Finding Balance in the Time of Youth
Since starting my Wheeling practice back in February of this year, I have noticed that the vast majority of my patients are over 50 years of age. This is somewhat to be expected, as this is the age group that tends to have the most health concerns. Younger people in their late teens to late thirties, tend to have less health concerns, and thus tend to seek out healthcare less frequently. The unfortunate outcome of this phenomenon is that by the time most people are considering Chinese medicine as part of their healthcare regimen, they already have years, sometimes decades of suffering and unhealthy habits that are deeply entrenched and exacerbate their health concerns.
In our culture, younger people tend not to visit healthcare professionals unless they have an issue that requires immediate attention. While acupuncture and Chinese medicine excel at treating those with illness, chronic suffering, and disease, the medicine also excels at optimizing health, helping to prevent the development of serious conditions, and quicken recovery should some accident or severe illness befall a person.
The second chapter of the 黃帝內經 Huáng Dì Nèi Jīng - The Yellow Emperor's Inner Classic, one of the oldest texts on Chinese Medicine and natural observation, warns us:
"Thus sages do not treat illness that has already formed, they treat illness that has yet to come; they do not control disorder that has already become, they control disorder that has not yet become; this is what is said. For to treat diseases with medicine after they've already formed, to control disorder after it has already become, this is the same as being thirsty and then digging a well, or being in battle and then forging arms; do not also be so late!"
I personally used acupuncture for regular treatment and preventative care while going through my Chinese medicine education. While I often had specific health issues I wanted addressed, I would also go in just to experience the depth, space, and clarity of mind I would gain from treatment. While there were shifts in my chief concerns, that space and clarity allowed me to identify unhealthy habits and tendencies, some of which directly exacerbated my primary concerns, some of which contributed to an overall state of imbalance, or less than optimum health.
I wish that as an undergrad studying engineering at the University of Illinois, I had known about acupuncture and Chinese medicine as tools for destressing, reconnecting my mind and body, and staying healthy. The stresses of pursuing higher education and coming into adulthood can be immense. Those stresses can drive the development of unhealthy coping mechanisms, which create momentary joy and a sense of relief, but ultimately serve to weaken the will and one's constitution. When those stresses ease up, a person is then left with these unhealthy habits, which continue to have damaging effects, rather than positive coping mechanisms that add health and continue to enrich one's life in the absence of stress.
If you are currently engaged in pursuing higher education, starting a business or a career, or are struggling with how to manage your stress, please consider making acupuncture sessions a part of your regular self-care regimen. Healthy habits encourage the creation of other healthy habits; let acupuncture become one of the positive habits you engage in to promote a long and healthy life.