Qi, or chi as it is commonly pronounced in Western cultures, is within traditional Chinese culture the force that resides within every single living thing. The word is often translated as ‘natural energy’, ‘life force’ or ‘energy flow’; however, a more literal translation would be ‘breath’ or ‘air’. Qi is considered to provide the very essence of the living thing that it inhabits, and without it, that living thing would die. Similar ideas to qi can be found in many different ancient cultures, such as in Hinduism and Tibetan Buddhism. It has also been used within film series such as Star Wars to describe something powerful and elemental that resides within all living things.
In humans, it is believed that qi is vital to keep a healthy balance within the body. Traditional Chinese medicine is based on the idea that qi naturally moves around a person’s body in natural shapes, which are called meridians. If the passage of qi is blocked in one area of the body, then that part of the body will become sick and diseased. The same thing will happen if the qi balance is disrupted within a person – they will become ill. Therefore, the majority of ancient Chinese medicine is dedicated to finding out where these blockages or unbalanced areas are, and then relieving that pressure, allowing the body to naturally heal itself. Techniques to do this vary from practitioner to practitioner, but some include herbalogy, food therapy, acupuncture, and specified martial arts.
One particular Chinese martial art that is used to regulate the life force of qi is t’ai chi. It is practiced by many people, not for defense or attack, but instead for its incredible health benefits. T’ai chi also helps people to regulate their breathing much better, and it is believed that this steadies the flow of qi within the person, helping them to gain qi balance. Although some people cannot believe that such slow movements can help a person get healthier, studies have actually shown that those that practice t’ai chi regularly have much better balance and general psychological health. The age group that has proven to benefit the most from t’ai chi are the older generations.
Most people throughout the world have heard of yin and yang, but very few people really know the unique origins of these incredible concepts. Yin and yang, or yin-yang, as it was originally known, was created in Chinese philosophy thousands of years ago, and has endured through the centuries because of its perfect way of describing everything that we see around us, including ourselves.
Yin-yang is basically the way that there are two forces that make up the universe; yin and yang. They are opposite forces, and for all to be well they need to be balanced. They are interconnected in everything, and in some cases when the balance is wrong, danger and destruction can happen. But yin and yang are not considered to be only philosophical ideals: it is believed that many of life’s natural dichotomies are physical reflections of yin and yang. For example, light/dark, high/low, hot/cold, fire/water, death/life, male/female, sun/moon, and many more. You can probably think of a natural opposite for everything that you see, and that is how yin and yang can be seen in the world. However, yin and yang are not necessarily opposing each other, but often one is required for the other one to exist. For example, you cannot have a dark shadow without light.
The effects of believing in yin and yang can be seen throughout ancient and modern Chinese culture, particularly within Chinese martial arts and medicine. Yin and yang are crucial within disciplines such as Taichi, because it is all about balancing the body and the mind fully to reach a state of relaxation as well as physical fitness. When it comes to Traditional Chinese Medicine, yin and yang once again feature heavily. Much like many other forms of ancient medicine where inner equilibrium is the most important core concept, it is believed by traditional Chinese medical practitioners that illnesses within the body occurs when there is not a balance of yin and yang. Qi and Blood flow will also be obstructed causing local and systemic illnesses.
Yin and yang is in everything. With every push, there must be a pull. With every light, there must be some dark. That is the way that the world works, and that is the way that our bodies work too. With every stress, there must be a rest. With every toxin, there must be an antidote. By better understanding yin and yang, it is possible to achieve balance within the world, and within ourselves.
Acupuncture points are all over the human body, and number over four hundred. The idea of acupuncture has been developed from traditional Chinese medicine, and aims to return balance to a body that has become ill due to an imbalance. It is believed that a life force called qi flows through every living thing, including us, and when that goes out of balance or the flow is blocked, then sickness can occur. The qi flows in specific patterns within the human body called meridians, and it is these meridians that acupuncture aims to restore if they are out of balance.
As well as balancing the flow of qi, practitioners of acupuncture also believe that it is important to address the balance of yin and yang within a person’s body. Yin and yang are essentially opposing forces which exist in everything – light/dark, hot/cold, near/far, etc. It is essential that these two forces are balanced within the body, and so acupuncture points are often used to address any issues that a person has in this area. However, the natural balance of a person does not mean that half of them should be yin, and the other hand yang. In fact, the natural balance of a human being’s yin-yang is actually about 2/3 yang and 1/3 yin, and the acupuncture points reflect this.
The most common method of acupuncture is to gently push needles into the body at the acupuncture points in order to re-direct the flow of qi. This may look very painful, but it is not! The point at which the needle goes in may not be close to where the sickness is, but further up the path of the meridian to sort out the flow of qi. Acupuncture points are often where nerves will enter into a muscle, the middle of a muscle, or where a muscle joins a bone.
