Learning pulse diagnosis on your own

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This is a thread about learning (and eventually mastering) pulse diagnosis primarily on your own.

Barely anyone has immediate access to teachers of this, who will sit down each time you take a pulse and confirm your findings or point things out to you.

Some teachers discourage learning on your own, while others encourage it. This thread is about encouraging practice, not discouraging in any way. It's also about gaining clarity on the subject.


In my own experience after a month or so of daily practice, I can definitely say it's worth learning on your own. You won't get accurate results immediately, but your fingers become more sensitized and you learn and gain capability from experience...even if it's just on yourself! After just a month, I am completely confident in doing a very basic reading on anyone else. I've become capable of clearly discerning things.


I've been gathering as much info on pulse diagnosis from multiple traditions as possible, and want to share some basics for how to approach this, which I think make it much easier to learn. I'm far from being a teacher of this, of course, so take it for what it's worth...just one student's notes on how to approach the subject.

If any teachers or professionals have things to say, please feel free, and I won't be too bothered if I'm corrected about long as the correction is sensible and helps foster knowledge.


Step One - Learn proper finger placement


Opinions on exact positioning differ. What seems most reasonable to me is the following:

1) The Chinese name for the index finger's position, the most distal, is "cun". This refers to the pulse position being one "cun" (a unit of measurement that is equal to your thumb's width) away from the "fish" which is the Chinese word for thenar eminence. This point is precisely described in the Ling Shu, Chapter 2:

"The Major Abyss point (Lung 9) is one cun behind the fish in the center of a depression."

The exact point for measuring from the fish, is at the base of the "fish bone", which is at the carpometacarpal joint of the thumb. You find that, make a mark, then measure your thumb's width from that should land exactly in the drop off point where the pulse is. Or simply feel the carpal bones and find where they drop off and where the pulse is.


So a description based on its's distal and medial from the radial styloid process, it's just proximal from the carpal bones and thenar eminence, it's medial from the radius, and it's lateral from the flexor carpi radialis tendon. You will feel it as being a drop off point, where you can't feel the bottom as well as the surrounding locations, and where the pulse is clearly palpable.



2) The second point is called "guan". According to this book, the Chinese word guan is referring to a military fort that is looking out at a mountain pass. The mountain in this case is the radial styloid the middle finger's position can be either medial and/or perhaps slightly proximal to the styloid process (the highest point of the bone, which is located lateral from the artery).

Some teachers say that it's incorrect to have any finger on (or immediately medial) to the styloid process. Like I said before, opinions differ...but here I'm going off of the Chinese terminology, and this way is very usable.


Later addition: after receiving some personal instruction, it's become pretty clear that the middle position is supposed to be proximal and medial to the highest point of the radial styloid proces most of the time...not directly medial to it. This is because we need enough room for the index finger to feel the pulse accurately at LU-9 point...the index should not at all be touching bone (this is the key point here), but should be in the depression where the artery is.

Consider that in Ayurvedic style pulse taking, they have the index finger placed proximal to the radial styloid process...their finger positions are much further up the arm than in Chinese style. So you can still read the pulse even if it's not choked up on the wrist and is safe to go a bit more proximal. And this also gives you a more accurate read by being fully on the radial artery, rather than having the radial artery between the index finger and the scaphoid wrist bone or something.

3) The distal position, called "chi", is also described in the Ling Shu, Chapter 2:

"The Channel Ditch point (Lung 8) is centered on the Inch Mouth (Chinese term denoting the radial pulse), the arterial pulse."

Each of these three pulse points is said to be 6/10ths of your thumb's width each (the chi position is 7/10ths). This means that the cun and chi positions are basically one cun apart from eachother, so the exact positions will be beneath the center pad of your index and ring fingers.

To illustrate this...put the three fingers together, then place your thumb squarely over the middle finger. The edges of the thumb will be approximately over the centers of your index and ring fingers.


I wouldn't worry too much about how precise you can place your fingers at first, as much as being able to feel the pulse under all 3 fingers. It's best not to get hung up on what seems overcomplicated, and become discouraged by that.

