“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.

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