|Oriental medicine is a safe and extremely old way of healing, with more than 2,000 years of development. It is different from the practice of medicine which is familiar to us here in the western world. The Western medical model considers the body as a physical thing and tries to treat it as something other than and separate from the mind. Oriental medicine views the mind and the body as an integrated phenomenon. Western medical practices are focused on the elimination of symptoms. The aim of medical treatment, from the perspective of Oriental medicine, is to establish a balance of forces within the person and promote a satisfying relationship with the environment. Symptoms offer a description of the pattern of an imbalance and indicate areas of weakness. Correcting the imbalance will naturally work to alleviate the symptoms, not simply mask them.
Acupuncture theory identifies the location and characteristics of several hundred points which serve to energize the body. Acupuncture points have traditional names which are descriptive of their distinctive qualities, also categories which indicate their application for treatment. Extremely fine stainless steel needles are used to stimulate these points and adjust the energy flowing through them. A typical treatment might involve a dozen points, used in a combination designed to act in a synergistic fashion. Most people find acupuncture to be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. Acupuncture is often associated with the treatment of physical illness and pain. However, physical healing is simply one of the possible uses of acupuncture.
Acupuncture can be used for emotional healing and spiritual transformation. Thoughts and feelings have significant effects on the way energy moves in the body. Careful study and observation of the body will indicate a pattern which is descriptive of mental and emotional states. An awareness of the psychology will similarly reveal a pattern which is indicative of a spiritual state. Energy which is blocked can lead to dis-ease, and ultimately physical disability. Everyone wishes to live a satisfying life. We have some basic needs, such as food and shelter, and psychological needs like self-expression and recognition. In the process of growing we are given direction by our parents, and look to the example of others for answers to the question of who and what we are. Our needs are met through relations with others and with the world we are living in.
When our relations with others are not able to provide us with the things we need, we begin to question - what is it that I am looking for? This proves to be a turning point in our relationship to life. Somehow we have arrived in a place that does not correspond to who we wish and feel a need to be. We have forgotten ourselves and believed in things which are not true; the world seems to be quite different than what we assumed it was going to be. At this point we are faced with a choice: we can either pretend that everything is just fine, or we can seek to transform our life into something which is more meaningful, and therefore also more satisfying to us. The transformation of our life is a difficult but ultimately inescapable challenge. What makes it difficult is our lack of a proper psychological education and the circumstances which would conspire to make us conform to a common consensual reality. What makes it inescapable is the fact that it is not possible to avoid making choices and living with the consequences of our choices.
The world is effectively a reflection of our beliefs and attitudes about ourselves. Our physical body is the manifestation of all the causes and effects of the choices which we have made. As the manifestation of our consciousness, the physical experience is something that originates in the Heart and mind of the person. Our "energy" generates the form of our experience. There are certain places at which there is a nexus which links together the dimensions of our experience. These points are primary alignment points for the body, mind and spirit. One of the ways in which acupuncture can be helpful is to establish or confirm the correspondence of the higher and lower aspects of experience through the use of these alignment points.
In the process of relating with others we experiment with playing different roles, seeking to find the ones which suit us. It often happens that in the process of our experience there are painful things which happen. These can cause there to be an emotional wound which blocks or distorts the energy which serves to illuminate our inner world experience. There can be a kind of fear which develops that gets in the way of having an entirely open and honest relationship with life and the people we seek to be with. This kind of circumstance is often the underlying imbalance which leads to a loss of spirit, and when it becomes chronic can manifest as a degenerative disorder. Acupuncture works within the matrix of energy and manifestation to mediate a nervous break-through. This increases the available energy and enhances the process of psychological and spiritual development.
The truth of who and what we are is something extraordinary and unique. In our lives we are struggling to manifest this and are wanting to know how we can do this. Actually what is happening is that we are participating in the evolution of consciousness and in the manifestation of Spirit in this material world. Love is the true source of life, and our experience is a way of growing to know and express this Love in a conscious way. Because Love is the source of who and what we are, what we are needing to do is to remember this in the process of our lives. Acupuncture is a wonderful support for doing this.
In the cosmology of acupuncture the Heart is considered to be the center of our being and the source of everything. One of the subtleties of acupuncture is the recognition that although the Heart is the Source, the Heart does not act directly to create the circumstances of life. The personality has the responsibility for communicating the intentions of the Heart to the world and making them manifest. The personality should conform to the intentions of the Heart; when it does not there is a pathology. These kinds of pathologies can be addressed through acupuncture. What counseling does through a process of therapy, acupuncture does directly. Because acupuncture works directly with the pattern of energy, it can accelerate psychospiritual work and help a person to maintain a healthy integrated state of being. Rediscovering the Love which is inside us, and removing the walls which have been built around the Heart, makes it possible to freely and fully engage in living our life.
A complete discussion of the diagnosis and treatment of energetic and spiritual disorders would require much more than can be offered in this brief essay. There are many styles of acupuncture and practitioners to choose from. Your acupuncturist should be someone that you trust and respect. Ask them to tell you what kind of work they do, and expect them to offer you some insight into things which you can do to improve your health and sense of well-being.
Jeffrey Goodman, L.Ac., Acupuncture for Physical Healing and Spiritual Transformation, 1824 NW 24th Street, Portland, Oregon 97210. (503) 241-2961.