Thursday, October 29, 2015

The elements' different relationships to other people - Part 2

In my blog of 23 October I wrote about the relationships Wood, Fire and Metal like to have with other people.  Now it is the turn of Earth and Water.

There is some similarity between what these two elements want to experience in their encounters with other people, and in each case they express more of a need than we have seen with the other three elements.  Both of these elements enjoy being in the midst of a group, Earth liking to be at its centre with others around it, and Water melding more into the group, each Water person like a drop of water absorbed into the great oceans of life.  Earth will demand more individual attention, whereas Water is most comfortable with safety in numbers.

This picture of Earth surrounded by other people, preferably at their centre, metaphorically echoes the original five element diagram in which the other four elements circle around Earth in their midst.  With Earth the most important thing is that those surrounding it face towards it so that they can take careful note of what it wishes to say.  It is not enough, as it is with Water, for it to disappear into the group, for then its words will not be heard and understood as they should be, an understanding which is a necessary part of its need to process its own thoughts properly.  Processing is, after all, one of Earth’s most important functions.  It takes in, digests and then processes all that comes to it, both physically in the shape of food and mentally in the shape of thoughts.  It then has to pass on what it has processed as physical food worked on by the stomach, and as mental food in terms of thoughts and words worked on by its mind, which it then invites others to hear.

I have always found it interesting to note the somewhat confusing messages Water seems always to be transmitting.  On the one hand, as I have said, it has a need in some way to be swallowed up in the whole, to merge itself with those around it, and on the other, it has the quite contrasting, but less overtly obvious need to rise above the masses around it, and thus to rise to the top.  It is known to be the element of ambition and will-power, and just as water in nature exerts by far the strongest force when it is unleashed in storms and tsunamis, so a Water person will tend to achieve whatever it sets its mind to, often pushing aside those who stand in its way, as storm waters submerge all in their path.  Its relationship to others can therefore often seem somewhat ambiguous.  Appearing at ease in the company of others, it can then surprise them by pushing them aside, determinedly and often unobtrusively, in its fight to get to the top.  A Water person might well be the one in an office who, perhaps to others’ surprise, is offered the promotion these others had wanted and expected to be theirs.

And yet, despite this focused struggle to succeed in whatever it does, with little concern for how this affects others and often at their expense, it constantly seeks reassurance from those around it to still the fears lurking deep within it, fear being its dominant emotion.  

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A patient’s comments after his element was changed from Fire to Earth

Here is what a fellow practitioner told me after changing her patient’s treatment from the Fire to the Earth element.  After one treatment on Earth, the patient told her that he 'felt a profound change. Something felt very different'.

I am always delighted when I receive such strong confirmation of the effects of homing in on the right element.  My own patients have used different words to say the same thing, such as “I know who I am”, or “I feel myself now”.  That awareness of self that treatment helps patients to connect with is one of the most moving gifts our practice can offer them.     

Friday, October 23, 2015

The elements’ different relationships to other people - Part 1

Some time ago I had the opportunity to ask several practitioners who were all of the Wood element what was important to them in terms of their interactions with others.  After some discussion amongst themselves they all agreed that what they always wanted was to “engage” with people. Interestingly, two of the definitions given in the dictionary for the word are “to interlock” and “to bring troops into battle”.  Engagement is making some kind of direct contact with another person, and also implies some kind of physical contact, like boxers engaging in a fight.  It represents to me quite the reverse of somebody “walking on by”, which is more the action I associate with the Metal element’s desire to avoid just the kind of close encounter which the word “to engage” seems to describe.  In their description of what they feel most comfortable with, this group of Wood people gave proof of their element’s enjoyment of face-to-face encounters.  They are at ease with meetings with other people which contain some quality of a contest.  Again, we can contrast this with another element, Fire’s encounters, which lack this sense of competitiveness.

What Fire wants of its interactions with others is instead not a contest, but to set up relationships, gifts which the Heart, buried within this element, wants to offer all it encounters.  The challenges which Wood offers those it meets become in Fire’s hands offerings it hopes to give others, ultimately of course the gift of love.  The warm smile with which Fire greets everybody is in itself such an offering, and if this is not responded to warmly in return it will be viewed as a rebuff, a rejection of this gift.  Often we will see Fire people persist again and again with their offerings of smiles and laughter in an attempt to draw some reaction of warmth from the other person.  Wood, in the same position of being denied the engagement it looks for from another person, will simply metaphorically shrug its shoulders and move on, something Fire will find difficult to do, as it will judge the lack of response to its approaches to be a reproach to itself and will therefore try even harder to extract a response.

