Acupuncture is widely practiced around the world; it involves the insertion of fine needles into the skin and tissues of the body. These needles are placed in specific locations on the body where therapeutic effect is known to take place. Originally, Acupuncture was one of the ‘adjunct’ practices that was used to support the two main branches of medicine – herbal prescriptions and Qi emission. In recent times this has swung around somewhat and now many practitioners use Acupuncture as their main form of treatment, especially in the West.
Acupuncture as a therapy has been the subject of much scientific scrutiny in modern times; still not fully recognised by western medical science as a valid way to treat disease it is generally seen by many as simply a way to relax or to ease pain. This far from the truth; a skilled practitioner of Acupuncture has the ability to treat a wide array of diseases ranging from musculo-skeletal issues through to internal disease, psychological disorders and then deeper issues such as the nature of a person’s path through life. The problem though is that ultimately, the effectiveness of the treatment will depend very much upon the skill of the practitioner. Whereas western medicine may seek to remove the practitioner from the equation by standardising treatment across the board, Chinese medicine places the utmost importance upon the person giving the treatment. The weakest practitioners of Chinese medicine learn it as a ‘therapy’ whilst the highest -level practitioners study it as a form of ‘personal cultivation’.
The insertion of a needle into the patient’s body has several key advantages over manual stimulation of the body through a method such as massage. Of course, massage has its own strengths as well, strengths based upon the therapeutic quality of touch and the ability to affect the soft tissues so effectively, but it does not allow such direct access to the channel system as Acupuncture.
The channels of the body are made up of connective tissue that serves as a physical ‘runner’ or ‘riverbed’ for the energetic aspects of the channel. There is then the Qi that moves through this region of the body along with the Blood that passes through the same area. When a skilled Acupuncturist inserts their needle into a point along the channel they have the ability to make adjustments to either the physical, energetic or consciousness-based elements of that channel and its associated functions. The ability to do this depends very much upon the skill level they have reached along with their own level of personal cultivation. This is why it should be every Acupuncturist’s responsibility to study the nature of their own, as well as their patient’s, internal environment.
Qi Gong Acupuncture
A second key benefit of an Acupuncture needle is its ability to conduct Qi along its length. Using specific methods based upon building and mobilising Qi, the therapist can send their own Qi along the length of the needle where it can then bypass the skin and muscles to enter the channel system directly. In this way, a kind of ‘shared Qi Gong’ begins to be practiced as the therapist uses their own Qi to clear obstructions and pathogens from the length of their patient’s channels. This again relies upon a high degree of personal cultivation by the therapist and, most definitely, a regular practice of Qi Gong or Nei Gong. It is this kind of method that is alluded to in many of the ‘mythical’ tales of Daoist healers who fixed their patients maladies with a single needle. Though we may never quite reach this legendary level in our own practice, we can do our best to move a little closer to their methods in the way that we use our tools.
The stages involved in learning to use Acupuncture needles should generally start with learning how to hold the needle, how to then sense along its length so we may feel through the patient’s channel and then how to govern the Qi that moves along its length.