What does it mean to be well? This is a question I ask myself, every single day. To be more precise, I ask myself; how does this person sitting before me feel, when they are well? This question is at the root of everything that I do and every decision I make as an acupuncturist. Wellbeing is an entirely individual experience, so each time I approach this conundrum, I have to reframe the question to adapt to the person in-front of me.
Good health and wellbeing is a vast subject that can at times feel like a mountain to climb. Every person’s ascent is fraught with missteps and burdened with the ultimate question of ‘am I going in the right direction?’. Chinese medicine for me has been the guiding light on the trail of health. With thousands of years of wisdom and intelligence, this medicine has the potency to change lives, with the tip of a needle.
Acupuncture works with Qi, vital substances, organs and meridians. Qi can be translated as energy; however it far more complex and majestic. Qi is movement, flow, energy, energising, stagnant, depleted, accumulated, distributed – it can even be two opposing things at once. One of the most special things about Qi is that it adapts and shape shifts constantly.
The first stage of treatment begins with an in depth discussion and exploration of a person’s life experience. This is multifaceted; from their physical, mental/emotional being and eventually to their spiritual being. As Chinese medicine sees no separation from the mind and the body, this extensive journeying through their existence on this earth thus far, provides me with the blueprint of who this person is.
The second stage is down to me; I begin the assembly of the puzzle; the puzzle being you. This is when the twists and turns of your life take me to a place of diagnosis and a treatment plan. I take into consideration all aspects of your health, to form an image in my mind of how you got here. Through this understanding, I pinpoint a place to ignite the healing that needs to begin. This is where the trust starts to form, and a bond begins to establish.
The third stage begins when you are lying down on a bed, with me standing beside you, facilitating this first step into the next chapter of your health. I walk alongside you on this road, reminding your Qi to harmonise and balance intuitively. After you have settled into the bed, the pulses are sensed (all 12 of them), the tongue is read and the needles are inserted. The dull ache is next, and then the body’s inner conversation begins, an oddly familiar sensation.
The role of facilitator is a complex and challenging one. There is a deep knowing that I am here merely to contain and to gently guide the energy that flows through the body. We can predict how this energy may reroute itself in a person. However, we can never claim the changes that follow as our own successes, but only as the successes of the person’s commitment to themselves.
Imagine the shepherd; witnessing and observing the sheep whilst they grow and live harmoniously with the landscape. Providing fertile ground for nourishment and evolution, but always remaining on the outside; on the periphery. Intervening only when is necessary to gently guide.
This is the role of the Acupuncturist. Planning the next move to the place that follows that needs to be tended to. Shepherded by the seasons of your inner world, to where the cycles begin anew.