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My Thoughts

Poignant lessons from the bible of acupuncture

(Naperville Acupuncture)


I love this quote from the first chapter of the classical foundational text of acupuncture titled The Divine Pivot (Ling Shu):

“Whether meeting it or following it, by means of one’s attention, one harmonises it.
Those who understand the way of the dynamic, will not impede it and thus it manifests.”

We – acupuncturists – must focus our attention on “it” – the qi. We must get out of its way but by learning where it wants to go and where it is, we can understand it, and facilitate a state of balance – harmony.

Here’s another profound quote from The Divine Pivot that is loud and clear:

“ The (unskilled practitioner) attends to the form (aka physical). The superior (practitioner) attends to the spirit (aka nonphysical).”

What do you gather from this? To me, it says, an acupuncturist doesn’t just stick a needle in your boo-boo – we are assessing and nuancing the unseen energetics of the body. That’s why people don’t come to me to fix a dislocated shoulder or a torn meniscus. They come to me to assist their body in regaining harmony and balance to enhance their own healing abilities. We all are born with mechanisms within us to continually heal ourselves. Every second of every day our body is rebuilding and repairing. Sometimes we sustain an injury – whether due to physical trauma or inflammatory response to our diet or environment or stress hormone overload – that finally creates an imbalance upon imbalance that makes it hard for the body to find its own homeostatic rhythm again. We often don’t see symptoms until the root cause has been actively damaging us for years.

The cool thing about Traditional East Asian Medicine (TEAM for short) is that we have ways to measure the state of our Qi that don’t rely on how high the pain level is or our own mental perception or even the physical manifestations. We can ask the body in it’s own language – what’s wrong? where do you need me to come in and help? That is why this medicine has endured and why it is so effective. Yet it is the burden of the practitioner to develop the skills to do this best. They don’t call it a practice for nothing! My teachers from each of my courses is a practitioner in practice – they are always practicing. All of the great practitioners and teachers are always students of this medicine. So I thank you for coming with me on this journey to discover acupuncture and it’s wonder and wisdom.

Inner and Outer Knowledge

I am a learner. Learning fuels me, keeps me going. I’d be dead if I wasn’t always learning. While I’m most interested in health topics, I also care about world affairs and cultures, animals, nature, physics, chemistry, and more.  But I’m not interested in knowledge for knowing’s sake. I want to seek information that I can apply to help myself, my family, or others.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that while I’m driven to seek the wisdom set forth by others before me, that I, and each of us, has an inner wisdom that should not be discounted or overlooked.   However, I’m not saying that my inner wisdom is like having an Albert Einstein or know-it-all at my disposal.  The wisdom I refer to is the heart of Chinese Medicine – the way that we fit into nature and the universe, and that somewhere inside me I know the best choices and that it’s my mind that bars the truth from being manifested.

Instead, I believe we must mine our inner selves for the buried knowings we carry with us as part of our divine nature.  Quiet introspection, whether in formal meditation or through mindfulness, allows our inner wisdom to bubble up to the surface of consciousness, where we can harvest it with our minds.  I find this to be a daily exercise, the process of getting to know myself.  I have been kind of amazed at how I feel like I’m just really getting to know myself now, in my late 30’s!  But with that realization came the understanding that it will take my lifetime to really get to know myself fully, if I’m lucky enough to live that long!

I am happy that in my field, I can tap my intuition, that inner wisdom, when I interact with my patients.  I can use my inner eye to see my patient more wholly, and go beyond the facts to catch underlying aspects and really get deeper with healing.  A big part of what I love about holistic medicine is how intimate it is.  I believe that connection forged between myself and my patient becomes part of the healing.

The Art of Limin’

A few years ago we went on vacation to Anguilla, a desert island in the Caribbean.  It was the most middle of nowhere place I’d been, with not much going on.  We had to fly into another island and take a little speedboat over which they called a ferry.  It was beautiful in a desolate way as far as the landscape.  Lots of sand, sand, sand.

We stayed at a very chic hotel, and the some of the staff was local.  I remember one staffmember in particular, because she was by the pool every day. I think her name was Marlene.  She had short skinny dreads and a relaxed smile.  It seemed she loved her job hanging out at the pool, even if we were a bunch of tourists.  But the one thing that I remember most was one word she taught me.  Limin’. This is what they say instead of chillin’.  “What’s going on?” someone says to you, and you say “M’just limin'”.


So back here in the US the climate is different, and the length of the To-Do-List is much longer.  In Anguilla, people have had to learn to pass the time.  Here, we don’t have enough of it.  It’s a constant struggle to check off our tasks before the next day dawns.


Part of our stressed out culture I think stems from the mere vastness of humanity in the 21st century.  There’s a lot of us, plain and simple.  That makes for a ton of competition – if I don’t do IT, someone else will.  So we burn our candles at both ends, and sometimes it’s sleep that we skimp on, and sometimes it’s convenience foods from Starbucks or Subway or McDonald’s or Lean Cuisines.

This pressure to DO all the time, has robbed us of our natural need to just be limin’.  Can you imagine just sitting around for a couple hours a day?  Chickens already got fed, meal is already simmering for dinner, kids have helped do all the chores.  Maybe it’s too hot to work.  Maybe it’s too cold… All the reasons why back in the day limin’ was probably a part of human life, like it still is in some more laid back parts of the world.


So my message here, is let’s remember it’s ok to just chill, to just be, and that there is actually value in it.  Can you think of a famous person who discovered something important while just limin’? Or can you imagine what just being could do for you? At the least, it allows us space to breath, observe, and notice what is going on around us on a small level, and even what is going on inside us, at the cellular and energetic levels.   Try it.  I’d love to hear what happens when you let nothin’ happen!

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