Being unable to give any person-to-person seminars during this year of COVID has meant that I have had to come up with other ideas for continuing to help my many hundreds of Chinese five element practitioners and students from a distance. Like many of us, I have been driven to think of ways of using social media to do this, and it was while watching one of the many online programmes which helped me while away some of the lockdown time that I realised that here was another excellent way of passing on my knowledge. So for many months now, but only after many hours of tuition from a media-savvy son, I would sit down each day in front of my iPad and record myself for up to 10 minutes talking about whatever five element topic came into my mind as being of interest to my students.
These recordings started off without much of a plan, but I soon realised that they had developed into an excellent accompaniment to my Handbook of Five Element Practice, the text which all Chinese five element students base their studies upon. I was very pleased to hear recently that over 50,000 copies have been sold worldwide over the past 10 years, making it the most successful book on acupuncture my Chinese publisher has sold. I thought it that was very likely, therefore, that there would be many aspiring five element practitioners who would welcome the kind of personal teaching my video recordings offer in my absence. I arranged these video recordings around the different topics covered in the Handbook so that the complete set of more than 30 videos adds something to the text. I sent each video over to China as I recorded it; they were then edited, Mandarin subtitles added and put online to be downloaded on subscription. These subscriptions have proved very popular, with more than 1500 people so far enrolled. And Guy Caplan has now added a further series of videos on ways of helping students with their CSOE (colour, sound, odour and emotion) sensory skills.
After completing the Handbook videos, I moved on to recording a more advanced set for practising five element acupuncturists, and followed that with a kind of online autobiography, describing my journey from my first encounter with five element acupuncture as a patient more than 30 years ago to my arrival in China. Finally I am also now working with Guy Caplan on a series of videos about treating long-term patients, which will list the kinds of treatment we give patients who have been coming to us for many years.
Novice practitioners often find the move from the well-defined early stages of treatment to the more spaced-out treatments at later stages difficult to deal with. For these long-standing patients there is no longer any need to worry ourselves about finding the right element, since the fact that they are still coming to us after so many years of treatment is proof that they are doing well and just need some top-up treatment. Practitioners, though, often feel that they have to ring the changes and each time should be searching around for different points to use. This is not what is needed, and we list for each element the kind of simple treatments we continue to give our long-term patients, showing that, apart from interspersing basic element treatment with the occasional clearing of a block, the points we choose are often much the same year in year out, with the simple aim of reinforcing the patient's element.
In fact, long-term treatment is in a way the easiest treatment of all. By this time, we know all about our patients' lives, and have developed very easy, warm relationships with them. Patients' eagerness to continue coming for treatment year after year is satisfying proof of how effective five element treatment can be. This can provide a welcome relief from the much more complex work involved in attempting to manoeuvre a path through the undergrowth of the different elements until we find our way to the right element at the start of a patient's treatment. So we have asked long-standing patients of each element if they are happy for us to record them talking about themselves, and tell us how their treatment has helped them in the past and is continuing to help them now. We also list the one or two years' treatments they have recently received as further encouragement for our fellow practitioners.