Saturday, May 19, 2007


A visit to the Acupuncturist is like entering a neutral space that is calm, unhurried and clinical, without being antiseptic. I don’t know what they’re like in the Far East, but here the practitioners are truly part of the white coat brigade. It is a phenomenon of Western Life that you would deliberately choose something because it is not conventional medicine. Acupuncture is bundled in with all the other weird, and sometimes dubious, practices that are labelled ‘alternative’. Yet, despite this outsider label, we also want it to be respectable, reputable, hence they all dress like pseudo hospital consultants without stethoscopes.

My Acupuncturist’s room is not at all institutional. A Chinese print or two on the walls, a treatment couch, two pillows in wheat coloured slips ( read ,organic, natural, balanced and calming ) a table and chairs, a nice understated carpet and a wooden cabinet that houses needles and puncture related accessories. Generally it has an aesthetic feel of simplicity, ordered, but not too regimented. Everything has a place, and there’s a beautiful place for everything.

This week’s treatment, following on from the fortnight of back pain, was quite minimal. He said my symptoms were not the usual response to the back procedure he did last time. He didn’t rule out that they might have contributed, but was unlikely to have instigated such a dramatic response. Now, I don’t know whether he was just covering his back here, but I have no reason as yet to mistrust his judgement. We did a lot of talking, focusing on my breathing pattern and the lung channel. He placed two pins, briefly, on each hand and wrist area, which are apparently connected to lung function in some way. I'd either respond by feeling very energetic or very tired, its turned out to be the latter.

Apparently I’m not using my full lung capacity, I’m holding something back. He’s not the first to remark on this, my osteopath said something uncannily similar. I’ve also been aware for years in meditation that my breathing is rarely fully relaxed, something always remains taught, or highly strung. Internally I’ve just felt restrained from fully inhaling myself.

We discussed why this might be, and why I’ve not wanted to meditate on a regular basis for years. My homework this time is to reflect on this, particularly on inspiration ( this is the Lung channel we’ve been talking about ). When I met Ato Rinpoche a few months back I suddenly found my desire to meditate returned. Until the recent resurgence of back, shoulder and arm pain this had been going well. Now this was entirely to do with feeling reconnected to inspiration. I wanted to become as calm, gracious and equanimous as Ato Rinpoche, I wanted what he had. Though I’ve met many admirable spiritual practitioners, some of whom I do look up to, they are not quite in his league.

Though I’m not quite sure how to proceed with this reflection on inspiration. I’m currently looking back and seeing what inspired me to become a Buddhist in the first place( why do I meditate ?) and how that has changed over the years. I think it’s way too early to write about this, so maybe next time.

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