Can Your Spiritual Life Make You Healthier?
I find it curious that when I ask my patients these days what their spiritual life consists of, their usual first answer is:
"Well I'm not religious. I'm more spiritual."
Religion is beginning to fall out of favor as more of us look for a deeper experience of ourselves and "whatever is out there".
And as we explore the concept of whatever is in the ineffable "out there", we find that we must necessarily consider whatever is "in here". You must address your internal environment as you contemplate life outside the confines of your skin.
As we do so, most of us find that we must consider the sum of total of our choices in the crafting of a good life. From what we think, to what we eat, we come to appreciate that our choices determine how our life unfolds - and that for the most part, those choices are all truly up to us.
So, let us embark this month on an exploration of spirituality and creating meaning in our existence.
- Dr. Mel
Chinese Medicine 101: As Old As Time Itself
Taoist philosophy (that of living in harmony with and guided by the rhythms of nature) forms the foundation of much of Chinese Medicine. The name "China" is believed to come from "Chin" (Qin), the name of the state whose emperor first unified China after conquering the fighting independent states, bringing an end to the Warring States period (423 - 221 BCE). Before that term began to be applied to that region, the Chinese referred to their homeland as the "Middle Land" or "Central Territory".
Both oral folk legends and the Taoists classics have many references to a mysterious middle ground, a place or state of being "in between" one reality and another. This concept was known by several different names including: "divine door", "heavenly gate", "mystical pass", "divine pilot", etc. The last line of the first chapter of Lao Tzu's Tao The Ching, for example, ends with a reference to the "Gate of All Wonders".
Although differently named,
Nothingness (spiritual realm) and Beingness (material realm) are one indivisible whole,
This truth is so subtle.
As the ultimate subtlety is the "Gate of All Wonders".
(From The Completeness Works of Lao Tzu by Hua-Ching Ni.)
When you consider that gates and doors are passageways connecting one thing to another, it's obvious this concept is not concerned with establishing a geographic middle, but rather with pointing toward the potential for mystical transformations. The traditional names of dozens of acupuncture points have terms that reflect this very concept, such as Life Gate (GV 4), Jade Pivot (CV 21), Stone Pass (KI 18) and the somewhat redundant Pass Gate (ST 22). What types of transformations were being alluded to with this terminology, and how does this concept relate to acupuncture?
Early Taoists believed their prehistoric ancestors possessed a good balance between their physical and spiritual natures, but this was lost as people began overemphasizing the physical aspects of life. When this happened, those who maintained or restored their natural balance tried to help others by developing holistic (yin/yang) philosophies and different arts and serving material needs; such as health or self-defense, while providing those who mastered these skills the potential for reconnecting with their spiritual natures. To accomplish this, one must discover and then pass through the most mystical of all doors - those that connected the temporal, physical world, with the eternal, spiritual realm. The transformation of a partial material being into a whole materially and spiritually balanced being (a.k.a. "integral being) can only take place when the physical (jing), subtle energetic (qi) and spiritual essences (shen) are perfectly balanced.
Much like yoga is one element of Ayurveda's eight-fold path (Buddhism has a similar multi-tiered holistic approach to well-being), acupuncture is but one aspect of Chinese Medicine, whose ultimate aim is to resolve the spirit through the body. As one who exists in the material realm, it is through the medium of that material that we begin to restore our immaterial self.
Nutrition Tip of the Week: Soul Food
You are what you eat, right? So, make sure you're feeding your soul while you're at it.
As we learn more about nutrition - particularly inflammation and gut microbiome - we recognize the inextricable link between mental health and nutrition, between diet and the personality.
When clinical exists that make irrefutable the connections between your food and mind, the choice becomes so much easier to opt for healthier foods over the momentary pleasure of self-indulgence.
The end goal is not perfectionism in one's diet. There is usually very little spirituality in that approach. To live in appreciation for one's body and to develop a loving partnership with it as the vessel that serves as the storehouse for your soul during this lifetime creates a harmony, a balance if you will, that makes you more likely to choose foods and activities, relationships and ideas, that nourish the vessel and harmonize the body to the mind and soul.
So eat up and eat well. The quality of your life depends on it. Really.
Essential Oil for Spiritual Expansion: Cedar, Spikenard, and Rosewood
This powerful essential oil helps with breathing. It helps you achieve deeper and slower breaths. It cleanses your respiratory pathways. Also, it cleanses the whole energetic body from the blockages. Frankincense is the most powerful oil for spiritual awakening. Because it brings you closer to your divine self.
This essential oil helps the process of grounding. Therefore, it is very helpful in your meditation. Sandalwood connects to your base chakra, and it makes sure that you are well-grounded, while you discover the spiritual world. But it also connects to the crown chakra. The crown chakra is responsible for our connection to The Divine and the universe itself.
It is not only a cleanser, but also a healing and purifying oil. Cedarwood removes blockages from your aura and energetic body. Therefore, it detoxifies you of the negative energy and thoughts, fears, anxiety and worries.
This powerful essential oil has been used for emotional healing for thousands of years. It purifies your soul. Spikenard helps you to forgive others and to let go of your fears. Spikenard fills you with calm, hope, courage, and balance.
A true spiritual healer, it brings harmony to the spirit. Rosewood clears unwanted thoughts to deepen the meditation experience. This oil fills you with a powerful sense of protection and safety.
These powerful Essential Oils for Spiritual Awakening are a pleasant way to heal physically, emotionally, and spiritually. They relax and calm your mind. This way you can concentrate on your spiritual growth (read: being happy).
CBD oil, taken twice a day under the tongue has been proven to lessen the symptoms of anxiety. You will always need to do the inner work of soothing your spirit. It's always nice to have a little help along the way. CBD does that with no side effects or psychoactive interruptions that can accompany THC.
Mel Baker-Thompson is a New York State licensed Doctor of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine with over 3,000 hours of clinical and didactic training in Eastern and Western medical modalities. She has developed the Whole Life Integration Method to take natural functional medicine to the next level - incorporating the role of the mind in the optimization of authentic health. Over the last 20 years she has treated physicians, therapists, Rockettes, even an Olympic-qualifying athlete. From infants to grandparents, she has crafted an approach to health cultivation that combines the wisdom, skill, and acumen of Chinese Medicine with nutrition therapy, manual therapy, essential oils, and insight meditation to remove health disruptors in the body and mind.