Artwork for podcast Qiological Podcast
051 “Why doesn’t this work” is a good place to start - the unending cycle of learning and practice • Stuart Kutchins
Episode 5123rd September 2018 • Qiological Podcast • Michael Max
00:00:00 01:10:31

Shownotes

These days we worry about getting through school, passing the boards and then getting a practice started. But there was a time when there were no schools, or national accreditation and practicing acupuncture was a felony. That world was not so long ago, and as is often the case, it is difficult to understand the present moment without a sense of the history that it contains.

Our guest in this conversation began practicing acupuncture before there was licensing and accreditation. He has a view of our medicine and it’s practice that can only come from decades of engagement, learning and integration.

Listen in to another discussion on a view of medicine that comes from the experience of practice over the course of decades.

Head on over to the show notes page for more information about this episode and for links to the resources discussed in the interview. 

Transcripts

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I realized I was still reading it.

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It wasn't that long a book.

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And I was sitting there with it in my hands and I was reading it and I

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thought, it's not that book, a bigger book, how come I'm still reading it.

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And then I realized in that moment, I realized I'm not

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reading it and memorizing it.

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Hi, I'm Michael max.

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And this is qiological those of you that are regular listeners.

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You know, that this podcast is about east Asian medicine and it's

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geared toward practitioners of the art if you're new to the podcast.

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Welcome.

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And I hope that you enjoy it.

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You know, when you think about it, Chinese and east Asian

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medicine, it has a long history.

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That's leaned on dialogue as a way, both of teaching and exploring the

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medicine, the hung DNA DJing, the yellow emperor's internal class.

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It was a conversation, the various commentaries over the

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centuries on the medical literature and the methods of practice.

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Also, when you think about it, a sort of conversation, not in the

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present moment, but over the course of generations, as doctors read,

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studied, and then brought their own clinical experience to the conversation.

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Qiological I like to think of it as another footfall on that long tradition.

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These days, we worry about getting through school, passing the board exams

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and then getting a practice started.

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But there was a time here in the United States when there were no

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schools or national accreditation and practicing acupuncture, it was a felony.

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That world was not so long ago.

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And as is often the case, it's difficult to understand the present

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moment without a sense of the history that it contains east Asian medicine.

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It's not one unified system.

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It's more like a vibrant ecosystem than a well-ordered garden.

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And even though we may have very different ways of working, there's a set of core

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principles from which we all draw.

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It's curious to me how those principles both unite us and give us

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fodder for why we're so different.

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I reckon it's just the way it is when we live at the level of the 10,000

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things, it's easy to see the separateness while the unity seems to remain hidden.

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I hope this podcast can be a forum for the many different voices of our community.

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I've got Stuart kuchins with me today.

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Steward is a long time practitioner of Chinese medicine.

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And today we're here to talk about practice over the course of decades.

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You may have heard Stewart before he was on everyday acupuncture podcast.

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Show number 33, we were talking about, uh, the experience of not knowing

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in the midst of practicing medicine.

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You might want to check that one out, but today we're looking at the

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long arc of practice over decades.

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Stuart.

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Welcome to qiological.

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Thank you, Michael.

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It's always a pleasure to see you and talk to you.

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Yeah, I enjoy it too.

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So you've been doing this.

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When did you start this and whatever got you started with?

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And I mean, I don't think acupuncture was a career move back when you began.

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No, actually it was a felony with him.

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Uh, let's see what, uh, what got me started.

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Do you want the long story, the short story and give us whatever story you want.

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We got as much time as we want.

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Okay.

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So this is my story and I'm sticking with it.

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I was about ready for a career change anyway, and then by a series of

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happenstances, I attended a class, uh, in polarity therapy that was being

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offered by somebody that I knew very well had been a college roommate and.

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Uh, connection over time.

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And he was doing, uh, a workshop, um, Saturday afternoon, Saturday

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workshop on hilarity therapy.

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Innocent enough subject, huh?

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Yeah.

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Yeah.

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I wasn't looking for trouble.

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And he took a, he took about an hour out of that workshop to talk about

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acupressure and post-diagnosis and Chinese medical, uh, Chinese medicine

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theory and that sort of thing.

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And I thought it was very interesting.

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He had been a, uh, college professor for some time and therefore doing

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this workshop, he prepared a, uh, a bibliography for us for the workshop.

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And on that bibliography was, uh, two or three books in English.

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Asian medicine.

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One of them being Felix months acupuncture the ancient Chinese art of

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healing and how it works scientifically.

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So anyway, this section on acupressure I thought was really interesting and that

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the whole thing and that the theoretical construct for acupressure and Chinese

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medicine seemed really interesting to me.

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And after the workshop, I went down and went across union street

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to a bookstore that was there for many years, but isn't there anymore

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and looked around on their shelf.

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And wouldn't, you know, it, I found a book by Felix Martin called acupuncture,

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the ancient Chinese art of healing and how it works scientifically.

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And I bought it, took it home and I started reading it and I was

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reading it and I was reading it.

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And about four months later, I realized I was still reading this.

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It wasn't that long a book.

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And I was sitting there with it in my hands and I was reading it and I

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thought, it's not that big a book.

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How come I'm still reading it.

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And then I realized in that moment, I realized I'm not

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reading it, uh, memorizing it.

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Wow.

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Yeah, that's what I said.

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Wow.

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And I thought about that for a little bit.

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And I thought to myself, self, I thought, I think this is what's called a vocation.

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If I'm waiting for the heavens to part and the voice of the Eagles

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to come to me and say, you should be studying Chinese medicine.

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I don't think that's ever going to happen.

