Recognizing Vitality

We are sold the image of vitality as that of youth and physical vigor. It’s true there is a physical substrate to being whole-heartedly embodied in this world, but vitality is far more than a photogenic body.Vitality comes from our bones, our spirit, from an indomitable will to engage the world with feet solidly planted on the ground. It comes from having the heart to see what’s missing in the world and not allow that to lead to a swan dive of despair or distraction. Vitality invites us to sit in the breach, inhabit the gap between where the mind’s eye sees potential and the world as it actually exists in this moment.

Vitality is not purchased in a pill, nor extracted from a program. It’s not a product — it’s a practice. It’s not the habituation of routine (productive as that can sometimes be), but the daily attentive summoning of heart and mind to this moment. Vitality is not about being able to skip a night’s sleep, but knowing how to live so we rest at night with a quieted mind.

Vitality is what makes you realize you love someone, even if you don’t want to. It’s what sends you off to a far corner, even though you have nothing but good reasons for staying put. Vitality is what makes you stand up with a “NO!” when everyone else is ducking and covering with a “yes.” It’s what sets your hair on fire and gives your eyes a peculiar, steady spark. Vitality is what allows you to cozy up with discomfort. Take a chance, give an opportunity. Notice your own folly and accept it with grace and patience, as you would an unruly nephew.

Vitality is what makes you sexy, dangerous and undeniably attractive. Regardless of that extra 30 pounds and regardless of your style, which has little to do with fashion. Regardless of your failures and shortcomings, your mistakes, the countless times you slip while learning to bring the best version of yourself forward.

Vitality rarely matches media images, which are designed to leave you feeling wanting, somehow not up to standard. Vitality flows freely from an unencumbered source only you can uncork. It rarely behaves, and is leery of constrictive convention. It has one foot in the wild and the other in the unknown. It’s tamable as a sky full of dragon-breath clouds.

Vitality is not negotiable. It’s not cruel, but don’t expect it to play nice. It can at times leave you profoundly lonely. Not the hopeless-helpless variety of lonely, but rather with a deep embodiment of both emptiness and potential. Vitality will strip away your complaints and convenient stories and leave you gratefully, achingly alive to the truth of your discomforts.

Vitality includes the knack for hearing the “yes” that ripples deep. The calling might require more than this lifetime to fulfill and it’s guaranteed to cause all kinds of trouble and inconvenience. That will surely lead others to think you have lost your way, and sometimes you might think that is so as well.

Vitality is the opposite of resignation. It has an innate distrust of the status quo. Its presence causes people to whisper, gossip and probably complain. Vitality is what keeps us from resting on accolades; it is the energy that transmutes perspectives. It will cause you to surprise yourself. It is dependably bothersome. It asks “why not?” It’s willing to endure discomfort and trust the growing edges of uncertainty.

Vitality has little patience for the quarterly report, the quick fix or sloppy duct-tape hack. It sees well in the dark, is nimble with feeling, less interested in spreadsheet projections and more focused on how a kind gesture can radically shift a worrisome moment. Vitality doesn’t so much change your life as it changes the trajectory. It invites the consideration of transformative choices and shows opportunities where others would see only obstruction.

Embrace your vitality!

DIY Acupuncture — Reflective Resonance

I’m often asked why I put needles in the feet and ankles to treat problems in the head, neck or shoulders. Or why I use points around the elbow or knee to treat the digestion. Or why I put needles on the “good” side to treat the “bad” side.

This approach reflects a holistic view of the body, one that looks less at “parts” and more at “connections.” The idea, basically is to treat areas that share similarities!

Stick with me here.

You’ve probably noticed you have 10 fingers and 10 toes. In a sense, they mirror each other. Check out the ankle and wrist, they are basically the same joint. The lower leg and forearm both are made up of two bones that allow for rotation. Upper leg and upper arm? Both are made of one strong bone and big muscles.

