I did a post this week on alcohol, how in Chinese medicine wine can be therapeutic, and then got heaps of blowback such as ‘it’s ethanol and it shrinks your brain’, or ‘it’s toxic and you must never drink’.
Since this is a drinking season, and since by next week plenty of people are going to be adding ‘quit drinking’ to their new year’s resolutions, I thought I’d expand on the topic.
Of course alcohol can be damaging but if you have the right lifestyle this won’t happen because you will be in constant repair and transform mode, and because after a glass or two you will automatically stop so you’ll never become dependent.
A lot of the ‘alcohol as toxic poison’ commentary comes from research into brain chemistry but Chinese medicine is alchemy. And one or two drinks can be beneficial. So say you’ve had a long and stressful day, you get home and finally sit down with a nice glass of wine or a cold beer.
You’ve instantly got space for yourself (lung function), you feel some power return (kidney function), you feel good (liver function), you’re centred (spleen function), and your mood is up (heart function).
Of course this is beneficial, but when it becomes the only way to get that states it becomes a problem. You aren’t really relaxing, you are letting a substance do it for you, and the energetic condition underlying the stress is still there. So you need a lifestyle that repairs and transforms 24/7 (you can read about this in my book Chi health cycle).
Meanwhile, if are going out partying try pre-loading with a simple chi-gung to get a taste of what you can do with your own body. Do a standing chi-gung to get the yang urge down by sinking into your legs. The chill-factor you get just from doing this is the equivalent of one drink. Then move that chi until your body feels vibrant. You want to feel ‘empty’ in the head but recharged and uplifted in the body. The effect of this is equivalent to another drink.
Now you’re in the state a couple of drinks would have created without having touched a drop, and you’re going to need fewer drinks! This is one reason Taoism, the origin of Chinese medicine, refers to chi practices as the ‘art of drunkenness’.
The secret to controlling any substance is a chi. With a few simple techniques you can get the effect of alcohol, drugs, caffeine or sugar, whenever you want. Lifestyle can be the most powerful and uplifting medicine. Get the right lifestyle going and you’ll never become dependent on a substance or even on other people’s opinions. It’s 24/7 freedom!
This week’s video, Alcohol, Alchemy and Chi. goes into more depth on the good and bad of alcohol debate.
I’m describing how alcohol establishes that space within yourself, and how your organs can recreate this with the correct lifestyle.
So let’s start with what happens with that first drink and then what happens if you keep drinking past the beneficial tipping point:
- Lungs: put you in the now at first, but as you drink more take you to the past and reminiscing which is fun at first but if you keep going becomes painful and you can get stuck in the trauma.
- Kidneys: you feel powerful, but a couple of glasses in the power turns to aggression.
- Liver: this is the organ of pain management because liver makes chi flow freely, so irritability and frustration disappear, it’s stress management in a glass. You also get smooth emotions but after a few glasses the urge to spill your guts to everyone becomes unstoppable.
- Spleen: one drink creates the feel of being centred and focussed, but then groundedness turns into drunkenness.
- Heart: this is the organ of love and relating, you feel opened up but it’s also the organ of depression and anxiety.
I treated so many clients in the past who thought they were alcoholics because they ended up needing to drink a couple of bottles of wine or some other alcohol before they could even sleep at night. They’d been told they were diseased for life. But they just didn’t know how to live. How to treat an alcohol problem: recreate all the good bits above by treating and healing your organs. And you can rejuvenate brain cells by rejuvenating your kidney (a priority organ in Chinese medicine).
For more explanation on how alcohol and your organs create the buzz, and how to do that without the alcohol watch my video Alcohol, Alchemy and Chi.