Peaceful Mountain Acupuncture

A weekly blog about Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

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Location: Rio Rancho, New Mexico, United States

This blog is going to be, primarily a venue for me to express my thoughts about Life and the complexities of the physical plane. My story is simple, I am an easy going individual and a moderate recluse. I am comfortable walking or sitting, talking or being silent. I am always seeking new friends and acquaintenances. I tend to look deeply and question myself about the lesson behind the experience. If you like what you read, please leave me a note, if you have a blog please leave me a link so I can read your writing as well. Thanks

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A bit deeper

I posted the last article as a way to start a discussion about concepts, languages and limitations. I figured Yin/Yang theory is as good of a place to attempt this as any other concept I can think of.

I am in the middle of another interesting book "A Brief History of Qi" (look in my bookstore) that has spurred me along in this thinking process. One of the issues I deal with, both as an acupuncturist as well as being an instructor, is the paradox of having to use words to describe a paradigm that exists outside of language. Yet knowing that to some extent, language both describes and creates reality as we know it.

Let me return to Yin-Yang theory as an interesting example. It is, essentially, quite simple as that article from my class notes explains. But it is also exceedingly complex, subtle and elusive. One of my favorite sayings about this is:

The One

Became the Two

The Two became the Three

The Three became the Ten-Thousand

The "One" is that which created all, or the Tao, or the Word. Essentially it is "the primordial soup that existed before the universe was created." The Two is Yin-Yang, in all its myriad interconnected facets. The Three is the Qi or the dynamic interplay of energy/beingness between the polarities expressed as Yin or Yang. The "ten-thousand" means "all things."
What I find lacking in most discussions about Yin-Yang theory is the acknowledgement of the ONE. This means that the discussion starts off from a polarized, dualistic perspective. It is "this" or it is "that." Hot/Cold, Night/Day, Internal/External; the list goes on, and on, and on, forever.
But unless one accepts and acknowledges that there is something higher or more refined than Yin-Yang theory we are still locked in a dualistic paradigm. I find myself reminded of the words of Albert Einstein: "We cannot solve the problems we are facing by using the same level of consciousness we used when we created them."
Maybe this would read better if I used the word "Consciousness" in place of the One or the Tao.
But my point today is that while Yin-Yang theory is very useful in TCM, it is also inherently limiting. I have to step past these limitations while I incorporate the strengths and resolve the inherent weaknesses of the paradigm.
In closing I will just add a very profound teaching I have been exposed to; "What the two extremes {Yin-Yang} have in common is where you find the Truth." So as I work with a patient, or within myself, I try to not focus on the extremes, but more on the dynamic interplay that exists within the common ground, or stated another way ~ From a dynamic, balanced perspective in the Middle of the Storm. Or maybe think of it this way, a clock pendulum swings back and forth, the lower it is the more extreme the shifts are, yet the higher one ascends the more gentle these same shifts are experienced. It is about ascending in consciousness to that centered, calm point. From there it is simple to change, it is only at the lower levels that the change comes as such a cost (health, relationships, careers, etc.).

Friday, July 06, 2007

An old note from my days in school

Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion

Basic knowledge and theory of Yin Yang

1) The opposition of Yin and Yang.

Everything in nature has two opposites, namely yin and yang. The opposition of yin and yang is reflected in their ability to struggle with, and thus control each other. If for any reason this mutual opposition results in an excess or deficiency of yin or yang, the relative physiological balance will be destroyed, and disease will arise.

“When yin predominates, yang will be diseased; when yang predominates yin will be diseased.”

2) The interdependence of yin and yang.

Yin and yang oppose each other and yet, at the same time, also have a mutually dependant relationship. Neither can exist without the other. Both yin and yang are the condition for the other’s existence, and this relationship is known as the interdependence of yin and yang.

“Yin remains inside to act as a guard for yang, and yang stays outside to act as a servant for yin.”

When this is applied to the physiology of the human body, yin corresponds to nutrient substances, and yang to function activities. “Without yang there would be no production of yin; without yin there would be no production of yang.”

3) The inter-consuming-supporting relationship of yin and yang.

The two aspects of yin and yang within any phenomenon are not fixed, but in a state of continuous mutual consumption and support. Under normal circumstances the inter-consuming-supporting relation of yin and yang is in a state of relative balance.

4) The inter-transforming relationship of yin and yang.

In certain circumstances either of the two may transform into its opposite. “Extreme yin will necessarily produce yang, and extreme yang will necessarily produce yin….Severe cold will give birth to heat, and severe heat will give birth to cold.”

5) The infinite divisibility of yin and yang.

