The” Genius” in the corner of the room

I like being a technician. I like sometimes being able to know what would work for the patient in front of me without doing too many diagnostics. I like not having to be a counsellor or a doctor but someone who listens to the needs of my patient as they prioritize them and then uses whatever is in the collective grab bag of tricks to bring that person some relief. I think that all us acupuncturists have this wonderful resource at our disposal that truly does not belong to any of us, not to the acupucnture schools, not to all the generations of acupunks who have preceded us and that is the genius of this medicine, the sum total of all their efforts in all the cultures practicing acupuncture over all those years.

I was watching Elizabeth Gilbert talk on about her next project after the phenomenal success of “Eat,Pray,Love” She decided to look into the history of the concept of ” genius” and found that in Greek and Roman antiquity “genius “was considered to be something that did not come from the human who would eventually express it in form but was like a disembodied vessel of brilliance that sat in the corner of the room of the artist or scientist or engineer or writer. Sometimes when they could get out of their own egoic ways it would “visit” them and they would then transmit it in whatever form that they had skill in. It was a capricious collective grab bag of knowledge, a fine tuning of thoughts already in the circulation of the day to add something new, well sort of “genius” really!

What this meant was that the human in the room with the genius could some times access this and often could not.When he/she was in “the zone” the brilliance would just pour forth onto this plane using the human as a conduit. The rest of the time the human could be as fallible and flawed as he/she was everyday and go about their everyday lives scratching and farting  and getting drunk and staying out too late with no celebrity at all attached to the knowledge that had come through them.They stayed”Everyman”

It was not until Renaissance times that some human decided that “genius” resided in an individual human and was not a collective resource and was able to convince enough people that humans were the center of the universe and could assert an individual’ will and talent on an issue and so began the sorry decline into proprietorship over what may  collectively really have been all ours from the start.

I am suggesting that when I am giving boring effective treatments that show no particular inspiration or flair I feel that I am tapping into the”genius” in the corner of the room which for us acupuncks is that huge body of knowledge that is our medicine.I can put those needles in some days as strictly a technician because my life outside of the treatment room may be tiring and stressful and overwhelming . Guess what.?The patients get better anyhow because our ” collective genius” sitting in the corner of all our treatment rooms is so vast , so benificent and forgiving.

Some days, I do feel that the treatments I give are ” inspired”, that my hands seem to just know to palpate some point and finding congestion am able to use a treatment a little more quirky to have a really great treatment result .

I feel that this medicine is not ours ,that we are just the current flawed humans that are the receptacles for its dissemination. I am proud to be part of CAN where we freely share its “brilliance” and all the products coming from our individual relationships with”the genius in the corners “of our clinics. I am proud to be disseminating this knowledge to as many people as possible simply by taking the price down so that we can all receive the needles because we need them not because we can afford them.

I am proud to be part of a movement that is calling on our schools and organizations to rethink the barriers to practitioners being able to learn this “genius” and to all our prospective patients to being able to receive it.

I am personally grateful to be able to have ” bad days ” and be let off the hook to be fallible and human ,knowing that the clinic “genius” will take over and do the treatment for me .

Sometimes as I leave the  clinic after a session of sanctioned sleeping has finished for the day I sense that there is a lot of love left over in the room from all the patients who have had the space to be able to converse with their” genius” away briefly from the hubbub of their lives .. 

Author: priceless

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  1. Elizabeth Gilbert link and patient comment

    Here’s a link to the Elizabeth Gilbert video

    Holding open a patient, listening, and accepting channel to our intuitive, inner guidance–which is what Elizabeth Gilbert is talking about and comes up frequently in the most profound work that I have seen on bodymind healing–seems to me a gift of being human and a lifelong learning process for all of us; as an acupuncture patient this is something I have been working on quite consciously, both in my acu sessions and beyond them. I encourage you to encourage it in your patients for its healing benefits, too!

  2. wonderful post, Diane!

    Sometimes I look at the front page of this blog and I’m just so happy with how everyone’s posts line up to create something lovely, and this post is the cherry on the top today. The idea of a collective inspiration is just so true and so fitting to how CAN works. Nobody says this to me this anymore, but early on I used to get a lot of people telling me how I should find a way to trademark the business model or otherwise initiate a “sorry decline into proprietorship” (love that). Those people have all drifted away in disgust at my lack of enterprise, thankfully, because I never knew what to say to them — this post would have helped. 

    How do you explain that the concept of “turf” is LUDICROUS when you are talking about ACUPUNCTURE? How do people practice acupuncture and not come away completely humbled and convinced that sharing it is the point? How do people have any energy for caring about our titles? I really, truly do not understand. This thing is so big, so old, so wise, being a receptacle for it is the best I could hope for and pretty much all I can handle.

    Thanks for saying it so well. 

  3. redefining “genius”

    Thanks for sharing Diane,


    Brilliant! Beautiful.


    I am so impressed with this redefinition of genius. This is such an all-inclusive view, where something experienced for a few moments at a time throughout anyone’s life could be an experience of genius. The concept of an indefinable genius (or god) quality that is essentially everywhere and always available to those who are in a state to receive it openly is inspiring, and definitely ponder worthy.


    Feels like a fit for what happens during my “on” or “flow state” moments in the CA clinic, as well as the times I really perform fluidly and confidently on my skateboard. Whatever is happening, it’s powerful and transformative.


    Here’s to appreciating ‘the divine cockeyed genius’, as Elizabeth put it at the end of her talk, and shifting our thinking about who or what force is helping when we are in the flow of community acupuncture.


    CA technicians unite!

     – M

  4. Thanks a million for writing this.

    Perhaps slightly off topic but germane to this post…

    One of the sharpest people I’ve known, once said of her business it had a soul of it’s own, and it gave direction to her as much if not more as the other way around.

    Which makes me think of a line from a favorite poet:

    “…a red earth with no way of knowing the silver colossus exists just to be growing.”