My patient, who is also an acupuncturist, inquires “can I check your pulse?” An essential diagnostic component of Chinese medicine. Her eyes are deep brown orbs, calm and clear.

I respond “Of course!” and extend my wrist.  I have small wrists, like my mother.

She runs her wide fingers over the pulse, along the forearm.  I feel a warm pulse of energy.

“Everything is good, balanced. Your heart is strong. But here,” she presses more firmly,”I identify sadness.”


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Like most people in the West, I grew up thinking of sadness as merely a feeling, generally one to be avoided if possible.  The Chinese model makes more sense in grief.  Sadness courses through me like blood, weaves through my being, one of many red threads that knit me together. It lights up my Qi like a Christmas tree.  I can smile and laugh and feel joy, but I’m still sad.  To run away, choke this back this would be denying part of my core.

Sadness is. There is no escape, for any of us.

The good news is sadness also enriches. It makes me more grateful, more compassionate, more sensitive.  And how can any of us embace the light if we deny the dark?


12 thoughts on “sadness

  1. Tia

    I found this interesting and I think I may do a little research. I have noticed that sometimes I will be experiencing joy, laughter and right behind it creeps sadness. Almost like a see saw. Mind you I will cry over anything, even if it should be something pleasant my response will be to weep. Happy tears, sad tears, angry tears….they are there. And yes, I do try to push them down depending on where I am. I acknowledge the feelings but keep the showers of tears at bay until a more appropriate time.

  2. Barbara Snow

    I’m sorry you’re sad, dear one, but I totally understand. You deserve so much happiness after everything you’ve been through. Yu make a good point about embracing the light, and as the days lengthen into summer may you find more light and less dark in your life.
    Much love, Barb

  3. sarenaperez

    I agree with you – sadness is a part of us. We all have pasts that have scarred us. A part of that scarring remains no matter how good life gets I think. Great post and topic 🙂

  4. Asuma

    These days, I am beginning to think of sadness as a symptom, rather than a feeling. It’s also a part of our heart. I can’t always do this myself, but I guess it’s important to be able to face it and not look away.

  5. John Eden

    Again, you have me in tears in a moment. This is so wonderful and true and sensitive. Your writing is so very nice, soft but sharp, soothing and penetrating at the same time. “To the point,” as they say. Your last sentence is profound. Thank you.

    And you are quite right about the Chinese medicine approach. I had a little inconsistent, non-productive cough for months after my mom died. Our friend who is studying accupuncture, and is Chinese, came to visit. When I mentioned the cough, she checked my pulses and my tongue and poked around a bit and said, “It’s grief.” She recommend a treatment, I got it and the cough went away. It tends to come back every now and then when I lose focus, but it’s essentially gone now, and my grief, though not gone, is less intense every month. Though there are still… those moments. I don’t think they will ever go away.

  6. Step On a Crack

    very interesting! My Ayurvedic doc read my pulses for the first time (26 years ago or so). She said, “My. You have very deep seated sadness.”

    wow. Yes. True. Weird I thought at the time.

    I ended up studying with her for a year years later. When I could read a pulse the first time I almost freaked out. I have learned that my deep seated sadness can and will cause illness. I love alternative healing for this reason: the whole person approach is accurate and deeply healing. It DOES take longer to heal but the REAL healing takes place; not the temporary stuff of modern Western medicine.

    Your gratitude for the gifts in sadness are inspiring.

    I hope you keep writing about this! It is very valuable information and may open other people to exploring alternative healing.

    Peace, Jen


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