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.
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.
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
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
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.