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Heaven and earth: the ancient roots of Chinese medicine.

I hold the needle close to the skin ready to touch the point. My feet are planted on the ground and I imagine myself as a channel from the sky. The point is a gate. The needle creates a moment of chaos, an opening, a disturbance, an opportunity to change this woman's energy so that a larger change will begin within her body, mind, and spirit. She breathes in and then relaxes. The color of her skin shifts and she laughs. The mysterious act of inserting a needle in an acupuncture point Acupuncture points (Chinese: 腧穴; Pinyin: shùxué, also called acupoints (Chinese: 穴位; Pinyin:  along a meridian of qi (qi is the breath or life force that streams through the body along a complex system of channels known as meridians) connects us to an ancient tradition.

As more people turn to Chinese medicine as a complementary approach to addressing their health concerns, they realize that there is a great depth and spirit to this medicine that goes beyond simple pain relief. Recently, numerous scientific studies have focused on the efficacy of Chinese medicine and the ability of acupuncture to treat a wide variety of functional diseases. It is less widely known that Chinese medicine is also a powerful psychological healing modality that can promote emotional healing and spiritual transformation. The ability of Chinese medicine to work on this level is a result of its deep origins and centuries of accumulated wisdom.

Many people are aware that the roots of Chinese medicine go back thousands of years, but where do they go and what is the basis for this medicine's understanding of human health? Chinese medicine is a tradition that evolved from the earliest myths and philosophies of the Chinese people The following is a '''list of famous Chinese-speaking/writing people. Note in Chinese names, the family name is typically placed first (for example, the family name of "Xu Feng" is "Xu"). . In the earliest records of Chinese medicine, the line between history and mythology blur. These foundational concepts give Chinese medicine its adaptability to address a wide variety of ills of the body, mind, and spirit from ancient to contemporary times.

The first evidence of Chinese medicine, known through the archeological record, is the tradition of the wu, healer priests who practiced shamanism shamanism /sha·man·ism/ (shah´-) (sha´mah-nizm?) a traditional system, occurring in tribal societies, in which certain individuals (shamans) are believed to be gifted with access to an invisible spiritual  in Neolithic Chinese culture. The wu were the first acupuncturists. They entered houses with spears and sharp arrows to chase away evil spirits that they believed were causing sickness. They were also the first to use bits of jade and bone to shift the energies of the body for healing.

The wu were influenced both by their observations of the natural world as well as their connection with the supernatural world. These shamans would use dance to put themselves into trances that gave them insight into how to help a person in need. Their practices were not standardized and were mostly ritual. Their methods were similar to shamanic healing that is done throughout the world in many different cultures. They used divinatory div·i·na·tion  
1. The art or act of foretelling future events or revealing occult knowledge by means of augury or an alleged supernatural agency.

2. An inspired guess or presentiment.

 methods such as applying hot irons to tortoise shells creating cracks that they would interpret. The earliest evidence of Chinese pictographic pic·to·graph  
n. In all senses also called pictogram.
1. A picture representing a word or idea; a hieroglyph.

2. A record in hieroglyphic symbols.

 writing is found on these divinatory shells.

Over time, the natural and supernatural observations of the wu evolved into concepts that form the basis for contemporary Chinese medicine. What we understand today as Chinese medicine was also strongly influenced by the three main philosophical and spiritual traditions of China: Daoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Daoism is probably the oldest of these traditions, but unlike the other two, lacks any specific originator. Daoism is the collected wisdom of these earlier mystics and sages. Daoism is certainly the primary body of knowledge that underlies the rest of Chinese philosophy Chinese philosophy was philosophy written in the Chinese tradition of thought. Chinese philosophy has a history of several thousand years; its origins are often traced back to the Yi Jing (the Book of Changes .

While it is impossible to translate the word Dao (or Tao) specifically into English, its meaning is that of wholeness, the way, the oneness of nature. Careful and precise observation of the natural world became the foundation of the Daoist tradition. Emptiness is another foundational concept in Daoism. It is the space in a vessel that enables it to hold water, just as it is the space within our heart that allows spirit to enter. Daoist ideas were written down in texts such as the Dao De Jing jing (jing) [Chinese] one of the basic substances that according to traditional Chinese medicine pervade the body, usually translated as "essence"; the body reserves or constitutional makeup, replenished by food and rest, that supports , which is still studied today in schools of Chinese medicine.

The earliest surviving medical texts from China were found in. Han dynasty Han dynasty

(206 BC–AD 220) Second great Chinese imperial dynasty. In contrast to the preceding Qin dynasty, the Han was a period of cultural flowering. One of the greatest of the early histories, the Shiji by Sima Qian, was composed, and the fu, a poetic form that
 tombs. These are fragments of the Yellow Emperor's Classic of Chinese Medicine. a text that contains the primary principles of yin yang theory and the five phases. This is the basis of the complex system that acupuncturists use today to diagnosis symptoms and bring energy back into balance.