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I think I could wait lifetimes without that happening, but I think this is the

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form that a vocation takes for me to pick up a book and start memorizing it.

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That was the beginning of the.

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That was right about 19, right around 1971.

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And the next year I found a teacher somewhere right around there.

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Yeah.

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So as I said, acupuncture was not a career path at that time.

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It was a felony for anybody, but medical doctors, MDs to practice acupuncture.

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So my first, I don't know, my first five or six years of practice, I was a felon.

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It's okay.

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It's okay for that to come out now.

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Yeah.

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I think the statute of limitations is up.

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You're you're okay.

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At this point.

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What I mean?

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So what do you, I mean, at that point, what you just read a book,

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decide you're an acupuncturist and practice, or did you go to school?

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Did you take classes?

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What, uh, what came next?

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I found a, I found a teacher.

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I talked with some people and found my way to a, uh, a Japanese

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macrobiotic teacher named

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And he, at that time, lived in the bay area, not real close to me, but he lived

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in the bay area and he was who I found.

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So I started taking classes from him.

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And I went to see him once a week for, I don't know, about six months, I guess.

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And he explained to me about the five elements and about the panels and the

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acupuncture points and, you know, all that kind of thing and gave me an introduction,

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you know, introductory lectures and sort of the theoretical foundations.

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And then, uh, and then when one day I arrived and he gave

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me a list of empirical points.

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He said, if the person has a backache, this, this is a treatment you do.

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And if they have all bladder pain, this is what you, you know, whatever.

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Anyway, he gave me a list of a treatment repertory and he said, okay.

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So if you do this, sometimes it will work.

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And sometimes it won't pay attention to when it works.

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And when it does it.

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And basically shook my hand and sent me.

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Okay.

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So that, that last line that's, I mean, I hear you say it and I go, yeah.

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I mean that in so many ways, that's it pay attention to what works

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and pay attention to what doesn't.

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Yes, that was it.

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That was it.

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And it was the right thing to say to a person like me, because, uh, that,

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you know, it was my job because I knew it wasn't going to work all the time.

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And in fact, bless his heart.

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He was right.

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It didn't work all the time.

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As a matter of fact, it didn't even work all that much,

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but it was a starting point.

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And then, uh, from there I practiced for a while and then found my way.

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To some classes that were being offered a group that was meeting, uh, at a

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place in San Francisco and then a class that was being offered by a medical

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doctor who was an acupuncturist.

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And his name was Peter Ekman and ah, Peter Rachman of, uh,

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he's written a couple of books.

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He's written a few books, right.

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And he had not at that time written any books yet, but

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he certainly was interested.

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He had studied with Jr Worsley.

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He was very interested in acupuncture and Chinese medicine.

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And I took the class.

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And by, from his description about halfway through the class, I asked him a question.

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And it was like somebody had thrown open a window and we became

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friends and we were friends.

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We have been friends and close colleagues and dear friends ever

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since starting from that point.

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And it so happened that he had worked in a clinic in Los Angeles with

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a, with some Korean acupuncturist.

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And one of them had subsequently moved up to the bay area and I got in touch with

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him and arranged to take classes with him.

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And then since that was happening, Peter and another friend that I had

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who was interested in acupuncture said, oh, we want to do that too.

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So the three of us took classes from, from our Korean teacher to Hulu for, I dunno,

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it seemed like it was for decades, but actually I think the classes situation

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went for about a year and a half.

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Two years.

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And then he and Peter and I opened a clinic together in Oakland and

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we continued our studies there.

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Question that, that question that you asked him that opened the window.

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Do you remember what it was?

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No idea.

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I don't, but there was just a moment.

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It shifted.

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Yes.

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Well, what happened?

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You know, the truth of the matter is that I, I don't remember.

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And what happened was that it threw open a window for him.

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And I don't know that it, I don't know that it changed

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everything forever for him.

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But when I asked that question, he knew that I was his new best friend, whatever

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the question was, you know, whatever the content of the question was, the fact that

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I had asked a question like that, whatever the hell it was that there was, there

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was, he knew he had just met his friend.

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Okay.

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So you guys have a clinic with this Korean doctor.

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There's no, you're still felons actually at, at that point, I think we

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were just shifting, right during that time, we were just shifting out of the

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felon stage into the, you know, there had been an acupuncture law passed.

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I think actually when we opened that clinic, we weren't felons anymore.

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Just right about that time.

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Nope, Nope, no, I'm wrong.

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We still were.

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Uh, uh, so the acupuncture act in California had been passed

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and I applied for licensure.

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I waited a full year because when the word went out that they were soliciting

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applications for acupuncture license.

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So I didn't trust them.

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I thought maybe, maybe this is a trap, right?

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Yes, that's right.

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So I waited for a year until they started granting licenses.

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Yeah.

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That's a smart move.

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What was the requirement in those days to be an acupuncturist?

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I think you had to demonstrate that you had had some study that you had

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learned somewhere and then that you, uh, and you had to pass a test either.

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You had to have been in practice for some period of time, or you had to

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pass a test, which was an oral exam.

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And, um, I was short by about one year of how long one had to practice for

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grandfathering and I, and, and that year sort of extended into when I first started

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studying, but didn't extend to when I started practicing and I thought about,

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well, maybe I could just push it a little.

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And I decided, well, look, this is my new career.

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This is going to be my license.

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I don't ever.

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I want the basis for my licensure to be called into question.

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So I played it straight and took the exam and, um, yeah, the requirements were

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not very stringent and however stringent they were, they weren't, I don't know how

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carefully they were enforced, but I, I just presented letters from my preceptors.

