With an Associates Degree in Liberal Arts with an emphasis in Holistic Health in hand, a new chapter in my life emerges. In order to tie my passion, direction and purpose together I must now consider what has led me to this moment as the end of my general education comes to a close. At age twenty I developed a chronic pain condition known as fibromyalgia. I felt constant pain in every part of my being with each passing moment without relief. Day to day I was unable to stand for long, able to sit only slightly longer than I could stand, and barely able to function out of exhaustion, yet couldn’t sleep because of the unending pain. With only MediCal insurance available, it took a year to diagnosis what had taken hold of my life and health beyond the care that science and the tools Western medicine were capable of providing. At that time the only medical system I knew of was the western version. Pain management medication, sleeping pills, as well as general tips to exercise, lower stress, and maintain a healthier diet was the mainstream approach to treat what I had. Unfortunately all that occurred was symptom control rather than relief of the whole issue. My experiences in my twenties were unmatched by most my age and after years of agony despite all the pills, I was fed up with my life and what it had become.
A gradual shift began to take root as I neared the five-year mark of this chronic pain challenge, among the hefty list of other symptoms. Even though I had achieved a significant goal to most outsiders by losing over sixty pounds, nothing else changed. With this and a combination of other events, one in particular involving a comment my father made which I will never forget, lifted me above the storm of affliction. His words struck a chord as he said, “When you are hurting bad enough, you’ll try anything.” This unexpected seed grew my drive, willpower, strength, sincerity, attention, and effort to open my mind to explore all holistic avenues that had the potential to help me overcome my challenges, since without my health I didn’t feel I had much more to lose. After I discovered and eagerly began neurofeedback and biofeedback at the Drake Institute, I recognized something fundamental to life that indeed was missing from mine: my body had forgotten how to relax and maintain a state of equilibrium. With a year of sessions to train my brain and body how to relax and with the implementation of holistic tools at home, I was astonished to be relieved of eighty-five percent of the pain that had once plagued my life. As a result, I was able to get off all of my medications.
Enduring and overcoming a chronic pain condition has allowed me to experience extremes of imbalance and balance, strongly establishing the belief that anything is possible. With newfound health I wholeheartedly embraced the reality that this was my miraculous opportunity to reach inward beyond the surface of pain and truly connect with the source and essence of my genuine energy. As I progressively ground my connection and passion in the art of nature’s healing tools and life force energy, Traditional Chinese Medicine has captivated my attention most as it promotes healthy flow of energy in the body and incorporates knowledge that nurtures natural function thus diminishing the impact of stressors on the body. I discovered this as well as my passion and purpose when an Acupuncturist spoke in my Alternative Medicine class describing the layers of qi in the body, the function of each, and how she promotes healing. That day I had a cold so severe the congestion caused me to lose hearing in my left ear. After she learned that negative stressors regarding a relationship and my living situation that had surfaced in the prior weeks, she explained my qi had been weakened allowing illness to manifest in my body. It only took two treatments of acupuncture and herbal supplementation for me to awaken to astonishing healing beyond the physical level. Not only did I feel renewed and well, but I also felt enveloped in a steady flow of relaxation and stillness, allowing clarity to surface about my stressors and how to eliminate them. With Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine the whole being of a patient is considered and treated in a safe and effective manner, which is the fact that fuels my passion. Furthermore, my experience maintaining wellness through utilization of this modality has cultivated my purpose and dedication to help people and change the world for the better.
From these epiphanies sprouts my academic plan and interests; I am determined to move to Washington in the fall to attend Bastyr University and complete the combined Bachelor’s/Master’s program in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Not only is it an exceptional institution, but it also is the only one I have found on the west coast that will allow me entry as an undergraduate student. A childhood friend, Cody Long, graduated from Bastyr and describes the university as the “Harvard of holistic schools.” I have found this to be true through my own investigation, finding the curriculum at Bastyr University incomparable to any mainstream or holistic school, as it encompasses not only Acupuncture but also a completely comprehensive program in Traditional Chinese Medicine with qigong and Chinese herbal training while integrating Western paradigms of healthcare. If the curriculum itself wasn’t enough to enchant my intellect and confirm my decision to solely pursue this university, the additional opportunity to learn and contribute to progress in alternative medicine through the Bastyr research institute, fine tune learned skills through clinical training, as well as intern in China only further satisfies and solidifies my focus.
A career in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine will allow me to fulfill my number one objective: to help others heal from life’s variety of health disturbances and to align with source energy allowing them to take control of their well-being. My objective includes the development of a nurturing practitioner-patient relationship through guidance and knowledge to promote optimal wellness in the day to day living. Moreover, from my experience as a patient; the encouragement, attitude, and rapport of the practitioner is the pivotal point for receptivity and maximum results, all stemming from the entire energetic environment in which healing is conducted.
In addition, the latter portion of my plan entails refined focus around public awareness to continue advancement of acceptance and implementation of Traditional Chinese Medicine in mainstream society and healthcare. I am rather familiar with the stress response as are we all, since interaction with this fast-paced society is inevitable and actually considered the “norm” by most people. This is why it is important for mainstream healthcare and insurance to stop allowing doctors and practitioners to merely advise patients to find ways to reduce stress. In combination with such advice, it is essential for the health system to implement regular use of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine as the prime modality to treat weakness caused by stress and illness manifestation instead of only allotting a specified amount of visits, if they are covered at all by insurance.
In order for this to occur, a shift in society’s consciousness must materialize. From my experience and contemplation, the point of power lies within community colleges. Therefore I intend to acquire necessary teaching credentials to use my knowledge and skills as a professional of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine to expand the variety and availability of education in community colleges as they begin to open up to holistic health curriculum. These days community college is where young adults get to explore for themselves what the educational world has to offer and older returning students sometimes gather information for health reasons, nonetheless both in pursuit of potential career interests. I can attest to this point of power as a returning student on financial and low-income aid from the state. Boosting awareness at this level opens the door to all people who want to learn about what Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and holistic modalities have to offer without social class discrimination. As students become inspired by the holistic realm, a greater demand for alternative medicine degrees will arise, leading me to my last goal as a professional. I hope to join and collaborate with Bastyr University to extend their reach across the country just as they are beginning to do at the San Diego campus. The more involved holistic professionals become in the academic world, the greater the chances of change. Attending and later joining Bastyr University will fulfill my dream to make a positive contribution towards eliminating the lack of availability and variety of professional holistic degrees beyond the associate’s level.