Are you starting to see the pattern? Shoulder and hip are both ball and socket joints. Our bodies are holographic in nature, just as the pattern of branches on a tree is reflected in the veins of a leaf. Patterns repeat.

And where do many acupuncture points show up? At the intersection of where patterns come together or shift in magnitude. The body does not make sense of itself in parts so much as it makes sense of itself in connected wholes.

That is why it is possible to treat the wrist by putting needles in the ankle. Hip problems such as sciatica can be treated by a nice deep massage with needles placed in those areas of the shoulder that are curiously tight and painful. And knee pain is influenced by those sore points on the elbow.

You can try this for yourself. Next time you have a headache, neck pain or shoulder pain, go poking around the foot or ankle and do some acupressure on the sore spots you find. Or if your golfer’s elbow is acting up, look for some tender points on the knee, usually the opposite side.

How to Transform Your Relationship with Sugar

If you are a regular reader of the Yong Kang Clinic newsletter, you know that I think sugar is a real metabolic mischief-maker and that part of my practice is helping people reduce the amount of this addictive substance in their lives.

I’ve recently released “The Journey Beyond Sugar,” a 45-day guided inquiry that helps you transform your relationship with sugar.

In this Everyday Acupuncture Podcast episode, I discuss the various health concerns I have about sugar and I share the 14 key points and processes behind “The Journey Beyond Sugar.”

Listen in and learn about the practices and perspectives that when applied on a daily basis can help you transform into a sugar-free version of yourself!

Be sure to use the code EAP97 at checkout to get the Journey Beyond Sugar for the discounted price of $97.

Yep, for less than the price of your daily sugar fix you can learn to show that sugar demon to the door!



It is my experience that the capacity for wonder might be something we share with everything that is holy, and something that is easily and early forsaken by people and times where technique and information are boss.
Wonder is part fascination, part ability to believe in things as they are, part willingness to be confused, even devastated at times, by the epic mysteriousness of ordinary things.

—  Stephen Jenkinson, Die Wise

Instant Meditation: The 30-second Pause

For 30 seconds, maybe 60, stop. Watch. Note what is going on around you.Perhaps you’re in a coffee shop. The bearded guy in the blue down jacket just put on horn-rimmed glasses to read his receipt. The fellow at the counter wearing a red plaid flannel shirt wipes up the crumbs and takes his dish over to the bus table. The skinny barista in black and tattoos steams out espressos. Outside, the rain-sodden clouds fall into fog and then lift like an exhale. A rheumy cough rattles a man’s lungs at the next table. Pinging of text alerts. The click of ceramic cups mingled with conversations whispered into cell phones.

No judgment required here. Just observe. Watch and simply let the picture in. Your thoughts will be there too. Like smoke in a hazy bar; let them drift. For the short span of these moments, simply observe. Let the sensorial filters open. Breathe.

Maybe you are at a gas station. A cold brittle wind snaking down your neck as the numbers tick by on the pump. You hear the sound of traffic and the drone of the pump. Notice how the handle feels in your gloved hand. The smell of snow mixed with the vapor of gasoline, and the tinkling ping of the quiet car engine as it it releases its heat into the winter cold.

This is what it means to hit “pause.” If only for the space of few breaths, drop the ticker-tape story line in your head, or let it recede into the background. Allow the moment to unfold and touch your senses. Nothing to do, nothing to change. Simply the moment.

Try it and see how this practice colors your day. You do have 30 seconds, right?

Life offers its wisdom generously. Everything teaches. Not everyone learns.

Life asks of us the same thing we have asked in every class: “Stay awake.” “Pay attention.”

But paying attention is no simple matter. It requires us not to be distracted by expectations, past experiences, labels and masks. It asks that we not jump to early conclusions and that we remain open to surprise. Wisdom comes most easily to those who have the courage to embrace life without judgement and are willing to not know, sometimes for a long time.

— Rachel Naomi Remen
My Grandfather’s Blessings