Classical Chinese Medicine:
The Five Element Medicine Path
The Five Element Medicine Path as a unique approach to practitioner training and the healing arts was developed by one of Kaheeyu Mountain Institute’s founders, Jaki Daniels, whose healing practice is rooted in the traditional ways of Indigenous medicine people. They served their community through intimate connection with the land, the plants, the animals, and a deep understanding of the nature of medicine and the laws of healing.
In this context plants and other healing agents are understood to offer more than what their physical chemistry denotes; their colour, shape, root system, texture, and the conditions required to thrive, all create a profile or character that can be drawn upon to bring an ill person into balance. Medicines are not simply ‘taken’, they are received through a process of opening to wellness by treating the root cause, which can lie within the body, mind, or spirit.
“The Medicine Path” style of healing combines this wisdom and use of ‘medicines’ in the indigenous sense, with another ancient method - a highly developed and complex system of medicine that originated in China. This system is generally referred to as Classical Chinese Medicine - Five Element healing. In her practice this translates to a series of regularly scheduled hands-on treatments which specifically influence the innate healing capacities and animating life-force within a person, serving to re-establish health and well-being. Length of treatment time is unique to each person and dependent upon the severity of their initial illness, the willingness of the patient to be alert to the subtle forces of internal change, their commitment to embracing health, and their daily support of the healing work through appropriate food choices and lifestyle practice.
Classical Chinese Medicine - Five Element Healing is one of the world’s oldest healing traditions and has been in continuous use for approximately 3000 years. It is based in the laws of nature, the cycles of life, and the flow of life-force energy. This life-force energy (sometimes called chi or ki), which all living beings possess, flows through the body in precise pathways that are called meridians. Twelve meridians run bilaterally up and down the body and provide the foundation of our functional support, on all levels: body, mind, and spirit. Our life-force energy is the ‘force’ that fuels and animates every aspect of who we are, from our physical organs and systems, to the clear functioning of the mind, and the joyful and compassionate nature of our spirit. We can only ‘be’ as functional and effective in our lives and relationships as the life-force energy which flows through us. If there are blocks or disruptions to this flow, symptoms will appear as alarm signals to alert the patient that corrections are needed.
In Five Element healing however, it is not the symptoms that are treated. A treatment is the reestablishment of the full flow of life-force energy in ALL the meridians. This begins the process of restoring your body/being to the functionality required to activate the innate, natural healing processes, re-establish balance throughout the systems, and begin the process of the restoration of health. In the early stages of treatment, the body/being will only be able to sustain the full flow of life force energy temporarily, soon falling back into old, established patterns. With regular treatments however, the life force energy begins to ‘remember’ this ideal, healthy state, resumes and finally maintains this natural pattern of flow, and the patient returns to wellness. Five Element Healing can also be used as preventive health care. For normal healthy people seasonal treatments can help keep their physical systems tuned, their emotions balanced, their mental health in check, and their spirits happy and at peace.
There are several key features to Five Element Healing that are important to note:
- By assessing the quality and quantity of life-force energy that flows through each meridian, via the meridian ‘pulses’ which can be felt at the wrists of the patient, a Five Element practitioner can detect imbalances that may not yet have reached the symptomatic level, and can therefore be corrected before the onset of illness.
- Because our life-force energy powers all functions; body, mind, and spirit, this form of healing can be utilized for symptoms that are not physical, and appear at the level of the emotions, the mind, and/or the spirit. Invisible and hard-to-reach conditions such as depression, anxiety, or feelings of isolation and unworthiness, are as available to amelioration via balancing the meridian pathways as physical symptoms, thereby allowing for ‘balanced wellness’.
- While most people who have been introduced to Chinese medicine are familiar with acupuncture and the use of needles, Jaki and her trained practitioners use a gentle touch combined with a highly developed art of subtle sensing.
- As this system works to correct and restore wellness through the laws of nature and the inherent functioning intelligence of the body, it can be used to complement other therapies. It is not only illness that compromises our well-being but also medications and other stressors that have their own side effects. This Five Element system, through its emphasis on ‘restoration’ can help to support the body in its capacity to cope with these sometimes challenging situations.
Jaki’s healing practice has now passed the 25th anniversary mark. The high demand for her services and skills led her to develop “The Medicine Path”, a unique three-year practitioner training program that graduated its first practitioners in 2014 and continues to train others. This initiative is now beginning to fill the need in our area for a truly effective and comprehensive approach to natural healing.