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And, uh, maybe from Peter Ekman as well, you know, just people who knew I had

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been in practice and that I had studied whole different ballgame at that point.

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Yeah, it was, it was.

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It was.

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And part of it is, uh, you know, we sort of ran into the same thing when

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we were establishing the national commission for the certification

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of acupuncturist, which is that you have to, you have to start somewhere.

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You have to start with the presumption that there is nobody

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who has this credential yet.

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So you, you create the basis for grandfathering and you have a

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relatively short period of time in which you apply, uh, standards that

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isn't, that are not that stringent.

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That just to establish that somebody actually is doing this

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thing that you want to regulate.

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And once you have established that, there is a group of people who are

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credibly involved in that, and you say, okay, you are in the group.

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Then you go from there, then you say, well, that's all very nice for

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the people who started that way.

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But now we have a basis for establishing minimum standards of competence,

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which is what we did at the NCCA AOM.

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You know, the standards we started with for grandfathering were different than

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the standards that we established for people who are newly entering the field.

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Right.

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Cause you're, you're actually creating a whole new field.

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At this point that's right, right.

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So, so you need people who have no, no national certification to participate

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in the creation of the standards for national certification and write and

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review questions for examinations that establish minimum entry-level competence.

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So since nobody has that credential, then you have to start with people who

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don't have that credential, give them the credential and then enable them

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to work on establishing the standard.

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It's kind of a bootstrap operation, I guess it is exactly.

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And that's the way everything starts.

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Yeah.

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Every, every profession gets pulled up by the bootstraps.

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Well, actually, no, when I think about it and I think about

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practicing, I mean, by the time I came around to it, the NCCA was there.

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You know, the exams were there.

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Heck I actually went to an acupuncture school, but there's always that

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sort of bootstrapping yourself.

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Into being able to do it right through your education, through your grit,

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through your sticktuitiveness the first acupuncture school that I attended, I was,

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uh, I got a doctor of Oriental medicine degree from, but I was the, uh, the

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Dean of the program that will word it.

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Wait a minute.

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You know, I mean, there just wasn't another way, just, that

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was just how it could happen.

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Yeah.

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So I want to, I want to come back to your Japanese teacher who basically

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said sometimes it will work.

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Sometimes it won't shake your hand and sends you off.

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You're a Zen practitioner.

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So you know, a lot about failure.

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And I want to get into, I want to ask you about how we can best learn.

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From our clinical mistakes, because by God, we're going to make them and

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there's no way around not making them.

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How do you unpack the learning from a situation when you're caught up in all

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the noise and worries of self-criticism and oh, what am I going to do?

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And I'll never get this and what's going to happen to my business and,

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you know, blah, blah, blah, blah.

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Uh, well, I'd like to start in a slightly different point in that

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question and say that when my son was really little, he was right about two

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years old, we were playing together.

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And, uh, he was really interested in my Swiss army knife because

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that was what kind of kid he was.

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And we, he got out the, uh, he got out the toothpick out of it and

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he was trying to put the toothpick back in and it didn't work.

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And, uh, he couldn't get the toothpick back in, but he wanted to.

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And so I showed him where to put the toothpick back in to the Swiss army

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knife and he tried, but he had it backwards and he was trying to put it in.

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And after two or three attempts, he turned to me and said his first

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complete English language sentence, which was why doesn't this one?

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Oh, wow.

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And I knew at that point, you know, sometimes we don't know about the

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genetics of our presumed offspring.

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I knew this is my son

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and that everything was going to be all right.

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So, so I think that's, that's the basic, that's the basic question.

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Why doesn't this work?

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That was, uh, many, many years ago.

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I remember reading, I believe it was the book that I was reading

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at the time was the function of the orgasm by Wilhelm Reich.

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And, uh, and that was his basic, quite, he had been trained by Freud.

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He was devoted.

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To Freud and to Freudian analysis.

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And he had these difficult patients and he was doing analysis

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and he wasn't getting anywhere.

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And his basic question was why doesn't this work?

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I believe in it.

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I believe in the theory.

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I know that it's powerful.

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It seems to explain what I need to know why doesn't this work

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and that I think that's it.

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We just have to be willing not to blame ourselves, not to blame our

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patients, not even to blame the theory, but just to keep asking the

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question, why doesn't this work?

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And if we're willing to sit with that question, then we have the possibility of.

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Of understanding better after I, when I studied with Mr.

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Morimoto, I was not as an student, I subsequently became a Zen student.

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I think studying with him was part of what interested me in

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that range of possibilities.

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But after I had become a serious sentence student and had actually taken a few

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years off and had sat in a monastery for a few years and, you know, gotten

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trained as a priest and had not practiced Oriental medicine for six years.

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And then I left the monastery and I went back into practice.

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One of the first things that I realized as the time approached to

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go back into practice was that I had forgotten much of what I knew

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that at the time when I stopped my practice, I had reached what I thought

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was a relatively satisfactory level.

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Uh, Please excuse the term.

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I don't mean it to be arrogant, but a reasonably acceptable level of mastery.

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I knew what I was doing.

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I knew how to do it.

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I could go forward.

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And it was based on having a substantial amount of information

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and a, uh, a book load of theories on which to draw, to meet situations.

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Six years later, after not having practiced at all, I went back into

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practice and people started coming to see me and I didn't know what to do.

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I couldn't remember.

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I, I remember going on my way, uh, to my first appointment.

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When I started back back into practice, my friend Brian Laforge

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had asked me to cover his practice one afternoon in San and somehow.

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I was living still at green Gulch, but I was not a resident.

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I was living there because my wife was still the head of the meditation.

