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Strange and Wonderful Experiences on the Acupuncture Table

It is not uncommon to hear colorful reports from my patients at the conclusion of their acupuncture session. Common are reports on the movement of energy, sensations throughout the body or in specific areas, or activation of affected body parts during treatment.

Mostly, these experiences are minor, expected, and tolerable by the patient. I consider them to be interesting little artifacts of the acupuncture treatment effect. However, these are not the kind of experiences I will be discussing in this post.

Instead, I want to describe to you some of the more, dare I say, spiritual events that have occurred in my acupuncture clinic. There have been many instances of patients reporting deeply transformative experiences during treatment.

Some have told me that they encountered “beings” while laying on the treatment table, which are usually described as discarnate people. Sometimes the patient experiences the presence of animals or mythological creatures. The descriptions of their experiences are often very detailed. I will share some of them with you.

Only one of my patients had a negative experience – a fear response – to her experience of what she described to be a golden Chinese dragon suddenly staring her in the face during the treatment. The dragon had startled her and she did not recognize it as a dragon. Somewhat flustered, she nervously addressed it and asked what it wanted and it flew away. The whole thing freaked her out sufficiently that she never finished her course of treatment.

This is the exception to the rule however. Mostly patients who have such experiences are quite moved by it and report it as something positive. One such experience was reported to me quite a while ago.

The reporting patient was given an auriculotherapy (ear acupuncture) treatment for her chronic pain and anxiety conditions. About half-way through the treatment session, I checked in with her and she stated that she was having a “big release,” so I encouraged her to continue and stepped out to the room.

When I came back to pull out her needles and finish her treatment, she told me of her encounters on the table. She reported that she started thinking about her eyes and that they resembled her grandfather’s eyes. Then her grandfather appeared to her, along with her grandmother. She thought about her great-grandmother, and suddenly all her ancestors – some of whom she knew on sight and some she had never seen before – appeared in her mind’s eye.

She reported that these ancestors were present with her, in the treatment room during the treatment and somehow helping the treatment along or at least encouraging her. She also reported that she felt her chakras activating and lots of sensations throughout her body. Once I removed the needles, she got up and smiled broadly at me, thanking me for the experience.

When I saw this patient for her final visit a few days later, she reported that this supportive feeling from her ancestors endured past the day of the treatment, right up to the current time.

“They are with me even now.”

A while ago, another patient had a profound experience on the treatment table. It was her last visit and she was grieving due to the loss of her pet. She was telling me about her grief during the intake and I could tell that she was upset and her eyes were welling-up with tears.

I work hard to provide my patients with a supportive and safe place for them to let out their emotions as a part of the healing experience.

“It’s okay to let it out, this is a safe place,” I said to her as I handed her a box of tissues.

I left the room shortly thereafter so she could rest with her acupuncture needles retained. At the end of her treatment session, she reported to me that she encountered a being which was, “either an old man or an elephant.”

She further reported that this was a deeply moving experience and that she was not afraid when this being was present in the treatment room with her.

She felt as if seeing this being was a message for her at her current level of development. Something that she needed to navigate the difficult times through which she was currently traveling. I was grateful that she chose to share her encounter with me.

I first started noticing that my patients would sometimes have strange and/ or wonderful encounters with what can only be described as “spiritual beings” during acupuncture treatment early on in my career.

My ex-fiancee used to get a lot of treatment from me in the early days of my training. After one treatment that she received at home, she reported to me that she had a very nurturing and transformative encounter during the treatment.

She described falling into the softest downy bed, it was all warm and white. She fell deeper still into this extremely comforting and warm environment for a while. At some point during her relaxation into this new environment, she realized that she was actually nestled between the great wings of a giant swan.

The swan took to flight, gently, supporting her all the while. She drifted softly with the swan through warm and comfortable air currents for quite a while. When the treatment was finished, she emerged with new hope, a sense of renewal, a greatly increased sense of well-being and calm.

