I am honored to share this guest article by author Ioannis Solos, whose newest book ‘Developing Internal Energy for Effective Acupuncture Practice’ comes out this week.
Take it away Ioannis….
According to Hippocrates, the practice of Medicine was already flourishing even before the invention of writing. I believe that although the ancients could not read and intellectually reflect on the plethora of medical manuscripts that we have today, they could still “learn by example”, “stick to the basics”, “live the Medicine”, “experience”, “breathe”, “keep it simple” and apply by feeling and intention. Even though the levels of sophistication and effectiveness of such ancient -and largely shamanic- practices are not comparable to our modern advances, some of these ideas still hold truth and essence, especially when it comes to “experiencing”, “keeping it simple” and also “sticking to the basics”.
Additionally, in the words of St. Maximus the Confessor: “Action is the application of theory, and theory derives from spiritual guidance [and reflection] on practice”.
In my opinion the practice of Chinese acupuncture in the west, largely lacks this “spiritual reflection and guidance”. Instead, many of us often believe that by learning as many acupuncture micro-systems/modalities as possible, we can enrich our practice and stay in competition with others.
Twelve years ago, in search of “the secrets” I moved to Beijing. I soon found out that there are many smaller medical traditions, family systems, lineages, minority approaches and personalized expressions of the medical art. However, all of these had one common denominator: mastery of the basics and ingenious combination of ideas alongside creative interpretation of the classical theories.
Since Chinese culture is all inter-connected under an umbrella of common theoretical basics such as the Yin Yang, Five Phases, Heavenly Stems and Earthly Branches, the Eight Trigrams etc., philosophical correspondences and similarities also exist across different fields.
Drawing from my experiences in the Chinese Internal Martial Arts world, many of us usually perceive someone as a master, only after one has perfected their “fundamental skills” or “jiben gong”. Someone who has learned many arts but is unable to use any of them effectively is still regarded as a Jack-of-all-trades.
In my opinion, your basic skills can be likened to the trunk of a tree. If the trunk is strong (i.e. your martial, medical, and intellectual skills are flourishing), only then you can help it grow branches by learning additional modalities and perfecting your skills. Ultimately, all of these will have a common core; make sense as part of a whole, and they can complement each other in harmony. The fruit will be your own contributions to your practice of medicine, and the seeds your legacy.
After more than a decade in the Far East, I came to realize that the only secret in acupuncture, is not pursuing all those “exotic” skills that others possess (or every trendy micro-system that gets popularized every few years), but how creative you can be with the materials that you already know, and how well everything relates to everything else you know. Of course equally important is keeping faithful to the core tradition and continuous study, practice, research and refinement.
My new book “Developing Internal Energy for Effective Acupuncture Practice”, which will hit the shops in Europe this week (and the rest of the world over the next few days), is a book of acupuncture essence. Although it does not include any point combinations, or extravagant techniques, it speaks about how to effectively cultivate your internal skills towards enhancing your needling and the efficacy of your healing approaches. I hope that after reading it, people will apply their own creative thinking and ultimately expand their understanding and their own level of cultivation towards the path.
Ioannis Solos studied Traditional Chinese Medicine at Middlesex University and the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. He enjoys researching, teaching, practicing and critically interpreting the ancient philosophy and culture of China, internal martial arts, health preservation practices, classic medical texts and lesser-known Chinese esoteric traditions. He is also the author of “Gold Mirrors and Tongue Reflections: The Cornerstone Classics of Chinese Medicine Tongue Diagnosis” published by Singing Dragon.
Congratulations on your new book, Ioannis, quite an accomplishment!