Acupuncture and the Mind-Body Connection: Article in NAJOM

Acupuncture Mind Body Connection

Acupuncture Mind Body Connection

This is an extract of an article I had published in the North American Journal of Oriental Medicine (NAJOM), March 2019. The topic is: Acupuncture and the Mind-Body Connection. Below is a part of the English version and a Japanese translation…

Acupuncture and the Mind-Body Connection

Traditional oriental medicine is unique in the degree to which it recognizes the emotions as a cause of disease. Excess grief damages the lungs. Worry damages the spleen. Fear weakens the kidneys. Anger affects the liver and joy affects the heart.

In this article, I would like to explore the mind-body connection and how we literally “wear our emotions on our sleeves.” Our physical bodies can reflect the life we have experienced – our hurts, successes, habits, and mindsets. Our hurts are imprinted as body armour. The release of these tensions constitutes healing of the spirit on a fundamental level.

Author Rachel Naomi Remen writes:

Healing may not be so much about getting better, as about letting go of everything that isn’t you – all of the expectations, all of the beliefs – and becoming who you are. Not a better you, but a realer you.” (Moyers 1993).

In this article, I would like to explore how this “letting go” of our mental, emotional, and physical blockages constitutes a form of healing.

Body Reflects Mind

Psychologist Ken Dychtwald PhD wrote the following of his encounter on a training course with Core Energetics founder Dr John Pierrakos (a Core Energetics principle is that emotional, mental, and physical disturbances are symptoms of blocked energy):

“It is September 1970. I am standing naked before a roomful of men and women of all ages. Dr John Pierrakos is staring intently at my body, as are all the other people in the room.

Dr Pierrakos walks towards me and carefully examines the texture of my skin and the overall quality of my body’s musculature. He asks me to walk around the room for a few moments so that he can observe my body in motion. John Pierrakos proceeds to tell me about myself.

He tells me about my mother and my father and about my relationship to both of them. He describes my general attitudes regarding life, love, relationships, movement, change, and performance. With remarkable accuracy, he describes the sorts of relationships and styles of behaviour that I would normally seek out and tells me about the way I deal with them. For a finale, he describes my major personality strengths and weaknesses.

What was frightening about this experience was that everything he said, every observation he made, every description he offered, was entirely accurate.” (Dychtwald 1977, p. 4)

The Body is a Canvas

The body has many stories to tell us if we know how to read it. To give an example from Dychtwalt’s book: “raised shoulders are an indicator of fear or a paranoid state of mind. The forward hunched shoulders indicates a person who sees themselves as highly vulnerable.” This “folding-over” of the shoulders is the body’s way of “protecting” itself.

genki self health Japanese moxibustion acupuncture 2

Meeting the Patient

These examples show the importance of using all our senses, especially observation and palpation, when meeting a patient. The practitioner becomes an antenna as soon as they come into contact with the patient – whether on the phone or in the clinic.

What is the quality and timbre of the patient’s voice? Is there power, or is it suppressed? What does their gait and posture tell you? Are there any particular mannerisms? And then ask yourself ‘why?’ What in this person’s life has led to this?

Feeling the body, are there any areas that are unduly tight? This may indicate body armoring, where emotions are held. The channels in these areas will also be restricted.

The body scan

A technique I have adapted is a body scan. This type of exercise activates the right brain, the intuitive brain, which may furnish us with insights about the patient.

With the patient on the table, I take a few deep breaths and tune into a meditative or qigong-like state. It can be carried out whilst taking the pulse or palpating channels. Sometimes, insights about the person come to mind, and may be worth mentioning to see if they are of any significance to the patient.

John Hicks’ Body Exercise

I attended a seminar in Amsterdam with Five Elements teacher and author John Hicks. Hicks recommended a specific exercise: find a relaxing place to sit by the side of the street and simply observe people walking past. He suggested that you experiment, and adopt their way of gait. By doing this, you can gain a bodily insight into how that person moves, possibly even their unique imbalances. However, Hicks warned, you have to be careful not to do it too much, in case you actually take on their disease!

