Health Matters will be an ongoing blog category that presents and discusses the multitude of issues that pertain to health and healthcare, including the ethical and political dimensions of our healthcare system. Stay tuned!
It feels fitting that my first post discusses the meaning and relevance of my clinic’s name. The Chinese term is a guiding principle to me as a healthcare practitioner. It is what I work to support for my patients through the practice of acupuncture.
The translation of ‘An Sheng’ from two Chinese characters is: balance, peace and harmony.
How does balance, peace and harmony relate to healthcare?
Perhaps first we should define what is meant by health. Is health the complete absence of any physical, mental or emotional discomfort or pain? Or is health the resilience to respond with flexibility to presenting circumstances, in our bodies, as well as to life circumstances and events?
The answer: health is resilience to changing conditions and circumstances, physically, mentally and emotionally.
Our bodies are constantly changing in response to internal physiological dynamics that are in turn responding to things such as what we eat, how much sleep we got, illness/injuries, stresses in the workplace, genetic predisposition, social/emotional well-being, etc. Health is not a static state of perfection, but is a dynamic process that can flexibly respond to changing conditions and circumstances, and the ability to continually return to a physiological balance. The biological equivalent to being on a balance board or staying upright while surfing; when you find the true balance within the changing dynamics, many muscles and systems are engaged, but there is a sense of stillness and stability.
Understanding Your Body’s Imbalances
Thousands of diseases have been identified and named, but there are relatively few causes or imbalances that underlie most health problems. Long-term optimal health and prevention of disease depends on understanding the imbalances in your body that you are susceptible to – whether due to genetics, diet, the environment, professional/personal dissatisfaction, or lifestyle – that render you vulnerable to specific types of health issues, and then making adjustments when possible. When we are healthy and live a life that supports our well-being, the body is amazingly adept at self-correction and a return to physiological balance, which is optimal physical and mental health.
Where I come in as an acupuncturist is to figure out why a person is not getting better on their own. Sometimes the body just needs a little extra help. My job is to find out what are the imbalances, what systems are involved, and then to guide the body, through acupuncture, to help the body restore itself to balance. When there is balance, there is harmony, and therefore physical and mental peace as well. True health is dynamic and ongoing.