Welcome to Chinese Medicine Bristol's official blog! Here, Acupuncture and TCM pracitioner Sandra Arbelaez will share information about Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine, how they work, and the latest research and developments related to TCM. You will also find knowledge and ideas on how to enjoy a full, healthy life that she has picked up over the course of 15 years of exploring the world of natural health

Monday, 31 December 2012

Goodbye 2012, welcome 2013!

This is my last post this year and what a year it has been! I am personally grateful for all that it has brought me - both good and bad- as it all has enabled much growth and expansion in many areas of my life. This blog is one of the great things from this year, and the result of a dear friend's idea to blend my passions of writing and sharing what I know about health and healing with the world. I thank him and everyone who has passed this way, read my words, and found even the slightest useful thing in them. Thanks also to those who have given me feedback and encouragement. I’m glad to see this year come to an end though, it has been of incredible intensity and I think we all need a rest from that now!

There is no denying that 2012 has been a difficult and challenging year for many of us. My clinics and my private life have been filled with people suffering from severe stress and anxiety caused by different types of crises related to many things from health and relationships, to money issues. A quick look at the news from the past year seems enough to see that crisis spread in many shapes and forms around the world! Consequently, this year has left many of us with a strong feeling that we are going through something together and that difficult and painful as it may be, change all around is definitely what is needed.

Sharing each other’s pain is one of the ways in which we can lessen the burden that a crisis represents. I have seen  - and become part of - a growing number of people wanting to do just this by building community, sharing skills, and creating an environment in which we enhance each other’s lives. This can only happen in times of crisis. When we are all fine we don’t think we need anybody, we become complacent and take things for granted. Worse than that, we can become so wrapped up in ourselves that we fail to see and understand the suffering others are undergoing. We may start to feel entitled, when in fact we are not entitled to anything, not really. Why should I feel entitled to health and wealth when so many people in the world have none of that? 

Hard times can make us more compassionate and grateful

When we feel entitled we forget the magic word: gratitude. Gratitude is the magic word because without gratitude there is no happiness, without gratitude I will always feel that I don’t have enough, or that something is missing. Gratitude comes with appreciation, and when we appreciate the gifts life has given us, and are grateful for them, we can never take things for granted. This is the strength that we can gain in times of trouble, this is what often gives a sparkle in the eye to people who live in obviously appalling conditions all around the world. Not that we need suffering in order to learn this, but suffering can often help us appreciate everything that enriches our life rather than bemoan the things that we haven’t yet acquired or that have been taken away from us.

Whether in crisis or not, we are constantly asking for something: health, love, peace, material comfort, luxury, a baby, to be better at what we do... There isn´t probably a single human being on the planet who feels totally satisfied with his or her lot. It is in our nature to strive for better and more and to try to develop our potential. This is in fact what drives humanity both in positive and negative ways. The question is, are we prepared to give anything back? Am I just asking to be in health without striving to be healthy in every way I can or preserving the health of the environment I live in? Am I just asking to have love in my life as if by magic or am Ï putting love into the world and increasing the amount of love going around? You should be getting my point by now...

Where I come from, the New Year is thought to represent a renewal and a new beginning. This implies discarding old things that no longer serve a purpose to make room for new ones. It is not about being consumerist or wasteful - although some do take it that way - it´s about asking ourselves what needs to be changed or renewed in our lives according to what the previous year has taught us. Are there any objects, ideas, and even attitudes we no longer need? How different would we like the New Year to be in comparison the one that is ending? As part of this, Colombians tend to spring clean the house before December 31st, and perform a series of often silly and superstitious rituals that nevertheless have the deeper -mostly forgotten- meaning of presenting a symbolic offering as we ask for what we want. 


The end of a difficult year is ripe time to think about our gifts, be grateful for them and, before we ask for more, think of what we are able to give back into the world and what we are prepared to let go in order to create room for new things. This is not just symbolic, it is the real thing for there is no receiving without giving. Let us party and celebrate the New Year together in gratitude for each other, for the opportunity to share the moment, and for the challenges and the lessons learnt this year. Let us ask for better and bigger: for a better us, and for a bigger heart. Let us ask ourselves what we need to do to make this world a better place, not just for ourselves but for every single being sharing this planet with us. If 2012 was the year in which the world as we know it was to end, then let us make 2013 the year in which we become the new humanity that cares more for the collective good than the individual one. This is not utopic at all, you will not have to look around for long before you find a group of individuals already making this come true. In this new environment of awareness of each other and mutual respect and love there is scope for all of us to be truly happy and truly prosperous. 

Each part of something reflects the whole, and vice versa
If you are wondering what all of this has to do with Traditional Chinese Medicine, the answer is: everything. TCM is about how everything relates to everything else, it is about interaction, interdependence, and the balance between the different parts of a whole. TCM is also about how each part of  something reflects the state of the whole. As members of a community and inhabitants of planet earth, anything that we do that harms either the community we live in or the planet itself will by extension harm us. Even when we are not ready to think about the greater good before the individual good, when we acknowledge that without greater good the individual good cannot be sustained, we can start shifting our thinking to understand that the only way of truly benefiting myself and my own is to act in ways that benefit us all. There, that's food for thought!

 A very peaceful, loving, healthy, and joyful New Year to each of you and to every being on earth!!
With much love and hope, Sandra

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