By Cleo Wolf, L.Ac
Balance is the key. The body is composed of matter - tissues, fluids, blood, bones, which fall under the category of Yin. But it also includes energy, processes, activity, chemical reactions, immune responses which fall under the category of Yang. Yin is being, yang is doing. Harmony between Yin and Yang, balance, is essential to well being.
The beauty of east asian medicine is its simultaneous simplicity and complexity.
Illness or dysfunction waves a red flag of imbalance. To discover how to correct that we have to identify both the disease and the pattern. Five different people may each have a cold (the disease) but each of them may follow a different pattern (wind heat, wind cold, summer heat with damp, exterior pathogen with qi deficiency, exterior pathogen with yin deficiency) in that cold, and that changes the treatment that will work for them.
In order to diagnose the disease and clarify the pattern the acupuncturist or east asian medicine practitioner relies on asking about symptoms, touch, listening/smelling and observation. Thousands of years ago our Asian predecessors did not have technology like we have today but they had superior powers of observation and were able to record and share the understanding they gleaned and network with others to preserve and build on the developing knowledge base. They discovered systems of correspondence that point to the systems involved with imbalance.
When the imbalance is identified we can use those correspondences to encourage the body to restore harmony between the systems. The more balanced the systems are, the more energy available to enjoy life and maintain health.
The body is amazing! It is so complex but overall it has one prime directive:
~ maintain balance ~
We recognize the complexity of living beings and acknowledge the imperfection of our understanding, but we can help to enhance what is working and diminish what is dysfunctional or uncomfortable.
Acupuncture uses fine filaments of sterile stainless steel to influence the body systems by moving Qi. The term Qi (pronounced chee) was never translated because it doesn’t have a near concept in english or other european languages. That is the value of being open to different perspectives. Qi is what animates us, it is the force of cohesion and dispersion, of movement and response. In scientific terms it is probably some form of electromagnetism. It moves routinely thru the body in channels and broadly across regions and collects in seas. It circulates and shifts from place to place. It is one thing described as many because it has so many functions.
There are myriad styles of acupuncture and some use microsystems such as the ears and hands to great advantage. Sometimes the farther away an acupoint from the problem area the stronger its impact will be, like a lever and fulcrum. Often a treatment is designed as a package to be delivered to an address. Some treatments are like directions from conductor to orchestra, some are like fine tuning a precision engine. All of them work with the nature of the being and do not force but encourage beneficial change.
"The pursuit of health is invariably a spiritual quest."