The Huang Di Nei Jing or Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine is a central book in Chinese Medicine. It is assumed to be one of the oldest books of medicine ever discovered. It’s age, according to Wikipedia is around 2000 years old. 

The Huang Di Nei Jing is a series of questions and answers between the Emperor (Huang Di) and his physician (Qi Bo). The questions the emperor poses revolve around living a full, healthful life. It includes lifestyle changes and even emotion management advice. 

For years, I have been pondering the amazing strength of the combination of acupuncture and life coaching. The two fit together so seamlessly. Because lifestyle modifications are a core tenet of Chinese Medicine, using life coaching style questions to guide patients toward a healthier lifestyle just makes so much sense. 

It hit me, back in 2009, that this natural method of using curiosity to encourage a wellbeing filled life dates as far back as the Huang Di Nei Jing. . The whole book was this dialog, this longing for a deeper understanding of how to function in order to live a life well lived. Amazingly enough, the advice still holds true today.  

Book 1, chapter 1 of the Huang Di Nei Jing

Huang Di states: 

“I have heard that in ancient times, the people lived to be over a hundred years, and yet they remained active and did not become decrepit in their activities … “

Qi Bo replied:

“In ancient times, those people … understood the Tao (each persons individual path/goal/journey) and they lived in harmony…there was temperance in eating and drinking. Their hours of rising and retiring were regular and not disorderly and wild. 

By these means, the ancients kept their bodies united with their souls … their vital spirit was preserved within; thus, how could illness come to them? … their spirit followed in harmony and obedience; everything was satisfactory to their wishes and they could achieve whatever they wished. Any kind of food was beautiful and any kind of clothing was satisfactory. They felt happy under any condition”*

Even now, when I retype these words, they hit me. The solution is simple. Remember to live according to your personal Tao. Remember your intuition. Be grateful for what you have. Allow your body to exercise, appreciate and love your muscles, bones and tendons who so thanklessly continue to work for you. When you find yourself on a road that doesn’t quite feel right, remember that you can create an exit whenever you want. It is up to you to turn down a different path. 

You, ultimately have responsibility for what you are, who you are and how you react to life. Doctors, teachers, friends and family can help you to realize what you may need in life, but the decisions still lay in your hands. Advice turns to action only when the advised decides so.

I think acupuncture and life coaching are a beautiful blend of what modern day medicine can offer a patient. You can learn what you want out of life and you can ask for help getting there. You can reconnect with your true values and desires. You can create more ease because of this connection. 

Sounds like an amazing way to live to me. 

What do you think?

*(Translation from: Veith, Ilza – The Yellow Emperor’s Classic, University of California press, 1949)


  • Caitlin Donovan

    Burnout Expert

    Caitlin Donovan is one of New York City’s leading burnout experts, host of “Fried – The Burnout Podcast,” and author of the book The Bouncebackability Factor. Her master’s degree in traditional Chinese medicine enables Caitlin to combine Eastern wisdom with her natural practicality. After treating more than 25,000 patients, Caitlin added 1:1 coaching, corporate workshops, and keynotes for companies such as PTC and Lululemon – all with a focus on burnout. She has been featured on podcasts and online magazines such as “Elephant Journal,” “Thrive Global,” “Addicted 2 Success,” and “Your Story. Your Health.” as well as quoted in Oprah Magazine. Caitlin and her husband spent 12 years living in Europe, but now make their home in New Jersey. When Caitlin is not speaking or coaching on burnout, you can find her with her husband and their white fluffy dog hiking around NJ and NY.