There are many good reasons that people consider embarking upon a course of acupuncture study and here are a few obvious ones:
- A new career
- A complete change and an escape from an old career or way of life
- Flexible working hours
- An opportunity to help people
- Reawaken the brain with study
- Enjoy study and groups, meet new peers
- Get treatment while learning
And here are some of the less obvious ones:
- See the world in a new way
- Consider life from a fresh philosophical perspective
- Be introduced to ideas, concepts and theories that challenge our perceptions and beliefs
- Develop ourselves emotionally and spiritually
It is these less obvious ones that are the focus of this post.
Most of us have been indoctrinated by our society to a greater or lesser extent. It starts with our family, our education and the customs and conventions of our country and it goes on to include religious and political structures. This is not good or bad its just a fact of life, its normally something over which we have no control and something most people never think about. It is this indoctrination that formulates our beliefs, our attitudes, our personalities and perceptions and indeed the whole of our lives.
Life is a creative process during which we are creating all that is around us and you can see how the beliefs we have will have a profound influence on our own situation and others. To take one example that most people will be able to identify with, let’s look at human relationships. We know that we choose our friends and partners, but the choices we make will depend on our pre-existing concept of reality. If for example, we have been indoctrinated into thinking that all people of a particular religion, colour or class are inferior (or superior) to us we are much less likely to see them as a potential friend or partner. The first thing we need to do if we wish to develop ourselves in life is to accept that this is the case. To do so opens our minds to a whole universe of possibility and potential that is available when we let it go. We also need to accept that concepts such as right, wrong, justified or not are questions of personal morality and not of some universally agreed and accepted law. For example, most of us would agree that stealing things from a shop is wrong, but supposing your family is starving? Your morality will shift to suit your circumstances and your own concept of what can be justified and what cannot.
The study of acupuncture can involve extensive reading of translations of Chinese texts and ideas, and all acupuncturists will be familiar with Daoism and the concept of Yin/Yang. Yin Yang uses opposites to understand creation and define the nature of reality. So for example, how could heat be appreciated without cold or above without below? Alternative ideas like this can challenge assumptions we have and broaden our minds. But much of this can be simplified into an acceptance of a concept central to acupuncture study (in our college at least), namely the idea that “energy follows thought”. In other words the thoughts, feelings and imaginations that we dwell upon will manifest in reality.
This might come into play when we are learning about the functions of the acupuncture points, the needle techniques and the way that energy flows through the meridian system. So what is an acupuncture point function. Is it what it says in the books or is it our commitment and belief that what the books say is true that empowers us to use/create the points? To really “know” the acupuncture points you have to experience them intellectually, physically and energetically it relation to yourself.
Although acupuncture works alongside science and we live in a science-based world (or at least people think we do) most of the time it is not scientific, it is creative. When you study acupuncture it is what you become that ultimately matters more than the quantity of what you know. The greater your engagement with the power that you have within to create positive change the more effective your acupuncture will be. It is the process of allowing yourself to put aside what you have previously assumed to be “facts” and open up to the possibility you can change it that constitutes the core of your training.