Do you know your ‘Yin’ from your ‘Yang’?

In conversation, we often hear about one aspect of the Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) which is “Yin” and “Yang”. For most of my life, I never really knew what that meant, apart from the facts they were the opposites of each other.

In my previous blog, I mention how Yin and Yang are guiding principles of TCM. The reason these terms are well known is that “Yin and Yang” are also principles in Chinese martial arts, natural sciences, and relaxation techniques such as Taijiquan (tai chi), Qigong (Chi Kung), Feng Shui, and I Ching.

They are terms to describe opposite forces that are interconnected and mutually interdependent in nature and the human body. Yin and Yang therefore are metaphorical images used to express these constantly transforming interactions.

Everyone has both Yin and Yang energy in their body’s energy system and energy field. Together they permeate all individual and collective evolution, in particular that of the human body.

The balance of Yin and Yang is required to maintain a healthy life and neither should predominate. Yin energy reflects the feminine, and it has the Chinese symbol of the moon. It represents the cold, earth, water, right, night, darkness, autumn or winter, interior, and deficit.

In the human body, it also refers to blood, body fluids (such as secretion), and substances, such as muscle or body mass. Yin energy is at its fullest at midnight, which makes sense as it is dark and cool.

Yang energy, with the Chinese symbol of the sun, is the masculine facets of nature that are boisterous, bright, and expansive. It represents heaven, fire, left, hardness, day brightness, spring or summer, exterior, heat excess, and ‘Qi energy’, which is the energy activity in the human body. During the day, Yang energy rises to its peak at noon when the earth is at its hottest.

However, we almost never have perfectly balanced Yin and Yang, as they are in a constant state of fluctuation and therefore subject to change. Unlike Western medicine where you are given one diagnosis and generally receive a standard treatment protocol, in Chinese medicine this constant change means that no disease, condition, emotion, treatment or diagnosis remains the same day to day.

Illness is observed when one force greatly exceeds another for a prolonged period of time, e.g. if Yang is in excess and Yin is in deficiency. As mentioned earlier, changes in our thought patterns and emotions can block the healthy flow of Yin or Yang. In today’s often materialistic culture, Chinese medicine practitioners often observe the effects of over-intense Yang (its all about me, me, me!) without the necessary proportional balance of Yin.

When we have an excess of self-driven Yang energy, it narrows our diversity and ignores our wider relationship to society and the environment. If our perceptions are very individualistic, narrow and selfish, we become unaware of the full consequences of our actions.

Such behaviour is often encouraged by a society that promotes ruthless self achievement – the Donald Trump’s, Rupert Murdoch’s and even Adolf Hitler.

There comes a point that no matter how much money you earn and power you obtain, it just never seems enough to satisfy your inner hunger. That unsatisfied emotional desire can lead to fears or anger and if prolonged can lead to physical disease.

Remember that the mind, body and spirit are all connected through energy.

Occasionally, when someone presents with extreme Yin/Yang imbalance and deficiency, he or she may have puzzling presentations to Western trained physicians.  For example, people with Yin energy deficiency frequently have insomnia characterized by waking up early and have difficulty falling asleep again.

An example of Yang deficiency may be a person complaining of chronic fatigue, feeling cold, having difficulty losing weight (due to slower metabolic rate) and/or depression.   Chinese medicine practitioners who see disorders and symptoms secondary to Yin and Yang imbalance are able to treat patients simply by rebalancing these forces.

Western medicine practitioners on the other hand, would take a vastly different approach to the problem and may prescribe a sleeping pill (which on occasion may be addictive) or connect you to a cumbersome sleep apnoea device, amongst other things.

Whilst the latter treatments are perfectly valid, they could be complemented by approaches that consider the underlying energy disruption, and reduce the need for more invasive treatments. Energy medicine approaches are potentially very beneficial in complementing conventional Western treatments.