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I was living with her.

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Uh, so this was my first day back covering Brian practice for the afternoon.

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And.

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And I'm trying to remember about how to be a practitioner and one, and

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I realized, I don't even know which side of the table do I stand on.

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I mean, it was, it was that basic, I mean, where, where to even begin, right?

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How do I even greet someone when they walk in the door?

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That's right.

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Exactly.

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So I did, I did make it through, through that somehow, but anyway, we were

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driving, uh, if you know the territory, you know that if you don't go on the

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freeway between mill valley and San in Selma, which is where I was headed,

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there is a, uh, a hill, a very tall hill.

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In fact, it's called Camino Alto, which you know, which is the high road.

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Uh, and, uh, so we were driving up Camino Alto and in my family, I always drive.

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But that day I asked my wife to drive because I was just so nervous.

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What am I going to do?

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These people are going to come with problems.

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And I don't, I don't, I don't even remember which side

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of the table to stand up.

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So she was driving, we were driving up Camino Alto and I was getting sweaty

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or, and sweaty or, and right at the top of Camino Alto, This is so dramatic,

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right at the top of Camino Alto.

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It suddenly came to me that when people come to see me, when come to

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see us, they come with their problems and we think we're supposed to solve

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their problems, but they also come with the solution to their problems.

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And that what I have to do is not just not just listen to the problems.

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And then I solve their problems.

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I have to listen to their problems and listen to the solution, listen

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for the solution, to their problems, which they bring with them.

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And I started breathing again and I did somehow get through that day and

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then wound up setting, setting up a clinic for myself and having my own

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patients to treat and what I found.

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And I, I credit the Zen practice with being able to do this.

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I was still in the same position, you know, I was studying and I was remembering

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more and learning more, but I was still in the same position that I was now

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closer to what it had been like when Mr.

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Burrow Modo had said, here are some things to do, pay attention to when

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they work and when they don't work.

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And, and I was in that situation and I didn't necessarily any more

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note, just know what I should do.

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So what I found myself doing was sitting with my patients and letting them tell

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me what their problem was and just letting them talk until a moment came.

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By whatever means it was.

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And I can't tell you what the means were.

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Whatever means it was, I felt ready to act.

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I didn't even necessarily know what I was going to do, but I felt ready to act.

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And then I would get up and start treatment.

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And there was, there was something that was guiding me and, and my understanding

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of it then, and now was that they were guiding me that they had given me enough

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information, so that given my many years of study and, you know, various things

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that I had studied and knowledge of, of points and channels and different,

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different, uh, medical theories and so forth that somehow something would

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coalesce out of my informational background and my interaction with them.

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And something would coalesce into a treatment.

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And it wasn't that when I stood up to give them treatment, that

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I already knew what that was.

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It just emerged in the situation.

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Wow.

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I I've had some similar experience.

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I mean, people come to us because they've got problems.

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Otherwise, why would they bother walking in the door?

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Right.

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And not only they have problems, but they have problems that nobody's

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been able to solve for them.

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That's right.

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Or maybe they've gotten worse as a result of the treatments that they've had.

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Right.

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The things that they've.

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So, I mean, we see lots of refugees of the conventional medical system.

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Right.

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We see everybody's failures.

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Yeah.

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And the idea, and I've seen it.

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In fact, it gives me great hope.

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It's partly why I think I can keep doing this.

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If my job is that I always had to know exactly what to do and be the guy who

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fixed people, I would be running a different kind of business I'm sure.

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Because number one, I'm not that smart.

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And number two, I can't deal with that kind of pressure that wouldn't work.

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Right.

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Cool.

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Can, I mean, there might be some people who can't, I don't know, but

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I know that I'm not built for that.

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The thing that's so surprising and wonderful about this work is at least

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if you, I guess if you do it long enough and I've been doing it long

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enough, I've had a few glimpses, there are moments where I recognize

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that they've just said something.

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And they've given me the key on what to do.

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This is where we start, right?

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So they've got this issue.

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I'll just pick one with asthma, right?

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I've got this asthma and I'm on these inhalers and I'm seeing all these

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doctors, and this is what everyone says.

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And my Facebook group says, I should do this.

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And my mom says I should do that.

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And you know, I'm just so sad because my dog died.

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I can barely breathe.

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Right.

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Oh great.

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Here's where we start.

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Yes.

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Let's see, you know, maybe this is right.

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Maybe it's not right.

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I mean, you know, on one hand, oh, look at me.

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I'm a clever Chinese medical practitioner.

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I identified lungs and grief, but it's not that it's just, it's a hint.

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It's a clue.

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Oh, what if we start going down this path?

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Let's see what happens.

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Yeah, it's a door that swings open.

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It's a door that swings, you're sitting in a, in a darkened

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room and a door swings open.

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You say, it looks like there's light over there.

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There's light over there.

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And it just, it just makes sense if you feel it, you know, oh, okay.

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There's a door.

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Let's go through it.

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Let's go through it.

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And I think it really is true people.

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People's problems contain the solution.

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If we're able to somehow sit with it long enough, listen to it openly enough.

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Sometimes you got away to treatment or two or three before

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some of this stuff emerges.

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You know, I got it.

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First, you got to build a relationship so they don't go running away.

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Right.

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Right.

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And it, it helps to be able to be helpful.

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And, and that's, that's part of what I wanted to say in terms of

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the conversation we've been having, you know, I've been talking about

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knowing how to fix people and being able to fix people and everything.

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And, and that isn't it at all, really what it is really what I

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understand to be our job is to free up people's self-healing capacities.

