Master of Acupuncture
After a severe flare-up of her lifelong asthma, Elizabeth started acupuncture treatment. As she approached her fortieth birthday, she wondered whether her fundraising career (she was fundraising for nonprofits) was what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. She had begun volunteering to help homeless women in Washington, D.C., and felt the volunteer work was "feeding" her in a different way. Elizabeth realized that she wanted a more hands-on approach in her work, a job where she could help one person at a time. She also recognized that the hands-on approach of acupuncture could deliver healthcare to those with low income, as the materials were cheap and portable. One morning as she rode the Metro, she thought, "I'm going to study acupuncture. "
When Elizabeth visited Tai Sophia, she sat in on a "Bobservation" class. There, under the direction of Bob Duggan, she observed a client and experienced a breakthrough in her understanding of acupuncture: She recognized that the patient's shoulder, neck, and back pain was the physical manifestation of a larger picture of what was happening in his whole being, body-mind-spirit; and she realized that through acupuncture, everything in that larger picture was being treated and changed.
Tai Sophia's acu detox and community outreach programs were major selling points in her decision to study at the Institute. "It's wonderful for students to have experience at Penn North and the other Community Health Initiative sites," she says. "My vision is to create a wellness center that offers acupuncture, massage, nutrition, cooking classes, and tai chi - and one of my classmates is interested in doing this with me. Maybe we'll offer evening detox sessions and 12-step programs. I'm committed to serving those who can't pay for healthcare."
"I love this school," Elizabeth says. "It fits with my own goals for how I want to be with clients."
Master of Acupuncture
As a practicing physical therapist, Renee recognized a trend in her patients. They came with complaints of physical pain (low back pain, sciatica, etc.) and spoke about other things going on in their lives, such as family difficulties, issues at work, and money problems. She knew she was trained to address only the physical, and wondered about the connections among all of these issues. She wanted to serve her patients on all levels, emotional and spiritual as well as physical.
In 2000, two key events triggered professional and personal change for Renee. After returning home from Sydney, Australia, where she had been a member of the medical staff serving the USA Olympic Team, she realized that her life could be more fulfilled. Also, upon her return to the States, she worked with a client who had a "frozen shoulder." She felt that the client was "holding onto something," and asked her to consider that possibility. During the next visit, the patient admitted, "Yes, I was holding onto something in my life, and I've finally let it go." Within two weeks, the client's range of motion improved, and she completed her physical therapy.
Shortly thereafter, Renee met Tai Sophia graduate Alison Hartman, who gave an acupuncture presentation at a local wellness conference. The message that Renee heard felt right in her mind and body. In her physical therapy practice, she took more interest in her patient's needs at every level - and she could feel herself aligning with her heart's desire to go to acupuncture school.
As a Tai Sophia student, Renee says she continually learned more about herself, how to be a better observer of life, and the practice of being totally present with others. "I love being in the treatment room with my clients," she says. "Each day, I look forward to serving my clients in a holistic way, and building a bridge between Eastern and Western medicine."
Master of Acupuncture
Ann Griffen, entrepreneur par excellence, has decided to become an acupuncturist. She has found a vocation in which she can continuously change - without moving. Over a span of seven years she had started four companies with great success. As her fortieth birthday approached, a year and a half into her latest venture called "Ellipsis," she began to think about how she wanted to live, who she wanted to be near, and how to create a little more stability for herself. Starting companies was financially rewarding, but she was not satisfied - somehow she never felt a sense of completion, of fulfillment.
Then Ann began having migraines, and someone recommended acupuncture. She went for treatment saying, "Fix my headache." However, with the coaching of her practitioner, she learned to pay attention to what her headaches were telling her - the first of many invaluable lessons she would learn through acupuncture. Then she attended Redefining Health. "That weekend was pivotal," she says. "I thought, 'This is the community I'll be in for the next three years. Who says I have to be a corporate executive!'" Ann's colleagues knew that she didn't make decisions lightly. They told her, "If you're doing this, it must be valid and enormously important - so we support you." She knew that she had made the right decision. "I've always had the intuitive sense that when I wake up and listen to my heart, everything will work out,..."she says. Nonetheless, she confirmed her decision in conversations with acupuncturists who had backgrounds in business and law.
While in school she has done some consulting; but recently, when she entered the clinical phase of the program, she discontinued that work. Already she is treating patients three days a week; her patients continue to return and are referring new people to her. "I really love the journey," she says. "I'm enjoying simplifying my life, learning, being brave - stirring things up a bit. And I love being able to inspire change through simple means. This is a wonderful way of being with people. Many patients have never had someone listen or speak to them this way. "I've learned that sometimes people are ill because they've just been stuck," Ann says. "It's all about movement - and I've always been about movement."
Master of Acupuncture
My first exposure to acupuncture was as a patient. I had injured my knee while training for a marathon, and I was looking for something to supplement my traditional medical care - something to help me get back to my training as quickly as possible. I decided to try acupuncture, and found a practitioner at Tai Sophia. The experience was amazing. Not only did my knee begin to feel better, but I had more energy, felt less "stressed," and began to see other positive changes all over my body.
