Sunday, December 6, 2015

Our responses to the different elements

At different times we all display the whole range of emotions associated with the five elements.  One way of helping ourselves become more alive to the differences between these emotions is therefore to think back to any situations which have led us to experience them ourselves. 

I am sure we have all at different points in our lives felt ourselves in the grip of fear (Water), longed for some understanding of what we are going through (Earth), become irritated by somebody (Wood), wanted to share our happiness with others (Fire) or retreated into ourselves to deal with some loss (Metal).  At different times we will express each of these emotions reflecting reactions to the different stresses each element is being subjected to, irrespective of what our dominant element is.  We will therefore have at least some inkling of the effects within us of these different emotions.  If we extend this understanding to what we feel a patient of a particular element may experience as their dominant emotion, this will go some way to feeling ourselves into elements which are not our own.  It requires some persistent work to do this in such a way as to give us accurate feedback, but once we recognize how much our work is enhanced by an ability to understand within ourselves the emotional responses of patients of other elements, this will be an enormous help in pinpointing the right element and therefore responding appropriately to its needs.  For each element demands responses which will reassure it that we recognize what these needs are.

It is not only that we all feel more at ease in the familiar company created by our element, and therefore tend to think other people will be as well, we also like to spread our particular emotional sphere around us by trying to draw other people into it on the assumption that this is what these other people want as much as we do.  We therefore live our lives enveloped within a kind of cocoon which our particular element spreads around us, and in which we inevitably seek to draw those who approach us, since this is the emotional atmosphere we are familiar with. 

It is a useful experiment for us as five element acupuncturists to observe our own interactions with others very closely to see what kind of an emotional net we spread around those we meet.  We may be surprised to note, as I was, how often what we are offering others in these interactions is not in fact what they want.  In normal social situations this will not matter too much as we have all become used to accommodating ourselves to whatever the people around us demand of us, and usually manage to shrug off what we find irritating.  In a clinical situation, however, things are very different.  We are not there to demand of our patients that they cope with approaches which disturb them, but to adapt ourselves through our knowledge of the elements to what will make them feel sufficiently comfortable to relax and be themselves.  This is often the opposite of what happens in the world outside the practice room, and unfamiliar as this will be initially as we learn our craft, how successfully we manage to do this will depend upon some persistent work on our part.

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