A very easy way that I do finger placement on myself...first put your palm facing upward at your heart level to expose the radial artery. You might want to kind of drastically bring the arm forward and over, to position it better so that the sensing hand's arm doesn't have to reach. Then wrap the sensing hand around the back of the wrist, so that the fingers are in the correct position (index, middle, ring going distal to proximal on the artery). According to some teachers, it's important to feel with those fingers in those positions. I place the radial styloid process (the highest point of the bone) in the groove between my index and middle fingers, then slide all three down onto the radial artery. I place the very tips of the three fingers equally on the edge of the flexor carpi radialis tendon, then let the upper to middle portion of the pads feel the artery itself. This portion of the finger is much more sensitive than the very tip.




I realize this terminology might be a lot to process. It can be an opportunity to work on your Google-fu, if you're wanting to try it out.

Edited by Aetherous
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Step Two - Feeling the 12 positions


Now that the fingers are in a good place and you can feel the pulse under all 3, it's time to slowly ramp up the skill level. Take each phase of this step, one at a time...or skip phases, and then go back to previous phases to explore and learn more. I personally always went straight to phase 2 of step 2 from the very beginning. The learning process is set up in this way based on the amount of skill each step and phase takes, going from easy to most challenging...

1) You have 3 positions on the left wrist, and 3 on the right...for a total of 6 positions. Now you feel each one can use the single finger to press down and get a sense of how they feel. Compare the different feelings in each of the 6 locations to each other. With this, you can get a sense of the different elements...

Left wrist elements (from proximal to distal): water, wood, fire
Right: (not exactly an element, can be classified as water or fire), earth, metal


That's based on the Chinese 5 elements.

You can also discern the parts of the body that have the most energy. The index finger is for diaphragm and up, the middle finger is for the area between the navel and diaphragm, and the ring finger is for the navel and below. From this, you can tell if a person is ungrounded...their energy will be strongest at the index positions, and barely palpable at the ring positions. This also means their water elements (kidneys) are weakened. This can also tell you which part of the triple burner is weak...upper, middle, or lower. For an ungrounded person, their upper burner would be excessive and their lower burner would be weakened.


Later addition: the triple burner pulses are pretty much only accurate if they're the same on both sides. For instance, as already said, if both index fingers felt the strongest and both ring fingers felt weakest.

On the other hand, if the left side at the index finger position feels strongest, but the right side at the index finger position feels weak, then it's best not to think of it in terms of the triple burner and where the most qi is in the body. But guess what, if you feel that, you're becoming skilled at taking the pulse.

In Ayurvedic terminology, you can discern the doshas from this. It's much more accurate than those personality or body type assessments, if you've ever taken a dosha test. For instance, I can test out as kapha-pitta dosha...but with pulse analysis, I'm currently vata-pitta dosha vikruti. Vikruti means what's out of balance...prakruti means your genetics. If the index finger is strongest at the superficial position (when you just barely press down and first feel the pulse), that person has vata dosha virkruti. They will want to adopt a diet that pacifies vata. Middle finger is pitta dosha, and ring finger is kapha dosha. So this can also be a very simple way of knowing which foods are good or bad for an individual.


Later addition: to make this Ayurvedic part more clear: what's out-of-balance/vikurti in some styles of Ayurvedic pulse taking is found at the superficial level...the prakriti/your-constitution-or-nature is at the deep level, and the bridge between your nature and your imbalances is found in the middle between the superifical and deep. Anything above the middle level (at the middle level, all of the pulses tend to beat similarly against the 3 fingers), can be considered imbalances, with the very top layer of the superficial level being what's happening in your body mind spirit and life at the present moment.

Something interesting to play around with is taking your pulse to determine when to eat and when not to eat. This requires multiple quick pulse takings throughout the day, like every hour or two. So, at the very top of the superficial pulse, when you barely touch it or press down, the kapha (ring) finger will be more active when digesting. So some minutes after eating, and for a few hours afterward. When digestion is over, the superficial pulse will normally return to the vata (index) finger as being the more active one...and that's a good time to eat again. To eat while digestion is already happening can create ama (toxins) this is a clear way we can tell when the body is ready for more food and when it isn't.

2) Now press down equally with all 3 fingers. Work on not using one finger more than another, and getting the exact positioning to be able to press with equal pressure. This will help you discern the differences between the elements in a better way.


