About Five Elements Acupuncture
It might be easy to think that acupuncture is just about putting needles in the right places on someone's body, and yes while this may be true, Five Elements acupuncture is also about much more than that.
As well as being helpful in treating many common conditions treatment is also about bringing you back into a state of natural balance and helping you understand your relationship with natural energy phases or 'Elements' which are all around us and inherent in all of life.
Richard Lecturing on 5 Elements Acupuncture
Natural life has the intelligence of what we need to do to create balance in-built within, only as humans in our over driven western culture we tend to flout the edges and 'push' ourselves. Again, this disconnection with the natural flow of life, daily, seasonally or yearly is what can lend itself to dis-ease setting into the body. Therefore Five Elements Acupuncture's notion of dis-ease and illness goes far beyond the more conventional Western medical perspective which tends to isolate our body from our environment and focuses predominantly on our physical level.
Yin & Yang
If you look around, you will see that all ‘energy’, all creation, moves through a cycle, from birth through to maturity and then returns to stillness before setting off on it's outward journey once more. This is the basic premise of Yin Yang theory - that all energy must be balanced by both an outward and then inward phase to maintain it's equilibrium - just as night follows day, or how winter opposes summer. The key relationship for us to remember as human beings is that periods of activity muct be balanced by periods of rest and replenishment!
If you look at the journey of the seasons around us the cycle is most clear, from the birth and growth of life in Spring to it’s maturity in Summer to it’s decline in Autumn and then the stillness of Winter (The Chinese also use a fifth phase or season, that of Late Summer, which is seen as the pivotal phase where energy stabilises from one state before setting off another)
Separation From Nature
Unfortunately, particularly in the Western world we can start to see ourselves as distinct and separate from nature, which is where some of our difficulties can arise.
For example, while you may have a massive all powerful Energy of the season of Spring going on around us where plantlife and the natural world are all shooting into periods of intense growth, we might be carrying on our routine without even really noticing, much as we tend to carry on living at 100mph in the Winter when all around us is lying still and dormant – trees are bare and animals hibernating and collecting resources ready for the outward phase of energy ahead. So what happens is our own internal energy cycles start to become disrupted and imbalanced when we fall out of alignment with these natural cycles.
Similarly, much as we have identified that energy moves through an outward and inward cycle during the course of the year, so also you can observe that our energy follows that same path during the course of a day, from arising in the morning to activity to falling back to stillness at night, which once again we an be prone to falling our of connection with.
So what has any of that got to do with putting needles in someone?
Well what maintains our relationship with this energetic cycle and it's balance is the fantastic vehicle we travel in that is our body with all it's many facets and importantly, from the Chinese Medicine Perspective 12 main energy pathways which all connect to organs within the body which are responsible for keeping our outward and inward phases in check.
Elements and Meridians
As the passage i wrote at the top of this page suggests, at one time or another we are always moving through one phase or another with our energy calling us or drawing us to what we need. For example, within the body what we identify in Chinese Medicine as the Wood Element of Liver and Gall Bladder meridians are responsible for the catalyst of our internal 'Spring' - the ability to plan and make decisions and get things moving in our life, to see a future and assert our growth.
Conversely our Metal Element of Lung and Large Intestine meridians are responsible for our Internal Autumn, the ability to let go, much as in Autumn the leaves fall from the trees to be recycled from the Earth for new growth to occur later.
And then there are some of the more obvious ones, the Earth Element of Stomach and Spleen are responsible for our ability to nourish ourselves and bear the fruits of our labour, much like how well tended Earth in Nature will in the late Summer harvest time have produced abundant and ripe fruit ready to eat, and not forgetting our Fire Element of our Heart which is of course responsible for our ability to enjoy the summers of our lives, to connect with others like those long lazy days when people are out being social and sharing time.
So as you can see we have an internal system which allows us to move in tune with nature through all the various cycles and to hold and keep us in balance.
Modern Living and Life Challenges
But what can happen with the demands of modern living and challenges we face in our life as we evolve is that we can be over demanding on particular organs and meridians, bringing us out of balance with these subtle energies and cycles. For example, too much instability in our lives can stress our Earth Element, designed to keep us feeling nourished, held and secure and too much activity can affect our Water Element of Kidney and Bladder which likes to hold us in our internal Winter of rest and quiescence. (I think most of is living in the modern world struggle with that one!)
