Hello, it’s me again!
It has been another enriching week at Kakikofu and I am very thankful for the learnings that this week has brought. The main observation I had this week was about how the world of Kampo enables us to become more perceptive, more sensitive, and more engaged when it comes to our own health.
I felt this strongly when I had the special opportunity to experience my own Kampo Counselling. As Kaori Sensei asked many questions about my health, it was the first time I felt that a health professional was really trying to understand the context of my health. The questions also encouraged me to be more observant of myself moving forward. When did I tend to experience headaches? Whereabouts? What kind of sensation would it be?
Then Hiroshi Sensei conducted some palpation and pulse checks with a level of focus and concentration that was fascinating to observe. When Hiroshi Sensei was able to perceive things about my health accurately, I was surprised at how much information was encoded in the pulse and palpation. Hiroshi Sensei explained this idea of perception to me. He shared that while a Japanese person wouldn’t struggle to differentiate another Japanese person from someone from China or Korea, an Australian person might. In the same vein, a Japanese person may not see the nuances between people from different parts of Europe. This is a type of perception. He shared other examples of specific groups of people that have developed heightened perception, like the Maasai people in Africa who can locate specific animals as far as 6km away or a wine taster’s enhanced sense of smell. Chinese medicine practitioners are intentionally trained to develop a level of perception and sensitivity to the human body and because they develop this skill, it in turn, encourages their own clients to become more curious and perceptive of themselves.
After their assessment, they explained their conclusions, about why my chi (気) and blood (血) were stagnated. It felt like puzzle pieces coming together and their advice really hit the spot. Since that experience, I have become much more in tune with my health. Previously, I would have a headache or a bloated stomach and would simply ignore it and continue doing what I was doing with the background discomfort. Now I see these signals and signs as information being communicated and worth collecting.
I have noticed that clients who come to receive Kampo treatment demonstrate this awareness of the state of their health, both mind and body. In other words, they are connected to themselves because they have nurtured interoceptive awareness or interoception. Interception is the ability to perceive sensations happening inside our bodies, like our emotional state, heart rate, breathing, hunger and fullness cues, body temperature, pain sensations, and energy levels. When they come into the clinic and explain their situation they are able to be specific and go into detail about their situation (eg: when I woke up, I noticed my eyelids were slightly swollen as they felt heavier than usual, or I noticed that I had a headache before it rained).
When I was in Australia, I noticed that patients tended to rely on the Health practitioner to lead, diagnose and prescribe. There is a sense that the health practitioner is the expert. But, in Kampo, it appears that the clients understand that they have a role and ability to understand the nuances of their health, and therefore are the ones with the expertise about themselves. Because after all as Kaori Sensei said ‘自分の体の持ち主は自分, ‘you are the owner of your own body’.