Later addition: I'm not sure this was good advice. When pressing with all 3 fingers at the same time, it can interfere with discerning the pulse qualities in each location. For instance, you could feel as if your kidney pulse is strong and healthy when using all 3 fingers, but if using one finger at a time, you could actually find the kidney to be deficient. Right now, I'm going to say that it's much better to press with a single finger at each position to get clear information.

3) Now there are 2 basic levels to work with in the beginning. Superficial and deep. Superficial is just when you start to feel the pulse when touching and pressing down. Deep is right before the circulation is cut off when pressing toward the bone.

12 organ positions:

Left wrist (superficial/deep, distal to proximal):
Small intestine/Heart
Gall Bladder/Liver

Large Intestine/Lung
Triple Burner/Pericardium

Notice that all the deep positions are the yin organs. All of the superficial positions are the yang organs.


Later addition: some teachers say that the yang organs can't really be accurately felt in the radial pulse. In the Neijing, when they are comparing the radial to the carotid pulse (which is an old technique and isn't covered in this thread), the yin organs are expressed in the radial pulse and the yang organs are expressed in the carotid pulse. Later on in the Nanjing, they said everything can be found at the radial.

There are differing opinions in Chinese Medicine. It's safe to say that the correct positions are as follows:

Left wrist:
Kidney (yin)

Right wrist:
Kidney (yang)

Why now Kidney yang instead of Pericardium at the right proximal position? Kidney yang is basically the same as mingmen/ministerial fire. The pericardium is the upper expression of the mingmen fire...when excessive, it can be said that minister fire is flaring upward. The root of this fire is in the Kidney specifically...and the Pericardium meridian of Hand Jueyin treats the Heart organ, more so than the Heart meridian of Hand Shaoyin does. Plus, anatomically, the Pericardium is in the upper burner which correlates to the index finger, whereas the Kidney/mingmen is related to the lower burner which correlates to the ring finger. So, for what I think right now, it's more accurate to say that kidney yang is at this position.


So in this phase of learning, you press down equally with all 3 fingers, first on the superficial level, then on the deep level. You will feel that some fingers are stronger than others, which leads into step 3.

Edited by Aetherous
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Step Three - Differentiate between deficiency and excess for the 12 organs

Here's where you're really beginning to diagnose based on the pulse.

You might want to check this a few times throughout the day each day, to get a really clear picture of what's going on. Take notes. The best time to check the pulses, according to multiple sources, is either first thing when you wake up, or at midnight...but any time is good to get experience.

Deficiency and excess is really the first thing you look for in diagnosis. The classic texts of Chinese medicine (the ling shu and basic questions or the yellow emperor's classic) are clear...tonify deficiency, and disperse the excess. From what I've learned, it's important to tonify deficiency of the yin organs first, so you want to be finding the weakest position at the deep level of both wrists. But feel everything in the 6 locations, at the 2 levels.

It's also good to note anything that really stands out. Maybe one of the yang organs positions will be really excessive...who knows.


Later addition: it doesn't necessarily have to be the deep level...get a feeling of the entire pulse from superficial to deep. Remember to use one finger at a time, rather than pressing with all 3 fingers at the same time...this helps give a better reading.

It's normal for the kidney pulse to be deeper, especially in perhaps you will feel it as being thinner or weaker in the superficial positions than the other two positions...this can be normal. It's good for the lung pulse to be active at the superficial level...that means the lung is diffusing wei qi, which will help maintain health and fight off sickness. The front pulses, lung and heart, are normally more active at the superficial level than the kidney pulses are at the superficial level. This is all normal.

If the kidney pulses aren't present at the deep level, this means the kidneys aren't functioning well...this is important to know, because the kidneys are literally the root of our life. They enable our bodies to create qi in the Chinese Medical understanding of "physiology". The most important thing is to ensure that the pulse has "root"...this means two things: 1) the pulse is present at the ring finger position, and 2) all three finger positions can be felt at their deep levels.

If the pulse doesn't have root, then zhan zhuang practice could help remedy that. But it's best to see a Chinese Medicine practitioner.

