Strange Comforts

Discounting our quirks is easy. We write them off as the residue from a particular kind of childhood or traumatizing experience. But if you look under the surface of your opinion about yourself, you’ll find something luminous, mysterious — and more often than not — completely unexpected.Something of the wonder of the world that remains, like a smothered ember that holds all the simple heart-known truths that over the years we have given away to science, to the rational thing to do, to the rules of the tribe or to an attempt to fit in.

Somewhere in our strange comforts is our connection that is sympathetic to the wonder of the world, a source of sustenance unending, something essential that will never fit into words.

We all have that source. Some drink from it like a poet. Others, dried and withered, fear a reminder of that source of nourishment.

It might be the thing we got bullied for at school. It might be the opinions of others that we took to be more real than our own felt heart. When the thing we cherish most gets laughed at, what are we to do? The world breaks.

We lose the path to the source, but the source never loses its path to us.

It helps to love our strange comforts. The treacherous road through the winter woods. The time set aside in the morning for stillness. The way your wanderlust dissolves the fear that is always at the edge of the unknown. Or that stubborn streak that wards off that which will make you old before your time.

Strange comfort is not to be confused with distraction. Distraction keeps that heart-connected sense of “ah, this” always just slightly beyond your grasp. Strange comforts, however, take you home. Home to the place where you can truly rest in the fullness of who you quietly are, and know stillness.

Change Your Relationship with Sugar


For a while now I’ve been writing about the problems that sugar causes with the digestive, metabolic and hormonal systems. If you are a patient of mine, you’ve probably heard me say that excessive sugar consumption might be a factor in whatever problem brought you to my clinic in the first place.

Those of you who read the newsletter know I’ve been working these past few months on creating “The Journey Beyond Sugar,” a program that helps you to gently transform your relationship with sugar through the use of daily-guided inquiry.

I’m happy to say that you can now join the journey!

“The Journey Beyond Sugar” is a series of 45 emails, delivered once daily, that ask for only 15-20 minutes of your time and are geared to help you look into your experience with sugar — and then let your observations change you.

On this journey, we look at

  • How neuroplasticity can be harnessed to rewire the brain regarding sugar How the use of mindfulness helps us tell ourselves a bigger and more empowering story
  • How the metabolism works, so you understand once and for all that all calories are not alike
  • How to have some fun along the way
  • How to invite gentle change
  • How to cultivate some kindness for ourselves instead of blame and disrespect
  • How our expectations for ourselves have been influenced —and not in a good way — by advertising on the Internet

You can be gentle with yourself and still grow into a sugar-free version of yourself, eventually arriving at a place where sugar cravings are no longer a part of your daily life.

Warning: With this program, many people lose their taste and desire for sugar. Do not underestimate how this can change your life.

“The Journey Beyond Sugar” usually sells for $139. For the next two weeks, readers of the Yong Kang Clinic newsletter can book their passage for $49. Yep, that’s right —  just 92 cents a day, which is less than the cost of a cheap chocolate bar on display at the impulse-buy rack at the supermarket.

Go to this webpage and at check out, use the code “sugarfree” to get the discounted rate.

This offer expires on February 12.

Want to bring a friend on the journey? You can share the discount code. When making a change, leaning on our connections with like-minded people is always helpful.

To The Max: Readers Write

Q. Why does my stomach gurgle when I get acupuncture? As soon as the needles go in, my stomach rumbles and gurgles. What is this embarrassing noise in my intestines?

A. I love the sound of gurgling intestines! That tells me the acupuncture is already beginning to work, that your body is coming out of a state of stress and entering into one of profound relaxation.

Here’s what’s going on (Warning —  a little geeky physiology coming up here):

Our bodies alternate between “sympathetic” and “parasympathetic” modes. Sympathetic mode is the medical way to say “fight or flight stress response.” When a tiger chases you, you have a dispute at work, you deal with rush-hour traffic  — or really any time your body feels as though it were in danger and might need to react quickly — then it goes into sympathetic mode.

When the body is in sympathetic mode, stress hormones, such as adrenaline, are pumped into your system. This brings blood flow to the periphery of the body, increases the heart rate, tenses the muscles, opens up the bronchioles of the lungs (so you can take in more oxygen) and shuts down the digestive system.

All these responses prepare you to fight or flee. When physically threatened, our bodies, in their brilliant innate intelligence, put functions such as healing and digestion on the back burner in the face of immediate danger. After all, there is no point in digesting our last meal if we might be someone else’s lunch.

Today we don’t encounter so many tigers, but life is full of stressors that can keep us in the hyper-vigilant sympathetic mode.

Parasympathetic mode, also known as “rest and restore,” is the opposite. In this mode, the stress hormones leave the bloodstream, blood flow returns to the digestive system and internal organs and you move into a state of restoration and relaxation.

One of the first things that happens is the digestive system comes back on line and starts to process your last meal. That’s why your intestines gurgle.  Only in the parasympathetic mode or during sleep can you can heal yourself.

That explains one reason that acupuncture can be so effective in treating a wide range of conditions. Simply put, acupuncture helps you to very quickly enter into the state of “rest and restore.”

So the next time you’re on the acupuncture table and your belly gurgles, know that the needles are doing their thing, helping to activate your body’s brilliant healing intelligence.

If you were to be remembered for just one trait.

What would it be?



Patient Wisdom

I gave up on New Year’s resolutions long ago, probably because I always couched them in a pass/fail frame — and all it took was one fail to render the whole enterprise useless.

Since then I’ve adopted three words to act as simple guidelines.

Used as guidelines, these words can set a frame and trajectory that we can return to over and over again. This method is gentler, and much more effective in sustaining long-term change.

As is often the case in my clinic, I hear patients express the most brilliant solutions and insights when it comes to the larger issues of life. Incredible wisdom comes from wrestling with the turbulent moments in life that can create true resiliency. Recently, I heard this from a patient:

What is it I really want?
What am I holding on to?
What do I need to let go of?

Beautiful, isn’t it?

What if, instead of resolutions, you gave yourself three questions to consider over the course of a new year?

It’s not too late! The Chinese new year begins on January 28. Why not enter the year of the Fire Rooster with a set of evocative questions for yourself?


The major problems in the world are the result of the difference between how nature works and the way people think.

                         — Gregory Bateson