For many generations, acupuncture and qigong, along with other forms of oriental medicine, were primarily transmitted within families. Every once in a while, a great practitioner would come along and form a school which built on available methods and illuminated a new integration, forming a new lineage. At times, such as in the 1940’s and 50’s at the forming of Traditional Chinese Medicine (the type of Chinese medicine that is currently most common in China and the U.S.), the government would get involved.
Classical Five Element Acupuncture is an old lineage, the roots of which can be seen in the earliest known text of Chinese Medicine, the Yellow Emperor’s Classic. Training in this tradition requires direct transmission from teacher to student–it is more suited to apprenticeship and to one’s own personal study of nature than to typical classroom teaching. The teacher must find ways to open the senses of the student, so that the student can develop capacities to directly experience what is going on elementally in the patient and find what is the next step needed to strengthen inner equilibrium and vitality.
By studying the patient’s color, sound, odor, emotion, life patterns and overall energetic movement in the moment, the practitioner makes a constitutional energetic diagnosis. This diagnosis may or may not be evidenced by the patient’s most prominent symptoms. Paraphrasing one of my teachers, “if twelve people are working in an office, and one of them gets sick and goes home, the loudest complaints are often from one of those still on duty and overworked!” It is so important not to treat in a way that just takes away the symptoms. Doing so would be like cutting the wires to the bothersome oil light in a car: the problem would seem to go away…until greater problems would result down the line. It is by understanding the underlying energetic structure that the person can be treated at the source. Herbs are generally not used. Nothing is forced. Rather, growth steps that can be integrated by the patient are facilitated.
Classical Five Element Acupuncture helps us to find the more comprehensive equilibrium that resolves the symptoms, so that illness can be healed and we can be something more than we were before, in a state of greater health and well-being.