Thursday, June 30, 2022

22 - 25 Are there coincidences in life?

One of my next writing projects is to add something about the 12 officials to what I have written about the elements in my Handbook of Five Element Practice.  I have been asked to do this by one of my five element students in China, who is now teaching her own students and tells me that they seem to find it difficult visualizing the 12 officials as anything apart from as organs of the body.  So I am now thinking more carefully about expanding my ideas on the elements to cover the officials in more detail.  This morning, therefore, I had just written a few paragraphs about the Fire element's four officials, emphasizing the central role of the Heart, and put down my pen to do what I always do, which is to pick up a book I'm reading to give my thoughts a little rest.  Imagine my surprise, then when I experienced this lovely serendipitous (beautiful word!) moment, when the first words I read were the following:


"Zen said his piece and left as soon as he could, fearful and depressed at this reminder of the primitive, messy plumbing on which all their lives ultimately depended.  It didn't seem remotely surprising that it should break down without warning.  On the contrary, the miracle was that it ever functioned in the first place.  In growing panic he listened to the thudding of his heart, felt the blood coursing about the system, imagined the organs going about their mysterious, secretive business.  It was like being trapped aboard an airplane piloted by an on-board computer.  All you could do was sit there until the fuel ran out, or one of the incomprehensibly complex and delicate systems on which your life depended suddenly failed."    (From:  Michael Dibdin: Cabal, an Aurelio Zen Mystery)


What a lovely coincidence, if coincidence it is, that I just came across this the moment I laid down my pen.  I think our bodies are indeed "incomprehensibly complex and delicate systems", for this describes beautifully how we should look at the work our officials are faced with at every moment of the day.   


I always think it is a miracle that this body of ours, a miracle of evolutionary development, functions at all, for it is always at terrible risk of breaking down by reason of its very complexity.  it is fortunate that we have devised many ways of helping us maintain as great a balance as possible so that we can live good and fruitful lives, none more so, I am glad to say, than by turning for help to five element acupuncture.    

Friday, June 24, 2022

22 - 24 Each acupuncture point is a spirit point

One of the important early lessons in five element acupuncture which has stayed with me throughout the years is my memory of JR Worsley drawing three small parallel lines one above the other on the classroom blackboard.  He pointed to the line at the top, and said, "This is the physical level", to the line in the middle and said, "This is the mental level," and, his voice dropping almost to a whisper, pointed to the bottom line, and said, "This is the level of the spirit."  He would then ask us to take a pencil and press it down on our desks, saying, "This is treating at the physical level." Then he would ask us to press it down a little more, saying, "This is treating with the mind", before finally asking us to touch our pencil gently and carefully down on our desks, telling us, "And this is treating with the spirit."  He would ask us if we felt the difference in ourselves with each touch of the desk.  I still remember quite clearly experiencing a feeling of wonder that it did feel quite different to me.  I could feel something inside me responding at a deep level when I thought of the action of the pencil at the deepest level, as it reflected what I was asked to think of, which I thought of as being both my patient's spirit and my own spirit.


I have never forgotten the feeling of awe inside me as I realised that something deep within me, which I would now call my spirit, was affecting the action of the pencil/needle that my hand was holding.  I understood for the first time that how I approached the treatment of my patients could determine how my patients would experience their treatment.  Accepting that five element acupuncture can affect all levels of the human being, body, mind and spirit, at one and the same time is therefore one of the first lessons that those wanting to practise it need to learn.


So I always feel sad when I hear practitioners talk about spirit points as though these form a quite separate category from what I assume they regard as "ordinary" points, points such as command points.  Each point has its own spirit, its own potential to add something to the patient at the level of the spirit.  And simply by understanding that this is so adds to the action of the needle in the practitioner's hand something the practitioner themselves brings to this action, which is his/her own spirit.  A practitioner who understands how profoundly the action of a needle can affect a patient's spirit adds some of their own spirit to that needle's action.  A point needled in this way then contains something within it of both the practitioner's spirit and the spirit the point itself imparts.  


I like to think that the treatment then has the potential to reach the patient's spirit, surely the ultimate purpose of any five element treatment.


Tuesday, June 7, 2022

22 - 23 A Water practitioner describes how he holds his hands


Finally, here is a Water practitioner's very detailed comments about how he holds his hands and moves his body.  This rounds off the observations relating to all five elements.


Thank you, Pierre, for finding the time to send me your very interesting observations.


 "The more I am in distress or under stress the more I move my hands but I tend to hide that with patients: I do a lot of different things like touching my nails, or rubbing my hands in a slow movement.  I can identify that other parts of my body are moving too; I move my toes in my shoes, I can move my legs too (more when I'm standing up) and I change my sitting position regularly if I am not at ease and am finding it better to face somebody.  I very often move a part of my body I realize, like if I was uncomfortable within. That's always accompanied with a heart beating stronger and a little sensation of a global vibration in the body (adrenaline or cortisol?)". 


This is a very good description of the sense of movement and flow in all that Water does, but we must never forget that it can also freeze and become immobile if it feels under threat.