As a health-care consultant and nurse, I have always been interested in alternative/complementary therapies. In my consulting practice, I work with health-care organizations to develop programs to meet the needs of chronically ill patients. Through my consulting work and through coauthoring a book titled Chronic Care Management: A Toolbox for Action, I have found that people are healthier if their needs are met on a mind-body-spirit level, rather than focusing strictly on the treatment of symptoms. I believe that acupuncture is the perfect complement to Western medical treatment in caring for those with chronic illnesses.
After receiving acupuncture myself and noticing the amazing changes, I knew that I had to learn more about it. I believed that the program at Tai Sophia would give me the skills to integrate the best of complementary and Western medicine in my treatment of patients and my consulting practice.
As I've moved through the program, I have noticed that my family is benefiting from what I have learned at Tai Sophia. My youngest daughter, who has been having issues with anxiety at school, is learning to manage it effectively by listening to her own body. She has learned to take a break, breathe, and have a snack if she feels that she needs it. And her teachers have become our partners in the process, recognizing that it is possible for kids to learn coping strategies that work for them, rather than simply look to medication as the solution.
Tai Sophia has taught me first to heal myself, so that I can offer to my patients a deeper healing than technical skills alone can provide.
Master of Acupuncture
Open heart surgery brought Cricket to the Institute. After graduating from Naropa Institute in Contemplative Early Childhood Education, she lived in Colorado, doing work she loved - teaching young children and NIA (Neuromuscular Integrative Action) dance classes. She also enjoyed running, and it was while running in a triathlon that she began having breathing problems. She consulted a doctor, then another, until she had seen four doctors, none of whom could figure out what was wrong. She then decided to see a naturopathic doctor, who also happened to be studying acupuncture. He took her pulses (an acupuncture diagnostic technique) and told Cricket that her pulses indicated something was wrong with her heart. She pursued that key clue, eventually undergoing heart surgery. After surgery, she began acupuncture treatment with Tai Sophia graduates in Colorado. Through these treatments she began falling in love with acupuncture. As her practitioner told her the names of the points, she began to see herself in new ways; and when her points included "Abundant Splendor," she thought, "Yes, that's me too!"
As Cricket saw herself in new ways, she was learning new ways to care for herself. "I had always thought that if I pushed harder, I would be better. Now I was learning how to listen to my body - to understand that some days I needed to walk instead of run. My whole life changed. The way I understood myself and cared for myself changed entirely.
"About a year into treatment, my practitioner invited me to meet his teacher, Dr. Worsley. The way he talked about the seasons and nature, I could see myself in it. It was then I knew I wanted to practice acupuncture. I lived ten minutes down the road from another five-element acupuncture school, but Tai Sophia was the place for me. I didn't want to 'just learn acupuncture' - I wanted what I'd experienced in my own treatment, from practitioners who trained at Tai Sophia. "At the Institute I've been challenged to grow and learn about myself so I can be present to other people's needs. One of the program's greatest gifts to my personal life is learning to see people newly. Instead of seeing someone I've known a long time and thinking, 'Oh, that's just how so-and-so is,' I've learned to have a new acceptance and curiosity about people - I can see them in new ways.
"There's a saying in the Tao Te Ching that I think sums up Tai Sophia: When you know yourself, you'll know others. When you master yourself, you do not need to master others. "And something else - I always notice that Tai Sophia alumni want to serve in the community to further the values they've come to feel so deeply - and that says a lot about the school."
Master of Acupuncture
Choosing a college major was a challenge for Suzanne Tershak. “I was interested in learning about everything — science, psychology, liberal arts, politics...so I pursued a degree in geography emphasizing environmental concerns.” Then she completed a nursing degree at Johns Hopkins
University, intending to become a midwife. “I figured that this would perfectly blend my strong interest in women’s health issues, my appreciation for what is natural, and my desire for one-on-one interaction with people,” she says.
Around that same time, Suzanne started receiving treatment from a Tai Sophia-trained acupuncturist, and she discovered a healing tool that promoted her professional dream as well as balance in her own life. “Almost immediately I saw that studying and practicing acupuncture fulfilled my profound curiosities in the human body, the mind and spirit of a person, as well as how we as individuals interact with or are influenced by our surroundings,” she says.
“What drew me to Tai Sophia was the school’s emphasis on personal growth, on embracing ancient traditions of Chinese Medicine and making them applicable to the world today…to consider the elders who have come before and the children who will come after us. I recognized this expanded perspective as essential for the evolution of our species, and for dealing with the ecological crisis as well as personal healthcare concerns.”
Suzanne is grateful that Tai Sophia provided skills to enjoy a fulfilling professional path. She now serves as Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Team Leader for an integrative health and wellness center in Cambridge,
Massachusetts. “Blending Eastern traditions with Western science is the direction I believe medicine and healthcare must go. I plan to continue pursuing this integration in my own work and studies,” she says. “I love learning, and I love what I do. I will never retire and never be bored. In large part, I have the Tai Sophia Institute to thank for this.