Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Another heart-warming email, this time all the way from Israel

It is unusual for me to receive two such accolades for five element acupuncture as I have done so close together over the past few days.  I blogged about one on 31 March, and here’s the second one from Anton Aridan, an Israeli five element acupuncturist.  As with Jo’s, what Anton has written makes all the hard work Guy and I do so life-enhancing and worthwhile.

“I have just read a touching email, that you published in your blog, from a student of yours expressing gratitude. This moved me to express mine, for I have been wanting to do this for quite a long time now and just been kind of shy.

I am now re-reading your book 'Keepers of the Soul', the one that inspired me at first time to come to London and learn from you. Now, after some little bit of experience, what I discover is just the truth of whatever I have read or heard from you. I see how patients so willing to move to discuss their emotions instead of pains. I see how they appreciate that I listen for them carefully, instead of rushing to do a treatment. I started seeing the slightest changes in patients after a successful treatment.

Some days ago a new patient came with very bad knees. She told me such a horrible story of her life that I decided to add the CV14 point just after AE drain on the first treatment, because I thought her spirit really needed some support. And, of course, I finished with her source points. After the treatment I told her that I was not sure if I could help her knees. She said that she was sure I could not help her knees, but she felt so much better in herself that she would come for treatments just for that. Again the truth that you teach, being honest with the patients only helps. And feeling better in themselves is sometimes all that patients really seek for.

I feel like I have found my place in five element acupuncture. I want to thank you and Guy very much for passing with such passion whatever you know to anyone, who wants to learn.” 

Saturday, March 31, 2018

A heartening tale of simple five element treatment

I have just received the following most heart-warming email from a fellow five element practitioner, which, with her permission, I want to share with everybody interested in receiving confirmation of how effective simple five element treatments can be.

“I thought you might be interested to hear about the success of my low cost clinic at Quay Place in Ipswich.

You may remember that you kindly wrote a reference for me to start working at this venue. It’s a heritage and wellbeing centre managed by Suffolk Mind.   I’ve been working there for just over a year now, offering a low cost clinic on a Tuesday afternoon/evening.

The sessions are aimed at people with mental health issues who are currently waiting for a referral or for counselling/cognitive behaviour therapy, or who feel overwhelmed by the thought of talking therapy. 

I offer 30-minute sessions on a 1:1 basis, for £17. I’m absolutely amazed and humbled by the response and the number of people who come - my 5-hour clinic is consistently fully booked.

I’m using very simple five element treatments - IDs, EDs, AE and source points with minimal talking.  People who come are extremely stressed and traumatised and cannot cope with in-depth TDs - they just need to relax and let the needles do the work, with minimal intervention.

The treatment gives these patients a degree of consistency and a plan of action, and a feeling of autonomy in that they are being proactive in addressing their condition.

There’s nothing worse for these patients than hanging around and waiting for the mental health service to get its act together- it’s demoralising and disempowering. These treatments give the patients hope and a vision for change - and that’s vitally important in their journey to recovery. 

My home clinic is also extremely busy and I’ve had to change my way of working in order to accommodate more patients. 

I’ve recently had patients seeking treatment on the advice of their hospital consultants - how amazing is that?!  It seems that the Western medics are finally getting the message!

I am eternally grateful to you and Guy for your inspiration and support early on, which has enabled me to gain confidence in my practice, so that in turn I can help others to help themselves.”

Thank you, Jo Banthorpe, for sharing your rewarding experiences with me, and for allowing me to pass on what you have written to encourage other five element practitioners  How lucky we are to be engaged in such life-enhancing work.



Thursday, March 8, 2018

Surprise discovery of a treasure trove

When I was studying with JR Worsley all those years ago, I would make notes of what he was teaching us during the years of my LicAc, BAc and MAc studies with him at Leamington.  For some time afterwards I kept these handwritten notes in a rather unordered collection in an A4 file, and rather forgot about them.  To my surprise and delight I discovered a few days ago that at some point I must have decided it was time to sort them out and store them in a forgotten computer folder, which I just happened to come across.  Reading through these notes again after all this time I realised that I had discovered a veritable treasure trove.  They contain much that inspired me then, and still inspires me, but also things that puzzle me and which even now I don’t really understand. 

This reminds me of something JR replied when asked a question in class, “If you have to ask that question, you won’t understand the answer”, a profound comment which I took to heart.   I understood this as being his way of telling us that we had to do the hard work of finding our own answers, and not rely on him to spell those answers out.  So there are still things here and there in the notes which I must ponder.  These notes represent my own personal legacy, a handing down of a tradition from a master to one of his most devoted pupils.

I am now reading through them carefully to see how much it will be useful to pass on to others, particularly also to my students in China. 

