Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Thoughts on my return from my 9th visit to China

This blog is for all the dedicated Chinese five element acupuncturists and budding acupuncturists who came to our seminars and public lectures in Nanning and Beijing on my recent visit to China, some of whom I have taught nine times over the past five years.

So who are they?

Well, there were 35 students in our four-day advanced seminar in Nanning.  Then there were 120 more students and interested observers at a public lecture we gave at the Beijing Traditional Medicine Hospital, plus 350 or so more at a similar lecture for students at the Beijing University of Traditional Medicine.

And finally, at two packed days of clinical seminars at different acupuncture clinics in our last two days in Beijing, there were 50 people on Saturday and 30 on the final Sunday.  So we flew home on the Monday morning having spoken about five element acupuncture to nearly 600 people, as well as treating over 30 patients in front of them on clinical days.  I begin now to understand why so many copies of the Mandarin version of my Handbook have been snapped up in China. 

All in all, a truly prodigious feat for all three of us, Mei Long, Guy Caplan and me. We shared each teaching day, with a surprising level of harmony between us, as well as a surprising degree of agreement about people’s guardian elements.  We have developed into a very cohesive and effective teaching unit, each with our own particular expertise.  Guy concentrates on helping students with what we call their CSOE skills (those of recognizing the colour, sound, smell and emotion of the different elements).  He has developed many interesting and innovative ways of teaching them how to start diagnosing the elements through their senses.  Mei offers both sound clinical skills and the relief for our audiences of not needing to have to wait for each word to be translated into Chinese.  I offer my 35 years’ experience and whatever else is needed, often concentrating on helping students observe me in my interactions with patients as I carry out diagnoses in front of the class. 

All three of us combine well in diagnosing participants’ elements, something eagerly sought by all, and so essential for any five element practitioner.  We have become increasingly skilled now at bringing together our different insights into the elements to form a preliminary diagnosis which is then confirmed or amended as we get to know the participants.  Each person is then given a treatment, starting of course, with an AE (Aggressive Energy) drain, and finishing with the source points of the chosen element.  We are flexible, too, about amending our diagnosis if time with the students leads us to change our minds.

All this helps the students develop their own insights into the elements, as well as confirming the need to ensure that they retain the humility necessary for anyone working with the elements, to allow the elements, those elusive agents of transformation, to teach us and prevent us from becoming too fixed in our ideas about their different qualities.

I started writing this blog at Beijing Airport waiting for the flight back to London, warmed to the heart by the welcome we had received, and by the delight I personally experienced to discover how well the participants had absorbed so much of my teaching over the five years I have been visiting China.  This time, for the first time, I asked those bringing patients to be treated to list the last five treatments they had given, and was pleased to find how well they had taken in all that we had taught them.  This can be summed up in two of my mantras, “The simpler the better” and “Don’t worry, don’t hurry”.  Their treatments were indeed simple, and focused clearly on one element at a time, and they didn’t seem to worry when we changed the elements, nor did they seem to be in any hurry.  Rather, they appeared to have taken to heart the need for flexibility when trying to diagnose the elements, without feeling under too much pressure “to get it right”, which has unnecessarily bedevilled much five element practice in this country.

And now I am just about to finish reading an excellent introduction by Heiner Fruehauf to the long-awaited English translation of Liu Lihong’s book Classical Chinese Medicine, about to be published. His book, which has sold over 400,000 copies in China, has drawn attention to the need to reconnect Chinese medicine to its traditional roots to prevent it from becoming swamped, as it is at present, by the pressures upon it of Western medicine.  I feel much humbled when I realise that my own efforts to return five element acupuncture to its birthplace have joined this growing current which is drawing traditional Chinese acupuncture into the mainstream of medical care in China and on into the world outside.

As part of this trend is the recent inauguration of the Beijing Tongyou Sanhe Traditional Chinese Medicine Development Foundation, under the aegis of Liu Lihong, for which I have received an impressive certificate stating that I am an adviser to the Acupuncture Committee for a period of 5 years.

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