“ Sleepless in Vancouver”
— Acupuncture or Goldberg variations or Guns N’ Roses for insomnia —
(and reflections on the quarter of Qi)
Winter is not like “winter” in Vancouver this year, even in January 2012 – the year of Black Dragon, and I began to notice more of my patients and their families contracting seasonal flu that often drags on and on for weeks.
The irregularity of seasonal qi does have a profound effect on human physiology as we are inevitably interrelated “Vertically” (yin) and “Horizontally” (yang) between fatherly Heaven qi and motherly Earth qi.
Vancouver is an area under strong influence of Yin qi evidenced with heavy but drizzling rainfalls, longer nights & shorter days, surrounded by mountains, lakes and oceans. (It is not surprising to notice more successful women in politics or higher professions in Vancouver or BC). However, we, human-beings (and animals) are more Yang qi oriented consuming the finite Yin qi (or Yin essence) inherited from the parents. The earth we are boarding is also Yang qi oriented as it is rotating at the speed of about 400 meters/sec (1000 mph), while at the same orbiting around the sun at about 67,000 mph with a slanted axis of 23.5 degree (which is about a “quarter” of 90 degrees in the X-Y axis).
(Myself is a speedo-phile with a radar detector inside)
The winter is a season when this active Yang qi should be submerged and compressed underneath, but only to “spring” up again in the next cycle. It’s called “three manifestations (appearances of spring, summer and autumn) and one storing (disappearance of winter)” in old philosophy of the Far East.
How long do you sleep a day ? (avg. 6 hours ? quarter of a day?)
How long do you sleep before you go away ? (20 years ? if we survive until 80)
When the yang qi can not be submerged deep, it will be difficult to “fall into” the sleep. When the yang qi can not be compressed tight under the yin element, the sleep will be shallow, interrupted or remember more dreams.
(I’m only focusing here only on the aspects of yin, yang and qi, but there are numerous other factors that can affect sleep pathologies in TCM theories)
One of my favourite pieces of music I play for patients in the treatment room is J.S. Bach and his Goldberg variations, which was named after one of his pupils who was also serving the ambassador of Russia in Germany. Bach wrote the pieces and Goldberg played many nights live for the ambassador who was suffering from insomnia. (I wonder how young Goldberg managed to sleep in the daytime, but maybe this can be the first historical case of musical therapy ?)
Bach is most well known for mastering the technique called “Counterpoint” which was gaining popularity in the Baroque music of the then renaissance era.
There are two streams of harmonic melodies which are independent and yet interdependent, one horizontal and the other, vertical. Two musical points, upper and lower, played by right and left hands, proacting and counteracting create the pure and subtle harmonics.
There are many theoretical methods of combining Acupuncture points or herbal prescriptions for the analyzed diagnosis of a disorder, but my favourite style is a very classical way of following that of early school of Yin and Yang science which is reminiscent of the counterpoint technique Bach employed.
If you are sleepless tonight in rainy Vancouver, invite the young Goldberg to your bedroom and focus more on the vertical aspects (yin) of harmony.
Still sleepless ?
How about the “November rain” by Guns N’ Roses, who was here in Vancouver few weeks ago. Can you hear that the soft flow of first part is somewhat “counterpointal” against the heavy metal flow of the second part ?
“You are not the only one”
Sleepless in Vancouver
Ben Lim / Dr. TCM www.acuception.com