It’s lucky for the human race that we have a very short memory when it comes to pain and stress. If we remembered these sensations acutely, I doubt very much anything worth doing would be repeated. Everyone would be a single child, no one would change job or partner, and we would all still be living in caves huddled around a stick wondering what that stuff is that is hot but hurts when you touch it. The mantra No Pain No Gain would instead be No Pain Never Again!
Stress and pain are, of course, both an essential part of life. How, for instance, could there be love without these two vital ingredients? In health, we actually thrive under these conditions. But it’s all relative I guess; what I consider pain is pleasure for another person. Actually, I can relate to that; in what seems another life time ago, I used to run marathons…for pleasure!
Routine versus Stress
We all prefer routine over chaos, don’t we? I’m currently in the process of moving house. Being surrounded by boxes, all my precious things gathered up into one or two rooms, has given me some insight into the mind of a hoarder. They must feel rotten all the time, but I suppose that is why it’s considered a mental illness; it wouldn’t be called an illness if wasn’t a bad state to be in.
It probably isn’t the best way of doing it, packing everything up before even having a move date, but I haven’t had a lot of practice; I think this is only the fourth time I’ve moved in the last 35 years, and every time before now I’ve only had a few things. Since the time I moved from my parents’ home in 1993 I seem to have accumulated a lot more stuff. People who move a lot must have it down to a fine art. Perhaps the trick is to not have a lot of stuff. I imagine minimalists have a secret second house where they stash all their stuff.
But no one craves chaos, surely? Although it does appear to follow some people around. In actual fact, a little bit of chaos, an adrenaline rush, can be quite good for you. As I’ve mentioned previously in my blogs, when your Qi is low, it sometimes requires a little bit of a nudge, that’s why we feel better after exercising or eating a little sugar.
It can be quite a thrill to experience a bit of a rush every now and then; the adrenaline rush of a rollercoaster ride or jumping out of a plane. Some people deliberately seek out this type of rush, and constantly crave increasingly greater extremes, such as base-jumping, or even body modifications. In TCM we attribute this to a Heart-Qi inbalance. Qi must move, but as it becomes weaker it takes more to move it. This can lead to all sorts of problems, most notably addictions: gambling, eating, alcohol, drugs, even running.
Control is an illusion
The body loves routine and regularity. Each of the body’s organs has it’s own flow and rhythm. The most obvious is the heart of course; second by second, minute by minute, year by year, the heart beats on, but it is only when that pattern is disrupted that we really notice it. It might rush when we are excited, or miss a beat when we are shocked.
We all like to think we are in control, and maybe we are in the West to some extent, but none of us truly are. Nobody involved in a terror-attack, especially in cities like London, expected it to happen to them. And even in less settled places such as Kabul, the rapid Taliban takeover still came as a bit of a shock to most people there. Just imagine waking up one day to find out you have to leave your home immediately with just the clothes you stand in and the few knick-knacks you can grab. Or even worse, the suede-denim secret police are knocking at your door.
It is important that we look after our Qi, as none of us knows when their live might be really shook up. Otherwise it wouldn’t be called a shock, just a surprise, which sounds infinitely more pleasant.