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.

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