Reclaiming the Wisdom of the Body - A Personal Guide to Chinese Medicine
Sandra Hill Constable and Co Ltd., London, 1997 Paperback, 248 pages, £9.95
(Reviewed by Jennifer John, EJOM Vol. 2 No. 5)
Sandra Hill has clearly succeeded in her intention to reveal the simplicity of the ideas that lie behind Chinese medicine, explaining concisely and comprehensively the philosophical vision and the 'bodily landscape' of physical practices. The book is not intended to be a medical textbook, but to serve as an introduction to a medical system that will help us listen to our bodies and work in partnership with health professionals. Also, to enable us to participate knowingly in our own health as 'we have all but forgotten that our bodies are intelligent.'
The book is written in five parts. Throughout, a rich vein of life experience, personal thought and reflection adds depth, interest and ease of understanding to a subject that could easily become one of intellectual intrigue and esoteric technicality.
The first chapter on philosophy succinctly explains the connection between physical, emotional and mental states (a revelation to my friends who know nothing of oriental medicine). I found the section on 'Spirit' particularly fascinating, as it illuminated difficult concepts that reveal the energetic reality that precedes material manifestation.
As a layperson, I found the second chapter on the 'bodily landscape' of meridians and points required great concentration, but was rewarded by having the invisible so convincingly made visible.
The exercises in chapter three were excellent, particularly in the guidance for those who are no longer fit and supple, enabling a very wide range of people to benefit from them. Comments like 'Better to try and err than to avoid trying from fear of failure' are human and encouraging. The accompanying illustrations were clear, charming and well matched to the text.
The concluding chapter on the Five Elements and common imbalances gives even greater depth of understanding to ideas introduced earlier, as well as suggesting massage, exercise and meditation techniques, and offering simple advice.
Throughout, I found the glossary, charts, tables and illustrations supported and clarified the text well. I found this to be not only a practical and very readable manual, rooted in the vision of ancient wisdoms and the realities and enjoyments of living, but also an opportunity for the reader to reflect on their own life and purpose, and learn how to move towards realising it.
It is an excellent book for those on the point of change, or for those who need to explain the principles more clearly to others. This book represents excellent value for money.
Jennifer John has received acupuncture treatments regularly over the last 25 years, and has studied and taught widely in natural health education for the general public.