Imagery and Alchemy in Chinese Medicine Part 2

And alchemy? 

As I mentioned earlier, we are all modern day alchemists even without employing guided imagery. However, when we do make use of the mind we take that healing to another level. Carl Jung regarded mental imagery as a “creative process of the psyche to be employed for attaining greater individual, interpersonal and spiritual integration”. In other words, an alchemical process. 

Dr Deepak Chopra in “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind” tells us that it is the mind and it’s beleifs that cause cells to age. Change your mind around thinking about age or illness and you can change, because mind directs Qi, Qi controls body. Again, an alchemical process. 

Although alchemy conjures up images of the Dark Ages and underground cults with strange apparatus trying to turn base metals into gold, the real gold is what they were all looking for. And the real gold, I believe, is in finding the truth of our beingness and the understanding that we have powers and abilities far greater than we are ordinarily lead to believe. For me me this has been realised over and over during years of involvement in Chinese medicine and Taoist philosophy and represented in the transformations that have occurred in many clients. Many times real healing has occurred simiply in someone recognising themselves in a pattern of TCM as explained according to traditional imagery. 

Applying imagery in TCM 

We know in TCM that mind leads Qi and that Qi controls body ~ while we can choose acupuncture points and herbs to effect change at the level of the Qi, we can also provide additional infomation regarding these points and herbs. This immediately forms the basis of an alchemical process whereby the client engages their mind and adds it’s weight to the whole of the healing process. I have found this to have remarkable results and while it’s use in TCM is not so well documented, it is certainly well documented in both medical and non-medical arenas. 

Dr Don Pachuta from the John Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland uses the imagery inherent in Chinese medicine to help people with life threatening illnesses with great results. In fact, it was while attending an intensive training in guided imagery with the American Imagery Institute in 1987 that Don awoke in me the power and use of images in healing in Chinese medicine [particularly the Five Elements] encouraging me to take it further. Other doctors who use imagery in healing are Dr Carl Simonton from Fort Worth, Texas and Dr Bernie Siegal, a surgeon at Yale, New Haven Hospital who both use visual images to aid their cancer patient’s healing process. 

Since Chinese medicine is replete with images, it really doesn’t take much to incorporate some simple practices into your clinical work. The theories of Yin-Yang and Wu Xing [Five Phases/Elements] provide us with a wealth of imagery that can simply be included in the healing process. 

The Five Elements – Wu Xing – Five Phases of Transformation 

Due to the unusual nature of my TCM training [apprentice to a Taoist Healer/ Acupuncturist] I was given in depth information regarding the Five Phases of Change or the Five Elements as we commonly know them. I was taught that this symbolic representation of Qi flow had many and varied uses, and that somehow it represented a process of spiritual development. [Note: I ultimately wrote a thesis on this to complete a Diploma of Metaphysical Sciences and will submit a future article on my findings.] 

The Five Elements or Wu Xing in it’s simplist form is a most useful beginning place for the use of imagery and thus alchemy. Being that it is a symbolic representation of the macrocosm and the microcosm, the colours ascribed to each Phase are said to be colours of balance (Chia, 1985). Therefore, simply employing the colour associated with the particular organ/meridian system you are regulating opens your healing to the use of imagery and the realm on inner alchemy. 

For example, you are treating a person with a disharmony in their Wood Element/Phase. Regardless of the problem, while the person is lying on the table ask them to think of their liver/gall bladder being surrounded and permeated by green liquid. Since green is the colour associated with the Wood Element/Phase, visualising the liver and gall bladder being surrounded and permeated by a liquid of this colour has cleansing, nourishing and regulating effects [Chia, 1985, & Huang, 1994]. 

Another simple imagery is from Medical Qi Gong [Huang, 1994]. Expanding on from the above imagery, you can take your client through each of the five zang and their associated colours [viz: Kidneys deep blue; Liver green; Heart red; Spleen yellow; Lungs white]. Simply have them visualise or imagine the organs being surrounded and permeated by a liquid of the appropriate colour [except for the Lungs, have the liquid transform to a gas]. Spending a couple of minutes on each organ, breathing slowly and deeply, while also thinking that the colour is cleansing and nourishing that organ system. 

This is a Qi Gong exercise that strengthens the functions of the viscera, dredges the channels, maintains the balance between Yin and Yang, regualtes Qi and blood, expels toxic energy and replenishes deficiency. [Huang, 1994]

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