A couple of weekends ago I went to the annual British Acupuncture Council Conference held in Nottingham. A fantastic couple of days in the inspiring company of colleagues from all over the country and beyond. I have also reconnected with some of my friends from college, which turned out to be the most delicious feast for my heart.
It's always a tough choice which lectures and workshops to attend to, as there's infinite variety (the title of his years conference) to choose from every time. This year I spent time learning from the wonderful Nora Franglen, Peter Deadman, Master Zhongxian Wu, Amos Ziv and Volker Scheid - all of them utter inspirators of change and instigators of passion.
I'd like to say a few words about Nora Franglen. She is a Five Element Acupuncture practitioner and has a very special place in my acupuncturist heart. Her ruling Element is Fire, which relates to the Heart and the Heart relates to connecting with others. And Nora does it with humour, wisdom and honesty that wins everyone who has ever attended her lectures. When she speaks it's as if her every utterance was lined with joy. Quite an amazing quality, really.
Her talk at the conference was only short, but contained a good few golden nuggets I'd like to speak about here.
"Go where angels fear to tread".
This seems to be Nora's brave take on Alexander Pope's "fools rush where angels fear to tread". To me it's not an encouragement of carelessness of rushing into situations we should steer clear of, but rather an invitation to us to keep our hearts open and have courage. We, as practitioners of traditional medicine, have an honour to accompany our patients in their journey towards a better health. We can encourage change and help their bodies tap into the deep reservoirs of healing. When we listen with openness and attentiveness and offer them space to be, our patients unravel the many layers of their stories. We can hold and support them in the vulnerable space where change takes place. What a privilege!
"Have courage to wait".
I see this pearl of clinical wisdom as very much connected to the previous one and the connecting point is (in) the Heart. The English base of the word courage comes from the a French coer and Latin cor, meaning "heart". It is when we drop into our hearts that we can perceive things with more patience and less fear. Shifting the centre of cognition from thought (brain) to feeling( heart) reduces the mental dialogue and enables a new, richer mode of communication with our patients and with the world at large.
We all have our private Goliaths we fear.
Sometimes it's the time it takes to find the treatment our patient will respond to,
... the time it takes to build a practice
...or the time to build a healing therapeutic relationship with our patients
...or maybe the time it takes for our patients to notice change in their bodies and minds.
Have courage to wait. Have heart and let time do its work.
Here, I'd like to mention a wonderful book that Nora's lecture made me revisit - The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in Direct Perception to Nature by Stephen Harold Buhner. It abounds in great insights as to how to develop a mode of perception that is different from the purely cerebral and why it is a valuable tool in practice of (holistic) medicine. Buhner speaks of an interesting notion of heart-brain entrainment that, if practised regularly, leads to reducing the mental dialogue and activates a different sort of cognition he calls the holistic/intuitive/depth mode (p.103)
There are heart focus techniques that lead to brain-heart entrainment that are valuable tools for all health practitioners, teachers or carers.
One of such method developed for the purpose of the Head-Heart entrainment research (McCraty et al, 1996) is called Freeze Frame method. It involves shifting attention to the heart for a period of 15 minutes and focusing of FEELING of appreciation or gratitude towards something or someone as opposed to simply recalling a past positive experience. McCraty argues that practitioners of such techniques report increased intuitive awareness and more efficient decision making capability that is beyond their normal capacity from the mind and brain alone.
What a powerful thought. What a great feeling.
to be continued...
Buhner, S. H. (2004) The Secret Teachings of Plants: The Intelligence of the Heart in Direct Perception of Nature. Rochester, Vermont: Bear and Company
McCraty, R., Tiller, W.A., Atkinson, M. (1996) Head-Heart Entrainment: A Preliminary Survey