When I started working at a hospital, I expected that these kinds of experiences would cease. To my great surprise, they became more frequent instead.

As my hospital practice was ramping-up, I offered free treatments to the staff members of other departments on the same floor that I work on. Some of them took me up on my offer and got treated.
One such patient had an interesting experience while on the table. At the end of her treatment, I walked into the room and asked, “how did the treatment go, are you feeling okay?”

“No, actually I’m feeling kind of agitated because some Chinese guy was in her messing with my needles.”

I was appalled. I asked her who was it that was in the room? I will go tell this person directly to stop harassing my patients during treatment!

“It was not a person but the spirit of a person,” she said. “An old Chinese man who was bald but had a long, scraggily white beard and mustache. He kept tweaking my needles like he was trying to help with the treatment.”

After that, I started to intuit that there may be some discarnate beings that are interested in my work as an acupuncturist and that perhaps they can somehow assist me in my work. Suffice it to say that I have had other personal meditative and visionary experiences which tend to confirm this possibility in my mind.

Things got really interesting when I started to work with a new patient. I’ll call her “B.” She came in for a number of chronic pain problems and was in the process of dealing with an angry ex-husband who was abusive toward her. Nevertheless, she told me that she was a healer of sorts in her own right and had been exposed to much of Chinese philosophy and martial arts traditions.

On our first visit, I completed an initial intake with her, delivered an acupuncture treatment, and left the room to let her rest with needles retained.

When I came back to check on her, I could tell immediately upon entering the room that she had gone deep during the first half of the treatment. I decided to quietly step out and leave her alone for the last half of the session.

“Do you believe in lineage?” she asked upon my return to the treatment room. I was a little confused, as I had never been asked such a question before in quite that way.

I told her that I was aware of the concept of “lineage” and that in Chinese culture, it was a concept that held a strong sway on the consciousness of the Chinese. It is, in my understanding, an important concept in martial arts and in healing traditions. Where your knowledge and training originates from is your lineage.

I asked why she wanted to know the answer, what she would ask that question of me specifically? She replied, “You are a part of a lineage and one of your ancestors was in the treatment room with me.”
I immediately remembered my experience with my co-worker and asked “B” the question, “can you describe this ancestor to me?”

“He’s got deep, penetrating eyes, very wise and old eyes… he’s old, bald with thin facial hair, but there’s something special about his eyes,” she said. “I think he’s Chinese. He was here to assist in my treatment. I wasn’t alarmed by this, in fact I am blown away that I could have this kind of deeply healing experience in a hospital setting.”

I treated my patient “B” with several short-courses of acupuncture over a time span of about one and a half years. After her first treatment and the report she had for me, I was excited to see what would happen next.

On the day of her next treatment, she brought in a hand-drawn picture of the being she encountered during her first session. I was very grateful that she had taken the time to do this and was surprised at the detail she included with the picture and written description of the qualities of this being.

She told me that this being was someone in my lineage, a “healing ancestor” of my own. This being was interested in my clinical work and would show up from time to time to assist with treatment from a non- physical plane.

She told me that in fact, there were many such beings interested in my work as an acupuncturist. Depending upon the medical needs and capacity for perception of any particular patient, one of perhaps hundreds of such discarnate beings may enter the treatment room and assist with the treatment.

This patient “B” would come in for a number of subsequent treatment sessions, and she did report success. This case was very complicated as the patient had years of abuse piled upon her chronic pain issues.

Never before had I seen such an integral tie between body, mind, emotions and spirit. Her years of emotional abuse had literally caused layer upon

layer of physical ailment. With each treatment, we successfully peeled a layer after layer away.

After one acupuncture treatment, she reported that this time it was two Chinese sisters that came to assist in the treatment.

“They entered my meridians and started doing kung-fu on my blockages,” she said. By the end of this treatment session she was feeling extremely relieved of her pain.

This idea is corroborated in Chinese medicine theory, wherein pain is generally understood as an obstruction of blood and/or qi.

