Recently in the New York Times, there was an article on a doctor from China, Dr. Hong Zhaoguang. The title was, “A Prescription For Self-Help & Self-Love in China” by Elizabeth Rosenthal.

Amidst the political atmosphere of China, Dr Hong speaks to the members of the government:

“Comrades! Take care of yourself, teach yourself, liberate yourself, love yourself,” he intones. “Health is gold and the key is in your hands!”

“Take care of your babies, caress them, hold them, and kiss them. It’s not just about having good milk – there is emotional nutrition, too.”

Just as in the United States, hospital costs have skyrocketed in China and the people are in need of helping themselves, seeking complimentary or alternative healing practices.

“My program is like a point-and-shoot camera,” said Dr. Hong, who considers his work preventive medicine. “Other experts give people health advice but they talk about grams and calories and it’s too complicated for them to follow. People don’t need a great camera with lots of lenses. They need something that’s simple, they can use.”

He was a cardiologist in Beijing hospitals. Having studied in the United States, it is understandable that Dr. Hong has had exposure to other ways of healing that he has enthusiastically brought back to his homeland.

“We think of treating disease with medicine and scalpels, but words are very important, too; the patients come alive with smiles and hope,” he said, holding court at his small cluttered office at a hospital in Beijing.

“When I saw patients on the ward, I found that many had spent a few hundred thousand yuan on treatment, but if they had knowledge of how they could prevent and had taken charge, then maybe they wouldn’t have the disease,” he recalled. He spoke to them about taking responsibility for their health through empowerment.

There are the “four bests”:

  1. Best doctor is you
  2. Best medicine is time
  3. Best state of mind is peace
  4. Best exercise is walking

Also, the “three morning half-minutes”: lie in bed for half a minute after waking, sit up for half a minute after rising, then sit for a another half minute with legs hanging over bed.

Dr. Hong places a strong emphasis on emotional and mental health. His recipe for his “Eight Treasures Soup” is:

  • One piece of loving heart
  • Two inches of kindness
  • Three portions of justice
  • Four qian of tolerance, fealty, honesty, sacrifice no regrets.

Put the eight elements into the pot of open-mindedness; add fairness, quietness, thoughtfulness, and you are done.

For many of us caring for our loved ones, these concepts may be too late in order for them to heal from their illnesses and diseases. However, it is important that you treat them with the same concepts in their end of life stages. It is equally as important for us to pay heed to these words for ourselves before it is too late.

As we move through this new millennium, there are more and more articles, scientific evidence and acceptance by the traditional Western Medicine establishment that these methods work: that our thoughts and prayers become our reality.

It is up to us to take responsibility for our lives and our healing. Doctors and the medical establishment play an essential role in assisting us but they aren’t God. They don’t live and reside in our bodies. Many lump us into categories such as “Life-threatening Disease,” and don’t view us as unique individuals.

When my husband was dying years ago, I came down with asthma, chemical and environmental allergies and other symptoms. The doctors couldn’t diagnose what it was but I had almost died several times. Deep inside, I felt as if I had burned out and it was my body’s way of telling me to rest and take time for me. My immune system had weakened and it took quite a few years to heal and return to normal.

Once again, caring for my father and mother while my dad was in his last few weeks, the asthma slowly returned. On the day of his funeral, my intuitive cat Precious, showed signs of labored breathing. A vet’s diagnosis said it was either cancer or cardiomyopathy and I was thrown into the role caregiving all over again with no reprieve.

I began working with a traditional medical doctor, Dr. Gerald Epstein, who had been working with “imagery” for healing. Three months later I was hospitalized once again for severe asthma. The doctors in the ER over-medicated me with cortisone and I became sicker.

Dr. Epstein was away and upon his return, he returned my phone call explaining to me that because I was working with the imagery and redirecting my thoughts to a new, positive belief, system around my health, my conditioned, habitual beliefs pulled me into the old direction of disease that I had been accustomed to.

It was like a tug of war that was going on within myself. I had to stay very mindful and focused on the new beliefs in order to balance. I followed his guidance. It is over 7 years since my last asthma attack and I no longer have attacks. It was a long haul but I would do it all over again.

During this past year, my health began to deteriorate once again. It was several months before my blood tests indicated that I had a thyroid problem. Suffering through emotional ups and downs that were devastating: I gained 60 lbs, (40 lbs in one month alone) and much more, and I became fraught and distracted from really balancing from within. I reached out to the medical establishment and followed their directives.

I was instructed not to work with my Chinese herbalist until the medications had balanced. After three months of blood testing every other week, my blood test was normal. However, the weight gain didn’t diminish, my other systems and organs were still not functioning properly.The endocrinologist said the weight and problems were due to my being female, my age, having stopped smoking and possible menopause.

He had me pre-labeled before he even gave me a chance to speak. I became livid in an instant; infuriated by his attitude, I literally stood up grabbed the collar on his lab coat and started to shake him, to keep myself from killing him. I was unnerved. How dare he not even listen to me?

Finally he sat down and listened. In that moment, it was as if a light bulb went off, I knew it wasn’t about the doctor, it was about me taking back my power: my power to tune into my body and to take responsibility for my own healing once again. Yes, I would continue to use the medication for it was a necessity.

But I quickly went downtown to my herbalist who reassured me that within a few weeks, my body would balance out. He made me promise that I wouldn’t worry, that I would go home, rest, keep my stress down and work with my thoughts as well. Now, I feel my body responding and beginning to balance and I am also working with the imagery once again.

Our lives are so dear and precious. We can get stuck and distracted all over the place if we get caught in self-inflicted victim hood, putting the power in everyone and everything else but ourselves.

I share my experiences with you in hopes that you will help yourselves to heal as well. It is a big responsibility to do it for ourselves. I encourage you not to close your eyes to these concepts, don’t ignore them. The power is in each and every one of us.

Please join me in creating choices for health, joy and love for our selves.

Copyrighted by Gail R. Mitchell January 2003


  • Ms. Mitchell began her full-time caregiving experience in the early eighties when her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Later on she became the primary caregiver for her father, along with her mother who had become critically ill from burnout prior to her dad’s passing. In recent years, she cared for several friends with AIDS while continuing to care for her mother and actively providing support, information, referrals and resources for caregivers.

    Gail's leadership on the Internet and her success with Empowering Caregivers led her to found National Organization For Empowering Caregivers (NOFEC) INC in 2001.

    Prior to founding NOFEC, she created the iVillageHealth Chat: Empowering Caregivers, which she hosted for over 5 years. Within a month of hosting she created Empowering Caregivers: in 1999 as a resource for caregivers around the globe. Over three million visitors have frequented the website.

    She has presented at national and international care-related conferences and programs and has been a keynote speaker for many programs as well.

    Ms Mitchell has assisted thousands of caregivers online and offline in ways to empower themselves in their roles in caring for loved ones.

    For a list of clients and/or her resume, please contact

    Gail's articles have been published in many venues nationally and in Canada. Presently, she is a member of American Society on Aging and National Quality Caregivers Coalition.

    Gail has discovered that there is life after caregiving: She has become a successful ceramic artist and installation artist. She created Crystal Illumination Art to bring the transformative quality of illumination, light and color to the human experience and celebrate its ability to inspire, heal and nourish our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being.