Historically, the person walking across no man’s land with a white flag is inviolate. You don’t harm them! You may not like the message they bring, but the messenger is not the message. You respect them. As Sophoclse put it, "No one loves the messenger who brings bad news” but if we are wise we act with restraint.
“Do not shoot the messenger” is also relevant in a Wellness context. Conventional medicine generally take careful aim at the messenger. When we shift to living a Wellness life, we shift to partnership with the messenger. We practice listening, and we begin to learn that the messenger carries useful information! And we learn that when we don’t listen we force the messenger to escalate. It’s probably not the way you were raised, but it’s never too late to begin.
Here’s a couple of examples of conventional thinking: When you sprain you ankle your body responds with pain, inflammation and swelling at the ankle. The conventional recommendation is Rest Ice Compression Elevation. Each step of RICE reduces movement or flow at the ankle aiming to shut down the swelling and inflammation. Well, what if swelling and inflammation is the body letting us know that there’s been an injury and it’s on the job, making repairs? What if that inflammation is actually a normal, natural, healthy response? So what effect does RICE actually have? Reduces the pain, yes. But does it aid in healing?
Acid Reflux is something many, many people complain of, especially older people. Stomach acid rises into the esophagus and causes irritation - it burns. The doctor prescribes a Proton Pump Inhibitor which reduces the amount of acid in the stomach. The package insert says these are not for long term use, but somehow many doctors keep renewing the prescription. Acid is the problem, so take a PPI to reduce acid. But if we investigate what’s really going on, in the great majority of cases production of stomach acid is LOW and a PPI makes it LOWER! That acid plays many essential roles in digestion and defense so long term PPI use will cause damage. The real solution is actually to INCREASE acid production!
Symptoms just tell us that there is an issue somewhere that needs addressing, but the symptom is not the issue just as the messenger is not the message! We can kill the messenger as a way to avoid the message, but it doesn’t go away. Sooner or later it comes back in a new and typically more challenging form.
Our culture teaches us to fight whatever it is. But hey, let’s wake up! That’s our body we’re fighting! So instead let’s cultivate a partnership - with the messenger, with the body, with the symptoms. And let’s face it, the body is far more intelligent than we are. That’s a strange thing to say, but if we listen to ourselves, we typically speak from the ‘I / It Split’. “I (above the neck) want It (below the neck) to stop hurting.”
Chinese Medicine is not symptom based, it’s is a Wellness practice and in my work I seek a partnership with you to find a resolution that honors rather than damages your body. I seek to bring out the best rather than just suppress the messenger.
So I highly recommend cultivating patience, compassion for ourselves, good listening skills and the essential ingredient in healing - curiosity. I’ll go further into curiosity in my next piece.