Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Fatigue and Chinese Medicine

In Chinese Medicine terms, fatigue is related to fire chi, and either it's a case of having too much water and/or cold chi (working against fire) or of doing too much fire activity (burning too much of the fire and depleting it). Frequently both of these are going on.   What's important to know about this is that to address fatigue we have to address the whole system because it's like saying "my horse can't gallop anymore and is not even interested in coming out of the stable to go to the pasture." So we look at what's been going on with the horse: has it been running a freaking marathon at gallop speeds for the last forever long? (In my case, this was definitely true.) Has it been drinking water that is fouled? (True.) Has it been standing in the cold and rain? (True, again.) Well no wonder it won't come out of its stall. 🙂
Grief is water and it's cold- there's a reason we say we are flooded with grief and that we feel like we are drowning in it. I have a lot of grief in my life, and many of us do now. Processing it is necessary, and it's difficult. I have been good at processing through old grief, and I look forward to the day that new grief doesn't meet me daily. Relationships that are fractured are a source of continuing grief, so some sort of resolution is needed; this is the hardest work I have ever done (upside: doing it has been the source of profound peace).
Creativity is fire. Inspiration is a kindling of love energy, and the poets talk about art and love equally. When we are doing creative work, work that is beyond merely physical tasks of chopping wood and carrying water, we are using fire at its source. Learning to sit and be still in my mind as well as in my body has been difficult: worry is a creative act even though it doesn't feel very artful. I know I'm "doing meditation right" when I feel in balance while I sit - balance with the breath and the mind and the body that is.

So when I feel fatigued, I have to look at how I've been spending my creativity and possibly overspending it. I need to give that side a rest so that the spark doesn't die, and this is difficult: my mind and my heart are wellsprings of neat ideas and interesting musings. Meditation is akin to taking the time to add an oak log to the base of the fire: it takes a lot of balance and time for it to catch, but once it does it burns slowly and for a long time. For this reason, five minutes of meditation a couple times a day yields more results than one hour-long session once a week. In developing a meditation practice, I have discovered a bed of coals that I can return to for warmth and healing, and a bank of creativity that is sustaining even in dark times; a little fuel goes a long way when my meditation practice is solid and I'm able to write or create deeper and more meaningfully. The whole thing would crash again if I went back to my bonfire days, though, and now that I'm in a fatigued state, I have to be mindful not to take on too much, and to build in flexibility for resting and reflection.