It was clear to me therefore that Chinese medicine had clearly penetrated the western medical systems, despite that penetration being in its infancy. With the growth’s of China’s population and economic influence worldwide, I have no doubt that this trend will continue in mainstream allopathic healthcare.

Can you share with me one interesting experience with your Yin and Yang?

The Basics of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)

I find it fascinating that in today’s world we have more information about every single aspect of life, yet we seem to know less about how to live.

All the ‘chatter’ on the internet has made us closer in so many ways, yet the complexity of information creates a mystery that it is almost too difficult to understand our own bodies, much less its relationship with energy.

One major paradigm that has integrated energy into our body’s state of health and wellbeing is Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has been around for over 3000 years and even in that course of time, it has yet to be fully integrated into Western medicine. Whilst most doctors would have heard of Chinese medicine, the basics of how it works would probably shock most of them.

Fundamentally in TCM energy flows through the meridians in perfect balance unless disturbed by internal or external forces that affect 5 key elements of life.

The five key elements are found in nature which is earth, metal, fire, wood and water. Each element is related to an organ, all of which is captured in a overarching 5 phase chart.

Traditional Chinese practitioners also comprehend that emotions affect your energy and thus how your body functions on a day-to-day basis. In the Chinese system, there are 7 main emotions all of which relate to a particular organ and the 5 phase chart.

Organs create an emotion and they also are affected by an emotion.

Organ Emotion
Heart Joy
Liver Anger
Lungs Worry and Sadness
Spleen Thought
Kidneys Fear and Shock

Some emotions also give rise to other emotions, which can make the understanding of this relationship even trickier.

In order to quell emotional problems, Chinese medicine advocates natural solutions such as certain foods, whereby their flavours can boost certain emotions and reduce overstimulated emotions.

I know this may sound very strange but remember this has been observed over thousands of years. I did say it would shock most western healthcare practitioners, didn’t I?

There are several other theories that comprise the entire Traditional Chinese Medicine system but what is apparent is that the energy system is also divided into a three-component where Jing is mainly related to body energy, Chi is related to Mind energy and Shen to spiritual or soul energy.

Within this context, there are 8 guiding principles to help treat the energy imbalances when we are sick or unwell. These 8 principles relate to four pairs of opposing forces.

The first two guiding principles is Internal vs. External. Internal organs are often affected by an emotional issue, whereas external issues often arise from a foreign bug or invasion from outside the body.

The second set of principles is Hot vs. Cold which can give rise to fevers or chills, depending on the condition.

The third set of principles is Full vs. Empty where full often arises from acute conditions while empty often indicates chronic syndromes or some form of deficiency.

The final set of principles is a synthesis of all other categories and is commonly known as Yin vs Yang.

I find it fascinating that none of this was taught to me in medical school, yet it plays a critical role to how we can keep up our performance at work, prevent illness and even help our recovery from disease.

What was your one most memorable experience with Chinese Medicine?

Are you relying on ‘counterfeit’ sources of energy to fuel you?

Although diet is still the primary source of our energy and vitality, a poor diet can obviously affect us negatively as well. Whilst western society seems to be more stringent in standards of food production and packaging, the reality is that consumers today are overwhelmed with the range of colourful choices on each isle of the grocery – we hardly have time to read the product label.

Another contemporary trend rampant in today’s society is the reliance on ‘counterfeit’or fake sources of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, as most people are busy in the daily lives, they often opt for unhealthy foods or energy products which provide short-lived energy fixes that largely rely on glucose, a type of simple carbohydrate.

Additionally I refer to the addictive drinks like coffee, Red Bull, Coca-Cola and alcohol. I have had personal experience being addicted to each one of these drinks at different stages of my life and it is amazing how these addictions are so widespread in modern society.

I certainly don’t mean to make anyone feel guilty; I used to consume three cans of Diet Coke a day in my early career as a busy junior doctor. I even switched my addiction over to regular Coke after I read about the many side-effects of aspartame in Diet Coke.