How acupuncture works (according to the Chinese medicine model) is to generate qi in a channel by placing a needle in a channel somewhere else and stimulating it. This has the effect of sending qi “downstream,” so to speak, until the qi hits the blockage and “breaks” it, thus relieving the pain.

So, even though the patient was not formally trained in Chinese medicine, she was able to correctly describe the effect of acupuncture after her experience of it with the two sisters on the treatment table.
Another time during acupuncture treatment, she got a message from a particularly exuberant being. She described this one as male, shaven-head, wearing a monk’s saffron robes and not Chinese in descent but from some other Southeast Asian country.

“I think his name is Minh.”

He evidently really wanted me to know about his existence. He told my patient that he was really excited about this possibility and pleaded with her to tell me about him, which of course she did. She then urged me to contact this being on my own to receive whatever message he had for me.

He had told her also that he was also a part of my lineage and that in some past life, we were students of the same master. I thought this was all very interesting indeed.

A couple of weeks went by, and being caught-up in the work-a-day world, I found myself not having spent time in meditation to attempt to contact

Minh.

The patient “B” showed up in the acupuncture clinic a few days later and I admitted to her that I had not yet etched out the time to sit and listen for his message.

“You know, it doesn’t have to be such a formal process, Scott. I don’t believe that you need to actually sit or achieve a deep state of meditation to contact this guy. Just reach out to him when you find you have a few minutes alone.”

I asked her if she had experienced anything else since the last treatment regarding Minh or any of these other beings. She said that she got that Minh was now a Bodhisattva – a term from Buddhism meaning a being who has renounced enlightenment until such a time that all sentient beings have attained to enlightenment.

That evening after work, I decided to attempt to contact Minh on my own.

“You have to save all the souls you possibly can, you must quell all the suffering you possibly can!” was the message I got when I did.

I thought to myself, “but wait… isn’t that the job of a priest? I am just an acupuncturist and herbalist.”
“It’s okay, just keep doing what you are doing,” he replied.

That is precisely what I intend to do, until perhaps a time comes that I can figure out how to positively affect the suffering of even more beings than I am currently with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.

Ultimately, patient “B” got very good and long-lasting relief from her chronic pain, probably because she did some deep healing work on my acupuncture table. I am honored to say that at some point after our work together, in a public forum, she credited me with saving her life.

As you can see from my experiences above, I have evidence that here exists a spiritual dimension to healing that is often overlooked or completely disregarded by conventional medical providers. In doing so, a very important element to the human healing experience is left out. This does a great disservice to patients who really need this level of care.

Perhaps modern scientific medicine will someday include these factors as a part of their treatment paradigm. It is my suspicion that when and if they do, they could begin to approach a holistic viewpoint. I would encourage any results-driven medical practitioner to take these aspects of the human experience into consideration when providing care.

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My Story

“You know, Scott, I can tell you are not that happy,” said Steve. “I think it’s affecting your productivity here at work. I care about you, both as an employee and as a friend, so I have decided to offer you some help.”

He was right of course. I was in the midst of the darkest chapter of my life. I lived alone,  was in-between relationships, and commuted for hours each day. When I arrived home after work I indulged in junk food, alcohol and drugs in an unsuccessful attempt to numb myself from the unsatisfactory life I had somehow created for myself.

“Okay, “ I said with some trepidation. “What did you have in mind?”

“I’d like you to go see my hypnotherapist Anah. She’s an amazing healer and has helped me tremendously. I’ll pay for your initial consultation with her, if you are willing to go.”

“Wow, I don’t know what to say. Thank you, Steve. This is a very generous offer. I accept.”

“I’m thinking of this as an investment in your future productivity as much as gift to you personally for all you have done for me over the past five years.”

The day of my introductory session arrived. After work, I drove from Novato to Fairfax where Anah’s office was located.

I quickly discovered that Anah is a gifted healer and despite the fact that she had never previously met me, she was able to read things about me that I knew deep down were true. Things that I had not previously considered but which now having been exposed by an outsider, seemed obvious.

