Perhaps it’s just me, but it seems like a lot of people I talk to lately are dealing with physical symptoms. We hear the knocking (symptom) but it’s not always immediately apparent what the message is. Or, we’ve gotten so used to the symptom(s) that we don’t feel motivated to do anything about it and figure “I’m good enough as is.” Why thrive when you can get by, right?
My recent experience with this is that at the beginning of September, on what was to be the day before my last day at the admin job I had, both of my forearms burst into spontaneous carpal tunnel-like pain. I was stunned (I don’t type that much, do I?) and jumped full-force into an anti-inflammation diet and regimen and within a couple of weeks it seemed to have subsided.
After my last blog entry at the beginning of October, it flared up again. And this time much stronger. As fortune should have it, I happened to have a friend who is a Chinese Medical Practitioner staying with me that weekend and she told me that while I may be dealing with carpal tunnel, I was so Spleen and blood deficient that much of everything I was dealing with symptomatically was a byproduct of this imbalance.
Clarity! I was thrilled to understand this more and have a focus on how to help myself. I began taking blood building herbs, several natural anti-inflammatories, a Spleen tonifying diet, relaxation and balance promoting routines, and more regular exercise. I took a few weeks off from painting and typing to give my arms a chance to rest, which was hard but necessary, and launched into eating therapeutic levels of beef (it builds Spleen) to correct the seriously destabilizing lull I was in.
The big take-away for me thus far is that I’m changing how I think and go about nourishing myself – which is a big part of what Spleen represents in Chinese medicine. I had been thinking “If I sleep 8ish hours a night, eat home-cooked organic food, exercise regularly, do creative things often, have fun, and get out in nature some, I’m good – right?” Yeah, I’m good but the message of my arms was letting me know that something fundamental needed to shift. My sense of feeling nourished and supported was needing a different kind of presence and consistency. A mothering care, a loving care, the kind of care we all want from our partners but given to and from myself.
This morning I was on the phone with a friend who has had a cold for several weeks and she said “I’m almost afraid to let go of this cold because I’ve been taking such awesome care of myself.” I know just what she means. When we’re sick, we’re apt to take extra special care of ourselves. We stop pushing ourselves and slow down, eat home-cooked, warm food, cut excess activities out of our schedule, sleep more, and reach out for help. But when we’re well, all that loving, slow TLC can all slip away… unless the desire to nourish ourselves is in our primary attention as we filter and choose between the myriad possibilities in our lives each day.
Wondering if you might have weak Spleen? If you have a tendency to feel fatigued, stuck, anxious, worried, ruminate, have digestive stagnation, or repetitive habits and thoughts you may be Spleen deficient, which is a pretty common thing in our culture. If you think you might be, have your pulse taken by a Chinese medical practitioner, or whoever you go to for such support, and they can help assist you.
Here are a couple of informative articles I found: