The Unbroken Field offers an integration of acupuncture, hands-on therapies, and current psycho-spiritual models, bridging the gulf between ancient perennial wisdom and modern medical science. The theme is simple, yet radical: Illness has profound meaning, and symptoms should be honoured and explored rather than be eliminated. Though the book contains information pertinent to both practitioners and the general population, it is readily readable to all and includes a very useful glossary elucidating the more esoteric concepts. Case histories and examples are uncluttered by medical terminology, and there are specific instructions about how to proceed with meditation and other self-caring practices.
As a former acupuncture intern at the Victoria Pain Clinic who now uses a modified form of Dynamic Interactive Acu-Bodywork in a university outpatient setting, I am thrilled to see that Michael Greenwood has shared with us so much of his unique understanding of healing in this book. His empowering approach of honoring the wisdom of the body by moving toward symptoms rather than suppressing them is the antidote for much of what is ailing the modern health care system.
In The Unbroken Field, Dr. Michael Greenwood draws on the healing wisdom of many traditions in treating a variety of common problems. His approach relies on the inner healing capacity that is latent in everyone, but which is largely untapped. If you think drugs and surgery are the only approach to getting and staying well, read this book. It may well transform your view of your body, and the role of your mind and spirit in your health.
The Unbroken Field is an excellent summary of post-modern healing research based on ancient perennial wisdom and the science of quantum physics. To quote Michael Greenwood, "That Western medicine has not yet embraced modern field theories as fundamental and transforming speaks to a bureaucratically and economically driven medical system, an entrenched politics and a professional conservatism". I agree that Western medicine needs to bring itself up-to-date by incorporating concepts of our cosmos and consciousness that are being proven in physics and mathematics. More medical research needs to be directed towards peoples' experience, rather than a constructed and artificial reality constrained by our limited tools of evaluation. Michael Greenwood includes a section on cancer and loss of vibrational coherence. Current research is discovering the complex layers of information amongst cells, and this is best described within field theory. The association of sympathetic-parasympathetic imbalance resulting in chronic disease, including cancer, is reflected by an abnormal heart rate variability. The importance of the heart and balance is well described in all ancient healing traditions. Michael Greenwood expands on these concepts using quotes from philosophers, and case histories drawn from his own practice. The text includes a very useful glossary. I highly recommend this book to healthcare professionals who are concerned about the detrimental direction in which health care has been going and, like Michael Greenwood, have the courage to chart a new course.
Michael Greenwood, MD is familiar to many of us in the academy. He has lead workshops for members and has published several articles within this journal. He previously published two books related to his work as physician and healer. Indeed, his first book written in conjunction with Peter Nunn, Paradox and Healing, prompted me to call him. I then had the opportunity to participate in and witness his work at the Victoria Pain Clinic (www.vicpain.com). His second book, Braving the Void, further elaborates upon his experiences at the Victoria Pain Clinic and provides some theoretical grounds for his observations at the Clinic. Dr. Greenwood is a healer and clearly a pioneer in the domain of chronic pain management.
The Unbroken Field is more than a synthesis of his early work. It establishes Dr. Greenwood as a seasoned proponent of not only 'energetic' medicine but also one able to integrate energetic/hands-on approaches into current psychological and spiritual models. His general theme is simple yet radical for a modern western physician: symptoms are to be honored and explored as a means of individual development and/or self-actualization. Although Dr. Greenwood never uses these ambiguous terms, they convey a major theme of the book. The relief of presenting symptoms is the result of, not the objective, of his approach to healing. Practical implications of the above theme abound in the book.
The first nine chapters of the book consider pertinent evidence and traditions associated with looking at humans as 'energy'. He provides an excellent review, both for the lay and professional reader. In addition to traditional Oriental medicine models, he also includes Western concepts and Hindu teachings on the chakras.
In chapter 10, he again emphasizes the need to explore and integrate symptoms, in part, to provide an antidote to the alienation and existential anxiety stemming from our 'Western' perspective in which symptoms are simply problems to be fixed. Practitioners who are familiar with Five Element acupuncture and French Energetics will especially feel comfortable with his clinical cases. He explores in detail what he calls 'Dynamic Interactive Acu-Bodywork.' In his model, the practitioner as well as the patient must be willing to let go of preconceived notions of how things should be, and explore what is and will be. One of his major means of 'diagnosis' is to palpate and explore for 'active' points on the body.
He also outlines a practical meditative practice (Dynamic Meditation) that he maintains is helpful in allowing the exploration of symptoms to continue. Although a strong proponent of daily meditation, he is not naïve to some of the traps and pitfalls associated with using meditation as just another 'dissociative' approach. To use his terminology: 'Transcendence and transformation must work together like a kind of warp and woof.'
The book is intellectually challenging for it confronts what are standard assumptions and thought processes of orthodox medicine. Nevertheless, I think the book is readable even for the general population. It provides a number of case histories and examples that are uncluttered by medical terminology. I have started to recommend this book to established patients as a way of further awakening them to the distinct reality that there are ways other than surgery and medications to approach pain problems. There are also specific instructions about how to proceed with meditation and other self-caring practices.
The most seasoned clinician in acupuncture will also find the material engaging. Dr. Greenwood's clinical insights using Five Element and Energetic models were enough to make the book commendable. Often while reading the book, I felt as though I was listening to a stirring sermon. I recognized the truth and even practical implications of what was being shared, and felt a sort of eagerness about integrating what I learned into my life, but yet, after laying the book down I felt a little confused by how the message could be fully integrated into the world in which I commonly work. This feeling is a little reminiscent of my initial exposures to acupuncture. Hmm!
This book presents a nice examination of the mind-body-spirit feedback system that is the nature of our life and existence, providing insights and many case studies to show how this model can help facilitate healing processes. Meditation, chakras, chi, 5 elements, archetypes, and other aspects of this system of consciousness-energy informing the perceived reality of form are addressed. While there is a strong Chinese medicine component to this text there is a broader look at insights from intuitive sources and modern research in physics, consciousness, and subtle energy fields. The author is thoughtful and expresses concepts clearly, presenting a paradigm for healing which supports the path toward wholeness and integration which is inherent in the essence of Consciousness/Awareness from which all things and realities arise. This is a very worthy contribution to the mind-body healing field and related areas of exploration.
I decided to review this book rather than give it to Christina because I had a session with Michael ten years ago when he did a tour of the Okanagan. My session gave me amazing insights into one of my early hurts. For that I am grateful and if his book helps one more person start their healing journey...blessings be.
I want to call Michael's book "The Unified Field", but this is a scientific theory that attempts to unify all the fundamental forces and the interactions between elementary particles into a single theoretical framework. After reading this book I believe that Michael's theory is equal to Einstein's except Michael explains how the body reflects every thought and every feeling we have from birth onward.
Drawing on his skills as a medical doctor and acupuncturist he writes a mini synopsis of his patients with his understanding of what happened within the context of Five Element theory and why they did or did not heal. Interspersing theory and patient examples helped me to understand the flow of energy easier and why it goes out of balance. He likens pain to a warning light on your car. If you cut the wire and the light goes out is your problem fixed?
He spends most of a chapter explaining why pain is our teacher and will never give up on us, always wanting us to open to the flow of energy but first we need to understand it. He says it demands our expansion of consciousness until we embrace the message with no judgements.
I also enjoyed his chapter on meditation and relaxation as he focuses on the stress of modern living and why so many people have a hard time staying alert and being relaxed at the same time. If we have much angst and we meditate, we often do so with the unconscious intention of increasing our dissociation, rather than reducing it. We must be in the body to heal it... not in our minds to transcend it.
I especially enjoyed the many chapters on the Five Element Theory and how the creative and destructive cycles interchange. He says 'Difficulty arises if we cannot access the energy of one or another element when it is needed.'
This book is not an easy read but Michael makes it enjoyable with all his personal insights and humanness as a healer. There are many do-it-yourself exercises included if you want to delve deeper into your pain. My first impulse was to print out a few pages every two months so you could get inspired in your healing journey but upon contemplation it would make more sense if you just bought the book yourself.
Those who use 5-element acupuncture, Ayurvedic medicine, or French energetic acupuncture or incorporate meditation in their work or daily practice will resonate with the material presented in Dr, Michael Greenwood’s book The Unbroken Field: The Power of Intention in Healing. Dr. Greenwood is an author, teacher, and Medical Director of the Victoria Pain Clinic.
For those unfamiliar with the concept, the human body, mind, and spirit are considered an energy field. This energy field is vibrationally influenced by every experience we have, be it physical, mental, or spiritual. Research theories outside of conventional medicine suggest a new description that secondarily manifests as pathology. To understand the problem of illness and create a change in our health, it is at the field level we must begin.
To heal, we must encounter our pain rather than hide from it, to integrate deeply rather than exile our symptoms. The Victoria Pain Clinic incorporates a dynamic and interactive approach to acupuncture and bodywork to support the path toward wholeness and integration.
This though-provoking book presents information in a very understandable manner with many case presentations to illustrate the concepts.
The Unbroken Field is Michael Greenwood's third book in his fascinating series on the use of acupuncture and bodywork in effectively dealing with pain and chronic illness. In his first book Paradox and Healing (co-authored with Dr. Peter Nunn) Michael explores the use of acupuncture and guided hyperventilation in releasing pent-up emotions often underlying chronic pain. This theme is further explored in Braving the Void in which Michael describes numerous cases of patients who were guided to markedly reduce or eliminate their chronic pain by exploring and releasing their underlying emotional and physical blockages. In his new book The Unbroken Field Michael goes one step further in its exploration of the ancient wisdom of Traditional Chinese Medicine as a guide in optimizing the acupuncture treatment which forms the basis for the successful pain relief work carried out at the Victoria Pain Clinic where he serves as medical director. The chapters on dynamic meditation and dynamic interactive acu-bodywork are particularly fascinating and well worth further exploration.
Michael's books are "must reads" for anyone interested in exploring and effectively using the body/mind connection as a means of dealing with chronic pain and illness.