Thursday, April 2, 2015

"Step into the blank of your mind"

I love this quote which comes from a poem by somebody called Richard Wilbur:

     “As a queen sits down, knowing that a chair will be there
      As a general raises his hand and is given the field-glasses,
      Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind.
      Something will come to you.”

It represents very accurately what I often feel as I sit, pen in hand, waiting for some thought to come to me which I think is worth pursuing.  At the moment I am indeed faced with the “blank of my mind” in relationship to writing about acupuncture.  I have concluded that this may be because I am just about to set off for my seventh visit to China, and as usual my mind is preoccupied with planning what I will take with me, and, much more importantly than any clothes, what the overall aim of my time there will be.  I always like to think of a theme around which I weave what we will be teaching there.  Last time it was the importance of developing a good patient/ practitioner relationship.  This time I note that I have written something about "it requires patience to be a five element practitioner”.  This echoes one of my constantly repeated mantras:  “Don’t hurry.  Don’t worry”.

We live in a world which is obsessed with results, so that we feel pressurized “to get things right”.  In five element terms, this means “getting the element right”.  But we need to lose some of our fear of not getting things immediately right.  Today on the radio I heard a headmaster, Anthony Seldon, saying that everybody is now concentrating far too much of their attention on children’s exam results.  We should be looking at things differently.  “Don’t ask how intelligent a child is”, he said, “Ask instead how is this child intelligent?”  This is an important distinction, which also applies to acupuncture.  We should not be thinking of the disease or condition that a patient comes to us for help with, but of the patient who is suffering from this condition.  This distinguishes us as five element acupuncturists from Western medical practitioners.  It is not simply enough to say that a patient is of the Earth element, much as a patient, in Western terms, could be said to be suffering from arthritis.  Instead we should be thinking not about the arthritis but about the patient - not what is the patient suffering from, but who is the patient who is doing the suffering.

This crucial distinction emphasizes the uniqueness of each patient, rather than the common nature of the disease they are suffering from.  We are not trying to lump a group of patients together under the heading of arthritis, or in five element terms, under the heading of the Earth element, but instead are trying to see the patient as a unique example of the Earth element, requiring a unique approach to the treatment we will be offering, whilst still under the umbrella of the Earth element.

These thoughts have just come to me as I sit here pondering on my theme for the week in China.  For a few moments, then I “stepped off into the blank of my mind”, as the poet says, and something has indeed “come to me.”


No comments:

Post a Comment