It might be easy to think that acupuncture is just about putting needles in the right places on someone’s body, and while this may be true, Five Elements acupuncture is also about much more than that.
As well as being helpful in treating many common conditions treatment is also about bringing you back into a state of natural balance and helping you understand your relationship with natural energy phases or ‘Elements’ which are all around us and inherent in all of life.
Living In Tune With Natural Cycles
Natural life has the intelligence of what we need to do to create balance in-built within, only as humans in our over driven western culture we tend to flout the edges and ‘push’ ourselves. Again, this disconnection with the natural flow of life, daily, seasonally or yearly is what can lend itself to dis-ease setting into the body.
Therefore Five Elements Acupuncture’s notion of dis-ease and illness goes far beyond the more conventional Western medical perspective which tends to isolate our body from our environment and focuses predominantly on our physical level.
Yin & Yang
If you look around, you will see that all ‘energy’, all creation, moves through a cycle, from birth through to maturity and then returns to stillness before setting off on it’s outward journey once more. This is the basic premise of Yin Yang theory – that all energy must be balanced by both an outward and then inward phase to maintain it’s equilibrium – just as night follows day, or how winter opposes summer. The key relationship for us to remember as human beings is that periods of activity muct be balanced by periods of rest and replenishment!
If you look at the journey of the seasons around us the cycle is most clear, from the birth and growth of life in Spring to it’s maturity in Summer to it’s decline in Autumn and then the stillness of Winter (The Chinese also use a fifth phase or season, that of Late Summer, which is seen as the pivotal phase where energy stabilises from one state before setting off another)
Separation From Nature
Unfortunately, particularly in the Western world we can start to see ourselves as distinct and separate from nature, which is where some of our difficulties can arise.
For example, while you may have a massive all powerful Energy of the season of Spring going on around us where plantlife and the natural world are all shooting into periods of intense growth, we might be carrying on our routine without even really noticing, much as we tend to carry on living at 100mph in the Winter when all around us is lying still and dormant – trees are bare and animals hibernating and collecting resources ready for the outward phase of energy ahead. So what happens is our own internal energy cycles start to become disrupted and imbalanced when we fall out of alignment with these natural cycles.
Similarly, much as we have identified that energy moves through an outward and inward cycle during the course of the year, so also you can observe that our energy follows that same path during the course of a day, from arising in the morning to activity to falling back to stillness at night, which once again we an be prone to falling out of connection with.
The Elements and ‘Meridians’
So what does living in tune with natural cycles and rhythms have to do with putting needles in someone? Well what maintains our relationship and balance with these energetic cycles is the fantastic vehicle we travel in that is our body with all it’s many facets and functions and importantly, from the Chinese Medicine Perspective, 12 main energy pathways which connect to organs within the body which are responsible for keeping our active/outward (Yang) and resting/inward (Yin) phases in check.
As the passage I’ve written at the foot of the page suggests, at one time or another we are always moving through one phase or another with our energy naturally calling us or drawing us to what we need. For example, within the body what we identify in Chinese Medicine as the Wood Element comprises our Liver and Gall Bladder meridians and is responsible for the catalyst of our internal ‘Spring’ – the ability to plan and make decisions and get things moving in our life, to see a future and assert our growth.
Conversely our Metal Element of Lung and Large Intestine meridians are responsible for our Internal ‘Autumn’, the ability to let go, much as in Autumn the leaves fall from the trees to be recycled from the Earth for new growth to occur later. And then there are some of the more obvious ones, the Earth Element of Stomach and Spleen are responsible for our ability to nourish ourselves and bear the fruits of our labour, much like how well tended Earth in Nature will in the late Summer harvest time have produced abundant and ripe fruit ready to eat. Our Fire Element of our Heart functions and Small Intestine which is of course responsible for our ability to enjoy the summers of our lives, to connect with others like those long lazy days when people are out being social and sharing time. And our Water Element of Kidney and Bladder is responsible for our internal Winter of rest and quiescence.
