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When talking about acupuncture, the difference between a system and a philosophy can be vast but also greatly blurred. The easiest way to explain this is through the five elements. The law of the five elements is an acupuncture philosophy that mirrors life. It is thousands of years old and predates acupuncture as a medicine. The five elements follow the cycle of the seasons, and break down the year into five phases of time that have five different types of energy flow. The cold absoluteness of winter (Water element) is energy that flows straight down, like rain. Water energy represents the life stream where all energy begins and ends. It’s where ideas germinate and conclude as wisdom. It helps knowledge move forward from generation to generation. The exciting burst of growth of spring (Wood element) is energy that forcefully goes out from the center in opposite directions, like how a plant grows from a seed. It’s important to note that this growth is not only up and above the ground, but also down and underground in the form of roots. Wood energy represents growth, which is a sign of life. As soon as someone stops wanting to grow, hope also dies and life will wither quickly. The joy, heat and flowering of summer (Fire Element) is energy that spreads. Fire can quickly spread from fuel source to fuel source, much like communication can spread from human to human. Fire energy represents communication and the physical act of reproduction. The humid harvest of fruit in the late summer (Earth) represents energy that flows toward the center, much like the gravitational pull toward the center of the Earth. Earth energy represents everything home and non-sexual about reproduction. This includes all things digestive as it relates to parenting the cells within. The crisp chill of death and retreat in autumn (Metal) is energy that slowly descends, like the leaves gently falling in autumn. Metal energy represents retreat, death, and reflection, though from that pullback comes inspiration for the next cycle.
The five elements is a theory of how the world works whereas Classical Five Element Acupuncture is a system created by J.R. Worsley in the 1950’s in England. This system is one of the main systems taught in schools in America and is a popular system for practitioners on the east coast. The other main system in America is called Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). It’s a very useful and powerful system that I simply don’t resonate very well with. It’s very good at taking symptoms and moving the energy to alleviate said symptoms. Millions of people have benefitted from it. If there is acupuncture research happening in America, it is mostly like based in TCM and that research will probably be testing if one particular acupoint is adept at alleviating a certain symptom. TCM is based on other theories of how energy flows within the body, specifically on how the organs interact with each other and what their functions are. There are other major styles of acupuncture in America as well, but these are the two most common and the two most commonly taught in acupuncture schools in America.
What’s the ultimate outcome of this post?… It’s simply to help people understand that systems are based off theories. To truly understand acupuncture, it’s best to understand theories first. As well, understanding acupuncture theories is understanding life. One does not need to get acupuncture or be an acupuncturist to understand these theories and utilize them in life. It’s the winter currently, and the energy of the world is saying REST! NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO START PROJECTS! Sure it’s been warm out, but that eventual first snow may linger on the ground for a couple months, halting any work. This is resonating with the energy of the world, which is the best way to live. Why swim against the current?
My system, Fractal Energy Balancing, is about understanding how the organs work in harmony with each other. Once the theory of the organs is understood, you’ll be able to see how the different aspects and emotions of life are based on energy flow. I bring the organ system into a modern day analogy, one that is easily understood. Instead of calling the Liver the general of the army, I call it the CEO of the company. In both cases the Liver is in charge of guiding the course of life and helping to set and reach long term goals.
Thanks for reading!