Chinese Medicine is very clear about how to stay healthy. In the classical canon of our medicine, it is taught, “wind is the origin the one hundred diseases.”* This is poetry: wind is change, and ‘one hundred’ means everything possible. This simple, but profound, teaching instructs that diseases arise when a person is unable to navigate change.
What is change? Paradoxically, change is the only constant in life on Earth: so long as time is moving, everything is changing. Even in death, we see change. Nothing ever stops changing.
Some change is obvious and some change is subtle.
An obvious change that we need to accommodate to prevent disease is the change of seasons. In (New York) summer, it is appropriate to wear shorts and a t-shirt, but in (New York) winter it is not. If we try to ‘not change’ our wardrobe, we will most likely experience dis-ease, and then disease. In Los Angeles, this change isn’t as dramatic, so it might not require a change in wardrobe to avoid illness. But even still, in Los Angeles, some people might want to wear a long sleeve shirt and jeans in the winter – and they could. The goal for getting dressed: stay in balance with the weather.
So, navigating change is relative to three factors: when you are (time), where you are (space), and who you are (bodymind).
Change can be subtle, and there are ‘one hundred’ examples of these kinds of changes. The important takeaway for avoiding disease is to recognize change when (or before) it is happening and move with it. Dance with change and you’ll dance. Fight change and you’ll fight.
What prevents us from dancing with change? Most likely, attachment to the way things are or the way things were is what prevents us from dancing with change. That rigidity eventually prevents us from bending and causes things to break – disease, maybe of body, maybe of mind.
The big takeaway for staying healthy with Chinese Medicine: bring your attention to change. See it. Study it. Witness it and reflect on the experiences of being yourself (who) where you are (where) moving through time (when). Dance slowly, enjoy the music of life, and you probably won’t fall too hard…