“To have a second language is to possess a second soul” Charlemagne
Having had to learn a second language, I have realised that the learning of it is relatively easy. Understanding the culture in order to possess that language will take more than the rest of my life.
This problem is very evident when you look at the first translations of the Chinese medical language. The first translations influenced much of the teaching of western body-workers interested in Chinese medicine. With the passage of time we have realised that many of the inferences and meanings of the ancient texts, in the light of further cultural awareness, have lost the richness of their meanings.
Trying to understand Chinese forms of treatment in terms of western science is a little like reading a foreign language poem in translation. What you get is a pale outline of the thing without the soul or the central illuminating essence.
This statement is a vivid example of how mistranslation can permeate and create misunderstanding of certain concepts in Chinese medicine. Translating Chinese into western languages is a continuous challenge because of its context sensitive nature and the understanding of conceptual terms. It is acknowledged that some key terms in TCM have been mistranslated since the 1930’s and 40’s leading to many controversies in TCM.
Donald Kendal, the author of “The Tao of Chinese Medicine: Understanding an Ancient Healing Art” writes:- “These fundamental errors have been responsible for much misdirection in trying to understand the reality of Chinese medicine, and in the setting-design-research protocol to verify its basic theories”
He goes on to talk about TCM being best characterised as physical and physiological medicine and the Chinese vascular system being replaced with meridians. This means that substituting meridians for the neurovascular system has kept Chinese medicine on the fringes of conventional care for many decades. The knowledge of physiology that had previously been explained by TCM was then obscured.
Chinese experts understand their theories involve vascular circulation and the nervous system but tend to use the terms “Qi” and “Meridian” when writing in English. This unintended and unfortunate mistranslation has created much debate between those trained in the energy schools of thought and those who work via the vascular and nervous systems. This is one of the major reasons for the side-lining of eastern methods of healing and bodywork by conventional forms of treatment.
This is because they do not understand the language as it has been mistranslated.
How does this apply to body workers? It appears that Chinese physicians worked with vascular systems both physically and physiologically. But because of the initial translations, many body-workers still consider that working with the energy (Ki, Qi, Chi) should be the paramount focus of the therapist
IF the superimposed meridians follow the former vascular systems and we accept that Qi moves blood and Blood carries Qi, what’s the problem? For me, the problem is the focus. In that there is a powerful psychological difference in the attitude of the therapist toward the presented symptom if one is trying to move the vascular system rather than just an energetic concept.
I have seen many students and graduates struggling to create change by focussing on Qi, often in a meditative, should I say it, self indulgent way, when physical movement of the vascular system directed towards the blocked area would change the situation immediately. I am convinced it is the reason too many potentially good practitioners do not succeed as therapists once they have to deal with the general public. When a body has been made aware of its own energy flows, working with the Qi is very powerful. However, most people are simply not conditioned in this way and it is vital for the therapist to make a difference to the presented symptoms quickly.
Whether your clients are relatively well but, looking for relief from lesser conditions or those who have been through the conventional channels with no success, they all want to see a change, some kind of transformation. Successful body-workers do well to ensure that anything they do with a client makes a difference in their perception of their condition and themselves. Ensuring focus is on the vascular system and psychological aspects of the problem is the easiest way of doing this.
This means that when working for example on tight rhomboids, you have in mind not just the techniques to release them, but also an appreciation of the shu points, Lung, Heart and Pericardium and the related emotional and psychological aspects beneath them. Furthermore, there may well be emotional and psychological repercussions from the release of the muscle.
Put simply, work with the physicality of the problem. You are already touching the Qi.
If you want to know more about the poem featured in the image picture, read this