A Picture of Health

Being able to envision ourselves as healthy is crucially important to our prognosis. This best-kept secret of healing is finally out of the bag. Numerous recent studies have headlined research confirming this phenomenon. Which comes as no surprise to traditional healers!

So how do we cultivate a vision of wellness for ourselves that serves our healing processes?

In Asian Healing Arts we say Spring (yes, it’s coming!) is the key time of year to learn and practice this. With more light and daytime we sort of wake up and start to see all kinds of things we didn’t notice all Winter. Things both in and around us, including some we don’t like too much. How we hold what we see is crucial to our healing through the entire year to come.

So is there such a thing as a “Picture of Health”? We recently heard the president’s physician use this phrase to describe an overweight man who doesn’t exercise, sleeps little and erratically, favors fast food, and is prone to frequent bouts of temper. What’s wrong with this picture?

Trouble with snapshots is, even when they’re true, they don’t tell the whole story. Any “freeze frame” picture will fall short of the vision we need to empower our healing. Healing is a process that can’t be captured by snapshot.

This is an issue with many medical tests. Blood pressure, for instance, needs to be viewed over time to be meaningful. Last time I saw my doctor, I read a disturbing news article just before my blood pressure was taken. My numbers showed up in a range where meds would be advised. My doctor wisely took it again 20 minutes later when it had settled below that range.

Our vision is not just about where we are, it’s about where we’re going.

Picture, for a minute, how a tree grows. It’s branches seem to know exactly where they’re going and growing. They just keep extending up toward the sun, winding around any and all obstacles: shade, other trees, even solid objects like a fence. That’s why we call vigorous Springtime energy “Wood” in Asian Healing Arts.

The clearer we are about where we’re going, the better we can flex and maneuver around any obstacle in the way of our getting there. This is crucial to our health and healing. Without a clear vision of where we’re going, we have no hope of changing direction when we take a wrong turn. We may not even know when we’re off track! We get stuck in patterns that sabotage our healing. When there’s a substance involved we typically call this addiction.

In the Spring, our Liver function wakes up to help us with this. In Asian Healing Arts we say our Liver gives us the capacity to see clearly what serves our highest and best purpose and to clear out whatever doesn’t. Sort of like a skillful military general. Spring cleaning, that’s the external manifestation of this. Detox is the internal version. Toxins are, quite simply, whatever doesn’t serve our highest and best self.

Getting the picture of how important this is for our healing?

Here’s an example. When a person with extra weight starts to see him or herself lightening up, he or she can make choices, both conscious and unconscious, to facilitate movement in that direction. On the other hand, a person who is starving and sees him or herself as horribly overweight won’t avail him or herself of nourishing food no matter how available it is.

Our bodies make zillions of choices on our behalf, moment to moment. Researchers are starting to understand how our vision of what’s possible shapes the choices our body makes. Western medicine is beginning to make use of our potential to control many of these processes. Holistic healing arts are way ahead in this.

When I started studying acupuncture 25 years ago, the documented benefits of this kind of healing were often dismissed as “just the Placebo Effect.” The power of suggestion. In the decades since then, many healers have come to respect the so-called Placebo Effect as a potent force that can be harnessed for the sake of healing.

I don’t think it accounts for all the beneficial effects of acupuncture. It can’t explain its effectiveness with animals, for instance. But I do know that some of what benefits my clients comes from my helping them reconnect with their vision of their healing potential. This often comes with an awakening of clarity about one’s direction and purpose.

Things can get loud and lively when we’re discerning our direction. It’s a little like a birthing. And there are always surprises as our vision opens to what was previously beyond our imagination. Being willing to move helps a lot. Every part of us has got to move come Spring! Because the direction that emerges for us has got to work for every part of us.

Remember Dumbo the elephant!? When he lost his magic feather he closed his eyes to reclaim the dream visions that empowered him to soar to great heights. The peak time of day for liver function may surprise you: It’s the wee hours of the morning before the sun comes up. If you have a big decision to make and want to “sleep on it,” this is the time of night you want to sleep through. It’s the time when your clarity of purpose will be most accessible to your unconscious self. Which is what allows your conscious mind to awaken with powerful clarity it lacked the night before.

Settling into deep-sleeping (‘yin’) mode during those hours often requires us to be in a more active, lively (‘yang’) mode during our waking hours. Come Spring, we may find our sleep disrupted at this time if we are not getting enough exercise during the day.

We may also find ourselves more sensitive to visual input – like that from screens or cell phones – this time of year. Our eyes are the orifice of the Liver. Too much visual input – especially close to bedtime – can disrupt our Liver function. This compromises not only our sleep but our capacity to detox. Letting ourselves unwind at night will help us clear our way to Spring – yes, it’s coming! The winds of change are already starting to blow.

So, in the midst of whatever winds are stirred up by opposing forces around us, may we cultivate our vision for our highest selves and best ever health. This can help transform our frustrations into creative, productive partnerships.



Cynthia Zanti Jabs, L.Ac., has practiced Acupuncture and Medical Qi Gong for two decades. She can be reached at her Ruscombe Mansion office by calling 443-226-6626.

Soaring Crane Crouching Tiger Qi Gong Classes
Taught by Cynthia Zanti Jabs

Come relax and rejuvenate by practicing Medicinal Movements learned from watching animals in the natural world. These practices are easy to learn, fun to practice and highly beneficial. Great way to get things moving this Spring!

When: Mondays, 6:30-7:30pm, now through April 16
Where: Towson High School Library
Register: Call 443.840.4700 and request CRN: 76089.

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