Lynnae Schwartz, M.D., M.Ac., FAAP
In the Chapter 3 of The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine (Neijing Suwen)[i], it is written that:
“Only when the yin remains calm and harmonious will the yang qi be contained and not be overly expansive, the spirit normal, and the mind clear.”
People who chose to enter the helping professions typically do so because of a sincere desire to make a positive difference in the lives of patients / clients. Such work requires compassion, and a willingness to open one’s heart and mind to what are often very sad or difficult situations. To thrive and grow professionally, the compassionate health care practitioner must find a way to avoid energetic and psychological, indeed spiritual exhaustion, while still maintaining emotional openness and mental clarity.
Chinese medical theory is rooted in the concept of balance between yin and yang energies, where Yang is dynamic, protective and expansive; and Yin is quieter, more reflective and restorative. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), this means that the practitioner must find ways to nourish and maintain his/her restorative Yin energies. If the Yin is depleted, one may become more prone to illness such as respiratory infections or headaches, and over time might find that their mind is less clear, and their heart less open to the difficulties of others. Sleep may be poor, and the mind scattered.
Taken together, these are symptoms of a disturbed spirit. In TCM, the concept of spirit is referred to as Shen. Although the term Shen is often synonymous with Mind, it may also be taken more broadly to encompass the entire spectrum of a person’s mental, emotional and spiritual condition. In TCM theory, the Shen resides in the Heart. If the Heart Yin is depleted, the Shen is not properly sheltered and nourished, especially at night. It may then become very difficult to think clearly and compassionately about patients / clients.
Acupuncture treatments help to restore the Yin energies, including Heart Yin. Compassionate health care practitioners sensing that they are at risk for “burn out” may consider adding acupuncture to their personal health care maintenance plans.
As a former pediatric critical care physician and anesthesiologist, and now physician acupuncturist with a growing practice that includes many health care practitioners, these are challenges that I am very familiar with. I welcome the opportunity to be helpful.
 Translation by Maoshing Ni; Shambhala Press, Boston and London 1995.
Dr. Lynnae Schwartz is a board certified pediatrician and anesthesiologist with over 30 years of clinical experience in academic medicine. Her life’s work as a medical professional has been dedicated to the care of children and adolescents with complex medical conditions. With great enthusiasm, Dr. Schwartz has joined the Six Fishes team, providing acupuncture treatment for children, adolescents and adult patients with neurological, musculoskeletal, inflammatory disorders, and complex chronic pain. She also welcomes the opportunity to treat health care providers, given her sensitivity to the unique stresses inherent in their work. Read her full bio and schedule an appointment here.