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What Led Me to Study Acupuncture?

I get this question or some variation of it all the time. There are many ways to answer so I'll tell you a little bit about myself.

Chinese Medical Text
Ancient Chinese Medical Text (used with Permission Copyright : PAN XUNBIN)

I'll tell you this so you can see that it's possible to live several lives in one life - while all of them should help to lead you to your life's calling.

One day, while I was a massage therapist, I was working on a client's back. A really good massage therapist knows how to listen with her hands and that requires a lot of focus on the task at hand. This day I was focusing on a person who had several emotional stories "stuck" in her back. She had been betrayed by her husband and previously by her father. Her low back was the cause of a lot of pain and doctors could not figure out why. We had been working for several months on how her body holds her stories. We seemed to cover a lot of territory and it appeared that we found resolution on a lot of stuff. Still, her back really nagged her.

There are times when I'm working and as I'm paying attention, something else happens too. It's as if I'm being instructed. Many of you know that I have a huge background in prayer and meditation. Sometimes as I work, I go into a meditation all the while being totally present to my patient. On this day, one line came through very clearly and I had to pay attention. This was not the first time that had happened but it is rare that there is nothing before or after. Often, I end up in a dialogue as I'm being instructed. This was less an instruction and more a mandate. Moreover, it was not about my patient, but in service of my patient that I received this. It came with a jolt of energy as well which is usually my signal for this to be not "of me."

I bolted upright and paused the massage. Fortunately my patient was blissed out. It gave me a minute to take in what I had just heard. I pretended to get more oil on my hands while the energy bolt faded. I resumed the massage and then sent my patient on her way. I spent the next three years trying to figure it out while also knowing I had to wait to be led. (This was before the internet)

The instruction was: "Learn acupuncture without the needles." I had no idea what that meant. As time went by, I started to doubt and wondered if I made it up. After 3 years, I figured that I should just go to acupuncture school. I went to the Traditional Acupuncture Institute (now a very different school called Maryland University for Integrative Health).

During the 3rd week, we were introduced to the art of Qi Gong. It's one of the several branches of Chinese Medicine. Qi Gong is a form of movement used to move Qi (pronounced chee) and is very beneficial to our overall health. Our teacher was from China. She was very passionate about this form of medicine and I, being just one step above Sloth, was not too keen to do these very weird movements. I used humor to express my disdain for this exercise as I thought I looked totally ridiculous. Our teacher pressed on, even teaching us outside on a dock over the water in front of the passersby! Within a week, I noticed that I felt better after class than I did before class! I still complained when it was time to go out - being tired from a full day of classroom learning. Within minutes, my energy picked up and I stopped clowning about. I expressed my amazement at the change in my energy. It was better than coffee! My teacher smiled and said, "That's why we call it Acupuncture Without the Needles!"

I stopped complaining.


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