fredag 9 november 2012

En kväll med värme i kylan - föreläsning med Amnesty, Soppkök Malmö och Elektra - OCH spelning med Lovisa Ståhl!

                                                                             ©Joakim Lloyd Raboff

En helkväll med föreläsningar och samtal med mindre hjälporganisationer och frivilliga i Malmö! Ta chansen att lyssna på deras arbete och prata med dem om deras erfarenheter. Här kan du prata med dem om du vill engagera dig själv!

Start 1800, 28/11, Fryshuset Malmö, Sofielundsvägen 5


Dessa tre organisationerna kommer att vara med:


arbetar mot hedersvåld och hedersförtryck, sprider information, håller föreläsningar, och tränar ambassadörer som för budskapet vidare i skolorna. Föreläsningen är i samarbete med Elektra och hålls i deras lokaler på Fryshuset Malmö.

Soppkök Malmö       

Soppkök Malmö består av privatpersoner som startat ett soppkök för hemlösa i Malmö. De samlar in kläder och hygienartiklar och delar ut dem tillsammans med soppan. De är också debattörer som vill sprida kunskap om vad hemlöshet innebär och hur vi tillsammans kan förbättra läget

Du hittar deras blogg och Facebook här:

Och du kan läsa Metros artikel om Soppkök Malmö här:!1qAZjDKyuMhz2/

Amnestys Förvarsgrupp          

är en av Amnestys Specialgrupper. Medlemmarna åker ut till Förvaret i Åstorp i Malmö och pratar med de asylsökande som sitter där. De kan vara på väg att bli deporterade, eller sitter där och väntar på beslut. Förvarsgruppen fungerar som stöd för dem. De ser den skarpa eggen av sveriges flyktingpolitik


              Lovisa Ståhl stöttar kvällen med en unik spelning!

Du kan läsa mer om hennes musik och skiva på

"Med en mjukt genomträngande röst, skapar Lovisa Ståhl en atmosfär med sin musik, som gör ett avtryck i dina innersta tankar. Lovisa spelade in sin debutplatta i Los Angeles och släppte den 2011. I år 2012, gav hon ut sin första musikvideo i samarbete med bl.a. serietecknaren Malin Biller. Hennes musik är en blandning av american folk, country och blues med tänkvärda texter och finurliga melodier."

Gratis inträde. Fika finns på plats. För kontakt och frågor, mejla oss på

måndag 13 augusti 2012

Some thoughts on the differences between Classical Chinese Medicine and TCM

I thought I´d spend a blogpost to think about Classical Chinese Medicine and how it is defined.
  Classical Chinese Medicine is the oldest version of Chinese medicine that we know of. There are of course different schools within CCM too, but there are some main tenets and views that form the core of it. In the 1950´s and onwards, the creation of what today is called Traditional Chinese Medicine, TCM, began in Chinese universities and hospitals. TCM has a stronger influence from Western medicine. Even later, in the 1980´s and onwards, fragments of the original system was used to create what is now called Western Acupuncture, WA.

I simply thought to write down some definitions, some ideas, and some views on the practices that are part of Classical Chinese Medicine.

Classical Chinese Medicine is close to the roots that Chinese medicine has in Daoism. Daoism is an ancient Chinese spiritual tradition that is still alive and practiced today. But there is still a difference between CCM and Daoyi, pure Daoist medicine. A minority of practitioners are trained in both (see Jeffrey Yuen, quoted later in the text).

I think that one of the first, simplest (and yet most complex) things that shapes Classical Chinese Medicine is that everything is one. This is pure Daoism and shows the Daoist roots of Chinese medicine very clearly. In Daoism, one name for Dao, the Way, is Yiqi –  One Energy. That everything is the same energy. When Daoists started to treat people this view followed. The patient´s system is one, and that wholeness should ideally move in a fairly balanced way with its surroundings. One could indeed see Classical Chinese Medicine as a way of first helping the patients system to weave together to be one again, and then how to help that oneness weave into more balance with its surroundings: its place in time and space – a Daoist view applied through the use of intent through needles.

”As practitioners, our goal is to give the patient more freedom.”
                                         – Jeffrey Yuan, teacher of Classical Chinese Medicine

As we learn to practice, there is of course a separation. We have to understand pieces to see how they become a whole. But that sense of oneness should always be in the background, like being aware not just of the actor saying lines but of all the other ones on stage too, and the backdrop they are moving through, all at the same time. One whole: not a coir of individual voices.

This first and basic tenet is probably the one that is most difficult for Westerners to truly understand and manifest. To genuinely see a patient as one, and how to treat that weave to be more balanced and even more healthy and whole, takes a lot of time and often a lot of practical work involving meditation and/or qigong to be able to do. The deeper a person thinks in Western medical terms, for example, the more difficult it will be for them to shift to TCM, and even more difficult to access CCM. To me, anything else in Classical Chinese Medicine grows from this seed of seeing the patient as one.
  The next question becomes how to diagnose this, and how we can let treatments slowly move deeper in the patient´s system to help them balance it to whatever level they are looking for.
There are of course some pure technical differences between what is called CCM and TCM too – some follow traditions from the Neijing or Nanjing, Shan Hanlun, family lineages, various schools of Daoism etc. – but for me, the next point would be a precise focus on the whole including a deep understanding of shen. Shen is our conscious awareness, and the manifestion of this through our health and through our life. Jeffrey Yuen, a well-known practitioner of both CCM and Daoist medicine, says ”Jing is shen manifested.”
  Jing is the innate strength of our physical body. It is also the blueprint for how our physical body and physicality will evolve over our lifetime. It will become the physical manifestation of our shen.
  (For an interview with Jeffrey Yuan on how shen is the root of all diseases, see

Paying attention to shen is mentioned in TCM, but the actual understanding and genuine interest in it seems to get less and less as time goes on. Classical Chinese Medicine has a deep interest in the patient´s shen and how it weaves into their physical existence. As CCM researches this, it gives us as individuals a very deep understanding of how shen works. First we learn about our own shen, then more and more how it works in everybody else. From that point, it grows even bigger and becomes a compassionate understanding of how all shen sees life and is affected by it.
  This work in CCM gives a fundamental understanding of how shen weaves into the imbalances we have. But through it, we also learn how treatment can be tailored not only to help patients to become healthier, but more free.

A third thing that I have noticed is the difference in diagnosis. The bagang – the eight – are used in CCM, but the bianzheng – the patterns – are more commonly the staple of TCM. Over the last few decades, this has increased to become more influenced by Western medicine and its interest in looking for one thing that is wrong and then treating only that. CCM and its practitioners are more interested in understanding the underlying functions instead, and, again, how they weave together with the patient´s shen. Sometimes, the pure TCM version can seem like someone who is fascinated with maps instead of walking through the landscape.

