Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Back from China!

I return, humbled.  We take so much for granted in our five element acupuncture in the West. The word “spirit” is so deeply entrenched in our thinking that we can hardly visualize our work without this deep aspect of ourselves imbuing all that we do.  This is so far from the modern Chinese view of acupuncture that it has taken me my three visits to understand the breath of change which I bring with me.  Now, though, it is quite clear to me that what China’s traditional medicine so desperately needs is to regain its spiritual roots, something so sadly suppressed over the past 30 years or more.  And the prime mover in all this is my host, Liu Lihong.  It is for this that they feel that what I have to offer is so badly needed over there.

So I taught and I talked for three weeks.  We supervised the treatment of over 60 patients (this time mainly given by the acupuncturists who had come to our previous seminars rather than by Mei and me).  I then gave two large seminars, one to 250 students at a traditional medicine college in Nanning and another to a large conference in Chengdu in a hall packed with 300 people with another 200 or so watching by video link.  The difference in atmosphere compared with last year’s conference was quite marked.  Then I was talking as a rather lone voice, not exactly in the wilderness, but certainly to an audience many of whom were unfamiliar with any concept of five element acupuncture.  This year, I felt as though I was amongst friends all eager to learn more.

And so many do!  All are asking where they can learn.  And there are so few of us to do the teaching!  This is a challenge indeed, both for my Chinese hosts, who have difficulty in restricting the numbers to a reasonable amount, even to fit into the rooms available, and a great challenge for me, too.  The only way we can see to meet such a demand will be to for me to devise some form of distance-learning based upon the Mandarin version of my Handbook, which was again handed out to everybody in their conference packs.  We will also need to encourage the kind of self-instruction or working together in small groups which the original pioneers of acupuncture in this country in the 1950s had as their only source of tuition.  I told them that JR and his group of fellow explorers had to make do with the few weeks of instruction a year then available to nourish their curiosity, and had to go off afterwards and explore for themselves what they had learnt.  The rest of their learning was up to their own experimentation and determination.  This is, after all, how JR came to develop his own insights into the role of the CF, Dick van Buren his theories about stems and branches and Mary Austin to devise her own five element approach.  I encouraged everybody to be brave enough to act as pioneers for five element acupuncture’s return to China.

Luckily for us they start from so much higher a level of understanding of the concept of the elements than any Western person has to begin with, for the elements are bred into them, as real to them as their life’s blood, and they can quote verbatim and from memory from the Su Wen and the Nei Jing.  The majority of those coming to the seminars are practising, well-qualified acupuncturists, trained to a much higher technical standard, I felt, than many practitioners over here (no need to remind any of them of point positions or point names).  They were therefore much, much quicker at making the slight adaptations to their techniques, such as pulse taking or needling, demanded by changing to a five element approach.

Plans are well in hand already for my return in April, this time accompanied by both Mei Long and Guy Caplan.  The student group will now expand from the 50 we taught this time to a further 50, making 100 students in all.  Of these some of the original group will be ready to start teaching the new learners what they have learnt.  And so the circle widens.

Now I need to get over my jet lag and start working on a more schematized distance-learning approach which will eventually be available for downloading by those in China.  Quite a stimulating project to come back to!


  1. Dear Nora,

    Congratulations! This sounds really lovely. Best wishes to Guy, Mei and the others still around at SOFEA!

    Koos van Kooten

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