If you've ever had acupuncture before, you may find that Five-Element Acupuncture is just a little bit different than your previous sessions. On the other hand, you might not! The truth is that on the surface, most styles of acupuncture possess a very similar feel. They all use tiny needles - about the size of a hair follicle - to create little ripples in your energy systems, which promote change throughout. And while in a sense, that is what Five-Element Acupuncture is doing, it is doing so much more than that, and I would love to do a little gushing about just how awesome and unique this system of medicine is.
Five-element theory is an ancient way of approaching the world which recognizes 5 distinct patterns that form the existence of all things. From that theory of everything emerged a form of folk medicine, which could recognize and treat these patterns (or elements as they are more formally called) when they fell out of balance. Nature is thought to be life affirming at its most basic level; however, like the famous bumper sticker so poignantly says: SHIT HAPPENS. Water, as we have seen here in Boulder County, can fall from the sky in disproportionately large volumes, saturating the soil and reeking havoc on the land and its inhabitants. As is so common here, the rain can also fail to arrive; drying out the earth and leaving us with a less than ideal crop to make it thru the winter. Not to get political or anything but... why, if nature is so life affirming, does this type of imbalance occur so frequently??? [Think Global Warming]
Let's bring the focus back to human body (mind & spirit) and answer that same question... The answer goes a little something like this: maybe because we ate some stuff that really wasn't very good for us... and maybe we've been eating that same *crap* day after day for years... Trust me, I get it... There are many reasons why we (I) ate ramen for 3 years straight. Ever been to acupuncture school? If not, well, let me tell you... it's time consuming and it cost a lot of money - so yeah, ramen it was. And maybe, just maybe, on top of all the money and time lost being in school - I also came face to face with some ideas that I had about myself which weren't exactly life affirming... Maybe I butted up against some old ideas that I had been collecting about myself for years... Any maybe, just maybe, some of that negative thinking had an effect on my vitality... maybe!
So, yeah, this system was basically developed by a group of tree huggers (i.e. nature lovers) who believed 100% to their core that we - humans - are in no way separate from either the earth - that feeds & houses us - NOR separate from the great spirit - who fosters our deep sense of connection to one another and to that something that is greater than all of us - whatever that may be for each of us.
This is a theory - a medicine - that sees us in the totality of who we truly are - the conglomeration of both a mind, a body, and a spirit - a unique expression of the all the possible variations on life - all of the 5 elements - and it has been practiced the world over since before the advent of recorded history. Some of the oldest petroglyphs illustrate that our earliest human-like ancestors practiced in this form - maybe not with needles but certainly taking into account the totality of our being. Because of that, I liken this work to shamanism - and the truth is, it's very likely that acupuncture points were discovered by a practice called "shamanic journeying."
Five-Element Acupuncture is much like a shamanic journey. It's the weaving together of stories and poetry, the unwinding of old ways of being that no longer serve to "protect" us - a visit to another world, in search of answers and the way back home. Home = vitality + wellbeing. Five-Element acupuncture sees the person as the painter sees an empty canvas... You are so many possibilities, and yet, you are exactly what you are right now, and exactly what you have been, and exactly who you are going to be. You are a beautiful tapestry of experiences and identity. You are a unique mix of each of the elements: wood, fire, earth, metal and water.
Most acupuncture systems, like western medicine, aim to treat symptoms - nothing wrong with that but it's just not our style. 5-element acupuncture approaches dis-ease differently. Our goal is to help foster a return to your unique balance of elemental influences - a return back to you! There is no set course for seeking balance in all people - which is why we don't just chase symptoms... That doesn't get to the root cause. Treating at the root cause allows the individual to fully thrive. What makes this medicine even more unique is that on top of balancing the elements within the unique signature that is you, 5-element acupuncture is practiced with the use of spirit.
In no other system of acupuncture will you find the use of points on the basis of their individual spirit... Here's where the poetry comes in. While we are balancing the elements that got out of whack because of all that ramen you were eating, we are also making suggestions to your spirit. Let's say you're tired. You've spent a lot of your life putting energy outwards to help those around you in need. You raised your kids, practically on your own and your system is running on empty. Maybe you're even a little pissed. Maybe you don't feel appreciated by your kids or your co-workers or all the relatives you've gone out of your way to make comfortable during various occasions. Maybe you feel like your earth is parched - you don't have much to give and you're wary of whether there is anyone out there that would go to those lengths for you... Maybe you're also pretty darn sick. Maybe you have a chronic illness but you've pushed on because you're the power house that you are. Let's say you come in and say, "Reilly, I'm hanging on by a thread - I'm angry and I'm tired and I can't see my way out of this one but I really want to. I want to understand my part in this and I want to get some much needed freedom from this feeling of resentment and exhaustion!"
So, okay, you've been doing your internal (and external) work - you aren't eating ramen anymore. As part of the ritual work we've done together, you've planted a garden, you've slowed down your life a bit and you're making home made meals on the regular. You take long baths infused with flowers and herbs from your garden, and you take long walks in the mountains or out on the plains. And, as comes with the territory - of being human - life pushes on and from time to time you feel your "stuff". So today is one of those days. We've made a lot of progress but here we are at another one of those UGH moments and you've bravely decided to shared that with me. So we get you up on the table and I take your pulses. I put a couple of needles in your ears to calm the spirit and bring you back into your heart center.
I give your parched earth a little water and your fire (think warmth, joy, connection) a bit of wood (think fuel). Then it's off to the gooey stuff - the poetry... the spirit. Here's where the word "art" makes its way into the healing arts... I'm painting a picture for your soul - giving your energy a pathway along which to meander.
So, I might start with a point on the bladder meridian called "Rich for the Vitals". This point is unequaled by any other point on the body for the enrichment of vitality. It brings a massive surge of clear energy to the body, mind and spirit. It brings joy and happiness to a weak and depleted body, mind and spirit; nourishing at the deepest level. Then I might move on to a point on the stomach meridian called either "People Welcome" or "To Receive our Humanity". This point falls under a small category of points called "Window of the Sky" points. As a category, these points allow us to see beyond the limitations of the ego-self - they allow us to see into the truth of what is our current situation... how we got here and how to move forward, beyond our current circumstance. In addition to the significance of the point category the spirit of this point helps us to address deep resentments that have built up as a result of people-pleasing. It's great for a person who has the tendency to take care of others in an attempt to avoid conflict - an excellent point for someone who says "I've had it up to here". This point allows a person who is always giving to begin to receive, and to welcome help from others.
Then I might do a point on the bladder meridian called "Equilibrium Middle". This point would support the previous point by helping to encourage a balance between giving and receiving - bringing a strong sense of true and lasting stability. This point is an Earth point on a Water meridian which adds a further component of stability to all things water element: the adrenal glands (energy reservoirs), the emotions, the creative and the intuitive, and so on. I might end with a point on the kidney meridian called "Bubbling Spring". This point is like the fountain of life. Springs (that are bubbling - aka offer moving water) offer clean, clear water and are areas where life both begins and thrives. As a wood point on a water meridian, the spirit of this point is about growth - on all levels: body, mind and spirit. The water cleanses and revitalizes; refreshing the mind & spirit, this point brings a youthful effervescence.
So as you can see, what I have created is a sort of peace sandwich treatment breaded on either end with a whole lot of rich vitality! How cool is that?!
Turns out I love what I do and I hope you will consider joining forces with me to help you lead a life you love and love the life you live!