First week of Traditional Chinese Medicine

Our firs week of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) consisted of some basic classes. Topics like Meridians, acupoints, basic principles of acupuncture, Yin&Yang and five elements and so on. First it was a bit difficult to get into the mindsetting of TCM because it is not only medical practice, but it is build on cultural beliefs and religius stuff. The ideological background is borrowed from Taoism so Yin and Yang and five elements come from there.

Yin and Yang are really complex concepts. For example Yin is body and Yang is spirit, but in the body there is also different parts that are Yin and Yang. For example lower body is Yin and upper body Yang, heart is Yin and bladder is Yang. I noticed that in TCM concepts are often more abstract and have many things they refer to than in western thinking. We have strict rules in our logic and our terms have usually simple meanings. You can find the difference even in the language. For us words usually have some quite restricted meanings but in chinese even other people who speak the same language don’t always get the meaning of other because words can be so complex.

Some difficulties also come from TCM being so old. For example heart meridian is not really what western people think of a heart but rather has the function of the brain (but again, you can’t think only about the organs because it leaves out too much) and spleen meridian has the function what we westerners think to be the function of pancreas. All in all, if you think too much inside of western box of thinking, you will certainly miss out most of the stuff that is in TCM.

The main purpose for TCM is to strive for balance. Sickness is imbalance in your body, in your meridians or organs, problems of the mind like being sad, depressed or angry are also imbalance and is is curable by balancing out your problem areas. This can be done many ways: with acupuncture, herbs, acupressure, massage, lifechanges, exercise and so on. TCM is really quite holistic system. It is actually more like lifestyle than just medical treatment.

My personal opinion on the first week is complex. Because I have different belief system than TCM it is difficult for me to understand all the connections. Still I feel that maybe I can get something valuable to my own practice if I understand even a little bit of the ideology behind TCM. I already know that there is some areas that can help me improve my work, like knowledge of acupoints and their function in relaxation and pain relief. All in all this is really interesting and I already feel that I understand thid culture a bit better than before.