Given my training as a General Practitioner it might strike some as a bit odd that I have taken a programme on oriental medicine. And not just once, but twice. Which would suggest something a little more than a momentary lapse on my part, and that perhaps there is more to the oriental practice of healing than western medicine realises.
It is probably fair to say that western medicine can sometimes be accused of not providing the holistic care which lies at the heart of the healing process. I have seen in my daily practice how an over emphasis on a mechanistic, “biomechanical” view of the body and health can impede healing.
Don’t get me wrong, I have huge respect for the medical tradition in which I have trained. Through my career I have been fortunate enough to work with some outstanding doctors. I have witnessed medicine at its best, practiced holistically, using the extraordinary technologies we frequently take for granted. I think what I have seen of oriental medicine, however, suggests that a holistic approach is so fundamental to its practice. It was a real pleasure to be able to immerse myself in this for an entire weekend.
One of the great things about Basic Alchemy, which is led by the vastly experienced oriental healer Michael Rossoff, is that on one level a huge amount of academic ground is covered in an easily digestible way. This includes a review of the concepts behind and the historical context of oriental medicine as well as the specifics of Five Elements symptomology, pressure points, energy meridians, and much more. At the same time more specific individual questions from participants are addressed, meaning that not only did we leave as more educated beings but that we also had practical tools to better take care of ourselves and others in our lives. And the food was delicious too!
On reflection, the first time I did this programme two years ago it was mostly out of curiosity. This time around I knew I was looking for something more. I really wanted to see what more I could bring to my practice, both as a medical doctor but also my own daily practice of caring for my health. I think what this programme revealed to me, supported by the other work I have done at Concord, is that my commitment as a doctor and my commitment to maintaining robust health and wellbeing are one and the same. One feeds and supports the other.
On a very practical level I also have a few extra weapons in my arsenal for dealing with coughs, colds, sore throats, belly aches, and other such GP staples. Having new things to say to patients about such matters really is rather useful. And since, if certain politicians have their way, it would seem that I will be working for at least another 30 to 35 years, possibly seven days a week, I can use all the help I can get. How much more interesting to be able say “I think your liver meridian is blocked, have some miso soup” than “It’s a virus, have a paracetamol”.