If there is one thing I try to consistently impress on my patients as they heal with acupuncture is that the healing is being generated from within. I use the needles to signal the body to self-adjust, to self-correct. There is no masking of the pain or disabling of your body’s healing mechanisms. We are working with (not against) your body’s elaborate equilibrium systems whose sole mission has always been to help you survive and thrive.
One of the mechanisms by which acupuncture is able to do this is by directly impacting our autonomic nervous system – the unconscious elaborate web of triggers and responses that our body instantly engages to help our body adapt. This intelligent, dynamic system is constantly responding to stimuli to help us maintain an equilibrium state of health in our body.
Modern science is revealing everyday just how dynamic and intricate this subconscious response system is. The autonomic nervous system helps us process EVERYTHING as we move through life – from what food we put in our bodies, to how we process an emotional break-up, to how we deal with tensions at work, to how we continue to function after certain trauma that our conscious mind refuses to deal with. Everything we experience has an imprint on our bodies and is being processed in real time without our conscious attention.
By directly accessing these systems through the body – Acupuncture aims to help you get out of your own way to healing. However, it is nonetheless a passive engagement on the part of the person making their way to their acupuncturist. I always hope that patients’ experience with Acupuncture serves as a catalyst to spur their personal journey towards taking a more proactive role in tapping into, trusting, and engaging that intelligence on their own. How can we empower individuals to harness their own ability to consciously attune their own nervous systems?
Throughout my studies and practice I continue to be in awe of what Eastern Medicine has distilled and dissected about what we call in the West the “mind-body” connection. This is a connection we are only beginning to tease through in the West and is why mindful meditative practices are getting so much more attention lately. As a consequence of understanding this connection we are only now beginning to study and understand the scientific basis for the benefits of internal practices like meditation, and other mindful practices on our health.
More interestingly, this is one area where one can start to assume a more proactive role in our inner health – Where we start to heal from the inside out. However, as we are increasingly attracted to these practices much of it still seems elusive, mysterious.
Mystics from various traditional societies, particularly in the East have been attuned to these inner practices for millennia. As a Chinese Medicine practitioner it has always been impressed on me by my teachers the importance of cultivating a robust internal practice to not only safeguard our personal health as practitioners, but to also help us potentiate our healing relationship with our patients.
Lately, I’ve been studying a system of self-cultivation practiced by one of my Balance Method teachers of Chinese Medicine, Dr. Paul C. Wang. Dr. Wang has been traveling the world teaching practitioners how to harness their inner healing abilities through a discipline synthesized and integrated by him – Gong Fa (short for Dao De Gong Fa) – based on the essence of various martial, Chinese medical, and mystical lineages and disciplines he has practiced and honed over the years.
His quote above, “Illness is a state of disintegration and wellness is a state of integration” encapsulates the holistic understanding of what the goal is on our journey to healing. Many of the self-cultivation practices that have been practiced for millennia honor this process of integration. But often we practice mindLESSly. We remain scattered and don’t fully embody the intent of restoring our natural dynamic process of integration.
The Gong Fa teachings aim to take apart this inner process of integration in a language we can understand and teaches us to incorporate it in everything that we do. The novelty of his teachings is that he distills universal core understandings that underpin most holistic, meditative practices. The practice is simple and can be practiced as a stand-alone practice of self-care or easily integrated into any existing personal self-cultivation practice. I have used it with great interest to upgrade my yoga practice in addition to practicing it separately.
Last March Dr. Wang was present at Harlem Chi and opened a small session originally meant for practitioners to non-practitioners as well. It was a short introduction to the practice and I asked him to return to teach a slightly longer session. Dr. Wang will be teaching Gong Fa basics at Harlem Chi on Sunday, September 15 from 2 to 5pm. If you are interested in learning more about this practice please join us! Find out more about this event here.