The Poetry of Touch: Alchemy, Transformation & Oriental Medicine
The Poetry of Touch by Chris McAlister is a fascinating look into the perspective of a practitioner who has spent most of his life exploring the ins and outs of East Asian Medicine. Given his grounding in shiatsu, he naturally comes from a place of highly valuing the art of touch in the practice of traditional medicine. From this book you really get the sense of how Chris keeps digging for the roots of this medicine, which are embedded in the experience of being embodied and exploring what it means to be fully alive and human – a creature with a rational mind suspended briefly in time between Heaven and Earth.
Chris shares anecdotes and wisdom he has picked up along his long and circuitous journey in East Asian Medicine. He references the classics, especially the Yijing the “Book of Changes” the primary source for Chinese philosophy and worldview. Unraveling the symbols and images that are foreign to westerners, but imbedded in the collective unconscious, he lays out the implications of this foundational text in the practice of medicine. What comes across is not just Chris’s deep scholarship but how he continually practices to dig deeper, always trying to make sense and connect the dots. Tradition is always a recreation of past practices. Never the same, the river keeps flowing, fresh water keeps coming from upstream to carve out the sides and bottom of the river. In the same way, Chris unpacks the healing arts of Oriental Medicine with respect and a genuine feeling for what is essential, and in so doing refreshes it and paves the way for the next generation of practitioners.
In this book, Chris honors the diversity and full depth of East Asian medicine. Not just as a monolith of ancient knowledge, but as a living breathing truth that has to be rediscovered in each practitioner’s life and practice. This is a brilliant example of the path of mastery, which we are all on every time we consciously choose to cultivate this living tradition.