The Challenges of Modern Living
What can happen with the demands of modern living and challenges we face in our life as we evolve is that we can be over demanding on particular organs and meridians, bringing us out of balance with these subtle energies and cycles. For example, too much instability in our lives can stress our Earth Element, designed to keep us feeling nourished, held and secure and too much activity can affect our Water Element of Kidney and Bladder which likes to hold us in our most inward deep and peaceful state. (I think most of is living in the modern world struggle with that one!)
My role as the acupuncturist is to identify what is going on within your Elements and work with the intention of bringing about a greater degree of balance to your overall health. So I needle points and work with the Elements and meridians accordingly.
Internal and ‘External’ Balance
What sets aside this particular style of medicine is it’s recognition of the importance of both internal and external balance in life. It’s important for a person to remember that their inner balance is also affected by what is going on around them ‘externally’ in their lives, and vice versa, so while the treatments can work to bring about this inner physiological balance there is always still an onus on the patient to be aware of what is going on around them in their lives and what effect it may be having. Are the circumstances of your life supportive to your health?
The Connection of Body, Mind and Spirit
Five Elements Acupuncture works with the awareness that Body, Mind and Spirit are all interlinked and therefore symptoms of an imbalance could emerge on any of these levels. For example a person with a Large Intestine imbalance (responsible for letting go and removal of waste on the physical level) may have a symptom on the physical level such as constipation, or mentally, emotionally or behaviourally they may also have a tendency to hold onto things they no longer need.
Our Passions and Life Purpose
Empowering people to find their passion in life is a massive aspect of my work, as similarly it negatively affects out health when we engage with activities or occupations which don’t nourish us, again placing strain on the system. In both the acupuncture and Yoga I teach it’s considered fundamental to your health and wellbeing that your Heart energy – which responds positively to what you are passionate about – is at the ‘centre’ and in overall control of your Life path. This is known as following your Tao (or Dao).
The Heartmath institute in the U.S have studied the effects on your physiology when your Heart energy is engaged in what you do, and the results are compelling, as it influences the rest of your body when your Heart energy is engaged. It’s not by mistake that literally when our ‘Heart isn’t in something’ anymore we lack motivation and enthusiasm. I have written in depth on the environment-body-mind connection. It’s available to view here.
Acupuncture for Wellbeing
It’s not always about wanting to make yourself feel better if you feel out of sorts, life also about seeing how great you can actually make yourself feel!
Acupuncture is great in that it can improve your state of health and wellbeing no matter what place you are beginning from.
I treat a lot of people who have been diagnosed with a particular illness or disorder, whether acute or chronic, but i’d like you all to remember that sometimes there doesn’t have to be anything particularly ‘wrong’ to invest in your health and wellbeing. Acupuncture can move your wellbeing forward because it can work in quite subtle ways and adapt to what you need.
We can sometimes be very reluctant to invest in health maintenance or engaging in healthy practices which can just make us feel more vibrant and alive, instead spending vast amounts of money on the ‘cosmetic’ aspects of our life, cars, clothes etc. Nothing wrong with that, but just don’t forget your body also.
So I welcome you if you have a diagnosed health condition, and I also welcome you if you’re just interested in making yourself feel even more alive, fulfilled and are just keen to further enrich your experience of life, put a greater spring in your step.
Even if you’re fairly healthy, there’s usually still something to work on in our lives. Acupuncture can ‘fine tune’ us. Maybe you have the odd sleep disturbed night? Maybe you feel that something could be a little bit better in an area of your life, your relationships? Maybe your emotions are a bit up and down? Or maybe you just feel slightly out of tune with your life path or purpose?
Acupuncture has a very subtle way of bringing the many parts of us back into harmony. And as I mention, it doesn’t have to be because there is anything ‘wrong’ from a conventional medical viewpoint, but rather because you’re human, and life wouldn’t be life without it’s challenges or bringing aspects of your life to your awareness to work with.
We live in a great universal ‘One’. Within that ‘One’ in any given moment you have a place, where in balance your energy meets the world to enable you to be fully whole, to feel at ‘One’. It’s a path of exploration, where our energy will constantly moment to moment lead us and be drawn toward those energies and vibrations which lead to balance and health.
In any one moment this may be being the party King or Queen, sitting quietly in a park, planning your day tomorrow or reflecting on yesterday, following this natural flow we maintain balance and health, forcing against this flow or being inhibited from it results in dis-ease.