It was only in 2012 that I not only quit regular Coke, but all sugary drinks – cold turkey. And boy, do I feel better for it.

What made me quit? I felt quite ill one day after what initially seemed like no apparent reason at all. I woke up one morning with nausea and generally feeling rotten (that’s a common medical complaint by the way).

It was during my days as a corporate executive and as I struggled to cope with my daily duties, it was only late that evening when I realised that all I had to drink for the prior 24 hours was Gatorade, artificial juices and other sugary drinks…..…I had not drank a single glass of plain water all day!

This just compounded a frightening memory many years earlier where I woke up one morning with pounding heart palpitations after consuming several Red Bull energy drinks the night before. Needless to say, this episode was the last straw (pardon the pun) and my love-hate relationship with sugary drinks was finally over.

The moral of the story is that we are ingesting some very toxic liquids in our bodies, under the guise of needing them to provide us with energy. The actual reality is that the caffeine or taurine content in these drinks only provide a temporary uplift, before we feel tired again.

Since giving up these drinks, I have never felt more energetic in my life. It really comes down your own self perception of your body and how much you value yourself.

Think about a party, where free alcohol is being served. For those that don’t value their body highly, they consume as much of the free alcohol as possible, in the shortest amount of time. I know because I used to be that person in my 20’s.

However, I thought my behaviour was driven by the desire to have fun, I did not realise that it was also subconsciously driven by low self worth of my body. Nowadays, I value my body more and prioritise my body higher than free alcohol, junk food, etc. Once again, it health of our body is really linked to our emotions and thought patterns about ourselves.

How do you perceive your own body?

Did you know your thoughts can affect water – and your body?

Last week I was interviewed for a documentary called ‘A Vibrational World.’ The documentary seeks to explain how everything we perceive in the universe is energy, including our bodies, and therefore has a vibrational frequency.

I am a strong advocate of this understanding because if we can understand our vibrational body, we can understand elements that keep us happy and well, as well as understand factors that can make us sick.

These negative factors are not always visible, but we can comprehend that vibrational forces from electromagnetism, X-Rays and nuclear radiation can cause damage to our physical bodies.

From a more subtle point of view, our body’s subtle energy field can similarly be affected by the emotional charge of the people around us, or even the local space. Have you ever walked into a building where people are depressed and you can just feel a ‘negative vibe?’ Well, that’s the subtle aspects of how we perceive energy fields and its vibrational frequencies.

According to Reiki expert William Rand, people can make the best use of their life force energies by improving their diet. In order to make use of higher healing energies, the physical body must be capable of holding and channelling these energy frequencies.

The body can therefore achieve a high degree of purification for natural balance. Stimulants, drugs and diet can distort our nervous system and other important organ systems. The body would therefore be hindered from holding more refined frequencies as the nervous system would not be able to channel them.

Although some energy would flow, these are only the lower vibrations which do not hold the full healing potential possible.

The quality and quantity of food you eat is central to your physical and emotional health. The source of food and how it is cooked is just as important as what it contains. Your body and health is a clearly a reflection of what you eat – on this there is no debate.

Your diet affects the energy to heal physically

Another fascinating observation affecting our nutrition comes from experiments by Dr Masaru Emoto from Japan. He took pictures of water molecules using a Magnetic Resonance Analyser (MRA) which he then exposed to prayer, sounds and words.

Initially the MRA pictures showed the water molecules as dark and non-descript, but after an hour of prayer directed at the water, the molecules had transformed into bright hexagonal crystals.

He repeated the experiments and found that positive thoughts and emotions would turn the water molecules into beautiful crystals whilst directing anger or abuse at the molecules would change them into ugly shapes.

Considering that our bodies are 65-70% water and that the food and drink we consume have high concentrations of water, it is a startling discovery of how our energetic vibrations from thoughts and emotions can shape our nutritional intake.

