Very early on in my study of the elements I realised that I was becoming a much more tolerant person, simply because what I was learning about the elements made me understand, probably for the first time, that there were good reasons why people differed, from one another, and that I should no longer be surprised at these differences. It was through learning about the different qualities of the elements that this was spelt out so clearly to me. If, as I learned on the first day of my acupuncture course, and believed so utterly from then on, each of us was imprinted with the mark of one of the five elements, then the particular qualities of that element gave all of us something which I like to call our elemental DNA.
We are often reluctant to acknowledge such innate differences, perhaps because it is easier simply to be critical of aspects in other people with which we are not familiar than it is to welcome them as signs of the richness of what we contribute to the human experience. Even now, after all these years of acquainting myself more closely with the different expressions of the elements, I can still find myself dismissing some opinion contrary to mine as proof of a person's narrow-mindedness or even stupidity, rather than bting a legitimately held view based on another element's approach to life which inevitably differs from mine.
We are conditioned to see life in all its complexities through the lens of our particular element. However carefully we may try as five element acupuncturists to discount the distortions to our thinking this inevitably results in, we cannot totally eradicate this tendency. I cannot stop my own Fire element colouring my interactions with the different elements in the people I meet, and even, though to a slightly lesser extent, in those of my own element. For in the presence of another Fire person I feel myself relax a little, even if that person is a patient of mine, and this very relaxation may mean that I am not as observant as I should be in all my interactions with my Fire patients.
Understanding how each element shapes all that we do, from the way that we talk, the way that we make judgements, the way that we relate to other people, and even perhaps even to the kind of political party we may tend to belong to, certainly leads all of those with some knowledge of the elements to explore why other people act as they do, and try to find the reasons for this within the circle of the elements.
This is why JR Worsley always said that everybody who wanted to study five element acupuncture should be allowed to do so, irrespective of their academic qualifications. Nor did those wanting to study need to have as their aim the desire to practise. It was simply enough to wish to learn more about a fascinating philosophy of life. Initially this was my own reason for enrolling in JR Worsley's acupuncture college. It was only after my first year of study that I realised that I was totally hooked, and began to overcome the doubts I had about my suitability to become a practitioner. Gradually these gave way to a deep conviction that here at last I had found my true calling, a conviction which only became stronger as the years passed.
Five element acupuncture's ability to help each of us cope better with other people is probably the greatest gift this form of healing offers an increasingly intolerant world which often appears to be tearing itself apart. So I urge everybody to learn as much as they can about this ancient form of healing, which is so well-suited to the needs of a modern world, for in doing so we help smooth our relationships to all around us. And that is such a worthy aim.