In 5 element acupuncture the practitioner listens to the patient, and feels their twelves energetic pulses, to understand what is not in balance. It is not about matching a point to relieve a symptom. It is much more like poetry. Each point is like a palace of qi* that when accessed releases a particular quality that helps the person integrate their life experience, and move forward on their journey more fully and in harmony.
Each energetic point on the body was explored by the ancient Chinese. They realized that each point had a far more reaching effectthan just easing the physical body. They found that using the spirit of acupuncture points altered their minds, and feelings, and opened their hearts to understand nature.
A poem is like a finger pointing to the moon. We focus our attention on what is being pointed to, the marvel of the moon, in awe that it exists. Yet, simultaneously our marveling is a marvel itself. That we can see the moon, know both of its facts we have learned and with our feelings, we create the sense of awe. A good poem points to the greatness of what is being written about, but does not box it in with its words. A good poet writes in the language of Nature, and trusts in the infinite ways it will be received. He knows the purpose of the poem is not to create the perfect poem itself, but rather to create a finger pointing to the moon.
Poetry in Medicine
In India an Ayurvedic physician is called kaviraj, meaning “king of the poets,” as could be called a 5 element acupuncturist. The art of this medicine comes in understanding and intuiting the spirit of each point, and choosing the best point(s) to help restore harmony in the patient and help them move forward on their path. When the spirit of the point is accessed it helps people integrate their experiences more, it supports and illuminates their thinking and minds, and helps them have deeper insight into their own potential, desires, purpose and nature.
As time has passed the relationship between spirituality and medicine has shifted, but not separated. Where there is one, we will always find the other, because man can never be separated from his own depth; his own spirit. The field of medicine is slowly acknowledging the role of spirit in health and wellbeing and our community is gradually accepting that there is a time and place for the miracles of western medicine, just as there is a need for healing arts like 5 element acupuncture.
To conclude, I will share with you an example of a spirit of a point, as described by practitioner and author, Debra Katz:
Ling Xu is the 24th accessible palace of qi on the Kidney** meridian. The character for this point translates as Wild Lands of Spirit. When accessed this point can revive the spirit. When we are low, resigned, or have suffered, this point re-establishes the connection to our own strength.
The character for Ling is drawn as rain falling from the heavens into the mouths of three shaman women who are dancing between heaven and earth. It means mysterious, supernatural, power, marvelous, divine, intelligent, soul. Xu is drawn as earth and an emptiness, void or place that is barren or empty, wild land, burial ground. Together these characters express the source of spiritual depth that is able to return our spirit to life, wonder and its own inner wisdom. This point is used to restore our spirits with hope and wonder, and allow life to be lived out in its fullest.
In many cases I will use this point to help unleash one’s spirit from the burdens of their past, or worries, inviting them to be full and present in the moment.
*Qi is often translated as life energy
**In acupuncture the various meridians are understood to have different qualities and effects on the functions of the body/mind/spirit. In the west, they translate as being categorized as elements and associated with different organs, though it’s more accurate to think of the function the organ offers rather than just the organ itself, in this case, the kidneys/water element.