Perfectionism, Middle Seal, and the Authority of Heaven

I have been at this medicine too many years to know it is unwise to ignore patterns. After all, forming a differential diagnosis in Chinese Medicine is directly reliant upon noticing patterns. And as a spiritual director, I’ve also long said that patterns are the language of the divine.

And so over the past few weeks, as I’ve been seeing an abundance of patients with a strong inclination toward perfectionism, I knew there was some truth to be had.

I’ve been using an acupuncture point called Middle Seal with a lot with these patients.

In his book, The Clinical Practice of Chinese Medicine, Lonny Jarrett, renowned teacher of esoteric acupuncture, says this of the point Middle Seal:

“Writing is worth only the paper it is printed on until the emperor affixes his seal on it. At that precise moment, equivalent to conception, a law becomes a decree conferred through the emperor by the authority of heaven.”

In Chinese Medicine, the emperor is symbolic of the heart. We may want whatever we want in life, but only until the heart commits to eternal truths are we in alignment with the ways of divinity. When we align with the ways of Heaven, we are in flow. There is ease. We are in harmony with the divine, no longer fighting to control our circumstances, but instead allowing, and working in divine partnership.

Perfectionism causes us to lose sight of that partnership. We think it’s all on us to do the job. Ego is now driving the bus.

An Amish quilt will always have a small imperfection in it. The inherent message here is only the divine is perfect. Artisans will do the same thing when creating a piece of jewelry.

Middle Seal also treats depression, which I believe is directly related to perfectionism. We can hold such unreasonably high expectations of ourselves. And when we fail to meet those expectations, we feel shame. Our self-esteem suffers. We lose our light in this moment, we lose our connection to our source because we have fallen out of spiritual alignment.

Middle Seal is the Metal point on the Wood Meridian. And Metal is associated with structure and order. Metal is the stuff of perfectionism. Curiously, we are in the midst of Autumn, the season associated with the Metal element. Metal is also associated with the emotion of grief. Nothing, nothing is ever random.

Perfectionism is part of the human condition. And at one time or another, we all fall into its trap. As my late T’ai Chi teacher, Jerry McGirr, taught me some twenty years ago, T’ai Chi is an exercise in constant correction. There is always something in the T’ai Chi form to refine. No matter how many years of practice, you never have it all right at one time. And so the master is also always the student. And the same is true of life. Just when we think we have everything figured out, just when we think we’ve got it all under control, with a solid plan to knock out our to-do list in one day, that’s exactly when we need to slow down and become a humble beginner again. It’s exactly when we need to consider where we stand in relation to the ways of Heaven.

Acupuncture for the Treatment of Heartburn and GERD

Earlier this month, a study published in the British Medical Journal, which was conducted by Washington University School of Medicine and Veterans Affairs of St. Louis Healthcare System, reported that people using heartburn medications for years held increased risk of death from heart disease, renal failure, and stomach cancer. These drugs included proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), available over the counter, including Prilosec (omeprazole), Prevacid (lansoprazole) and Nexium (esomeprazole). Odds of death over ten years were 63-71% higher than in those who used these drugs for only a few months. Risk was also found to be further increased in older patients and those with chronic health conditions.

Acupuncture offers a workable solution, addressing the pain and discomfort associated with heartburn and GERD. Researchers at Shanghai Jiaotong University School of Medicine have found that patients with GERD saw significant improvement in their symptoms. This was found to be true even in cases where the patient was unresponsive to traditional drug therapy.

My experience as a practitioner is that patients often call my office as a last resort, after they’ve tried everything and nothing has worked, or the things they’ve tried have left them with unbearable side effects. Sometimes after patients begin to feel better and they tell me that I was their “last chance,” we joke that we should call this place Last Chance Acupuncture. The “last resort approach” that leads people into this office applies to not only those seeking relief from GERD, but also from arthritis pain, fibromyalgia, insomnia, and anxiety and depression.

Now, however, research is actually proving what patients in this clinic have come to understand: acupuncture can improve or eliminate symptoms with no dangerous side effects. In fact, as I often tell my patients, you may even see “side benefits,” like decreased seasonal allergies or decreased hot flashes. This is because acupuncture balances the whole body and doesn’t just treat one symptom. Acupuncture corrects the reason you are experiencing those symptoms. We call it root cause.

If you treat the branch of the tree without treating the roots, the tree will not thrive and eventually will die. This is a simple understanding any gardener knows.

Take care of your roots. Treat the cause. Get back into balance and harmony.

Let acupuncture restore you to true health.

In the spirit of health and service,

Maria Mandarino, LAc, DipAc (NCCAOM), LMT, MSEd

The Acupuncture Channels and the Interstitium: Where East Meets West

Last year, scientists discovered a new organ called the interstitium. It was big news.

We connective tissue specialists have known for a long time what scientists actually haven’t yet figured out: the interstitium is actually not an organ. It’s technically a system, which is a term that describes a group of organs that act in concert. Translation: it is big and important stuff.

This is only my first blog post though, so I am not going to overwhelm you all about the importance of this incredible system. But I will tell you it governs every aspect of your health and it is the key to longevity and freedom of movement.

For now I’ll keep it simple. Fascia is mostly fluid. It has no beginning and no end — it is a continuous web. It wraps around everything: every muscle, every bone, organ and even cell of your body.

And the meridians of acupuncture are found in its microtubules. This is the mainstay of our practice at Spirit Point Acupuncture, what we specialize in, and what allows us to get superior results.

You can trust you will be hearing more about this important soft tissue structure in our upcoming blog posts.

In the spirit of health and service,

Maria Mandarino, LAc, DipAc (NCCAOM), LMT, MSEd