By Michael Givens, Classical Chinese Herbalist
Here at Anatara Medicine
Classical Chinese medicine utilizes the art of diagnosis as its primary modality, and has many time-tested tools at its disposal. Its form of diagnosis comes from an understanding of the fluid nature of the human being. Though we are made of 75% water, we often think of our bodies as hardened forms. The tendency today is to focus upon the 25% solid matter, yet even this small ¼ of our forms are hardly “solid”. Solid things are what we need to cut out or remove, in fact. Our bodies are constantly moving within, constantly in flux – even in our bones. The form is there in idea (our body remembers itself), yet in function, we are ever flowing, watery and full of life.
Even the field of architecture recognizes that forms follow function. One could say that classical Chinese medicine exemplifies this axiom. We work, through our ability to diagnose without fixating upon the static forms, with the functional, dynamic processes of life that bring healing. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is the modern form of classical Chinese medicine, tends towards a hardened form-thinking, as it relies upon abstract diagnostic parameters of static images. It is really only in the roots of natural medicine, such as in the ancient form of Chinese medicine, where we find fluid thinking. Of course, this is because there was less hardened knowledge at this time – but today, we can apply the flexible, fluid thinking to all that we now know, and still keep it alive. This is the art of classical Chinese medicine (CCM) today.
Classical Chinese medicine is a healing medicine because it supports living processes of the body, and requires that its practitioners perceive correctly these living processes in the actual patient before them. It is in our diagnosis that we remain fluid and in the realm of the living. Our treatments are therefore in alignment with the individual, due to our way of seeing.
Our methods of using natural substances additionally support this approach, because we use the wholeness of nature, taken both in understanding and in form from its functional, living image. We do not isolate substances into a form-approach, but utilize aspects of herbal substances that exemplify and match the living processes we seek to work with in the human body.
It is for these reasons that classical Chinese medicine is able to help patients of today. It brings to our contemporary way of thinking a fresh, enlivened approach of understanding, and should be valued most for its diagnostic abilities, as well as the long-term refinement and high quality of its tools. We use only the purest, tested, naturally grown substances that have been prepared in ways that match the high ideals of our art. Though there are not many who practice this art, as artists, practitioners of classical Chinese medicine seek to refine their perceptivity of the individual nature of health and illness in each patient.