1. You've been a part of the
healing and alternative wellness profession for almost three decades.
How did you get started in the field of alternative health?
My first profession was music, and that's
still a big part of my life. There was a time when I found I was playing
way too much commercial music in order to make a living, and it was
ruining both my creativity and my enjoyment of music. I decided I
needed to do something else to make money, so I could then focus on the
music I loved without having financial considerations restricting my
choices. At the urging of friends, I enrolled in massage school, The
Massage Institute of New England, in 1984. So, my initial motivations
were financial—not very glamorous or inspiring, I know!—but it soon
became much more than that. While I was at massage school, I found I
had an affinity for healing work, and simultaneously had my first
significant exposure to taiji.
At that school, I also had my first
encounters with energetically-focused bodywork, including Polarity
Therapy, Shiatsu, Zero Balancing, and Cranio-Sacral Therapy. That
opened up new realms of experience and possibility, and was stimulating
and challenging in very satisfying ways. After my first two or three
years of work as a massage therapist, I began attracting clients who
had significant medical problems, really outside the scope of my
practice as a massage therapist, and I decided that if I was to help
those people, I needed to learn something more, something deeper and
authentically medical. I briefly considered chiropractic, but wasn't
personally drawn to that, although I recognize it as a very helpful,
valuable healing modality. Since I'd been studying taiji and by then
had also branched out into the study of qigong, I had more of an
attraction to the Chinese way of approaching health and healing. It was
around that time that I met an amazing Chinese qigong doctor, Dr. Cho
K. Wong, still perhaps the most evolved healer I've had the privilege
to know. I wanted to learn medical qigong from him, but he was not
accepting any students. We became friends, though, and I spent a fair
amount of time in his company and had many detailed and enlightening
conversations with him.
Dr. Wong believed it would require a
minimum of ten years' intensive training before I would be able to even
begin work as a qigong healer. (He has very high standards!) Taking his
learned opinion into account, I decided to enroll in Chinese medical
college, studying acupuncture, herbal medicine, tuina (a type of
Chinese medical massage therapy), and comprehensive Chinese medical
theory. I reasoned that in about four years' time (rather than ten),
I'd have a Master of Science Degree in Chinese Medicine (which, in
California, meant I also had to have a full western pre-med education),
a solid philosophical foundation in theories applicable to medical
qigong, and the qualifications to begin helping more people with
serious medical problems.
Moving to California in 1990 also gave me
the opportunity to study qigong regularly with B.K. Frantzis. Since
1987, I'd been taking some weekend and week-long qigong and tuina
workshops in New England with him, but in California, where he lived, I
could and did attend weekly classes, numerous weekend workshops, and
weeks-long retreats each summer. Dr. Wong recommended him as one of
only a handful of people in the US (out of the hundreds he'd met) who
he believed was qualified to teach authentic qigong, taiji, bagua,
xingyi, and other Daoist practices. Although I've studied with many
qigong masters over the years, B.K. Frantzis has been my primary
teacher since those days.
That's a rather long answer to your
question, but that's what was involved in setting me on my path.
2. Your new book, Chinese Healing Exercises,
details 88 exercises based on acupressure, Taiji, Qi Gong, Daoist yoga,
and other traditional Chinese health practices. Why did you include
such a mixture of practices?
the full interview.
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