Daoist Medicine Natural Healing Methods

 

Throughout the 6 weeks Apprenticeship, we will learn to concretely apply natural healing methods of Daoist Chinese Medicine to treat a variety of common ailments. On the theoretical level, we will study the ancient origin of those methods, their development and current uses, as well as the fundamentals of diagnosis to be able to apply them appropriately.

Content of Week 1 : Acupressure

Acupressure is a natural healing method using strong pressure from the fingers on specific acupuncture points to treat diseases. We will familiarise ourselves with the meridian system, and learn acupuncture points so as to be able to use acupressure to regulate physical imbalances.

Daoist Medicine Making

DAOIST MEDICINE-MAKING :

Throughout the 6 weeks Apprenticeship, we will learn the ancient craft of traditional Daoist Chinese Medicine-Making. We will learn to recognize a variety of local herbs, gather wild herbs in a sacred manner, and tend our herbal medicine garden. Each week, we will learn a different method to prepare and use those herbs to make decoctions, powders, oils, alcohols, pills, moxibustion sticks and cones, plasters, and ointments.

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2019 Apprenticeship in Ukiah, California

This year our apprenticeship program will take place on a beautiful piece of land outside of Ukiah, California.  This land is full of epic mountain vistas, oak woodlands, fresh air, blue skies and abundant wildlife, including wild ponies!

Students will camp in their own gear, anything from a regular camping tent to a canvas wall tent, trailer or volkswagon bus, whatever you have.  This allows the students to immerse themselves in nature and its seasons in a connected way.  Most students find the thought daunting at first, then leave the program feeling completely empowered.

The first thing we are most excited about with our new site location is the prospect of starting a Chinese Herb garden.  Here we will cultivate our own Chinese herbs such as Angelica, Mugwort, Dandelion, Plantain, Honeysuckle, Yellow Dock and many more.  Students from this year’s courses will hopefully get to take part in the start up of that project.  In the future we hope to provide herbs for our courses in medicine making, liniments, herbal concoctions and other TCM therapies, as well as supply healers and acupuncturists with a sustainable source of herbs.

The second thing we are excited to announce for this year’s apprenticeship program is bringing on Guest Instructor, Loan Guylaine Tran, Daoist title Cheng Feng.  Cheng Feng is my Daoist sister of 9 years.  We have trained, translated and taught together under our Shi Fu at the Five Immortals Temple and shared many life experiences.

She will be bringing a richness of knowledge in Daoist Medicine after having participated and taught multiple years of courses at the Five Immortals Temple, as well as having completed her clinical training in Acupuncture and TCM in hospitals in China.

Another very special area of expertise which she holds is in Daoist Scripture Recitation and Ceremony.  With her musical background, powerful voice, and dedication she is playing an important role in the transmission of such Daoist culture to the west.  She is one of the few westerners who is proficient at the complete chanting, singing, instrumental, and ceremonial components of Daoist Morning and Evening Scripture, Zao Wan Gong Ke.

Participants of this year’s apprenticeship, July 1st- August 11th, will follow a daily schedule of waking up with the sunrise to morning qi gong, mid morning martial arts training, and afternoon theory classes on Daoist Medicine, Internal Alchemy, and Scripture, finishing each day with sitting meditation at night.  There is nothing more healing than the experience of being in nature, and the consistent daily movement of the body.  Movement is life.  Breath is life.  This 6  week program is just long enough to gain momentum and stride in these habits and have, what we hope will be, for all, a memorable and sacred experience that one can look back on in joy and continually gather strength from the practices they have learned.

Explore our website to learn more about the program and how to sign up!

Winter Solstice Retreat Reflections from Students

The following passages are from the Winter Solstice Retreat I taught this past December before entering the year 2018.  During the 4 day retreat, students were asked to strive for an alkaline diet, avoiding meat, dairy, processed and acidic foods, as well as avoiding garlic, onions, and alcohol.  This diet raises the vibration within the body and blood and can assist in deep sitting meditation practices as well as seasonally cleanse the body.  We covered many things in those four days from how to create a personal altar at home, Daoist bowing and lighting incense ceremonies, and how to make offerings.   We believe that ceremony and connection to ancestral knowledge is the most essential element in transmitting and receiving the true teachings of our Wudang lineage.  We also explored qi gong, sun gazing, tai chi, sword, and ba gua principles.  I hope to offer this same retreat next Solstice!

Driving away from Sebastopol, I felt a strong sense of taking something with me. Something new and bright and profound. A gift, that I can feel in my heart. Like a sense of return. I simultaneously feel an intense need to remember all we learned while also feeling a sense of settling into what we did over four days. The settling is a quiet, deep knowing that has shifted things inside me at the bone level and within my cellular network, changing my everyday routine in small ways that reverberate in large waves- though subtle and invisible.
 

