Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Thoughts on the Fire element and other elements prompted by watching Usain Bolt and others at the Rio Olympics

Usain Bolt is, of course, pure Fire, at the moment the most visible example dominating our headlines.  Watching him interact with the crowd has added to my knowledge of Fire, and made me think more of what it tries to offer those around it.  So here are some more of my insights.

Fire wants to share its smile, its laughter, its thoughts.  If you watch Fire’s eyes they are always looking directly in the eyes of another person when they are talking or smiling or laughing to make sure that their speech, their smiles or their laughter are being received by somebody.  You could say that Fire regards them as gifts they want to offer others.

All elements can talk, smile and laugh, but their interactions will be directed outwards in different ways because they come from a different space within them, created, as everything we do is, by a particular guardian element.  Wood wants to command attention, point something out, Earth wants to ensure that all within hearing respond to it, for it likes being at the centre of a circle, not demanding one to one attention.  Metal, true to its natural desire to observe and judge life from a distance, will tend to keep many things to itself, saying the minimum that it thinks needs to be said, often choosing to keep its thoughts to itself, unless actively asked to share them.  Its smiles and its laughter are more like brief flashes breaking out, as though disturbing its preference for silence.  Compare, for example, the quiet celebration of joy that Jessica Ennis (Metal, I think) shows at winning with Usain Bolt’s tumultuous one, where he draws the whole world around him, spectators and TV audiences alike, to help him share his joy.

Finally, there is Water, always last in my list, because it is such a mysterious element and so difficult for me to pin down, with its often rather hysterical outpourings of speech and emotion, which are more likely to make us step away rather than drawing us towards it, because it makes us feel unsure of what we are experiencing and how we should be reacting.

I use a study of myself, as Fire, more than of anybody else in trying to fathom the secrets of what Fire wants of life.  Thinking of Usain Bolt, as I was this morning, I realised that my need to share my thoughts appears in the urge behind my teaching and my writing, particularly of my blogs and now in my Question and Answer Facebook sessions.  And I want to share my thoughts immediately, almost unable to wait until I have somebody with me, either in person or through social media of some kind, with whom to share them.  I can’t not share, just as Usain Bolt can’t not smile. 

Hence this blog.

 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

How to approach treating a patient with breast cancer

From a five element perspective, the onset of any illness or imbalance of any kind should be interpreted as being the result of some blockage in the balanced flow of life-giving energy round the cycle of the elements. There are many ways in which energy can become blocked, the simplest block being that between mother and child, where for some reason the mother is prevented from passing on enough of her good energy to her child, treated by needling the tonification points.  Another form of energy transfer is that between the grandmother and grandchild elements, bypassing the mother element because the grandmother has more energy than the mother to pass on.  And then there are all the other forms of blocks, such as Entry/Exit blocks, and the three major blocks, Aggressive Energy, Husband-Wife and Possession.

The important thing when treating somebody who comes to us with a serious condition, as in the case of breast cancer, is not to think that we have to approach treating the patient in any way differently from the way we approach every new patient.  We need to go through the same steady first steps of treatment: trying to diagnose the guardian element, checking for any blocks, beginning with an AE drain, and then concentrating our attention upon strengthening the element we have chosen as much as we can.  With a specific diagnosis, such as in the case of breast cancer,  we should also think carefully about which particular meridians flow around and through the area of the body where problems are occurring, here the breast, and consider which potential blockages might be occurring there which have led, may potentially have led or may in the future lead to symptoms appearing.  In the case of breast problems I always needle the points used to clear blocks between Spleen and Heart (a XII-1, Sp-Ht block), and between Kidney and Heart Protector (a IV-V, Ki-HP block).  I do this even though my pulse readings may not necessarily indicate these blockages are there, but because needling these points can be regarded as a preventative measure.  This will encourage the good flow of energy around the affected breast, and will thus help prevent future blocks occurring.  In addition, since pulse interpretation is such a highly skilled art, I never like to rely entirely on my own pulse reading skills.

