There is something amazing about sitting on the beach and watching the ocean churn. It is difficult for the mind to take in the scope and power. Most of us have spent many days being mesmerized by the waves and by the movement of the tides. We may understand that the tides change and that the sands shift, but it is hard to see unless we commit to sitting for a while. Change often happens over time. There may be the occasional bolt of lightning, but more often change is like the tides. They move from low to high and back again, but they don’t move in a direct manner. As the tide goes from low to high, the waves are still dancing back and forth. This is often the nature of change.
One of the things that I often see in my clinic is people who are ready and willing to change becoming frustrated at a “lack of progress.” They think that when they are finally ready for real healing that their effort should bear fruit instantly. That if they change their diet, exercise more, or sit in meditation that they should see instant and lasting results because of their hard work. But as humans, we get to learn that real change, the kind that leads to true transformation, is something that we commit to. We commit to knowing that the waves of our emotions, of our highs and lows will continue to crash and recede, even as the tides move. Someone may get a good deal of relief from an acupuncture treatment, only to be dismayed when things seemingly move backwards again. Real transformation relies on a larger commitment not of avoiding pain or curing a disease, but of truly healing imbalance. When we focus on addressing imbalances in our life, we are committing to this idea that the tides move in a back and forth motion to ultimately make progress.
One of the things I love about acupuncture, and Chinese medicine in general, is that it acknowledges that pain and discomfort are not necessarily an indication that something is broken and needs to be fixed. Rather, they offer us an opportunity to move beyond that discomfort itself and find the nature of what is really at the root of the imbalance. This process is not linear, it is not always quick or especially tidy, but it is often more complete. Instead of focusing on curing a disorder, it instead focuses on real healing. It works from the inside out to achieve a more complete solution to an issue. Instead of putting a bandaid on a splinter, this medicine isn’t afraid to dig in to remove the splinter so that a person can more completely heal.
This is one reason it is so soothing to sit and watch the tides move. It takes a bit of time, but it reminds us that change rarely moves in a straight line.