The Three Levels of Healing

Harriet Beinfield is a pioneer in bringing Chinese Medicine to the West. She has been practicing since the 1970’s and has plenty of wisdom to share. I especially like this excerpt from an interview with her:

“There’s an ancient Chinese medical text that names three levels of healing. The lower level asks us to address a person’s complaints in order to diminish pain. The middle level directs us to understand someone’s nature. And the upper level charges us to assist a person in fulfilling his or her destiny. Most people automatically associate Chinese medicine with the lower level – can acupuncture relieve back pain or hot flashes? Can Chinese herbs improve immunity? What should I eat to make my acne go away? Complaints are what initially draw people to Chinese medicine, but what seems to keep them enrolled is that they feel they are being seen, heard, and helped within a broad frame of reference, and that everything they are and bring with them is relevant to the process.

Acupuncture can produce desirable side effects. Shifts in peoples’ lives occur, dreams change, and they report elevated states of awareness. Some of this may be due to the release of endorphins, but my intuition is that acupuncture acts in ways for which we don’t have a language. It integrates all the layers of our being, some of which are hidden subtle bodies, some of which are wholly palpable. The outcome is a sense of inner alignment that people deeply crave. The experience of feeling connected pleases them, and Chinese medicine’s ability to deepen that feeling keeps them coming back. Acupuncture gives an authentic meaning to the term ‘integrative medicine.'”

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