If there is already any surgical scarring around this area, the points should only be needled on the healthy, unaffected side, since patients are warned against needling near the scar tissue.  Correcting the good flow of energy through a meridian on one side of the body will also help correct its sister flow on the other side.

For further information about how to diagnose and treat blocks, I would refer you to my Handbook of Five Element Practice which discusses each block in greater detail.  I have also written two other blogs about entry/exit points, one on 14 December 2010 and the other on 22 May 2012, and a blog about treating a patient with terminal cancer on 27 Feb 2013.

In addition to my blogs, the last chapter of my book The Pattern of Things (now published by Singing Dragon Press under the title of Patterns of Practice), entitled Afterword: Healing in Death, is my tribute to the courage of a terminally ill cancer patient of mine, and offers a good description of how I approached treating her in the last year of her life.

Needle retention

One of the questions I was recently asked on my Facebook Question and Answer sessions was about needle retention.  The questioner asked whether there was any difference between manipulating the needle and then leaving it in place, which I interpreted as referring to our five element sedation technique,  or removing the needles immediately after needling, our tonification technique.  This made me consider carefully what the effect a needle left in the skin has.  It is fairly simple to me to understand that when we stimulate a point and remove the needle we are then handing back to the patient’s own energy the task of continuing the effect the tonification needle is intended to produce, without any further interference from the acupuncturist (and I use the word interference advisedly).
 
But what is actually happening when the needles are left in place, and, as sometimes happens, are stimulated again at intervals?  In effect, any needle left in a point continues to activate this point in some way.  Sedating a point will therefore draw energy away from the sedated meridian for as long as the needle is inserted.  In this case, the acupuncturist continues to treat (to interfere, as I call all treatment) for as long as he/she decides to leave the needle, or more usually the needles, in.
 
It is interesting that in all the years that I worked under JR’s supervision or watched him work with others I cannot remember a single occasion when he said that we should sedate rather than tonify an element, except, of course for an AE drain and for Possession treatment.  But for these two treatments the needles are never manipulated whilst in the skin, just re-positioned if we feel they are not in the right place or threaten to fall out.  I have always interpreted the minimal use of sedation in five element acupuncture as a sign that the initial AE drain on all patients at the first treatment draws away any excess energy from the relevant elements in the patient, leaving us to do what is then needed, which is to stimulate deficient energy, i.e., to tonify and boost the flow of good energy between the elements.
 
In other forms of acupuncture, it seems that sedation of points by leaving needles in place forms a major role in treatment.  I wonder, though, with sedation of this kind which may well calm and pacify energy, what is then done to boost it?

Monday, July 25, 2016

"1 of the 48%"

I am still reeling from the result of the referendum.  And I don’t agree with many people’s passive acceptance that “Brexit means Brexit”.  It certainly doesn’t, or at least only if we, who so violently oppose cutting ourselves off from Europe, tamely accept that it does.

So I am on a personal mission to fight what I consider to be the good fight.  I have bought some badges supporting the EU, one of which I now wear proudly everywhere.  It says “1 of the 48%”, and has already provoked an argument from a “leaver”, but also much support from others.

And then I make sure that I buy a copy of the New European, which calls itself a “pop-up newspaper”.  It appeared within a week of the referendum, and gives a very healthy European slant to the news.  Originally, they said that there were only going to be 4 weekly copies, as a brief protest against the referendum result, but we’re on to copy 3 now and people are buying it, so I hope it changes its mind and carries on.

I also heard Paddy Ashdown talking on the Andrew Marr programme yesterday morning about a new group he and many others are bringing together called MoreUnited (www.moreunited.uk ) which, as he put it so persuasively, is there to give voice to the voiceless, those who don’t want to belong to any political party, but feel fervently that Britain should not cut itself off from its international roots.  It wants to campaign strongly against the idea that we have to go along with the idea of Brexit, rather than ensuring that we continue to fight against it.  So that’s another cause I decided to support.

