This picture of the three levels of the human being has stayed with me since then, providing an excellent illustration of the emphasis in five element acupuncture on the importance of treating the deep (the spirit) and through this also treating the physical. Many therapies, including different branches of acupuncture, concentrate treatment at the superficial level, the physical, and ignore its connections with what lies deep within us. But the two levels, with the mental acting as intermediary between them, cannot be detached from one another in this way. If we ignore the deep, it will call out more and more insistently for our attention, often doing this through the increased severity of physical symptoms. We ignore at our peril what is deep within us, our souls, and do our patients a grave disservice if we concentrate too much of our treatment on the superficial.
To understand what lies deep within a patient’s spirit also demands compassion from us as practitioners. Only with compassion can patients allow themselves to open up this deepest, and thus most vulnerable, part of themselves, their soul.