A tangent off this is palpation of the body and the jingluo, the meridians. Palpation has been a part of CCM since at least the Neijing, though different dynasties has seen the emphasis on it vary. The latest one during the 20th century in China has been one of the downturns: palpation became rare in Chinese medicine in general in the 20th century. Sometimes this has been because of what social class was being treated, sometimes simply how the entire society thought. (You can read more about palpation in the post about Dr Wang Juyi and his system for channel diagnosis here:
  In his book The Long Road, Edward Obaidey comments about the difference between practitioners of TCM (rarely palpation based) and Meridian Style Acupuncture in Japan (very palpation oriented). The TCM practitioners he met seemed open about their work, proud of it and very rapid and clear in diagnosis. Initially, he stayed away from the Meridian Style practitioners since they seemed more uncertain, doubtful about what they did, and reticient to talk about it. Maybe one reason for this was the work with palpation: once practitioners start using it as a regular tool in clinic, the certainty of memorized bianzheng patterns soon vanish out the window. The mental constructs of diagnosis that were so clear, suddenly vanish when faced with the living complexity of the patient´s body, energy-system, and mind.

In the book Applied Channel Theory in Chinese Medicine, Dr Wang Juyi is asked by his co-author Jason Robertson if he ever saw some plan to kill or dilute CCM be implemented in the universities and hospitals were Dr Wang worked. Since he graduated with the first ever university class as an acupuncture doctor, Dr Wang trained and worked all through the entire time of the birth of TCM. Dr Wang simply said ”No.” He never saw any conscious plans to water down the old knowledge. What seemed to be the main factors were simply that it was  planned into university exams and modules instead of the traditional (and still living) apprentice system of CCM, and then also the influence of xiyi, Western medicine, with, finally, how the communists demanded an integration of it into hospitals.
  This view is echoed by Elisabeth Hsu in her book The Transmission of Chinese Medicine. ”TCM, in spite of being called ”traditional” (chuantong), is generally referred to as the ”modernised” (xiandaihuade), ”scientific” (kexuehuade), ”systematic” (xitonghuade), and ”standardized,” (guifanhuade) Chinese medicine. In awareness of how ideology-laden these attributes were, one doctor called TCM the ”School of the colleges” (xueyuanpai), which implied that it was just one of many ”schools” of Chinese medicine. However, government offficials, if not aiming at its monopoly, advocated its predominance.”
                 –  The Transmission of Chinese Medicine, Elisabeth Hsu, Cambridge University Press, 1999

Calling TCM Xueyuanpai instead, the School of Colleges, would explain a lot more about it´s views and rationale, and be a clearer definition of it as just one of the schools in Chinese Medicine. The way TCM has been made more theoretical – for good and for bad put into a modern university format – has also unfortunately made it easier to create theoreticians rather than practical clinicians.

Xu continues with a comment that parallells that of Dr Wang: ”TCM is distinct also in respect of its institutional setting: the colleges, hospitals, and cliincs are all institutions of the Chinese socialist state; so called work units (gongzuo danwei). It is within such socialist institutions that Chinese medicine has been modernised, Westernised, standardized, and made scientific. However, the modernisation of every day life has affected all medical practices within and outside government institutions. Often closely interrelated with a certain westernisation, ”science” or ”scientific” is a ubiquitously found attribute for any therapy. It is only in government institutions that the aim of standardizing chinese medical learning has been formulated and pursued. Comparisons of this government-promoted medicine with other chinese therapeutics will allow us to identify both strengths and limitations of the standardisation of medicine.”
                                                                     – ibid

(For those interested in the differences between CCM and TCM, and how it came about, Xu´s book can really be recommended. In it, she follows the evolution of university courses in the 1980´s in China, comparing it with CCM practitioners and with laoyisheng, old doctors, who still at that time were trained, like Dr Wang, by doctors trained pre-Revolution in China.)

”You can´t use all of the indications for a point unless you do cultivation practices.”
                                                               - Jeffrey Yuen in lecture, 2011

This writer sees qigong and meditation-work as crucial to Classical Chinese Medicine. It is important to remember that a majority of the early practitioners were often Daoists, who have in-depth qigong- and meditation practice as a standard thing in their tradition. Daoism is based on practical training-techniques, and it is quite possible that the writers of the Neijing and Nanjing thought it a given that anybody reading the texts would have a stable practice as part of their life too.

A stable qigong- and/or meditation-practice will completely change what the practitioner can do and treat in clinic. The qigong stabilizes our own system, builds up energy in it, relaxes it, heals it at ever deeper levels over decades of practice, and gives the practitioner the skill to clean out the effect patients have on their system after long hours in clinic. The relaxation we have, the energy we have, will also act as catalysts for the same in our patients. Good quality qigong gives us the ability to feel our bodies and energy-systems with a very high level of precision – something that completely changes the ability to understand how the needles affect both us and our patients.
  Same with meditation. In a sense, this is even more important, as it gives us the ability to create a mind more free from pre-conceived notions of diagnosis, and helps clean up our heart to become more free and compassionate. This becomes more important the longer we work. Daoism has specific practices concerning this used in the setting of health-workers.

(Note: this is for a longer and different post, but remember to only train qigong and meditation from a skilled practitioner. Never practice from DVD´s, video or audio tape.You want to rather spend a long time looking for a good teacher; it will repay itself enormously in the long run. Find someone you can have at least semi-regular contact with, as this kind of stabilizing effect is very important in both qigong and meditation training. It becomes even more important over the long run when the training and evolution of each student needs to be regularly tailored and stabilized. For a medical anthropology overview of zouhuo rumo, energy injuries due to incorrectly practiced or badly supervised training, see Breathing Spaces – qigong, psychiatry, and healing in China, by Nancy Chen, Columbia University Press 2003)

There are practitioners of CCM who don´t have a stable practice going and who still seem to be very skilled in it, but in my experience, those with long-time and stable practice can reach even deeper levels of skill and treatment ability, as well as simply in the completeness of their own life.

Classical Chinese Medicine also has a strong emphasis on being a catalyst for healing. The qigong- and meditation-practices clean up and balance our system, including our mind and heart. This makes it easier to keep being a positive catalyst for healing for patients – as well as for ourselves! (You can read more about the structure for how to heal, and for how to be a catalyst for the healing in others, in this previous post:
  (Another interesting facet of a good qigong- and meditation-practice, is the study of the Five Elements in us and how to move in better harmony with the seasons, both for which there are practices and treatments. You can read a little about that here:

There is of course also technical knowledge that still exists in CCM and often has been lost in TCM. This includes both physical, energetic and mind-based diagnostic techniques as well as treatments that seem to have been lost in TCM. The fairly basic thing of palpation of the body and its meridians, for example, is rare to find in TCM, yet has survived in Japanese acupuncture, and is seen as a foundation diagnostic technique there.

