all of nature, including our friends, environment, career, loved ones and — most importantly — ourselves.
The constant go-go-go of modern society is all Yang. Fire, movement, excitement, activity. Even just sitting and watching TV is a form of activity. The flashing lights of the TV, the sound, the emotions of the storylines all send energetic pulses throughout our nervous systems.
So, what ever happened to just sitting, doing nothing. Just resting??
You see, we are all born with a certain amount of life energy. In Chinese Medicine, this is called our Original (Yuan) Qi, and it comes from the umbilical cord in the womb (well, not only from there, but let’s keep it simple for now).
It is like the first charge of a cell phone battery. Once you unplug that cell phone from the charger for the first time, that battery will never be that fully charged ever again. Eventually, the battery loses its ability to hold a charge, and it dies.
We too eventually exhaust our ability to hold a charge. If this wasn’t how nature worked, we’d all be immortal. But, we are faced with the reality that, someday, we will all, like the battery, finally use up our last bit of Original Qi.
Rest is so important to prolonging and enhancing the quality of our lives. I hear so often people say to me they feel guilty just sitting around, like they need to be productive every minute or they are wasting time.
But, the truth is that slowing down and resting is how we balance out the incessant activity that is all around us. It’s how we protect our precious Original Qi from becoming overtaxed and drained. It’s how we protect ourselves from premature aging and illness.
Living “fast and hard” takes its toll. It’s a visible toll that reflects the depletion of Original Qi. Skin, hair, eyes, muscle tone — it’s all a reflection of how well our Original Qi is doing.
You see, the more we incessantly push ourselves, stay up late, watch TV or sit on the computer until all hours of the night, go out clubbing ’til the wee hours, the more we are forcing our bodies and minds to draw upon our Original Qi to “fight the good fight” and keep going against nature.
Nature, you see, wants us to be resting at night, slowing down and being quiet. That’s what night is designed for and our biology knows this whether we want to go along with it or not.
Now I’m not saying NEVER do these things. Of course, life is about fun, too! Stay out late, stay up watching that movie, research that project into the wee hours of the night. Just don’t do it all the time. Our bodies are resilient and can take quite a bit of stress. But, their ability to “bounce back” suffers if we overdo it.
One of the primary things I work on with all my patients is their sleep patterns. I have learned not only clinically, but from my own experience, that lack of rest can be a primary cause of just about any other illness. During sleep, our bodies literally rejuvenate and regenerate. The nervous and immune systems are allowed to reset. The metabolic system gets much needed rest. Circulatory function shifts to support restorative modes.
I have seen cases of migraines, bowel issues, infertility, and other conditions become completely resolved just by addressing sleep. Restoring healthy, restful sleep allowed their bodies to naturally heal because they were able to catch up on much needed regenerative work. Once that restorative power was back online, their other problems were easily self-corrected.
If you’re having trouble sleeping or finding rest, I encourage you to come in for a free consultation to learn more about our unique combination of acupuncture, nutritional medicine, herbal therapy, and mind-body coaching. If you don’t live in the Houston area, we’re happy to Skype with you or consult via phone, or of course you can seek out a local practitioner of your choosing. In any case, balance your sleep as soon as possible. The health benefits are immense!