Today, I’ve been studying for an upcoming Acu-moxa points final. In the course of studying I’ve come to think about what constitutes a Classical study of Acupuncture – and will finish an article up about that soon. In general, we’ve been learning about classical techniques in interaction with patients, insertion and manipulation of needles as well as a few specialized techniques like needling through joints (so fun).
I’ve tried to think about what is different from this than from what I perceive to be taught at others schools and in many acupuncture books. I think aside from the fact that most of it is rooted in the Classical Chinese Medicine texts the key is the level of detail applied to every facet of treatment.
In so many Chinese medicine clinics and in the teaching of so many doctors, the level of care is not significantly higher than one would expect from your average Western family practice doctor. Sure, the standard questioning is by its nature deeper and the treatments are gentler and more likely to be effective for most of the conditions average people face.
But in terms of the attention to treatment, single minded focus on the needs and outcomes of the patient – the quality is similar. I think these things are important. What we’re learning is to be focused on our treatment, to be wholly focused on what is in front of us. In service of this, we are told to attend to our self-cultivation, to be lifelong scholars and to do everything in our power to be pure of heart.
After this, we are told to work on developing our needling technique. There’s no plopping of needles in the patient and then abandoning them without a word for 20 minutes, then a hasty return to remove the needles. There is intentfulness, the treatment is carried out not just in the selection and stimulation of points, but in every flick of the wrist or finger, in careful manipulation, in thinking about seasonal energies and in intense observation of the patient condition and experience. If the patient is left for a while, it is for a reason and the intent for the patient’s healing is still held.
There’s no doubt that this is more consuming of energy and time. In some situations (disaster areas, very busy practices) it may be difficult to accomplish this. But we must do it to the best of our ability given our environment. For the vast majority of American acupuncture practitioners, there is no excuse for half-hearted needling. We’ll see if I change my tne once I have a full practice – but these lessons are piercing deep and regardless of how well I do on my test, I think I get the point. No pun intended.
About Eric Grey
Hi - I'm the founder of Deepest Health. When I'm not writing here, you can find me reaching out to the Chinese Medicine community across the web and in my own backyard. I currently teach Chinese herbs at my alma mater, the National College of Natural Medicine. Additionally, I'm the founder of Watershed Community Wellness, a thriving local clinic in Southeast Portland in Oregon. No matter where I'm working, you'll find my focus on the Classical approach to Chinese medicine laced throughout everything I do.