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And so that we help them optimize their, uh, their capacity for self-correction

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and self-healing, and that kind of process takes time and often unfolds over time.

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It isn't like, oh, they walk in and we do something.

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And that just happens.

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So sometimes it really takes a while before that unfolds.

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And even after it begins to unfold, we have to be available to help guide them.

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Through that, uh, through that journey, but it, but it's never my perspective.

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I don't want to tell anybody else what they should think, but my perspective

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on it, it's never us fixing people.

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It's really always us helping people.

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And, um, I think actually, I might've told you this story.

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Once before that, I got a call from someone once who had heard that I help

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people stop smoking and he called me up and he said, can you make me stop smoking?

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And I responded, no, I can't.

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And I wouldn't, if I could, because I don't want.

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That kind of responsibility.

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I don't want to be in the place of controlling other people's lives,

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controlling how they think and how they feel and what they want and what they do.

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I just want to help them.

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I want to help them along on their path and if their path is to stop smoking,

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I actually know a finger too, that has often also not always helped people in

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the, you know, in the considerable task of stopping smoking or stopping other

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things that were difficult to control.

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But I, I definitely don't ever, ever want to be in the position of

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controlling other people's lives.

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No, thank you very much.

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Hi, Josephine here again.

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I hope you've been enjoying this episode and considering my question.

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What is the most important ingredient in any prescription?

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You might think that what I'm about to say is completely counter to all

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you've learned about medicine, but in my experience with myself, my clients and

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my students, this is the one thing that is the most true, the most important

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ingredient in any prescription is you, I don't mean you the ego or the persona.

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You the acupuncturist.

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No.

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I mean, you, the living, breathing, sensing, being who has feelings,

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perceptions, and thoughts arising in every moment, when you are listening

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to a person's pulse, looking at their tongue for hearing them speak, what

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is arising inside, you will be the most important guide for creating a

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powerful prescription of any kind, no matter where you are in your journey.

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Now, I wonder if you feel connected to your own, knowing to your own power as

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a practitioner, What might you need now to feel more connected, more competent,

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more strong in your own practice.

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I'd love it.

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If you talk to me, email me at Josephine Edison's presence.com

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or go to essence presence.com.

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I'm looking forward to hearing from you.

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Now let's listen to the rest of today's conversation.

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I think this is a, this really gets at in many ways, the difference

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between conventional medicine and what we're doing, or what

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conventional medicine it's about.

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We got this thing we're going to control it.

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We're going to make this other thing happen, right.

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With a pharmaceutical or, I mean, sometimes the surgery is necessary, but

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it's very much a system of control and.

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And ours is a whole different thing because we're inviting

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something to unfold from within.

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Yes, I think that's exactly right.

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And, and you're right.

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Sometimes pharmaceuticals.

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Essential.

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And sometimes, uh, surgery is, is the life-saving intervention.

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And sometimes antibiotics are what saved the day.

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And these are all miracles.

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And sometimes you just need a miracle because the person's self

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healing mechanisms are not adequate.

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They are overwhelmed when somebody's self-correction is overwhelmed, then they

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need some kind of miraculous intervention.

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They need steroids, they need antibiotics, they need surgery.

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They need some really powerful pharmaceutical medication to help

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bring an out of control situation into control and sufficiently into

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control so that they can optimize.

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Their ability to cope with their lives.

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And sometimes our medicine takes us further along the lines of

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being able to restore out of control situations than others.

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But definitely I'm, I'm a firm believer that there is a place for all of

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those, all of those kinds of things.

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And, and I am not, I am not a critic of the operation of, uh, Western

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medicine, you know, uh, I don't criticize what they have or what they can do.

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My, uh, my reservations about it are twofold.

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One is that they're not always careful enough in detailing their diagnosis.

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Sometimes they just leap to solutions without.

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Availing themselves fully of the kind of testing that is

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supposed to guide their treatment.

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That's one thing.

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And the other thing is a related issue of just overusing miracles, you know?

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Oh, I can do miracles.

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So I guess I'm God.

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And I should just do, I should just do miracles all the time.

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Sometimes people don't need miracles.

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Sometimes people need actually to be kind of left alone, to work things out.

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Maybe they need some guidance, but they, they definitely don't need to be messed

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with in, in any kind of serious way.

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In addition to, uh, to practicing Oriental medicine, I also have

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studied and, uh, and practice a kind of, uh, osteopathic manual therapy.

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A couple of different kinds, actually.

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And I want to say right now, I want to lay blame where it, where it

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most, most certainly belongs, which is, this is all Dan Ben skis fault.

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He just made so much trouble in my life.

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Uh, he got me involved in studying cranial sacral therapy.

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Do you have time for a story?

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Oh yeah.

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Bring it up.

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I'd like stories about trouble.

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Yeah.

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He came to San Francisco for a class.

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I think if I remember correctly, it was a class in Corio Suji, CIM, you know, uh,

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Korean hand acupuncture that was being offered by, uh, by its founder table.

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You who I think is a felon wasn't here.

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It was, uh, I don't think if, if he was a felon, I don't know what the

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felony was, but he certainly was.

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Uh, and the, and the dramatic character.

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And including, he seems to have disappeared from sight, but I don't

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think that he disappeared into a prison.

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As far as I know, he just seemed to have dropped out of sight in the United States

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where he was a really big presence for a, and it's just no longer to be seen.

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Anyway, I don't, I don't know that he was, there was anything wrong with

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what he had done in his life, but, um, but anyway, we took that class

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and Dan Kay flew down for the class.

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And then afterwards I offered to take him to the airport and he

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accepted, but it was, there was a time delay before his flight.

