It does not work via nerves or some physical chemical or irritant response.
Here is the best way I know to explain how it works.
Consider your house. Flowing through it is air. You cannot see it but you can feel it and you certainly know when it is not there.
Within the body are also flowing airs. As you breath you are making them also ‘breath” and flow. You cannot see them. You cannot cut them and you cannot find them in a dead body. As they flow they irrigate the parts of the physical body that they flow by and have also a effect on the blood flow. They are the intelligence of the body, ‘body intelligence’. These airs are what is called chi, meaning Life or life-force.
Acupuncture has mapped these airs in detail and learned how to make use of them.
Back to our house example. If you lock the doors and windows and go away for a week or two when you return it is very stuffy . This is like an illness in the body. Clearing the illness is akin to opening the doors and windows in the house to make the airs flow again.
The Art of acupuncture is knowing exactly which of the doors or windows to open to get result desired in the minimum time.
These doors and windows in the body are called the points of acupuncture and each has its own particular qualities and effects and ’rooms’ of influence, to allow airs to flow.
Continuing on from our explanation of how acupuncture works.
Explaining five elements as airs
A house is aligned to the four directions of the compass. The body is aligned to the five elements.
Every single part of it has to be breathing to keep the five elements in balance.
There is a breathing that occurs through the points of acupuncture and some points are more aligned to one element than to another. For example if it is more aligned towards fire it is called a fire point.
With the house imagine that in the air there are not one but five different types of air flowing in order to keep the balance. Each has a different temperature, moisture, speed, viscosity and weight.
And the airs can flow in and out at each door or window. What we are trying to achieve is the right balance within the house to maintain optimal comfort and that all rooms are served.
In the body the rooms are the channels (meridians) and the doors(and windows) are the points and we want it all to work responsively. The doors are opening and closing when necessary, to adjust the conditions and the equilibrium in the body, without conscious intervention.
Sometimes the air from one window will adversely interact with the air from another window. This is called the destructive cycle. At other times one will support the other and this is called the creative cycle. In this case one door opening will support the next to open and its air will flow etc.
To get the da chi sensation is akin to feeling the flow of air in your body just like feeling the flow of air in your home. In your house sometimes you may moisten your fingers and put it up and this will help you feel it. The sense for the da chi feeling must come through the fingers.
Sometimes a fan may be used to help the air flow. It does not necessarily have to be on full. One adjusts the rate in order get the best effect with the minimum intervention. Using the fan is akin to doing tonification and sedation with the needles. After getting the da chi sensation one turns the needles either clockwise or anti clockwise to make the chi flow in the desired direction for the desired result. One learns to feel when one has success and when to stop turning..
As far as point location goes I say my fingers have little eyes in them and they are attuned to see the points. Also my fingers are alive and an energy flows from them constantly. When my fingers run over an area they feel the change in resistance to chi flow from my fingers into the client body. This allows me to have accurate point location skills.
Doing healing is like making sure the necessary windows will stay open. You may have to go and open them again later. Sometimes effects last only three days sometimes seven days and sometimes more permanent.
Now with the house one has to consider the changes brought on by the seasons and make the adjustments in the doors and windows accordingly. So in winter there will be less windows open and in summer more. In treatment one seriously has to consider the seasonal influences.
As the seasons change there is a period of 12 days in between them when it is useful to clear out the effects of the previous season and prepare for the next season. So one has spring cleaning.
Another influence to consider in your house is the effects of light. This can be altered via the curtains. The ‘seasons’ of the light are via the equinoxes and solstices. So that at winter solstice (June 21 in southern hemisphere and Dec 21 in northern hemisphere) the light begins to increase and at this time the horse begins to lose coat even though it is not midwinter for 1 more month. This shows how closely the horse is connected to the sun as a solar being. Horse does not like to be inside for long.