Accessing the Ultimate Spring: Acupuncture Treatment for Lack of Faith in Healing
Chinese medicine believes there are no incurable diseases. It does say however that there can be incurable people. What does this mean? The body in itself is a self-healing mechanism. However, our minds can frequently create many barriers that keep us from healing.
In my acupuncture practice, I come in contact with many people who seem quite determined to stay unwell. For every ten people who come into my office, there are usually one or two who confront me with a “show me” or “I don’t want to believe” attitude. They come in certain acupuncture is not going to work for them. They often tell me this immediately after shaking my hand. These days I smile at this. In the past however, this would greatly distress me. I would feel disappointed that the patient who has come to me for help doesn’t want to really work with me. It felt as if they’d come just to prove to themselves that their condition is hopeless. They’ve put a tremendous amount of energy into maintaining this belief. They will even pay the cost of an acupuncture session just to solidify this belief. I still feel disappointed, however with experience I have developed much more compassion and understanding for these situations.
As an acupuncturist it is quite a challenge to overcome a patient’s resistance to healing. For many people, this becomes the initial stage of healing. It can take some time to create an opening: the possibility for healing to occur. For someone who is determined to believe that they are incurable, this can be a frustrating process. I never turn anyone away who wants to work with me. If they are determined in their belief that they will not heal, they usually go away on their own. However there are people who do choose to stay and work together in spite of their lack of hope. These can be some of the most rewarding and moving clinical relationships.
Hopelessness is considered a problem of the Heart in Chinese medicine. The Chinese name for the first acupuncture point on the Heart’s acupuncture channel is translated as “the ultimate spring,” giving images of the ultimate possibilities that exist within us all. There is an acupuncture point combination my first acupuncture mentor taught me. I used to be a patient of hers who lacked hope. I had a wasting condition where I couldn’t keep weight on my body. It was a mysterious condition which was accompanied by depression. She told me a story about her mentor who saw a patient years ago who also had a wasting condition, though much much more severe. This patient came into the clinic and he was practically skin and bone -literally. The acupuncturist needled a very important acupuncture point on his patient’s chest. The name of this point is “the Burial Grounds of the Soul.” She said a week later she witnessed this same patient as a changed person, as if he had come back to life. He even seemed to have put on weight – in only a week’s time. His problem was a “disease of the soul” she told me, which was healed in an instant with this miraculous acupuncture point on his chest.
We all like to hear these stories of miraculous instant healing. My condition took quite a bit longer than an instant to heal. But I did heal. Mostly because I was steadfast in my belief that I could heal. And I felt, even if I can’t heal, I’m still going to enjoy being engaged in the process.
My mentor would frequently combine this miraculous “Burial Ground” point on my chest with the first acupuncture point on the Heart channel (“the ultimate spring”) when seeing me. These points didn’t give me the instantaneous healing her mentor’s patient received. Instead they were like a meditative ritual repeated, asking me if I could find the strength, faith and will to heal myself. I realized later, the most profound healing is not going to a great master and having them perform a miracle on me. This would make me always dependent on the other person when I found myself in trouble. Instead of being a slave to my disease, I’d become a slave to my healer. The most profound healing is finding the ability to heal within my own self. Once I was able to find this, I developed the capacity to continually reintegrate and heal myself when I fell into disease and dysfunction.
It took me a very long time to heal myself. About 7 years in total. At first I was very impatient. I was a foolish initiate. I didn’t understand what it meant to heal. I thought I would go to some wizard and they would instantly make me better. And like many others, I thought if the healing didn’t happen in one session, the treatment and the healer were worthless. I feel eternally grateful that somehow in spite of my suffering and impatience there existed a wisdom deep inside me that allowed the persevere and faith in the process of my own slow and steady healing.
The acupuncture points on my chest didn’t give me anything I didn’t already possess. The “burial ground” point didn’t give me faith; it accessed the faith that was buried deep inside of me and enticed it out to the surface where I could access it. My healer helped me access what I already possessed. She was a teacher as much as a healer. Teaching me above all else to have patience and perseverance in discovering what it means to heal.
As healing systems Chinese medicine and acupuncture work with energy: the body’s innate vitality. We know that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Ancient Chinese philosophy teaches that every one of us possess everything that exists in the universe. Each of us are an “ultimate spring” with access to every possibility. We just don’t always know how to access this capacity. The magic that occurs when we heal is a magic we all have access to. The teacher-healer supports and guides us to find this capacity within ourselves. No one else can heal us; they can only help us find our way into our own healing.
The healing clinic can be seen as a type of sanctuary, like a temple. When we go to an ashram or meditation temple, it is us who sits and meditates. There may be a great mystic present in the building. But we find our own Dao by sitting and going within our own selves to find the truth within. The abbot or mystic or teacher can create the space where we can discover our wisdom path, but in the end it’s up to us to walk the path ourselves.
One of the most challenging aspects of healing can be a lack of faith. Yet to me, after my years of practice as a healer, awakening and strengthening our own internal faith and self-reliance is the root of all healing.
Now when people come into my office telling me they are untreatable, that they really don’t believe acupuncture works or other such statements, I stimulate their “ultimate spring” and “burial ground of the soul” and with a smile say: “as you wish.” I know it’s not true what they say. I let them know I’m here, ready to begin the mystical journey of healing with them. But that it’s up to them. And I’m really lovingly ok with whatever they choose.