Monday, January 22, 2018

Metal removes itself

A Metal friend of mine, asked to explain how she deals with difficult situations, said simply, “I remove myself”.

I am always delighted when somebody offers such a neat and almost laughably concise illustration of an element’s particular qualities.  On reflection, I decided that I could not think of any other element apart from Metal that would say this.  I think it is the only element which I can see detaching itself so firmly and standing back.  Certainly, I who am as Fire as they come, could never say something like that.  In some way I realise that I always have to stay attached to whatever situation I am involved in.

This has made me think about how the other elements, Wood, Earth or Water, react when confronted with similar tricky situations.  I have my own thoughts on this, but would welcome feedback from people of these elements just to confirm my thinking.

Is there anybody out there who is Wood, Earth or Water, or indeed Metal or Fire, who would like to add something to this discussion?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Wood can't afford to have doubts

I was with a Wood friend today and after a few hours in her company I realised that I wanted to ask her an odd question, which was, “Do you ever have doubts?”  I wondered why this question had popped into my mind and realised it was because the hours with her had in a subtle way undermined me.  She seemed so sure of everything she said, stating everything as an established fact.  It was as if I was listening to many statements all having the effect of a pronouncement, a kind of “this is so”, and “that is so” and “that is all there is about it.”

I asked myself why this had thrown me as much as it obviously did, because here I am now half a day later still slightly disturbed.  Mulling this over, as I always do when something happens which throws me off-balance, I realised that the strong certainty with which she talked about things had caught me on the hop by highlighting what I felt were my own uncertainties and making them look liked weaknesses.

If I look carefully at the times when I think of myself as uncertain, it is not in fact the result of weakness, rather the reverse.  It represents merely the necessary time my Inner Fire (Small Intestine) needs to weigh up possible alternatives, because I always have to allow myself to see two sides of every situation.  In contrast to Wood  I am asking myself: “It may be like this, but I must also consider whether it may on the other hand be like this.”  And then my Inner Fire carries on with its ceaseless work of sorting what it is right for the Heart to do.

The Wood element, on the other hand, has other priorities.  Not for Wood is the luxury of weighing up pros and cons.  It is there to get on with things, and its decisions have to be rapid and taken in a “no turning back” kind of spirit.  Once made, these decisions have to be put into effect as soon as possible, and once it has decided what its opinion about anything is, that fixes it, if not for all time, then certainly for the immediate future.  During the time I spent with my Wood friend, I heard many statements of fact which sounded as though they were my friend’s firm opinions.  With each of her emphatic statements I could feel any confidence in my own certainties fading a little, as my Small Intestine tried to take on board what was being so firmly offered as fact.  It often felt itself swayed by these dogmatic statements because it couldn’t give itself enough time to assess whether at heart it agreed with them or not. 

This was another important lesson for me on the differences between Wood’s ability to make decision and my own, and also gave me further insights into Inner Fire’s potential weaknesses, as well as its potential strengths.  These are related to its need always to see the other side of the question and therefore to evaluate the relative merits of the arguments being presented to it.   I feel that Wood has no such hesitations.  Once having made up its mind, that is it.  And as I put it myself, it can’t afford to have doubts, because doubts will hold it back from acting, and action is above all what Wood wants.

Thus do I learn a little more each day about myself, about my Inner Fire and about my relationship to the Wood element.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year message to Five Element Groups in China

Here is the text of the New Year's message I have just sent to the five element acupuncture world in China:

"I always like to draw my thoughts together as we approach the end of each year, looking at the good things that have happened and thinking ahead to what I think is important to take forward with me into the next year.  I’ll do this now in relation to the development of five element acupuncture in China.  So here is how I see what we have achieved in 2017, and the hopes I have for its future development in 2018.

The first thing that pleased me so much about my two visits in 2017 was the very great improvement in their five element skills of all those who had come regularly to our previous seminars.  I have been very impressed with the keenness and hard work everybody is putting into developing their practice, particularly the group of experienced practitioners who have been coming to our seminars over the past six years, and have now taken over all the teaching of the beginners’ groups.  This has made it possible for us to concentrate our seminars more on the intermediate group of practitioners, those with less experience.

At our first 2017 seminar in April I had the opportunity to attend the graduation of the first year of those attending the three-year Project Heritage Programme, and could see the enthusiasm of the 500 or so students of this course, and the dedication of the teachers of the different disciplines. In April 2018, Guy, Mei and I will be teaching an introductory five element seminar for those who have graduated to the second year of this Programme, creating another important development in the spread of five element acupuncture in China.

At our second seminar in October, I was very moved to see the dedication with which the group teachers, after long days spent at the seminar, then went on every evening to give additional help to small groups of the students.  Each group leader spent the evening discussing one aspect of five element practice.  I was so happy to see the enthusiasm with which the groups were learning.  It was after the success of this latest seminar that I began really to feel that the future of five element acupuncture was now resting safely in the hands of an excellent and growing group of Chinese five element teachers.  This is a great relief for me, because it means that I have already passed on so much that I can be sure that a real core of five element practice now forms part of the Chinese acupuncture scene.

On the book front, Lynn Yang has been supervising the publication of more translations of my books, three of which have now been published: The Handbook of Five Element Practice, The Simple Guide and Patterns of Practice.  By the time we arrive for our next seminar in April, the translation of my first book of blogs On Being a Five Element Acupuncturist should be ready, and Lynn is already planning for the translation of the next book, Blogging a Five Element Life.

I am also making very active plans for more books in 2018.  Another one, which is called A Five Element Heritage, will be published in England in time for me to bring copies with me to our April seminar.  I am thinking about writing another book, which will draw together my thoughts about the elements and tips for recognizing them in people.  This is making me look at the elements with fresh eyes, and I will bring my new thoughts with me to the April seminar.

I look forward very much to seeing many old friends and making many more new friends at our seminars in April.  Guy and I have already booked our flights to Beijing, and I’m sure Mei has, too, or will do so soon.

I wish everybody a very happy start to 2018."