I am grateful for the context of tradition and lineage. I feel a large part of my practice was hollow without the thread to ground and connect through the generations of those before and after. Like reaching for heaven without any substance, fire and no water.  The way you presented the tradition from Li Shi Fu- so thoughtful, specific, and filled with meaning- gave a different experience to learning movement and ritual.

At the very beginning of the retreat, when I lit an incense to place on the altar, I knew suddenly that my intention was for ancestral connection. Its been a recent theme in my practice, and I was very uncertain how to connect to or ask for guides or help, but knew that this was missing. The sort of hollowness that I mentioned before, seems to be gradually filling as I am just beginning to understand what it feels like to create this web of intention and prayer.
 
Just as the return of light and yang to the world emerges, I am starting over and growing again. Leaving old wounds and old self in the compost of winter, to rot and then be reborn again in spring.
-Meredith Horiuchi

As much as I value all the moments of the winter solstice retreat, there is one moment that is most shining in my memory.  It was in the park, the day we greeted the rising sun, and after we practiced Bagua pattern stepping.  It was during the time you were reading to us about 49 barriers.  How can I describe in words my experience?  I’ve given that question a lot of thought since then and now.

The best I can come up with is that it felt like I had a taste of what it would be like to be beyond the effects of the 49 barriers, centered in such a way that the lures and forces of the world could not pull or push upon me.  It did not feel like a dead state at all, but rather an extremely alive and pleasant state.  Thank you very much for somehow briefly transporting me to that state, or a least a shadow of that state.  I think about that experience every day.

-Mark Zima


Thank you so very much for the Solstice Retreat. It was a perfect way to reconnect with the practices, and spend some time in contemplation about what path my life will take.

The combination of Qi Gong and diet had powerful effects on digestion and elimination processes of the body, and my overall mental focus. Eating the fresher whole foods I felt a sustained nourishment from smaller amounts of food. I appreciated this experience, because it has been one of my struggles is taking the time to adopt some new habits.

There are so many more wonderful moments during the retreat where I felt my practice deepen… or become more empowered I should say. It was a brilliant, focused introduction to the practices for new students, and would be a great experience for students already familiar with the practice to re connect.

-Jen Sullivan


 

Elixir Pheonix Worships the Sun

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Our Morning Qi Gong class took a field trip to see the Sun this Saturday in Sonoma County, California.  We woke up extra early at 5:45am to get out to our spot high up on the mountain to catch the predawn magic and the sun crest.  We have been practicing a special “sun gazing” qi gong technique for many months in class and students had a chance to experience it in its true form this morning.  There are many mysteries within the Sun, our source of light.  It feels as though we went to see a great Master or Deity this morning, who told us things in a language beyond words.  And to think… we have this chance every day…

Touch the magic.

End of the training week, Saturday Recovery

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At the end of a long training week, Saturday mornings can feel like a natural time to do some healing and recovery work during our normal kung fu class.  We typically do kung fu basics and a body conditioning hard qi gong, however, occasionally we will devote time to massage, deep stretching, and Daoist healing methods, such as Huo Liao, Fire Healing, cuppings, moxibustion, and gua sha.  We also had everyone pitch in on bottling our new liniment -formula created by my master on Bai Ma Shan for pain, injury, swelling, contusions and bruising.  We now offer it online for anyone who it might benefit.  And with each moon it grows stronger!  https://themovement.academy/shop/.  Everyone in class got to go home with a liniment soak wrapped around an area of pain or injury.  Some chose knee, shoulder, or ankle.  We soaked pieces of gauze with liniment, placed them on the problem area, covered with plastic wrap and and then secured in place with sports tape.  Thanks for a great class everyone!

Ankle Sprain Recovery

7 methods to treat a severe ankle sprain

An ankle sprain is an injury to one or more of the ligaments that stabilize the ankle.

What is an ankle sprain?

-partial or complete tear of ligaments (soft tissue connecting bone to bone)

-FYI a “strain” is tearing or pulling of a tendon (soft tissue connecting muscle to bone), aka “pulled muscle”

-inversion is the most common type of sprain, that is rolling to the outside of the foot (eversion is the less common kind, rolling to the inside of the foot)

-there are 3 grades of ankle sprain severity:

Grade 1 is mild pulling or minute tearing of ligaments, minor swelling, still able to walk

Grade 2 is moderate tearing of the ligaments accompanied by swelling, bruising , and pain but still able to bear weight on the ankle

Grade 3 is severe tearing of ligaments, audible pops at the time of impact, lots of swelling, bruising, pain, instability of ankle and unable to bear any weight at all for 3-7 days

-if you have a severe ankle sprain, you may need to get X-rays to find out if you have fractured a bone

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How I treated my ankle…

Here is how I treated my own ankle sprain, in a time progression describing the different phases of the soft tissue.  Timing of various healing methods is just as important as the methods themselves.

