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Using the Mysterious Acupuncture Channels to Treat Complex Issues

Using the Mysterious Acupuncture Channels to Treat Complex Issues

Healing can be a mysterious process. Science may have us believe it is very straightforward, but the body and mind are deep and complicated. Alleviation of symptoms can be easy, but healing the root of an issue is a process that can be illuminating and even exciting. It can change us and our lives, providing greater freedom and renewed vitality. As Einstein famously said, to truly heal a condition, we must change the consciousness that is supporting the illness.

For example, I recall treating a woman for fertility issues. We worked for some time to strengthen her body’s functional capacity: her metabolism, regulation of her menstrual cycle, even her moods. We also worked for some time “rectifying the blood” to deal with past trauma. When she returned to her doctor for checkups, they said everything looked as good as could be. Yet she still was unable to get pregnant. This is when our treatments started focusing directly on her “spirit.” We needed to discover what was keeping her from conceiving. This is where the mysterious aspect of her healing process became very interesting. This was a new realm for her within medical treatment, and ended up having much to do with a deeper shade of trauma surrounding relationship with spirit.

Because acupuncture is “energetic medicine,” it has the ability to work on the most subtle aspects of the self, including our relationship with spirit. This is an area where Shamans for example say many issues are rooted. To successfully resolve an issue or condition, sometimes it is necessary to intervene at the level of the “soul” or the “spirit.”

The most fascinating and satisfying aspect of my work as an acupuncturist and healer is the ability to work on multiple layers of consciousness at once. Commonly when patients come to me for help resolving an issue, physical or mental-emotional, we need to treat both aspects: both the mind and the body. Sometimes, as discussed above, we even need to treat the “Spirit.” A physical problem such as back pain can often reveal itself as either rooted in a mental-emotional issue, or giving rise to one. There can even be a “spiritual” blockage causing the problem.

It’s not always immediately clear where the root of a problem is located. This is why treatment often takes time to unravel and reveal itself. A teacher of mine once said, it is “like peeling an onion,” working layer by layer to reveal the root. When patients ask me how long I expect it will take to resolve an issue, I always honestly tell them it’s hard to predict. I know many practitioners give their prognosis and time-frame, but honestly I think they are making it up to soothe the patient. The reality of healing is that it is a process that often reveals more than we expect, often changing (and healing) more than we originally bargained for.

Recently I’ve been treating a man for addiction issues. He originally came to me for help resolving chronic pain in his back. We found the pain to be linked to his history of obsessive-compulsive behavior. He was surprised to learn that we could work on both issues simultaneously. In fact, I suggested to him that we must work on both the body and mind together to achieve resolution of his chief complaint: the pain in his back.

Acupuncture points work on multiple levels: the physical (structure) of the body, the physiology (vital energy movement and function of the organs), as well as the mental-emotional and even spiritual levels.

Deep healing often involves treating all levels of our being. We are not just physical creatures. We have a mind and a soul. Physical problems can often be coming from the more subtle layers of the body – the mind, the emotions or even the soul.

Many healers believe many modern ailments are coming from a state of “spiritual malaise.” Most of us live lives of abundance, yet we fall ill due to a mental-emotional or even “spiritual” blockage or trauma that manifests in our physical bodies.

Acupuncture is a form of energy healing. Working with energy as the source of healing allows us to address all levels of the body. Energy transforms into many forms: pure energy in the case of functional “Qi” which is what empowers the organs to work, mental-emotional energy which is even more subtle and mysterious, as well as more dense forms such as blood, fluids and the tissues of the body. They are all different gradations of the same energetic source.

One of the most mysterious, effective (and often under-used) acupuncture channel systems in the body are the Divergent Channels. These channels energetically contact the deepest, most mysterious regions of the body to begin a detoxification process for deep-seated toxic accumulations that can be causing a multitude of issues. They also have a strong effect on the physical structure of the body and the immune system in general. The ancient medical textbooks say the Divergent Channels are strongly connected to our ability to synch with the environment, but also the cosmos – the universal energy flow. This includes the seasons, but also the movement of the stars and time in general.

I frequently use the Divergent Channels in my acupuncture clinic. They can resolve conditions very quickly. Ancient scholars might say this is due to the Divergent Channels re-synching us with the energy of the environment when we’ve become misaligned and out of synch.

In the past month I’ve used the Divergent channels to quickly stabilize the symptoms of Long-COVID on one patient. They were especially effective in eliminating her chronic fatigue. I used them on another patient struggling with prostate cancer, mostly to get his systemic inflammation under control and stabilize his immune system to prepare him for surgery.

As I mentioned above, I’ve also recently been using the Divergent Channels to help manage and control a patient’s obsessive compulsive, addictive tendencies which manifest themselves through back pain.

It’s not always immediately clear the link between a type of consciousness and a physical condition. However one of the great ancient textbooks of Chinese medicine devoted a chapter detailing physical symptoms and their mental-emotional accompaniments. One of which was obsessive-compulsive disorder and back pain. These symptoms are related to pathology in the Kidney organ system.

Within Chinese medicine, every condition is assessed energetically. This is classically done through pulse diagnosis. The pulse tells where the energy of the body may be stuck, or depleted.

There are gradations of energy from the most subtle functional energy to denser energy like blood and fluids. The densest energy is flesh, bone and form.

The Divergent Channels are often organized according to which level of energy has become stuck due to holding onto unresolved toxic, stagnant material. This can be something like a virus, an unresolved injury or trauma or even a thought pattern, belief system or emotional state that was never metabolized and resolved. In the case of my patient with the back pain, his pulses suggest he is also working to resolve ancestral trauma inherited from his parents.

