Understanding a bit about Acupuncture
In my experience, acupuncture is often perceived as a mysterious and magical mode of healing, which is a reasonable conclusion for most of us to reach. One of the key elements required to grasp Chinese medicine, is to broaden our understanding of the human body, its interaction with the world around us on an immediate, but also much more expansive level and, importantly, to be able to change our language in reference to the workings of the body and the pathologies that we experience.
In the West, we have developed a language and an understanding which describes all of these elements and has dictated how we have become accustomed to perceive the intricate mechanisms of the body. Generally, we view pathologies in a Cartesian way, individual parts making up a whole; body and mind separate from one another and the outside world. When parts break down, they are fixed - individually, without necessarily taking into consideration all of the elements which have played a role in the disruption of that component.
Chinese medicine views the world through a different lens. It teaches that we are very much part of our environment, interconnected, interdependent and intertwined. When the external climate changes, the internal climate responds. We see this in many ways, for example, when the weather is damp and our joints ache or when we get colds as the seasons shift. Similarly, physical symptoms manifest from emotional strains and vice versa.
In Chinese medicine, we often talk about ‘Qi’ or energy and base a lot of our treatments on ensuring the free flow of this life force through the body. When we have a physical injury or strain, we view it as impeding this flow, similarly when there is emotional tension the body reacts in a similar way, preventing energy to flow smoothly throughout the system. This has a consequent domino effect on the delicate equilibrium which oversees and maintains our health and wellbeing.
As acupuncturists, we work with an energetic system in the body alongside the physical and emotional symptoms that show up in our individual patients. This view of medicine fosters a patient centred approach to treatment and allows us to treat according to whatever symptoms are showing up. It is a different approach to our western understanding of health and wellbeing, and in many cases, a far cry from what patients are used to. However, in todays world, and especially at the moment, it has a really valuable role to play in supporting and maintaining a healthy, robust and happy body and mind.