Acupuncture points are often titled with a traditional Chinese name, as well as the meridian that they lie on and a number. This makes it possible for everyone that practises acupuncture to understand that they are discussing the same parts of the body. There are specific acupuncture points that are believed to heal certain organs or conditions, and when these points are stimulated using a needle, then the flow of qi is restored to how it should be, allowing the body to naturally heal itself.
One of the biggest myths about acupuncture is that “once you start, you have to go forever.”
First of all, it is entirely up to you how long you choose to continue to get treatments. Of course, like any other healthy habit, the longer you maintain it, the better your quality of life. But just to clear up some confusion, let’s look at the process of a comprehensive schedule of acupuncture care in another light.
Perhaps the most apt analogy for continuing care for the meridian system is reconstructive orthodontics for your teeth. Both disciplines consist of an initial phase of care that usually involves overcoming a weakness, followed by a reconstructive or rehabilitative phase of care, and finally culminating in wellness or maintenance.
The earliest phase of your care usually consists of the highest visit frequency. In cases of chronic imbalances within the meridian system it is common to initially require treatments a few days a week until your bodies energy is properly balanced and restored.
Using our orthodontic analogy, this would be the point at which the brackets and wires are put on your teeth and you are seen for check-ups every couple weeks. Since there is no wire affixed within your meridian system, your acupuncture visits occur more frequently than orthodontic appointments, and are instead “wired together” by specific exercises, herbal prescriptions, self-care recommendations, etc.
As balance returns to your body, your visit frequency is diminished. This is the phase in which the orthodontist would also begin spacing out his visits and begin to “tweak” the wires to make fine adjustments to your teeth and allow them to settle into their new structural pattern. In both cases, this is a critical phase of care in that it is setting the stage for lifelong wellness or maintenance.
In regard to orthodontics, this is when you would be fitted for a retainer to be worn at least nightly for the rest of your life, or for as long as you wish to maintain healthy teeth.
As for acupuncture, this marks the transition to a schedule of wellness or maintenance care to ensure a lifelong abundance of health and well-being.
The maintenance or wellness phase of care is without a doubt the most important. What is sickness, but a lack of wellness? The whole objective of everything leading up to your wellness care is to get your body back to its natural state of balance. Once there, staying well is simply a matter of sustaining that balance.
Wear your retainer and maintain a life of health and wellness. Or neglect your maintenance and have the braces put back on? The choice is clear.
There’s an old metaphor about a frog in boiling water. If you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, he will immediately jump out because of the sudden, drastic change in temperature. If, however, you put a frog in a pot of tepid water and slowly bring it to a boil, the temperature change will be so subtle that the frog will never know what hit him as he boils to death.
People are very similar to the frog when it comes to identifying underlying health problems and seeking help. Based on the perceived severity of the problem, you are either driven to action, or more prone to let the problem continue as a mere annoyance.
Those who have suffered a major trauma such as an auto accident, work injury, or slip and fall are like a frog dropped in boiling water. Because they have undergone such sudden and massive physical change they seek immediate action in correcting the damage done and look to professional help without delay. Bear in mind that these are the same people who would normally overlook more minor aches and pains without a second thought.
Why does one act so quickly in a situation like this? The injury happens so suddenly and swings them so far from their comfort zone that they will do whatever it takes to bring things back to normalcy as quickly as possible. After all, a knock in your engine is something that you would typically let go for awhile, but a sudden cloud of smoke billowing from under the hood would likely spur you to immediate action.
The majority of people, however, are like a frog in tepid water, on a slow simmer until eventually being brought to a boil. Most imbalances develop over time, and because they are often very subtle, and many times painless, the danger of their impact on our bodies goes unnoticed.
Over time, however, these imbalances are no less devastating to us than boiling water is to the frog. A slow drip in your attic might not seem like a big deal, but its cumulative effects can eventually send your ceiling crashing down.
Until we get into the habit of being proactive when it comes to our health, these “simmering” imbalances will always be a threat. Neutralizing that threat requires that we shift our thinking away from pain-based, symptom-relief care and more toward a system built around prevention and wellness.
If you know someone who has not been examined for imbalances yet, regardless of whether or not they are exhibiting any symptoms, send them in for a acupuncture evaluation. Let’s get them the help they need before their pot comes to a boil!