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So it was talking and I told him something about, I think that I was having ringing

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in my ears, I think was the problem.

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And he said, oh, well, uh, let's try this.

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And, and he gave me a cranial treatment.

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My first cranial treatment, I didn't even know.

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So he sat in the backseat of the car and I sat in the driver's seat and

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I, I leaned the seat all the way back and he gave me a creamy treatment.

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Uh, and I had never been touched like that.

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I had never felt anything like that.

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And when he was done, I said, what was that?

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And he told me that, and I, and I said, where do I get it?

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And he told me, so I started studying, uh, uh, cranial sacral therapy.

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And then I did that for a couple of years.

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And then, uh, I was having a conversation with him and, uh, he said something

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about, he was going to study with his teacher and I said, who is your teacher?

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And he said, uh, Sean PR, you know, and it was visceral manipulation.

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Okay, this is dance teacher.

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Okay.

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I'm going to study with him too.

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I better check it out.

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So I did.

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I checked that out anyway.

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I have, uh, on and off for, I don't know, last 25 years or 30

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years or something like that.

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Uh, studied visceral manipulation, jump here, but I'll, and, and,

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or his, uh, various associates.

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And that's been an important part of what I've learned, that sort of the

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basic diagnostic technique and the fundamental treatment technique in

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visceral manipulation is called listening.

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You start by listening, you put your hands gently, but kind of securely

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know gently, but with genuine contact on somebody's body and you listen.

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To what happens, where, where does this go?

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Where am I pulled?

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Where is something strange happening?

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You know, where, where is the most abnormal tension in the body?

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And you just listen.

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And then when you find your way to where it is, then you kind of poke in

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a little bit, nothing too much, you poke in a little bit and you listen

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and you see what the body wants to do, and then you help it, whatever

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it wants to do, you help it do that.

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That's also the sensibility of cranial sacral therapy.

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This is all the most powerful technique for both of these, these approaches,

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uh, healing approaches is induction.

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You find out what does the body want to do?

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That it can't quite get to the bottom of, and then you help it do what it is

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it wants to do and get to the bottom of it so that it can move on to the next.

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So it doesn't have to be stuck where it can't come to resolution.

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So it's helping bodies, helping people come to the resolution of problems in

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which they are stuck and they can't find their way all the way through.

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That's how I see that kind of manual therapy.

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And in some sense, in some important sense, that's how I see my job

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as an acupuncturist as well.

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Well, I'm hearing you tell the story a little earlier about

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coming back from the Zen training.

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You're going to your first day at an acupuncture clinic.

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Oh my God.

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What do I do?

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Well, you go and you listen.

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Exactly.

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You go and you listen, you see what's there, right?

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That's how you find out what the problem is.

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And that's how you find out what the solution is.

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You don't necessarily listen to.

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In exactly the same way for both of those things, but it's all listening.

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You know, sometimes you listen with your ears.

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Sometimes you listen with your eyes sometimes with your hands, you

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know, whatever it's all listening.

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And it, it all involves being, uh, being very respectful of what this person,

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what this suffering person has to tell you by some means or another, because

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they want to tell you the whole thing.

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They want to tell you how they're suffering.

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And they want to tell you how, how they can get out of suffering.

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They might have a story and narrative for how they have to get out of suffering or

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how they got there in the first place, how they got there in the first place.

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But as often as not the narrative that they offer you is incorrect, but

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there's something about it that might help you understand what more deeply.

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Is the issue, you know, like sometimes I practice, uh, Fukushima, you

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know, Japanese, abdominal diagnosis.

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So I do that a lot, you know, and if I press on somebody's belly and I get

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to a hard spot, they say, oh, oh, I had lunch an hour ago during lunch.

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Or, uh, I, you know, I press it and there's something tight or sore.

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And they say, oh, I was, uh, I was doing Pilates.

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And, uh, yesterday, and I, maybe I did a little too much, you

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know, they have the story and the story, isn't the right story.

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But their body is telling you a right story.

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And when they say, oh, uh, that's bothering me because I had lunch,

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you know, two hours ago, it must've been something I ate, you know, I

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mean, it's conceivable that it's true, but it almost never is.

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Almost always the story they have, for example, being a little bit of a wise

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guy, not a horrible wise guy, but a little bit of a wise guy, you know, if

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somebody says, oh, I was doing Pilates.

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I said, I press on the other side.

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I said, what are you doing?

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Kylie's on this side too.

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Oh yeah.

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So, you know, a certain part of, of a certain amount of what it takes to get

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through the day is kind of disarming people's defense mechanisms, the defense

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mechanisms that they Mount to prevent you from getting too close to the truth and,

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and their narrative, their narratives often are an important part of that.

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The narrative function, isn't it, isn't all against us.

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That narrative funds.

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Operates really fast.

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I've never, I haven't tried to verify this for myself.

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Exactly.

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But I have had some verifying experience that this function of

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developing a story happens so fast that we don't even see it happening.

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We don't even see it coming.

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And, uh, somebody told me once that if you have some kind of sensory

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experience before you even cognize the sensation, before you are aware

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of the sensation, the part of your brain, that develops stories is already

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constructing the story that explains it.

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And the closest that I've had to seeing that for myself is not exactly that

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fast, but sitting in the meditation hall at Tassa Hara, when I was.

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When I was student there, I think, I think this happened when I was the

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head student, uh, at Tassa heart, I was sitting in the meditation hall

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and there was a noise on the deck.

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You know, the porch outside the meditation hall.

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It sounded like footfalls.

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And as soon as I heard it, I just, I knew who, who it was.

