CCM & SPIRITUALITY
Understanding Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) means knowing the roots. CCM was developed with the influence of naturalist philosophy (Daoism, Confucianism). That means that there’s a connection to spirituality that you don’t get in Western medicine. Essentially, the idea with CCM is that the mind and body are one entity.
That means, to have good physical health, your spirit needs to be in good shape too. CCM practitioners treat the person, not the problem. Let’s dive into what the connection between CCM and spirituality is all about.
CCM Vs. Western Medicine
When we’re talking about spirituality in CCM, we are referring to the connection between the body and the mind. According to an article in Pastoral Psychology, in the theory of CCM, the mind and the body are inseparable. Meaning, to have good health, you also need to take care of your spirit.
CCM pays attention to not only physical pain, but spiritual pain. So, when you see a CCM practitioner, they’re going to look at you as a whole instead of vitals on a chart. Think about a time you’ve been to a Western medicine doctor’s office. They typically ask you for:
- Body Temperature
- Blood Pressure
While this information may be important to a CCM practitioner, they’re also going to be gathering information about you as a person, including:
- Life Stressors
- Your Spiritual State
In Western medicine, two patients with the same symptoms would be given the same treatment, whereas in Chinese Medicine, they look at each person individually. There isn’t a one size fits all answer in CCM, and your spiritual state is important! There is an acknowledgment and exploration of the complexity and multidimensionality of nature and the body.
Classical Chinese Medicine and the Spirit
In Classical Chinese Medicine, the spirit is a vital substance. It’s as important to look at as the test results from your bloodwork. In CCM, the body is made up of a unique balance of the elements that are taken into account during treatment.
While CCM is rooted in Chinese religion, the spirituality we’re talking about here has a secular meaning. If you’re familiar with TCM, you’ve likely heard of the Qi. Your Qi is essentially the energy people can feel off of you. The Spirit is an extension of the Qi, and in TCM the health of your organs can affect your outer energy.
The acupuncturist’s needles represent only a part of the philosophy and practice of CCM whole person approach devised by practitioner’s thought on why, when and how a therapeutic modality should be used
Basically, your mind and body balance each other out, and when one is out of whack it can throw off your groove so to speak. To understand the Spirit, we need to look at the five facets and what they do. Along with Qi, Blood, and Essence, our Spirit or Shen is considered a vital substance in Chinese Medicine as it completes our physiological makeup.
The Five Spirits
Spirit determines how we show up in the world, connect with others and navigate all the experiences in life. Chinese Medicine Practitioners tune into the presence of these characteristics. Assessing the state of the patient’s Spirit is always included in the observation & diagnostic process since the spirit is vital to one’s overall well-being. Spirit disharmonies are sometimes paired with physical symptoms.When one spirit is affected it can impact the others.
The Yi is stored by the spleen. When you’re having trouble with your spleen which can cause digestive issues, it can also weaken your Yi. The Yi is in charge of your thoughts, intellect and creativity. A weakened Yi can cause brain fog and keep you in a constant state of overthinking. Lots of worry will disturb the Yi and bring more worry.
Ensuring that your spleen is in good health will also bring about a balanced Yi. When your Yi is strong, you will be able to reach your goals and stay faithful to those around you.
The Shen represents our consciousness. It’s considered the source that all of the other spirits come from. Within the body, the Shen is ruled by the heart. In CCM, the heart is the monarch of all other organs and considered the origin of mental life.
Think of the Shen in the same way that the brain is looked at in Western medicine. It’s the place where you come into being, therefore you must take very good care of it.
The Po is stored in your lungs. Your Po is what gives you the ability to stay present and be in the moment. It’s what we use to live in the now. When your Po is strong, you’ll be assertive and fair. People with a strong Po will also have a strong voice. Those around you will feel your energy and you’ll be able to command a room.
If your Po is off-balance, you may feel weak or unheard. Life can feel empty and meaningless, and you may experience depression. Since the Po is stored in the lungs, when it’s weak you might experience respiratory issues such as a cough.
It’s important to keep the Po in balance because it could have detrimental physical and mental effects on the body.
The Hun is also known as the Ethereal Soul in Traditional Chinese Medicine. According to TCM, you’re tethered to the Hun the second you’re born and it stays with you your entire life. The Hun is also connected to your liver health.
When your liver is weak, the Hun suffers. You’ll begin feeling apathetic and depressed. If you’re feeling like you can’t find direction or purpose in life, it may also be due to your Hun being imbalanced. When there is a lot of work stress, the liver will be affected and one may have nightmares. Tending to your liver through TCM will help you care for the Hun/Ethereal Soul.
This spirit-mind is stored in the kidneys. In CCM, the kidneys are where your essence stems from. If you’re feeling restless, or like you want to pack it all up and move away, you may have an imbalance in the Zhi. The kidneys are associated with fear and willpower.
When your kidney Qi is weak, your willpower will dwindle and it can result in depression. This can also turn into risky behavior you wouldn’t normally engage in. The physical symptoms can include kidney issues, bladder infections, and back pain. Many times the physical symptoms are from the emotional symptoms.
There’s a lot of ground to cover when it comes to the rabbit hole of CCM and spirituality. Understanding the basics will give you a base to begin your journey and start balancing your spirit-minds and take care of yourself. In the The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine text it speaks of Acupuncture and Herbs as adjuncts to self care and spirituality cultivation.
With that in mind, CCM utilizes practices such as acupuncture and herbal medicine as tools to alleviate physical pain and disease. So, it could potentially be used alongside Western medicine treatments. Remember, caring for the mind is just as important as the body!