Friday, March 29, 2019

Two prime examples of the Wood element out of balance (1): Theresa May and Donald Trump

I think we tend to see the elements in terms of their general characteristics rather than training ourselves to recognize the degree of their balance or imbalance.   I am particularly aware of this now because we have before our eyes the very public, and highly disturbing, spectacle of two totally unbalanced world leaders, our own Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the American President, Donald Trump.  It may be no coincidence from the point of view of the state of world affairs at the moment that I believe that they are both of the Wood element, and both, in their differing ways, examples of Wood frighteningly out of balance.

One of the advantages of studying the elements as five element acupuncturists do is that this can help transform any personal responses to the elements which we may find personally difficult to deal with into lessons teaching us a more objective approach to the elements.   When they are not stoking up my own Wood element to a high pitch of anger as I contemplate what suffering these two leaders are inflicting on their respective nations, I therefore try to lighten my mood by seeing them both as excellent examples which teach me a lot about Wood’s imbalances.  I also fantasize about how some good five element acupuncture treatment for them might help make the world a happier place for us all.

By chance, I happen to know two people who have worked with Theresa May, one before she was a Member of Parliament and the other in one of the civil service departments she was in charge of.  Both say that it was always well-known that she was incapable of making decisions.  This is almost laughably typical of the Wood element under stress.  We all know that its function is to be in charge of our planning and decision-making.  If Theresa May is Wood, then, this helps highlight something which has laid the cold hand of Brexit over the past three years of this country’s political life.  It explains the dogmatic statement Theresa May made at the start of her first speech as Prime Minister, when she told us so emphatically that “Brexit means Brexit”, and explains why she has never deviated from this in all the negotiations she has engaged in since then.

If decision-making is something you are uneasy with, but know that it is an essential part of your job constantly to be asked to make important decisions for the good of the country, then to be plunged so suddenly into the Prime Minister’s role which demands a high level of balanced and quick decision-making would have put an enormous strain on both Theresa May’s Liver, which would have been asked quickly to plan her first speech to the people, and then her Gall Bladder which would have had to decide when and how to say it.  Her quick-fire statement “Brexit means Brexit” failed miserably on both counts.  A more balanced Wood might have recognized that the referendum vote only marginally tilted the country in favour of Brexit, and would therefore have understood that it would be important to reach out to the nearly half the nation who voted to remain in the EU.  I see the dogmatic statements which have been her trademarks in the years since then (“strong and stable” being an obvious one) as being her way of persuading herself that the decisions she makes are always the right ones.  When we are unsure about doing something, but don’t want to reveal our uncertainty to others, we can often over-compensate by hiding these uncertainties under an over-emphatic shield of apparent confidence.  This is often what Wood does, and I think this is Theresa May’s default mode.  The less certain she is about what she should do, the more dogmatic her statements become, and the more stridently she repeats them. 

Those with a more balanced Wood element would plan ahead more carefully, using the vision which this element offers to ensure that any decisions made are flexible enough to be altered if events change, as they inevitably do. The quality of flexibility is one that is singularly lacking in Theresa May.  Her dogmatic approach makes her quite incapable of changing her mind, leading to total inflexibility when confronted with difficult situations which call for adaptability.  Hence the disastrous political mess this country is now in.

My next blog will continue these thoughts on the Wood element out of balance, as I look more closely at Donald Trump’s actions since becoming President.  I see his as being a very different kind of Wood imbalance. 

Friday, March 15, 2019

Energy transfers: a lesson in how to avoid complicating things unnecessarily

My introduction to energy transfers came during my first year at JR Worsley’s Leamington college, and set the tone to an approach which carried through the three years of my undergraduate training. This first introduction was made very confusing because unfortunately the tutor who was teaching us got the procedure wrong, selecting the wrong points, and only corrected  himself when one of the class pointed this out to him.  This was hardly an ideal way for us to learn how to include energy transfers into our practice.

The very complex energy transfers we were asked to do as part of our exams also did nothing to make things clearer to us.  By the end of my undergraduate training I had, through hard work, learnt by heart the procedure for carrying out such energy transfers, but, to my surprise, had never been prompted by any tutor to include transfers in treating the patients our tutors were supervising. 
Then came the welcome day during my postgraduate training, when JR Worsley explained the importance of energy transfers in such a simple way as to strip away all the confusion which up till then had surrounded what we considered to be this tricky area of five element practice.  From then on I started to incorporate energy transfers into my practice.

I have just looked up what I have written about them in my Handbook of Five Element Practice.  The second edition of the Handbook (published by Singing Dragon Press) has a much simpler, and, I hope, more accessible version of my original text.  I therefore refer any reader interested in delving more deeply into this subject to pages 115 – 120 of the Singing Dragon edition, where I describe in detail the procedure to be used.  In particular I repeat what JR told us:

The aim of any transfer of energy is to balance the relative energy shared between the elements and officials so that none retains more energy than another.  This way of redistributing energy helps to resolve tension between all the officials, and is an amazingly simple and effective way of restoring harmony.  Transferring energy in this way is therefore one of the most powerful and effective forms of treatment since it benefits all the elements by reducing disparities between them.”

Emboldened by JR’s encouragement I started to make more frequent use of energy transfers, and quickly found how effective they were.  After a transfer of energy of this kind, all the elements would breathe a sigh of relief, as imbalances between them cleared, and the smooth flow of energy round the cycle was restored.

I then started to look at which were likely to be the most common transfers. Again quoting from my Handbook: 

.. “some transfers are more frequently done than others, since certain elements tend to have more energy than others.  For example, the Wood and Earth officials are usually relatively stronger than the Water and Fire officials, which are called upon to provide our reserves of energy.”

This procedure is indicated when the pulses of the grandmother element are stronger than those of the mother element, and the simple transfer of energy using the tonification points between mother and child cannot be carried out, or would be less successful.

In practice, therefore, I found that I only used the following transfers:

From Earth to Outer Fire:          V (Pc) 3, IV (Ki) 3),
From Metal to Wood:                VIII (Li) 4,
From Earth to Wood:                 VIII (Li) 4, IX (Lu) 9
From Wood to Earth:                 XII (Sp)1

I then just learnt the points and the procedure to be used for these few transfers, and have never looked back.
As you can see, the transfers I list are carried out only between yin officials across the Ke cycle.  The procedure we were taught as undergraduates included finishing the transfer with the junction point between its yin and yang officials, but I no longer do that.  This is because I can clearly hear JR’s voice telling us that there is rarely a split pulse representing an imbalance between the paired officials within an element.  So when you bring energy to a yin official it will immediately share it with its partner yang official.  This also makes the procedure less complicated.

I hope what I have written here simplifies the approach to carrying out energy transfers a little, and encourages five element acupuncturists to use them as frequently as their reading of the pulses requires.