Why Lifestyle Guidance Is Important
Our aim at the Sean Barkes Clinic is to help you be as healthy as you can be; we want you to recover from any particular health problem you have as quickly as possible and to remain free of that problem in future. Or at the very least, in the case of a chronic illness which is difficult to cure, we want to help you minimise the effect of that illness on every aspect of your life. Our treatment, be it acupuncture, massage, cupping or anything else, is obviously important in this, but just as important are the things you can do.
Our understanding of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) helps us to understand how various aspects of your lifestyle may be impacting upon your health. Whilst these days we hear quite a lot about what we should or should not be eating, for example, this advice is very general, whereas in reality advice and guidance needs to be tailored to the individual. This is what we do. We aim to help you maximise your health, which of course will also save you money in the long run as you won’t need to come and see us so often! Also it will, perhaps, mean that you do not need to see your GP so much, and are less likely to become dependant on pharmaceutical medications, which, effective as they may often be, usually come with unwanted side effects. Not only all that, but you have the satisfaction of being able to take responsibility for your health, rather than handing over that responsibility to someone else, whether that be us, the NHS or whoever.
As an illustration of how our lifestyle affects our health, read Vimalaprabha’s blog entitled “Treating people, not diseases”
What Kind of Guidance Do We Provide?
This depends on the individual, but examples of the sort of things we cover include:
Dietary Therapy – The Practical Chinese Way
In China, food is not just seen as a collection of nutritional components such as proteins, carbohydrates, mineral etc. Foodstuffs are understood to have an energetic nature. Foods are appreciated by the effect they have on the body. For example they may have a cooling, warming, drying or moistening effect. In Chinese dietary therapy, foods are chosen according to the type of internal imbalance. For example, if the body is running too hot, cooling foods are used, if the body has too much moisture e.g. in water retention drying foods are used. This is an oversimplification for the purpose of illustration. Inevitably, a blend of foods is used to assist the healing process.
This is a very intuitive and experiential way of appreciating diet: how do you actually feel after eating a chilli pepper or some cow’s milk? Our bodies are able to feel what the food is doing to us. If we feel our bodies are too dry then we should choose food that moistens. This takes good diet out of the realms of the academic into the area of experience. We can then tailor our diet according to personal characteristics, balancing out the effect that changes in the season has on our bodies, using food to rectify a temporary imbalance in our health or just simply choosing a diet that feels appropriate for us personally.
When you consult our clinicians, you will be asked about your diet as another way in which we can help you feel better and heal more quickly.
Movement is vital to the human body (and the human mind.) We aim to help you find the best kind of exercise to help you move forward. This might range from spending 10 minutes a day on specific exercises to help recover from a particular injury, to taking up Qi Gong or T’ai Chi. Whether you are an Olympic athlete or a ninety-year old confined to a wheelchair, there will be something you can do.
Many health problems today are due to the often frantic and unremitting pace of modern life. Everybody needs some time to relax and take it easy. We aim to help you find the best way of doing that for you, whether that is taking up Qi Gong, using a relaxation CD, or doing a bit of knitting!
We recognise that you know a lot more about yourself and your life than we do, and we are not about just handing out inappropriate advice that cannot realistically be followed. Instead we work with you, sharing our understanding of what you may need, so that together we can come up with real, sustainable changes you can make in your life. Again, these can be just small things or they can be big! Either way our interest is in helping you to see how such changes will help you, so that you are motivated to make them.