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.
By Cleo Wolf, L.Ac.
This is a hot topic these days and a very common question. Acupuncture as a profession in the US was only born in the 1970s. Since then it has been growing like a puppy, asleep most of the time and tripping over our own feet the rest of it. Business acumen is not a strength of acupuncture school curriculums. Because of this we have not been able to respond quickly or with clarity when other medical specialties encroach onto our scope of practice.
According to the state of Maine: “Acupuncture is the insertion of fine metal needles through the skin ... to normalize physiological function, treat certain diseases and dysfunctions of the body, prevent or modify the perception of pain and promote health and well-being. It is based on traditional oriental theories.”
The term Dry Needling was coined by an MD in the mid twentieth century who used hypodermic needles to inject trigger points to relieve pain. With experimentation it was discovered that no injection was needed, acupuncture needles work better to relieve pain at trigger points, hence “dry” needling. Trigger points have been shown to coincide with traditionally identified acupoints. Acupoints are locations known to access Qi at the surface of the body. Dry needling is acupuncture with different terminology and limited application.
Qi is a term that has no direct equivalent in western languages. Qi is what animates us, so is often called simply ‘energy.” Manipulating Qi is the mechanism underlying the effectiveness of acupuncture. However the restoration of balance to the complex system that is our body-mind is what relieves pain and restores function.
Traditional oriental theory does not isolate pain from the rest of the being’s experience, recognizing that the causes lay in imbalances that should be clarified and corrected. Without doing this the problem will likely arise somewhere else or simply re-occur. Balance can be restored by many means: movement, diet, emotional/mental hygiene, lifestyle changes, and acupuncture. Understanding traditional theory guides the way.
At Jade the Acupuncturists do the Dry Needling for the Physical Therapists. This means the patient has the provider with the most training bringing their expertise to the situation. Even without full assessment the constitution is evident to the trained acupuncturist who can then adjust the needling to provide safe relief of local pain without contributing to the problem. Acupuncturists do not needle like other allied health professionals - why should they? Acupuncturists employ traditional understanding and point manipulation to achieve results.
Bottom line: You can expect better results from an acupuncturist.
A still pond,
Frog goes plop!
In 1993 a study was conducted in Washington DC to see how a group of meditators can affect social behavior in their vicinity, the results were astounding. There was a 23% drop in violent crimes. The study was conducted by a quantum physicist, John Hagelin. It was not the first of its kind but perhaps the biggest. The idea is that we each radiate quantum fields and are sensitive to that energy as it is radiated by others.
Through our practice we contribute to a “healing field”, when we heal ourselves we help to heal the world. ~Roger Jahnke
In one pointedness meditation we begin with focus on a selected meditation object, and develop strength of mind. As this grows we maintain the focus and observe thoughts as they arise and let them go, rather than beginning to think about them. We begin to appreciate and gain insight into attachment and impermanence and our own nature. We learn not to believe everything we think. Letting go of this is pure pleasure. These lessons are experiential not intellectual, so they are literally written into the fabric of our cells. This changes our vibration, the quality of the energy we emit and experience. Together, one pointedness and insight, known as shamatha and vipassana are the meditation that produces the ripple effect.
As we change so does everything around us. We add to the world we experience through a gradual process of building momentum. As we progress we become more aware of this and our impact becomes less scattered and we are more able to influence what is perceptible to us through our choices and intention. This is the message of many physicists, neurobiologists and religious leaders around the world, that we are responsible to an unknown extent for our own well being and that of the whole world, especially in our immediate vicinity. Cultivating loving kindness and compassion in meditation is the most powerful act of choice we can make. It becomes its own path, where we benefit and so does everyone else. We become consciously creative. We awaken, gradually, more and more. We enjoy life more and more. Basing change and choices on such positive foundations determines a positive outcome.
In the process of meditation we see the Ripple Effect as it is produced and experienced by ourselves and by others. It is as simple as one thing leading to another and as grand as creation.
Licensed Acupuncturist, RN, Buddhist monk
"The pursuit of health is invariably a spiritual quest."