I dread this particular store’s parking lot. The checkout line is usually frenetic. But my kids and I like the food, so the store is useful in my life. Still, I chose to shop there at noon on a busy weekday, at the end of the workweek.
My frantic cashier threw my items into bags. When I showed a fellow customer where to park her cart, she eagerly wheeled it in front of me in line. After I finally got to check out, I had trouble zipping up my purse. The customer after me, who was my age, asked me to move a little faster.
I bit my lip, hurled my cart past the potted flowers through the automatic doors into the sunlight, and then realized the root problem: this trip was my choice. No one forced me to do it. And no one would claim that shopping at this store or parking in its adjacent parking lot was an easygoing, mellow, relaxing experience. So what did I expect?
As a health care provider, I often point out kinder, safer, more sustainable choices people can make. For example, unless there is a true medical emergency and we need to be reached for some vital reason, we can sleep without our cell phones in the room.
Western health care providers call this improving our “sleep hygiene.”
I also encourage people to reduce their stress levels and to support their digestion. Even if we have only misplaced our keys, when our brain thinks we are in an emergency, then it downgrades our stomach’s activities. Once we are safe, the brain allocates physical resources toward digestion.
But even if we feel safe, we may buy or eat foods that are not kind or sustainable. Our portion size and control, eating frequency or nutritional content may be askew. If we can make kinder and more sustainable choices, then we will ultimately reduce our symptoms, including stress.
But first, we have to be responsible for our own health and healing.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine theory, our daily choices can create, alter and help any symptom that we may experience. At any age, in any location, and regardless of our medical history, we can make more kind, sustainable choices.
If we are caretakers, we can help those individuals sustain themselves. Going to a crowded strip mall at a high-density time may be inevitable in certain cases, but we certainly can be prepared mentally and physically.
There is no reason to feel frustrated by a situation we have created, perpetuated or somehow made worse. We can learn from it, dust ourselves off and make different choices the next time.
Coping mechanisms and destructive habits often arise from choices that are less than optimal. We must treasure ourselves before we can expect to be treasured by others.
May you gain enlightenment as you connect your choices with your symptoms, whether or not you are out there shopping!
Trina Lion is an acupuncturist at Mercy Medical Center and Sinai Hospital. She also treats adults and children privately in Mt. Washington Village. She has lectured on traditional Chinese medicine at institutions ranging from NFL China to International Channel Shanghai (ICS-TV) to Yale University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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