It also makes sense when certain religions advocate prayer before a meal as it channels positive energy into the food; we now have scientific evidence to prove a positive effect. These findings also offer an explanation as to why food made with love always tastes better and feels more nourishing.

Have you got an opinion on whether your thoughts can affect your diet?

What has Star Wars got to do with your health?

It sounds like something from the Star Wars movies, yet it is interesting how “the Force” described by Obi Wan Kenobi as permeating every object in that science fiction film is analogous to real ‘energy’ in our own universe.

Dr. Jim Oschman, a leader in the field of energy medicine and author of Energy Medicine in Therapeutics and Human Performance, explains that modern science is beginning to reveal the role of natural “energy forces” within the human body that were previously thought to be inexplicable.

“Energy medicine is medicine based on the appreciation that living systems have energy fields inside of them and around them and that these fields play important roles in physiology, regulatory biology and processes that are going on inside the organism”. It is essentially the use of energy to optimise wellness and healing.

Indeed, across the globe there has been thousands of years of research and knowledge documented in the field of human energy, much of which has been passed down through generations. Nonetheless, energy medicine has seen a resurgence in the last two decades, with many related scientific developments discovered through western scientific methods, an encouraging sign.

In fact, Dr Oschman states that all medicine is energy medicine – because everything we do in medicine ultimately involves energy.

In the US, energy techniques such as Acupuncture, Ayurvedic Medicine, Tapping and Reiki fall under the category of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). This is a group of diverse medical practices that are generally not considered part of conventional medicine.

Some people refer to them as wholistic/holistic therapies as they relate to treating a person as a whole rather than specifically treating one part of a person, such as how a dermatologist would only focus on a skin condition or an ophthalmologist would focus on the eyes.

I remember in the early 90’s as a medical student that it was only then as such holistic practices were starting to be recognised by western practitioners, mainly due to their popularity with patients.

In my own personal journey, I began to discover a new world of well accepted energy modalities which use energy as a primary mode for achieving emotional, mental and physical wellbeing as well as diagnosing health conditions.

I call this a ‘new world of whole’ as these therapies review at every part of you as an interconnected whole person, when making diagnoses. While this is also true in western medicine, there is a greater focus to be referred to a specialist as you become more ill, which is appropriate by that medical paradigm.

However, one can occasionally lose focus on the treatment of your whole self. I have tried my best to summarise the various modalities categorised here.

These various energy-based modalities can be classed in several ways:

  1. Hands-on: Treatment is conveyed to another person involving contact with a practitioner’s hands e.g. Reiki, Energy Healing, Kinesiology, Healing Touch, Quantum Touch, Acupuncture, Thai massage etc.
  1. Hands-off:  Treatment involves no physical contact with practitioner, such as tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique or Thought Field Therapy), Qi Gong & Tai Chi.
  1. Whole Medical systems: Traditional Chinese Medicine (China) and Ayurvedic Medicine (India) are whole integrated systems of healthcare that use energy as a major pillar of therapy.

Have you tried any of these modalities? Which is your favourite?

The Basics of Energy Medicine

Up until mid 2012, I was a sceptic of any form of alternative therapy. My background as a medical doctor made me think that if I had not learned it in medical school, then it can’t work to help people get better. My entire perspective changed, when a friend of mine help my symptoms of stress and burnout, simply by changing the energy of my body, through a method called tapping.

So what is tapping and how does it fit into this growing paradigm of energy medicine? Well, tapping refers to a process of using your fingers to tap on certain energy points of your body, the same ones used in acupuncture. This process helps shifts your energy can alleviate the symptoms of stress as well as other forms of illnesses. It is but one of the methods used in the broader context of energy medicine.

On a basic level, energy medicine is based on the underlying principle that our physical and mental states, and life as we know it, are based on flows of energy. In essence, disruptions in the subtle energy flow in humans can cause or contribute to illness and disease processes. Principles of energy medicine are grounded in thousands of years of history and acknowledged in over 97 cultures.

