Flower in the bamboo[reposted from last year, by request]

A recent email from one of our faculty members reminded me that Spring is quickly transitioning into Summer, the season of the Fire element. It is the season of the Heart, warmer temperatures, expanding social engagements and, hopefully, a period of simple, heart-felt joy.

A few years ago I was sitting with some of our students at a school-sponsored barbecue after Class 27 had passed their Year 1 exams. I was still learning the basic nuances of Five Element acupuncture, so I was busy soaking up as much information as I could while getting a chance to talk with our students outside of the office environment. I learned that evening what was perhaps the most profound aspect of Chinese Medicine (for me at any rate): the Official that rules all of the others in the body is the Heart. It’s not the brain. In fact, the brain is not one of the Officials helping to govern the body. What we feel, what we sense, is privileged over what we think. Having been ingrained with the Western principle of I think, therefore I am, this idea of Heart-governance was extremely novel. It was actually freeing to know that my emotions and perceptions did not need to be subjugated to my logic.

I was absent-mindedly scrolling through my Facebook feed this week when I saw a post that made me stop  skimming and start actively thinking.  Among the images and phrases of support for the communities of Boston and West, Texas was a message from one of our acupuncture students. A member of Class 29, Banghan Nabi Kim*, had had the opportunity to observe with long-time practitioner Thea Elijah in Vermont. Here is what she posted about the experience:

Loved spending the day observing the work of Healing in the form of Acupuncture. People coming in, being seen, listened to, held in the big Tao, and offered the gifts of points that symbolize Deeper Truths of their own inherent Wellness. 

I’m learning how to use needles as symbols of this Love.  But we can use anything. What’s your tool(s)?

I’ve been sitting with these words for almost a week now, trying to explain why they stood out to me amid all of the statements of love and support that flowed on social media sites after the Boston marathon bombing. These few lines encapsulate the idea that the work of healing is ultimately an act of Love. Acupuncture and other healing modalities operate through the love, honor and respect of the individual.

I don’t think many people outside of acupuncture would describe needles as symbols of Love.  But it is an accurate and beautiful assessment of the intention of the acupuncture practitioner. But the more important message is that we can use anything as a tool of healing. The point is the intention. The point is the desire to help, to heal, to face adversity and be compassionate.

Last week  was a week of adversity and also a week of fierce compassion. Symbols of Love were showing up all over the media and social media pages as the country threw its digital (as well as physical) support to the residents of Boston and West, Texas.

The healing process is slow, sometimes arduous. It requires patience. It requires faith. It requires connection of our inner selves to the greater good. At AFEA, we use needles to help people make the connection.

Amid all of the news reports of explosions and suspects from the past week, there have also been many reports of communities banding together. The word resilient keeps popping up, and I would characterize Boston’s response as nothing less than defiant in the face of tragedy. The fans at the Bruins game who sang with one voice this week certainly demonstrated this. And Facebook posts have been surging with images and phrases of communal strength, just as they did after Sandy Hook. As a country, as a community, we find ourselves again faced with the need to heal a collective wound.