You can read two other views of CCM and TCM in these articles:

For a basic overview of Daoyi, Daoist Medicine, and more of the Daoist roots of CCM, I can recommend these two books:

The teachings and practices of the early Quanzhen Taoist masters, Stephen Eskildsen, SUNY press 2004

Chinese Magical Medicine, Michel Strickmann, Bernard Faure, ed. Stanford University Press, 2002

”Everything in the Classics is there for a reason, but sometimes we don´t know how to interpret it.”                                                                                                  – Dr Wang Juyi in lecture, 2012

So, is it either TCM or CCM? I don´t know. I don´t think so. I think it is, like everything else in life, a scale. There are of course certain technical skills that makes practitioners´ treatments more TCM or more CCM (say, Neijing views of not using more than three channels in a treatment, and not putting double needles on one channel to avoid over-treatment etc., echoed by Dr Wang Juyi in his lecture in Dublin this year, ”Don´t make the mistake that the more points is better,” he emphasized. ”It is quite harmful to the body.”), but in the long run, I think the difference between TCM and CCM is all down to the intent manifested by the practitioner in the meeting with the patient. There are specific qigong- and meditation-techniques taught for this, but the general intent of Classical Chinese Medicine goes back to that the patient is a whole, and that it is this whole that is helped  to go back to being more whole again – helping this weave to heal, helping it weave back smoother with the surroundings that is the big weave of our life and society.
  TCM still usually says it sees the patient as a whole, but diagnosis and treatment often shows a marked influence from Western medicine. Sadly, this seems to increase every decade so far.

Seeing the patient´s system as a living environment goes back to Daoism, and is echoed very strongly in the Nanjing, the Classic of Difficulties. Here we see the views that even xue, acupuncture points, have their own life that weaves together with the body and helps it heal. We will look at this Nanjing-view and its roots in Daoism and in the Shanhaijing, The Classic of Mountains and Seas, in a coming post.

”Zhenshi Dao – The Way of Needles.”
                                      – Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée on Classical Chinese Medicine, healing, and transformation, in lecture 2010

The view of Classical Chinese Medicine in the meeting of practitioner and patient, and the catalyst of healing that we should be, is seen quite clearly in its Daoist version in the Neiye, the Classic of Internal Training, from 350 BC.


Those who can transform even a single thing, call them ”numinous”;
those who can alter even a single situation, call them ”wise”.
But to transform without expending vital energy; to alter without
       expending wisdom:
only exemplary persons who hold fast to the One are able
       to do this.
Hold fast to the One; do not lose it,
and you will be able to master the myriad things.
Exemplary persons act upon things,
and are not acted upon by them,
because they grasp the guiding principal of the One.
                  – Neiye, Original Tao, Inward Training and the Foundations of Taoist Mysticism, Harold Roth, Princeton University Press, 1995

(Translation note: there are some things worth adding here. Most Daoists texts are instruction manuals in code. What is translated here as ”numinous” is the character shen. Shen is the same shen discussed earlier in this blogpost about the focus in Classical Chinese Medicine. In Daoism, shen also has the connotation of an enlightened individual or someone who has trained in the practices of Daoism for a very long time. This text discusses the practices for being able to move with change yet effect change without letting it cost the practitioner too much – like a catalyst that creates a catalyzing process without itself changing. Daoism studies change, and the tradition is entirely built up around practices of qigong and meditation with huge amounts of information to slowly work through over a lifetime. The original practices of baoyi, of embracing the one, mentioned in the text, can be seen echoed in the comments in the Neijing of, ”When needling, feel like you are standing at the edge of an abyss”, ”When holding a needle, feel like you are holding a tiger” and ”When needling, concentrate your mind without paying attention to things outside.” Actually, it has links to the following advice too, of ”When needling, set right the spirit (shen) of the patient”, as someone with the practices can do this quite easily before and during needling. All these have links to both the training and to the practices of being able to have a relaxed but very clear focus - and being able to have this over and over again in clinic, over decades of patients. This should first be trained in depth for the practitioner her- or himself, then it is transferred into treating patients. The list of advice is from Neijing chapter 54, Zhen Jie, Explanation on Needles.)

Today, Classical Chinese Medicine is a slowly growing movement in the West. TCM is still the most common version to be found, of course, but a steadily growing interest in the old versions of Chinese medicine is spreading. A few teachers actually have both old knowledge and sometimes the training-techniques that goes into using it, and are willing to share it here. Even apprenticeship-schools are starting in the West. We will keep discussing Classical Chinese Medicine here on Acupractitioner21 in the future, and wish you luck in your own journey – both in your own health, your own heart, and in that of your patients´.

Daniel Skyle © 2012

söndag 1 juli 2012

Channel palpation and channel theory with Dr Wang Juyi: an overview of the course in Dublin 2012

This year´s course with Dr Wang Juyi on channel palpation in Chinese medicine just finished in Dublin. It was hosted and arranged by Cyrille Bonnard, along with a small group of helpers, and pulled in a good group of enthusiastic practitioners who spent four days learning Dr Wang´s system and drinking deeply of the knowledge in Chinese medicine that he has gathered over the last 56 years. We were helped greatly by Mei Li, one of Dr Wang´s disciples, who with her translation and further explanations made the course even better.

In this blogpost, you will get an overview of his course and Dr Wang´s views on Chinese medicine. I did and interview with Dr Wang while in Dublin, this will be published both in print and later here on the Web. We all hope to give everybody a better chance to see more of his unique knowledge. If you want a deeper view of his system – channel palpation, point-pairs, clinical skills – I would really recommend his book, Applied Channel Palpation in Chinese Medicine. It can be bought here on Amazon:

The channels determine life and death, play a role in all disease and regulate deficiency and excess; they must be free of obstruction.                 
                                               – Neijing Lingshu, chapter 10, Jingmai, On Channels

First Dr Wang started off with an introduction to channel theory and his views on why it has been lost. He asked how long time everybody had practiced.
  After a chorus of answers, he said, ”If you have that training and experience, why do you need to be here studying with me today? Your knowelege in channel theory is probably either incomplete or not detailed enough.This lack of understanding of channel theory exists in China too. I had the same problem when I started out.”
  He had a lot of information and skills from his university studies, but found it very difficult to get good results without channel theory. When he started out he didn´t believe in channels. Then slowly he began to understand the importance of them in Chinese medicine, and over time, went deeply into researching them.
  ”It is not your fault if you lack information on this subject. In this point in time, channel theory has either been ignored or forgotten. There are two ways for most acupuncturists to understand points – experiential points, where a function has been tried and tested in clinic in a specific tradition or style. Then there is looking the point functions up in books. But when they don´t work, the doctors who taught the experiential points can´t be asked – they´re dead, like my father and grandfather are.”
  In clinic, he found that with these two versions, sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn´t. The failure of those two methods plagued him for many years. But channel theory explained them and gave a deeper understanding of how points actually worked. It also increased the effect of his treatments, suddenly making most of them work all the time, and with much better effect. And it was through his studies of that from the Classics and in clinic, that he realized that Chinese medicine had a very strong theoretical foundation in channel theory.

