One of the most common questions I get asked is “How did you get into acupuncture” or something along those lines.
I’ve been studying and practicing acupuncture and Chinese medicine for 10 years now, but the roots of my interest go back much further.
Many people decide to study acupuncture because they or someone close to them experiences such a profound effect from receiving the treatment, they feel inspired to go and practice themselves.
My journey to becoming an acupuncturist began with me at three years old, going missing in the garden, only for my Grandad Sam to find me in my wellies eating raspberries straight from the bushes. Then we’d sit at the kitchen table drinking a cuppa soup, from a bowl with a spoon and the croutons picked out, dunking slices of white bread in to mop it up. Then I’d go out with him into the garden, where he showed me how to mix cement or collect coal from the bunker. I’m told I was really close to him as a kid, the memories have all but faded to the stories my family told me. He was a gentle man, who played the accordion and smoked tobacco in a pipe. I still remember his chuckle at the dinner table as he’s make jokes with his false teeth. My mum tells be about him going to collect cumphrey from the garden to ease injuries when someone fell over or him building DIY scaffolding out of ladders, bins and planks of wood. My last memory of him was him waving bye to each other as he stood at the the gate to our house, whist I played football in the field by our house with my friends. He was smartly dressed wearing his medels he’d got for serving in the war, so I think he must’ve been going to a Remembrance Day service. He would’ve been 19 or 20 when the war began I think, he didn’t want to fire a gun and kill people, so he went off to war as a medic.
Another memory which had a big impact on me was when I was 5 or 6, I remember lying on the bed listening to my dad read Lord of the Rings. The character that captivated me the most was Strider, a nomdic type, who wandered Middle Earth battling orcs and learning how to heal the wounds of his injured companions, like where Frodo is stabbed with the Morgal Blade at Weathertop, and Sam is sent to collect Kingsfoil to treat the wound. Like my Grandad Sam picking cumphrey in the garden, the idea of healing injured people was fascinating to me.
I still love the Lord of the Rings, telling the mythical journey as each of the characters follows the hero’s journey stepping out of their own shadow to become the empowered warriors and kings by the end of the book. This stays with me to this day:
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes, a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.
Later, in high school I grew interested in martial arts and started watching Bruce Lee films and learning from a good friend of mine. He had a medicinal liniment called Dit Da Jow, which would be applied to training injuries to speed up the healing process. This new interest opened my mind to Buddhsit and Daoist philosophy and mythology, like the tai ji (yin yang), qi and learning to be adaptive, like water.
Having finished school with little direction of what to do next, I traveled, bartended and began working as a chef whilst deciding what I really wanted to focus my energy on. I began reading books around meditation, politics, philosophy and adventure to find inspiration for my life. I wanted to do something which would have a positive impact on the people around me and give me a focus. My mum always told me that One day while reading I had surge of energy and lay down to meditate. The flash of thoughts brought back the memories I had so fondly remembered from my childhood, my interests, hobbies and deeper sense of myself. How could I combine all of these things to give me a purpose and sense of meaning in my life? This was followed by the word ‘Acupuncture’. I jumped online, searched degree courses and found one at the University of Salford and applied the same day. I’d studied biology, sports science, history and business at A level and my interest in daoism already gave me some understanding of the philosophy, so the application was straight forward.
A month or so later I was sitting in my first lecture on the the Foundations of Chinese Medicine at the University of Salford.