As a follow-up to my previous popular post about Why all natural health care practitioners should have a blog, I thought I would put forward a list of the benefits I have noticed so far in having my blog about Chinese medicine. I want to create this list because I feel that there could be so much benefit to patients if more health care practitioners would face their fears and put their thoughts out there.
This is particularly true in the field of natural medicine, because there is so much low-quality information on the Internet about various natural healing modalities. By flooding the Internet with high-quality personalized content, we can be a force for change in the minds of the world’s citizens. A noble goal!
Now, the list.
- Connections with peers : I have a lot of good friends at school and in the Portland acupuncture and herbal medicine community. I wouldn’t trade those connections for anything. However, it’s really wonderful to be able to connect with Chinese medicine students and new practitioners all over the world. Some of those connections seem to be bearing real fruit that will enrich my life for years to come. Lesson – if you want to network within your profession, become a blogger!
- Connections with patients and future patients : In the post I linked to above, there was some discussion about whether blogging is an effective way to bring in patients. I won’t really know until I thoroughly test it, but I have found that my current patients at the clinic enjoy reading my thoughts. At least one patient has rescheduled because she received her email update and it reminded her to reschedule! In the end, though, it’s really about helping to educate patients about the power and promise of Chinese medicine. Lesson – If you’re interested in keeping in touch with your patients, consider blogging and having them sign up for email updates!
- Free critique of my own ideas, refining my thinking about Chinese medicine : Many people are afraid to write about their thoughts concerning Chinese medicine. I’ve never supposed I have all the answers. Sometimes (gasp) I’m even just wrong. But, you really don’t know what you don’t know until you write about it and put it out there. It can be scary, but exhilarating and I truly believe I have grown as a student and scholar by blogging. Lesson – Want to be an expert in your field? Write about it and pay attention to corrections and criticism.
- Writing practice : I guess this is self explanatory, but it’s always easier to learn how to write by … writing. 🙂 Lesson – If “you’re not a writer,” the best way to become one is to start writing. It’s funny like that.
- Crash course in Internet marketing : Because I decided I wanted to grow this blog as large as I could and make some money with it, I had to start learning a lot about Internet marketing. I’ve consumed a whole lot of information on the subject and while I’m no expert, I’m happy to say I get it for the most part. Lesson – Blogging is a multi-skill activity that will expand your knowledge in many different respects.
- Staying abreast of trends in technology : I’m not obsessed with gadgets (really, I’m not!) or even Internet trends. However, in an effort to keep reasonably well updated, I do learn quite a bit about what’s going on and what’s coming up. I like feeling like I know what’s going on and I learn by doing – so running a blog (or three) is an effective way to keep up to date. Lesson – Similar to the one associated with #5.
- Higher standard of personal organization (more projects means more organization) : For some people, more to do means less organized. Naturally, this leads people to believe that they can become more organized if they just simplify their lives and take on fewer projects. For some people, this may be appropriate. In my case, I find that (to a certain limit) the more I take on, the more efficient I become at managing it. When I have relatively little to do, I actually become less likely to fulfill my basic obligations! Many people have asked me how I do what I do – to them I say that the event that most shaped my ability to do a lot was the birth of my daughter. This surely has many dimensions, but one of them was that because of the compression of my available time, I had to become better at managing my time. My schooling, blogging and other activities just add to this. Lesson – You’re capable of more. Maybe much more.
- A higher than average tolerance for thoughtless comments : If blogging doesn’t give you a thick skin, nothing will. I have been blessed to have a lower than average number of “trolls” and my comment spam catching software is quite effective, but I still get a few folks who think it’s fun to be intentionally antagonistic. You learn to ignore them. Lesson – Don’t let a few bad apples spoil the whole crate.
- Less tendency to goof off on the Internet : I know, I know. This sounds crazy. But, because I see being online as part of my job, I really don’t want to use it very much “for fun.” I get off as quickly as I can unless a good friend is online and interested in conversation. My friends who primarily use the Internet for shopping and email seem far more likely to wander the crazytube of the Internet aimlessly. Poor things. Lesson – You can learn to be productive on the Internet. Yes, really.