Dr Wang is 75 now, but with his full head of hair and strong gravelly voice, his energy seems like that of a younger man. During the course, he was originally only to do the mornings with his disciple Mei Li doing the afternoons, but he turned up on three afternoons anyway, doing impromptu demonstrations and helping the students through palpating on them so they could feel the technique directly.

”Don´t make the mistake that using more acupuncture points is better. It is quite harmful to the body.”                    
                                                                          – Dr Wang Juyi in lecture

Dr Wang then went on to a longer discussion about what the channels are. ”The channels run between the tissues in the body.” Blood vessels are part of the spaces in between. Over the course, Dr Wang used quotes from the Classics to underpin his teaching. ”Palpation was a classical diagnostic method, and at the time the Neijing was written it was used extensively.” Over the millenia, however, the practice came and went. Chinese doctor and Daoist priest Jeffrey Yuan said the same thing during his lecture in Dublin in May – how the culture of each time affected the use of palpation. Some eras it was approved and used, in others it vanished because of bans on touching others. It was also more difficult when treating royalty in China, as they were often not to be touched (if not because of reverence, then because of the more practical fear of assassination or poisoning).

”I would like you to remember these next phrases,” Dr Wang said,
  1) The channels exist,
  2) They are important for our practice,
  3) Have faith in the Classics, they are not deceiving us.”

Channel theory,” he added, ”is in my view the basis for all Chinese medicine.” We will take a brief look at the Classics here in a while, that shows they seem to be of the same view.
  ”It is important do do channel differentiation, not just pattern differentiation. Always integrate channel transformation in your enquiries.”

”If you only rely on experiential points handed down to you, or tricks of the trade, you don´t understand why something works or not.” 
                                                                                    – Dr Wang Juyi in lecture

Over the course his teaching wove through several topics, with different asides and tangents. Main topics were channel theory, channel palpation, channel diagnostics – going through each channe,l and its different diagnostic signs – Chinese medicine, clinical experience and his use of point pairs in clinic.

Part of his channel palpation was five stages:

1) Observation

2) Palpation of blood vessels (including taking the pulse)

3) Palpation along channel pathways

4) Pressing

5) Light touching with palm

These in turn would reveal which channels were affected, and which was the most affected, either towards yin or yang.
  Dr Wang also went through some palpation methods rarely used today, such as several other vessels used classically but now often lost.

He likes to use point pairs were the points have synergistic effects together, and has researched point pair functions deeply over his past 50+ years in clinic. The smaller amount of points makes it much easier for the acupuncturist to make sure what treatment had what effect. If a large amount of points are used, the patient might get better, but in the long run the practitioner won´t be sure what points and combinations of them had what treatment effect. Dr Wang advises that the fewer channels used, the better, a view echoed in the Neijing.
  ”Don´t make the mistake that the more points is better,” he emphasized. ”It is quite harmful to the body.”
  ”Let´s say there´s an orchestra of 100 people playing all at once – can you call that good music?”
  ”Some in chinese medicine who don´t get effect, they just needle deeper...” Dr Wang said he has seen this uncountable times in China in the hospitals where he worked, and he thinks it is a sign that the practitioner doesn´t understand Chinese medicine.
  ”You must research theory deeply to understand how things work and how it can be applied for your patient. Otherwise your mind will also become slow and not awake.”

Part of his palpation system is how to open the point before needling, and how to help open the channel to make sure the treatment effect is even more precise. Jeffrey Yuan has a great phrase to remember: ”Don´t traumatize the point.”

”Everything in the Classics is there for a reason, but sometimes we don´t know how to interpret it.”                             
                                                                                  – Dr Wang Juyi in lecture

"Leigong asked the Yellow Emperor: ”It was stated in the Jing Mai, ”In acupncture, channel is most important, one must estimate the condition of the beginning and the end of its operation, know its length, its relation with the five solid organs inside and different relations with the six hollow organs outside. I hope to hear the reasons about it.”
                               – Neijing Lingshu, chapter 10, Jingmai,
On Channels. Wang Bing version, 762 AD during the Tang Dynasty, Yellow Emperor´s Canon of Internal Medicine, translated by Wu and Wu, China Science and Technology Press, 2005

Chapter 10 is quite long and very detailed about how the channels move and work in the body. In the Jia Yi Jing (The Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion by Huang Fumi) most of Book Two is about the channels, their trajectories, their diagnostics and treatments.
  ”The Yellow Emperor answered: The state of the channels and vessels determines life or death. Hundreds of diseases are managed (according to their condition), and emptiness and fullness are regulated through them. Therefore one cannot be unfamiliar with them.”
                 – Jia Yi Jing, the Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion,
Chace and Yang, Blue Poppy Press 1993

Dr Wang himself rates the Jia Yi Jing highly, and was glad to know there was an English translation available.

In Japanese acupuncture, palpation has remained much more vibrant over the centuries, with an especially strong focus on abdominal palpation and diagnostics.

Jeffrey Yuan, previously mentioned, teaches a Daoist system where the channel system is used for personal development, training and enlightenment as well as treatment. This is done both by the practitioner and then used for helping the patient.

”Needling is like playing the violin.”                          
                                                                      – Dr Wang Juyi in lecture

”Life is like a good instrument," he said one afternoon. "You have to play it well. Needling is like playing the violin. A gentle, very refined movement. You are not needling any tissue, you are needling the areas between tissues. If you have the right technique when playing the violin, you can produce the best sounds.”
  Over the course Dr Wang used the simile of playing an instrument several times. He encouraged the students to think deeply about it, and make their skills gentle with patients. Needling, he repeated, should not be painful or hard. ”Life is a very gentle instrument.”

