Is it week 3 or week 4 of lockdown? I’ve lost track of time. As an Acupuncturist who works evenings and weekends it’s difficult keeping track of the days anyway. When I was younger and working in the city, the structure of the week was very rigid. Monday was the start of the week; I was tired and invariably recovering from the weekend. Wednesday was the middle of the week and always a dull sort of day, being stuck in the middle of the week; but it was also my training night at the kung fu club, so not such a bad day after all. Thursday was the start of the weekend (well, for me anyway). There was definitely a more relaxed feeling at work and I always felt a lot happier. Friday was technically still a workday, but it felt like the weekend to me. And then finally, it was the actual weekend.
The Bad old days
Back then I structured my whole working week to make work more bearable and to get me to the weekend. If I had anything difficult to do or a bit taxing, if I was able to I would schedule this for a Tuesday or a Wednesday. Monday was always a day that I tucked myself away and kept my head down, trying not to catch anyone’s eye. I called it my ‘colouring-in day’. Thursday and Friday were days that I tried to keep free too; for me these were weekend days. If I couldn’t manage to dodge work on these days, then I made sure it was scheduled for the morning. Don’t get me wrong, although I didn’t like my job (which I’m sure you realise by now) I wasn’t that bad at it either. I did it for 17 years and it was quite demanding at times, so I’m sure in all that time I would have been sacked if I wasn’t up to scratch.
The five elements of the week
Looking back (and knowing what I know now) I can see that my whole week was a microcosm of nature and the seasons, according to Chinese medicine and the five elements. Monday was the most yin day; it represented the ‘winter’ of my week, when it was the quietest and I just wanted to hide away. By Tuesday I was slowly emerging and expanding, like the Spring, ready for new growth. (I make this sound more exciting than the reality of it – we are talking about Insurance here, after all). By Wednesday and Thursday I was totally yang as I go into the ‘fire’ phase, or the ‘summer’ of my week. Now I have recovered my energy and I’m at my most productive, literally firing on all cylinders, ready for the weekend, which is Friday and Saturday. Now I was in the ‘earth’ phase, or the ‘late-summer’, reaping in the ‘harvest’ of my efforts earlier in the week. (I make this sound quite dramatic, but remember we’re talking about insurance here). And finally, we reach the ‘metal’ stage, or the ‘autumn’, which for me was Sunday; a time when we meditate on the past seasons and make preparations for the winter.
These were not happy times for me. But now I take solace knowing that, even in the most challenging and unhappy times in our lives, the seasons do change and we do move on. The trick, I suppose, is tuning in to your ‘self’, knowing how you feel and what you want from life. For me, I did this by practicing Wing Chun kung fu and Qi Gong. The two most important aspects of Qi Gong are breathing and the Mind. In Qi Gong we use Mind to move the Qi around the body, to nourish the organs, the bones, muscles, sinews, tendons, blood and fluids. Without focusing the Mind, Qi Gong loses it’s depth and becomes ‘mindless’ exercise. Practised with ‘mind’ then, Qi Gong can be so powerful that you can get a full workout without even moving.
Being true to nature in the lockdown
We are actually in the wood phase of the year, the time of expansion and new growth. The yang energy is picking up; the weather is getting warmer and we all want to be outside moving our Qi and making things happen. Obviously, the lockdown poses a bit of a problem in that we can’t be as ‘expansive’ as we would like, but there is still much that can be done at home. We can make plans, work on projects and ready ourselves for the summer and the fire phase, coming out of Lockdown like rockets! And, of course, we can practice Qi Gong.
I am still doing treatments during the lockdown, although not in the traditional sense. Due to social distancing measures I can’t do acupuncture or tui na, but I am doing Skype and FaceTime sessions. Talking through your situation with me will allow me to tailor my advice to what would be most relevant for you as an individual. I can also show you Qi Gong techniques, acupoints and self-tui na, specifically for you. Although more limited in scope than face to face practice, there is good evidence that this sort of approach can benefit your health and help you self-manage your symptoms at home. Just call or drop me an email and we can go from there.