A little while ago someone was asking me how acupuncture works (this is a question I get asked often!)
They were asking, is there something on the needles? When I said no, they’re just plain metal, he looked surprised… if you’re not putting something into the body, then what are you doing? And it’s a good question… with acupuncture nothing is added, and nothing is taken away. How can this possibly work?
To get to the answer you need to understand the basic, fundamental principles of this approach to health and disease. Chinese medicine recognizes the immense healing powers of the human body, and stimulates those processes. In fact, acupuncture doesn’t heal you, you heal yourself. The needles guide, encourage and strengthen those healing responses. It’s all about balance.
To me, this is the MOST IMPORTANT factor not just of acupuncture but of Chinese Medicine generally. Words like ‘holistic’ and ‘natural’ are bandied around a lot these days, but if you really stop to think what they mean, you discover a completely, fundamentally different approach to health, well-being, and life!
Chinese medicine recognizes that every part of body and mind are connected, and that we as individuals are connected to the world and the people around us. That’s why we talk about ‘balance’ so much – because disease doesn’t happen in isolation. Illness and disease is a state of imbalance, and the correct diagnosis and treatment of that imbalance is only possible when you look at the bigger picture. This is the meaning of holistic – looking at the whole, not the parts.
To me, that is the beauty and the art of Chinese medicine. As a practitioner, I don’t do things TO people, I work WITH them to restore balance in the best way possible. This is really the key to the whole thing. It’s also why I so often coach people who come to my clinic – giving recommendations and advice on things that they can do for themselves – and why I am so passionate about the Yang-Sheng self-cultivation arts like qi gong, self-massage and acupressure, tonic herbalism, meditation and so on. These are ultimately BALANCING practices.
Like any complex system, an imbalance anywhere can effect all the others parts of the system, and this can be a physical, mental or emotional imbalance. By maintaining balance, you stay well, and keep illness away.
Yes, Chinese medicine can help you with your day-to-day health problems, but much more than that, it can balance your life, helping you to feel calm, grounded and centered. By restoring balance and flow, you do so much more than just help your bad back, you make subtle but profound changes at the deepest level. These changes are not magical, although the effects sometimes can seem that way… and they are withing the grasp of all of us.
So I’d encourage everyone to go for ‘maintenance’ treatments such as acupuncture or tui na, or use the self-cultivation Yang Sheng practices (or both!) – lets be thankful for these ancient arts, and use them to bring more balance into our lives!