Pulse of Oriental Medicine: Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks
Alternative Medicine That Works for Regular Folks

Updated December 1, 2003




A Holistic Approach to the Holidays
By Bonnie Diamond, Licensed Acupuncturist

Bonnie Diamond has a Masters Degree in Acupuncture and a private practice in Lexington, MA. She uses a Japanese treatment style, which relies on direct feedback from the body and honors the unique qualities of each individual. Visit her website.

One of the great strengths of Eastern thought is its ability to allow for the existence of two opposing forces or ideas at the same time. With this in mind, I offer you some suggestions for maintaining balance throughout the holiday season.

My suggestions embrace the notion that the yang side of the holidays - the parties, eating, gift-giving, decorations and commercialism - can be balance by the yin side - the soul, the heart and the connections we have with ourselves, our memories and the people we care about.

By slowing down a little and paying attention to our inner, yin side, we can find and create special meaning at this time of year. Here are some ideas to help you explore ways of doing this. These are only my ideas. Please take them, mutate them and transform them into your own.

Acknowledge Imperfection

Expectations run high over the holiday season. We try hard and mean well. Often the fruits of our labors pay off. The table looks beautiful. We purchased the perfect gift. Our children/spouses/friends are happy

But once in awhile, we say or do the wrong thing. We arrive late. We forget someone's name. We become entrenched in old emotions that shadow a present situation. We become depressed. We feel inadequate.

By acknowledging our imperfections we uncover our humanity. The notion of perfection is a human construct designed to cover up our truest selves. In accepting the self as imperfect we give others the room to be imperfect as well. We allow for forgiveness and healing. We bring light to our darker, murkier sides.

Eat for the Soul

Thanksgiving turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, your grandmother's pumpkin pie, Hanukah latkes, Christmas cookies, eggnog…. Add your own favorites. These are foods we wait an entire year for. They contain the tastes joyously stored in memories of years gone by. These are the foods that speak to our souls. There is room in our stomachs for the comfort foods of our youth during the holiday season. The saturated fats, sugars and calories are balanced by the joy these foods bring. Happy souls can make for happy bodies when these foods are eaten in moderation.

Keep the following in mind:

  • Small portions satisfy the soul.
  • Whole grains, soups, roasted root vegetables and sautéed greens are high in nutritional value and can easily be a part of holiday meals.
  • Avoid empty calories - those with no nutritional or emotional value.
    A. Drink seltzer rather than sugary sodas.
    B. Resist the candy jar.
    C. Give or throw away excess foods.

Remember to eat slowly and relish the special tastes of the season. This is what holiday food and meals are all about.

Shop From the Heart

Gifts are expressions of love and gratitude. They needn't be flashy or expensive but they do require some thought about the person you are giving them to.

  • Homemade deserts or crafts offer a personal touch.
  • A gift that includes time spent together - a night on the town, some special activity - can turn into a memory that lives on for a lifetime.
  • When buying gifts for children think of toys or art projects that you can continue to share after the gift has been opened.
  • If you are not sure what to get someone, ask him or her what he or she would like.
  • When shopping pay attention to "knowing it when you see it."

Whether giving or receiving a gift, connect with the heartfelt thought that goes along with the present (both the gift and the moment in time.)

Slow Down and Listen

It's a busy and emotionally laden time of year. It's easy to hear words and make choices without really listening. Our yin side is a receptive one. Learn the value of taking in and making space for what someone else is saying. Learn the value of checking in and making space for what you are feeling.

  • Fully listen to what is being said.
  • Look at the person you are talking to - body language speaks volumes.
  • Wait a moment before responding.
  • Clear your mind of background chatter.
  • Listen to yourself and politely refuse extra servings that don't serve you.

As we come together in times of celebration, it is the connections that we make with each other that are the foundations of the memories of years to come. By listening more carefully we can create strong foundations and a lifetimes of memories.

To this season of darkness,
cold and winter the holidays bring light and warmth.
Yin is balanced by yang.
May we all find this balance within ourselves.

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About The PULSE
All information herein provided is for educational use only and not meant to substitute for the advice of appropriate local experts and authorities.

Copyright 1999-2074, Pulse Media International, Brian Carter, MSci, LAc, Editor