This question is the one I get asked most often after patients first experience the magic of acupuncture.
How did they know where the points are?
How did they map the meridians?
How did they figure out that a point on the foot could relieve a headache, a point on the top of the head could relax the jaw or a point on the wrist could calm the mind and dispel anxiety?
Over the years I’ve come up with various answers as I’ve tried to figure our just who “they” are and how “they” created the complex system we call acupuncture. Lately the answer has gotten more clear to me.
“They” are not a privileged group of enlightened doctors from 3,000 years ago.
“They” are not beings from another galaxy that came in space ships to teach us about our own energy bodies.
“They” are not beings of another era that are now extinct.
“They” are us. The only difference is that “they” had not yet forgotten how to see! “They” are human beings with their senses alive, intact and attuned to the material as well as the non-material aspects of the world around them.
In the words of the most ancient text of Chinese medicine, the Neijing Suwen, their eyes were “brilliant of perception, their hearts open and attentive and then … shen, the spirit, became clear to them as though the wind has blown away the cloud.”
What I know now is that acupuncture, like all viable energetic healing systems, is not a fixed, inanimate structure, but rather an evolving, living medicine. It continues to morph and grow as it adapts to new times, new geographies and new cultures.
If we are to practice our medicine to its fullest potential and allow it to heal and transform the suffering of our modern world, we ourselves must become “they.” We must be like the “healers of old” who know with our hearts as well as our minds. We must learn once again to speak with the plants, to touch the spirits who reside in the acupuncture points, to see the streaming of the rivers of life that flow through every aspect of the cosmos. We must discover again our own capacity to see, to know and to heal the soul as well as the body.
Thanks to Tatiana Plakhova for her wonderful image used on this post.