And finally, to my own surprise, as somebody who has always been a floating voter, not attached to any particular party, I have thrown caution to the winds and have joined the Liberal Democrat party, because they are the only party who has said that they will base their plans for the next election solely on fighting to remain in the EU.

So it’s been a politically rather hectic few days for me, my pro-European feelings strengthened even more by the terrible events in France and Germany.  This is surely not the time to withdraw into an isolationist shell, as though we are trying to tuck ourselves out of sight in this corner of Europe.



 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Treatment of alopecia - another satisfactory use of a CV/GV block

A fellow practitioner, Jo Banthorpe, invited me to her practice for a day in mid-May to help with the treatment of some of her patients.  Before I arrived she warned me that she looked somewhat different from when we had last seen each other because she had developed alopecia, and now had large bare patches on her head.  She had therefore shaved her hair close to the skull to make these patches less noticeable.  I have Jo's permission to write about this.

During the day with her I asked her whether she had had treatment for a CV/GV (Ren Mai/DuMai) block, or had even considered this as being the cause of the alopecia.  I told her that over the years I had successfully treated several patients with alopecia, each having been told that there was little Western medicine could do to restore hair growth.  In each case clearing a CV/GV block led within a few weeks to the gradual re-growth of the hair.  I had been encouraged to select this treatment because I felt that such a drastic depletion of energy causing severe hair loss of this kind could only be the result of some serious energy block.  This obviously pointed to a CV/GV block.

I cleared this blockage on Jo during my day with her and awaited the result.  You can imagine how happy I was a few days ago to receive an email from her telling me that she was “delighted to report that my hair seems to be growing back! ” And “I don't think it was growing back before we did CV/GV, in fact I think I was still losing it but more from the hair line at the sides.”   She enclosed some photos of the back and side of her head, clearly showing the re-growth of hair.

This is yet another example of the drastic improvement in all kinds of conditions that clearing a CV/GV block can lead to.  It isn’t always at all clear from our often inadequate pulse readings that there is sufficiently severe depletion of energy to point immediately to a CV/GV block.  But if in doubt, and there is a persistent deep-seated condition which your treatment cannot seem to shift, then always think of this block. 

I remember quite clearly JR Worsley telling us that if the points for clearing a CV/GV block were on the wrist we would do it on every patient!  Those words have stayed with me for 30 years, and encouraged me to think often of this block and clear it, perhaps receiving confirmation only afterwards, when the patient’s symptoms change dramatically, that there was indeed such a block there.  So all of you out there who hesitate to diagnose this block because you are uncertain of your pulse-taking or feel reluctant to needle some of these points, just do this treatment. The block is surprisingly often there, and if it isn’t, it never hurts to do it.  It’s only like opening a door which is already open.

 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A good example of the Fire element

Here are some comments from the BBC Sports Website today about Andrew Johnston, the English golfer, a competitor at the golf tournament at Troon. 
"(Andrew) has delighted fans at The Open with his cheerful demeanour and says he will continue to do so when chasing the Claret Jug on Sunday.
The Englishman high-fived spectators as he walked down the 18th and his one-under 70 left him on five under, seven adrift of leader Henrik Stenson.
Playing in only his second Open, the hugely entertaining Johnston's rapidly growing popularity is down to his unique interaction with the crowds, as well as the media."
"It's been amazing," said the 27-year-old. "It's been such great fun.”
“I guess I'm just a down-to-earth bloke who likes to talk to people. You want people to go home with good memories. I'll chat to anyone from anywhere, as long as they're nice people who are nice to me."
Watch him on YouTube or Facebook.  You’ll learn a lot more about the Fire element after a few minutes of looking at him and listening to him talk.
I think he is Outer Fire (Heart Protector/Three Heater), not Inner Fire (Small Intestine/Heart).  The difference can often be seen by the way each aspect of Fire talks.  Inner Fire, sorting out what it wants to say as it talks, often stumbles or pauses in its attempt to find the right words.  Outer Fire is much more smoothly articulate.

