Thursday, October 27, 2016

Thoughts on my return from China

So here I am sitting comfortably once again in my favourite London coffee shop, and feeling as though the past 10 days in China have been like a dream and never happened. This is always how I feel on my return from such a different environment and culture.  I am suffering a bit from jet-lag after our 11-hour flight, but not as much as I normally do, because Guy has given me a tip on how to combat jet-lag.  This is for acupuncturists only, I’m afraid, but consists in needling the horary points of the elements whose times we are entering as we move from one time-zone to another.  It does seem to work, although not every time, I found.  Certainly, after self-needling a series of points during sleepless intervals during the night, I woke this morning experiencing none of the heavy jet-lag I normally feel.

On our flight back, Guy and I enjoyed ourselves mulling over the very happy days we had spent with our students on the two seminars we held, and making plans for what we will be doing at our next scheduled visit in April 2017.  We always say that the seminar we have just completed is our best, but these two truly were the best, because we saw such an improvement in five element practice even in the short time since we were last in China.  I often feel that the enthusiasm and dedication our Chinese students show put our Western-based students to shame.  It is such a joy for me to see how what started in 2011 with a mere 15 students in Nanning has now grown five years later to many hundreds of practitioners throughout China.  This is an awesome achievement, and makes me very proud of all the work everybody has put into developing five element acupuncture there - from Professor Liu Lihong who first invited me, through Mei and Guy, and on to every one of those who have moved the study of five element acupuncture forward to where it is at present in China.

I would like to dedicate this blog to all who made our latest visit such a rewarding one, and in particular Lynn Yang who organized everything so beautifully, as she always does, and held everything together, from the moment of our arrival at Beijing Airport to that of our departure.  I would also like to thank her and Caroline who as usual acted as such splendid translators for us.  And then we owe a great deal of the success of our visit to a small army of helpers who took much of the strain of organizing the very large group of well over 100 acupuncturists into orderly ranks so that they could observe treatments in the practice rooms in small batches.  All of these helpers together made my 10th visit to China such a successful and joyous event.



Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Off to my 10th visit to China

I will be getting on the plane to Beijing tomorrow where Mei, Guy and I will be giving two seminars.  The first will be over 5 days, for about 120 students, nearly all of whom we have not seen before.  To attend this seminar they must first have taken part in one of the introductory five element courses given by former students of ours, a healthy sign of how many acupuncturists over there already feel competent enough to teach others.  The second two-day seminar is for a more advanced group of about 50 practitioners, all of whom have come to some of our previous seminars.

Finally, to round off our visit, on our last day something quite different is planned.  The day will be spent at the Institute of Acupuncture of the China Academy of Chinese Medical Science, a Chinese medicine research institute under the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  I an told that it is responsible for 17 research institutes, 6 medical organizations, 2 pharmaceutical companies and a publishing house.  It has been working with the World Health Organization and has edstablished three centres of clinical research into acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.

In the morning the Institute will be host to the inaugural meeting of the new Five Element Acupuncture Association. This is an umbrella association covering those teaching five element acupuncture according to the principles handed on to them during the seminars we have held over the past five years.  As we know, there is always a risk that some may set themselves up as experts in their field based upon little practical experience, and this is particularly true of acupuncture in China where many thousands of practitioners now qualify from universities of traditional Chinese medicine each year.  The association will be aimed at ensuring that those intending to teach this particular branch of five element acupuncture are qualified to do so. In the afternoon we will be holding a seminar for the Institute of Acupuncture, making this a very full last day indeed.

As usual I am taking quite a few books with me as presents, including children’s books for some of the babies born to graduates of our previous seminars, some more of my books as presentation copies to the various institutes, and, this time, a selection of Monkey Press books which Sandra Hill has kindly donated, and which they are not familiar with over there.  I am also taking a selection of my own books which my publisher, Singing Dragon Press, has asked me to pass on to the Chinese publisher.  This publishing house has now signed an agreement for the publication of translations of my other four books, in addition to the translation of my Handbook of Five Element Practice (the book, which I proudly tell everybody, has already sold more than 20,000 copies over there).  Mei has already translated my Simple Guide, which is now in the process of being published. Translations of the other three books, the Keepers of the Soul (my very favourite book), Patterns of Practice and On Being a Five Element Acupuncturist (my blog book, I call it), are also already in the pipeline. 

So a lot of things are happening in China on the five element acupuncture front, something I feel I am blessed to witness and to participate in.

I will report back further on my return to London at the end of October.

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.