Sunday, August 18, 2019

31. Further insights into the Metal element

Every day I receive confirmation that the elements do indeed imprint a personal stamp upon each one of us in the shape of one of the five elements.  It is both exhilarating and humbling to receive these continuing proofs of the truth of what I practise.  I received one such confirmation at a fellow acupuncturist’s practice some time ago, when I was asked to help a patient of hers.

A few years ago this patient had suddenly begun to experience severe pains down his body, accompanied by strange involuntary jerking movements of his left leg.   I asked him whether he had been suffering from any particular stresses at the time the pains started, perhaps something which he might experience as a shock to the system.  “No“, he said, but then I noticed his eyes suddenly filling with great sadness.  “Is his element Metal then?”, I began to ask myself, as I saw this look of grief.  We are always being given pointers to the elements if we are sensitive enough to notice them, however slight they may be, little gifts of help.  And then came another gift.  He was silent for quite a while as I took his pulses, and then, out of the silence, unexpectedly said quietly, “I always wished I had had some relationship with my father.”  Aha, I thought, who but Metal would say this?  For of course Metal has a particular association with the father.

Metal is the “if only” element, the element that looks back into the past, and often thinks more about this past than about the present.  So here was a double pointer to Metal, the grief in the eyes and the immediate connection with a father who, though still living, is as though lost to him.

So I continued with my questioning, guiding it now along a path that my experience tells me that Metal will accept.  It wants to be left alone to make its own connections and assess for itself what is relevant or irrelevant.  So I suggested lightly that maybe something had indeed happened around the time all this pain appeared. “Maybe some stress at home or at work, perhaps?  But only you will know what that might be.”  And I added, “Perhaps the involuntary jerking of your leg is because you want to kick somebody!”  We both laughed, and then he was given his first treatment on Metal, just the source points, and I left him with this rather light, almost joking remark hanging in the air.

A few hours later he phoned, and wanted to tell us both something he had never told anybody else before.  Two years ago his wife had had an affair with his best friend which had devastated him.  They had worked through this now, but he could not forgive his friend, and never wanted to see him again – another great loss in his life.  I suspect that now that he has admitted to his anger, he will no longer unconsciously need to kick out, either at his wife, or more likely at his friend, as good treatment focused on his Metal element helps him gradually heal.

This was further evidence for me that we need only lightly suggest something to Metal, and then stand back to allow them space to work out their own solutions, since Metal is so acute and quick at making connections for itself.

How much we achieved in such a short time!

I’m sure five element acupuncturists reading this will expect me to write about any other signs of Metal I noticed in terms of the other sensory signs.  His emotion I have talked about;  his colour was not very clearly what I associate with Metal.  I couldn’t detect any smell at all, but the sound of his voice was very flat, very yin, dragging me down with it.  This is the sound which I associate with Metal’s weeping tone.  

 

 

Sunday, August 4, 2019

30. Further insights into the ways in which I communicate with the different elements

I learnt something new about my relationship to the Metal element as a result of treating one of my Metal patients.  At one point during the treatment I found that I was talking too much, and noticed that my patient only seemed to talk after prompting from me.  The two-way communication I was engaged in appeared to be heavily weighted towards one side, where I was doing the talking, whilst the other side, my patient, was mostly doing the listening.

This set me wondering afterwards how far this was in general true of my interaction with Metal, and I decided that it was.  I then looked at my interactions with all Metal people, and found that as a general rule it is as though Metal needs to wait to hear what I have to say before entering the conversation.  I interpret this as a sign that Metal wants to assess the quality of what I am saying before deciding whether and how to take part in a dialogue with me. 

I have now gone on to look at where my interactions with Metal might differ from those with patients of the other elements.  The most obvious difference here is in the case of Fire, because, unlike Metal, it is generally unhappy with the kind of silence Metal feels at home with.  A Fire patient is likely to be the one to start talking even as they come into the practice room, although, being a Fire practitioner myself, the chances are that they will have to be very quick of tongue to outpace my own need to speak to them!

Earth, too, is one of the elements most consistently engaged in speech, a sign of its need to make the listener understand what is going on for them.  Conversations with Earth patients may sometimes be more in the nature of a monologue than a dialogue unless the practitioner steers the talk carefully.  Wood may also need no prompting to talk if it has something it needs to say, and wants to make sure the practitioner  is listening to what they are being told.  Again, here, speech can descend into a monologue if the practitioner loses control.

Finally, my verbal interactions with Water patients always seem to have a very distinctive character of their own, which makes of them not so much a dialogue where one person talks, then listens whilst the other person talks, but a conversation where both talk at the same time in a kind of concerted murmur.  It is as though the sound of the words, rather than the meaning of the words, is more important, offering the kind of reassurance that Water is not alone which it craves in order to still its fear.

Of course, all these observations are based on the fact that my own reaction to everybody I come into contact with will be strongly coloured by my own Fire element.  In trying to look at their own experiences with patients, each practitioner must therefore take into account how far their own guardian element shapes the way they interact with their patients and their patients interact with them. 

I am now determined to watch myself more closely to see whether my own talking in the practice room is an appropriate response to the needs of my patient rather than an inappropriate response to my own needs.