In Chinese medicine, bioenergy is referred to as ‘Qi’, in Indian Ayurvedic medicine, it is referred to as ‘Prana’.  Many different energy therapies such as acupuncture, kinesiology, Reiki, Qigong, are based on similar principles and increasingly substantiated and practiced by Western medical and scientific communities. In Australia, therapies like these are included in the context of alternative medicine and are even being taught as a subject in some medical schools.

In the Western world, energy medicine techniques have been referred to as bioenergy therapy, biofield therapy, contact healing, distant healing, therapeutic touch, emotional freedom technique or thought field therapy, tapping or quantum techniques.

Traditional religious faith is not a prerequiste for practising or receiving energy therapy (thereby different to ‘faith healing’). The science behind bioenergy is growing everyday, with many experts such as Deepak Chopra and Dr John Demartini speaking on these topics to packed audiences around the world.

Aside from the theory, the skill of healing the body’s energy system is very practitioner dependent and therefore it is important to understand the credentials or experience of the practitioner. The therapy can complement existing medical treatment in the treatment of certain illnesses, particularly those with mental and emotional components.

Energy-based techniques can also enable a lighter and more attuned mental state, which aids personal development, career aspirations and interpersonal relationships. These widespread benefits are one of the reasons for their popularity, and why they are sought after outside of the western medical system.

Energy medicine is an exciting space that is moving rapidly, and transforming lives for the better all over the world. The future is sure to see more integration with mainstream therapies and undoubtedly some significant breakthroughs in healing the mind, body and soul.

Have you ever experienced an energy medicine technique for yourself?

What are complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) and where does energy medicine fit?

Several years ago, as a UK medical practitioner and also a senior figure in the pharmaceutical industry in Australia, I was relatively naïve about complementary and alternative medicines. As a matter of fact, I felt that anyone that sought help from a complementary or alternative medicine practitioner was wasting their time and money and it actually made me quite frustrated.

Over the years, my viewpoint has matured significantly, mainly due to my growing understanding of these therapies, the science behind how they work and most importantly, the actual benefit that I have experienced and seen others experience first-hand, particularly when working with the body’s energy system.

As such, it has become my personal mission (and that of my organisation, Energesse) to educate people everywhere on the role of such therapies and how they can heal and transform everyday lives.
Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAM) are a group of diverse medical and health care systems, methods, and treatments that are generally considered separate from mainstream Western medicine. Complementary therapy is used in combination with mainstream Western medicine, whilst alternative medicine is used instead of conventional medicine.

Energy medicine falls into the category of CAM, and it includes a whole gamut of therapies that work on the body’s energy system – one of the main methods is Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The increasingly used term ‘Integrative medicine’ combines mainstream western medicine and CAM therapies where there is significant evidence of safety and effectiveness.

The World Health Organization estimates that between 65% to 80% of the world’s population (about 3 billion people) rely on CAM as their primary form of health care (Reference 1). Scientific evidence exists regarding some CAM therapies, for many there is a need for more scientific trials.

Organisations such as the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicines in the US, the Royal London Hospital for Integrative Medicine in the UK and many others around the world are researching these practices using rigorous scientific methods and building an evidence base for them. It is important work as in the United States alone, approximately 38% of adults (about 4 in 10) and approximately 12% of children (about 1 in 9) are using some form of CAM. (Reference 2)

Most people don’t realise how methods of Complementary and Alternative Medicines there are:

  • Acupuncture
  • Ayurveda
  • Biofeedback
  • Chelation therapy
  • Chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation
  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Diet-based therapies e.g. Atkins diet, Vegetarian diet
  • Energy healing therapy/Reiki
  • Guided imagery
  • Homeopathic treatment
  • Hypnosis
  • Massage
  • Meditation
  • Movement therapies – Alexander technique, Pilates
  • Natural products (nonvitamin and nonmineral e.g. herbs, enzymes)
  • Naturopathy
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Qi gong
  • Tai chi
  • Traditional healers – Botanica, Native American healer/Medicine man, Shaman
  • Yoga

In the past decade we have seen methods like acupuncture, osteopathy and homeopathy move more into mainstream Western medicine and become part of the Integrative Medicine movement. It will be interesting to see how many more complementary practices become absorbed into the Western mainstream in the next decade. This will be an exciting and progressive change.

