ACUPUNCTURE AND THE FIVE
"When you touch one thing with deep awareness,
you touch everything."
— Thich Nhat Hanh
Acupuncture is an ancient and beautiful system of medicine. The earliest books about acupuncture were written 4,500 years ago in China. The ancient Chinese were keen observers of the most subtle movements of energy in nature. This orientation led them to a profound understanding of the complex and sophisticated nature of energy as the primary organizing principal for what later manifests as structure and function (anatomy and physiology, the basis of allopathic medicine). Acupuncture exquisitely addresses health from these fundamental, subtle perspectives.
The Five Elements – Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water, – represent phases in the cyclical flow of life in the universe. They describe the evolutionary stages of life: gestation, birth, growth, maturity, decay, and death present in both momentary and life-long experience, both individually and in our relationship to family and society. They are most readily apparent in the cycle of the seasons.
Each human being is a complex and knowable microcosm of these greater forces. The Five Element approach provides a way to understand how our physical being, mind, emotions, and spirit manifest and move through these interdependent cycles. Perhaps most fundamentally it describes how we, as human beings, are capable of recovering the full depth and breadth of our original, fully awake nature.
The acupuncture practitioner assesses the balance of the five elements in a person’s vital energy as it follows 12 main pathways of energy, or meridians, in the body. The chronic over or under activity of any of these pathways caused by trauma, confusion, ignorant or willful transgression, or stress of any kind creates imbalance in the elements, disturbance in this flow of energy, and distress in the body, mind, or spirit. This distress gives rise to our symptoms of illness, everything from headaches to cancer. Acupuncture brings these energies back into balance, lessening or relieving the distress altogether.
IN GOOD HANDS
I have practiced this medicine wholeheartedly for 30 years. In doing so, a depth of understanding and insight has unfolded that I could not have imagined was there.
In 2021and 2022, I will offer 9 courses for acupuncture practitioners presenting and building on the following content. They will be available via live in-person webinars in short 5 hour blocks. Remaining faithful to the classical Daoist five-element tradition, this material deepens our understanding and practice of every aspect of Five Element theory. I offer them as a series, meant to be taken together in sequence. 45 NCCAOM ceus are available.
These courses are intended for all 5E acupuncturists, experienced and new. I also encourage acupuncturists and health care practitioners from other traditions to consider taking these courses should you want to become familiar with the Five Element paradigm. Contact me if you have questions.
The Five Elements: an Integration of Daoist and Buddhist Traditions
a nine-part series
May 2021 through April 2022
This series of classes will provide a deep dive into five element theory and practice bringing together the two ancient traditions of classical Daoist Five-Element acupuncture practice and Tibetan Buddhist five wisdom teachings.
The five-element paradigm - or cosmology - is thousands of years old and was widely known throughout Asia, from Korea to China, India, and southeast Asia. As a theory, it is foundational to Ayurvedic medicine, Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, and Tibetan Buddhism, to name a few traditions.
Of the medical systems within the discipline of Chinese medicine, the classical Five-Element Acupuncture tradition has preserved an unparalleled depth of understanding about the five elements. It tells us a great deal about physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health, diversity of experience, stages of development, and cycles of experience. The science of acupuncture translates these insights into a comprehensive medical discipline.
Tibetan Buddhism is an equally sophisticated cosmology. This is a five-wisdom tradition born of an exacting, scholarly examination of mind and reality derived from the centuries-old discipline of meditation. It provides essential knowledge about how we know and experience ourselves and reality with profound insight into body, heart, and the complexity of mind. The five-wisdom tradition articulates the journey of becoming fully conscious, or awake, human beings.
When we bring these traditions together, our understanding of body, mind, and life within the five-element perspective deepens. One might say, they each provide an essential context for understanding the nature of the five elements that is missing – or underdeveloped – in the other. When we look at both traditions, we discover new context and depth of understanding of many aspects of the Five Element theory we have been taught and are routinely employing in our work with patients.
Nine webinar sessions, each 5 hours:
The Foundation of Five Element Theory: Cycles and Mandalas
Mind: the Five Emotions and Five Wisdoms
Body: Pathways of Energy
Fire and Water Pathways and Points, part one
Fire and Water Pathways and Points, part two
Wood Pathways and Points
Metal Pathways and Points
Earth Pathways and Points
The Five Senses: an Integrative Look at the Five Elements and C,S,O,E