Updated: Jun 30, 2022
Over the past year, I've become ever more fascinated with Chinese medicine. I'm pretty healthy, but my mother has accumulated pain and discomfort throughout her body over the years. Through acupoint massage and diet, I've managed to reduce my mom's pain and discomfort and also improve her emotions (I wrote about all this in my TCM Series). However, I'm not a trained professional, so my abilities are limited.
A couple months ago, I had the great fortune of meeting a TCM doctor named Kun Liu (Angel), and she is at the top of her field. She comes from a family of TCM doctors, so she's been surrounded by TCM since childhood. She also got her doctorate degree in TCM and has over 15 years of clinical experience. She is a busy and highly sought after doctor, but I managed to get an online consultation with her for my mother and I.
Before our first meeting, she told me to send her pictures of our meals for 4 days. Usually, my mother does the cooking in our household because she has the most free time, but she's never enjoyed cooking. She is also a devoted Buddhist, and she learned to not be so attached to the body and worldly pleasures like food.
In the past, when I lived away from home, I had a phase where I really enjoyed cooking. I would have lots of variety, color, and flavor. I learned to cook delicious and beautiful recipes from Gaz Oakley's YouTube channel:
When I returned home and tried to cook like this, my mother complained that I wasted too much time and money on food. In her defense, I was also very busy with work and study, so I really didn't have time to cook like that all the time. Due to all these factors, I let her cook, and her cooking was all really basic and time-saving. For example, we might have some porridge with steamed potatoes for the whole day. Or just some rice and fried veggies for the whole day.
When Dr. Liu talked to us in our first meeting, she first asked us about how we viewed food. My mother explained that food is a hassle to her, that she doesn't want to be so attached to food, and that she wanted to make it as little trouble as possible. Dr. Liu had some diet recommendations for us, but that required my mother to first change her negative attitude towards food. Since Dr. Liu knew my mother was a devout Buddhist, she used a temple analogy.
"I know you are a very earnest Buddhist. When you go to the temple, do you bring good things to offer to the Buddhas?"
"Of course!" replied my mother.
"Do you feel like getting the best things to bring to the Buddhas is an annoying burden?" asked Dr. Liu
"No, of course not!" replied my mother.
Dr. Liu then explained, "Our body is the temple of our soul. Just like how there are different Buddhas or Gods or spirits living inside different halls of a temple, there are also different spirits living inside our body. Chinese medicine talks about the five elements, and each element corresponds to a different organ. Each of these organs needs different food flavors and food colors to thrive. Just like how you respectfully make offerings at a temple, you should also respectfully make offerings to the five spirits inside of your body."
This analogy really resonated with my mother. Treating the body well isn't an attachment. Rather, it is a form of respect. Angel also explained that getting the body to be healthier will make our mind more peaceful and advance our spiritual cultivation, which is my mother's goal. She then told us to try eating the five flavors and five colors everyday, and aim for a 33% split between carbs, proteins, and fiber.
We followed the doctor's advice starting the next day. I went to the grocery store and bought lots of different foods. Since I was experienced with cooking lots of variety, I took initiative to cook for three days and teach my mother.
After just a few days, my mother felt some fingers becoming warm. Dr. Liu explained that this was a sign that different organs and meridians were starting to function again. My mom gained more motivation to learn cooking.
A couple weeks later, my mother's various pains and discomfort that I couldn't resolve got much better. When I gave her acupoint massage, she said she felt like her body has the energy to heal much faster. Moreover, her energy level and emotions improved a lot. She often felt like smiling and laughing for no reason. Before, my mother and I thought caring for the body was a hindrance to her spiritual cultivation. Thanks to Dr. Liu, we now see that the two are complementary.