Today was a strange and stressful day, one that started with a remarkably bad traffic jam and was punctuated by odd news (a dear schoolmate’s car was stolen, for one thing, and the day just got more weird and fraught by the minute). Getting through it took the full arsenal of calming tactics and now, as the sun starts to go down and my working day is coming to a close, I’m thinking of the ways in which I keep myself on task when I’m overwhelmed.
I wrote in one of my earliest Facebook posts that “Patience and shuffle the cards” is one of my favorite quotes from the novel Don Quijote. I then explained how I use it to illustrate how Chinese medicine works when I am in clinic. (Even now, the lessons of Spanish literature make their way into my daily life and besides, who doesn’t love a good Cervantes quote when they go for an acupuncture treatment?) I tell both patients and coaching clients that everyone is in possession of what amounts to a hand of cards. These include the cards relating to health, one’s larger context, and any particular stressors and—let’s not forget–one’s advantages and strengths. Chinese medicine looks at the whole gamut. My philosophy and methods of health coaching do the same. I do this in my personal life, too, when I find myself stuck or feeling unwell.
No matter what the hand of cards, certain questions remain constant. Can we move one idea or behavior? Shift some things, an attitude, or a habit? Is this the time to add yoga, to subtract an unhealthy behavior, to make some different choices, and to reinforce the effects of some beneficial activity, like strength training or some cardio? Is it time for an acupuncture treatment or do you need a hot bath and a good book? When we view our challenges this way, will we also have the patience to see beyond the immediate consequence and instead look to the long-term gain?
Yes we can, and this is what we do, and this is the approach that makes for success. And not just in the treatment room or the health coaching relationship and lessons but also in life. Patience and shuffle the cards…
Another one of my new favorite sayings came from a Facebook meme that shows a woman looking into a mirror and saying, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, I’ll get up after every fall; It doesn’t matter if I run, walk, or crawl, I’ll set my goals and achieve them all.” That’s not just a trite bit of online folk wisdom. I recite it slowly and mindfully to myself while consciously calming my breathing when I feel stressed. I recited it to myself while I was stuck in traffic on Mopac this morning after I realized that I’d forgotten my cell phone at home and thus would not be able to call the North clinic and notify my treatment partner that I might be late. By slowing my breathing and reciting, I felt just a little more powerful and just a little more able to focus. Try it, it works! (Things worked out well in clinic this morning, too: my partner’s patient cancelled so I got the opportunity to do a tui na treatment on her and one of my favorite patients was scheduled for the second slot so I treated that person with acupuncture afterward—in sum, it was a beautiful rotation from start to finish).
My advice? No matter the fall, always pick yourself up and be confident in your ability to set and achieve your goals. But be patient. Shuffle the cards. See what comes next. Never lose your curiosity and enthusiasm in response to the question “what small shifts can you make today so that a better tomorrow is already set in motion?”
Two Hearts Wellness is a local holistic health and wellness outfit with a passion for all things nourishing, including but not limited to: joyful living, great food, art, and literature, and–of course–traditional Chinese medicine. If you want to learn more about me, click here and do feel free to follow my blog and/or my Instagram, connect with me on Facebook, or contact me here to set up an appointment for health coaching services. If you are interested in Asian bodywork therapy, click here to book an appointment online.