Stories and Testimony
Immortal Sisters: Secret Teachings of Taoist Women
The record of contributions of women to Chinese civilization goes back further than Huang Di to the legend of a certain female tribal leader of high antiquity. She is said to have “patched the sky with five-colored stones” at some remote time when the pristine completeness of human life and harmony with nature had been lost. This suggests that the origin of the doctrine of the “five forces” or “five elements” is at least mythically associated with a prehistoric shamaness who was instrumental in restoring the balance and sanity of her people when they had gone mad—lost their original mental coherence—and were on the brink of destruction. Introduction pp.x-xi translated and edited by Thomas Cleary
Quincy Davisson, Acupuncturist (2 years), Rockland, ME
I have always been a passionate student. But I could not have known when I met Laura as a patient at age 12 that I had also met a teacher for the long haul. That my studies in poetry, the outdoors, photography and dance would later meet in a training in which they are not separate from the practice of medicine.
As a Five Element Acupuncturist in my second year of practice, I can say that the courage required to look into a patient’s eyes has been made possible by my connection to Laura, this school, this and this training. To be with people who are in very serious situations and to know that I am not alone; that there is a medicine that can reach into the illnesses of our time.
It is truly remarkable to witness how each practitioner is trained uniquely. The intimacy of the training, how much is given to each. The difference between describing life and living inside it—inside a movement that has no end. To learn where I am too much, where I am holding back. To not edit myself out. To value my perception, to not take my mind so seriously. To come out of my head and into my heart. To allow the disciplines to come alive. I love working in the group; to witness how a patient is treated and a practitioner is trained at the same time.
How much I learn from observing Laura and how she meets each person. Training the heart in the art of intimacy, rather than simply rapport. To become capable of a subtlety that can reach the spirits. I cannot describe the quiet awe of walking with my patients as the light roots in their lives; to be the hands of future treatments that are given by Laura, for the uniqueness of that person, at that time. To witness a patient being reconnected to the map.
I often find myself laughing out loud as the Teachings come in. What is the laughter? It is something like delight, at the wild aliveness and intelligence in the language, the movement, the needles. How hungry I am for the simplicity of this joy. Do I sound dramatic? It can be quite dramatic to see a light return to a person’s eyes that was not there before, dramatic as a crocus that dares the bloom in the snow.
Inside of this mystery of the human being as the microcosm, I take a particular pleasure in the understanding that acupuncture points are not limited to their location on the body but are also found in the natural world. How long we have lived as if we were separate from the earth, separate from life. This thread of medicine weaves us, patient and practitioner, back into that movement.
It is riveting to be present to the restoration of authenticity, one person at a time. A wild passion in me for a medicine that reaches the root of life is at long last fully met.
Deb DeGraff, Acupuncturist (30 years), Montpelier, VT
I had been practicing acupuncture for 26 years when I found this school. It is a clinic where I bring patients who I have been unable to help, for diagnostic consultation and treatment as well as where I go for treatment. I had waited for decades for a place where my practice could be supported and my skills improved. I receive hands-on training as a practitioner, both as I work with my patients and as I watch others work. The theoretic roots of the clinic lie in the Classics. The environment is collegial, challenging, rigorous, supportive, ethical, and nourishing both for me as a practitioner and a human being. The students who come to study are acupuncture students still in school, newly licensed practitioners, those who have been in practice a number of years, and senior acupuncturists. It is a diverse and passionate learning environment. There are also patients and healers of other disciplines who participate because of the rigor and liveliness of the training.
What is different about this school from other continuing education courses: it is grounded, practical, and deeply rooted in the ancient disciplines of cultivation of the physician. The development of the practitioner and acupuncture's capacity to reach the depth of a human being are two sides of a single coin. Such two-fold capacity was nearly lost in the Cultural Revolution. Was not lost. Was carried out of China by JR Worsley and Claude Larre, among a few others. The Virtue of HeavenEarth generously passes on this inheritance.
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Kendall, Acupuncture Student, New Mexico
The Song of the 7 Dragons (ID's/ED's)
I felt thankful that Laura’s tools of diagnosis rely on her capacity of perception and not my own ability of articulation. Because of the level of internal confusion I was experiencing, I had a very difficult time expressing accurately the way in which I was suffering, and the sort of help I was looking for. When I met Laura, I felt not only that she could see it without me having to say anything, but that she would be able to lift it as nothing else had been able to.
The treatment itself was one of the most profoundly beautiful experiences of prayer and communion of my life, and one that remains with me as a guiding star. I felt the treatment reach to the deepest levels of my being, restoring right relationship to the most deep, and unseen, and essential aspects of who I am. Most of what I experienced internally during the treatment feels inappropriate and perhaps not even possible to try and put words to, but I can say that it was full of Love.
While some internal shifts were immediate - a certain despair that was lifted - the treatment itself felt in many ways like a beginning. Other shifts have come bit by bit, as I feel the treatment working inside of me still six months later, and as I imagine it will continue to. Regrets and resentments that had been locked in place have given way to trust, perspective, and understanding. The treatment initiated access to internal resources, increasing my ability to perceive my emotional blockages and their automated responses and to have a choice inside of that space, an increasing ability to not be completely overtaken by them. I have been surprised by the way in which not only internal shifts are continuing to occur but external aspects of my life are shifting as well - opportunities opening, relationships that had been stuck in place at last shifting. While I certainly don't understand all that happened inside the treatment, I know that it reached to the deepest part of my being to restore something essential, catalyzing a deep current of growth and healing, and I am forever grateful!
Emma, 18 years old, Putney, VT
The Song of the 7 Dragons (ID's/ED's)
My life—up to now—since my consultation and long treatment has been washed over by the seas of change.
I was recommended to acupuncture by a friend; I was intrigued by the thought that needles had the potential to cure, for me, what talking about with a therapist in the past, could not. Upon meeting with my acupuncturist, she asked if I would go with her to the teaching clinic in Montpelier for a consultation and particular long treatment that she assured me was needed, and so I began my introduction to the medicine that has brought light to my life.
Before acupuncture, breathing hurt. Drawing my mind’s attention to how my body felt brought awareness to the dark pit that seemed to be taking over my stomach. When I inhaled, I felt those blockages (though I didn’t know they were blockages at the time) overcome my thoughts and actions. If I was on a walk in the woods on a clear, warm day, despite all positive influences that might have aided my feeling good, I felt horrible. I struggled with eating disorders, loneliness, insomnia, with depression and isolation, and few people could help me find a place where those troubles could be put on the back burner for a moment, and the light could be let in.
The long treatment in one day allowed for those deeply rooted elements of darkness to be uprooted and set free. Truly, I could sense change. I was precautioned that I might feel tired/fatigued for a few days following the treatment. My mind, however, never felt more alive. I was awake. When I looked in the mirror—rather than meeting disapproval—I was met by Emma, looking back at me, able to see. When I took a breath in, energy from the earth rose from my feet to the top of my head, never once meeting the blocks that had, before acupuncture, repelled the same energy back into the ground.
Three months later, I can finally use my body to guide myself. The same eyes that had been blinded by shame and discontent are now able to clearly appreciate beauty, existing in our world in all forms. The same two legs that once were put to use running off that extra cookie are now used for empowerment; I marched for the empowerment and justice of humankind last weekend in Washington DC. The same mind that once twisted the world into an unsolvable puzzle of dark roads now helps me see those roads (life choices, possibilities) with positivity, nurturing the basis of my healthy decision-making. All of this change I owe to acupuncture. The daily transformations I observe within myself are decipherable and workable because I understand how my body and mind—two forces now working together, not against—are supposed to feel.
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