Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Symptoms Are Teachers

If you are reading this article right now it is because you have an interest in understanding your health from a different perspective. You have likely struggled with unpleasant symptoms and are seeking some relief from them. There is a prevalent societal belief that unpleasant symptoms are problems of themselves. However getting rid of symptoms as an end bypasses the potential wisdom to be gained. Symptoms arise because there is disharmony present. Your body is alerting you to this fact, thank goodness we have signals to tell us. But too often we are not listening and brush off symptoms until they become real problems. Once they get our attention, there is a tendency to want to only get rid of them. We do things like take a pill or distract ourselves with entertainment and food. We are temporarily relieved but have not addressed the underlying imbalance or looked at how we might be contributing to the problem. It sounds silly to imagine taping over the gas light when our car is almost out of gas. But this is what we often do. It might soothe our mind for the moment but will not stop the car from running out of gas.

When someone comes in for acupuncture a practitioner first works to relieve the symptoms. The next step is to address the underlying imbalance. Just because the symptoms have been relieved does not mean that the underlying disharmony has been remedied. This is a time for the person to really examine their lifestyle and listen closely to their body. Which lifestyle choices create balance? Which create imbalance? Which bring well being? Which bring suffering? Our body is the perfect feedback mechanism which keeps us in line with our own nature. As soon as we get out of line, our body let's us know and it is our responsibility to listen.

A person might come in with severe migraine headaches and be intent on relief. Acupuncture is very effective at this. But as treatment progresses the practitioner finds out that this person gets very angry at work, does not exercise, and does not drink very much water. So the focus is on ways the person can express their anger more appropriately, get them regularly exercising and drinking more water. After a few weeks to their surprise they are free from migraines. This is an example of how someone who starts listening closely to their body becomes empowered to be their own healer. How much money might be saved by not having to go to as many doctors? How much of life might be enjoyed more when we shift our attitude about healing? Often we do not need anyone to fix us, what we truly need is to know ourselves. No machine can replace our own awareness and no doctor can replace our own wisdom. Symptoms are our teachers and have many jewels to offer if we will only listen.

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