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We are Like Plants: The Relation between Body and Nature in TCM

TCM

BY: Camila Loew

According to the medicine practiced by ancient Eastern wisdom, humans are regarded as a part of the larger natural context. Our relationship with nature exists within the concepts of unity and integrity in the body, as well as the interrelationship between the human body and the outside world. Just as each organ in the body and its function is a component of the overall activity of the whole body, nature is always the broader contest, and regularly influences the changes that occur within the body itself.

Eastern practitioners study the laws of nature as well as geographical conditions, which they find useful in working with patients. The notion of unity is key in understanding the ways of traditional Chinese medicine: unity of the body, and unity between body and nature.

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Nowhere perhaps does this reveal itself more clearly to us than in the cyclical nature of the seasons. The seasonal changes are reflected in our bodies (especially those of women, with our moon cycles), but also in the seasons of our lives

The communication between humans and nature affects us inside and out; this idea is deeply ingrained in the Chinese philosophy of health, where the five elements relate to the specific seasons of the year, the organs of the body, and all of our experiences, physical and emotional.

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The notion that everything is connected has, sadly, lost its most evident qualities for us, in our modern world, where we tend to spend more time on screens indoors than observing the changes outdoors. Perhaps if we were more aware of our cycles and patterns, we would realize when we need certain things -such as rest and repair.

Once we learn to come to terms with the body as a part of nature, we can cooperate better with our own cycles. We learn that a body in harmony with nature is a healthier body, and can thus take control of our choices based on the body's true needs, which can guide us towards a more balanced lifestyle and overall well-being. As this awareness sets in, we become available to make subtle adjustments in our lifestyle, such as incorporating dietary changes, or supplementing with herbal formulas that can help balance the body and its systems.
When we are in balance, our energy and cycles flow, we are nourished, and our functions work optimally. If nature (and the body) is constantly in flux, when there is stagnation, physical symptoms occur, and then illness.
Think of yourself as a plant: nourish yourself, talk to yourself, observe yourself as you would your favorite house plant. Ask yourself, sincerely, what do you need right now? If you find an answer, take action and choose to keep that plant growing healthy and strong.

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