Joseph was referred to me by a close friend. An attorney and exercise nut, he was easygoing, charismatic, and bore a striking resemblance to Brad Pitt. (My assistant almost fainted.) He came to my office complaining of inexplicable weight gain around his torso, overall fatigue, and hair loss.
After a quick examination, nothing seemed particularly unusual, so I reassured him that it was probably just a result of chronic exhaustion and some nutrient deficiency. We'd address all his concerns in the treatment.
For the next month, I used a mix of acupuncture, herbs, and nutritional supplements to make his body stronger. Joseph also changed his diet in order to reduce the stress load on his body. His level of compliance was exceptional and I was expecting results to come rapidly.
But as time passed, I had to finally admit to myself, his progress was the slowest I had ever seen. Nothing made sense. I’ve had patients twice his age flourish with a similar regimen. I began wondering what I had done wrong.
I spent a week mulling over this question. During Joseph’s next visit I was absorbed with concern. I was lost in my own space when I heard Joseph let out a huge sigh.
"I just can't figure it out," he said. He was staring at the ceiling looking defeated. "Why can't I find someone great?"
Ten years of clinical experience has taught me the importance of seeming non-sequiturs.
So I sat down and just said "Explain."
Over the next 30 minutes, Joseph shared with me his desire to find love and start a family, his inability to find a meaningful relationship. He told me about how he dated frequently but had no serious relationships.
Now, as I've already explained, Joseph was what they call, “a catch.” Something was obviously amiss.
After a series of health questions, I finally asked how often he is sexually intimate. He said frequently. Next I asked him how often he masturbates. With a laugh, he said frequently. After I pressed him to be exact, he said, "almost everyday for 15 years."
The problem became obvious.
In the energetic theory of many traditions, there is a belief that sexual energy is one of creation. Youth, vitality, strength have their foundation in this primal energy. It's our energetic reserves. Chinese medicine specifically believes that this energy is associated with the kidneys; It’s called Jing.
There are many ways to bolster our energetic reserves, including exercise, food, and herbs. There are also as many practices that can drain this energy: smoking, drugs, overindulgence. Besides living aggressively, Joseph was using up his primal energy when masturbating. Instead of having a natural reserve to call upon, his source was bankrupt; He was taking a second mortgage out on his energy. Unfortunately, the whole body co-signs the loan.
Many traditions also believe that this energy has spiritual power. This sexual energy is the root of Kundalini in yogic traditions. Many practices cultivate the growth of this energy for insight, power, and healing. In some modern spiritual thought, it is believed that this is also the energy of manifestation.
Joseph’s habits were incongruous with his desire. He was expressing frustration, compulsion, and waste—instead of intimacy, connection, and growth. Nothing he did was wrong per se; this isn’t about an outside set of ethics or morality. This was a matter of energetic resource conservation as well as bringing awareness to expression and intent.
I realized the work Joseph needed was personal. Any healing intervention couldn't happen without vital energy. Beside leaving him with supplementation instructions and the advice of daily yoga practice, I showed him simple breathing exercises to build and distribute his energy.
That was three months ago. I wrote this story because I got a call from him today. He happily told me that his energy is awesome, his idiopathic abdominal fat is practically gone, and his life is moving again. He also told me that he had met and fallen in love with an amazing woman (from yoga class).
Smiling, I could feel his joy on the phone.
There are many things that are obviously bad and ruinous to our health (hard drugs, smoking, negative emotions). It's the seemingly normal stuff that gets us in trouble when we take them for granted. Remember that there are many things that can both build us up or tear us down. Our responsibility is to bring awareness to our expressions but also recognize the intent behind it.
You are the master of your universe.
You are fucking brilliant and beautiful.
Start acting like it.
Emill (aka Dr. kim on most days).