- Helping others gain study skills : There are lots of ways that I feel that my work on Chinese Medicine Central has helped others – and this is truly the greatest benefits I have received by blogging about Chinese Medicine. I’ve listed just three ways I’ve helped here, but there are others. Lesson – If you are a person who likes to help people, blogging is one way you can fulfill that divine desire.
- Helping others understand Chinese medicine concepts : Countless examples abound, from talking to people about the six conformations to talking about the organ clock and so much more. I really enjoy sharing what I’m learning with others. I learn so much in doing so.
- Helping to promote friends’ businesses and hobbies : I’ve promoted others blogs but also businesses like Paul Rosenberg’s Sacred Tea.
- Walking farther along my spiritual path : While I certainly would have made spiritual progress without this blog, the connections I’ve made and conversations I’ve had have really helped me move along. Because I feel empowered to discuss spiritual matters on this blog, it’s been relatively simple to use my blogging as a medium to walk my Path. Lesson – Technology does not negate spirituality.
- Money and other material benefits : Of course it has been nice to get some material benefits from blogging. I’m nowhere near making even a part-time income, but it grows with every lesson from Yaro I am able to implement. I have enjoyed receiving review copies of books and software as well. While I wouldn’t blog ONLY for the material benefits, they are nice. Lesson – Blogging can be profitable in more ways than one.
- Lateral networking : Because of the nature of the Internet, people run across Chinese Medicine Central from many different walks of life and professions. While I do come in contact with all sorts of people in the offline world, I generally keep within a certain group of friends and colleagues. The connections I have made with people in very diverse fields has helped me to think differently about Chinese Medicine, and I’m profoundly grateful for that. Lesson – Reaching out on the Internet helps you connect with the whole world.
- Ability to say, in conversation, “I’m a blogger” : A silly one, perhaps. But, it is always interesting to see people’s reactions. More often than not, they try to ignore that I said it. Sometimes, they ask what that means. Sometimes, they launch into a diatribe about Myspace. It’s entertaining. No lesson required.
- A greater appreciation for the immense diversity of our planet : This is connected to some degree with #15 about lateral networking. Again, because of the nature of the Internet, you just end up connecting with a wider variety of people than you would normally when you blog. Particularly when I use various forms of social media, I get a sense for what’s going on in Cairo or Melbourne or anywhere else. I understand the struggles that normal people go through in places different from my own. I also begin to see how similar we all are. Lesson – The world is a vast, fascinating place. You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg to connect with it.
- Better posture : Over time I’ve gone from sitting in a somewhat ergonomically structured plush office chair to a kitchen chair to my current seat – a simple short flat bench. Strange? I find that I am able to keep better posture when I have less support. I don’t know if this makes any biomechanical sense at all. Regardless, I have never paid so much attention to my posture as I have on long days of blogging. Lesson – Just because other people slouch at the computer doesn’t mean you have to.
- A greater than average tolerance for sitting in long, long, long classes and seminars : This one goes with #18 to a certain degree. Instead of making me less tolerant to sitting, blogging has increased my stamina when it comes to sedentary activity. I should note that while I do have long periods of sitting and writing, I do get up to do a couple of minutes of exercise about every 30 minutes. I will sometimes do this in seminars when it is possible (as when I end up in the back of the room and it is not very quiet). I’ll just get up and stretch my legs. But, in general, I find that my ability to sit when necessary is much increased, and this has been tremendously helpful in some circumstances. Lesson – Yeah, sitting all the time is no good, but you have to count your blessings.
- Greater finger strength for needling : I have fingers of POWER from all of this typing, I assure you. Seriously, though, I pay close attention to my finger health, which includes finger exercising. I don’t know if this has actually helped my needling, but let’s just pretend. Lesson – See lesson#19 above.