I am exploring new ways of helping those who have an interest in learning about the elements. This includes not only those who want to learn how to practise five element acupuncture but those who are just interested in learning more about human nature. My own deepest learning about the elements started soon after I qualified, when I was asked to teach some evening classes, and found myself talking to a whole range of people, from plumbers to retired people to young, unemployed mothers. Looking back, I realise that in explaining what the elements represented for me, and trying to find examples of them in famous people the whole class were familiar with, I learnt to see the elements, not simply as a component of acupuncture treatment, but as one way of approaching the complexities of human behaviour. I have always felt that anybody interested in understanding more about human nature in all its amazing variety can benefit from learning about the elements, whether they then wish to extend this knowledge into the field of acupuncture or not.
So how can I best help people wanting to learn about the elements? One way is obviously to let people observe me or other five element practitioners in our practice room, so that we can point out exactly why we think that person is Wood and the other is Metal. But that possibility is only available to acupuncturists or acupuncture students, and then only to very few amongst these, as they have to live near a five element practitioner, or be happy for us to come to their practices wherever these may be. I do this on a regular basis. For the person wishing to step for the first time inside the circle of the elements, and needing initially to study on their own for whatever reason, the simplest and, for me, still one of the most rewarding, ways of doing this is to sit yourself down in front of your computer screen and use U-tube or similar little five-minute snippets of interviews with people in the news, as a readily available, cheap and highly effective source of study.
This can be considered the first step in what I think can be called a form of distance-learning course on the elements, something which is so badly needed now. There are not enough courses anywhere in the world which concentrate the core of students’ studies on the elements. There are unfortunately many courses which offer a kind of add-on five element component which I believe does more harm than good in consigning five element acupuncture to a subsidiary or even inferior role. In doing this, they do it a great disservice, allowing students to think they have a training in the elements which they do not have.
To counteract this, and to help those who really want to study the elements in the way they deserve to be studied, I am preparing lists of famous people who in my view represent examples of each of the five elements. Obviously, since I have never personally met or treated any of these people, I cannot say for sure that I am always correct in these diagnoses-at-a-distance, but then nobody can absolutely guarantee that they have got it right, until changes brought about by treatment confirm the diagnosis.
Inevitably, I will be starting with Wood, which from many points of view can be considered the starting-point of the elements, the bud of life (although Water, the seedbed of life, is perhaps the real starting-point). This Wood list will be in my next blog.