Close all the Doors and Windows

June 7, 2020

By Maria Mandarino, LAc, DipAc (NCCAOM), CSD, MSEd

First, select a quiet environment. Close all the doors and windows.

Gain the trust of the patient so that the patient can completely convey everything

that is pertinent to the condition. 

Be thorough and differentiate the truth. Observe the patient's spirit.

When there is spirit, the prognosis is positive.

When the spirit is gone, the condition is very grave.

Nei Jing, Chapter 13

These timeless words are from the Nei Jing, a classical text of Chinese Medicine, written over 2200 years ago. Perhaps they resonate even louder today in our tender and fragile post COVID-19 world. 

The sacredness of the treatment room was something I always resonated with, and so when I began to study the Chinese classical texts, this chapter sang to me. Honesty and vulnerability are at the heart of the authentic healing journey. And if we do not feel safe, we cannot be transparent. And so the dedicated practitioner closes the figurative doors and windows of the treatment rooms. We close out the distractions, the cracks where intrusions might otherwise enter. The space is sealed with sacred intention and it is held so pain may be placed on the altar of healing. 

Observing the patient's spirit (the Shen, which is seen in the eyes, according to the Nei Jing), we understand the patient's pain is centered in sorrow, anger, fear, or worry. And the quality of that Shen tells us if the patient's prognosis is good or poor. 

As we each prepare to return to a new world, a new way of being, a new way of experiencing life after the scourge of the coronavirus and so many weeks of isolation, these ideas must be at the center of practice now, if the way we practice is to matter at all going forward. And for me, they must matter. 

I know I cannot enter the room the same way anymore. Neither should you.

In the weeks since March 20, 2020, when Spirit Point Acupuncture moved to Telehealth and we closed our doors temporarily to keep everyone safe, I have been asking myself this question daily:

Who am I now? 

I answer differently each time. I am a leader. I am a seeker. I am a space holder. 

And I suppose the answers will continue to reveal themselves as the days unfold and I continue to grow in this experience. 

When our doors reopen, expect me to ask you this question:

Who are you now? 

Because this is the only question that matters going forward. You have changed, as have I. And if you haven't, you should have, and we can talk about that too. But we must meet each other again as we are both made new by this pandemic. I invite you to ask yourself this question daily and to explore the answers your soul will present to you. Stay open.

Who are you now?

I promise to keep the windows and the doors closed for you. I promise to seal and hold the space and honor the gamut of your emotions: the pain, the sorrow, the anger, the fear, the worry. And I promise to also look into your eyes and see your abiding spirit as we both step forward on our respective journeys on this new and tender ground.