th-5White Pine Institute has been lucky to have hosted the Engaging Vitality series in our old barn – now clinic and class space.  The  series here was organized by one of our practitioners, Jack Radner.  Now a long time student of the Graduate Mentorship Program and the Engaging Vitality series, Jennifer Spain, is hosting the program, April 23-24, in Raliegh, NC.  Below is her description of how the work has influenced her.  You can download the flyer here.

Engaging Vitality, A Palpation-based Approach to Treatment: Revisited

In 2014, I was fortunate enough to be a participant in the three-module course, Engaging Vitality (EV), held at White Pine Healing Arts. The teachers, Marguerite Dinkins, Dan Bensky, and Chip Chace, presented a way to integrate palpation techniques based on osteopathic methods into the practice of acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Jack Radner organized the course, and I invite you to read his blog post to get a feel for the class material.

th-6Over the past year, I have been applying the techniques I learned, and I have continually been both surprised and inspired by the way EV has deepened my practice. I have been so inspired, in fact, that I have decided to host the first module of the course in my hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina. You can find more information about the curriculum here.

Module I, taught by Chip Chace, will serve as a great primer for the EV palpation techniques, and you will learn more than enough to start using them in your practice right away. During the weekend class, you will be introduced to the cranial rhythmic impulse (the movement of yang) as a tool for listening to a patient’s qi, and how to use more refined listening techniques to further hone in on local areas of stagnation or disharmony. The utilization of a patient’s thermal layer to find active channels and points will be included, as will learning how to effectively needle an active point for maximum effect. With the listening techniques introduced in this course, you will also be able to assess how much change has occurred in a patient’s qi flow, and whether more needs to be done or if the desired effect has been achieved. A tool for observing the patient’s entire system all at once will be demonstrated, as will a general treatment protocol for assimilating these techniques into your practice.

The EV techniques are quick to implement once some basic proficiency is established. They are easy to add into a diagnostic exam, and they play well with any style of acupuncture. The information gained from this type of palpation adds another layer of depth and clarity to diagnosis and treatment. Instead of just needling a point and hoping that the associated theory leads to the correct change taking place in a patient’s qi, the use of EV techniques will provide the opportunity and necessary skills to feel and assess the actual change. These techniques have allowed me to have more confidence in my treatments, and the results have spoken for themselves. As I have added the EV techniques into my diagnosis and treatment, I have seen patients respond better and hold the benefits of treatment longer.

I recently treated a young man with insomnia as his primary complaint. He works odd hours, and is often times up working late into the night while having to rise early in the morning. He takes naps in the afternoon when he has a chance. This schedule had been working fine for him until a few weeks prior to beginning treatment when he became unable to fall asleep at night, and unable to nap. Upon initial examination, I found his pulse to be soft and empty, his tongue to be slightly pale and puffy, and I found many abdominal reflection areas that needed attention — primarily spleen, kidney, and heart zones. I treated him for several weeks with acupuncture and herbs, and while all his signs were improving, there had been no change in his ability to fall asleep. I attended the first EV weekend while treating this patient, and when I saw him next, I decided to try the techniques I had learned since I had not been getting results with my typical approach. The EV listening techniques led me to his right shoulder area, and specifically to the area around Pericardium-1 (Pc-1). Manual thermal diagnosis confirmed that Pc-1 was active, and when I tested the point, it confirmed the EV finding. Having never needled Pc-1 before, I was a little apprehensive to treat the point, but the findings were so clear that I went for it. I used the EV techniques to assess the exact angle and depth of insertion, and I felt an immediate shift in the patient’s yang rhythm. The patient’s qi flow evened out, settled down, and slowed into a nice tidal movement letting me know that a good shift had taken place. I reassessed all the diagnostic signs, and everything was improved. Because there was such a dramatic change after insertion of that single needle, I decided the leave the treatment at that for the session. It was a test of sorts; I wanted to know just how effective this EV stuff was. Well, when I saw the patient next, he reported that his sleep had returned to normal.

th-7That experience really drove home the powerful nature of listening to a patient’s system, and getting myself out of the way. In my experience, that is what the EV techniques have trained me to do – to deeply listen and get out of the way, to be entirely present in the moment with a patient during treatment, to be guided directly by the patient’s body and energy, and to do just enough to restore balanced flow of qi.

If you already practice a palpation-based style of acupuncture, the EV techniques will deepen your practice and bring even more clarity to your diagnosis. If you are new to palpation, these techniques will provide you with a solid foundation to start gaining direct information from your patient’s bodies beyond that delivered by tongue and pulse. The proof for me has been in seeing how incorporating these techniques has led to quicker resolution of patients’ complaints, more lasting results, and more radical transformation in all levels of my patients’ health and wellbeing. As a practitioner, I couldn’t ask for anything better!

The class is being held in Raleigh, NC the weekend of April 23-24, 2016, and the number of participants is very limited due to the hands-on nature of the instruction. There will be plenty of time to apply each technique in class, as well as to receive individual instruction and feedback from Chip within each practice set. As with all things, the real learning comes when you’re back in your own clinic employing this material to treat your patients.