Edited by Aetherous
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Side note:

There are other locations for the pulse. In the Basic Questions classic, they describe a method called "Nine Continents". You can use this to compare with your radial pulse findings for deficient organs. It's not something that's typically taught in Chinese medicine, but I think it's fun. The Ling Shu also has a method, where you compare the strength of the carotid and radial pulses, to know which channel has a pathogen (I won't go into that one here).

I'll describe my understanding of the Nine Continents here,because it's good to compare findings to really be confident about what you're feeling in the radial pulse...

1) Ends of the eyebrows...this can either mean the pulse when you pinch the upper bridge of your nose, near the eyes...or the sides of the temples. I tend to think the former, because it's closer to being near the eyebrows. The strength of this point indicates the qi of the head.
2) In front of the ear. This tells you about the qi of the ear and eyes...or we could say the senses in general.
3) Facial artery, on the cheeks near the sides of the mouth. This gives you the qi of the mouth and teeth, as well as the strength of the earth element (stomach and spleen qi).

4) Radial artery...this tells you the strength of the lung qi.
5) Ulnar artery...this tells you the strength of the heart qi.
6) Radial artery of the index finger, described as being felt on the large intestine meridian...this tells you the strength of the chest qi/zong qi. If you do breathing practices and eat fairly well, this one should become stronger, because zong qi is from good nutrition (from the spleen stomach) and oxygen (from the lungs).

7) Dorsalis pedis pulse, on the liver meridian...strength of the liver qi.
8) Anterior tibial pulse, on the stomach meridian...strength of the stomach and spleen qi.

9) Posterior tibial pulse, on the kidney meridian...strength of the kidney qi. In my personal opinion, this position also denotes the strength of the qi in the legs, in comparison to the chest and head...but the stomach position might also do this.


Later addition: it's very useful to use this to compare to the radial pulse. For instance, in my radial pulse the kidney is slightly poor but not so bad, but especially deficient in the 9 continents method. I think this method can give very clear're literally feeling the pulse of that specific organ/channel itself, rather than a mirror of that organ/channel in the radial pulse (which is only on the Lung channel Hand Taiyin). So this can be super useful for finding excess/deficiency. Consider that it was a main method in the Neijing!


At another time I will update this portion on the 9 continents system, because I did find some additional information recently.


So there you have another method that also tells if one of the yin organs is deficient. I bolded the yin organs to make it clear. It's said in the classics that all of the positions should feel equally strong.

It's interesting how a few of the positions are right near the yuan-source points for those organs. The Ling Shu also states that the yuan source points can be used for diagnosis...if there is abnormality on one of those (visual or palpable), you can be assured that it's the malfunctioning organ/meridian.

It's possible that when comparing the left and right sides with this method...the left is yin or blood, and the right is yang or qi of the organ. I saw someone say this online, but I didn't see it mentioned in the Yellow Emperor's Classic for this method.

(The usage of 9 locations, and 3 in each of the 3 areas, goes into Taoist cosmology. I'm sure there is far more to this system of pulse taking than what's explained here...and I'm not using the same terminology of "heaven, earth, man" that's used in the classics)


It's also good to use other methods of diagnosis in addition to pulse diagnosis and palpation, face, tongue, eye, shen, smelling, listening, etc. There are a lot of ways of gaining information. The classics as well as some practitioners stress the pulse as being the deciding factor, but others stress the importance of an all around diagnosis using the four pillars of diagnosis.


Later addition: okay I really under-emphasized the other pillars of diagnosis here. They can make diagnosis incredibly clear, and they don't require the pretty incredible skill of pulse taking. There's a learning curve to those, too, because it's tons of information to sort through...learning Chinese Medicine is a monumental task, if you want to be accurate and good at it.


About the radial and carotid comparison...that method is described well in the Ling Shu. It's a way of balancing yin and yang in the body, which of course is important. My only apprehension with it is that one has to accurately be able to feel whether the pulse is equal, twice as large, etc, up to five times as large as the other (the carotid could be twice as large as the radial pulse, or the radial pulse could be twice as large as the carotid pulse, etc). How can a person know if it's twice as large versus three times as large? It requires some skill...and it's not as reliably accurate and easy as comparing excess and deficiency. And radial pulse taking is not as reliably accurate and easy as the 9 continents for comparing excess and deficiency.