The idea of yin and yang Yin and Yang

two complementary principles of Chinese philosophy: Yin is negative, dark, and feminine, Yang is positive, bright, and masculine [Chinese yin dark + yang bright]
 has become a part of popular American culture and the symbol of the endless flow between these two energies is well known. This is also the root of the binary code binary code

Code used in digital computers, based on a binary number system in which there are only two possible states, off and on, usually symbolized by 0 and 1. Whereas in a decimal system, which employs 10 digits, each digit position represents a power of 10 (100, 1,000,
 known as the I Ching I Ching

a book of divination and speculations. [Chinese Lit.: I Ching]

See : Prophecy
. Numerology numerology

Use of numbers to interpret a person's character or divine the future. It is based on the assertion by Pythagoras that all things can be expressed in numerical terms because they are ultimately reducible to numbers.
 became an important way of understanding relationships between things. After the binary division of two came three, the relationship between Heaven, humans, and the earth became a way to find balance in our quickly shifting world.

The five elements five elements, fire, water, earth, wood, and metal; in Chinese medicine, each of these five components is used to organize phenomena for use in clinical applications. Each of the elements corresponds to a specific function (i.e.
, or phases, are a way of understanding the different energies that are present in the world and their relationships to each other. One way to think of the five elements is to look at the relationships between the seasons of the year. The wood element has the energy of the spring, the fire the energy of the summer and the earth the early autumn harvest season. The late fall is associated with the metal element and the winter with the water. The relationship between the elements is like the relationship between the seasons. Each is unique and one flows into the next without specific boundaries. The map of the five phases helps a practitioner of Chinese medicine understand all the energies in the body and their relationship to each other.

Over thousands of years, many different branches and styles of Chinese medicine were developed based on the careful observations and recordkeeping by the many practitioners of this art. This acquired knowledge was passed down through families and from teacher to student as well as in many written texts.

As China had more interaction with Western countries, people began to view the esoteric ideas of traditional Chinese medicine Traditional Chinese Medicine Definition

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is an ancient and still very vital holistic system of health and healing, based on the notion of harmony and balance, and employing the ideas of moderation and prevention.
 as backward superstition compared to the new philosophy of scientific thought that developed during the Enlightenment in Europe. Practicing Chinese medicine was even outlawed in China at the end of the last dynasty and under the Nationalist government.

When Mao and the Communists were looking for Looking for

In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with.
 a way to provide health care to the large population of China, they decided to bring back Chinese medicine in a systematic way that would be efficient to teach to many new practitioners and that would support the philosophy of cultural materialism on which communist ideology is based. This revival of Chinese medicine codified cod·i·fy  
tr.v. cod·i·fied, cod·i·fy·ing, cod·i·fies
1. To reduce to a code: codify laws.

2. To arrange or systematize.
 many ideas into Traditional Chinese Medicine; (TCM (1) (Trellis-Coded Modulation/Viterbi Decoding) A technique that adds forward error correction to a modulation scheme by adding an additional bit to each baud. TCM is used with QAM modulation, for example. ). In this process, many of the spiritual aspects of Chinese medicine were discarded in favor of a symptom-based approach that was, ironically, more like Western science. It is only now as Chinese medicine has flourished in the United States that the earlier philosophy and spirituality of this medicine is being rediscovered and brought into practice. J. R. Worsley J. R. Worsley (September 14, 1923 - June 2, 2003) is credited with bringing five element acupuncture, also known as 'classical acupuncture' or 'traditional acupuncture' (to distinguish it from the more widely-known Traditional Chinese medicine ("TCM") style of acupuncture), to the  was one of the practitioners who studied this earlier style of Chinese medicine and began teaching it in England and the united States as a style now known as Classical, or Five Element, Acupuncture.

When I share the name of the point I needled with my patient, I am sharing the deeper meaning of the energy that is within the body at this place and calling on the incredible healing power within us all that has been studied and attended to by practitioners of Chinese medicine for thousands of years. I am also engaging in the contemporary problems that my patient experiences in modern America and thereby allowing the medicine to further evolve.

Mark A. Fortney, L. Ac. graduated from the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture in Hallandale, FL, NCCAOM NCCAOM National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine . He has a diploma and a master's degree in Anthropology and in Education. You can reach Mark at his practice, Pulse: 828-280-0497, or check out
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Title Annotation:strong roots
Author:Fortney, Mark
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Jul 1, 2006
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