TCM: Advanced Acupuncture
I was recently asked by a colleague, who I like and respect, if I would consider teaching a seminar on advanced acupuncture techniques. Now, after much fun bantering back and forth, I came to realize that what they were asking for was simply a lesson on topics that should have been covered in college.
However, the topic got me thinking, “What would be considered advanced acupuncture techniques?” To which I thought, “There’s no such thing.”
We see it all the time in so many fields of study: the advanced, über-secret, high-level techniques that will grant you access to the greatest results, and therefore the most amount of patients. I have especially seen this in my life-long study of martial arts.
Practitioners fly all over the world attending seminars, to gain a certificate and a photograph - only to have the piece of paper, and the approach, collect nothing but dust.
What is it about ourselves that we feel the need to gain the next best thing - even if we know deep down that it doesn’t exist outside of ourselves? From the elixir of everlasting life to the newest way of using 409 standardized acupuncture points, we all feel a yearning for something more.
To be clear, I am not talking about other styles or systems. These are paths that practitioners need to study deeply to learn. I am speaking of the impossibility of there being anything other than basics in a closed-system.
For example, there is only one right way to frame a house. The cripples for the doors and windows have to be placed in the proper place every time. If I asked a long-time house builder to teach me the advanced techniques in reference to framing, they would likely laugh at me (and tell me to back to work).
If there was such a thing as advanced acupuncture, what would it look like? In my opinion, it would simply be basics honed to the highest personal standard. Basics so sound that intuition, something that only time and perspiration can give, flourishes. As Malcolm Gladwell put it in his book Blink: the ability to thin-slice moments of time to gain total insight into a situation.
I feel such compassion for anyone who was not taught the basics of diagnosis, the basics of needle manipulation, or brainwashed that somehow ST9 (Renying) is a dangerous acupoint (therefore absolving any responsibility from the teacher instructing how to safely needle it). These things I can help with.
I guess I just don’t want anyone to fall prey to the traps we set for ourselves, or those we allow others to set for us. This is why I am such an advocate for learning and mastering the basic diagnostic and acupoint combinations so that they become second-nature. Making the river narrow but extremely deep.
Basics? Yes. Honed to the nth degree.
Advanced acupuncture? I’m not buying it. Literally.