This has been a most unexpected and welcome discovery which coincides very neatly with the imminent publication of my seventh book, called appropriately My Five Element Legacy.  This will be available in mid-April from Singing Dragon Press: https://singingdragon.com/uk/products.  You can get a 10% discount on this book and all my other books when you quote discount code Y18.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Help needed!

To my surprise, because I have in the past always used my blog entries as a form of one-way traffic, I have learnt a lot by asking for feedback from my blog readers to my blog of 22 January “Metal removes itself”.  In this I asked for comments from people as to how they would react to being in tricky situations.  The comments that I received taught me a lot about how different elements approach life.

I am always aware that I may be becoming a little too fixed in my ideas about the elements, and offering insights which are too stereotyped.  This is a danger for anybody who has immersed themselves in one area as I have done with studies of the elements over so many years.  I sometimes wonder whether I am growing a little blind to different aspects of the elements.  So to counter this, I would like some further help with another piece which I am writing to form part of what I hope will be my next book.  This book will draw together my many tips for diagnosing the elements which I have devised for myself, and which are scattered here and there throughout my writings.   

The piece I am writing at the moment I am calling “The impact an element makes upon us”, and describes the way in which I feel the different elements engage with me.  I have written about four elements, but I have come to a slight full-stop with Fire, because that is my own element, and I feel my observations may well be too specific to me and not general enough to help others.  This is how I have started the piece:

“Fire, maybe because it is my element, tends to make me relax since I am on familiar terrain and therefore no longer feel under any pressure to react.  It is as though I do not have to put on a mask of any kind, and can be who I really am.  As a practitioner this runs the risk of making things a little too cosy, with a tendency to overlook inevitable areas of tension, in case these disturb the comfortable atmosphere I and my patient are hoping to create for ourselves.     

Because I feel at ease with Fire, I am not as aware as people of other elements might be of the pressure it puts upon me, because it makes me feel warm and comfortable.  I realise that this may well not be the case for everybody.  Because this is a very personal reaction I will have to watch carefully how Fire’s interactions with other people unfold.

I will be very interested to hear descriptions of how readers of this blog, whatever their element, experience their interactions with Fire.  



Monday, January 22, 2018

Metal removes itself

A Metal friend of mine, asked to explain how she deals with difficult situations, said simply, “I remove myself”.

I am always delighted when somebody offers such a neat and almost laughably concise illustration of an element’s particular qualities.  On reflection, I decided that I could not think of any other element apart from Metal that would say this.  I think it is the only element which I can see detaching itself so firmly and standing back.  Certainly, I who am as Fire as they come, could never say something like that.  In some way I realise that I always have to stay attached to whatever situation I am involved in.

This has made me think about how the other elements, Wood, Earth or Water, react when confronted with similar tricky situations.  I have my own thoughts on this, but would welcome feedback from people of these elements just to confirm my thinking.

Is there anybody out there who is Wood, Earth or Water, or indeed Metal or Fire, who would like to add something to this discussion?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Wood can't afford to have doubts

I was with a Wood friend today and after a few hours in her company I realised that I wanted to ask her an odd question, which was, “Do you ever have doubts?”  I wondered why this question had popped into my mind and realised it was because the hours with her had in a subtle way undermined me.  She seemed so sure of everything she said, stating everything as an established fact.  It was as if I was listening to many statements all having the effect of a pronouncement, a kind of “this is so”, and “that is so” and “that is all there is about it.”

I asked myself why this had thrown me as much as it obviously did, because here I am now half a day later still slightly disturbed.  Mulling this over, as I always do when something happens which throws me off-balance, I realised that the strong certainty with which she talked about things had caught me on the hop by highlighting what I felt were my own uncertainties and making them look liked weaknesses.

If I look carefully at the times when I think of myself as uncertain, it is not in fact the result of weakness, rather the reverse.  It represents merely the necessary time my Inner Fire (Small Intestine) needs to weigh up possible alternatives, because I always have to allow myself to see two sides of every situation.  In contrast to Wood  I am asking myself: “It may be like this, but I must also consider whether it may on the other hand be like this.”  And then my Inner Fire carries on with its ceaseless work of sorting what it is right for the Heart to do.

The Wood element, on the other hand, has other priorities.  Not for Wood is the luxury of weighing up pros and cons.  It is there to get on with things, and its decisions have to be rapid and taken in a “no turning back” kind of spirit.  Once made, these decisions have to be put into effect as soon as possible, and once it has decided what its opinion about anything is, that fixes it, if not for all time, then certainly for the immediate future.  During the time I spent with my Wood friend, I heard many statements of fact which sounded as though they were my friend’s firm opinions.  With each of her emphatic statements I could feel any confidence in my own certainties fading a little, as my Small Intestine tried to take on board what was being so firmly offered as fact.  It often felt itself swayed by these dogmatic statements because it couldn’t give itself enough time to assess whether at heart it agreed with them or not. 

