Tuesday, October 4, 2016

For simplicity’s sake – another heartfelt plea

Anybody who knows anything about me will know how often I plead for one basic principle of five element acupuncture, which is to keep it simple.  I always hear JR Worsley’s voice in my ear telling us that we really only need 3 minutes with our patients, one to look at them, two to decide on the point(s) to needle and three to say goodbye.  It was said jokingly (or at least I assumed it was), but like everything he said it hides profound wisdom.  The longer I practise, the more I have come to understand this.

As all good five element acupuncturists know, the aim of treatment is to hand control back to the elements within the patient as quickly as possible.  All treatment represents an interference with a patient’s natural energy, a temporary taking-over of control.  We were always told that it is not we who heal our patients, it is nature which does this through the elements which create the world outside and create our bodies and within them our souls.  So if we can find out where a hitch has occurred in the beautiful, health-giving flow of energy round the cycle of the elements, and help reinstate this natural flow, our work is done and we should withdraw from the scene.

From this viewpoint it can then be regarded as a waste of energy to spend so much time mulling over the actions of individual points rather than trying to pinpoint the element under stress and choosing points relating to that element. Sadly, though, I see too many people doing this.  We can call this “not seeing the wood for the trees”.

There is no doubt that it requires much humility to accept that observing the work of the elements in a human being demands skills which we can only acquire over time and involves much hard work.  For example, I like to tell people that it took me many years accurately to recognize the fear at the heart of the Water element, or that flushed red cheeks did not, as I assumed, point to Fire, but either to Wood or Earth out of control.  (In the case of Wood, it is because it is depriving its child Fire of the warmth it needs, and therefore Fire tries to stoke it up artificially, or in the case of Earth, it is because its mother, Fire, is out of control and passes on too much Fire to its child.  Fire never has permanently flushed skin.  Its colour flushes and then fades again quite quickly.  It often has a kind of blotchy red look.)  It took me a long time and much evidence from treating patients to recognize this and to accept that this was so.

But once we realize that what we need to do is study people as closely as possible wherever we encounter them (TV or cafes are good places to observe the significant interactions which point to one element or another), and gradually to build up a personal filing system of indicators for each element, then practice becomes simpler and simpler.  The mantra, as always, is “find the element and the points look after themselves”.  I don’t think it matters at all if I choose one point and another practitioner chooses another, provided both strengthen the patient’s guardian element.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing Nora and your humility about your own journey into discovering the elements. I believe there is great wisdom in your statement "All treatment represents an interference with a patient’s natural energy, a temporary taking-over of control"