Meditation and the Practitioner: Moving from Judgment to Discernment – by Ann Cecil-Sterman

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November 5th, 2019

Yesterday during the online chat we were asked about meditation and its purpose for a practitioner. I’ve just finished my morning meditation and wanted to add a few more thoughts to yesterday’s chat.

A key function of meditation for me as a practitioner is the cultivation of the difference between judgment and discernment. As practitioners of acupuncture founded in Daoism, we can find ourselves in a slight bind: we practice best when don’t judge and yet we must diagnose. Isn’t diagnosis itself a judgment? In deciding what needs treatment, we can find ourselves making statements such as “The liver pulse is weak”, “The lung pulse is tight”, “The kidney pulse is rapid,” and each is a statement of judgment. But discernment is different. Discernment would have us notice instead what the pulse seems to want to do. Does the Liver seem to want to be stronger? Does the Lung pulse seem to want to relax? Does the Kidney pulse seem to want to slow down? In this mode we are hearing the pulses instructing us, communicating what treatment is needed. This distinction places the practitioner in a position of being of service and of stewardship, rather than judgment.

So how do we acquire the position of listener/receiver and release ourselves from the position of judge? How do we move ourselves from a position of presumed superiority and expectation and move into a space of complete reception, fully relaxed, ready for anything, and above all, non-reactive. Meditation provides this cultivation. The act of meditation creates a feeling of limitlessness in the body and with that limitlessness comes the ability to experience all possibilities. With practice, in meditation you lose sense of the boundaries of your body, its edges blurring into infinity. It can feel as though your body, an assemblage of energy inseparable from anything else, is one and the same as the entire universe. The ultimate judgment: the line we draw between ourselves and anything else, melts away. And if we carry that feeling into the clinic, in other words, if we can sustain a quasi-meditative state when we take the pulses, there is no separation between practitioner and pulse. The practitioner can then hear or feel the pulses communicate: ”I want to be slower,” “I want to be wider,“ ”I want to feel more relaxed”. But perhaps the most wonderful aspect is that the patient is reminded through the feeling in the room that all possibilities are ever open.

Wishing you and your patients beautiful healing.
Ann, NYC.

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