As I look out of my study window, the leaves are already changing colour. You won’t fail to have noticed the mood change that takes place at this time of year.
Follow the leaves and you will understand what autumn is about. As it is around us, so it is within us, you might say. As the air begins to cool the leaves turn a vibrant melee of colours before tumbling softly to the ground, where the wind begins to scatter them. We are witnessing the annual interplay of yin and yang where the active yang principle begins to turn day by day into the opposite yin or passive phase. We put away our summer peacock colours and seek out our more conservative winter wardrobe. We begin to go from gregarious to buttoned-up.
‘Just as the weather in autumn turns harsh, so does the emotional climate’, points out the Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Medicine – an ancient Chinese medical text book. ‘One should retire with the sunset and arise with the dawn’, it helpfully suggests. ‘It is therefore important to remain calm and peaceful, refraining from depression so that one can make the transition to winter smoothly’.
I love to watch a particular tree in my back garden – throughout the year it wears just about every set of clothes it is possible for a tree to wear. Each one is appropriate to the season, vigorous in spring, skeletal in winter. Watching this manifestation of nature helps me to understand myself better and understand the cycles of harmony and disharmony within my patients.
The Yellow Emperor’s Classic tells us that ‘the sages lived peacefully under heaven on earth, following the rhythms of the planet and the universe. They lived over one hundred years because they did not scatter and disperse their energies’.
Are you in danger of becoming scattered? What will you change this year?
In what way might we regard pain as a spanner in the works?
To the traditional acupuncturist, the body is enveloped in a web of channels (also called meridians) located just beneath the skin. These are in effect a bridge between the outside world – with which we interact constantly – and our internal organs. The channels are responsible for the movement of the body’s Qi (pronounced chee), or vital energy.
When we register pain and discomfort this may be seen as a blockage within one or more of the channels. As a qualified acupuncturist I see many people in pain or discomfort and my principal question is almost always the same. Where is the blockage and what has caused it? Possible triggers can include trauma, climate, poor constitution or emotional stress.
For example ‘Susie’ presented with sciatic pain radiating down her left leg which resulted from a constitutional weakness of her kidneys. She was barely able to walk. The pain followed the path of the bladder channel on her left side so initial treatment focussed on removing the stagnation in this channel, something which gave her immediate relief. Subsequent treatment was then directed to strengthening her kidneys to ensure that the blockage did not recur. After this she noticed a steady reduction in her pain levels and made a full recovery within three weeks.
‘Vanessa’ complained of pain in her right knee, stemming from an old running injury, which had gradually worsened over a period of eighteen months. Surgical investigation had found no obvious cause. Upon examination, it was obvious to me that there was a blockage in her spleen channel. I placed a needle either side of the blockage (ie upstream and downstream) and connected a mild electrical current between the two needles for around ten minutes. During the treatment she experienced tingling in the affected area.
When she arose from the couch the pain she had been afflicted with for months was virtually gone and on her next visit she was completely free of it. It did not recur.
Traditional acupuncture – ‘drain clearing’ for the channels.
The Acupuncture Pain Centre