Just as he taught this, he also taught how to use other point pairs to ”strum” the patients system: ”If strings are loose, you have to tighten the strings on the violin before you can play it.”
  During the palpation lessons his phrase was, ”You want to iceskate, not tapdance”. Each point location should be based on palpation skills, and each location will be guided by several of the five different tissues:

1) Skin

2) Sinew

3) Muscle

4) Blood (vessels)

5) Bone

When Dr Wang started out fresh from university, he also followed what he had been taught – anatomical landmarks and images – but over time he realized that they often didn´t match the actual location. Many points were in slightly different places, and each person had their own size that he had to learn to adapt to, then find the point, open it, and finally needle. During the course he briefly went into his experience of needle skills, but it was not a main topic – perhaps in courses to come here in Europe. There is a separate section for it in the book he did with one of his disciples, Jason Robertson (see above). Robertson now lives in the US. You can find his clinic and website here:

We are quite happy to announce that Dr Wang Juyi will be returning to Europe in 2013. Right now, it seems like he will hold courses in several locations. For more information on the course schedule for 2013, contact Mei Li at                . Mei Li is leaving Beijing after three years of intense study with Dr Wang and will set up her own clinic in Hawaii. Daniel Skyle is only a student of Dr Wang Juyi, but he does his system and  its techniques at two clinics in Sweden, one in Malmö, the other in Kristianstad (both in the south of Sweden, near Copenhagen).

Dr Wang´s website is Mei Li and several of Dr Wang´s other students are working with him on a new book, this time presenting case histories from his clinic.

Other blogposts linked to Dr Wang Juyi here on are these:

All the participants were really happy about the course and left after laughs and photos on the hotel steps. ”See you at next course!”

Daniel Skyle © 2012

lördag 16 juni 2012

Acupuncture and Summer: the Chinese Medical Classics, the heart, the shen, Fire Element, Shakespeare, poetry and picnics

Summer is the season of flowers and warmth, the time for talk and picnics; the time for our heart to relax and open when the Fire Element has its time with sunlight, blue skies and warmth on our skin, on our face, and our life.

In Classical Chinese Medicine (CCM) it is linked to several things: the Fire Element, which in turn links to the heart, pericardium small intestine and sanjiao, the Triple Burner; it links to the feelings of joy and our ability to spread warmth to others through talking, being happy and communicating. It also helps us with the feeling of anxiety and how to learn to keep our fire burning in a balanced way in the hearth that is ourselves. Summer links to one of the liuxie, the Six External Factors; Summer Heat. It is the time when our skin should be open and we should let warmth enter us and sweat leave us through open pores.

In this post we will look at summer in all these aspects, and we will take an extra look at how the practitioners who wrote the Chinese medical classics Neijing, Nanjing and Jia Yi Jing (The Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion) commented on summer between 1800 and 2500 years ago.
But first, let´s listen to a wiser voice than mine, and look at Shakespeare´s Sonnet 18 where a human being who lived in the 1500´s describes love in the language of summer...

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm'd;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature's changing course untrimm'd;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

–William Shakespeare

Part of the very core of Classical Chinese Medicine is for the practitioner to move with the seasons, and for him or her to help patients move with the seasons in nature and the seasons of their life. The seasons will change the patient´s system, including on the level of pulse. Thus it becomes important for the practitioner to be aware of this, otherwise a perfectly healthy seasonal pulse can be misunderstood as an imbalanced or pathological one, and misdiagnosis  might take place. We´ll look at this from a Nanjing perspective later on.
But first, here is the comment of the Neijing Suwen, the first book of the Yellow Emperor´s Classic of Medicine, from about 2400 years ago. First it describes summer:
  The period of three months of summer is called the season of flourishing as all the living things in the world are prosperous and beautiful. On the Summer Solstice, Yang energy reaches its summit and Yin energy begins to emerge, thus, the intercourse of yin and yang energies occurs at this time. As Yang energy forms the vital energy of things and Yin energy shapes things, the combination of vital energy and the shaping energy cause all living things on earth come into blossoming and yield fruits.

The practitioners who wrote the Neijing then continue with advice on how to act during summer so as to move easier with it, and how important it is to let our skin and interaction with the world be open during the summertime.
  In the course of intercrossing heaven-energy and earth energy one should, like in spring time, sleep when night comes and get up early in the morning. He should not detest the sunshine nor get angry often, so as to correspond to the property of summer energy of growth that promotes growing of the flowers and fruits. One´s skin should be perspired for letting off the yang energy to avoid the heat being stagnated, in other words be”keen on the exterior”.
Finally, it lists what happens if we go against the season:
  These are the ways of preserving health in summer. If these principles are violated by a man, his heart will be hurt, as heart associates with fire and fire is vigorous in summer. If one fails to adapt to the property of summer energy which is growth, his heart will be hurt, and he will contract malaria (fever, ed.) in autumn. This is because his adaptability to atumn energy has been weakened due to his inability of following the property of summer energy, which is growth, to perserve health. In this case, it´s called”inadequate offering to harvest.
              – Chapter 2, p14. All quotes are from the Wang Bing version, 762 AD during the Tang Dynasty, Huangdi Neijing Suwen, Yellow Emperor´s Canon of Internal Medicine, translated by Wu and Wu, China Science and Technology Press, 2005

You can read the previous posts about different seasons here:

The quote above was from chapter 2 of the Neijing. The Neijing is seen as the bible of Chinese medicine and it says something, I believe, that the practitioners of that time thought the idea of changing with the seasons so important that they put it in the second chapter out of about 80 or so in the book. The principles of changing with seasons, of moving with change itself, bianhua, is part of the spiritual tradition called Daoism. In the earlier posts you can also read the Neiye-quote (the Classic of Internal Training) about changing with the seasons, written down about the same time as the Neijing itself.

The Fire Element links to summer, and is the time when Fire should be relaxed and allowed to blossom in our life; this is the time when we should be open, enjoy life, talk to friends more and let ourselves enjoy the warmth and the langorous way that time moves during the summer.
  The Fire Element links to our heart, our small intestine, our ability to feel joy in our life and the capacity for anxiety when we feel low. Our Fire Element links to our ability to feel warmth toward others and to share and communicate with them – and even better, if we can move with we can let the flame of joy leap from our heart to someone else´s and keep lighting up and lightening the entire world!
  Summer is the time when this will blossom in us. Ideally, it is the time when we allow ourselves to follow
Fire more and to be more open to the world, both physically and emotionally.

