John Hamwee is an experienced practitioner and teacher of acupuncture and zero balancing, with over twenty-five years’ experience in practice.
He is the author of Experiencing Acupuncture: Journeys of Body, Mind and Spirit for Patients and Practitioners, which was published in April 2020, as well as Acupuncture for New Practitioners, Intuitive Acupuncture, The Spirit of the Organs and Zero Balancing.
In this article, he briefly explains why he decided to write his latest book, and how he hopes it will help both acupuncturists and their patients.
I am often puzzled and regularly find myself faced with difficult choices in my acupuncture practice. How many times in the treatment room have I thought – I wish I could talk to one of my teachers right now. I know they wouldn’t tell me what to do but they would make suggestions based on their deep knowledge and long experience. They’d say how they managed when they struggled with diagnoses which were convincing but didn’t work, when they found the messages of pulse, tongue and symptoms contradictory, and when they too had patients who somehow seemed to resist treatment.
It would be a privilege to hear their stories as they would invite me into the sacred space of the treatment room and the intimacy and immediacy of what happens there. They would deepen my understanding of the nature of my work with patients and they would add unimagined ways in which I can help them. And when they also told of failures and regrets, they would give me the confidence to carry on whenever I start to doubt myself.
This book tell such stories. It takes the time and space to go into real detail about how I treated nine patients. They had conditions ranging from the common to the peculiar, the chronic to the acute, the physical to the emotional and spiritual. As they chart the course of each patient’s journey towards health they also chart my efforts to understand and to find out how best to help. They include the ups and downs, the dead ends and red herrings, the successes and the failures we all encounter, and show how I coped with them all.
How will practitioners and patients benefit?
Any acupuncturist will surely have confronted the kinds of difficult issues which I describe and will be interested in how an experienced practitioner tackled them. Not to take my ideas as prescriptions, as in a text book, but to use them to stimulate your own thoughts and to find fresh perspectives on old problems. Even if, especially if, you disagree with what I did with a particular patient or how I did it, that will be really helpful because it will push you to get clearer about what you do in similar circumstances and exactly why you do it.
Finally, as a result of having written about these patients at such length I came to see that there were some features of our work together which explained why some patients got better and some didn’t, and I came to see them are key conditions for healing. That is, I now know that when treatment isn’t working it is because one of these three features is missing, and my job then is to do everything I can to supply it. Although my approach in individual cases might be a bit idiosyncratic I do think this discrimination will be useful to other practitioners. I certainly wish I had known it years ago – my patients would have done a lot better if I had.
Describing the experience of acupuncture through the eyes of both practitioners and patients, this book shows how being attentive to all aspects of patients’ lives uncovers the conditions for healing and affects the responses of both parties in pursuit of health and wellbeing.