What's Your Virtue?
I’m very grateful to have had an acupuncture education that focused on treating constitutionally. What this means is that we went through years of training to learn how to diagnose the unique energetic of each patient. Over and over again we are taught to ask: what is it about a person that is beautiful, unique, and deeply important? How might they be stuck in manifesting their potential?
This is a beautiful way to practice! And what some find amazing is that when we focus on cultivating the specific constitutional virtue of each patient, symptoms clear up. For example, a person may come in for back pain, and while treating the back pain, we also focus on cultivating internal wisdom, peace and courage. The back pain gets better, but so does the patient’s ability to move through the world without fear and with a strong sense of who they are.
Usually, the ways in which people are stuck come from the inability to manifest their unique virtue. This can appear as pain, depression, exhaustion, and sometimes much more debilitating and chronic disease. Sometimes a patient has had a symptom or problem for so long that he or she is not even aware of it anymore, but once we treat the constitution, these start to clear up as well. As the patient’s energy returns to a state of balance, all the ways their body, mind and emotions are out of alignment move closer to a state of health.
A few nights ago I woke up with the realization that if everyone could learn to look at others the way we learned to be present and work with our patients, there might be less suffering in the world.
Even though most people haven’t trained in constitutional Chinese diagnosis, there are lessons we can all learn from this practice and incorporate into everyday life:
1) See if you can discover your most exceptional qualities. Spend some time looking at your life and discovering the aspects that are uniquely YOU. What are you passionate about? What nurtures you? What makes you really mad, sick, exhausted or in pain? If there are ways that you are suffering, does it come from an inability to manifest who you truly are? Practicing self-love in ways such as lovingkindness meditation is a great way of building awareness and starting to let go of judgment and self-hatred.
2) Identify the unique beauty of others in your life. What is your partner, sibling, colleague, parent, really great at? How does that influence how he or she moves through the world? When we are able to identify and appreciate someone’s distinctive gifts, and how those gifts influence the rest of their life, we gain a greater understanding and relationships can improve.
3) Starting from a place of wellness and gratitude, notice the good in your life, your community, and the world at large. By cultivating awareness for the health of what’s around you, you may be better able to understand and heal what’s not working.
I have seen time and time again that deeply listening to a person and being able to identify their unique gifts is usually the first step towards healing. See if you can start integrating these practices into your life. You may discover that you are nicer to yourself, more understanding of others, and that you are able to move through the world with more ease, comfort, and grace.