I have spent the last year researching and writing my latest book “Drug Repair That Works” and working almost exclusively with hard-drug users. As a therapist you often attract clients that assist you on your own healing path and the last twelve months have also been a revelatory journey to the heart of psychosis. I came to understand that in Traditional Chinese medicine this is a journey of the separation of Yin and Yang or body and mind. However, as I finished the manuscript, I started to see non-drug using clients presenting with panic and anxiety disorders, bulimia, anorexia, IBS, itchy skin, anger issues and excessive sexual behaviours. These symptoms too were arising from lifestyles that had led to the separation of Yin and Yang. In a way, the drug users’ symptoms exemplified the conditions the rest of the population were potentially heading for but at a much slower rate. The solution for all of us is to reunite Yin and Yang and we do this by living the perfect day.
In Traditional Chinese medicine Chi, or inner energy, moves through the body in a regular twenty-four hour cycle. It spends two hours in each of the twelve organs. Each organ has a physical, emotional and spiritual role. There are times of the day to build energy, conserve energy and share energy. So, a perfect day is one in which you are aware of this cycle and live in harmony with it. This means eating, working, exercising, meditating, having sex, or being creative at certain times. Even the time we go to bed is important because at night, as Chi circulates, the Hun – the spirit or soul – moves into different areas of the body and carries out important metaphysical functions. Living in accord with the chi cycle creates balance between Yin and Yang and the symptoms of imbalance automatically start to alleviate. But it also allows you to catch the momentum of the universe. This is like riding a huge wave of energy through life.
If you don’t live in accord with your inner chi cycle, Yin and Yang start to separate. The outcome of complete separation is death but on the way down that path increasingly unpleasant and uncomfortable symptoms arise. I experienced this myself. As I took more and more hard drugs and Yin and Yang started to separate, the initial feeling of being off-grounded developed into confusion about what was real and what wasn’t. Finally I became seriously delusional. I heard voices, believed I was chosen for a special mission and I spent several months wandering around town dressed in ceremonial robes with a goat on a lead. Luckily for me it was the early 80s and we didn’t have ‘psychosis’ then, so I was considered a ‘mad bastard’ and left alone. Afterwards though I felt intense shame and embarrassment, then suicidal depression. Many years later I could begin to talk about my drug addiction and recovery but I could never acknowledge the mad stuff, not even to myself.
But now I get the message. My drug journey was one of discovery, but not only in the sense of exploring cosmic dimensions, brotherhood and love. Ultimately it was a journey of the separation of Yin and Yang and as a therapist I now see this as a very valuable experience because so many of us are unwittingly on that path. This is because we don’t understand what an integral part of the universe we are, or how powerful natural forces are. We don’t know how to live with Yin and Yang balanced. This happened to us so slowly though, that we didn’t notice. The nature of the universe is Yang. It is ever expanding. We are a part of this and our original position too is Yang; we all naturally want to move ahead and grow. Historically, in the West this desire for expansion has manifested via intellectual development and focussed on the mind (mind is Yang, it is expansive). The Enlightenment and a subsequent series of ideological revolutions, has led to our current information-based culture. Transmission of information and communication devices such as computers and mobile phones are Yang. Our lifestyle too has become Yang. Many of my clients get up, turn on the TV, listen to music, answer emails and phone calls, send text messages, get dressed and gulp down coffee all at the same time, and all before breakfast! Caffeine, the most popular stimulant on the planet is Yang. Even the highly processed, high-sugar and high-fat foods we eat are an excess of Yang. Drugs are also Yang; they are expansive.
This Yang lifestyle is giving rise to a host of new pathologies. It puts us into our head and out of our body. As we get more into our heads, energy accumulates in the upper body, shoulders hunch. The neck tightens, pushing the head into a forward position and Yang energies concentrate at the occipital ridge (the back of the neck). This accounts for chronic headaches, exhaustion and irritability. Food does not sink, bloating occurs. You don’t feel grounded. It also leads to increasing road rage and anger issues, digestive problems, chronic fatigue, food allergies, depression, addiction and psychosis.
As I said, it is natural to be attracted to the Yang aspects of life as it resonates with our nature. By developing and expanding our minds over the centuries we gained significant ground particularly with the slow shift of the idea of God as something external to something internal. But along the way we forgot all about our bodies. Bodies are Yin. What we need to focus on now is matching the Yang with equal Yin. We don’t need to give up our computers and excitement and coffee and desire to expand and achieve, we just need to do things in a different order and build Yin to balance it. Yin is built via the body and by living the ‘perfect day’.