My role as the acupuncturist is to identify what is going on within your Elements and work with the intention of bringing about a greater degree of balance to your overall health. So I needle points and work with the meridians accordingly.
Internal and 'External' Balance
However it’s important for a person to remember that their internal balance is affected by what is going on around them 'externally' in their lives, so while the treatments can work to bring about balance there is always still an onus on the patient to be aware of what is going on around them in their lives and what effect it may be having.
Body, Mind and Spirit
Five Elements Acupuncture works with the awareness that Body, Mind and Spirit are all interlinked and therefore symptoms of an imbalance could emerge on any of these levels. For example a person with a Large Intestine imbalance (responsible for letting go and removal of waste on the physical level) may have a symptom on the physical level such as constipation, or mentally and emotionally they may also have a tendency to hold onto things they no longer need, or it may just predominantly affect one level.
Our Passions and Life Purpose
In addition, empowering people to find their passion in life is a massive aspect of my work, as similarly it negatively affects out health when we engage with activities or occupations whcih don't nourish us, again placing strain on the system. I enjoy integrating the pronciples of other therapies into my understanding, particularly of yoga and movement, and recently wrote my first e-book on the body-mind connection with plenty of detail about the affect of our environment upon our body and mind. It's available to view here.
Acupuncture for Wellbeing!
It's not always about wanting to make yourself feel better if you feel out of sorts, it's also about seeing how great you can actually make yourself feel!
Acupuncture is great in that it can improve your state of health and wellbeing no matter what place you are beginning from.
I treat a lot of people who have been diagnosed with a particular illness or disorder, whether acute or chronic, but i'd like you all to remember that sometimes there doesn't have to be anything particularly 'wrong' to invest in your health and wellbeing! Acupuncture can move your wellbeing forward because it can work in quite subtle ways and adapt to what we need.
We can sometimes be very reluctant to invest in health maintenance or engaging in healthy practices which can just make us feel more vibrant and alive! (instead spending vast amounts of money on the 'cosmetic' aspects of our life, cars, clothes etc, nothing wrong with that, but just don't forget your body also!)
So i welcome you if you have a diagnosed health condition, and i also welcome you if you're just interested in making yourself feel even more alive, fulfilled and are just keen to further improve your experience of life!
And lets be honest, even if you're fairly healthy, there's pretty much always something to work on anyway! It can 'fine tune' us. Maybe the odd sleepless night? Maybe you feel that something could be a little bit better in an area of your life? Maybe your emotions are a bit up and down? Or maybe you just feel slightly out of tune with your life path or purpose?
Acupuncture has a very subtle way of bringing the many parts of us back into harmony. And as i mention, it doesn't have to be because there is anything 'wrong' from a conventional medical viewpoint, but rather because you're human, and life wouldn't be life without it's challenges or bringing aspects of your life to your awareness to work with.
Or maybe you just fancy giving yourself a treat, taking some 'me' time for yourself, putting a spring in your step, or are just curious - "what's this acupuncture thing all about?!!!" Come along, it will adapt to fit you, and then if you like it, feel free to come along again!
I work with patients in a number of ways - if you've a condition which does need closer attention for a while i often recommend having a block of sessions at weekly intervals, but if you're viewing your sessions as a wellbeing or personal growth tool then come along whenever you feel drawn or ready to!
- We live in a great collective, Within that collective in any given moment you have a place, and an emotional inclination to how you meet the world to enable you to feel balanced and at ease. Our energy and inclinations will constantly moment to moment lead us and be drawn toward those activities, people and places which lead to balance and health.
In any one moment this may be being the party King or Queen, sitting quietly in a park, planning your day tomorrow or reflecting on yesterday, following this natural flow we maintain balance and health, forcing against this flow or being inhibited from it results in dis-ease - Richard Brook 2005
•PRIORITISE YOUR HEALTH•
•FIVE ELEMENTS ACUPUNCTURE LONDON • CAMDEN & ISLINGTON•