Monday, November 5, 2012

Off to China again!

In a few days I will be flying out with Mei Long on my third teaching trip to China , first to Chengdu and then on to Nanning where a group of 50 or more acupuncturists are waiting for us to induct them into the mysterious world of the elements.  Of these, 30 are people new to five element acupuncture;  the remainder are part of the group of students we have been teaching for the past year.

It seems strange to me that it was only a year ago almost to the day that I first met what have become my Chinese friends.  This year has been such a profound exploration for me that it seems that all I have learnt could not possibly be contained within the space of a year – half a lifetime, yes, but not a mere 365 days.  It is interesting how time expands and contracts in this way, one day sometimes seeming so brief and a year, as here, so long.

I will be away for three weeks this time, with a weekend’s break in the middle during which, I gather, we will be taken on a mystery trip to somewhere beautiful near the Vietnamese border.  Then back to Chengdu for the final week to give seminars at the large traditional medicine conference there.

I will return, as usual, very changed, and, as usual, too, stimulated by the excitement our work there arouses.  I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to continue my work so productively and in such a welcoming environment.  With all the slaps life can deliver, it does indeed often give us the most surprising and unexpected gifts.  This is one for which I offer up thanks each day (but not yet in Mandarin, though my studies are going on apace!).

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Whole-family treatment

I often say to patients who come with apparently intractable family problems that it is not selfish for them to concentrate on getting themselves into balance, because the changes in them will inevitably have a ripple-on effect on all the people around them.  Often I see quite amazing improvements in the dynamics of a family as a result of the treatment of one of its members.

I witnessed one such change this week, when a patient, who had spent the past 20 or so years of her life trying to cope with the trying demands of her close-knit family, told me that over the past six months things had changed to such an extent that the entangled relationships which had so far made her feel so trapped were slowly resolving themselves.  She is now strong enough to demand that instead of bowing to her family’s needs they must now take her needs into account.  As a result, there has been a change in all her relationships to her parents and siblings;  with some she now feels much closer, with others she has learnt to keep her distance. And their relationships with each other also appear to have changed for the better.

In effect, we could say that our work makes us into family therapists.