Moment of impact

Rolled my ankle laterally (to the outside) while doing Parkour.  I was pushing off of a wall and then landing with both feet on a surface a few feet below me, must have landed a bit off and suddenly my ankle rolled with a lot of downward force following through the tibia.  I heard a series of pops as it happened, (tearing of ligaments), and immediately felt a lot of heat and pain, and could not bear weight on it.  It did not really begin to swell until about an hour later, at which point, two huge balls appeared, one on the lateral malleolus (outside of the ankle protruding round bone), and one in the depression beneath it, surrounded by general swelling in the area.

Step 1:  Ice !?!

This first method, I cannot recommend 100%, however, I did do it.  About 2 hours after the sprain,  I decided to try the ice bath alternating with room temp bath method that I had recently heard about in the Tim Ferris Podcast with Gymnastics Bodies Coach Sommer.  I wasn’t entirely sure if this was meant to be used directly following an acute injury of soft tissue, but decided to give it a try since immediately icing the acute injury is definitely the automatic protocol of our prevalent paradigm.  Traditional Chinese Medicine, however, does not encourage the use of ice, but rather values the natural inflammation process.  I was able to handle about 30 minutes of alternating bath waters every minute.  It was quite painful to have my ankle in the ice bath but I learned to deal with it.  However, I do feel that right after ending the ice bath treatment, I went into shock- I felt quite uneasy, nervous, nauseous, cold, and as if reeling out of control and had a lot of tension in my legs and back.  Through massaging my upper calves and thighs and breathing I was able to calm down.  So, in retrospect, I do not recommend the ice bath method, however it seems that an ice pack could be good in moderation to ease the pain and inflammation.  Also, the ice bath could prove better at a less acute phase, past week 2 for example.

Step 2: Salonpas

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Western Medicine protocol would say to accompany the local icing with a painkiller such as ibuprofen to reduce the swelling and help with pain.  I did not find ibuprofen to help at all with the specific type of pain I was feeling -which was like a dull but completely consuming discomfort, not really a stabbing pain but a feeling of instability and vulnerability.  Since the ligaments were torn, there was no support or tension through the ankle joint and the weight of the loose foot hanging put a painful pressure on the injured area.  The application of Salonpas, a menthol aspirin topical pad, to the area really helped with the pervasive dull pain that made me feel quite sick.  Salonpas can be found online or at an asian food mart.   If I had been more on top of it, I would have liked to have put a wrap for support and compression on it that first night.  I slept with it unwrapped that first night and it felt very loose and vulnerable.  I also had muscle spasms throughout the night that would create too much movement through the joint and wake me up with pain.

Step 3: Compress & Support

I would recommend wrapping the ankle as soon as you can stand it.  For me, I didn’t get it together until the following day.  When I finally put a wrap on it, it felt so good!  Any Ace bandage type wrap will be good to offer some slight compression (not too tight, since blood circulation is crucial), support the ankle and weight of the foot, help offer tension to the bone structure where the ligaments are temporarily unable to.  Wrapping well with proper patterns, heel locks, and figure eights, will immobilize the joint in the right position and make it easier for the ligaments to repair and knit back together.

Step 4: Elevate

Keep ankle elevated above the heart, as much as possible- like…. all the time!  Rest is needed, so a lot of sitting or lying around with foot elevated is great.  Occasionally it is also good to put the foot fully skyward while lying on your back, so that blood can drain out of it back towards the heart.

All of the first 4 steps should happen immediately following the injury, and definitely continue to wrap and elevate the ankle for the first 72 hours.  This is considered the acute phase of the injury.  For me the acute phase lasted for about 7 days.

I got some acupuncture and also had some blood letting on the pinky toe from an acupuncturist friend on the 2nd day.  I also iced again for a bit of relief from inflammation.  By 24 hours, still could not bear any weight on the ankle, had to keep it wrapped to deal with the discomfort and give it compression/stability.  Also acquired some crutches to help get around!