Have you ever tried a form of Complementary or Alternative medicine? What was your experience like?

References

  1. Alternative Medicine Online http://library.thinkquest.org/24206/facts-stats.html
  2. National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine – for the National Institutes of Health http://nccam.nih.gov/news/camstats/2007/camsurvey_fs1.htm

A movie that changed how I saw my body

You are probably aware that my personal journey into energy medicine and healing is relatively new, I made the discovery of the body’s energy system only in mid 2012. Yet, I gained amazing clarity toward my higher calling, and despite being a ‘high achiever’ personality all my life, I now have greater fulfilment in what I do.

Nonetheless, the transformation can be confusing, as you try to rationalise all these new insights, with what you thought to be ‘true’ in the past. From my perspective, it is OK to BELIEVE in something, but I also needed some FACTS to help justify my new BELIEFS. I needed to see the science!

Whilst trawling through all the scientific literature behind energy therapies, I came across many trials, research institutions, ‘gurus’ and books explaining the scientific basis behind energy medicine and healing. Methods such as Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping), Thought Field Therapy, Reiki are becoming more mainstream, evolving into terms like ‘Energy Anatomy’ and ‘Energy Psychology’.

One form of energy therapy, which everyone has heard of, is Acupuncture, which now has a widespread body of evidence so clear that Western medical practitioners use it to treat lower back pain in Emergency Departments and General Practice – Hallelujah!

We could not imagine this to be the case 10 years ago, yet things have changed because Western science has caught up. A similar scenario is occurring with Energy Coaching and Healing, as the science in this area is growing rapidly, there is a lot to cover!

However, in my good fortune, whilst reviewing all these clinical papers, scientific journals and books, all of which go into quite a level of detail, I came across A MOVIE that explained EVERYTHING in one place! It is called the Living Matrix was probably the most rewarding discovery for me a number of reasons:

  1. It was a feature length movie, and I love movies (don’t we all)!
  2. It had interviewed the top scientists around the world in Biophysics, Cell Biology, Quantum Physics, Medicine, Energy Healers which presented the concept of bioenergy fields and healing in a holistic context.
  3. It was viewable on Vimeo for free (woohoo!), which is licensed through Creative Commons -, while the DVD can be purchased from the Living Matrix website.
  4. It has high production values – it has strong visuals and animations, well directed and edited. It must have had a decent budget.
  5. Whilst it is a little science-heavy, most people would be able to understand the gist of the research and there are some fascinating experiments, particularly around the role of the heart in our energy fields.

Needless to say, this movie was one of the key answers I was looking for –  it does point you in the direction of which centers are leading the research in this area around the world, and how far the science has come. It also shows you case studies for the healing effects of your body’s own subtle energy.

This is not suprising, when you look at the high rates of satisfaction from many practitioners of Pranic Healing, Reiki, etc and how quickly those practices have grown. I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that the future of medicine in the next decade lies in the understanding of the Energy System, which is why I created Energesse to help that process along.

Bioenergy therapy and Energy Medicine certainly has it skeptics, but my strong view is that this is changing thanks to the vast numbers of people around the world that have been gaining benefit over the years – and as is the case now, Western science is catching up.

These are exciting developments, transforming lives everywhere and it is our duty to be able to view such therapies with an open mind as well as to continue to ask the important questions about how we can build on this work, for the good of all.

I look forward to the future of scientific discoveries in this area and will continue to dissect the theories, practices and developments in future blogs.

Do you think there is enough awareness of our body’s energy system? I’d like to hear your opinion.