Other ways we see this is through the pulse. Pulse-taking is one of the main diagnostic techniques used in Chinese medicine. Here we can read how the Nanjing, the Classic of Difficulties, one of the major Chinese medical classics, describes the pulse of Summer:
In Summer, the movement in the vessels is hook-like because it corresponds to the heart, the southern region, and to the phase of Fire. During that season all things flourish; the branches and the leaves are spread out, and they all point downward and are curved like hooks. Hence, the respective movement in the vessels comes swiftly and goes slowly. Hence, it is called ”hook-like”.
                                                    – The Fifteenth Difficult Issue, Nanjing, Unschuld, p201

Present-day Chinese doctor and Daoist master Jeffrey Yuan says this:
  ”The summer´s pulse is one when you take the person´s pulse, it should feel like something comes up and scatters against your fingers. That´s the spreading nature of Summer.”

The warnings about what happens when people go against summer written by the physicians and Daoists who wrote the Neijing, is continued by Huang Fumi, writer of the first monograph and more structured medical textbook in China, the Zhenjiu Jia Yi Jing, the Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, (ca 260 AD).
  The Jia Yi Jing is the first book to take the information from the Neijing and other books and systemize it in a more structured way. It also contains the only extant text from a book called Mingtang, the Brilliant Hall, a book revered at the time but of which we have no copies left – except the quotes that Huang Fumi saved for us.
  If the heart is affected by apprehension, thought and worry, this injures the spirit. If the spirit is injured, this leads to fright and loss of control of oneself, cleaving of the major muscular masses, and shedding ofthe flesh. Should the hair become brittle and the facial colour prematurely aged, death will come in winter.
  The Suwen says: the sound of the heart is laughing, the manner of pathological change is anxiety, and its emotion is joy. Joy injures the heart. The Jiu Juan and the Suwen both say: the merger of essence and qi in the heart leads to joy.

                   – Jia Yi Jing – the Systematic Classic of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, p3. Huang Fumi, transl. Chace and Yang

If one runs counter to the qi of summer, taiyang will not grow, and the heart qi will be hollow within. the ebb and flow of yin and yang in the four seasons is the root of all things, the sage acts in accordance with the root by nourishing the yang in spring and summer and nourishing the yin in fall and winter. To go against the root is to fell the stem.

                                                                    –  p5, ibid.

(you can read more about who Huang Fumi was here:

We can also see how other Chinese sources see the Fire Element and Heart, here a later text from the Internal Martial Art of Xingyiquan, which researches the Five Elements of Daoism and Chinese Medicine through practical training for both body and mind. Paoquan is one of the Five Fists, and linked to Fire.
  Paoquan belongs to Fire and is the opening and closing of the one Qi. Like a cannon suddenly blasting and suddenly hurling its ball. Its nature is the most violent and its shape is the most fiery. In the body, it belongs to the heart, and in the fist it is Pao. If it is performed correctly, then the body is comfortable and unrestrained, and the qi is harmonized. If it is performed incorrectly, then the movement of the four limbs are not smooth and the qi is weird. When its qi is harmonious, then inside the heart is clear and spiritual When its qi is weak, then inside of the heart is blurred and confused. The learner should study deeply.
                                                         – Xingyi Classics

But enough of classical texts. The Fire Element and summer are linked to the heart, but also to the small intestine, sanjiao and pericardium; the last is called xinbao in mandarin, something that wraps around and cradles the heart, almost like a comforting hug.
  The pericardium surrounds the heart; in Chinese medicine, it is an organ in itself and is called the Heart Protector – it guards the core of our heart, our mind and emotions, against too much pressure from the outside. In the oldest texts, Neijing and Nanjing, the view was that you never treated the heart directly – all treatments were indirect, via the pericardium. This was probably due to two things: back then, the heart was called the Emperor, in honor of the Emperor who ruled China, and treatments might have been based on that same caution and honor. But it seems likelier to me that the physicians of that time respected the heart as the core of our being that it is, and preferred the gentler treatment to affecting it directly.
  In the Neijing and Nanjing, there also existed no heart meridian, only the pericardium meridian – the heart meridian was literally invented and added on in later times. Today in TCM the heart meridian is treated very commonly, while more Classical Chinese Medicine might use it but more respectfully, and often still prefers to treat through the pericardium.

Here, from Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée and Father Larres book on the Sanjiao and Heart Protector:
  The expression xinbao luo designates the two aspects necessary to a central power: the guard and protection with the idea of an envelope which encircles and prepares for life, and then all the communication systems without which no authority can exist. For example, if in time of war there are no messengers, or if the sovereign does not know what is happenings, then there is disorder. In the pathology of the heart, which covers the pathology of the heart as a communicator or in its enveloping asepcts, there are a lot of disorders and illnesses which are the result of losing contact with the spirit that is in the heart. A good example of this breakdown in communication is seen in the case of tan, phlegm, when this obstructs or veils the orifices of the heart with resulting physical or mental symptoms.
                      –  p15, Heart Master, Triple Heater, Larre and Rochat de la Vallée, Monkey Press 1992

We will talk about tan, phlegm, and the different kinds of phlegm in a coming post. But during this discussion it´s also worth adding that even though it makes things easier to explain, in Classical Chinese Medicine our entire being is seen as one, interlinked and whole. As Rochat de la Vallée pointed out in one of her lectures, ”If you speak of different versions of the heart you´re in a Western model,” – a phrase I´ve heard echoed from acupuncturist, herbalist and teacher James Cattermole of London.

The void of the heart can only manifest through the radiance of the spirit, but looking at the other side we see the manifestation of the heart in the form of this envelope. What we call the envelope of the heart can perhaps also be seen as all the membranes around the heart, and there are ancient texts in the classics which say that this is so. Then we can go further and say that it is the pericardum, or not just the pericardium but the myocardium. If the heart of the heart shelters the spirit then the invisible aspects of the heart must then enveloped and protected, but they must also be manifested in a visible aspect. That is to say Buckingham Palace is not the queen, but it gives a good impression of the royalty in England. It represents the crown. This is linked to the idea of emperor. So I think these envelopes are to be taken as everything that manifests the visible aspects of the heart.                                                                                     – ibid, p14

Summer is the time for our heart and Fire Element to be relaxed and open to the outside, just as winter is the time for keeping that Fire warm inside, in the hearth that is us.
  Just like nature flourishes and blossoms, so should we, if our system moves in balance with the seasons. As we saw in the quote from the Jia Yi Jing, ” the ebb and flow of yin and yang in the four seasons is the root of all things, the sage acts in accordance with the root by nourishing the yang in spring and summer and nourishing the yin in fall and winter. To go against the root is to fell the stem.”
  Taiyang is the largest yang surface of the body, covered by the Bladder and Small Intestine meridians. It helps our body and mind to adapt to external circumstances and to be open or closed to surroundings as needed. Taiyang should help us sweat in summer and then gently close in autumn to keep our warmth all through winter with its tests of storms, cold that makes the cheeks red, and falling snow from gray skies.