 

 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

New direction for my teaching

The same Viennese friend of my family, Dr Oskar Adler, of whom I wrote in my last blog, The disappearance of things (27 June 2016), was the author of several extremely interesting books on astrology.  In them he often talked about life and the destinies life chooses for us and those we choose for ourselves.  One of his sayings has inspired me over the years.  He said that we have a duty to humanity to pass on to others anything we have ourselves learnt, however small and insignificant it may appear to be in our own eyes.  We will never know who may be out there waiting to hear our thoughts, and how these may add something to their life, changing it in some way that we may be completely unaware of.

Many years ago, an acupuncture student who came to observe me in my practice happened to say to me, somewhat frivolously I thought, “I think I learnt more from you in this one day, Nora, than I learnt in a year at acupuncture college”.  However exaggerated this comment was, it proved a turning point in my life, giving me, who was then a rather uncertain only recently qualified acupuncturist, the necessary courage and impetus to think of teaching others.  And that one remark has stamped itself on the last 25 or more years of my life, as I have endeavoured, through one form of teaching and another, to hand on as much as I have learnt from my own practice to as many people as possible.

During these years I have moved on from the first informal teaching of a few students in my practice, to founding my own acupuncture college, where I taught 10 groups of students over a period of 12 years or more, to more postgraduate work, running seminars and visiting practitioners’ clinics in various European countries, before what I regard now as probably my final reincarnation as a teacher of many hundreds if not thousands of Chinese practitioners.

With Dr Adler’s dictum in mind, I have now decided that I need to grasp another nettle, on-line teaching.  I am thinking of running a webcast where I can reply to questions about five element acupuncture that are sent to me.  I should probably have been thinking of doing this long before now, as I know that all the people I teach are completely at ease with their mobiles and their tablets, and are used to the constant interchange of ideas which this allows them.  

I would be very pleased to hear whether this of interest, either through comments posted in the comments section below or on my Facebook page.  

Monday, June 27, 2016

The disappearance of things

I have written before about a very interesting old Viennese musician and astrologer I knew many years ago called Dr Oskar Adler.  I remembered one of the things he would say after a curious incident which happened to me yesterday.  He believed that it is pointless looking for things that we have mislaid, because they really go missing.  You have to leave some time, and then they will re-appear.

I had further proof of this rather esoteric belief again.  Anybody of my venerable age will know that the one object they treasure above all others is the old people’s free bus pass, which allows us to hop on and off buses and in and out of tube trains at will, and gives us the kind of freedom denied previous generations of the elderly.  I always check that I have my pass before I leave home.  This morning, to my dismay, it was not where it usually is, tucked safely away in the front compartment of my rucksack.  I searched for a long time for it, looking into all the pockets of all the clothing I might have been wearing on my last trip outside, but could find it nowhere.

I decided that I should immediately apply for a replacement at the local Post Office, and so headed outside to do just that.  I was standing on the top step of the short flight of stairs leading to the road outside, when I happened to look down.  There on the pavement, tucked closely against the front railings, was my bus pass.  The road sweeper had obviously recently been, because the pavement was swept completely clean, the only object in sight on the ground being this little plastic rectangle in its white cover.  If I had grasped the right-hand rather than the left-hand railings to help me down the stairs I would have missed seeing it completely.

I still can’t think how it got there.  Rationally I could say that it might have slipped from the rucksack as I got out my front-door keys the day before, but I prefer the more mysterious explanation.  My bus pass decided to do one of those disappearing tricks the Dr Adler persuaded me to believe in, and simply took it in its mind to re-appear on another day. 

In the past, when something similar has happened to me, which it has done several times, the time between an object’s disappearance and re-appearance has often been longer, sometimes a few weeks.  And once I found the keys to my house, which I had desperately hunted for for days, hidden away a few weeks later under rubbish at the bottom of an outside dustbin.

