Back in 2010, and after 11 years of mulling over it, Charles (Chip) Chace and Miki Shima published the translation with commentaries of the QI JING BA MAI KAO, the seminal book on Extraordinary Vessels by the great Li ShiZhen.
This book has it all: Acupuncture, alchemy, and herbal medicine, and this was all Li ShiZhen’s doing, plus commentaries from various later sources, and the extremely and up to date insights of Chace and Shima.

But this is not a book review. This is an account of what happened after the book went out to the world and the seed it carried grew strong.

This Qi Jing Ba Mai Kao story could have stayed as a wonderful theoretical frame of reference, it could have been 11 years of investigation and reflection to inform an acupuncture practice, it could have been a thick book you use to hold the door open during summer nights… but it turned out to be much more than that. 
Chip couldn’t resist testing through palpation the model outlined by Li, he had to feel it… you know, that engaging vitality vice we all share now, “if it’s real, it has to be palpable somehow
So he did. He developed the topography based on Li’s descriptions, and he put it on the table to try and test. And it turned out to be real.
Huh! Breakthrough! Indeed.
Extraordinary Vessels topography by Chip Chace

water injected into water
Chip’s approach brought together the fluids (other of the elements he had been working with for decades, now part of the engaging vitality approach to acupuncture, and first introduced by Osteopathy) and the Extraordinary Vessels. The topography he developed is felt on the fluid body.
Why the fluids? Because in them we find the first manifestation of life into form, so it was a natural place to look when trying to palpate the very primal influences we call Extraordinary Vessels.

But this thing of the fluids brought in some practical issues, as for instance the need for the practitioner to be able to feel the fluid body. Anyway, that’s a very useful prerequisite since being able to engage the fluid body it’s an extraordinary tool by itself.
In the engaging vitality core training, we first learn how to palpate and feel Qi, and the Yang Rhythm (the overall reference for the yang Qi in the body), that’s Module I. And it’s not until Module III that we get in contact with the fluids, the fluid body and the Yin Rhythm. The reason for this long preparation lies in the fact that for the fluids to manifest, both the patient and ourselves need to be in a state of deep calm and openness, a state that takes time and training to build or reach.
Chip Chace
Once we’re there, one thing we can turn our attention to, is the Extraordinary Vessels.

But indeed there is a quite deep there, and naturally the ideas and concepts of internal cultivation and internal alchemy kick in… Li ShiZhen’s book is groundbreaking on this. As Li himself was. Being practitioner of acupuncture, herbs, internal alchemy, his ability to weave a coherent fabric with elements of the 3 disciplines by using the words of the classics to make his own argument, is truly remarkable.  Chip picks up that thread and continues to develop a tangible way to engage, to bring to vibrant life the words Li left as legacy.  In practice this synthesizes the acupuncture, herbal, and inner alchemy understanding of Li, with the acupuncture, herbal, inner cultivation and palpation skills of Chip. The result, as you might imagine, is a very alive approach which opens a gateway to engage the Extraordinary Vessels as a multifaceted terrain, with palpation being the tiebreaker between medical understanding and mystical intuition.
Arrived to this point, we need the three of them, and we need to keep our feet on the ground. Our patients deserve no less.

But hey! This was the account of what happened after the seed went out and spread into the world…! Yes. What happened was that this approach extended and continued evolving, and a few years after Chip’s introduction of the topography and it’s palpation through the fluid body, another palpation way showed up: palpation of the Vessels movement through the fascia and/or through resonance. Quite complementary, in the one hand the topography palpation perceived on the fluids has more to do with a quality, with a state of the particular layer, while in the other hand, this later way of palpation has more to do with the perception of movement.
Both palpations require a fair level of quiescence of the system as a whole (both patient and practitioner) to let the body manifest and let go. And both benefit as well of the theoretical medical knowledge and the mystical, inner cultivation visions and intuitions.

So this is the picture as we have it today. It’s alive, it continues evolving day by day and with each practitioner. It’s a matter of fact, the later palpation way was first developed by one of Chip’s students. And we hope this happens again and again, we’re building the giant while we climb on his shoulders.

 R. Antón

Chip is currently lecturing on this topic, if you want to know more about it check our CALENDAR, or write us at: rayn@engagingvitality-europe.com


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