When Bad News is Good

Posted on Mar 27, 2011 in Life Coaching | Comments Off on When Bad News is Good

When Bad News is Good News

By Alaina Speraw, L.Ac.,Dipl.Ac.,B.A.

When we listen to the news it seems to be overwhelmingly bad, “Japan is in the worst economic recession in 35 years,” the jobless rate continues to rise, business closures and consolidations, 68% of housing sales in the valley were foreclosures in January, we may be even having our own  personal financial meltdown.

Being a Practioner of Traditional Oriental Medicine we have one foot planted in the wisdom of the East and the other in the post-modern technological society of the West.  How do wereconcile these very different societies their world views and assumptions?

In the current economic climate of fear and uncertainty might there be other lenses from which to see it beyond those of CBS, NBC, FOX, Wall Street Weekly, the statements of politicians, statisticians, diplomats, and economists?  I think we are fortunate to be connected to a medicine whose roots are in Taoist and Buddhist concepts, both of which have many insightful teachings that can be a medicinal elixir and healing balm in difficult times.  This healing balm can help us endure adversity and offer a way to help our clients, co-workers, colleagues and community.

First, we may need to question some of the fundamental assumptions of a capitalistic society such as “Growth is  always Good”  “The economy should be expanding” “The bottom line is what is all important”.  If we fall prey to believing these dogmas than we are left with the conclusion that the recession or possible depression is a bad thing.  But what could be good about people suffering the loss of homes, jobs, the value of their portfolio, their retirement funds etc?

Chapter 42 of the Tao Te Ching

“All things bear the shade on their backs, And the sun in their arms, By the blending of breath, From the sun and the shade, Equilibrium comes to the world.”   In other words, shade and sun, yin and yang, growth and decline, birth and death are necessary to bring balance and harmony to the world.  The lense of Taoism suggests that larger patterns and cycles are naturally in constant flux.  In western science we call this anabolism and catabolism or in physics acceleration and deceleration.

The first noble truth taught by Lord Buddha was the truth of suffering, the second noble truth was that everything is impermanent.  We cannot escape from suffering and we suffer because of our attachment to people and things that are by their very nature impermanent.  Therefore the solution to mental suffering is to relinquish our stranglehold on phenomena which are impermanent.  To cultivate peace and stability through non-attachment to specific outcomes.

So the collective we, ourselves, our families, friends, beloved clients may all have to “let go” of many of our well worn attachments, outmoded ways of thinking, dysfunctional behaviors, disconnects between our mind and body personally and collectively.

Consider all the money and resources spent on war, hi-tech expensive cardiac surgeries and chemotherapies, cigarettes and alcohol, designer coffee and Jimmy Choo’s, SUV’s, luxury homes, insurance that doesn’t cover its’ policy holders, governmental waste……etc.  Think about all the “trash” which goes unrecycled each day in every city in the United States and the thousands of toxic chemicals and waste including, yes, our own disposable acupuncture needles.

So is there a silver lining to our current economic crisis?  Could it be a “divine intervention” to wake up humanity to the interconnectedness of all life and the consequences of mindless and self centered actions?  Is this time a collective opportunity to re-evaluate our priorities and make the necessary adjustments to our systems and ourselves?  Perhaps the time has come to live the “plain life” ascribed to by Lao Tzu or as the I Ching by Master Hua Ching Ni, says of material prosperity, “Production should be high, consumption should be low, production should be fast, consumption should be slow.”

Could we as practioners of this gentle, low tech medicine provide guidance and leadership to our sphere of influence by helping others to see the opportunities inherent in the current crisis.  What can we do individually and collectively to help?  Can we recycle paper in our office, can we collect food for food banks, can we educate our clients about health & enviromental hazards, can we find ways to promote our practice by having a health stimulus package or a low cost smoking cessation program?

The tendency to shrink, to make oneself small during times adversity needs to be counteracted with thinking bigger not smaller.  For example, as much as I understand the desire to have one’s own practice, patients, business enterprise, after 20 years in our profession I think the future of our profession depends on uniting.  Uniting can take many forms such as creating group practices and partnerships rather than going it alone and thereby sharing risk and decreasing costs, committing time, energy and money to our local, regional and national professional associations and building relationships within our communities and areas of special interest.

One of the great spiritual teachers of our century, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, referred to the tendency to shrink as “the cocoon” and people who hide out there as “cocooners.  Do we want to create a warm slightly dank and smelly place to hide out in or do we want to expose ourselves to the brillance of what he called the “great eastern sun?”  The sun of basic goodness which contains the possibilities of expressing that selflessness and good heart no matter how dark or difficult external circumstances seem to be.  Basic Goodness is good because it is not based on conventional dualistic ideas of what is good and bad.  There could be very good news in bad news if we are willing to see it.



Goldlake Acupuncture in Scottsdale