Monthly Archives: February 2010

More fun. Fun with bears!

Here’s another personal post before I get into more research-oriented topics.

This morning I woke up from a dream involving a common topic for me, the bear.  Because I grew up spending summers in the woods, I encountered grizzly and black bears fairly regularly, and these experiences imprinted emotional associations with bears that pop into my thoughts and dreams at meaningful times.

My dream involved seeing two grizzlies along a forest path, peacefully grazing/foraging and aware of human presence nearby.  I warned some people to turn around and walk in the opposite direction.  Then I entered a large wooden room made of raw pine, with one outhouse-style toilet in a corner, which had open windows in both adjacent walls in that corner.  My boyfriend was sitting there when I ran in to warn him of the bears nearby- just as one of the bears with a multi-colored coat stuck its arm in one window and grabbed my boyfriend’s chest with its giant paw.  My guy jumped up and held the arm somehow, while I ran over and twisted the bear’s nose and poked it in the eye.  I didn’t like or want to injure the bear, but I realized it could even playfully injure him, and so we attacked it to get it to leave.  Then I woke up, relieved but disturbed.

Maximus: the second-largest grizzly known to exist south of Canada. Photo by Mike Madel.

In thinking about this dream, several themes come up- immediately, springtime excitement and renewal associated with forests and the emergence of bears to gather food after hibernation.  The peaceful accord between the two bears showing the harmony of nature yet representing a threat to humans if disturbed. Then when I began to think about the whole scene involving my boyfriend in the room, and the bear, many great insights about acupuncture presented themselves!

I entered a room, knowing that I was supposed to warn/aid a loved one.  The room was empty except for a waste-elimination facility.  It was simple and airy, with a beneficial environment.  The only windows in it were in the walls to which the person had their back pointed (the windows opened onto the person’s back).  A force of nature intruded into the room, into and onto the person who I cared about.  I couldn’t tell if it was playful, exploratory, or malicious/defensive.  But I identified it as dangerous.  A KEY part is what happened next: the person himself grabbed hold of the dangerous entity, that force of nature represented by the bear.  While it was stabilized, I poked it in its most sensitive, receptive areas- the nose and eyes, which in the bear are the most important orifices with which they gather knowledge of the world surrounding them.  This allowed the danger to pass.  Wow!  Talk about acupuncture metaphor!

What a great present.  It helps me keep in mind many important aspects of caring for others  as they go through a dangerous process of healing or elimination of things they no longer need.  The illness or force of nature itself can be a tool of healing (bears represent a mother figure and the healer in many cultures); the patient is already open to it (windows on either side, behind them); they are already attempting to accomplish change (sitting on the john); the patient has the power to grasp this illness/force of nature, which is the only thing that allows me to be effective (holding the bear’s arm); I must use quick thinking and quick action to accomplish my goal (necessity due to life being in danger); the use of needle or hand manipulation (poking eye, twisting nose) involves the most sensitive areas, physically emotionally and mentally (one of bear’s only weaknesses due to the extreme reliance on sense of smell; the eye and nose only areas of body not covered in protective skin/fur).

Dusk at Pine Butte Grizzly Preserve

Finally, it defines the idea that as a healer, I’m going into the treatment room knowing that I’m there to help someone I care for, as another human beset by the wide world of nature’s possibilities.   The setting was in the middle of a forest, a freshly-hewn wooden room.  This represents the humans’ (patients’) relation to nature; they have created a safe place within the broader expanse of wilderness, yet at the same time they remain vulnerable when they least expect it (daily activity of going to the bathroom, oblivious to windows behind them), while the power to master or learn from the nature within themselves is theirs, all the time.

Well, I hope you didn’t get too bored with all that interpretation.  As a reward, HERE’s a fantastic post about bears, written by David Cronenwett, the naturalist for a guest ranch which is directly adjacent to the area that I spent those summers growing up.

And a gratuitous youtube link, polar bears playing with huskies!

Thanks for listening!  Feedback is welcome.

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Happy New Year!

Moving between winter and spring, we find the gate of life that sparks growth. This first new moon of the Chinese New Year sees a conjunction of Jupiter and Venus; for those of you interested in astrology, look here for the meaning of this conjunction at this time.

Here in Portland, we experience alternating periods of rain, soggy dampness and bright, fleeting rays of sun which accentuate the gray environment in which we normally live at the end of winter.  The relationship between fire and water, Heart and Kidney, shine clearly in this alternation and cooperation of sun and rain.  I will attempt to clarify my thoughts on this after using a short passage to give context.  To quote from Claude Larre and Elizabeth Rochat de la Vallee in The Secret Treatise of the Spiritual Orchid:

Rochat: The kidneys store the essences while the heart is the dwelling place of the shen.  The expression ‘essences/spirits,’ jing shen, is therefore the expression that denotes life and vitality at its highest level, the vital spirit.

Larre: When you go to a concert, if the conductor is full of jing shen then everybody playing instruments and in the audience will be seized by a common spirit and elation in their minds.  Everything will rise up.  Why?  Because the essences have been activated by the conductor, and the feeling you have is nearly physical.  You feel the music with all your body, mind and spirit.  That is an example of jing shen

Rochat: The essences which are fundamentally dependent on the kidneys serve as the support and basis for the spirits.  This connection between the kidneys and the heart, given by shao yin, establishes the central axis for vitality.  So if on one hand the marrow and the bones are solid, and on the other the spirits can seize and rely on essences that are of good quality, then you will be able to live with all the know-how, skill and ability that is necessary for life.  This is ‘savoir vivre‘ in the sense of knowing how to live.  It is because the marrow and the bones are there that you can make movements and can stand upright, and know how to direct your awareness through the clarity of the spirits.

Larre: This is being able to conduct one’s own life at the highest level of operation, with strong will, strong purpose, clear ideas and good feelings.  All this is under the charge of the kidneys.  It is a question of conducting, and you conduct life from the bottom to the top.  The conducting relies on the bones and marrow and the essences which are stored in the kidneys.

Rochat: Now we come to the question of why the kidneys come in the ninth position in this presentation.  We can say that nine, which is three times three, is a number of power.

Larre: ..The heart meridian has nine points and the kidney meridian has 27, three times nine.  This is significant.

Rochat: The kidneys come in this position, as if they were in an inferior position, because they represent life in the depths, in the invisible beginnings and in the seed.  From this basis the fire of life will emerge, the fire which comes out of the water and which is expressed by the shao yang, and by the fire of the heart which is the supreme development of this fire of life.  At that moment the kidneys are no more than the permanent and original basis for life.  That is to say, the fire of the kidneys, the fire of ming men, is continually active right up until the death of an individual.  So Su wen chapter 8 is taking account of the concentrated power of the kidneys as the basis of life, like the foundations of a house.  I think this is the reason that they are presented in this position in the text.  It is not that they are less noble than the intestines, it is just that in the presentation of the whole ensemble they are in the depths.

Question: Why is the kidney connected with the ear?

Rochat: There is the question of shape or form, where shape is indicative of the deep nature of something.  If the ear, like the kidneys, has the shape of a crescent moon, it indicates that there is a deep connection between the two.  This is a connection between the depths of life and the reception of life, because just as the moon receives the light of the sun, so the ears receive all the time.  So the kidneys are that which continually receives and stores the essences of life.”

From Larre and Rochet de la Valle, The Secret Treatise of the Spiritual Orchid: Nei jing Su wen chapter 8. Monkey Press, 2003.

An example of the feeling of springtime; specifically the power of warmth breaking up the ice in a river as it thaws.  The Finale of Sibelius’s Symphony No. 5