healing the spirit

 Healing the Spirit

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Shen is often translated into spirit. Shen can be understood as the mental attitude, moral integrity or disposition of a person or their private inner world.

Shen, one of the three treasures of health in TCM theory is considered the most important to build health as compared to the other two, Qi and Jing.

In ancient times there were 3 levels of healing: physical, mental, and spiritual. The treatment and prevention of physical disease was considered to be the lowest level.

Shen, housed in the heart was often compared to the emperor of a kingdom or in the individual the life or the body.

Healing the Spirit:
Regenerating your Shen

by Kevin Scrimgeour, Tofino


In ancient China, the correct function of the wise emperor was to channel the spiritual forces of heaven down into the earth for the good of all. By doing this, the "mandate" of heaven was received and the universal cosmic order that brought blessings was bestowed on the kingdom. In contrast– when the emperor was out of alignment with heaven–a process of realignment would occur by bringing progressively more challenging circumstances. This would occur until the emperor realized the error of his ways or the throne was taken over by another more aligned person.

We are all emperors or empresses of our own kingdoms. When we are unaware or out of alignment with our Shen or inner selves it is difficult for our lives to be in balance and to enjoy the blessings we are bestowed. The holiday season is the perfect time to realign and build your Shen and thus your general health. Below are a few suggestions on how to come into the New Year in a healthy mental and physical state.

The mind and mental attitude is a major factor in how one reacts to all types of stressors. The holidays are considered to be one of the most stressful times in people's lives. The loneliness or even the stress of making the perfect turkey can become disharmonizing to the mind and thus the body. Many are stressed by the financial set backs or weight they have gained. If you are staying up all night to trim the tree and decorate for the perfect holiday house you may be missing the point. What is your inner mandate this holiday? What do you need to do in your life at this time?

Think of how to maintain your balance this year and further how to reclaim the joy of the holiday season. This is the final celebration of the year. Open up to new possibilities for joy this season. Perhaps you will start a new tradition. Think of these words when you decide how to spend your time off: Happy, loving, fulfilled, generous, peaceful, contented, spiritual, joyous, calm, festive, and emotionally connected to the ones you love. These are the type of ideas you may want to align with when you plan for this season.

Many people do not plan enough rest in their holidays. It is wise to do only what you enjoy most. Do not try to fill your life with action. We don't have to say yes to every invitation. Cooking and shopping frantically is not the reason for this break. Start by prioritizing what is truly important to you and politely decline everything else.

Try to get the most out of the simple things. We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world. Actively enjoy your surroundings and savour the simple things that you often take for granted: The smell of a cedar tree, the wild beauty of the ocean on a stormy day or a simple cup of tea instead of the finest wine. Become a connoisseur of life. Ease into a restful state instead of getting caught up in the Christmas frenzy by walking on the beach or treat yourself to a massage or a visit to a spa.

The holidays are often about the pleasure of giving. The intentions of the Three Wise Men has been twisted into one of the major stress givers of the holiday season. Todays gifting tradition has been steeped in obligation and commercialism. Gifts aren't as important as the thought or intent behind them. The gift we crave most is the gift of spirit. The gift of spirit is one of undivided attention, caring and comfort, compassion, beauty, forgiveness and good cheer. Play some music, light some candles, enjoying the moment with another is one of the greatest gifts. Don't try to do everything at once, this is a time to de-stress with people you care about.

 Rest, Restore & Reflect

According to Chinese Medicine winter is a time to rest, restore and reflect. Take time to slow down and reflect on the past year and yourself. Use this time to discover your priorities. Do what you want to do, make the most of this time and continue to make the most of your life.

The renewal of winter comes when we say goodbye to unfinished business. You need to welcome the New Year. Forgive yourself of last years mistakes, regrets and disappointments. Say good riddance to any sorrow or hard luck. This is an opportunity to start afresh by building on the good things in your present.

Kevin Scrimgeour is a doctor of Traditonal Chinese Medicine in Tofino.

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