When A-listers such as Chris Evans and Will Young get stressed, they turn to acupuncturist Gerad Kite. At his own clinic, the great and the good pay £195 or more a session. But now you don’t have to be famous – or rich – to benefit from his expertise, as his new book lifts the lid on his rules for a calmer life. At the heart of his philosophy is his fervent belief that we need to get back in tune with the human body’s natural cycle. Only then, he says, will we discover the true path to health and happiness.
You wake up tired, so you kick-start yourself with caffeine. You eat a sandwich at your desk and barely taste it. More tea or coffee to stave off that mid-afternoon dip. By evening, you’re cross-eyed and edgy, so of course you have a drink to take the edge off.
Sounds like a typical day? Well, you’re not alone. The pace of life today is so frenetic that many of us are working against the natural rhythms of our bodies all the time – and suffering from fatigue, stress and even ill health as a result.
Gerad believes that most people’s natural body clock is out of sync – and he can help you fix it using ancient wisdom called the Chinese Clock. By working with nature’s time schedule, you can feel healthier and calmer
As we get older, we often accept low-grade health as a norm. We feel tired all the time but don’t connect it to not eating properly or not getting enough exercise. We get used to being stressed and anxious as the little vices accumulate.
It’s not that we’re incapable of feeling as energised and relaxed in our 40s (and beyond) as we were in our 20s – it’s just that we don’t realise that we are moving further and further out of balance.
Many people say they’re not ‘morning people’ and simply accept that half the day is written off. Others slump mid-afternoon, calling it a ‘carb crash’, or think that an evening in front of the TV is all they can manage at the end of a long day.
But what these symptoms are actually telling us is that our natural body ‘clock’ is running out of sync. And there comes a point where nature will not allow us to continue pushing ourselves in this way. Certain physical or emotional symptoms tell us that we have to stop and look at what is going on in our life.
According to ancient Chinese philosophy, we each have a body clock that reflects the changing rhythms of day and night.
During each 24-hour cycle, each major organ of the body enjoys a two-hour high point – a window of opportunity to function at their optimum. So what we need to do is listen to our bodies and work with the natural flow.
By working with nature’s own time schedule, all areas of health improve and your whole system can run like a well-oiled machine.
All you have to do is ‘reset’ your system using ancient wisdom – the Chinese Clock.
Gerad Kite, pictured, is an acupuncturist who has treated A list clients such as Chris Evans and Will Young
I found it so humbling when I first understood what is really going on in my body while I am running around living my life. Love and enjoy your body. Look after it as you would your most cherished friend, partner, child or pet.
Listen to what it asks of you and have an awareness of the key body functions that work tirelessly to keep you going. Our body knows what it needs – and it will tell us if we listen.
3AM TO 7AM
These hours are when the lungs (3am to 5am) and colon (5am to 7am) are prioritised.
For the first two hours, your lungs benefit from a surge of energy, enlarging their capacity, oxygenating every cell in your body and every corner of your mind, as evidenced by our active dream state at this time.
From 5am to 7am, the peak flow shifts to the large intestine and colon, making the morning the optimal time to get up, go to the loo and release the physical and mental waste of the previous day.
Your lungs benefit from a surge of energy, enlarging their capacity, oxygenating every cell in your body and every corner of your mind, as evidenced by our active dream state at this time
Nature ordains that all waste be removed at this time, leaving space for the day to come. And so, in good health, our lungs expand to receive the fresh morning air, we empty our bowels, and we shower away the residue of the previous day.
7AM TO 11AM
Not surprisingly, the stomach is king for the next two hours, as the energy moves out of the colon, stimulating hunger.
The old saying that you should breakfast like a king and dine like a pauper is apposite. It’s very basic. As you empty the lower part of your digestive system, you refill from the top with fuel for the day. Just think: would you really set off on a long car journey with no fuel in the tank?
From 9am to 11am is when the spleen is handed the baton and swings into action. Practitioners of Chinese medicine believe that the spleen’s function is to transform water and food into energy.
So, at this time, your fuel is being converted into something usable for both physical and mental consumption, and being transported around the body to provide the resources to move every muscle. Use these two hours to work hard and focus on any difficult chores, either mental or physical, that you may have to get done.
LET YOUR SENSES SET YOU FREE
In our fast-paced, aspirational culture, it’s accepted as normal for us to look endlessly outside ourselves for meaning and purpose. What can I get out of this? Where am I heading?
Many people today equate happiness with being busy or even mildly stressed. They say being busy makes them feel ‘alive’.
But all this looking ahead and outward means we neglect our true selves in the here and now. Everything that you need to be happy and well, you already have inside.
If you are struggling to conceive of this, perhaps take some time out to try to experience it, viscerally. Close your eyes and direct your attention to your five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) and become aware of how it feels to be in your body right now.
