The Barefoot Doctor, award-winning
author of Handbook for Heroes and Handbook for the Urban Warrior,
and weekly health columnist with The Observer newspaper, joins Cyberspace
Health Clinic as monthly guest editor.
The Barefoot Doctor, a renowned
Taoist teacher and practitioner of Chinese Medicine of over 20 years
standing, brings his own original and informative slant to the key
alternative health issues of our day.
Watch out for the Barefoot Doctor
new premium phone lines, on key alternative health issues, launched
on this page in February 2001!
on Big Brother
Though brilliantly conceived, the
turgid content of the recent 'Big Brother' TV series on the
UK's Channel 4 revealed and highlighted a fundamental mechanism
in the dynamic between us quirky humans.
On meeting one another, on a subtextual
level and usually unconsciously, the first procedure we go through
is ascertaining whether the other or others will be rivals or allies
in what ammounts essentially to this survival of the fittest game
we are obliged to play here. This is equally true on a more subtle
level, not just the first time we meet someone, but for every subsequent
We transmit and receive a plethora
of automatic signals through body language, voice timbre, facial
expression and more importantly, through our energy fields, which
help us both guage our relative safety while in the company of the
other, and simultaneously convey our own willingness to help or
There is no neutral ground in between.
When absolute indifference is displayed, this merely indicates latent
hostility which would be activated if the initial signals of indifference
were not correctly interpreted by the other, say in the case of
a street hawker who won't take no for an answer, to whom you eventually
At the root is a fear of physical
violence. For though the occurence of actual violence is mostly
unlikely in our so-called civilised society, its potential for actual
erruption always lurks close to the surface, a surface which in
fact provides only a thin veneer, becoming increasingly so as daily
pressures intensify for all of us and the use of violence becomes
more widely publicised in the media.
It's a tough game we've devised for
ourselves here, but it's the only game in town, and without allies
it would be impossible to live in anything other than an extremely
meagre and painful reality. Substitute allies for support group
and it starts to make more sense.
We are interdependent beings - except
for the odd absolute hermit - and as such have a choice whether
to help or hinder each other, or in many cases, both. We've all
heard and used the expression, 'there's a lot of assholes out there!',
and in a way it's true. There will always be someone willing to
expend their own energy to hinder you in your progress if you let
them. That's just the way energy works. The outside world is like
a mirror of your own psyche. Whatever fears and negativity you store
inside will be somehow reflected back at you in the seemingly perverse
actions of other people, and this means people you know as well
as people you don't.
Obviously, most of the time, this
subtext stratum of reality rarely shows its face fully - that's
why it's subtext and not fully-blown text. But as you know it only
takes someone in another car 20 feet distant, for example, to turn
their nose up in the air one millimetre while gazing in your direction
for you to get the hump and immediately catagorise them as rival.
But how does it help you to know this?
Firstly by being able to observe a pattern, thus placing yourself
in position of witness, you are subtly distanced from the pattern
and therefore less under its dominion. This puts you in a position
where you have a choice. Obviously we all want the whole world to
love us, because beneath all our conditioning, beneath all our trauma,
we actually want to love the whole world too - it's the natural
state before we all get messed up in the distortions produced by
everyday life experiences.
By accessing this natural state of
being, which can be done by the following exercise, you learn to
transmit love, not in a personal or sentimental way, but in a transpersonal,
universal way, just as the Buddha would. In return, the reflection
you receive from others, will also be one of love. Pragmatically
put, you would find that people would stop getting in your way so
Bearng in mind, that what you visualise
with focussed intention always comes to pass in one form or another,
imagine in the centre of your chest behind your breastbone is a
secret (miniature) palace, within which sits your innermost, hence
innocent, being. This being is fearless and is filled with love
for both itself and all humanity. As you breathe in and out (slowly,
deeply and with even tempo), imagine it is your innermost being
who breathes (which in fact it is) and with every breath visualise
your innate quality of lovingness radiate from your chest in exponentially
expanding spheres until it is seen to cover, or bless, so to speak,
the entire globe and every person on it. This meditation is especially
interesting to perform while on a crowded tube, bus or plane, or
in the workplace, for example, as it often produces immediate visible
alterations in the prevailing atmosphere.