Postpartum Recovery is a very unique tradition in Asian cultures. It can be dated back to 2,000 years ago in ancient China when special herbal formulas were used to help postpartum moms to recover faster. This tradition is still carried on until today, notably in Taiwan, China and Korea. In Taipei, the capital city of Taiwan, there are more than thirty standalone postpartum recovery centers covering an area that’s a little less than 105 square miles. A study shows more than 97% of women in Taiwan today have had some types of medical recovery during their postpartum period. Another study shows postpartum mom who had support whether a medical or just family support demonstrate better recovery and less chances of getting postpartum depression. For a more comprehensive list of the benefits please click HERE.
在1st Choice Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine，我們基本上以課程搭配療程，幫住在西雅圖的美國媽咪們了解坐月子的重要性及生活中要注意的事項，接著開中藥加速她們在坐月子期間的康復。
很幸運的，我們在美國可以從信譽好、有良知的藥商那進完全無重金屬、農藥、黃麴毒素殘留的中藥。這對消費者來說真是一大福音，不但服用了有效果同時對身體也沒有負擔。這主要是因為從國外進口的任何食品都要經過FDA審核，這是其一。再加上美國的醫師及消費者對於食品安全更加謹慎，所以這邊大部分的藥商為了要搏取醫師的信賴，除了進口一般的中藥(就是沒有經過正式檢驗，在一般華人超市買的到的中藥)外，也會進口較高檔的中藥材。這些是經過很多檢驗，可以提供證明沒有重金屬污染或農藥殘留問題的中藥材。近幾年普遍大眾對食品的要求更高，因為食品汙染越來越嚴重，不是農藥汙染就是基因改造的問題，讓消費者現在選擇更加謹慎。也基於這個原因，有機農耕開始興起，有機的中藥材也開始如雨後春筍般出現於美國的中藥市場。我們1st Choice Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine在跟廠商進中藥時，如果有有機藥材就會進有機的，最起碼也都只進高檔的中藥材，絕不進那些來歷不明可能有汙染的劣等貨。我們相信任何的醫療行為，都應該遵守醫師畢業時宣誓所引用的希波克拉提斯宣言中的第一項條文：First Do No Harm。
At 1st Choice Acupuncture & Integrative Medicine in Bellevue, we focus not only on the treatment results, but patients’ lifestyle and diet and virtually everything relevant to their medical complaints. We constantly make recommendation to change their dietary habits and lifestyle making them feel healthier each day. This is our secret ingredient to our success in helping so many people to thrive in their recovery.
One thing we also do is teaching meditation Qigong technique to all our patients.I personally have been trained by the world’s renowned Qigong Master Zhao Xue-Zhong (http://www.masterzhao.com) as one of his advanced disciples. I have been teaching patients simple Qigong exercises for many years and receive great feedback. One thing I often hear are things like “Wow, I never knew this was that easy!” Indeed, Qigong practice is not as hard as you think especially Master Zhao’s Qigong. He basically simplified traditional Qigong exercises to pure breathing techniques. Patients do not need to remember the moves like Tai Chi, and it can be done almost anywhere (except driving of course).
Below is the meditation that we teach to all our new patients. This has helped many people to relax their body and quite their mind in just a few minutes. Try this at home and let us know how you do. We only teach this to our patients but since there have been many requests from our patients asking us to share it on our website so more people can benefit from it, so here it is! We also do weekly acupressure workshop, if you want to find out more about this amazing medicine please call us and come in for free consultation!
This counting exercise is a simple exercise to help you sharpen mental focus, eliminate stray thoughts, and calm the mind especially at the end of the day when you need to unwind and prepare for a good sleep. Before you begin, find a comfortable, quiet place such as a bed. Lie down with your hands on both sides. Make sure there will be no interruptions for the following 10 minutes including the telephone so that total focus can be achieved.
This easy exercise involves three simple steps:
1. Count from One to Ten, then from Ten back to One – This is the easiest part, everyone knows how to count.
2. Count upon inhalation OR exhalation – So how do we know which one to pick? Let’s say it’s the end of the day and you are trying to sleep but you just have so many things running in your mind that keep you from falling asleep. You would count on exhalation – as if you are using this technique to get rid of the stray thoughts and quite your mind; In the morning when you wake up, but you are feeling so tired and seem to have no energy to get up, you would count on inhalation- as if you are trying to inhale the energy from outside to replenish your own.
3. During counting, if any stray thoughts pop up count from the beginning again – this is the hardest part. When you begin to practice this exercise, just focus on your counting. But very soon stray thoughts might begin to pop up. When that happens, please go back to One and start all over again. This also is a good exercise to test how long you can stay concentrated on one thing.
Please practice this exercise daily and you will find yourself counting further and further from One. Please note, if you are absolutely cannot focus on counting, do not stress yourself out. Just stop the practice, do it tomorrow when your mind has quieted down.