When you shift your attention to your body – becoming aware of the chair you’re sitting on, the smells in the room and the colours – you automatically stop thinking and give your mind a break.
I recommend you engage in true rest like this each day to restore yourself to a feeling of calm.
You can get a meditation app on your smartphone or tablet to help you, or you could achieve the same benefits just by going outside to feed the birds.
11AM TO 3PM
The heart receives its peak charge at the height of the day and rules from 11am to 1pm. Nature dictates that it’s time to back off from the business and activities of the morning and to take a break.
This is a time to have lunch, meet a friend, relax and socialise – anything so long as you give your mind and body a break.
Gerad’s book, pictured, will help you to live a better, healthier, calmer and happier life
The small intestine steps in from 1pm to 3pm and gets to work to filter and organise, so you can have a productive afternoon.
3PM TO 7PM
Many people experience a dip of energy in late afternoon. It’s all too easy, at this low point, to reach for a quick stimulant – be it caffeine or chocolate – but what the body is actually lacking is water. In the Chinese system, the bladder is central, acting as a reservoir. It keeps reserves of fluid throughout your body – for your joints, your digestive system and tears.
If you are living by the natural clock and drinking enough water, late afternoon should be the time when you feel buoyed up, so make sure you drink enough in the morning to top up your bladder reservoir. Aim to drink two litres a day.
If you are well hydrated, the kidneys benefit at 5pm when the body and mind’s reserves are consolidated and you have a heightened experience of your own existence and a profound sense of your ‘essential self’.
7PM TO 11PM
This is a period for relaxation, socialising – and sex. Interestingly, it should be the resting period for the stomach, as this is the time when this organ has the least energy available to it.
But most of us have our biggest meal of the day at this hour. No wonder our sex lives suffer!
Eat before 7pm if you can, or have just a light evening meal. And if you’re trying for a baby, now is the time to go for it.
The second stage is ruled by the body’s inbuilt temperature-regulating system, which I like to think of as the body’s heating engineer, busily travelling around every part of our being, adjusting and correcting the physical and emotional temperature through the skin, sweat glands and blood vessels, as well as calming our emotional temperature.
Many people experience a dip of energy in late afternoon. It’s all too easy, at this low point, to reach for a quick stimulant – be it caffeine or chocolate – but what the body is actually lacking is water
It brings you down from the heat and activity of the day to a cool, resting state ready for deep restorative sleep.
Use this time to switch off the TV and get ready for bed. The process always takes longer than you think, and your body needs to be ready for proper rest by 11pm.
11PM TO 3AM
Think of the gall bladder as the ‘night train’ that departs at 11pm and takes us back to our roots – a place of deep rest – making this the optimum time to go to sleep.
Don’t forget that it is said ‘an hour before midnight is worth two thereafter’. So don’t stay up late working or reading. Make sure you’ve turned off the light by 11pm at the latest, and use the meditation tips on the left (see box above) to clear your mind of the stresses of the day and of tomorrow’s plans.
From 1am to 3am is the liver’s peak time, when it detoxifies the blood. The liver presides over sleep as we enter the deep resting phase and, later, the dream state where our unconscious mind explores and plans for the next day.
HOW TO FIND YOUR INNER CALM
In your mind’s eye, picture a pendulum. All your attention is drawn to the movement. What you see is a weight swinging from side to side, trying to find a resting point in the middle.
If you were to refocus, though, and look up at the top of the shaft, you would see that here there is no movement at all. It is a fixed point.
Now imagine the pendulum as an illustration of your emotional life, where the weight at the bottom end represents the mind, and its natural movement mirrors your thoughts and feelings. Let’s say all the swings to the right represent the ‘highs’ (joy, euphoria, jubilation) and all the swings to the left represent the ‘lows’ (sadness, anger, depression).
The midpoint, meanwhile, is an area I call ‘relative calm’, as it’s still vulnerable to movement in one direction or the other.
To experience complete stillness, you need to reach the pivot of the pendulum where there is no movement at all. And this is what we need to do in order to control our emotions. We need to be able to step back so that we can observe our emotions. Only then can we feel objectivity and compassion.
It’s part of normal life for emotions to swing from left to right. But all too often, complications in our domestic and working lives cause us to live much of the time at the extreme ends of the pendulum – and in this chaotic state we feel stressed and overwhelmed.
To feel more in control, try to step back and see the bigger picture. This is the true key to discovering inner peace.
Adapted by Charlotte Kemp from Everything You Need You Have by Gerad Kite, published by Short Books at £9.99. To order a copy at £7.49 (offer valid to January 18) call 0808 272 0808 or visit mailbookshop.co.uk; p&p is free on orders over £12.