“The most important thing in acupuncture is the arrival of Qi” – Ling Shu Chapter One
Here is a little back-to-the-basics guide for obtaining, moving, and maintaining Qi sensation. The name of the techniques come from the text Acupuncture and Moxibustion: A Guide to Clinical Practice. I find that it helps to go over these introductory texts periodically to maintain skills and to keep from growing complacent with our own patterns in practice.
Qi should feel like:
aching, numbness, tingling, itching, brief coolness/heat, pressure, heaviness, twitching, electric shock (aka tongue on a 9-volt battery – I have about a 60% acknowledge rate on this analogy). Qi should travel along the meridian pathway, may differ in intensity on the opposite side, and will arrive more slowly or feel less intense where energy is deficient.
Waiting for qi by:
Probe for qi by bringing the deeply inserted needle to the epidermis, re-angle, push back into the body, and repeat until Qi is obtained.
Massaging the meridian with thumb or forefinger
Pushing using the fingertips around the acupuncture point
Flick the hand of the needle with the third finger
Bird peck by lifting and thrusting the needle rapidly with small amplitude
Vibrate using lifting and thrusting extremely fast a’la electric stimulator
If all else fails – relocate the needle.
Move qi after obtaining qi by:
Lifting and thrusting
Rotate in one direction slowly to avoid tangling muscle fibers
Swing and scratch by holding the needle and swinging it 45 degrees back and forth like a pendulum then scratch the handle of the needle down to reinforce and upward to reduce
Crank and shake by pushing needle to the maximum depth, withdraw to the muscle level, then bend the needle to 45 degrees and “crank” 3 times around, then swing back and forth – this is a reducing technique
Block the by placing the thumb on the opposite side of the meridian that the qi is intended to travel
Flying away involves rotating the needle 45 degrees once and releasing the handle quickly to reinforce or reduce.
Maintaining Qi by:
Cock the crossbow by grasping the needle and bending the needle backward
Bend the needle forward and perform flying away