The purpose of this writing is just to give the beginner enthusiast a direction to go, so that they can start finding out accurate things about themselves. I personally believe all spiritual cultivators should be at the level where they can know what's going on with their body, apart from intuition or how they feel.

Edited by Aetherous
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Step Four - Qualities of the Pulse


Here is where it becomes challenging to learn for most people (mostly due to unclear teachings IMO). I'm not quite at this stage of learning myself, but I have a couple of very good directions to point to...

1) First phase would be discerning the 8 qualities (fast/slow, deep/superficial, forceful/forceless, yin/yang). We've already basically done this. This "Eight Principle Diagnosis" is described in this book, in the final chapter....however, I haven't read it yet so I will have to hold off on doing an overview of it here for now.


There is also this free resource, which can give a lot of insight into the different qualities of the pulse. The website's author, Al Stone, unfortunately passed away earlier this year.


2) Second phase...that free resource gives you an idea of the depth and precision in teaching the qualities, which are in this diagnosis book which he coauthored. The book covers the 29 qualities. It's very clear and understandable for the Western mind.

So at this point, you're discerning the 12 organs/meridians...basic 8 qualities all around, as well as in each organ...and now you're discerning the 29 qualities both all around, and in each organ position. You can discern quite a bit.

3) This phase is where it gets even more complex. There are different levels of the pulse. Ayurveda has either 7 levels, or 9 levels (versus just the superficial and deep that we've been working with)...which can apparently reveal a lot. Chinese medicine has this verison, based on the weight of beans to determine the level and corresponding problematic area. There's also an easier version based on 3 can determine the activity/inactivity of the 8 extraordinary vessels from this. Probably much more which I haven't heard of yet, as well.

Ayruveda also has a method where the pulse is felt on the outer corners of the fingers, as well as the center of the pad, to determine which dosha is affecting another one, in addition to much more. It's covered in this book. It's quite complex, so I put it at this 3rd phase of the 4th step...not something necessary to know immediately in my opinion, but will come naturally as the fingers gain experience. The author just lays it all out, instead of teaching it in a step by step learning reading some of these books can be challenging and discouraging. Clarity in the basics is what comprises mastery, though.

Also...there are other systems of pulse taking. There's a "Shen Hammer" method which is very complex. That's probably only good for this later phase of ability. There's "Pulsynergy" which people like, but I haven't learned yet.

At this point, you can probably find a seminar or personal instruction.

If I have more to add to these posts or thread, I will later on once I gain more experience. :)

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This is an encouragement to keep trying to learn the pulse, or start if you haven't yet.

It gets easier. The knowledge unfolds to you the more you study, practice on yourself and others, and want to learn. You will suddenly get true insights and experiences that didn't come from any books. Just keep trying.

Here's an experience that I haven't read elsewhere, for instance, but which revealed itself to me:

If you feel the artery walls by gliding your finger over it, with the different fingers, you'll get a sense for which finger is more sensitive to changes. In my experience, the thumb has absolutely the most sensitivity, and it decreases in the order of the fingers, all the way to the pinky, which is the least sensitive. I suspect it's the same for everyone. So this is one reason why a certain quality will only be felt under the index finger, and another quality will only be felt under the ring finger...because of sensitivity. The index can pick up higher vibrations than the ring...this is why it's said that vata dosha is kind of sharp like a cobra striking, and kapha dosha is kind of smooth gliding, like a swan pushing through water.

You can take the same pulse the acupuncturist way, with the middle finger over the radial styloid process, or you can even go further up the arm, past the radial styloid completely in the Ayurvedic way, and you will still get accurate results for this reason (of the fingers being able to pick up different levels of vibration). The absolute correct finger positioning isn't so important, as long as you can feel the pulse!

Another reason this works: there is more fat tissue around the artery the further up the arm you go. At the lung 9 acupoint, at the wrist, the artery is closest to the skin. So basically, even if your fingers were all the same sensitivity, the arm itself causes this difference in sensation of vibration...the highest vibration will be felt closer to the wrist, and the lowest vibration will be felt at the most proximal position. Combine this fact, with the difference in what the fingers can pick up, and you have the reason why the pulse tells you what it does, and why finger positioning isn't something to get hung up on. I personally switch between Ayurvedic and acupuncturist positions...if I am having trouble feeling something, I go with acupuncturist, since the artery is closer to the skin and thus easier to feel.