It is not a response of any kind which Metal wishes for.  Far from this.  It will view all encounters with other people as a test of its judgement.  They are still challenges, as in some respects all meetings with other people are, because they demand responses from each person’s elements, and in particular responses with which a guardian element feels at ease.  Metal’s challenge lies in the area of how accurately it assesses the value of any encounter.  This assessment will also consist in evaluating its own reactions, for all that Metal does includes a high level of self-evaluation, its task being to weigh up all things, itself included, on the scales of some value they assign to them. 

Metal judges itself as harshly, if not more harshly, than others.  And to judge you have to stand back and observe as impartially as you can.  So there is nothing here of the close involvement of one person with another that Fire strives for, or the challenging encounters Wood enjoys.  Instead, there is always a space around Metal which it builds for itself so that it can give itself some distance from which it hopes to view things in as detached a way as possible.  Of course, the degree of detachment and the amount of space depends upon the level of balance within a Metal person.  The more unbalanced the Metal element is, the less it can stand back and observe as impartially as it should, and the more its judgement will then be affected.

And what about Earth and Water, then?  That is for another blog.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Being happy is healthy

The following is an extract from an article in What the Doctors Don’t Tell You (8 October 2015):

Be happy: it could save your life if you have a heart problem

People who are happy and retain a positive attitude also have a healthier heart—and that can be the difference between life and death for people who already have a heart condition.

Positive people are living longer after they’ve been diagnosed with a heart condition, say researchers who tracked the health and psychological outlook of more than a thousand patients with coronary heart disease.

They were more likely to be alive five years later than others who had a negative outlook or suffered from depression.”

It’s good to have this confirmation from Western medicine of something acupuncturists have always known.  The Heart, an official of the Fire element, the element which brings us joy, must indeed be healthier the happier we are. 



Thursday, October 1, 2015

Two laments for the end of an era and one happy thing

I start this blog with my laments.  The little café, Stefano’s, which I would pop into daily on my way to the clinic, and which I wrote about in my blog of 29th March, has now closed and been taken over by what looks like a very much more upmarket place.  I think I can no longer call it a café, but would describe it more as a small patisserie.  And my favourite espresso has nearly doubled in price.  Stefano and his Italian family seem to have been the last survivors around here of a time when small family-owned businesses ran a one-shop enterprise.  Now the coffee chains, such as Starbucks, with their standardized fare, are taking over everywhere, perhaps understandably in view of the rents charged.  Even this new little patisserie has other branches elsewhere in the up-and-coming areas of London.

My second lament is for the puzzling substitution in train announcements of the good old-fashioned word “passenger” by the word “customer”.  I wonder who decided that this change was necessary.  Did a group of railway executives with nothing better to do solemnly sit around a table to discuss the merits of the one word against the other?  And why change it at all?  When I hear “passengers” I always thrill slightly to the thought of all those large ocean liners, like the Queen Mary, or indeed the Titanic, or people climbing aboard The Great Western  or the Orient Express.  When discussing the Titanic disaster, is anybody likely to ask, “How many customers were lost?”  The word now only reminds me of the money I paid today for my rail ticket to a much less exotic destination, Sussex.

But to relieve the slight gloom of writing about these two rather sad things, I tried to think of something good that has happened to me, and came up with quite a few examples, none more heartwarming than a little incident that occurred in the street a few days ago.  There was a different Big Issue seller from the usual one outside my local supermarket, and I thought I recognized him from seeing him somewhere else.  He smiled at me, and said, “You may not remember me, but you’re the lady who called to me to come across the street in Bond Street some time ago, so that you could buy a copy from me.”  Now I recalled that this must have been over a year ago.  So he had remembered this small act of kindness from all those months back.  Perhaps too many people treat Big Issue sellers as nuisances, and walk on by, and too few as people, trying hard to put their lives together.  We smiled at each other like old friends, and I walked on with my heart a little warmer.