Chinese Medicine perceives that there is no "out there", there is no separation between ourselves and each-other and the universe at large. At any moment in time, we exist as a microcosm of a much vaster macrocosm. We function as an "individual" in our waking day to day lives, yet we submerge into a much greater field of energy at night when we sleep.
Our ability to surrender into a state of deep rest (stillness) relates to the function of our nervous and lymphatic system. These systems can be visualised as complex webs that exist inside our bodies, that regulate our mood, stress response, metabolic and immune functions. These inner webs are inextricably linked to greater and more complex webs in the energetic realm outside our body. When these systems are functioning in harmony (balance), we are able to relax easily, let go of the day and submerge into the "ocean of oneness" (or Source energy). In this realm we exist purely as a function of creative consciousness, there is no matter, thus no separation, only absolute connection. Merging into this ocean has a restorative and regulatory effect, stimulating the bodies innate healing processes.
At any moment in time, we can close our eyes, become very still and merge into this field of energy. We start to sense ourselves as a tiny drop in this ocean of life, part of an intelligence that is much greater than ourselves as an individual.
As a Chinese Medicine practitioner, two of the most common issues that i treat in clinic is anxiety and insomnia. We are more stimulated and disconnected from self than ever before. Chronic stress (overstimulation) dysregulates the nervous system, so that a person feels over-whelmed and unable to submerge back into source energy. This is often felt as an inability to "switch off" and relax in the evening. This internal restlessness often perpetuates the need to distract oneself with external stimulation such as T.V, computer games or the internet. More distraction causes further over-stimulation which eventually results in exhaustion and fatigue. We all certainly know what it feels like to be in this place. It's just so easy to lose our centre in modern life.
To harmonise the nervous and lymphatic systems and assist the submerging function, i suggest the following:
1.Go to bed earlier. Going to bed before 10.30pm allows adequate time for submerging function and helps to re-balance an overactive nervous system.
2.Take a warm bath in the evening before bed. The purifying effect of water helps the body to let go of the built up tension from the day.
3.Start a regular meditation or yoga practice. A daily meditation practice does not need to be long and arduous, a short 10 minute guided practice is a fantastic way to submerge and re-connect. If sitting is too difficult, try some gentle hatha yoga to release tension from the body.
4.Practice sleep hygiene. Avoid T.V, computers and external sources of stimulation for 1 hour before bedtime.
5.Shut down WIFI, blue-tooth and data functions on your phone at night before you go to sleep.
6.Ensure that your bedroom is completely dark while sleeping. This means that if you open your eyes, you cannot see your hands in front of your face.
6.Don't consume any caffeine for at least 6 hours before bedtime.
7.Catch yourself in "projective thinking" mode (obsessing too far ahead in the future). Over-thinking everything that we have to deal with in the future creates overwhelm. Slow down by taking a few gentle deep breaths, connect with your body, and practice being "right here, right now".
Article written by Rachel Berners (Registered Chinese Medicine Practitioner & Cat Lover). This article was inspired by the teachings of Heiner Fruehauf, PhD, LAc, Founding Professor of the College of Classical Chinese Medicine at NUNM.