Anyway...if you learn the pulse and you ever think you have some sort of health problem, and you're clueless about the cause of the symptoms and are asking people about it, you'll know which answers are accurate and which aren't. For instance, there is the general advice that Taoists give to people that their kidneys must be weak...

Mine were at first when I started taking the pulse. My pulse didn't have "root" which can mean that the deep ring finger pulses (pericardium and kidney) were missing or weak in comparison to the other pulses at the deep level. This basically means that the mingmen is dysfunctional and isn't a good pulse.

I just worked on my kid3 acupoints (the yuan source points, which repair deficiencies in the organ/meridian)...not really intensively. After a few minutes I could retake the pulse and notice it slowly changing so that the kidneys felt even with the other deep level pulses. Well, today, my pulse has kidneys are at least relatively strong all the time, and are not a problem. Not to say much pulse is perfect...I've got work to do.

I've been journaling my pulse findings pretty much every hour, and before and after different activities, to see what changes happen from different foods or exercise, practices, sleep, times of day, etc. This is encouraged in this course, on Ayurvedic pulse diagnosis...which is a decent course, although expensive for what it is...

Journaling is truly begin to learn, and can continue to experiment based on what you find. This is how pulse diagnosis originally began, observation, and taking note of things. Instead of learning second hand knowledge of what works, by trusting someone's word, you can DISCOVER true knowledge, firsthand.

I can pretty much tell when the kidney has been weakened from something and when it's strengthened. So you can know with pretty good certainty that various health advice for you would be truly know, you have to go off of diagnosis. Common health knowledge is irrelevant or the opposite of what you need, at times. Look at all the types of qigong out there that claim to do various you can truly know if they work, or not. Is the kidney strengthening form, really working? Likely not.


Or, for instance, snacking on some sugary things will boost the strength of the pulse (how hard it hits against your fingers). You can tell this by taking before and after eating the snacks, and trying to rate that quality out of will very likely boost slightly. This quality denotes literally how much strength you have left to expend, mentally and physically...if you're really weak (aka your pulse is weak and hard to feel it hitting the fingers), then you know it's not a good time to do a sprinting competition for instance, or something really stressful to the body or mind. We know that sugar feeds the temporarily makes us more capable of thinking, we feel better and more alert, etc. So you can actually feel this change in the pulse. And then to compare this knowledge....just look at what society thinks these days...that any kind of sugar or carbohydrate is bad for health. Tons of people try to avoid carbs completely as a diet. I think this is especially bad for a person with a qi deficiency...but the pulse could tell you. Maybe its quality would improve on that diet for some reason...who knows. You could find out. Then you could know what advice to avoid.

In TCM terms, the strength of the pulse is what shows your level of qi. A person could have strong kidneys but weak qi. A person could have strong qi but weak kidneys. A person could feel a lot of changes in the nervous system which leads them to think they have tons of qi, yet in actuality have weakened qi. It's important to know what you're truly dealing with...and as a result of personal experience and second-hand learning, know what to do to fix it.

This way you can truly help people, too...eventually. After you're capable of helping yourself.


Everything in this thread is just very basic information on pulse taking...if someone thinks it's wrong, I welcome them to share what information they have, since I want to learn all that I can about this.

I think everyone, especially cultivators, should know how to take the pulse.


Later addition: Okay, I am enthusiastic about pulse diagnosis, and probably said things in this post that aren't entirely accurate. I'll just leave it as is...take it with a grain of salt.

Edited by Aetherous
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I was lucky enough to have been taught by a master, but to to learn by yourself would be an enormous task. Good luck to you and anyone else learning pulse diagnosis, this thread should help a lot.


One bit of advice, if you can, grab everyone that you know and read their pulse, its good practice and most people don't mind. Sensitising to others is a good start.

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Thanks astralc,

If you have any information to add, or corrections to make, please feel free.

I think you're very right about sensitizing to others. It seems to me that our fingers learn best by the comparison of contrasting qualities (for instance, feeling a very weak pulse with no volume versus a very strong hitting pulse with big volume).

