Artwork for podcast A Pebble in the Cosmic Pond
Relax! You're Okay!
Episode 622nd May 2024 • A Pebble in the Cosmic Pond • Sabine Wilms PhD
00:00:00 01:12:01

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Today’s episode titled “Relax! You are Okay!” is the second part of Leo’s and my conversation with Cara Conroy-Lau, a Kiwi with a Chinese mom now practicing Chinese medicine and Buddhism in Canada. For this portion, we focus more specifically on the female perspective, both on the giving and on the receiving end of caring. I really appreciate Cara’s insistence on approaching Chinese medicine more light-heartedly as a playful exploration, as part of her culture, family traditions, and just life, rather than as “A THING” (in the sense of a big, serious, very special intellectual endeavor that we all have to get stressed out over). Her training in a Buddhist lineage of direct teacher-student transmission has taught her to just relax into her spiritual practice and leave the ego at the door. As a result, she experiences a “heart-to-heart transmission of joy, confidence, peace, clarity, humanity, and humanness,” as she puts it. In the context of what she calls the “healing friendship” with her patients, she reminds us of the therapeutic effect of food and encourages us to “be our own grandmother to ourselves” and rely on our particular culture’s traditional comfort foods to alleviate the heaviness of human suffering. When Leo asks Cara about the emotional entanglements that women often experience when caring for and worrying about others, Cara introduces the notion of nervous system attunement to establish connection, which she balances with the Buddhist realization that each of us is responsible for our own karmic journey.

Later on in the conversation, we also consider the holes in the transmission of Chinese medicine to the West. Especially in the context of gynecology, so much of the healing work happened behind closed doors, within the family as part of traditional practices, and beyond the written word. We ask ourselves: What would Chinese medicine look like in the West today if we were to plug the holes left by this lack of cultural transmission not with biomedical theories and practices, as Giovanni Maciocia, Bob Flaws, and the other early Western pioneers of Chinese medicine have done, but with the embodied wisdom of Asian grannies?

In the very end, Cara offers a glimpse of an answer in three parts: First, she speaks of her mother’s transmission of a nonverbal quiet presence of “You are okay. You have a right to be here.” Then she mentions the acuity of her Chinese female relatives about food and what is good and not good for the body. And lastly, in terms of menstruation, it’s as easy as “Just let it flow!”

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