This led to feeling compelled to keep working with her. I realized that she she was someone who could help me untangle myself at this time. So, at the end of the session, I committed to a doing series of sessions with her.

Ultimately, I ended up doing one hypnotherapy session per week with her for 13 weeks total. With each session I was able to get deeper and deeper into the obstacles that seemed to be preventing me from experiencing happiness.

Anah is herself a quite intriguing character. In her practice, she applies conventional psychotherapy and hypnotherapy assisted by her “spirit guides,” with whom she would come in contact with and receive guidance from during sessions with her clients. I found her to be a remarkably perceptive and intuitive practitioner.

I was able to make progress all along. I was propelled forward by my willingness to delve deeply into myself to arrive at the crux of the matter. I was ripe for this experience and found that I was transforming in the process.

Anah noticed my capability and taught me her technique as a form of self-hypnosis. She encouraged me to use it at home to further our work together.

On the evening before the seventh visit with her, I decided to apply this self-hypnosis technique that I had learned. I was at home, in my bedroom and started to do the technique. I easily and quickly relaxed into a vivid vision.

I was suddenly looking through the eyes of someone else. It was a man who had lived at some time in the past. The man was piling loose raw herbs on squares of white paper. When he looked backwards, I could see that he was in a Chinese herbal pharmacy. The wall behind the counter contained hundreds of small drawers containing individual dried herbs.

I witnessed him making an herbal formula for someone. He finished placing the herbs on the paper and then picked up the papers, one at a time, folding them masterfully into a compact package. He then folded the other two and handed all three packages to a Chinese woman standing at the counter.

The vision ended almost as quickly as it came and I was left utterly fascinated. What did it mean? I had some vague sense that I was possibly viewing what I had heard described as a past life. I couldn’t wait to see Anahaar the next day. Perhaps she could shed some light on the significance of this vision.

I went to work the next day and afterward, drove to Fairfax for my hypnotherapy session. I excitedly relayed my previous-night’s vision to her.

“What was that?” I asked. “Was it a past-life experience?”

“I don’t know,” she said calmly. “Let’s go in and see.”

What happened next is the singularly most pivotal moment of my life.

We started the hypnotherapy session and Anah helped me to become progressively relaxed.

“I want you to take a deep breath and imagine that you are at the top of a stair case. The stairs are covered with soft, red velvet. Just float down the stairs, like a leaf gently drifting downward from the top of a tree,” she said in a measured and relaxed voice. “And now you are at the top step. Take another deep breath and continue to float downward.”

We continued this process until eventually I reached the last of ten steps.

“Okay, now look around for a window or a door.”

Up to this point, there was nothing new to this routine we had been using to get into a hypnotic state.

“I see a towering gothic-style door of some black material in front of me,’ I said.

“Are you afraid?” she asked and I told her that I wasn’t. “See what happens to the door. Is it open or closed?”

“Closed.”

I then decided to try to open the door and, although it was quite heavy and difficult to move, I was eventually able to pry it open enough to peer inside.

“All I can see is pitch black,” I said. “Hello, is anyone there?”

There was no response. So, I decided to go inside and see what would happen if I did. Nothing happened for a few moments. I called out again, “hello, is anyone there?”

This time, I had a burgeoning sense that someone was indeed there. At first, all I could make out were a pair of intense eyes, eyes which were illuminated as if on fire. Then, in a very animated fashion, a black smoke unfolded around the figure of a stunning Chinese man. He had intense and piercing eyes, he looked young and was wearing a thin but long beard and mustache. His long black hair was braided into a pony tail and he was wearing a hat much like one that an emperor of ancient China would wear. His hat and full-length robes were black silk with red trim.

“Someone is here,” I said tersely. I was so taken by this vision and its intense clarity that I did nothing but gaze at him until the hypnotherapist asked what was going on. I told Anah about this being who had just manifested in front of me.