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Yep, it would be freakin hard doing it by yourself. You would have to have an oportunity to see lots of sick ppl over a period of years.


When i was learning i felt 80-100 pulses a day and it helped to get a bit of a bearing of what things feel like, and getting certain things pointed out to me. You can learn to feel the excesses and deficiencys which is the main thing that i feel now anyhow, the most reliable and simplistic view of it. I can feel if something is really very wrong with an organ like cancer or they are not far off dying, but lots of the smaller diseases i can't really distinguish very well. My teaching doctor was amazing in the things he could feel - see a thread i made his amazing diagnosises here

He reckons he could have taught me if i stayed an extra 6-8 months. I would have had to spend more time in china with my teaching doctor but my wife got her visa and i just couldn't stand the place any longer! Australia ROX!

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Yep, it would be freakin hard doing it by yourself. You would have to have an oportunity to see lots of sick ppl over a period of years.



Indeed. I think that what the OP is doing is great, but generally it is after the practitioner gets out into the real world of clinic applications that they develop this to its higher stages.


BUT. My suggestion is to remember, as well, the other diagnostic tools. Tongue, to me, says as much or more. More powerful than that is simple observation. Practice of observation is one of the more powerful diagnostic tools. SO many times I have been accused of being "psychic" by a client when all I was doing is observing. It gets to where you can walk into a room and get a pretty good feel for people's problems. Then, there are energetics, which, to me, are more valuable than any type of pulse or tongue diagnosis followed by therapy, but is also inseparable from observation as changes are in real time.

But I don't say this to not encourage the palpation exercises, which are extremely helpful. I learned all the standard pulse and tongue stuff then trained in increasing palpation skills by using a hair under a sheet of paper; palpate then add a sheet; palpate then add a sheet... But nothing comes close to actual clinical experience treating many people. We more often than not find that the "book learning" doesn't jive with the actual person's problems or at least it reveals only a small part. And the same is true with western medicine application.

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What do you observe?

EVERYTHING! Leave nothing unobserved. From tone of voice to color of skin to posture to eyes to body structure to speech manner/patterns to gestures - everything! It is amazing how much one can tell from simple observation.

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Updated this thread a little bit.




Another update: a person isn't likely to get an accurate and reliable diagnosis without integration with other aspects, such as observation of signs or asking of symptoms. Basically...just feeling the pulse is very incomplete and unreliable. If you become skilled at finding the pulse, you will likely discover that what's happening at the individual positions can change significantly, all of the time, without even doing anything...while the overall feel in all positions in general can tend to stay the same. It opens up the question: if this is constantly changing moment to moment, then is that method of pulse taking reliable to base the treatment on as the sole diagnostic tool?


Furthermore, diagnostic signs and symptoms (seeing that their face is very red, or "my back hurts") can point to various things but are not the end all in themselves. Chinese Medicine as it's practiced today doesn't treat signs and symptoms directly: a practitioner will take many pieces of info from diagnosis and see which pattern emerges. A sign or symptom will point to a condition, that when treated will likely make the sign/symptom go away. For instance, Liver qi stagnation is a pattern...whereas feeling bloated while having a wiry pulse in general are two main S&S that can indicate the pattern of Liver qi stagnation. Then the practitioner treats based on the pattern or patterns.

So beyond diagnostic knowledge and skill, of which pulse diagnosis is only a small and sometimes unreliable part, there's also the other half of the coin...the aspect of understanding patterns and differentiating them. Furthermore...if it's a good practitioner, they will understand the physiology/theory behind the patterns, consider etiology and pathology, and know about various pathomechanisms, which are like subcategories of the patterns that provide a more detailed and precise view.

All in's hard for the spiritual practitioner to accurately diagnose themselves, especially using only one method of diagnostic skill without any other knowledge. It requires a lot of study and correct understanding to be able to do this. So I no longer recommend attempting to learn from this thread, without all of this understood clearly.

The easiest way of self diagnosis (which isn't a good idea) would be to check out Maciocia's Foundations book, and focus on the chapters dedicated to patterns. But that runs the risk of not learning all of the patterns first, so you see a couple of things that seem like your condition and you choose that pattern...perhaps it's an inappropriate one though, and another pattern would have fit much better. Be aware of this.

Edited by Aetherous
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