When I treat back pain, which is something people to come to me for frequently, I identify is the pain rooted in stagnation or depletion of energy? Is the pain due to cold or heat (the energetic nature of the problem), or even dampness that is accumulating to cause an energy blockage? Is the problem rooted in energy itself or in blood and fluid stagnation? Or even a change in structure due to degeneration or an injury.

A condition that is rooted in the fluid or energy levels of the body often lacks a discernible mental-emotional component. However when there is blood involvement, there’s often a story, thought pattern or emotional trauma that may need to be worked out concurrently.

In the case of the man I’m treating for back pain, his physical symptoms have shown themselves to be intertwined with his obsessive-compulsive addictive behavior. After clearing his Kidney Divergent Channel (which travels along the back of the body), his “Acting out” behavior diminishes, as does his back pain. This lasts about a month in duration before both symptoms start to return.  Then we need to clear again.

During one particularly powerful treatment, he had several visions filled with imagery of water washing away piles of filth, as well as other images and insights that had meaning for him. He said the treatments have started to feel like “shamanic journeys” that help him have realizations to aid him in letting go.

When another patient came to see me, he was having a health “crisis.” His pulses were very scattered, showing that his energy wasn’t able to gather, engage and follow proper direction. There was also much inflammation in his system. I started with a later-stage Divergent Channel to “consolidate” and “stabilize” his energy systems. He reported feeling “remarkably better” after just a couple of weekly treatments. Once his system stabilized, we continued using other Divergent Channels to build back his fluid and blood reserves to help him feel more robust and able to manage his life. He also began to sleep better, have less anxiety and feel more hopeful about his recovery. From there we continued for several weeks to fortify and strengthen him. Months later his health has returned and he feels good. 

When a person is in “Crisis,” the first task is to stabilize the energy. The best acupuncture channel to do this is the Pericardium’s Divergent Channel. I think of this channel as the signature example of the Divergent Channels as they are expressed in the ancient medical classic Ling Shu (Spiritual Pivot).

The Divergent Channels are said to be a mechanism that links, synchs and harmonizes our bodies with the forces of nature and the cosmos. This can be a rather “heady” concept for some, yet it is a practical consideration.

A person with allergies or a tendency to be hypersensitive to the environment or to changes in pressure or season is usually not harmonized with the invisible forces of nature. This is usually due to a dysfunction in the Divergent Channels. A very extreme example of this is when a person has a serious illness that has gone into “crisis mode.” They may be unable to take food and drink, they may be unable to eliminate through their bowels. They may be unable to sleep, or start hemorrhaging. Their bodies are in major rebellion. The Pericardium Divergent Channel is amongst the most powerful of all the acupuncture channels to put the body back into harmonious order.

I recall a teacher of mine telling us that her patients loved receiving the Gallbladder’s Divergent Channel due to the fact that it was amongst the most powerful channels to harmonize a person’s emotions. Contained within this channel are special acupuncture points called “Mu” or “collection” points that gather energy so the organs have enough blood to express their emotions. For example, the Kidneys are said to give a person the capacity to express and experience fear; the Liver – anger; the Spleen – worry; the Lungs – grief; the Heart – anxiety. All emotions are normal. They only become problematic when they become stuck or excessive, usually due to either a blockage in the organs and channels that command them, or due to an insufficiency of energy or blood the prevents their full expression. The Gallbladder’s Divergent Channel is therefore a cathartic channel that helps a person fully experience and release stuck emotions.

The Gallbladder’s Divergent Channel can even be used to soften or control a person’s emotional disposition. For example if a person’s issues involve a habitually difficult relationship with fear or anger, or there’s the potential that difficulty with an emotional disposition is at the root of their physical issues as well. The Gallbladder’s Divergent Channel can help harmonize this.

While several other Divergent Channels help a person deal with their ability to harmonize with outside forces such as climate and cosmic shifts, the Gallbladder’s Divergent channel excels in managing and harmonizing a person’s internal environment especially relating to their emotions and disposition.

I often assess which Divergent Channel to use with a patient based on which level or aspect of their physiology is failing to fully engage and harmonize with the world. These are channels of evolution and adjustment. They are channels of survival.

I have noticed that for several patients I’m treating for Long-COVID, I use the Stomach’s Divergent channel, as it seems this is the system that is most disturbed and damaged by the effects of COVID. I’d say that the aspect that fails to fully engage is the metabolism: the way the Stomach and gut supports the Lungs and immune system. This dysfunction creates phlegm, weakness in respiration and digestion and a tendency to become fatigued.

I’ve had much success restoring a person’s vitality after COVID through using the Stomach’s Divergent Channel. Many of these patients come to me hopeless that they will ever regain their vitality. After a few acupuncture sessions they’ve reported feeling themselves again, in many cases symptom-free.

Nicholas Sieben, MS, L.Ac.

Nicholas is a healer who uses acupuncture and reiki to help awaken and heal. His mission is to promote greater freedom of body, mind and spirit through compassionate self-awareness. Through the use of ancient medical practices and the spiritual philosophies of Taoism and Buddhism, Nicholas helps illuminate the path to healing. He is a student of the renown Taoist priest and Chinese Medical Master Jeffrey Yuen. He completed his acupuncture studies under Mr. Yuen at the Swedish Institute College of Health Sciences, and received a B.A. from Brandeis University in Sociology and Philosophy. He has a practice in New York City.

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