Covering up in summer (patching up a potential leak)

Leaking bucket



The language of oriental medicine doesn’t always translate well on paper. From my own experience in studying in Japan for many years, my realisation is that language is secondary to interaction and knowledge is secondary to experience. From this approach, both application, the way you respond, and experience are the main focus.


To refine this a little further the application must be better than the actual experience ( of the disease ), especially on the side of the person receiving the treatment. When we have this in place then truly we have what we can call “ the art of acupuncture “. 


Covering up in summer (patching up a potential leak)


Often I’m asked by first-time visitors to my clinic, especially those who come in with back problems or issues opposite the abdomen, why do I treat face up? (It’s not uncommon for new patients to lie face down before I even see them ). There are two reasons. Firstly I like to examine the quality of the pulse on the radial artery. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, the whole abdomen contains all our vital organs and,  as well as this, in oriental culture, this area is thought of as the Dan Tien in Qi cultivation schools and in oriental medicine we call it the Hara. 


It’s a crucial area often neglected at the expense of upper-body activity. Overthinking, for example, or staring at mobile phones are likely candidates. All of this is robbing the body of potential energy with excess above, and deficiency below ( often headaches or digestive problems )


The Chinese character for Tonification 補う is an image of an overcoat being patched up. When you truly think about it, patching up, or repairing something means that you preserve energy by preventing good stuff from leaking out. This is essentially the preventive as well as curative aspect behind oriental medicine. It is quite important


Another way to think about tonification is the act of wearing something on your feet when walking around the house with cold tiled flooring ( very common here in Spain ). Environmental perception is very subjective. It depends on the individual. Usually from my experience, the more internally cold you are, the less perception you have of the external environment. So if you start to wear something in the house on your feet on tiled floors, then after a while you will start to “feel” the external cold if you decide to walk barefoot again. This is because you have more perceptive energy to perceive it. Yesterday I had a visitor to my clinic with the effects of long-term covid who regularly walked around the house barefoot and thought juicing would help him ( despite doing it for 6 months with no improvement ). Three days later he was fine and told me, yes, the floor does feel cold now!


Covering up in the summer heat is also important, for similar reasons, we leak a lot of Qi and with the skin pores being open, it’s very easy to get chilled, especially with the air conditioning on. Actually here in the summer, I treat a lot of people with colds and I use quite a lot of moxa, particularly in the kidney area. Although moxa is warm if you think about the spicy flavour in hot climates then it begins to make sense to use heat to Tonify or patch up..


Know your comfort zone.


Creature comforts are a necessity because it’s not good to be either too hot or too cold however, it’s good to know what your limits are. 


If I let the cat out of the bag or address the elephant in the room then I am basically talking about staying put within your comfort zone and not exploring other stuff outside of it.  It’s fine if that’s the tune you play, but in terms of general health and well-being, it is not necessarily a good choice. Covering up is good, even in hot weather a loose cotton scarf around the neck can prevent stiff neck and shoulders. Doing this prevents leakage of potential energy which leads to stiff necks, headaches, and lack of concentration to name a few. 


The choices we make, depend primarily on perception and awareness. Wrong choices can be disguised as good choices and vice versa. If like me you are practising a lot of Tai Chi or Qi gong then this increases awareness and prevents leakage of Qi. I teach a little bit now and then and I find that most people want to bail out when they start feeling ominous or “ more tense than when they started”. This is as a result of the training. That’s all it is, it’s the result and it means that the training is good. Also, it usually passes. Why? because health and well-being are improved but it takes time to adjust to the new environment.


 Another thing I have observed from people who dont practice Tai Chi very well is that they will do it in shorts and a t-shirt. The legs and upper body a very susceptible to leakage. Please continue to read to get closer to what I am stressing. 


As I stated above, you just start wearing shoes in the house or you can return to old familiar habits. Health preservation is very simple. The only real barrier is the person pursuing health preservation and their resistance to follow the course of change.


The best way to understand the lower abdomen, dan tien or hara is to think of it as a vessel that contains something useful. If it’s not strong enough, has holes in it etc, no matter how much Qi or energy you put in it, you will still leak it. In this context, then most aspects of Tai Chi or Qi cultivation methods are a way of making this vessel stronger. Also, most of the time during training, the emphasis is away from the upper body.**


Wrapping up:

Acupuncture is generally working on increasing the radiation and circulation of the yang Qi throughout the body. A good acupuncturist will use the most delicate and sensitive approach to achieve this. The outer body is but a reflection of the interior with food entering the internal ¨intestinal areas¨ and air entering the internal ¨lung areas¨. All of this is wrapped in skin. The skin is perhaps the first port of call for your perceptive awareness and therefore circulation and radiation are the body’s way of containing the interior. Tonification is therefore relative to leakage while health preservation and longevity represent the results ( of tonification ). 


** Conversation with Edward Obaidey Sensei in around 2003 during Tai Chi training.


Comments (2)

Very interesting subject! My body is definitely divided into two halves! I do a lot of “ unnecessary overthinking “, permanently live in my “ own comfort zone”… never venture out of it so I obviously need to concentrate on my “ lower half”. By the way, what’s “ juicing”?

Thanks for your comment, Maggie. Juicing is basically the equivalent of gazpacho. Raw vegetables or fruits are blended together. It’s not suitable for some people because it’s “cold ” in nature. It’s OK in the summer for healthy people, but during seasonal changes, if you’re sick with a fever or low appetite, then it’s not so good to have raw fruits in any weather. Of course, there are people who benefit from Juicing and they would be prone to hypertension or have fairly robust constitutions.

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