Well, this post has gone on for long enough. It´s time to go out and enjoy the summer instead. If you want to read more about heat and summer heat, and how they can affect us, I can recommend this post by Giovanni Maciocia on his blog:
  Summer is the time to let ourselves and our life blossom. It´s our chance in the year to enjoy warmth and to let ourselves soften and open up to the outside, both in our everyday existence and also in the greater sense of how we see and act in our life. We are going to sum up the view of summer in Chinese medicine with a quote borrowed from Western doctor and poet William Carlos Williams. I hope you have a good summer. Now I´m going outside to enjoy the sun. Bye.

In summer, the song sings itself.                                – William Carlos Williams

Daniel Skyle © 2012

söndag 10 juni 2012

Away on course with Dr Wang Juyi in Dublin

We will be away in Dublin for a another training with one of our teachers, the legendary Dr Wang Juyi from Beijing. Dr Wang graduated with the first class of the new university program for acupuncture doctors in 1962, and was trained by teachers who were trained in the pre-revolution and old styles of Chinese medicine. Dr Wang has worked with and taught Chinese medicine for more than 50 years. His book with Jason Robertson, Applied Channel Theory in Chinese Medicine (, made him well known internationally as both a highly skilled practitioner and a constant researcher in the field. Dr Wang combines solid roots in Classical Chinese Medicine and its classical texts like the Neijing and Nanjing with an active research into the system, something he always wishes students to emulate in their own practice. He is very well known for his use of the classical version of channel palpation, which gives an even more precise diagnosis and activates more health-effect in the patient. You can see some pictures of him here: and a short video from one of his courses here: When we are away for the course the clinics will take a break between 21-27/6. After that, we are open the entire summer. Welcome in!

söndag 15 april 2012

Acupuncture and how we can heal; the healing crisis (call it healing chances) and the health practitioner as catalyst for healing

What does it mean to heal?

It´s a big question. For some people it can define their entire life. Either in the way they get a chance to heal or in how they keep looking for it, sometimes knowing they are looking but sometimes just walking through life with shards of glass broken in their heart, or illnesses that they neither make friends with nor get rid of.

In this blogpost we are going to talk about healing, the healing crisis – better called the healing chance – and how the acupuncturist and health-practitioner can be a catalyst for healing.

Hurts, problems and illnessess can affect anyone. Some people have lives with less of it, some have more; the wounds can be subtle yet deep, others be big but heal easier. I think that on our way through life, most people look for healing in one way or another.

It takes courage to heal. This sounds strange from the outside – of course we wish to heal if we are hurt, isn´t that obvious? But healing means admitting our hurts and beginning to be free from them and heal to become more whole. This is part of the original etymology of the word instead of the recent New Age use of it – heal comes from hale, which means whole. Healing is about allowing ourselves to become more whole, allowing shards to heal and ourselves to be stronger and wiser in their aftermath.

The views of most Eastern traditions is that if we allow ourselves to heal, we heal the world as a whole too. Everything is connected; our hurt will echo in others as their hurt will echo a little bit in us.
Through accepting healing we can also begin to help others. We will talk about this later on in the post, when we discuss how we all can be catalysts for healing.

Illness is not evidence that you have failed, but rather a way to better health, a better state of balance. It can be a transitional state. Illness may be necessary if your old state was too rigid. There may be two types of healing. One takes you back to the state you were before. Although this often seems desirable, remember that nearly all the elements that contributed to that illness will still be there. In more serious illness, generative healing may be needed – healing that takes us beyond the person we were, the person who was prone to that illness in the first place. Unless this type of healing takes place you will become ill again in the same way. Illness can be a way to better health.
                         - McDermot and O´Connor, NLP for Health, s201.


In Daoism, a lot of training is done to understand and become friends with change. They study change deeply, and have frameworks for how to see and understand it in our everyday life, smack in the middle of coffee-cups, the papers to get through at work and the screaming kids at home.
    To heal is to allow ourselves to shift from one state to another. It is shifting from a wounded or hurt state into one that is more whole and more healed.
We have to allow ourselves to heal. Sometimes this goes fast, sometimes it goes in stages. Some hurts can take a longer time to heal, but we can heal if we only allow ourselves to.

In Daoism, shifting from the hurt stage to a healed stage would be a change called hua, transformation. It´s not just the shift of day to day, getting up, brushing our teeth, making a new cup of coffee day after day, sunset and sunrise and sunrise and sunset; a hua is that we grow and transform to something else. Sometimes we have to learn lessons on the way, lessons we don´t always want to learn yet which are very important to our growth and to the life that we have.
    Many of the old spiritual traditions in the East see our different hurts and illnessess as being part of things we should learn, understand, and evolve with in our life.

The view in Classical Chinese Medicine is that we are one piece. All our good things and bad things are one; any wounds we have can affect our entire being, but our entire being have skills and capacities to heal them.

The doctor who doesn´t have a positive effect on his patients ought to become a pathologist or anesthetist. If the patient does not feel better for your consultation, you are in the wrong game.
                           – J. Blau, ”Clinician and Placebo”, Lancet 1 (1985), 344.

Instead of healing crisis, call it healing chances

Part of healing is sometimes what many used to refer to as ”healing crisis”. I prefer to call it a healing chance. This is simply how that, when we heal, we have to meet and clean out a little bit of the hurts or poisons that we carried with us. These can be physical, emotional or mental; they are simply part of the time it takes to brake from a higher speed to a lower one. Then we can continue to heal and be ourselves more, enjoying the life we live.

In Daoist terms, this would be part of the initial change after a hua: this is what we feel in the early stages of healing. Like Daoist master an Chinese physician Jeffrey Yuan says, ”If you talk about a healing crisis then the body is already strong enough to deal with it.”
    If you go through a healing chance, this is a sign that you already have been healing for some time. Otherwise your body and mind wouldn´t allow you to release more and find more freedom through a healing chance.

Keeping awareness during the change from illness to better health, or from hurt to more whole, is a very good thing. The process is organic, this shift towards becoming more hale, healed, whole. If we are more aware of the stages of it it is easier to see what goes well and what we can learn from to make the next stage easier. Like British communication skills-teacher Cricket Kemp says, ”There is no failure only feedback.”
    If we look at the process itself, we can also see at what stages we learnt what skills. It´s often very helpful to sit down and make a list, or a timeline of the process we have gone through or are going through. What could we learn from the experiences we have had, the lessons we learned? What was useful for us? Which of them do we want to take with us to make the next stages of healing easier, smoother, and more natural?