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And it was somebody who was like typically late and they were screwing up a lot

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and they were about to throw open the door and walk in, you know, 15 minutes

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late for the beginning of the Zen.

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And I was already upset with them.

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And I know this doesn't sound very much like the head student,

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but anyway, actually it sounds exactly like it had students.

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This was what was going on immediately.

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I mean, I was still hearing that sound, the sound that I

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took to be there, footfall that.

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Sound was just entering my consciousness and I already had this story going.

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And then a moment later it changed and the story evaporated the story no longer

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was adequate to what I was hearing a half a second later, but in the first

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half, second, this whole story and all of this history and all of this, all

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of this drama unfolded just like that.

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Unbidden I wasn't trying to do that.

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That just happened.

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And so that was a situation where I, I was conscious of this sensation,

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you know, I, I heard a sound and I knew I was hearing a sound.

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That's how fast that whole story came up.

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That was totally fabricated.

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And apparently the story maybe.

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Part of the brain is even faster than that.

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It was probably working on it before I even knew I was hearing something

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it's faster than the speed of thought.

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Exactly.

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Exactly.

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I I've seen this thing too with the way people make sense

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or attempt to make sense.

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And I, and I, my suspicion is that's kind of what we do as human beings.

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We're, we're trying to make sense to ourselves.

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We're trying to make sense of our experience.

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Uh, it could be something as simple as somebody presses on our belly and we go,

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oh, that was, that was because of Pilates.

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The mind really wants to dig in and have a sense that it knows what's going on.

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And, and that, that sitting in that place of there's something happening

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and, and holding a little space.

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I'm not sure.

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I really like that term.

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It sounds a little new age-y, but it's the best I can come up with just to see

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what, just to see what all is in there, including the story can be helpful.

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I think our patients bring us stories.

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Sometimes it's the stories that they've been telling themselves

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that are a part of the problem.

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And as they start to get better or feel better or change some habits or something

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happens, their story starts to change.

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And is their story changes their experience of their body

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and themselves changes as well?

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Yes.

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Yes.

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Those things are all intimately, intimately tied together.

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It's a.

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It's one continuous package and you press anywhere on it and something, something

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at the other end of the situation moves.

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So let me toss this question out to you.

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I get, I get this a lot.

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In fact, I suspect the listeners hear this a lot too.

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Somebody gets off the acupuncture table and something's very different and they

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go, wow, it's like the pain is gone or this is really dramatically different

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or I see better, whatever it is.

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And they go, is this real?

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Or is it just in my mind?

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And I find this to be a really curious question.

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And the reason I find it curious is because when the mind makes the

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body, well, we call it placebo.

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When the mind makes the body ill, we call it hypochondria.

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The question I've got, and it's a question I don't have an answer.

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I'm going to throw it out to you.

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What's up with this mind piece because it seems to be.

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Really powerful and central and a lot of healing.

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Well, uh, people ask me sometimes about mind, body connection.

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And when people ask me about the mind body connection and whether there is

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a connection between mind and body and that sort of thing, when, when that kind

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of question comes up, then my response is, have you ever had the experience of

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your mind and your body being separate?

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Does your mind, does your mind go someplace in your body goes,

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you know, goes out to the diner for lunch while your mind?

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I mean, w what, what do you suppose is the difference between your mind and your.

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Where D where's the separation line.

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How do you distinguish between mind and body?

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I think that that's a very important point.

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And also there are a couple of things about the way you frame the question

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that helps suggest the answer to it.

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The origin.

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As I understand it.

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I have not independently verified this, but somebody told me, uh, that the origin

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of the term hypochondrium hypochondriac dates from, uh, I think it was the 19th

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century when physicians were noticing that there were a lot of people who

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had kind of vague complaints and.

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And it was just like, they couldn't figure out what was wrong with these people.

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And it just seemed like these people were just complaining.

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They were to set it something wasn't going well in their life or something like that.

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And they just had a lot of complaints and, uh, and somebody, or somebody noticed

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that a common thread in that was that they would complain about discomfort in

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the area, under their ribcage, in what we know as the hypochondria hypochondrium.

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And that was how the term hypochondriac was coined.

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It referred to these people who had these vague, non physiological

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complaints, and they didn't feel well and their lives weren't going well.

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And they were uncomfortable and bad sleeping and everything like that.

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And they had vague pains in their body and everything.

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And of course we can understand, particularly from our perspective,

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they all had liver problems.

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Just undiagnosed liver problems.

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Those are the hypochondriacs.

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Those are the people who have organic problems that we can't diagnose yet.

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And so that's hypochondria.

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And as for placebo, what does placebo mean?

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Placebo refers to becoming comfortable, right.

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And, uh, what part of healing is not involved with placebo?

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In fact, I remember years ago talking with one of our colleagues who does

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research on this topic at Harvard and a Harvard related, uh, medical

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facilities who said that actually substantial portion of all healing

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was placebo in order to get a drink.

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Through the FDA to get it approved.

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You just have to prove, you have to demonstrate that it has a statistically

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significant, better effect than placebo.

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You start with the placebo effect.

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And all you have to do is get statistically better than that.

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And you know enough about statistics to know that it doesn't take

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very much to get statistically significant, better than anything.

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They're my fellow, Missouri and mark Twain used to say, there's liars damned

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liars, and then there's statisticians.

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Oh, so there's one, one more thing.

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A piece of research that he told me about in one of our conversations about

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the CBO, which is that the, there was some indication that the effectiveness,

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even of prescription medications, We're effected by the circumstances under

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which the prescription was received.

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You know, if you just get a prescription in the mail or gets dropped off at

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your mailbox or something like that, or there's a kind of scraggly looking guy

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sitting in a torn sofa, who gives you a prescription, is the effectiveness.

