Excerpt # 1: Chapter One
It was 1975, in a manor house hidden in the woods outside Oxford, England, far removed from the austere lecture halls of medical school, that I began my exploration of a unique traditional acupuncture system, the Five Elements. I’d come hoping to answer two questions that were never addressed in my medical school training. What makes a person vulnerable to illness and premature aging? What brings a person vibrant health? The insights gained in this first experience with the Five Elements, and during the next thirty years of practice, would alter forever not only my life, but the lives of thousands of patients.
From the first day of my studies, the message from the sages of ancient China was clear: learn to adapt well to life’s changes and there will be ‘long life and everlasting vision”. Science defines adaptation as the ability to adjust to changing circumstances and the challenges of life without suffering the consequences. Most illness and premature aging are the result of failed adaptation, leading to elevated levels of cortisol, and other stress hormones, and changes in the mid-brain, setting the stage for chronic disease, including diabetes, heart disease, cancer, depression and autoimmune disorders. Ancient Chinese physicians, though not aware of the mechanisms modern medicine has since discovered, were still cognizant of the importance of adaptation in maintaining health and longevity.
Many people are asking the same questions today-how can I prevent stress induced disease and get older without aging prematurely? The answer is contained in knowing how to be, an ancient prescription for adaptation, as relevant today as it was in 200 BCE China. During the past thirty years I have combined Taoist ideas with modern mind body medicine and nutritional therapies to help my patients maintain their health and age well. Today’s science identifies the management of cortisol, the main adrenal stress hormone, as a key ingredient in healthy aging. Knowing how to be is the path to manage the internal process of adaptation and create healthy cortisol levels.Read Excerpt 2 >