Trauma Leaves a Mark

Some diseases are not just physical. They may have evolved from childhood experiences or other negative experiences, for example – bereavement, parental divorce, abuse, rape, bullying, or guilt from not living up to a parents expectations. Some incidents are painful and cut deeply. If you can build trust with the patient, they may confide in you. It is here that listening, a non-judgement attitude and empathy is important.

These highly charged experiences can have a long-lasting impact on the being as a whole, and result in body armoring. At a basic level, this armoring restricts the flow of qi in the channels through the affected area.

Stirring the Muddy Pond

As acupuncturists, we have to figure out the best way to proceed. Body armor is there for a reason – to facilitate survival. Breaking it down too quickly risks destabilizing the person’s psyche.  It is like stirring a stagnant pond with a stick. It disturbs but does not clear the mud. On the other hand, whilst this armoring protects, it also suffocates. So some of this tension needs to be released. We must become like a garden fork, picking out bits of blanket weed from the pond.

Whilst we can simply treat problems as they appear and have some success with that, we can miss an opportunity for a deeper healing of the spirit.

Shudo Insight

I attended the In-Touch seminar in Japan with Shudo Denmei in 2017, where he demonstrated his Super-Rotation Insertion technique. Shudo spoke about healing the spirit and that his technique can benefit the emotions. He went so far as to say that even if your treatment does not change the problem the patient came for, an improved mood reflects a positive change.

I have experienced this to be true. Whilst I have had some success in treating a person’s physical problems, I feel so much more satisfied when I hear they feel better mentally and emotionally or were able to release emotions by crying or opening up to someone. I believe that a deep level of healing is occurring.


End of extract: The complete article contains a final case study.



Moyers B. 1993. Healing the Mind. Wholeness – Rachel Naomi Remen. Doubleday, New York

Dychtwald K.  1977. Bodymind.New York: Tarcher/Putnam, 1977.

Subcribe to NAJOM

To read the original article and other articles on Oriental Medicine, with a special emphasis on Japanese systems of Acupuncture, subscribe to the North American Journal of Oriental Medicine (NAJOM) – links to NAJOM website.

The NAJOM Journal is written in both English and Japanese. Below is the Japanese translation of the article – Acupuncture and the Mind-Body Connection:

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この記事では、癒しをもたらす、この精神、感情、身体的閉塞を ”解き放つこと” について探って行きたい。








体はキャンバスだ。見方を知れば、たくさんの物語を私たちに教えてくれる。ダイチトワルド博士の本から例を出すと、”上がった肩は恐れや、パラノイア状態の精神を示す。前方に丸まった肩は、自分のことをとても脆弱だと思う人を表している”という。 この’巻き込まれた’肩は、体が自分を’守る’方法なのだ。


これらの例は、 患者を診る時、特に目診や脈診の際に、全ての感覚を使うことが重要だと教えてくれる。それが電話越しであっても、診療所でも、施術者は患者に接するとすぐにアンテナになる。






私は、アムステルダムで行われた、Five Elementsの講師であり著者でもあるジョン・ヒックス氏のセミナーに参加した。ヒックス氏は、ある訓練を勧めてきた。それは、道の片隅にリラックスして座れる場所を見つけて、通り過ぎて行く人々をただ観察するというものだ。彼は、その人たちの歩き方を真似して実験することも提案した。そうすると、その人の動き方や、独自の不安定さも体で理解することができるのだ。しかしヒックス氏は、その人の病気までもらってこないように、実験をやりすぎないように警告している!












Moyers B、「Healing the Mind」、Wholeness (Rachel Naomi Remen)、1993年、Doubleday、New York、P343

Ken Dychtwald、Jeremy P. Tarcher、「Bodymind」1977年、Putnam、New York、P4


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