We were conversing over craft pours at the local microbrewery, strangers in the process of becoming acquaintances. Talk drifted in the direction of livelihood (so what do you do for a living?) and therefore to acupuncture.
My man–whom I’ll call Indy–recounted his episode of acute-onset lower back pain while in Korea for work. He contrasted his co-workers’ recommendation of acupuncture as a first-line therapy when he suffered that attack with how we Americans usually seek treatment as a last hope after all standard approaches had failed. Indy then made a comment that stuck, as my training and practice has me thinking frequently on branch and root when it comes to health/disease: the acupuncture helped but didn’t get to the root of the problem; his pain went away when he finally committed to the appropriate postural/lifestyle changes.
There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root. –Henry David Thoreau, cited at Wikiquote
For those of us serious about the level-up lifestyle the question of root and branch emerges as an important one. Problems we face can only really be resolved if we contact the deeper, up-chain roots. Putting hard work in is good, but if what we’re working on is only a superficial , down-chain root then we wind up disappointed and prone to give up further efforts.
* * *
The sun is currently traversing the sign of Sagittarius, domicile of Jupiter. Traits associated with the big planet are expansiveness, hope, optimism, spiritual searching, charm.
We are in the final weeks of autumn which, in the framework of Five Phase theory, is associated with withdrawal, drawing inward and downward and corresponds to exhaling in the respiratory cycle, sundown in the circadian cycle.
Thus, we have a juxtaposition of themes: expansiveness and searching upward (Sagittarius/Jupiter, yang) on the one, and withdrawing/descending (autumn, yin) on the other.
Sometimes Love asks us to go big, to take a risk, to act boldly (Jupiter); sometimes Love asks us to contract, to rest, to not act (autumn).
To do one when Love asks us to do the other (e.g., go big when the win-win is to fall back) is angst and stress; angst and stress manifests as dis-ease in mind and body.
To do one when Love asks us to do the same (e.g., put the guns down when the win-win is to put the guns down) is happiness and contentment; happiness and contentment manifests as easefulness in mind and body.
Thus, dis-ease in mind and body is branch. Angst and stress is root. But might there be other roots further up the chain? What is it that gives rise to angst and stress?
Are we motivated by Love–goodwill, win-win outcomes, cooperation, collective upliftment, independent thought, developing our unique gifts?
Or are we driven by something that only looks like Love but smells like pride and fear–arrogance, power-over dynamics, hostile competition, ambition with disregard for others, dependence on others’ approval, imitating others because of poor self-esteem?
Do we pause at sufficient intervals to check in with our conscience, our heart, our gut?
Where do we withdraw when instead Love is asking us to expand?
Where do we expand when instead Love is asking us to withdraw?
Where do we withdraw when indeed Love asks us to withdraw?
Where do we expand when indeed Love asks us to expand?
How do we know the difference?
Do we even make time for this level of self-examination, self-inquiry, self-knowledge?
Working effectively in the fields suggested by these questions, we effort to identify superficial, intermediate, and deep roots of our problems. Identifying the roots of our problems allows us to apply the appropriate medicine (whether acupuncture, the occasional craft beer, or otherwise). Applying the appropriate medicine results in reduced stress, optimized health, resolution of pain, flowing in strength, flexibility, durable happiness not so dependent on external circumstances. I argue that few things are more important than this.
It’s incredibly easy to get caught up in an activity trap, in the busy-ness of life, to work harder and harder at climbing the ladder of success only to discover it’s leaning against the wrong wall. —Stephen Covey, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
…a new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move toward higher levels. –Albert Einstein, quoted here
See you down the road, J*
Copyright (c) 2018, Justin Jaucian