Acupuncture (and its oft forgotten twin, Moxibustion) offer a perplexing phenomenon. We approach the human body with a small piece of wire (a needle) and a bit of fluff (Moxibustion) and propose to make significant improvements to health and metabolic function. I mean, really!!? I agree - it does seem rather improbable.
Probably once a week or so, a new patient will confess to me during the first treatment that they are skeptical about acupuncture. But having tried almost everything else it's a case of last chance saloon... Actually, here we have something in common. I am also a Skeptic.
This word actually implies a state of being "open to persuasion" rather than one of negating possibility. Over time, through empirical results, I have become more and more convinced that, however strange it may seem, there must be something to this wire and fluff approach. And the scientist in me is always looking for new ways to explain what is going on.
An idea proposed by Yuval Harari is to consider humans (and all other life forms) as (simply) information processing systems. Complex ones, to be sure. But information processors none the less. This may seem limited (and chafe somewhat on some cherished belief systems). But let's suspend our preconceptions for a moment and see if it can at least be a be a useful concept. It is at least satisfyingly mechanistic and gives us a solid foundation from which to think about our needle and fluff.
From this perspective, we can consider Acupuncture to be "Information Medicine". I may be accused here of simply changing terminology slightly from what is sometimes called "Energy Medicine" or "Energetic Medicine". But reframing things can provide fresh perspective. In our case, living through the Information Age, we are all familiar with the importance and power of information. How the manipulation and quality of ephemeral bits of invisible data can have wide ranging and significant real world effects on every aspect of our lives. This is as true within our bodies as it is in the external world we share.
SOFTWARE vs. HARDWARE
In Acupuncture, rather than concerning ourselves primarily with the hardware of the physical body as in Western medicine, we allow our focus to broaden: to include an investigation primarily of the state of the software. In contrast to our analogous computer, in living systems, the hardware (physical body) is constantly being updated and remodelled, moment to moment. The premise of Acupuncture is that the quality of this updating/ remodelling process is directly dependent on the clarity and state of the information and software driving it. Thus the state of robustness and wellness of the physical body is directly dependent and controlled through the state of the software (the informational scaffold of life).
In the Information Age, where geek is the new cool, everyone loves the idea of "hacking the system". Finding clever (and often non-intuitive) ways to optimise or find efficiencies. Importantly, in our situation, we are not looking for ways to exploit. Rather, with Hack-u-Puncture, we are looking for ways to optimise and de-bug. To improve the sharing and flow of information/ consciousness throughout, and allowing the hardware to be updated and remodelled to the best possible state as quickly as possible.
Oriental Medicine was developed by people whose pre-occupation was the development of a phenomenal level of introspection and self awareness. This was achieved through coherent, empirical physical and mental meditation practices. What emerged was an extension of awareness beyond the brain and into the body. And an understanding and experience of the consciousness as a fully integrated intelligence distributed throughout the body ("Distributed Intelligence").
Our Distributed Intelligence could perhaps be likened to the coming era of the 5G "Internet of Things". Everything becomes part of a smart integrated network. Information is generated everywhere, flows and is shared through multiple pathways with innumerable nodes. This creates a complexity through which a type of consciousness and intelligence emerges. Information is actually processed by the various organs and structures of the body and shared with the other areas, including the brain.
Contrast this with the idea of a consciousness and processing of signals from the nervous system understood as concentrated entirely in the brain. This idea of Distributed Intelligence is just in the earliest stages of exploration by western medicine today, but is gaining traction extremely rapidly.Animals, not spending their time as heavily concentrated in their thoughts as we increasingly are, are believed to possess a kind of sixth sense beyond those which they are naturally adapted for physiologically. Actually, this sixth sense is simply being tuned in to the Distributed intelligence. Unlike most humans, they have an awareness of the information and consciousness generated within their bodies. Perhaps this is similar to the way in which the blind people are often considered to have increased development of the other senses.
From this perspective, the application of specific stimuli and combinations of stimuli (using needles and fluff) to specific areas of our internal information networks starts to take on a different feel. We are no longer asked to believe in some weird kind of magical substance with unheard of properties being somehow affected through an energetic vortex or portal. Instead we have the clarity of the effects of information manipulation, updating and sharing.
1. Signalling: Probably the most common, and simplest hack we need to implement is not really a hack at all. It is simply cleaning up the interface or communication between various subsystems (organs). If the signal between parts of the Distributed Intelligence is improved, this alone can lead to a significant improvement in the overall functioning of the overall system. This is analogous to finding the best driver for a particular computer component. Once it is updated correctly, the system can produce a step-change in function or output. This alone can lead to what can seem like a step change in health or symptoms.
2. Nudges: In cases where there has been a significant change in the hardware (body), either due to an extreme acute illness or a long term chronic illness, there may be the need to actually initiate a change to the operating parameters to deliberately push the system in a direction it might not otherwise achieve on its own. We could call this a Nudge. Here the system already has all the functioning programs required to deal with a problem, but is not able to access that information. Or in a state of confusion is unable to see the bigger context of what is required.
3. Re-boot: Throughout or lives, we accumulate experience and information on dealing with different environments, disease states and scenarios. This information is stored in various way in the body, physically, bio-chemically and of course in our neural matter. All these patterns could be understood as programs, sub-routines, security patches, updates etc. These are extremely useful, to be sure, and we do not want to get rid of them. However, sometimes there may be conflicts or unintended consequences of the combinations of these layers of information. This can result in clouding of the functioning of the fundamental source-code (DNA) which we started with and which build the fundamental structure of the system. One of the most useful hacks is to simply reveal and reiterate the primacy of the source code.
4. Virus: Sticking with the computer analogy, the idea of a virus or bacteria as a literal mechanism for hijacking the the body through the manipulation of information is extremely accurate. Hack-U-Puncture can be used to uncloak these nefarious hackers by attuning the body's natural malware, firewall & quarantine systems to their operating methods.
Acupuncture is not magic. It is the specific stimulation of the body to upload new information or run dormant programs. In Part 2 of this newsletter I will look at the best methods for achieving this whilst avoiding detection and rejection by the body's highly developed defensive systems.