Whenever we suffer from some ailment, our first response, too often, is ‘What can I do to make this problem go away?’. Our knee-jerk reaction, at least here in 21st century America is what can I take to make this condition disappear?’ What drug, what herb, which vitamin, what pain-killer, which treatment will make me stop suffering and allow me to carry on as though nothing ever happened.
Oddly, the most effective treatment we can do is nothing. ‘Gee! That sounds easy!’ you might exclaim, though whenever I suggest it to someone coming down with something, you’d think I just asked them to drown their favorite pet.
We trust our doctors. We trust our drug manufacturers. We trust our alternative health providers and our herbalists, but what we have a hard time is trusting our bodies, which are far more intelligent and sophisticated than all of the others put together.
When I say nothing, I don’t mean ‘nothing’ as in carrying on as though… well… nothing has happened. The key element in Chinese medicine as I understand it is change. So when I say ‘nothing’ I mean think of subtraction rather than addition. It’s been my experience that we get our selves more into trouble through addition than we do through subtraction.
At least in terms of day to day illness, the symptoms let us know that our bodies are engaged in battle with one hostile invader or another that probably entered our borders as we were busily engaged in addition. But instead of helping our bodies by leaving them alone, we complicate matters by continuing to add. It would be as if our house was on fire and the fireman came to put it out, so we lit our car on fire, hoping that would help somehow. It would be much better if we stepped out of the way and let the fire fighters do what they do best.
I’m not sure exactly when I discovered my cure for the common cold, but it was quite a while ago and it works almost 100% of the time. As soon as I am aware of symptoms, you know, low energy, scratchy throat, runny nose, I take nothing. Nothing passes my lips until I’m restored which usually takes between 8 and 10 hours. Typically I wake up, feeling the cold or whatever, coming on and I commit to nothing. This is the hardest part, because you don’t want to be sick and it hurts so you try to kill the illness and comfort yourself, hoping to make the pain go away. So at this stage you have to be stubborn and let nothing pass your lips, no food, no medicine and the hardest one, no water. Nothing!
As the day wears on, though, it gets easier. Then about 3 in the afternoon, you feel a sensation as though something is lifting off of your shoulders. You feel lighter and really start feeling better. This can also be a difficult time because the better you feel, the more you feel like working at addition again. If you do that too soon then you can easily slip back into feeling bad. Better to play it safe and waiting until the following morning is probably best before eating or drinking again at which point you should feel quite normal again and can resume your addition though with some moderation. You may have a few lingering symptoms – for me it’s usually a touch of laryngitis – but they are usually negligible and short lived.
By actively allowing nothing to enter, we are allowing our body to fix the problem and it’s really pretty amazing what a good job our bodies do.