Location: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

I graduated as a Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine in 1999 and then went on to do a practicum in Jiangyin, JiangSu, China, studying in the acupuncture, herbal medicine, and massage departments. After the experience in China, I spent the next 5 years apprenticing in Tokyo, Japan under the tutelage of my teacher Edward Obaidey. Edward Sensei is an amazing person and practitioner who taught me so much. I am forever indebted to you Sensei. I would also like to thank the brilliant master Ikeda Sensei who is better than anyone I have ever seen. Thanks for showing me the real stuff! My practice is located in Vancouver, BC in the West Point Grey area. It is a warm, cozy clinic where I treat patients, rather than their diseases. By strengthening the person, they will cure themselves of disease. This is the way of real traditional medicine, in which the healer was also a teacher of health. Oh yes, energy does exist, but most of us can't feel it or access it until we train ourselves to become sensitive to it.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Head Cold, Feet Hot

In Oriental culture there exists the saying "head cold, feet hot". The meaning of these four Chinese characters is much deeper and more profound than the literal meaning itself. If correctly understood, this phrase will help the layman to benefit from better health and the practitioner to better understand the flow of energy in us all.
Let us examine how this principal is played out in the human beings. In Oriental medicine, the head and upper body are yang, while the feet and lower body are yin. For those of you familiar with the theory of yin and yang, you will remember that yang is the sun, day-time, heat, activity, expansion, external, hardness, energy, male, etc. Yin is the moon, night-time, cold, non-movement, contraction, internal, softness, structure, female, etc. Please remember that although yin and yang describe polar opposites, they are also relative terms and they can describe a whole range of phenomena.
It is interesting that while the upper body is yang (yang is also hot) and the lower body is yin (yin is also cold), "head cold, feet hot" says the opposite should be true. What does this mean? Well, let me explain. In nature, heat rises--just watch a flame and feel its heat. Humans, as part of nature, experience the same phenomena. But when heat rises in humans, we can experience adverse symptoms such as dizziness, irritability, red facial complexion, feeling flushed, stiff neck and shoulders, problems with the senses, etc. Obviously, this is a pathological state. Likewise, when the lower body becomes cold (in opposition to "head cold, feet hot") a whole host of problems occurs. These include swelling of the lower legs, weight gain in the lower body, cramping of lower legs, dry skin, toe-nail problems, etc. In fact, the chilling of the feet and hot sensations of the head and face are indications of the start of the disease process. Now we can see why "head cold, feet hot" is so profound. The upper body, which is yang, should remain cool (yin). The lower body, which is yin, should remain warm (yang). When this mix of yin and yang occurs, we have the correct internal balance and can remain healthy, or recover from disease.
As I just alluded to, "head cold, feet hot", goes beyond the temperature connotation. We are referring to the mentality of being calm, cool, and collected (all yin), rather than emotionally unstable, angry, and scatter-brained (all yang). Another meaning is that we should put our mind-focus (intention) in the lower abdominal energy center. As my teacher Edward Obaidey explains, unfortunately most of us live our lives in our upper body and mostly in our heads, with no sensation of the feet.
Physically, the upper body should be neither excessively large (relative to the legs), nor tight and stiff. The whole postural position of chest out and shoulders back is not only weak (no offense to you military types), but also blocks the energy and blood traveling down the back and inside of the shoulder blades towards the legs. Conversely, the lower body should be strong, firm, stable and warm. The lower body (including the waist) is one's power base and when this becomes weak, symptoms will start to appear overall (This description of the correct posture sounds a lot like internal martial arts, such as tai chi, doesn't it?) In fact, all good energy based activities (meditation, yoga, tai chi, I chuan, etc.), will keep a relaxed upper body with rounded upper back and open shoulder blades and a strong, firm lower body base with open lumbar curve.
So the four-word phrase "head cold, feet hot" refers to the functioning (range from energetic to physical) of the upper and lower, rather than just the head and feet, respectively. The wisdom understated in these simple four characters gives us a hint of how our lives can be greatly improved by paying attention to these principles. Next time, I will explain how the principles can be applied in everyday life for maximum health benefit.


Blogger Unknown said...

Thank you for both articles. When will be next time? You said next time you explain more. I am looking forward to read it......

7:27 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home