“You might want to find out what he wants. Go ahead and ask him.”

I asked him, “why are you here?”

“To show you your past life, if you are willing to see.”

I said “yes, of course,” and he motioned me to follow him.

We started walking and suddenly, were walking on a narrow path in a forest. We were moving very swiftly and the wind was causing his robes to flow behind him dramatically as we strode.

I started to sense that we were walking backward in time. With each step, it seemed as if we had traversed not just some distance but fifty or a hundred years as well. I also had the innate sense that we were walking in a Westerly direction.

The sunlight seemed to exude a different quality to me, somehow more luminous and golden. As we came upon a clearing, a monastery came into view. We stopped in our tracks to take in the view.

My guide asked, “are you now ready to meet your past life?”

“Yes,” I replied.

A few moments later a short Chinese monk in saffron robes appeared. My guide gestured toward him

“Here he is!”

I bowed to the monk and he bowed back.

“It’s time to get to know this monk of yours, Scott. Spend some time doing just that,” Anah said.

The monk and I strolled around the monastery grounds.

“Tell me about yourself. I’m interested in what your life is like.”

“At a very early age, I became orphaned and was taken in by the monks here. This is the only home I have ever known.”

I noticed that he was not a handsome man. His head appeared to be too large for his frame and kind of bumpy in a strange way.

“So, is there some kind of work that you do here?”

“I’m a herbalist. I harvest and store herbs for the monastery’s pharmacy. I am trained in crafting customized herbal formulas for those who suffer.”

I was very impressed and when I expressed my joy at this, he tried to humbly downplay it.

“Don’t listen to him,” another monk said suddenly. He came along side my monk and slapped his back playfully. “Our brother is really quite famous around here! He has helped a great many people with herbal medicine.”

We moved on to other parts of the monastery, walking and chatting, all the while other monks and a few nuns were moving about around us, carrying out their daily duties. We came to a point where the conversation began to slow down to a stop.

“Perhaps you should try to convince him to come back with you to become integrated into your current life,” Anah suggested.

“So what do you think? Care to experience the 21st Century with me?” I asked.

“Absolutely not. I like my quiet and simple life here. This is the only life that I have ever known.”

“Just think about what you could experience looking through my eyes,” I said. “You could vicariously enjoy intimate relationships with women, marvel at modern advances in science and philosophy, and otherwise experience a new world inconceivable to you currently. Please, I need your help in the work that I intend to do moving forward.”

I could see his forehead furrow in thought. He scratched his chin, then his scalp. He frowned for what seemed like a long time but gradually, and almost imperceptibly, his face softened. Finally, he smiled at me and said, “I’ll do it.”

“We need to start wrapping this up,” Anah said. “Is your guide there? You should formally thank him for this vision.”

He was not around, so I said something to the effect of, “hello, guide, where are you?”

In a dramatic effect like a dust-devil of black smoke spiraling up from the ground, my guide appeared. It was the same stunningly intense Chinese gentleman from the beginning of this vision. He manifested right next to the monk.

I was suddenly overcome with joy and gratitude for what I had been shown. I started bowing many times to them and said, “thank you, thank you both, I wish I would have done this much sooner.”

“All you ever had to do was to cross the river,” my monk replied.

This profound and meaningful statement came with a realization that flooded my consciousness. In this moment, I realized that the monk in front of me was, in fact, the very same monk that I had seen decades previously in a vision during meditation.

I must have come off as quite odd to my family and friends as a teenager. By my early teens I had already become interested and well-read in Chinese philosophy and meditation.

I was first introduced to the Chinese martial arts through the movies of Bruce Lee and the television show Kung Fu. Inspired by the discourse in that show, I sought to find out just what the philosophical underpinnings of the dialogue were.

So one Summer day, I set out on my bicycle toward the public library to discover anything I could regarding the philosophy and religion of China.

It turns out that the characters of the TV show were speaking and relating to one another in terms of Taoist philosophy. I located a copy of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, the most quintessential of ancient Taoist texts.

