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The Shen at the BAcC Conference 2014
  • The British Conference of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine 2014 has a cracking line up of speakers this year and this acupuncturist is excited about attending in September.

    There will be workshops by names such as Niki Bilton (who is dean at the Ongiara College of Acupuncture and Moxibustion in Ontario), Peter Deadman (founder of the Journal of Chinese Medicine & co-author of the manual of acupuncture) and Nora Franglen (founder/principal of SOFIA in London) to name but a few, my biggest worry is whether the timetable allows me to see all the speakers I want to see.

    The Theme of the conference this year is ‘Shen’ and this is something close to my heart. For those in the know this is a silly pun as the Shen is said to reside in the heart. But what I really mean is that like all good acupuncturists I want to root my treatment in the shen and nourish a patient at the level of the shen wherever possible.

    So what is the Shen? As many Chinese terms it is hard to explain from a western perspective as the words or terms I use can be taken out of context but it is often said that the Shen is ones spirit. Although it needs to be stated at this point that although it has some crossover with religious beliefs of individual spirit it is not the same. To help explain let’s start by looking at what the Chinese character for Shen shows, which is the heaven extending its will towards earth and the consciousness of humankind.

    It may be said that the shen is the part of who you are which is not inherited or learnt. It is our individuality. This uniqueness is given to us the Chinese believe by the heavens at the moment of our conception. One is therefore not just a mere person but a unique individual linked to the heaven and and cosmos. The relationship between it and Jing (our constitution inherited energy) enables us to meet our destiny in life. Shen empowers the creative and expansive nature of heaven within each individual.

    Now to confuse Shen is the collective name of the five spirits that reside in the human body, one in each of the yin official or organ – heart (shen), spleen (zhi), lung (po), kidney (Jing), Liver (Hun) but is also the name given to the spirit of the heart. I will perhaps in another blog look at each official and the individual nature of the spirit that resides there but for the purpose of explaining the shen as relating to the acupuncture conference this is related more to the collective name of all the spirits in the body and is your individuality.

    So as an acupuncturist I need to be attempting to ground every treatment in a person’s shen – their uniqueness or individuality. Treating the whole rather than treating their sore arm or ankle but to nourish a patient as a complete person to bring them to a place where their unique nature ‘shen’ can shine allowing them to return to full health and wellbeing. So they can be at their best in body, mind and spirit. No tall order then but this is what a traditional acupuncturist is attempting through treatment and is why I for one am excited to attend the BAcC conference in September to help get closer to offering this ideal in my practice.

The Author

Genevieve Hurst

Lic. Ac BA Hons MBAaC

Accredited with the British Acupuncture Council

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