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Increase Your Vitality: Part Two

How our environment affects our vitality.

Everything is Energy

The truly holistic view of health was what initially drew me in to study acupuncture. Doctors of Chinese Medicine have always acknowledged that we are not isolated individuals. We are living beings in a larger living matrix, a web of life. This web extends beyond us and our neighborhoods to encompass the entire universe.

Energy isn’t created or destroyed, but is a constant state of shifting, transformation and unfolding as things interact with other things. Energy transmutation is a core concept in Chinese medicine. Acupuncturists aren’t looking for an isolated part of the body to “fix.” We know there’s an imbalance in a relationship between two or more things, and that relationship needs to be harmonized. Sometimes this is all occurring within someone's body. Other times, it’s the relationship between the person and something in their environment that needs to be addressed.

Not everyone will be affected by the environment in the same way. Our constitutional make up and level of overall health, including our history of traumatic experiences, will affect how vulnerable our systems are to external influences. Strengthening our constitution with acupuncture, good nutrition, herbs, and other self care can be really important if we start to become too sensitive to the environment. No one should need to live in a bubble.


Take a moment to reflect on the the following questions to get a sense of how the environment affects you.

  • Do you have multiple allergies that keep you indoors or out of public spaces?

  • Do you get sick frequently?

  • Are you open to things that are nourishing and supporting, or do you assume everything is a threat?

  • Is your guard always up to the detriment of your ability to take in the good?

  • Can you discern what serves you and what doesn’t, and can you release what you don’t need?

  • Are you judging things as the environment as bad, and getting stuck in negativity and blame?

As you can see from these reflection questions, we are affected both by our environment and how we respond to our environment. There's plenty we can do to become more resilient and stay strong in the presence of environmental pressures.

Things in the Environment That Affect Us

Here's a list of the most obvious environmental factors that affect our health.

Allergens. An allergy is an attack by the immune system on something that enters the body that would normally be harmless or even useful. For example, pollen is not a harmful or toxic substance, but someone with springtime allergies will have an allergic response to it that can include itchy eyes or sneezing. People can develop allergies to just about anything. Acupuncture, supplements, and herbal medicine can help restore a proper response from the immune system.

Weather is another environmental cause of imbalance. Some aches and pains like arthritis and migraines are clearly affected by the weather. We use this information as part of the diagnosis and treat accordingly. For example, instead having just one herbal remedy for arthritis, there are specific formulas for pain that is worst is cold-damp weather vs. hot weather.

Clutter is a more controllable aspect of the environment. It can affect you and make your mind feel hectic and unsettled. Clutter also accumulates stagnant energy and eventually dust, which can cause an allergic response.

Other people are another aspect of your environment that can affect you. I’m sure you’ve noticed that some people leave you feeling drained, while others lift you up. According to scientists at the Heartmath Institute, which studies energy field environments and how they affect our behaviors and interactions, “Our thoughts and feelings create an energy field around us, which can often lift up or lower the attitudes or dispositions of those near us. Coherence is a state where our heart, mind, emotions, and physical systems are operating in cooperative harmonious alignment. This especially occurs when people are resonating in the energy field of care, kindness, genuine listening and cooperation.”

It does take effort to cultivate positive emotions to share with the world. Emotional alchemy is an important meditation and Qi Gong practice in Chinese medicine. If you don't have an energy cultivation practice yet, go into nature to recharge your energy, or sit in a cheerful neighborhood coffee shop or a city park on a weekend morning, and enjoy being around people when they’re feeling their best and having a good time. Pets are usually up for a good time, and playing with your pet can make you both feel good.

The news, not surprisingly, can affect you. If you want to stay informed with the world, check in with yourself first. Are you feeling emotionally strong enough to take in the information as an observer? Notice if your energy starts dropping or if you start to feel angry. Consider walking away at this point to process what you’ve taken in before hearing more.

If you've identified an aspect of the environment that is negatively impacting your well-being, contact me to find out how Chinese medicine and acupuncture can help.

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