Rachel Peckham, MBAcC
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Rachel has worked extensively with complex and chronic conditions such as HIV/AIDS and addiction within the NHS and the voluntary sector. She worked for several years as an acupuncturist and clinical supervisor at the Core Trust, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre in London. Her special interest there was the delivery and coordination of the group auricular acupuncture treatment, the NADA protocol.
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5th May 2020
In the theory of the five elements, one of the main associations of the metal element within ourselves is how we feel about loss, letting go, valuing ourselves and having a belief in something meaningful. If we can take in and be inspired , our life has value and meaning . If we don’t take in we can feel empty inside. If we can’t let go, we become congested with waste. So if we have a healthy metal element we can accept loss and move on because we have a faith or a trust that something good will materialise once we have. The internal organs that reflect this are the lungs and large intestine. We breathe in/take in pure air/inspire via our lungs, and get rid of waste via our large intestine. This is often used as a metaphor for the cycle of thoughts and balance regarding mental health well being in the sense of non attachment and dependence. It is also reflected in the process of living and dying.
We are told that we are past the peak of the Covid Crisis. For those that have lost loved ones, this must be a huge mental shift in dealing with endings, saying goodbye, attending funerals and all the rituals we normally have in place to help us let go and grieve. We hear from the amazing NHS staff who have taken on new roles in delivering messages from family/loved ones at end of life because they can’t physically be there. So incredibly moving and sad. We are having to adapt at speed.
Never before have we been asked to go inside ourselves as we have now. For some of us (like myself and many of the self employed), this is the land of ‘not doing’ as we’re temporarily not able to work. A time for retreat and reflection… Perhaps having the space to think about our lives and ourselves in a way we haven’t been able to due to the 24/7 nature of having to survive in a material/consumerist environment.
For others this is not the case , and in fact may be the opposite as they learn to deliver their work online. For some this may be a huge time consuming piece of work to make that shift. And many more hours spent looking at a screen which can be exhausting and create congestion mentally with little space to think. Let alone those with young families who are working and now having to home school their children.
Looking at the yin/yang model of duality and how yin and yang is within everything and interdependent, there are positives as always emerging from this…
We are all going through this together as a collective and we are experiencing a global connectedness as never before. We are finally seeing the heroism and value of our NHS, Carers and key workers in this magnified time…. The quiet ones that just ‘get on with it’ but don’t often get the recognition and sheer gratitude for their work…. How that has so utterly deservedly reversed.
We are breathing in cleaner air and hearing less background noise. We are seeing the beauty of nature as it emerges in Spring. We are feeling the importance and value of not only those we love but each other generally. We may even be discovering and cultivating parts of ourselves that have lain dormant in the busy world. And we can appreciate and value the gift of stillness for now.
21st April 2020
Here we are at the start of week 5 in lockdown. There will be no change in restrictions for another 3 weeks as we enter Spring. Many people lucky enough to have gardens are now suddenly becoming keen gardeners and watching their efforts growing and flowering daily. I’ve heard many bountiful descriptions of wisteria of which there are many beautiful examples happening as I write
According to the natural law of 5 Elements this season represents the wood element. It’s about birth, growth, creativity , insight, movement, expansion, planning and decision making … just think about the journey from the seed of a plant as it shoots forth towards the Spring sun and grows upwards.
The transformation of the bare branches of a tree as it bursts into luscious full leaf… seemingly overnight. All that potential energy that comes from lying dormant and resting in the winter. There is something hugely reassuring that all this is still going on with abundance while we are confined to our homes. Nature is benefiting hugely from pollution levels coming right down
The big word associated with the wood element is Freedom; the ability to be able to move freely without restriction in our environment. The internal organs associated with the wood element are the liver and the gallbladder. Energetically/emotionally, our wood energy dislikes restriction/suppression. Stagnation of the movement of liver energy (qi) is a common syndrome in acupuncture terms. The holding in of emotions, especially anger and frustration is a particular cause of ‘liver qi stagnation’.