I like to think that there are indeed “more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy” (Hamlet).  This little incident lifted my spirits a little, just a little, from despairing and dreary contemplation of the weekend's political turmoil.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Oh England! What have you done to yourself!

I am devastated by the results of the referendum, as is everybody I know.

The most appropriate comment I heard during a dreadful night spent listening with increasing horror to the radio and watching TV was that of Paddy Ashdown, the former Liberal leader, when he said: "God help this country!"

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Europe - In or Out?

Oh, this wretched referendum being forced on this country against our will!  Who wants a referendum except those who want us to get out of the EU?  Certainly, I don’t, and I don’t know many people who do.  I have always regarded myself as European to the core, and never a Little Englander, so I fervently hope that there are more people who think like me out there voting on June 23rd than those who don’t.

I come of a family for whom Britain’s connections to Europe dominated throughout the years of my childhood during the second World War, and one which had suffered deeply and often tragically from the xenophobic and racial hatreds which led to the war.  Unhappily, these now seem to be rearing their very unpleasant heads again, as poor suffering migrants, escaping the kind of persecutions my mother’s Austrian Jewish family had to suffer, are now being made scapegoats for many of the real problems people in this country (never the rich, mind you) are suffering.

I think we are going through strange and extreme times, of which the referendum is one symptom, as are the other odd signs of this, such as Donald Trump’s successes in the States, the rise of increasingly right-wing, almost fascist parties in Europe and the corresponding, and necessary, rise of parties of protest, such as those in Greece or Spain, and even what is happening to the Labour Party in this country.  The political uncertainties all this creates raise disturbing echoes of those at other troubled times, most obviously in the 1930s, which led to the rise of fascism in Germany and Austria, my mother’s and my birthplace. 

In turn, this has been accompanied, for me personally, by a renewed interest in the tumultuous background to my earliest years during the war.  By coincidence, several things have concurred to bring this period of European life to the forefront of my thoughts, among them the reading of some highly interesting books which have illuminated this period for me.  First there is the recently published book by Philippe Sands, the international lawyer, called East West Street :  On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity, a book of great interest not just to lawyers but to all those whose family suffered persecution under Hitler.  Philippe Sands interleaves his legal discussions relating to the background to the Nuremberg trials with discoveries about the history of his own family in Nazi-occupied Poland.  Co-incidentally, there are connections with my own family, since Philippe bought my mother’s house in Hampstead, and my mother’s cousin helped him decipher and translate some of the handwritten German documents he discovered during his search for his family.

The reading of this book also coincided with a re-introduction through a friend to an Austrian writer, Ilse Aichinger, whom I remembered reading some years back but had completely forgotten about.  She told me of Ilse Aichinger’s only novel, called in its first English translation, Herod’s Children, published in its original German in 1948, with the translation appearing in 1956.  This book, too, is about the period of the second World War, and follows a group of Jewish children in Vienna whose only permitted playground is a graveyard.  It is not a realistic representation of Viennese life under the Nazis, but a kind of mythical transposition viewing the world through a child’s eyes.  It is a book which deserves a much wider readership than it has at present.  So I am now on a mission to try and interest Daunts’, my favourite bookseller, to re-publish it, as it deserves to be out there again as one of the discoveries of forgotten masterpieces which they pride themselves on publishing.

Finally, to round off these few weeks of immersion in the past, I saw an amazing film called Son of Saul, about a Jewish prisoner in a concentration camp, who is part of the Sonderkommando, those prisoners who were set apart and given a few more months of life in order to act as guards shepherding their fellow Jews into the gas chambers.  He thinks he sees the body of his son, and the film is the story of his despairing attempts to find a Rabbi amongst the prisoners so that he can give his son a proper burial.  I was persuaded to see the film only after a friend reassured me that you do not directly see any of the terrible events taking place, but as dim background to the camera’s view which is trained always upon the father, particularly just on his face.  It is one of the most moving and, yes, uplifting, films I have seen.  Go and see it if you can still catch it.