It is also wise to consider training
in one of the martial arts - anything from Capoeira or T'ai
Chi to Kick-boxing or even western boxing will do, not just
to help defend you when some asshole's violence actually does poke
through the veneer, but more importantly to lend you that air of
confidence and aura of psychic protection possessed by all martial
artists which clearly signals, 'don't mess with me pal!'.
According to the philosphy of oriental
medicine, fear of others arises when the kidneys are overly contracted.
To ease or prevent this, use your fists to massage your kidney region
in a circular motion 18 times in each direction daily. Also consider
acupuncture or shiatsu.
Jealousy and over-competitiveness
are said to arise from an excess of heat in the liver energy. This
can be remedied somewhat by drinking chrysanthemum flower tea and
desisting from indulging in stimulants including alcohol, tea, coffee,
and rich food, as well as visiting an acupunturist as before.
Above all, however, it is crucial
to train your mind to default to the positive mode when dealing
with this whole survival of the fittest business. The most straightforward
approach, other than regular visits to a competent hypnotherapist,
is to hypnotise yourself by repeating positive affirmations such
as: "With every breath I breathe, I extend all my love to others
around me and receive back likewise. Like this, I not only survive,
but thrive on this looney-bin of a planet."
Barefoot Doctor September 2000
Did you know that each season has
a potentially harmful effect on one of your five vital organs? Spring
potentially affects your liver, summer your heart, late summer/early
autumn your spleen, autumn proper your lungs, and winter your kidneys.
Your kidneys are susceptible to cold and damp, which weaken them
and cause them to contrac, thereby impairing their healthy function.
Your kidneys, according to oriental
medicine, are responsible for your immune system, brain function,
your hearing faculty, keeping your system free of toxins, maintaining
body temperature, sex drive and reproductive functions, keeping
your joints and bones healthy, slowing down the aging process, keeping
the hair on your head, upholding your will-power, as well as supporting
all the other organs.
To fulfill these roles to optimum
levels, your kidneys must be kept warm and relaxed at all times,
especially now as the days get colder and damper. This is particularly
important to remember on days when the wind is blowing from the
north or east, as these winds are the most pernicious, punishingly
cold, damp and bone-penetrating.
To aid the process, eat a small knob
of raw ginger every day. Men can take ginseng supplements and women,
donquai. Massage your kidneys (in the lower back) every evening
with fists in a circular motion 18 times in each direction. Massage
your ears vigourously between thumb and forefinger, as the ears
(which resemble the kidneys in shape) are the 'flowers of the
kidneys', and stimulating them thus sends energy to the kidneys.
Avoid excessive alchohol and coffee
intake to reduce kidney strain, excessive masturbation to avoid
depleting kidney energy, and leaning against walls or sitting on
concrete, to avoid transmission of cold into the kidney region.
Oriental women sometimes wrap a silk
scarf round their waist (under their clothes), to maintain stable
Be sure to take a walk or spend at
least a short time outside just for fun every morning, to ensure
adequate reception of natural daylight, as daylight deprivation
causes depression, and while doing so turn your waist from side
to side 18 times in a twisting motion, allowing your arms to swing
naturally, as this helps prevent muscular contraction around your
kidneys. (T'ai-chi, with
its various waist-twisting motions, is particularly good for the
kidneys and is well worth considering taking up.)
Do not take to drinking excess ammounts
of water in the mistaken belief that this will strengthen your kidneys,
as it will only serve to flush them through and will in fact more
likely weaken than strengthen them. Do however drink nettle tea
once or twice a week if you feel they need help with the detoxification
process, and do visit an acupuncturist or shiatsu specialist for
some more precise renal manipulation from time to time.
Signs to watch out for that would
indicate deficient kidney energy, and the need for alternative medical
attention - and I stress alternative because western medicine hasn't
yet arrived at this point of refinement a propos understanding kidney
functions - are lower back ache, joint pains, dark circles round
your eyes, hair loss, anxiety and nervousness, sleeplessless, aching
joints, urinating more than seven times a day, and engaging in self-destructive
Finally talk lovingly to your kidneys
as this sets up a positive unconscious psychosomatic command, with
such sentiments as, "I love my kidneys. My kidneys are strong.
My kidneys keep me going all winter long." And always remember
to breathe as deeply and slowly as you can at all times - not just
because deep breathing helps massage the kidneys from within. Breathing
is the most important thing in life, no matter the season, for without
it, everything else simply stops.
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