Feeling angry is not considered a negative feeling in acupuncture terms as long as it can be transformed into something positive. Not expressing anger long term can lead to exhaustion, mood swings, depression, resentment and bitterness. Looking at why we may feel angry and talking about it in a safe space can often lead to surprisingly creative projects.
At this time, it is important to be paying attention to our health. Having a structure to the day and some routine is helpful for our wood element. Eating healthily and observing moderate alcohol consumption is important to avoid tiredness and sluggishness (stagnation). Some form of daily exercise is essential for the free flowing of liver qi … whatever you like doing that gets you moving. I love cycling, and this for me gives a sense of freedom while I’m pedalling away. Stretching is also important as this can help prevent the seizing up of joints that are not being used. I practice yoga and qi gong at least every other day
But flexibility also comes in here … the ability to be able to move around obstacles and not let them get us down. I had a bad day yesterday and almost felt frozen with frustration and grief about the situation. Today is a new day, I’m embarking on new projects I can do from home, and feeling motivated once again. So don’t give yourself a hard time if sometimes you do feel pretty negative. Pay attention to it and you will be able to get that stagnant qi moving and transform it into something new and positive.
It’s such an irony that while we’re forced to stay at home, the Spring energy out there is all about the opposite.
Here’s a qi gong movement helpful for moving the liver qi
On a personal level, I’ve come to terms with the collective staying at home. It’s taken the last 3 weeks for me to process the shock and grief about what’s happening, and being unable to offer help by doing what I know helps people and promotes good health
Q: What are you thinking about doing next?
I’m about to take a course in working with people online..
‘Acupuncture without needles’ as I think the collective staying at home is likely to continue for some time…. Watch this space
Q: Do you relish doing things that you never done before?
I’m relishing doing things I love doing that I haven’t had time to do well for many years … such as cooking , baking , reading and just doing nothing . Above all, I’m very much enjoying having practice time for playing saxophone and flute and am currently working on a piece reflecting the pandemic and our current times
Q: Do you prefer to take on large or small projects?
Small projects. But always happy to work with others on something bigger
Q: How do you feel when you see all the negativity about COVID19?
I feel upset.
Q: How do you feel about being told to stay home?
Frustrated…. anxious that this may be more long term or there may be further restrictions .. i.e. not being allowed out for exercise. The highlighting of the realization of how much freedom we have outside a pandemic. But I’m totally up for us all staying at home and saving lives as this is the only way for now.
Q: How do you feel about the Governments narrative on COVID19?
It must be a total nightmare having to lead the country through a pandemic like this, having had insufficient preparation for an event of this magnitude.
I was reading this morning about the underplaying of the severity of Boris Johnson’s experience having contracted COVID19. For me, this is a reflection of the narrative throughout this difficult time so far.
On day 3 of lockdown I am still contacting and connecting up with all my patients and trying to work out a way of continuing to do what I love from home… as well as rearranging my own life accordingly….which we’re all doing of course. I never thought I would say this, but thank goodness for the virtual world! Perhaps by the end of the week I will have started to begin to come to terms with these extraordinary times we are facing.
Acupuncture and it’s roots in Daoism, brings a wealth of knowledge about how we can stay well and healthy. It stresses the importance of inter connectedness on many levels…. In the human body as well as collectively as a population and of course the impact of the environment which surrounds us. This of course is all so relevant to the coronavirus situation.
My philosophy is that good health is not necessarily about the absence of illness/disease, but how we manage the presence of disease. So I will endeavour to bring information to keep our spirits up, strengthen our immunity and stay calm and sensible
For the last few weeks I have been giving acupuncture treatments to strengthen the lungs to support my patients. The link below offers some qi gong exercises to do just that. Qi gong is a form of movements/postures to help the flow of energy in the body just as acupuncture does with needles. It literally means the cultivation of vital energy and is often practised by acupuncturists as well as the general public. Our lungs can always do with strengthening, especially if we live in a polluted city which many of us do (or have done, as pollution levels MUST be dropping in London). I will be doing these lung strengthening qi gong every every day for myself.