Living Through Crisis: Developing Evolutionary Consciousness: Part 1.
We are living through a historical period marked by great fear, uncertainty and vulnerability. For most of us, it is truly surreal. The vast amount of information we are all privy to is both helpful, in that it can provide updates and wisdom to keep us safe and informed. But it can also be harmful, keeping us in a constant state of panic, anxiety and news addiction.
While most of us are keenly focused on ways in which we can keep our immunity strong while staying away from people, places and things that can infect us, most of us aren’t dealing with another major factor that weakens our immunity and overall strength: the stability of our minds.
Chinese medicine describes immunity within the same body system as our willpower. Also contained within this system is our ability to have faith, endurance, ingenuity and evolutionary consciousness. As Chinese medicine divides the various systems of the body into “Elements,” the level of immunity, willpower, faith and endurance is under the domain of the Water Element, ruled by the Kidney and Bladder organs (containing also major aspects of immunity and endocrinology).
While many people I’ve talked to and treated in my acupuncture clinic remain healthy and virus-free, they are complaining of body aches, back pain, headaches, congestion, insomnia and high anxiety: all symptoms associated with taxation upon the body’s Water Element.
For immunity’s sake, it is helpful for us to be taking tonics to support our Water Element, such as the Jade Windscreen Herbal Formula (Yu Ping Feng San) which contains the powerful immunity boosting herbs Astragalus Root (Huang Qi) and White Atractylodes (Bai Zhu), as well as the protective herb Siler (Fang Feng). The combination of these three herbs creates a type of screen or shield around the body that protects us against “wind”: any type of external force that can infect us and make us sick, including viral epidemics. The herbal company Health Concerns sells a patent formula in pill form called “Astra C,” which I find very effective.
We can also benefit from exercise practices that boost our immunity and respiratory function such as Qi Gong and Tai Ji. There are many Youtube videos teaching Qi Gong forms which are easy to learn and follow – highly recommended!
We can also benefit from boosting the qi-function of the immune associated acupuncture channels in our bodies: chiefly the Kidneys and Lungs through massage, acupuncture, chiropractic and application of essential oils. The Lung channel acupuncture points are especially resonant with oils such as Pine and Lemon Myrtle. While the Bladder channel acupuncture points resonate with Eucalyptus and Basil. The Kidneys can benefit from Fennel.
Some of the most powerful acupuncture points to be massaged and stimulated at this time are on the spine: the acupuncture channel of the Governor Vessel: GV-4, GV-14. Cinnamon Leaf oil is powerful on these points. On the knee the Stomach channel point ST-36 can benefit from frequent massage and even warming through Moxibustion. If you can buy a moxibustion stick from an herbal pharmacy, this can benefit your immunity greatly! The Kidney point on the foot KI-3 and the Lung point on the wrist LU-7 are also important to be stimulated at this time.
Many of us forget that this moment we are living through, as scary as it is, can be used as a lesson, something from which we can cultivate spiritually. Pema Chodron is one of the best authors writing about life difficulty and its use in spiritual cultivation. Her book “When Things Fall Apart” is, in my opinion, essential reading at this time.
We all have a relationship to the historical epoch in which we live. None of us are separate from this global crisis. We are all taking part; we are part of the cause, and we can all be part of the evolutionary consciousness and ultimate solution to the crisis. Yet, we need to find ways in which we can enter into and embrace the realm of this form of consciousness.
A virus is philosophically categorized as a “Wind” pathogen in Chinese medicine, specifically “Wind Cold.” The COVID-19 virus is a bit more complex, also possessing the element of “Wind Dampness” that quickly transforms into “Damp Phlegm.” These labels describe the nature of the pathogen and the way it affects the body. They are both metaphors as well as energetic descriptions.
Wind is anything that travels through the environment, outside of ourselves. It can be a climatic factor, an agent such as virus or even an external change. Wind is something that challenges our usual, habitual, comfortable way of existing. Looking at our current world, there is a lot change occurring around us. Climate change is very rapid, causing our ecological as well as meteorological environment to shift around us. There is also much political and social change occurring rapidly around us. A lot of Wind has been stirred quickly in a short time.
Wind need not detrimental to us per se. It is our reaction to Wind in the form of change that causes us to become sick. We as human beings have been very successful in evolving throughout the ages, getting stronger, smarter and more robust. It is our relationship and often conflict with Wind that allows us to evolve in these ways. Yet there are frequent eras within history where the Wind-Change occurs so rapidly that we are unable to smoothly adjust. Then we become sick and enter a crisis state, like now.
If we look at the world and the polarization that has come to exist, we see the environment changing rapidly, with half the population ready to adjust and shift with the changing external world. We see the other half of the world hesitating to change, in denial or refusing to heed the Wind.
Wind-Cold philosophically is likened to hesitation to change when faced with shifting or chaotic external circumstances. This is what creates the conflict that causes disease: an external demand to change met with hesitation or refusal to shift and adjust. Chinese philosophy teaches it is not just our lifestyles that need change with Wind, but also our mindset. This is what makes it so difficult and painful. It’s hard to think in a new way. It can be scary and very destabilizing.
Many brilliant philosophical schools of thought have emerged throughout the history of Chinese medicine, often in response to a practical event occurring medically within the culture. Epidemics have been some of the most fruitful periods of innovation and development within Chinese medicine.
One such observation is that when a state of being is pushed to its limit it will transform into its opposite. We have for many decades been living in a very “Fiery, hot,” active, fast culture, marked by grasping, accumulation, disregard for environmental degradation. Such rapid expansion has created a tremendous amount of heat in the environment, as well as within all of us. It is possible that such rapid Fiery growth has led to an opposing pathogen: cold and damp to slow humanity down.
It is interesting to observe that since the lockdowns in China and Italy the environment has begun to improve: pollution in China is vastly reduced. Dolphins are swimming in the canals of Venice for the first time in many years. Without the destructive over-active, grasping and raping activity of humanity the natural environment is restoring itself.
The Cold aspect of the Wind-Cold-Damp within this novel virus is the hesitation or refusal to change. The Damp aspect is philosophically categorized as confusion. In many ways we are hesitant to change because we don’t know what to change into, or what that would look like. Or we are deluded by our minds, thinking what we know needs to be done cannot be done. A sense of futility or hopelessness can emerge from overwhelm. This can lead to denial or disbelief.
Dampness is an insidious factor that causes us to move slow, have cloudy thinking, sluggish immune and nervous system responsiveness. Dampness can often be due to over-consumption of comfort producing activities. Never in human history has life been so comfortable, filled with such distraction, entertainment and wealth. Maybe before the first World War, but not on such a wide-scale as today. This “dampness-culture” has caused our basic systems to become sluggish and insufficiently responsive to change. As some old-timers might say, “we’ve become too soft.”
Part Two of this series will explore a major evolutionary acupuncture channel that deals specifically with our ability to adjust to external challenges and changing circumstances. While we can take steps to boost our immunity and strengthen ourselves, the wisdom of the acupuncture channel Yang Wei Mai helps us see what it takes to embrace this period of change and use it to evolve spiritually. We can use the difficulties of today and all of their rude awakenings to become stronger and more flexible, also allowing us to think in an innovative way.