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Diagnostic Skills – Palpation & Teishin

People always ask me whether I have
Images from 1918 Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body from
some special gift at feeling energy. Yes and no. I have always been a sensitive person and this has definitely given me the edge. Mostly, I think, it helped me to identify the fact that energy exists outside our bodies. But when it comes to feeling Qi, I believe anyone can do it, so long as they do not have neuropathies, a decrease in sensitivity due to a loss in nerve function (which, by the way, you can heal with Fu Xi Wen).

I believe this is the case because I teach other people how to feel energy in continuing education programs at acupuncture schools. I see that people are able to pick it up relatively quickly. Acupuncturists are trained to feel energy more than the average person, so I believe the average person simply needs to practice practice practice.

Energy moves in 360° around the body. Each degree within this 360° contains another 360° contains another 360° and so on. Modern physics would call these “dimensions”. You can feel energy in every T° with your hands. But when you get to finer and finer levels of detail, you need to use multiple teishin (or invent something better!). The term “teishin” comes from Japanese medicine, but the tool itself harks back to the classics of Chinese medicine and is even discussed in a book called the Ling Shu, or Spiritual Pivot. The more teishin you use together, the greater the diagnostic detail and treatment depth you can achieve. For instance, one teishin can tell you about the adipose tissue. Add another one and you can diagnose adipose cells within the adipose tissue. Add another one and you can diagnose the fat stored in the adipose cell in the adipose tissue. Each new teishin directed in the same direction increases the magnification and/or specificity of your diagnosis and treatment.

Feeling The Five Element Sensations In Your Hands

This is a great way to learn how to feel the Five Elements. First, take your compass and determine where all the directions can be found in your room. Next, stand next to a wall and stick your hand out towards the wall. Now walk the circumference of the room. Concentrate with all your might on the sensations you feel on your fingertips and the palm of your hand. These sensations will change as you change from North to West to South to East. This is what you will feel:

North (Water) – cold sensation and the energy will move towards the floor

West (Metal) – dry sensation, a feeling of steam emerging from a pipe, or energy aligning into lines

South (Fire) – a warm sensation that has a rhythmic billowing movement like tiny waves of heat

East (Wood) – tingling sensations as if each cell of the hand is being lightly pinched or tickled

Not mentioned is Earth Qi, which is found in the center of the room. Earth Qi is best felt when it is excess. It feels like your hand has been placed inside energetic mud. It feels thick. When it is missing, the energy feels wispy and ghost-like.

It is easier to learn these sensations first with your fingers before you begin using a teishin, as you can feel the energetic movements over a larger sensory area from your palms to your fingertips. When you're ready to try a teishin, the sensations are exactly the same, albeit over the smaller surface area of the teishin itself or your fingers closest to the teishin.

Images from 1918 Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body from

To diagnose a tissue, you can place your hand with the palm facing the T° you are diagnosing. You'll notice that the sensations change instantly and dramatically from one T° to the next. Now choose a single T°.Slowly move your hand in Heaven, Man, and Earth directions to diagnose the movements of the Five Elements within each plane of that T°. You'll notice that each plane (Heaven, Man and Earth) is also different within each individual T°. Experiment in this way with different tissues.

Diagnose To Know The Appropriate Treatment

When you know the movements of the Five Elements, you can select the appropriate treatment response using the Generating and Controlling Cycles mentioned in the Apprentice level. So, if you feel Fire in the Heaven level, you know the Yang is healthy. If you feel Water in the Heaven level, you know the Yang is imbalanced. Once you know this, you can treat it and return it to balance using the Five Element Generating and Controlling Cycles (learn “Advanced Perfusion” and “Advanced Container Qi” in the Advanced skill level so that you can move away from this heuristic towards a more complete and affective system).

You can feel any of the Five Elements in any energetic plane. You need to know the appropriate balancing response should the wrong Element be present in the wrong place. Heaven should always contain Fire. Man should always contain Five Element Earth Qi. Earth level should always contain Water. See the chapters “Perfusion” and “The Big Kahuna” to understand some of the complexities around this issue.

The Man level should feel neutral temperature with an Earth Qi sensation. By reason of example, if you find Wood Qi here instead, you need to clear the Wood Qi by controlling it with Metal Qi. Next, you need to clear the Metal Qi by controlling it with Fire Qi. Finally, you need to generate Earth Qi by adding Earth Qi. Simply use the Controlling and Generating Cycles together in any appropriate combination to turn the energy back to the correct Element.

Diagnose the Earth level in the same way. This level should be cold and full of Water Qi. Just as with the above example, you may need to treat the problem with several Elemental treatments before you land at the appropriate energetic for the Heaven, Man, or Earth planes. If all of this is too confusing, simply focus on adding Five Element Earth Qi in the Man level ala Circuit Theory (see chapter “Circuit Theory”)– but this is far less effective than responding with the appropriate balancing energy and returning the Heaven/Man/Earth to balance.

Using The Teishin

Diagnosing T° with a teishin is essentially the same as diagnosing with the hand. The difference, is that you can feel the energy moving through the teishin with the fingertips you use to hold it (and this is best felt when you move the teishin). The good news is that this is not the only place you will feel the energy. When you move a teishin around a T° you will also feel sensations in your palms as well as in your fingertips (the “beads” as they are pushed off the “string”). Heat and cold are easy to pick up with the palm. But the kind of heat: Fire, Wood, or even Metal requires the fingertips (Metal can feel hot even though it always generates cold). What you feel in the palms is the displacement of the energy in the T° caused by the moving teishin.

While this chapter is short, I expect that anyone who wants to become proficient at Fu Xi Wen will practice these skills frequently. To practice, feel the energy around the circumference of many different rooms. Also, feel the energy on yourself when you're sitting in line or put on hold. Feel the energy of your friends and family members with their permission (but don't treat them!).

Since you are the diagnostic tool in this medicine, your treatment effects as an Intermediate and beyond are entirely based on your diagnosis skills. The more you practice, the less likely you will hurt yourself and the greater your KaqP.

Images from 1918 Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body from

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