Monday 22 June 2015

New Car Rave!

I've got a new car - yipee!

Well OK, not NEW new, rather new DIFFERENT - and very shiny and clean, with that 'new car smell' and immaculate blackened tyres.

Last week I parted company with my ageing Toyota and switched allegiance to a young whipper-snapper of a Honda. What's more, I really pushed outside of my comfort zone and switched from petrol to diesel.

This is really big cheese for me as my Earth element has the tendency to be very resistant to change. We with Earth Guardian Elements are renowned for being stubborn and can seem almost stuck, not necessarily through arrogance of knowing that our way is the right way or the only way (that would be characteristic of the Wood element) but more due to the feeling of safety in what we know.

Earth's belief of 'I know what I like and I like what I know' makes us very reluctant to try anything new. I must admit that I had to push myself to drive this new beast the day after I picked it up - I was quite content to look at it sitting pretty on the driveway for a whole day before I snapped myself out of my rut.

I remembered what the salesman had told me about this car's eco features - a green light comes up on the speedometer if you're driving economically, blue if you're not. Also, it will tell you when to change up or down a gear according to the engine revs.

Visions of grannies sucking eggs came to mind, as after all, I had driven my husband's diesel car fairly frequently over the years, and I knew what I was doing, didn't I?

But I duly paid heed to the bells and whistles - and just as well, because only then did I appreciate that actually the driving techniques for diesel and petrol cars are very different, and with this came the realisation that I'd been driving both in exactly the same manner for all this time.

And so I ate a big helping of humble pie! I'm now very aware of the wrong assumptions I had made and how blinkered I had become, and also set in my ways. This new car has prompted me to think more laterally and to increase my awareness so that I can learn to drive it far more sympathetically - and hopefully economically!

Extending this scenario to acupuncture practice, it is important that we challenge ourselves with new ideas often so that we don't become too comfortable with over-familiarity and we are able to keep our minds and hearts open. Regular CPD and reflective practice in Supervision are key to ensuring this is so.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Observing the Five Elements

The ancient, classical Chinese acupuncturists believed that a unique combination of five distinct elements constitutes an individual's make up, namely Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood.

Each element brings certain virtues, strengths and weaknesses to the person's character. Through a combination of nature and nurture, each of us develops a special relationship with one particular element, known as the Guardian Element.

It is nature of the Guardian Element which determines how we conduct ourselves in our day to day life, how we interact with others and how we react in certain situations. It is also the Guardian Element which literally gets knocked for six when life throws its traumas at us, throwing the element and ourselves out of balance energetically, leaving us feeling physically and often emotionally unwell.

The key aspect of Five Element Acupuncture is that treatment is directed specifically at the patient's ailing Guardian Element rather than at any specific symptom, ie it tackles cause rather than effect.

So how then do we determine a patient's Guardian Element?

This happens usually by means of close questioning and careful observation during the initial consultation with the patient.

This careful observation takes years of practice to perfect - as a practitioner I am constantly looking, listening, feeling and sensing clues which will direct me towards the patient's Guardian Element. Generally, the more out of balance the patient, the easier it is to fix upon the Guardian Element - in fact, it is as if it is shouting at me for help! So my discipline is to quieten my mind and to pay heed to all of my senses.

I find that social occasions are the perfect training ground for me and I often find myself 'people watching' - observing, noticing and assessing, and trying to pin down those elusive Guardian Elements.

At a family BBQ recently I watched my loved ones with mild amusement as I noted their conduct and reactions as we were all mucking in to prepare the food.

Number 1 offspring wanted to make a specific recipe and rushed out to not one but two supermarkets to get exactly the right ingredients - action, little flexibility = Wood.

If it was left up to me, I would have looked in the cupboards, changed the recipe and made something with what was already there - resourceful = Earth

Number 2 offspring went to Waitrose and only bought upmarket, branded goods - quality = Metal

Number 3 offspring went round chatting to everyone, making sure they were all OK and had drinks - communication, hospitality, entertainer = Fire

Number 4 offspring went back for second and third helpings and was starving again after a couple of hours, whilst also keeping a careful watch on the little ones - caring, nurturing, providing (especially food) = Earth

Husband controlled the BBQ (very expertly, too - nobody else gets a look in!) loved having everyone around and played with the little ones - leadership, comradeship, inner child = Wood.

We can learn so much by saying less and seeing more!