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Archive for the ‘Chinese Medicine-General’ Category

I’ve been thinking about this blog for a long time. I’d start and then stop. My words often felt forced. My expertise, questionable. I wanted to write about health because it seemed the logical thing to write about; I’ve been practicing Chinese Medicine for 13 years now, running a community based clinic for 7. On busy weeks, I see well over 60 people per week. Over the years, the number of acupuncture treatments I’ve administered is probably in the tens of thousands. I’ve supervised and mentored other acupuncturists, taught classes, started up various clinics, assisted countless people with Chinese medicine.

Last week, I attended the graduation ceremony of my beloved office manager and watched her receive the piece of official paper I received 13 years earlier, a diploma for Masters of Science of Tradtional Oriental Medicine. As I sat in the audience, listening to speeches filled with encouragement, I thought about the last 13 years of my life practicing Chinese Medicine. I was taken aback by the feeling inside me that it is still so new. That I am still a beginner, no expert. That it feels exponentially more vast and mysterious than it did to me the first day of school 16 some odd years ago. That on most days, I still don’t know if I know what I’m doing. I wondered how many other seasoned practioners felt as I did or if I was just especially slow at mastery. I wondered what I’d been really up to these past 13 years.

As I was thinking, the ceremony came to a close and all acupucturists were asked to stand and recite the Acupuncturist Oath with the graduating class. I stood and spoke these words:

I promise to follow the way of the Great
Physician, to live in harmony with nature,
and to teach my patients to do the same.

I will strive to maintain a clear mind and
hold myself to the highest standards.

I shall look upon those who are in grief as
though I myself have been afflicted, and I
will respond with empathy.

I shall develop an attitude of compassion,
of benevolence, and of care for all
patients, regardless of their particular
circumstances.

I promise to perform my responsibilities
carefully, thoughtfully, and to the best of
my ability.

Above all, I will maintain a peaceful
presence and an open heart.

Tears had welled up in my throat as I uttered the last lines. I had come to realize what I had been doing all this time. In all these years, I had been trying, without knowing it, to figure out how to abide by the promise I made many (possibly countless) years ago. What does it mean to follow the way of the Great Physician, to live in harmony with nature? How does one maintain a clear mind and what is a clear mind and what are the highest standards? What is true empathy? What is the true meaning and practice of compassion and benevolence? What are my responsibilities? And above all, what is it really to maintain a peaceful presence and an open heart?

13 years ago, I was unable to pose these simple questions, much less to fathom their profound depths. At that time, I thought the meaning was clear and intuitive: stay calm, be nice, be professional–peace, compassion, responsible, right? Not quite.

Through living, practicing and serving– always with a flame of inquiry inside me–I’ve come to understand that a peaceful presence is the ability to accept (not put up with, not accept in order to change) everything the way it is and an open heart is to accept (not try to imagine) that it is always changing. If everything is always changing, life is unending death and birth. Understanding and accepting this (not merely intellectually, but with the whole of our being as integrated into our day to day lives) allows us to live in harmony with nature (everything is nature), and in living in harmony with nature, our natural selves emerge spontaneously. Peaceful presence and an open heart is the letting go of everything we think we know to experience what is here each moment. It is living the perpetual I don’t know and is, perhaps, the opposite of what experts do.

This blog is about what I’ve discovered about health and life through practicing Chinese Medicine. It is not meant merely as an intellectual, philosophical discussion, but at the heart of this is a sincere intent to bridge and integrate spiritual (for lack of a better word) awareness with health and day to day living.

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