If I told patients to raise their blood levels of immune globulins, or killer T-cells, no-one would know how. But if I can teach them to love themselves and others fully, the same change happens automatically. The truth is: Love heals.
               - Bernie Siegel, Love, Medicine and Miracles, (Harper and Row, 1986)

How to help catalyze healing in others

Often we need someone else to approve that we heal. For the presence of someone outside ourselves to say that it´s OK, you are healing, you deserve to heal, you can heal; you have the first tools to heal yourself and live a life that is better for you.
    It sounds strange, but this is often the case. Sometimes we only need this approval once, to start the process or to continue it, to believe in it; sometimes we need it at different stages of a longer healing process throughout our life. This voice from outside can make it easier to know that ”it´s OK that I heal.”

In the studies of information technology called stickiness, it was shown that when waitressess simply repeated the order back to a customer, their tips increased by 70%. We so often feel the need for someone else to verify our existence, to give even a tacit approval of our choices and our life.

An acupuncturist or health-practitioner of course have a bigger responsibility on their shoulders to help the healing of those we come in contact with. But anyone can help with that, anyone can be a catalyst for helping others heal. And through helping to heal others, we can help heal the world around us.

The intent we have is a key to this. If we have a healing intent, we will help heal. In Daoism, there is a clear framework of practices for this, especially if we work as health-practitioners, but even without that, if we have a healing intent with what we say and how we manifest ourselves it will help others a lot in their healing process, wherever it is and for whatever reason they are going through it.

Say a patient comes to see me. I´m trying to feel, are they at peace with their condition? Because if so, they already are have a sense of what their condition means to them. So what I´m trying to do is to give them guidance for how they can maintain that state of peace.
Jeffrey Yuan, interview on the Spirit in Chinese medicine, see

So, what does it feel like to be healed? Often, the change is one of atmosphere as much as anything – a lifting of the spirits occur, along with greater sense of engagement with life, which becomes resultingly less overwhelming and terrifying. Problems which appeared insurmountable suddenly take on a less threatening aspect. This is often accompanied by a very real and physical sense of relief. I have heard it described as anything from ”a dark cloud lifting” to a sense of release. The effect is often climactic, mounting to a dizzy sense of euophoria.
Healing the Wounded King, John Matthews, Element 1997

The intent we have towards ourselves and others can be heard in our voice, seen in our eyes; it echoes around our very being wherever we are. Some have a natural gift to heal others. But there are also long-time practices within the Eastern spiritual traditions,and in some shamanic traditions, that work very deeply first with healing me, then with specific training in how I can use my experience and wholeness to help heal you and other people I come in contact with.

To have a healing intent is a choice we can make. It´s usually more effective if we first heal ourselves, at least to a certain degree; without this it is very difficult to understand what healing can mean in someone else.

In Chinese history most of the legendary acupuncture doctors have also been Daoist masters or Daoist practitioners. The ability of their specific qigong- and meditation-practices gave an awareness and ability to heal that is very difficult to reach without them. Here are a few quotes on that subject. I´ve added shorter comments below them (see a future post for more details on these quotes).

De is the power of the Sage – a transforming power we cannot manipulate.
                   – Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée in lecture, London 2010.

De is the same de as in Daodejing, the Book of the Way and the Power. De is a specific usage in early China and Daoism, with connotations of spiritual and energetic power. This was later changed with Confucianism to mean ”virtue” instead, where the older Daoist usage sees de as evolving through practice, and through that revealing more and more of our innate ethical views and good heart, haoxin.

Therefore, the Sage
alters with the seasons but doesn´t transform,
shifts with things but doesn´t change places with them.
                  – Neiye (350 BC) chapter VII, The Classic of Internal Training, Original Tao, Roth, 1999

A very deep training in Daoism and healing is that we can help catalyse someone else to heal, but it´s their change, not our own; thus, the Sage alters with seasons and shifts with things, yet still always remains him- or herself.

The sixty-first difficult issue: The scripture states: Anybody who looks and knows it is to be called a spirit; anybody who listens and knows it is to be called a sage; anybody who asks and knows it is to be called an artisan; anybody who feels the vessels and knows it is to be called a skilled workman. What does that mean?

Chang Shi-hsien comments: A spirit looks at the patient and knows his illness; he does not have to ask him listen to him or feel his vessels. A sage looks at the patient and listen to him and then knows his illness. An artisan looks at the patient, listens to him and asks him, but he does not have to feel his vessels. The skilled workman, finally, feels the vessels and, in addition, must look at the patient, listen to him and ask him; only then does he know about his illness.
                   – The Sixty-First Difficult Issue, Nan-Ching, (200 AD) Unschuld

Spirit” here is the word shen, as in a highly skilled practitioner of Daoist training. For further information on this, see Zhuangzi, the Inner Chapters, by David Hinton.

When looking, one must be shrewd and keen. When one can understand the beginning and the end of a disease through looking, his treating will be invincible.
    – Huangdi Neijing Suwen, The Yellow Emperor´s Canon of Internal Medicine, (ca 300 BC) chapter 77, Shu wu guo lun, the Five Faults in Diagnosis and Treating, Wu and Wu, China Science and Technology Press, 1997

Again, a skilled practitioner of Daoist practices or very high level Chinese medicine, can see huge amounts of information in a patient through training that someone untrained would not even imagine is possible. There are specific ways to train it, and to train the awareness necessary, safewire it, and train the skills in understanding how that diagnosis will change over time. This saying was echoed 500 years later by the famous Zhang Zhongjing in the Shan Han Lun: "The skilful doctor knows by observation, the mediocre doctor by interrogation, the ordinary doctor by palpation."

We can all help each other heal

In Daoism and Ecological NLP, which we work with at Small Change Acupuncture and Communications, there are frameworks both for healing and healing practices. Both look at the subject in different ways, but especially Daoism has a very practical and detailed framework for healing on many levels. You can read more views on healing and the Classical Chinese Medicine view of how all diseases are rooted in the spirit from Benshen, chapter 8 in the Neijing Lingshu in this interview with Daoist master and Chinese physician Jeffrey Yuan:

We can all help each other heal. There are continually deeper levels in us we can heal too, and for those interested in spiritual training like in the Daoist practices or other spiritual traditions, healing is a process that continues over our entire lifetime, just in different layers and ever deeper levels of our being.

In clinic, Classical Chinese Medicine has techniques to help a patient heal on both physical, emotional and more meta-size levels – that is, help heal as in to heal our life, where we are, and how it is moving along.

We can all heal, all become more hale: we can all become more whole.

It is more important to know what sort of patient has the disease than what disease the patient has.
Sir William Osler

Daniel Skyle © 2012