Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Decision fatigue

Each element is subject to its own stresses.  Mine relate to the functions of the Small Intestine within the Fire element.  We know that its task is to protect the Heart, its close companion, by making sure that it only allows the pure through.  This involves the never-ending work of screening everything coming to it before it allows it to pass.  Physically, of course, this means its work in filtering out impurities in the blood, but at the deeper level, which acupuncture recognizes, it also filters all that relates to our thoughts and emotions.

The Small Intestine must constantly ask itself, “Is this the right way to do this?”, “Is this the right thing to do?”, “Is this how I should be feeling?”  This is demanding work, and just as surely as we can become too tired to walk another step, so my Small Intestine can grind almost to a halt after a day of such constant activity.  It is as though I succumb to decision fatigue, lacking the strength to work out what I need to advise my Heart to do.  If I am not careful, this is when I may start to do the most inappropriate things, say the most inappropriate things, send off an intemperate email by mistake, or make a sudden decision based on ill-founded reasons.  With the years, I have grown better at recognising the early signs of this tiredness, and have learnt that I need to put all my thoughts on hold until my Small Intestine has had time to recover.  I have also learnt never to press the Send button on a difficult email until I have slept on it and woken to a refreshed Small Intestine, now able to resume its tasks and thus more likely to make the right decisions.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Curiosity – a five element acupuncturist’s most important quality

I have always maintained that one of the qualities we must develop in ourselves as five element acupuncturists is being curious about other people (and about ourselves).  Without this, we will never be able to help our patients.  A lack of curiosity is evidence that we are not really looking at them with the depth of interest we need to have to see them as they are.

I was glad to have my belief in the importance of this quality confirmed by something I read in the newspaper today.  A reader wrote the following:  “There are many reasons why we should cherish Albert Einstein.  What a pity then that biographer Steven Gimbel (about whose book there was a review in the Guardian on 13 June) omitted one of the greatest: curiosity.  Einstein is quoted as referring to this important disposition on several occasions, asserting:  “I have no special talent.  I am only passionately curious.”  Perhaps it was curiosity that led this patent clerk to become such a great physicist, and perhaps it is curiosity that our schools should cherish, rather than testing and league tables.”  (Quoted from the Guardian readers’ letter page today, 19 June).

Oh, how I agree with that!  Perhaps I, too, have “no special talent”.  But I am certainly “passionately curious.”  And it is this curiosity which leads me to explore every more deeply the world of the elements within each of us.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Heartening email from a five element student in China

I love hearing how my Chinese students are progressing in their five element practice, so I was very happy to receive the following email from one of them:

Practising five element acupuncture these days, I got some feelings that I would like to share with you.

Now, more and more I feel that it needs love and patience, just like growing flower; we just need to water and add fertilizer, then wait for it to blossom.  We wait for five elements to blossom, wait for the blossom of every single life.

And for a period of time, I put too much emphasis on the diagnosis of the element, and neglected building connection and relationship with my patients, only until one of the patient gave me some feedback that I realize it.

So I calm myself down to listen, giving every patient as much time as can be, to let them express themselves. One of the patients has already received five element acupuncture treatments for half a year, but the effect is not quite pleasing. Till recently I open up myself, she said that she finds it difficult to express her sorrow and sufferings to other people, but she can pour forth to me. Afterwards, she sent me message telling me that she feels much better every time, on the second day after treatment.

How well this practitioner expresses what lies at the heart of five element practice.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

The truth at the heart of five element acupuncture

One thing I am absolutely convinced of, and was from the very first day I was introduced to the elements through my own treatment, and that is that there are different aspects of our life force which make unique individuals of each one of us, and that these have been given by the ancient Chinese the symbolic names of what are called the five elements, Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water.   These different aspects create our life, and by some esoteric miracle of comprehension by these same ancient Chinese they were understood to have perceptible presences in each of us, so that we can hear them with our ears, see them with our eyes, smell them with our noses and feel them through our emotional sensors, provided these ears, eyes, noses and emotional sensors have trained themselves to do this.

There is thus a truth underlying my practice of five element acupuncture which is confirmed each day I spend simply observing my fellow human beings and myself, as well as each day I practise.  After all these thirty or more years of my acquaintance with the elements, I remain as fascinated by them as I was on that very first day at acupuncture college, and am in ever-growing awe of those early practitioners who perceived this truth and passed it on down the centuries and across the oceans to me, happening to sit at a party here in London next to a five element acupuncturist.  As I now book the flight for my next visit to China in the autumn, I feel how extraordinary it is that the journey of my own life is playing itself out in terms of these same elements, and how fortunate I am to be part of the great route of transmission from those olden days hidden deep in the past to the present day.  I am privileged to allow this small needle of mine held in my hand as I practise to draw to itself some of these centuries of understanding, and pass them on through the tiniest of manipulations to those who come to me for help.