Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Passing people by on the street in lockdown London

I don’t know why I am still so surprised at the different reactions I am getting to my approaches to those I encounter on my daily walk around the streets.  Surely, I ask myself, I should know by now that my smiles, accompanied often by a few words, will not always be welcomed.  Indeed they can often be rebuffed, which happens surprisingly often, even in these difficult days when I suppose I assume that we would all welcome friendly approaches from our fellow quarantined human beings.  I am also taken aback at how hurt I feel when I encounter blank stares as I try to engage people I pass in some kind of interaction.  They must all be aware of me, as they correctly swerve 2 metres away from me, and yet they often make not a flicker of eye contact, let alone respond to my words of thanks as I see them moving aside to let me pass.

Of course there are many exceptions, people who are happy to smile in response, even sometimes to stop and talk, and these brief encounters lighten my day and warm my heart.  As a Fire person, I suppose by now I should be aware of how much this heart of mine needs the warmth of its interactions with other people to keep it going.  But I often seem to forget this simple fact, which should act as a reminder to me that, however, much we think we know each element’s needs, particularly our own, we can never fully satisfy them.  At some level we never easily leave that one small circle which our element forms in the larger five-element circle of life.  We remain as though conditioned by who we are despite all our attempts, particularly as five element acupuncturists, to think ourselves into the circles of the other elements.  It becomes a weakness in us if we ignore this, and forget how much our element colours all we do. 

Perhaps, then, it would be a good lesson for me on my walk outside today to try simply to “walk on by”, rather than feel that I should interact in some way with each person I pass.  And I could also learn to use my experiences out in the streets as a useful way of trying to diagnose the different elements of those I meet through their reactions to my approaches.


Monday, May 18, 2020

Fighting Fire with Fire

During my acupuncture training I remember hearing the words “fighting Fire with Fire”, and the phrase has always stuck with me.  I am now not sure what the context was, except that it had something to do with not being frightened of using moxa on patients who complain of sweating, where we might hesitate to place further stress on the Fire element by adding moxa cones to our needling.  Later on in my practice, I used what I remembered from this to see if I could  help patients who were suffering hot flushes as part of their menopausal symptoms, and found that this contributed significantly to reducing them if I added one of the most wondrous points of all, III (Bl) 38 (43).

I was reminded of this when a fellow acupuncturist got in touch with me recently, asking for my advice about how he could help his wife who was suffering from very debilitating hot flushes, which persisted almost continuously throughout the day and left her feeling exhausted.   Using the experience from my own practice, I suggested he should add III 38 to the treatment he was giving her (her element is Metal), and asked him to let me know afterwards whether this had helped. 

He phoned me the next day to say that the effect had been miraculous.  His wife's hot flushes had stopped completely immediately after needling III 38 (with 7 moxa cones) ,and he noticed that her skin looked and felt quite different.  Where previously it had been hot and clammy, and had a rather sickly colour, it felt much cooler to the touch and had regained a healthier colour, and she no longer felt cold and shivery as she had done.  I interpreted this as evidence that this point, well warmed by moxibustion, had enabled her body to take control of the fire raging inside her as the hot flushes took hold.  He completed the treatment by needling the source points of Metal.  Two days later his wife had had no further hot flushes.

Thinking through why this point should have such an effect on reducing hot flushes, I have come to the conclusion that this must be because it has a close relationship to the Fire element.  We know that each point is related to the other points lying on the same meridian, as well as to points on other meridians which have a close anatomical relationship to it.  For example, III (Bl) 37 (42), on the Outer Bladder line, lies at the same horizontal plane as the AEP (back shu point) of the Lung, Bl 13, on the Inner Bladder line, and can therefore be seen as having a particular relationship to the Metal element.   Similarly, III 38 on the Outer Bladder line, lies at the same level as the AEP of the Heart Protector (Pericardium), III (Bl) 14, on the Inner Bladder line, and therefore can be seen to relate closely to the Fire element.  At a physical level, the two Outer Fire officials, the Heart Protector and the Three Heater, are in control of the blood and the body’s temperature mechanism, both of which the appearance of hot flushes show to be under extreme stress.  Needling III 38, beautifully warmed up by adding 7 moxa cones beforehand, is therefore a way of helping bring balance back to Outer Fire.  If further treatment is needed, more moxa cones can be added.

Bl 38 is one of the few points, apart from command points, which we can use several times in succession, and to my mind is probably one of the points which form the bedrock of five element practice.  One of its qualities is that it can increase its effect simply by increasing the number of moxa cones by a factor of 7 at subsequent treatments, up to a total of 50 cones (or more symbolically, I like to think, 49 (7 x 7) cones). It has an amazing effect on patients undergoing chemo- or radiotherapy, or for those with anaemia, where it can be used at successive treatments, often only a few days apart, to help the Fire element regain control of the blood. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

A Samuel Pepys quote for today

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose
(The more things change, the more they stay the same)

Every day a page of Samuel Pepys’ diary appears in my email inbox, to be read with delight at how acutely he observes human behaviour, and how his writings of 400 years ago continue to resonate so strongly now.  I have just followed him day by day through the months of the Great Plague and the Great Fire of London, so what he writes about how people are profiting from these disasters will be echoed by what I fear will soon be happening over here now, or maybe is already happening, as we deal with the repercussions of this terrible Covid19 virus.

From Samuel Pepys’ diary:  Sunday 5 May 1667
“Among other things (I) tell him what I hear of people being forced to sell their bills before September for 35 and 40 per cent. loss, and what is worst, that there are some courtiers that have made a knot to buy them, in hopes of some ways to get money of the King to pay them, which Sir W. Coventry is amazed at, and says we are a people made up for destruction, and will do what he can to prevent all this by getting the King to provide wherewith to pay them.”

Substitute “the Government” for the King, and you have all the people now licking their lips at the thought of buying up the thousands of failed businesses and the thousands of rented homes of those left penniless by this disaster .  After all, didn’t many of often the richest people, particularly the banks, get even richer on the ruins of the 2008 financial collapse?

Let us hope that the Government (“the King”!) will “provide wherewith to pay” all those who will be left destitute in the months and years to come.