In a way this message about the Yin, or the body, is being drawn to our attention by the universe. We currently have a major obsession with the perfect body. No one cares how intelligent you are or how widely you read or think anymore, it is all about what you look like. Magazines, and billboard ads scream at us from every direction presenting external perfection: thinness. We are inundated with media stories on how quickly women can lose weight and be ‘perfect’ again after childbirth, or exposés of celebrity cellulite. As a result we are buying external perfection through capped teeth, stapled stomachs, radical surgical makeovers, silicone breasts, penis extensions and so on. But the perfect body is internal and it is a nice set of juicy organs operating at peak level and generating balanced emotions.
The answer is already there within us all, but I think it is natural to start the journey via external appearances first. As an emaciated ex-drug user I sensed the solution lay in the body. I felt I had to do something physical. So I turned to body-building and bulked-up. Externally I fulfilled the masculine ideal of the early 80s, the heavily muscled and toned body, but I felt as if my body was disconnected from me. It was a shell containing internal emptiness. The current female version of the perfect body is a thin one. So many of my 30-50 year old female clients with addiction issues started using speed, ice and other amphetamines just to become thin; to get the perfect body. These drugs suppress appetite and accelerate the metabolism. Many clients would do a three-day ice or speed binge and then, feeling very thin, go shopping and by small-sized clothes. But inside they too felt empty and disconnected. This inner emptiness is what eventually drives us to seek more. For me it led to the discovery of alternative health and practices such as yoga and tai-chi that nourish the organs and help build the perfect internal body.
Global warming is another issue now in everyone’s mind and perhaps it too is a message for us from the universe, an indication of what needs attention in us. Global warming is connected with a ‘Yang’ economic model of ever-increasing profit, which means ever-increasing production, which drains all the earth’s resources. In TCM, a lot of our current imbalances and pathologies are associated with Excess Yang and a condition called ‘Heat’. Our individual expansion is often at the cost of our own inner resources, which in TCM are housed in our organs. By rushing everywhere, eating poorly and generally ignoring our bodies, we exhaust our own resources. I think we need to tackle our individual ‘inner warming’ as a priority.
I went to a talk on global warming recently in which the lecturer said we had to immediately get rid of 95% of the cars on the road. All of us had driven to the talk, including the lecturer, and I couldn’t help but wonder which were the lucky 5% who would get to keep their cars. It seemed an impossible goal. We might not be able to change the entire transport industry overnight but we can change ourselves that quickly. The 24 hour chi cycle means that every minute of the day we have an opportunity to start creating balance and building Yin. Something as simple as getting up at a certain time can set in place a chain of positive interactions within the organs and the body. If we get back into our bodies and live in accord with the chi cycle, our actions will change and things may start to rebalance themselves on a global level as well.
Everything is interconnected, nothing happens by accident or chance. I do believe we are on the verge of an intense period of evolutionary acceleration and what we need to achieve this is being delivered to us. Now is the perfect time to get into the body. In my own suburb within walking distance there are two gyms, two personal training centres, three alternative health centres, a yoga school, tai-chi in the park and an organic food shop. Not too far away are a Chinese master and a meditation centre. This is everything our organs want! Australia is probably one of the best places in the world right now for seeking unification of Yin and Yang.
Over the last year I also came to realise that on an individual level, all the pathologies, symptoms and imbalances we experience hold the seeds of profound insight and healing that will help the evolution of the soul; if we work with them properly. Every client’s pathology holds evolutionary potential. It illustrates the functions of a particular organ; it can give an insight into our inner world. For example, with each drug-psychosis client I would look at the information that came to them in their psychotic episodes; at how it was a conscious experience of sub-conscious material and how that could be turned to their advantage. On a global level I now see that if the millions of ex-drug users follow the path of self-realisation and seek to recapture that consciousness expansion through spiritual means, the recreational drug epidemic could contribute to our evolutionary process. Once the psychedelic revolution the hippies started becomes psychedelic evolution, we won’t need drugs. This too will happen by building our organs and bodies.
Our organs are designed to assist our evolution on every level because they can deliver limitless potential and bliss. What the mind can perceive the body can create. If we bring our bodies up to meet our minds, the Yin up to meet the Yang, unification is achieved. Better still; because the path to the spiritual is through the physical, through the organs, spiritual evolution will occur as well. This grand vision all comes down to understanding the organs, getting a template for the perfect day in place and trying to repeat that as often as possible. As we create the perfect day, we create the perfect body and ultimately perhaps the perfect planet and universe. We will all be well on the way to our spiritual destiny.