We all want to be seen, for others to see the glories and, indeed, the horrors that lie within. At times this need arises from the unknowing of ourselves. “Tell me what you see…” At other times, we long to be seen for who we truly are in our strength and authenticity. The challenge, gift and curse (are they not one and the same?) of Five Element Acupuncture is to not only perceive ourselves truly, but all those who walk through the treatment room door.
Years ago when I first fell into Five Element world, I learned that Wood people were angry and shouted. Water was fearful, Metal was distant, Fire was the life of the party and Earth would suck you dry. This worldview was not only limiting, but also quite depressing. In the years since, I have studied with other teachers and come to learn that Wood is generous, Metal is unswerving, Water astounding, Earth can fix anything and Fire holds infinite optimism. If anything, Fire is more likely to blow a gasket on you than Wood…
There is a magic held within the power of perception. When we look out the window on a rainy day, we can have a choice. A choice to see muddy paws, slow slippery commutes and soggy clothes. Or we can see ‘the tears of Heaven’, bringing fertility and renewal to the land. When a client walks into our treatment room, we can see fibromyalgia, GERD and insomnia. Or we can see understanding, thoughtfulness and compassion. It’s true- we must be able to see both. But am I treating GERD or the fascinating human being who just happens to be walking around with that label?
When we cultivate our perception, we can see both. Pathology and potential, the sunny and the shady sides of the mountain. But this does not come easily, for we must truly see ourselves first. Small wonder that there are Taoist exercises based upon long periods in front of mirrors. James Hillman in The Soul’s Code has some thoughts on perception-
When John Keats writes, “I know nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the Truth of the Imagination”, he opens our own eye to see the workings of creative perception in human affairs…Seeing is believing- believing in what you see- and this instantly confers belief to whoever, whatever receives your sight. The gift of sight surpasses the gifts of insight. For such sight blesses; it does transformative work.”
This is not a plea for the fluffy bunny school of acupuncture practice. We must be erudite diagnosticians with exquisite skills of palpation, oscultation, perception and inquiry. And we must be able, nay willing to see the potential.
This is our function in each other’s lives; to hold space for each other’s beauty…