When the Yellow Emperor decided to codify the already ancient practice of acupuncture some 4500 years ago, the book to which this book owes its most profound debt was set in motion. I cannot overstate how humbling and satisfying it was to learn recently that Energy Medicine would be coming out in a Chinese translation. Only in a world where globalization allows an unprecedented cross-fertilization of ideas and practices could we expect to see such exchanges. Just as the time-honored healing arts of China are impacting the Western world, scientific investigations being conducted in China are refining healing procedures and concepts from the Yellow Emperor’s time.
My esteemed colleague, Joaquín Andrade, is a physician practicing in South America who, as a young man, spent several years studying acupuncture in China. He has been practicing it now for some 30 years and frequently returns for further study. He tells me that the attitude he finds among the bright young practitioners he now studies with is that they respect the ancient theories as being venerable and valuable precedents, but also that those ideas must be considered within the cultural context and historical period in which they originated. Still, colleagues in China, with doctorates in fields like physiology, biophysics, and biochemistry have found, Dr. Andrade estimates, empirical validation for more than seventy percent of the mechanisms described in traditional acupuncture.
This book describes the ability to “see” the body’s energies. There is no question in my mind that this ability was possessed by the early pioneers of acupuncture. Their wisdom has been passed along for an incredible five millennia. But we live in a world whose rate of change is dizzying. We not only have science and technology that allow us to verify or modify the old wisdom, we also have stressors, toxins, electromagnetic fields, and a pace of life that would have been unimaginable to our ancestors. It is most appropriate that the old methods are now quickly evolving in many corners of the planet. Watch the Chinese physicians who are scientifically investigating acupuncture. Witness the Western physicians who are applying it in high-tech hospitals. Consider healers such as myself who incorporate its principles within an understanding that draws from descriptions of energy systems found not only in China, but also in India, Japan, and Celtic traditions, as well as from tribal cultures, shamans, and Western medical practices.
When one tradition complements or conflicts with another, both can evolve. But ultimately it is the individual healer, standing directly in front of a person seeking help, who must decide what to use and how to use it. I know acupuncturists who are as fluid and creative in their work as any healers I’ve seen, and I also know acupuncturists who rigidly cling to outmoded ideas and procedures. This book is a call to all healers to educate themselves well in what has been charted by others, but also to remain open to and carefully cultivate the wisdom of their own intuition.
We probably all are confronted with concepts in one tradition or another that do not fit our experience. I want to take this honor—being asked to write a special introduction to the Chinese translation of Energy Medicine—to speak about one old idea that I think is particularly harmful, and that could and should be replaced by a more accurate and empowering understanding. And this is the idea that we each have a limited amount of energy, that we are endowed at birth with a given amount of chi in kidney meridian and that, like an hourglass, when it runs out, our life force has been spent. This is a harmful and self-limiting concept.
What I want you to keep in mind as you read this book is that if you can keep your energy channels open to allow the life force to flow in and out, you will be replenished. The old idea, which can be so constraining, has many faces. For instance, it sets a negative context for understanding male-female relationships. The underlying belief was that when a man ejaculates, the woman is taking his life force. Yet this old and misguided patriarchal idea still lives. I want to assure both men and women that there is abundant evidence that healthy sexuality is one of the most wonderful ways of sustaining your life force. And I want to assure all of my readers that energy flows through you all the time. You are continually fed by a stream of healing vibrations. They are yours for the taking. I hope this book will show you how to stay in the flow with these vibrations, and that in doing so, your health and vitality will flourish.