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Complementary Corner

You are what you think

Renee Lehman

(1/2018) We have all heard the saying, "You are what you eat." On a physical level, this statement is true. Every one of your cells is replaced in about seven years, and the food that you eat helps to make up those new cells.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that food not only provides physical nutrition, food also provides energetic support to the body. Also, TCM believes that food is medicine. It is your job to feed your body the right information to boost your healing abilities and to keep you well.

To get all the nutrients and energetic support from the food that we eat, we also need to have a strong digestive system. If your digestive system is not working well, then no matter the quality of the food you eat, you won’t get the maximal benefit from it. So, if you have any digestive issues (heartburn, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, etc.) then your digestive system may have trouble processing and absorbing the nutrients needed for healing and wellness.

TCM talks about balance and harmony within and among all the organs in the body. In the past, I have written articles discussing how the different organ systems function on a body/mind/spirit level. When they are out of balance, different symptoms (messages from the body) will appear. When the digestive system is out of balance, then other organ systems will be affected. Why? – because all your organs rely on a balanced digestive system to provide them with the quantity and quality of energy (Qi) they need to function properly on a body/mind/spirit level.

"As long as the body’s major organs systems work in harmony and Qi flows freely through the meridians, there is no place for disease or illness." - Nei Jing (1st century BCE)

So how do our organ systems (especially our digestive system) become out of balance in the first place? Go back to the first sentence of this article: "You are what you eat." On a physical level, bad eating habits will influence your digestive system; but, there is more to this explanation. On a higher level, on an emotional/spiritual/consciousness level, "You are what you think!"

Think of the "emotional/spiritual/consciousness diet" that you may be on: how many negative thoughts and negative emotions are you processing? How much violence, drama, and news from TV, Radio, Newspapers, Magazines, Digital media on war, violence, politics, and abuse do you consume daily? What type of music do you listen to? Does it calm you or feed your anger? What do your personal conversations with friends and family sound like? Do these conversations promote you or shut you down?

You can think of this type of "diet" as a "You are what you think" diet. Just as you pay attention to the physical food that you consume, it is important to pay attention to the non-physical food that you are consuming. Think of all the "toxins" that need to be processed and eliminated by the digestion system. How overwhelmed is your digestive system? Personally, this is one of the reasons that I believe there are so many individuals in our modern society with digestive system disorders. Our digestive systems are overtaxed not only by our physical diets, but also by our emotional/mental/spiritual diets!

Rethink your engagement with the news, digital media, etc. Are you consuming too much "junk?" Consider being more mindful in your consumption.

In Thich Nhat Hanh’s Five Mindfulness Trainings, he makes clear that we consume not only food, but also all things that come into our senses and our consciousness:

Nourishment and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment.

You may think that you need to keep up with the news to stay aware and respond to the dramas that we read/hear/see. However, it may have the opposite effect. It may increase our fear and stress levels so that we are less likely to be peaceful inside ourselves and with others. British psychologist, Dr. Graham Davey, who specializes in the psychological effects of media violence, suggests that violent media exposure can exacerbate or contribute to the development of stress, anxiety, depression and even post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Consider how your thoughts "feed" your spirit. Realize how your emotions impact the health of your digestive system. Consider changing your "diet." What stream of consciousness do you want to be connected to? Take in, process and absorb what is useful to you, and then let go of the waste!

"Emotions are the processing of the mind. What do we say when we encounter too much information or emotion? "Let me sit on this," which means, "Let me find a way to digest what you’re telling me." The mind is a digestive organ. Its function is to process those intangible aspects, or energetic frequencies, of the mind—consciousness, thinking, emotions, feelings, wishes, desires, intentions, imagination — even dreaming and psychic ability. This kind of energy has consciousness and purpose.

Your life and your health are based on beliefs that you choose to hold. What kind of material do you allow your mind to receive to nourish and support its growth?"

"I tell them on one level you are what you eat. On a higher level, you are what you think. This means they need to open their mind to recognize that any food’s energy carries the vibration of cooperation and the love of the Universe." - Nan Lu, OMD

Renee Lehman is a licensed acupuncturist and physical therapist with 30 years of health care experience. Her office is located at 249B York Street in Gettysburg. She can be reached at 717-752-5728.

Read other article on well being by Renee Lehman