It is quite unknown to many that the name for the country China is not what Chinese people call their own country. They call their country Zhōng Guó,中國, meaning "Middle State" or "Middle Country." The modern mainland Chinese call their country Zhōng Huá Rén Mín Gòng Hé Guó, People's Republic of Republic. "China" was a name given to them by the Persians, or possibly ancient Indians and then adopted by the Europeans. There are many reasons that led to the people of China calling their country Zhōng Guó, which archaeological sources date back to the period known as the Warring States Period, ca. 471 to 221 BCE. But what has then occurred is that the medicine that we called Chinese Medicine, which is called in Mandarin Zhōng Yī,中醫, directly translates as "Middle Medicine."
It only recently occurred to me that a "Medicine of the Middle" is about finding the Centre, which for me also refers to finding balance. This is true of Chinese Medicine, there is a focus in finding balance within the individual; the individual within her/his social-emotional, physical and spiritual environment. The concepts of Yin-Yang and the Five Phases/Elements, which are the basis of Chinese Medicine, are about balance. Over 10 years ago, I was in a course for Shonishin, Japanese Children's Acupuncture, with Dr. Thomas Wernicke. He got us to lay like babies, in order that we understand the perspective of the world that babies have. One of the important growth milestones for a baby is rolling, either from belly to back or reverse, which typically occurs between the 4th and 6th month in a healthy child. Before a baby can perform this, it must first find its midline, that means hands and feet, right and left must be able to connect with each other. Once they can perform this on a regular basis, the body will be able to tip sideways, and they begin their movement journey towards being upright. This was an illuminating moment for me. I became more aware of my own Centre as well as how important it is to be Centred in order to be alive and thriving.
It has been a few years now since I began practicing Yoga. What has drawn me to practice it regularly in recent years has been the connection I sense with myself internally and externally as well as, what I perceive as a playfulness with my own body(-mind). After spending my early years of life till my 20s dancing on my feet and the next few decades practicing rooting through my feet-legs through Tai Ji Quan/Qi Gong, I find being upside-down on my head, arm and hands just fabulously exciting. My most recent goal is the Handstand; the description of Handstand is very deceiving as it not just about trying to stand on the hands. Through this process, I am evolving a new awareness of balance and my Centre, not just in the literal sense but also in my life. I am finding that balance is not a static place/event; it is a constant fluctuation between stillness and movement. Some days I achieve balance on my hands for 3 seconds and another for just a milli-second. I receive minute information from different body parts like the base of my hand or my phalanges (the bones of my fingers) on where my balance is. I find that I am in constant "conversation" with my body and its different parts. It brings me into the here-and-now, because if for one split second of handstanding I lose my focus, I may fall painfully on my head. I accept all these gratefully as I know deep inside me, a cauldron of deep knowing is in the brewing.
As we just passed the Autumn Equinox (time of equal day and night) last week, I had the feeling that balance is being called for. We can all definitely find a little more balance in our lives and what better way than to become aware of our Centres. Take a moment of quietness and stillness in either standing, sitting or lying. Become aware of your body in space. Then, ask yourself, "Where is my Centre?" and just listen to your body answering.
Image Headstand by Aron H.
Image Zhōng Bronz Inscription and Silk Script from Wiktionary