This was another important lesson for me on the differences between Wood’s ability to make decision and my own, and also gave me further insights into Inner Fire’s potential weaknesses, as well as its potential strengths.  These are related to its need always to see the other side of the question and therefore to evaluate the relative merits of the arguments being presented to it.   I feel that Wood has no such hesitations.  Once having made up its mind, that is it.  And as I put it myself, it can’t afford to have doubts, because doubts will hold it back from acting, and action is above all what Wood wants.

Thus do I learn a little more each day about myself, about my Inner Fire and about my relationship to the Wood element.

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year message to Five Element Groups in China

Here is the text of the New Year's message I have just sent to the five element acupuncture world in China:

"I always like to draw my thoughts together as we approach the end of each year, looking at the good things that have happened and thinking ahead to what I think is important to take forward with me into the next year.  I’ll do this now in relation to the development of five element acupuncture in China.  So here is how I see what we have achieved in 2017, and the hopes I have for its future development in 2018.

The first thing that pleased me so much about my two visits in 2017 was the very great improvement in their five element skills of all those who had come regularly to our previous seminars.  I have been very impressed with the keenness and hard work everybody is putting into developing their practice, particularly the group of experienced practitioners who have been coming to our seminars over the past six years, and have now taken over all the teaching of the beginners’ groups.  This has made it possible for us to concentrate our seminars more on the intermediate group of practitioners, those with less experience.

At our first 2017 seminar in April I had the opportunity to attend the graduation of the first year of those attending the three-year Project Heritage Programme, and could see the enthusiasm of the 500 or so students of this course, and the dedication of the teachers of the different disciplines. In April 2018, Guy, Mei and I will be teaching an introductory five element seminar for those who have graduated to the second year of this Programme, creating another important development in the spread of five element acupuncture in China.

At our second seminar in October, I was very moved to see the dedication with which the group teachers, after long days spent at the seminar, then went on every evening to give additional help to small groups of the students.  Each group leader spent the evening discussing one aspect of five element practice.  I was so happy to see the enthusiasm with which the groups were learning.  It was after the success of this latest seminar that I began really to feel that the future of five element acupuncture was now resting safely in the hands of an excellent and growing group of Chinese five element teachers.  This is a great relief for me, because it means that I have already passed on so much that I can be sure that a real core of five element practice now forms part of the Chinese acupuncture scene.

On the book front, Lynn Yang has been supervising the publication of more translations of my books, three of which have now been published: The Handbook of Five Element Practice, The Simple Guide and Patterns of Practice.  By the time we arrive for our next seminar in April, the translation of my first book of blogs On Being a Five Element Acupuncturist should be ready, and Lynn is already planning for the translation of the next book, Blogging a Five Element Life.

I am also making very active plans for more books in 2018.  Another one, which is called A Five Element Heritage, will be published in England in time for me to bring copies with me to our April seminar.  I am thinking about writing another book, which will draw together my thoughts about the elements and tips for recognizing them in people.  This is making me look at the elements with fresh eyes, and I will bring my new thoughts with me to the April seminar.

I look forward very much to seeing many old friends and making many more new friends at our seminars in April.  Guy and I have already booked our flights to Beijing, and I’m sure Mei has, too, or will do so soon.

I wish everybody a very happy start to 2018."                     

Thursday, December 28, 2017

A chapter closes

As the tumultuous year of 2017 draws to a close, so too does a further chapter in my acupuncture life, for on 31 December I surrender the lease on the SOFEA clinic at 57 Harley Street and move my practice elsewhere.  For the first time in my acupuncture life I will be renting a clinic room in somebody else’s practice and handing over to others all the administrative work.  This will be a new experience for me, and in some ways brings my acupuncture practice full circle.  When I first qualified, I worked by myself from my own home, and only moved my practice when I started my acupuncture school SOFEA in Camden Town, and realised that it made more sense to practise from there rather than split my practice between home and school.

From that point onwards, for the past 20 more years or so I have had the responsibility of running a group clinic.  For the first 10 years this formed part of the school, and provided a student clinic as well as giving students the opportunity to observe a thriving professional practice at first hand.  The last 10 years started when I closed SOFEA and moved to a clinic in Harley Street with about half a dozen other five element practitioners, doing what I had got used to doing and without really querying whether I still needed to run a group practice.

