Flow Like the Water: Let Go of Resistance
“The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It is content with the low places that people disdain. This is like the Tao…In thinking, keep to the simple…In governing, don’t try to control. In work, do what you enjoy. In family life, be completely present. When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” Tao Te Ching, Chapter 8.
Resistance is the root of most disease and dysfunction within body and mind. When patients come to my office for help with their ailments, the first question I asked is: what’s stuck?
Within Chinese Medicine, the body is seen as a collection of “waterways.” The acupuncture channels are “rivers” that travel throughout the body and connect with the internal organs. The organs are like “seas:” the rivers come in and out of them.
The “waterways” are a means of transporting nutrients throughout the body. They also rid the body of waste. However, the waterways can also circulate pathology and disease: bringing it deeper into the body.
When I am diagnosing a patient’s condition, I do so through feeling the 12 primary pulses on their wrists. Each wrist has 6 main pulses, which indicate the flow of energy, blood and fluids within the major internal organs and their acupuncture channels. The pulses indicate how the waterways are flowing in the body. Free and balanced flow within the waterways is essential to health and well-being.
When a person comes to my office with pain or depression, for example, I look to see where the water is stuck. Or, which channel is blocked Or, if the condition progressed further, contaminating the seas.
After I’ve located the stuck channel, I choose the appropriate “switch” to regulate the water: to restore free and balanced flow. Along each of the acupuncture channels lie five command points which regulate the water flow within the pathway. Each of these points is like a switch, ordering the water. The five points are given names with “water” images: the well, the spring, stream, river and sea. Each point relates to the depth of the condition: how bound up the water has become, or how deep the problem has penetrated.
Health is predicated on the strength of the Lungs within Chinese Medicine. The Lungs protect us from the elements of the outside world. The Lungs also allow us to focus completely on the present moment. They do not attach: they let go moment by moment so we won’t get stuck. They also manage the water -energy that distributes nutrients and information throughout the body.
Ideal health is effortless. Like the quote from the Tao Te Jing says, “supreme good nourishes all things without trying to.” It doesn’t engage with comparison or competition. It is completely present, and doesn’t try to control. The Lungs, in their healthy state, are like this.
If the Lungs are unable to maintain this ideal “zen-like” state, progression will occur. This is the beginning of stagnation within the waterways. The Large Intestine channel steps in and tries to let go of whatever is clogging the passages and compromising the Lungs. The image of the Large Intestine and its organ function is a good one. We know what happens when this organ is not functioning properly.
The greater the resistance, the deeper the problem penetrates. When the problem reaches the Spleen, the energy of the body becomes depleted. By the time it reaches the Heart, the blood becomes stuck, and anemia results. As it reaches the Kidneys, the hormones become depleted. This process continues until the body fails.
The story can become very dramatic. Yet, the lesson the Tao Te Jing is trying to teach is: do your best to remain like the water and like the Lungs, and disease will not manifest.
When a condition has already manifested, and there is pain or weakness, or depression, or even infection and organ failure, it must be worked through in reverse. All treatment is essentially trying to get the person back to a state of ideal Lung function.
Chronic fatigue syndrome, for example: perhaps the condition has reached the Spleen and Heart and the energy and blood of the body have become weakened. Treatment would focus on helping the person find his/her way back to the Large Intestine and Lungs: help them let go, and regain contact with the present moment. To remind them of their “supreme goodness.”
All of us possess this capacity. Just look at a young child: so accepting, open and loving. Like heaven. We’ve all been there. Perhaps life, like healing, is finding our way back to that state of “supreme goodness.”