At this time in my life, in addition to being a student, I worked as a paperboy for the San Mateo County Times newspaper. Month after month I worked hard and saved up enough money to buy a meditation course on audio tape. The course came from a metaphysical catalog and cost $99.95 plus shipping and handling.

On one of the cassettes, the narrator was reading a guided visualization and I sat cross legged on the floor, following along. I was instructed to create a “sacred space” for myself.

At that time, I did create an inner landscape. My personal sacred space had several distinct features, including a river with large, flat, smooth stones perfect for meditating upon. West of the river was a dense forest. There was a path leading in a Westerly direction.

At the end of the visualization, I was instructed to allow a “helper” to come into the scene. On the edge of the forest and the river – my monk appeared! At the time, I just thought that all of this was my mind projecting some image of Lao Zi or some other Taoist sage type of character.

The meditation ended with the narrator concluding that I could, “come to this sacred space anytime you need or want to. Know that if you call, your helper will come again if earnestly called.”

In a flash of realization, the big picture of this experience came together. This monk was my past life and I had first glimpsed him during my early meditation attempts. He was back now, after many years, to help me again.

Needless to say, I was totally blown away by this empowering experience. The hypnotherapy session ended after about an hour. When I finally came out of my hypnotic state, I looked at Anahaar and said, “whoa.”

“You went really deep. Many of my patients do not have these kinds of experiences. Scott, you are obviously ready to receive this lesson at this time.”

I told her that I thought this was a really powerful session and tried to explain the connection with my monk.

“I’ve been thinking about making a career change and going back to school to study Chinese medicine. I think I want to pursue becoming a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist.”

“Okay wow…” Anah started. “My guides just gave a very loud signal of approval about that. They are telling me that you should do that. It’s really important that you pursue that work. It was like they were blowing trumpets in my ears when you said that!”

That was all the confirmation I needed.

The day after my life-changing experience on the hypnotherapy couch, I arrived at work and reported to Steve what had transpired.

“I’m afraid your generous offer of help has worked a little too well,” I said. “I must now give notice that I’ll be leaving this job and returning to school to study Chinese medicine.”

A new chapter in my life had started. I worked from that moment toward getting back into school. I requested catalogs from all the schools of Chinese medicine that I could find on the internet in the greater Bay Area.

Right away, I resonated with the faculty and offerings at Five Branches Institute (now University) in Santa Cruz, California. I enrolled in classes at College of San Mateo to get my prerequisites to Five Branches finished.

This time around, I excelled in school. I had a purpose and a direction and that made all the difference. I was now working toward a palpable goal and no longer aimlessly wandering in hopes of finding a direction to follow.

When I applied to Five Branches I was accepted. In the very month I received my A.A. degree, I was scheduled for new student orientation at Five Branches.

I moved away from the San Francisco Bay Area in 2000 to attend Five Branches. I found a place up in Felton, a little town up in the Santa Cruz mountains. I started my formal study of Chinese medicine and began to comprehend the scope of what it was I was attempting to accomplish. This would be no simple task. I would need to transform myself into someone completely different to make it happen. Luckily, I was ready to do just that.

I went to work part-time as an office assistant for a local acupuncturist. I was afforded an opportunity to get my foot in the door and to learn the business of running a small acupuncture practice. I gained invaluable experience doing this work. In late 2003, I graduated with a Masters in Traditional Chinese Medicine and became a California Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist shortly thereafter in 2004.

I struggled out of school with trying to start a practice in various locations. I had to work a full-time job to support myself during this time as well. It was difficult and because of my financial situation, I because very discouraged with the potential to earn a living as a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist.

Then in 2007, I got notification that a Bay Area hospital was looking for a full-time acupuncturist. I applied for and got that job! This event simultaneously solved several problems and allowed me to start my practice in earnest. I left that position in 2016 after delivering around 30,000 acupuncture treatments in my very busy clinical practice.