Step 5:  Comfrey Poultice

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The magical herb Comfrey really wins as the most obviously effective method, that I attribute my fast recovery to most.  Another friend had brought me fresh Comfrey plants from her yard.  I mixed a bit of boiling water with about 7 leaves, pounded them in a mortar and pestle, and wrapped it around my ankle with cheese cloth and tape, then wrapped my entire ankle with boxing hand wraps to brace it..  I left that on for a few hours.  This first application of comfrey didn’t seem to do much.  However…

On the 4th day, I tried another comfrey poultice for 4 hours, and this poultice really helped my ankle turn the corner.  There was significant decrease in swelling around the ankle, and increased range of motion.  In fact this method has impressed me the most so far of all the things I have been using, the Comfrey compress at that moment in the recovery process had the most obvious results.  I began to be able to bear a bit of weight on it while standing.    As the swelling of the soft tissue went down, I could feel more aches and sensations.

On the 5th day, I continued to rest, elevate, and wrap it and did another comfrey poutice, which worked wonders again!  As I wore the poultice I started to be able to walk and bear more and more weight on the ankle!

To make a Comfrey Poultice, just find the live plant, take the leaves, mash them in a mortar and pestle, add a small amount of hot water, keep pounding the leaves until they are a juicy mash or cake.  I started keeping the used cakes and letting them dry back out and “age”.  I felt they were becoming stronger and releasing more medicine as they aged.

By the 7th day I could ditch the crutches and walk on my ankle with a brace on for small periods of time, mixed with lots of elevating and rest, otherwise my ankle would ache and throb.  As the swelling receded, I found the essential oils, liniments, and salves to become the desired method.

Step 6:  Massage, liniment, salves, essential oils

It was at this transition out of acute phase where massage of the areas surrounding the ankle, anywhere I could handle pressure and touching, like the calves and onward up the entire leg and into the quads and gluts felt helpful.  Adding the strength of herbs to help with the healing process always felt good.  Herbal foot baths are great for the after-acute phase when the ankle gets very achy and tired.  Liniments are more effective if applied overnight using cheese cloth or gauze soaked in liniment wrapped around ankle and sealed with plastic wrap and sports tape.  Liniments, salves, and essential oils that I used:

Heavenly Horse Liniment

chinese herbal formula suspended in alcohol, used for injury, pain, swelling, bruising, moves blood and aids tissue regeneration

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Step 7:  Fire Healing

As I progressed into weeks 3-5, I was able to train some martial arts again with limited range of motion and moderation.   I used a rare Daoist healing method, known as Huo Liao, or “Fire Healing” to aid in this phase of the recovery.  I felt there may be some residual blood stagnation from the bruising and swelling, as well as “cold qi” that had entered the joints from the icing.  My ankle would typically be quite achy and stiff in the mornings or at night if I had used it too much throughout the day.  Fire Healing helped warm the area deeply, increase circulation, drive the herbs from liniment in, and reduce pain.  This method of Huo Liao consists of using fire, applied directly to the affected area with wet towels and alcohol.  Don’t try this at home!

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One final recommendation is this awesome book on sports injuries from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective, written by a martial artist.  My Master always said that 9 out of 10 martial artists were healers…because, well, you learn to deal with all the injuries that arise from punching, kicking, jumping, and falling!  In Conclusion, every injury is an opportunity to learn about the body and experiment with different healing methods!

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Healing & Recovery ‘Cuppings’

Occasionally on a Saturday Kung Fu class we will devote the time to Healing and Recovery from the week’s worth of training.  This past Saturday we practiced cuppings.  We used the cotton ball and alcohol method, as well as the traditional Daoist method of lighting prayer paper into the cups.  And, there was, of course, a bit of Huo Liao Fire Healing as well!  We helped each other with lower back pain, knee pain, pinched shoulder and some strains and sprains .

 

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Healing & Recovery ‘Moxibustion’

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Warm the Meridians and Alleviate Stress.

This Sunday, experience the healing power of Mugwort through the Traditional Chinese Medicine technique of Moxibustion.

We will focus on specific acu points that everyone can safely use Moxa on for self-care, boosting energy levels, supporting the immune system, and increasing a sense of well-being.

This is our second event in the Healing and Recovery workshops. Everyone is welcome. We focus on recovery from acute and chronic ailments, as well as general tonifying to maintain balanced health. This Sunday we will be focusing on the Traditional Chinese Medicine method of Moxibustion. The ancient and powerful herb Mugwort is harvested, dried, crushed and rolled into “sticks” or other shapes. It is then burned over meridian points to stimulate circulation of qi and blood, and draw out dampness or cold. We will cover the theory behind Moxa, as well as common acu-points that one can use for immune support and boosting energy levels/ combating fatigue.

Co-Instructed by Graham Lankford L.Ac. and Lindsey Wei

By Donation
Sunday, August 28th
Noon-3pm

Wudang White Horse Academy
7758 Healdsburg Ave,
Sebastopol, CA