I’d like to address a common question, and that is ‘What is Chinese Medicine Acupuncture?’ I have written previously on what Acupuncture needling is, to assist one to differentiate it from other modalities that also insert needles into the body. If interested in that, I guide the reader to my Facebook business page @WalkerAcupuncture.
In that piece, I explain that Chinese Medicine is really just the application of Chinese Philosophy.
Via the analyses of the ebbs and flows, or if you prefer, the circadian rhythms of the macrocosm, the sages were able to apply the synergistic relationships of all things as merely a reflection of ourselves. It is said in Chinese Philosophy that Earth responds to Heaven. This suggests that to follow the way of heaven, one must pay attention to how the Earth is behaving. As humans, our vertical spine connects us between Heaven above and Earth below, allowing us to act as a bridge between these planes. This implies that as humans, we require a relationship with both planes in order to be that which we were born to become.
The point that I’m making is that we are inseparable to the environment that we are surrounded by. The soil, light, oxygen, water, and then everything beyond this planet that has it’s own purposefully chaotic trajectory, rotation, collapse and fusion as this universe continues to stretch.
I also touched on what is a philosopher, and according to the Chinese character for a philosopher it is to take something complicated and make it easier to process for humanity. The understanding of Space and Time (Earth and Heaven) is represented in the book known as the IChing (Classic of Changes). This was the attempt to simplify how things were, are and will be. To reiterate that point, the book is most notably used for divination purposes.
So as humans experiencing life, what does this have to do with acupuncture? As I mentioned our bodies are inseparable to everything that we experience, if you are interested in this concept, have a google for “epigenetics.” Or get yourself the book called “Inheritance – How our genes change our lives and our lives change our genes” by Sharon Moalem.
In any case, these philosophies are laid over the body represented by the channel systems of acupuncture. I say systems as there are five separate channel systems that possess their unique behavioural qualities, resonance, sequencing and destination.
Most acupuncture courses will teach these so called “primary channels”, these are the most common channels that you will see depicted on diagrams when you google Acupuncture or see some posters about. Essentially the commonly used primary channel system represents post natal (after birth) life, from birth to death. Where one is exposed to external factors like oxygen and pollution, internal factors like food and parasites and our constitution like our DNA and its expression.
So I invite you to contemplate, like a philosopher, where in your body represents the beginning of your life after birth? Did it begin at the top of your head, the crowning, as you emerged into the world, or perhaps the bottom of your feet? Maybe it began with the very primal sound of the wailing vocal chords? What about the functions of the body, perhaps that would better represent that which brings in and supports post natal life. The beating heart that began its rhythmic beat many months before entering the world, the purification by the kidneys, the digestion of mother’s milk or maybe it’s the lungs’ first breath of the air. This is what the ancient sages did, and once they did, they continued the continuum of life and life’s unfolding as a prioritised sequence, concluding with death. This became the superimposed “roadmap” onto the body, represented by the primary channel system.
However, there are many strains of interpretations of classical texts and thought throughout Chinese history. The modern application of Acupuncture and Chinese medicine called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), was constructed in the mid 1900s to easily and quickly teach people in China out of a necessity for more doctors. However, the Classical approach and teachings of Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine still exist.
Individual clinicians also have different thought processes surrounding their application of Chinese philosophy. I refer the reader again back to my facebook business page, and my piece on what is needling to the classical Acupuncturist. Mostly, it boils down to the intention (Yi) of the practitioner and their resonance (Gan Ying) with their client. That which the practitioner has cultivated within themselves, and invokes within the client by the medium of a needle into an Acupuncture point.
I’m aware that I am delving into the more philosophical side of the medicine, the research community is doing their part explaining this from a westernised biomedicine perspective. My intention with this is to provide a snapshot into the other side.
I hope that I have satisfactorily answered my own question of what is Chinese Medicine Acupuncture, and provided some insight and awareness into an elusive medicine. Some things are not about gathering more knowledge, sometimes its more about letting go of the things that think we do know. As Lao Zi wrote in the third chapter of the Dao De Jing, “The wise rule by emptying their hearts, and therefore filling their bellies.”
Andrew Walker, Acupuncturist (OMD)