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The measurable effectiveness of that prescription is different from

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receiving it from somebody who's sitting at a desk, wearing a white

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jacket and writing it in illegible script, especially prepared note, and

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that people who have had the patients to do studies on this kind of thing.

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That's just especially prepared, printed notepad, uh, people who've

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done research on this kind of thing.

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Had he told me have demonstrated that the outcomes of the therapy

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will vary depending on which of those experiences you have.

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And you can predict which one, which one has higher level of effectiveness.

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The, uh, you mentioned the prescription pad.

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I'm thinking of a brief amount of time when I was in Taiwan and I was staying

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with this, uh, dome style acupuncturist who did all this other really wild stuff,

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some kind of folk medicine thing where he'd people come in and they talk and

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he'd like, write something on a piece of paper and then he'd burn it and

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make some kind of hand motions and this and that and bloody blah, blah, blah.

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And I remember looking at that and going, oh man, I, what am I doing here?

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Right.

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I mean, it just seemed totally bizarre, but.

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As you tell the story of research that's been done, that shows someone

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in a white coat, sitting behind a desk, writing on a special piece of paper

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can change the effectiveness of a drug.

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I'm thinking, oh man, maybe I should like buy some flash paper so I can

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like write on it and, you know, burn it in front of my patients.

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It might help.

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Yes.

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Especially if your patients are acculturated in a shamanic culture.

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Most of mine aren't actually, I, I, the people looking for the

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shamans, I send them somewhere else.

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You must be a student of the nature.

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Well, I would say I'm a poor student of the aging.

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I just don't know much about shamanism.

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And so when people come in and they think because I'm a Chinese

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medicine practitioner, I'm supposed to know something about it.

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I want to dissuade them very quickly from that I know anything about it.

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Right.

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I, I know, I know what you mean.

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On the other hand, it's important that you appreciate the significance of the

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rituals that you perform, including washing your hands, sterilizing your

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needles, preparing a clean space, you know, purified space for them.

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You know, all of those, all of those things make a difference to the

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outcome because, uh, although you are activating the self-healing mechanisms

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in their body, I am here to reassure you that their bodies are not very

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far away from where their minds are.

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And I want to say, we'd like to add to that.

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I think it's very distasteful to me and, uh, kind of terrible when

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I see people trying to explore.

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The manipulation, you know, to manipulate people's attention and manipulate their

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understanding of the relationship in a way to create an aura of authority

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and power in those situations.

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But at the same time, I think that there is already a certain

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amount of authority and power in our invested in our relationship.

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And, uh, that is expressed through rituals and that the ritual effect

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of how we practice actually helps protect our patients and us from

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that kind of, uh, what would you say the corrosive effects of power

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differential in these relationships?

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So one of the things that we can do as practitioners is be really

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attentive to our space, what we're doing, how we're doing.

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Um, and I'm struck too.

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I mean, this last thing that you said about the, the, you, the practitioner

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using the power differential really for their own self-gratification or for, or

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for getting some kind of control over the patient, it, I mean, it seems like so many

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tools, so to speak, we can, we can use it to be very helpful, but we can also use it

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in ways that that's actually not helpful to the people that we're trying to help.

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Yeah.

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You see that very often, this happens in context of spiritual communities

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that the leaders in the spiritual community will use their spiritual

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authority to exploit their students.

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And that's, that's obviously horrible and, but the same thing

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can happen in and does happen frequently in medical relationships.

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And part of that.

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Part of the, uh, ethics of, of practice as a physician of any sort is not, not,

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not to exploit the power differential inherent in this situation to gain

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anything for oneself other than to get one's build page, you know, but, but

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not to get anything, this is not for our gratification and important aspect of

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all of this, both in spiritual practice and in medical practice is to understand

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that the authority that we have and the ability that we have to help people.

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Doesn't belongs to us and isn't there for our enrichment where we're

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not supposed to be getting anything special out of it beyond being in the

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situation of being able to help people.

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And if we find helping people gratifying, then we can, I think we're entitled

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to that kind of gratification, but to try to get anything more than that

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out of it is actually betrayal of the trust that our patients place in us.

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It's a point well taken.

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Thank you.

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Patients often will come in, especially if things have gone well,

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and they'll say, wow, thank you.

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You fixed my X, Y, Z, whatever it is, you fixed it.

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And there is a part of me that wants to go.

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Yeah, I kind of got this stuff down, but I know if that part comes out.

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I am asking for trouble because I'm making trouble, I'm inviting it.

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Yeah.

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So it's, I mean, it's just really tender place where we stand we're on one hand,

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recognizing that people are appreciative.

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And on the other hand, recognizing that we're here to sort of

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assist in midwife, so to speak.

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And it's really important for our own health and wellbeing to recognize that

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the healing really comes from them.

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It doesn't come from us.

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Right.

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The problem comes from them.

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The solution comes from them and the unfolded.

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Of the healing process is theirs.

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It isn't ours.

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We just, we just have the good fortune to be able to be present for it, to witness

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it and to be midwives for it, to, to help it along in its unfoldment, help them

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along and unfolding it for themselves.

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And it's really for their benefit.

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Well, that seems like a good place to, uh, put a bookmark in it for today.

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Okay.

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Okay.

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Well, it has been a great pleasure talking to you and, uh, and I look forward to

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the next opportunity maybe who knows?

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You might even come to California again someday.

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You never know.

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You never know.

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Do you, if, and when that happens, I look forward to seeing you because we

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always have so much fun me as well.

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Okay?

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Okay.

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