The Why of Tolerating and Not Tolerating

The Why of Tolerating and Not Tolerating

If we reduced it to a single reason our patients are coming in during these volatile times, it would be anxiety. Or at least the myriad ways that it can manifest: headaches, GI pain, insomnia, and fitful sleep. While we’re at it, we can add jaw clenching into the mix.

Guess what? We might be sick of pandemic life, but pandemic life is far from over. So, here’s a key concept: We have to tolerate this.

We can’t love or even like what’s happened to our lives. But we can tolerate it. We can tolerate masking. We can tolerate social distancing. We must tolerate the restrictions on our lives so we can stay safe. 

Another key to inner peace is to develop selective pessimism. Imagine if this was to be our lives forever? It’s not what we asked for, and it’s not the playbook we imagined for our lives. But how, given this reality, can we make it ok? Or at least OK-ish. I’m actually sugessting that you give up all hope. Bear with me: I’m not being negative. When we face the changes in our lives squarely and accept the reality of our circumstances, we have an opportunity to build a more meaningful life within these new parameters. Ask yourself- “If this was to be forever, how would I make it a life worth living?”. You can’t get to this without honestly accepting where we are right now.

Buddhism brought me to this awareness many years ago when I was widowed. It was only by getting myself to a place of radical acceptance of a harsh reality that I could move forward and change my life’s narrative.

This year has also confronted us with a harsh reality of what we cannot, and should never, tolerate. That would be the systemic racism that has stained this country and destroyed lives and families. There’s no accepting this. It is wrong, and Black Lives Matter.

I often think of the late, great John Lewis. Representative Lewis who said to Congress in 2019: “When you see something that is not right, not just, not fair, you have a moral obligation to say something, and to do something. Our children and their children will ask us, ‘What did you do? What did you say?’ 

For those with a short memory, he said these words when the House voted in December 2019 to impeach President Trump.

Over the last 7 months, my team and I have communicated openly about many different things: creating policies for a safe practice, pivoting to embrace the challenges in front of us. Openly working together after George Floyd’s murder and the subsequent riots. We share core values and ethics that allow us to swim together like, well, a school of fish. 

Collectively, we’ve been talking about immunity for months. And how important acupuncture is to help shift us from fight or flight to rest and relax. 

The machinery of immunity is multidirectional. Much of it is simple: Adequate rest, Hydration, balanced meals, moderate daily exercise, and relaxation. We all know this, at least intellectually. But maybe it’s not so easy to put all these components into action. It’s easy to say – prioritize yourself first. But it would be insensitive and arrogant to say this to my patients who are juggling homeschooling and work. Even so, we must remain vigilant with our self-care. You can’t care for anyone well when you’re running on empty. I tell my patients “You’re not a nuclear generator. You can’t put out more than you put in.”

So, what if we did this imperfectly? What might that look like? A pox on those instagram influencers. Our lives are messy.

I’m a big fan of harm reduction. With that in mind, can you cut back on coffee? Limit alcohol? Dance with your kids? Use an app to remind you to drink water and stand up. Read a book. Get into a new podcast and engage your curiosity. And while you’re at it, try using an app for a 5-10 minute meditation (I’m a fan of Head Space).

Make sure to see my handout on our recommended supplements to keep you as healthy as possible. Besides this list, we have herbal formulas, supplements for stress, and CBD. Any and occasionally all of this helps keep us on an even keel. Nicole talked her favorite products on IGTV. Did you know that slumping can contribute to depression? Yup. It’s been studied. In April Julie led us through proper alignment when working at home. A couple of months ago Bec spoke about sleep on Facebook.

We know that the next couple of weeks will be especially challenging. Come in- we’re here for you.

In Peace and Health, 


Cara Frank, L.OM., was raised in a health food store in Brooklyn, NY. When she was 8, she cartwheeled 5 miles from Greenwich Village through Soho and Chinatown and across the Brooklyn Bridge. For nearly 40 years, Cara has had the same crazy passion for Chinese medicine. At 17, she had her first acupuncture treatment. At 20, she enrolled in acupuncture school. In 1998 she went to China to study where she fell deeply in love with Chinese herbs. Since then, she has devoted her life to studying and teaching the topic. 

Cara is the founder of Six Fishes Healing Arts in Philadelphia, where she maintains a busy acupuncture practice and acts as the head fish of a warm and lively office. She is the president of China Herb Company. Cara is the author of TCM Case Studies: Eye Ear Nose and Throat Disorders. You can read her full bio or schedule an appointment