“Yin and yang could amount to ten in number; they could be extended to one hundred, ten thousand or infinity; but although infinitely divisible, yin and yang are based upon only one important principle.”

Greater Yin is called Taiyin (the third yin), Lesser Yin is called Shaoyin (the second yin), Greater Yang is called Taiyang (the third yang), Scanty Yang is called Shaoyang (the first yang), Extreme Yang is called Yangming (the second yang), and Declining Yin is called Jueyin (the first yin). The three yin and the three yang are a further amplification of yin and yang, and also reflect the consuming-supporting relationship of yin and yang.

Application of the Theory of Yin and Yang in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

1) Yin-Yang and the organic structure of the human body.

When the theory of yin-yang is applied to xplain the organic structure of the human body, the underlying premise is that the human body is an integrated whole. “Man has a physical shape which is inseparable from yin and yang.”

Yin-Yang and the physiological functions of the human body.

Functional activities pertain to yang and nutrient substances to yin. “When yin is stabilized and yang well-conserved, the spirit will be in harmony; separation of yin and yang will cause exhaustion of essential Qi.”

Yin-Yang and pathological changes in the human body.

Traditional Chinese Medicine considers that the occurrence of disease results from the loss of relative balance between yin and yang, and hence and excess or deficiency of either. The occurrence and development of disease is related both to the antipathogenic qi and to pathogenic factors. There are two types of pathogenic factors: yin and yang. Antipathogenic qi involves yin fluid and yang qi.

These types of disease can be generalized and explained by: “imbalance of yin and yang,” “excess of yin leading to cold syndromes,” “excess of yang leading to heat syndromes,” “deficiency of yang leading to cold syndromes,” and “deficiency of yin leading to heat syndromes.”

“A good doctor will observe the patient’s complexion and feel the pulse, and thus take the first step in determining if it is a yin or a yang disease.”

“The essential technique of needling consists of striking a balance between yin and yang.”

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A completely different meaning of "acupuncture"

For the last month or so I have been practicing archery. It is an amazing discipline to enter. I am sensing a more palpable link between my thinking/awareness and my physical beingness.

In shooting, once one gets the physical stance sorted out and smooth the next step becomes "consistency." This can manifest in many ways; are my arrows grouped together or all spread out over the target, or did I completely miss the target bale? OOOOPS, it is always embarasing when that happens... LOL ;-)

If I get my physical structure to be consistent, then my internal beingness has to become calm, centered and focused. I have found that even a blip of a thought just at or just the instant before releasing the arrow will cause my arrow to be slightly off target. I am also amazed to find that if I move my arm holding the bow BEFORE the arrow hits the target that too has an effect on my accuracy.

I am enjoying this process and I am seeing improvement in my form, accuracy and understanding.

But how, or maybe even does this manifest in my work as an acupuncturist? A good question.

I am reading more and more about how important "pattern differentiation" is in TCM. As I went through school I appreciated the impact of pattern differentiation as a way to formulate a language to express what I was seeing in any given patients presenting signs and symptoms. For example a patient has low back pain I would know to look for signs of Kidney deficiency.

The pattern differentiation became the "structure" in diagnosis in Traditional Chinese Medicine. As any black-belt worth their rank will tell you "Mastery of any art is found in the thorough understanding and mastery of the basics." Or stated another way if I do not understand how to execute an effective front-snap kick how can I reasonably expect to learn how to execute a jump-spinning-backside kick?

As I return to a deeper level or awareness of the implications of pattern differentiation I also am more aware of how my own internal structure IS influencing my execution of correct pattern identification. As I said earlier if a blip of a thought goes through my mind just as or just before I release the arrow it affects my accuracy. Yes I still hit the target, but it is not as accurate as it could have been. Yet, how do I contain this if my pattern identification is dependent on my thinking? A catch-22 to be sure.

What I am seeing is that it becomes a situation of awareness. In this I mean that I do not expect my mind to shut off as I work my way through a complex diagnosis, but I do expect my mind to focus on the essentials and leave my particular bias outside. I find that as I enter into and focus on being present in the moment it is easier to hear the subtle whisperings that may make a difference in my pattern identification. I also find, as in my practice in archery or in my martial arts training (when I take the time to return to that...) that the basics are so fundamentally important to effective work. Yet as I look at completing my tenth year of study of TCM I find that as with my martial perspective I am only a senior beginner. I strive to drink my cup empty as frequently as I can so I can learn more and refine my understanding of my study of TCM.

I am still growing and evolving. Maybe it would be more accurate to refer to myslf as an expert-beginner?
What do you think???