Having now been forced by circumstances (a steep rise in rent, difficulties with our landlord) to decide whether to move this practice elsewhere or simply just move myself, the decision almost made itself.  It was, I realised, time for me to step back and look after my own needs rather than continually taking on the administrative responsibility for others.  So as of January I will find myself walking to a small clinic not far from my home for the few hours a week I still want to practise, where I will continue to treat my long-standing patients.  It is good that the other Harley Street practitioners have all found clinics close to each other, so that we will continue to nurture a small five element base in central London.

What then will I do with the time I will now have available to do other things?

The New Year, as every New Year should, will bring new challenges with it, and some remnants of things which need to be completed from the old year.  For instance, the draft of my 7th book, A Five Element Legacy, is already with my publishers, Singing Dragon Press, who have promised to get the book published in time for me to take copies with me to Beijing at the end of April.  The translation rights are already being discussed with my Chinese publisher.

Then, as promised by my hosts in Beijing, the translation of what I call my first blog book, On Being a Five Element Acupuncturist, will be ready for distribution to all those attending the seminars we will be holding there at the end of April.  These will now consist of a development on what we have done before.  The Foundation which Professor Liu Lihong has set up has now formed what they call A Project Heritage Programme, which is a three-year course focussing on the legacies of different forms of traditional Chinese medicine and thought, one of which is five element acupuncture.  We will be giving a four-day course as part of this programme, followed by a seminar for our more advanced five element practitioners which continues on from where we left in October.

I have been told by Lynn Yang, who is the brilliant organizer of every minute of our stay and negotiates so smoothly with Singing Dragon Press about the numerous translations now being completed for each of my books, that she intends to get one translation published in time for each of our twice-yearly seminars.  Three have now appeared (The Handbook, the Simple Guide and Patterns of Practice).  Over 25,000 copies of The Handbook have already been sold, and I have just been told that the Chinese publisher is ordering a re-print of The Simple Guide, as they have sold out of the 5,000 copies of the first edition.  The translation of the most precious (to me) of all my books, Keepers of the Soul, is being reserved for Lynn Yang herself, because, as everybody tells me, it is a complex book and requires a serious understanding of my very literary-based English.  It is my favourite book because it expresses, in language I am proud of, the depth of my feeling for the elements and what they represent in terms of human destiny.  Difficult to read it may be, though obviously not to me, but the profound things in life cannot always be shrugged away in simple language.  So I expect it will be long after all my other books have been translated that Lynn will find the time in an extremely busy life (she is the second in command at the Beijing Foundation) to do justice to my works in the way she has told me she thinks fit.  I am very lucky to have found someone so prepared to take the time needed to do this.

Finally, there is one thing hanging over from 2017 which is still very much under discussion, and that is a book I want to write dedicated simply to the elements and to the many tips for learning to recognize them I have devised over the years.  I realise that I have included in each of my books something about the elements, but often it has been interwoven with other topics.  For example, in the Handbook it takes second place to the practicalities of being a five element acupuncturist, and in my other books I often concentrate upon aspects such as practitioner qualities.  Recently I looked through my blogs and realised that that they contained many useful tips dotted here and there which could well be drawn together to form a more complete picture.

My lovely publisher, Jessica Kingsley of Singing Dragon Press, has sadly just announced her retirement.  In my email to her thanking her for what she had personally done to get my books published (and as she told me, saved me all the trouble of packing books up and traipsing to the Post Office to send them off, as I used to do when I first self-published my books), I tentatively asked her whether, as a farewell to her as she leaves, she would consider commissioning this, my eighth book.  She will let me know in the New Year, but the possibility that she might agree has spurred me on to look at the elements with a fresh eye.  This is therefore one piece of unfinished business with which the newly liberated Nora will occupy herself in the New Year.

These are the good things which lighten my mood when I am forced to contemplate the political shambles of 2017, with, I fear, much, much worse to come.  I feel like John Cleese in Fawlty Towers, who had to keep reminding himself not to mention the war.  For me, the red light is “don’t mention Brexit”, or “Trump” – so I won’t, for the moment at least.  I don’t want these two events to spoil my last entry for 2017.

I thank all who have helped me in my acupuncture work over the past year:  Lynn Yang and my lovely group of five element acupuncturists in China, Mei Long who comes with us to China, and above all Guy Caplan, who so stoically stands at my side through thick and thin, both in this country and China, coping with all the necessary chopping and changing my Small Intestine demands of me, as it tries to sort out what is best to do, whilst his Metal would no doubt prefer simply to work things out quietly, make its decision and stick to it.  I am always surprised how well two such different elements combine in our joint work in offering five element acupuncture to the wider world.

A Happy New Year to everybody.  I hope to see some of the readers of this blog at our next seminar on 2 March (http://www.sofea.co.uk/content.asp?page=seminars).

andbook, .  I thank all those.