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My story continues from Part 2.

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. At the time of this writing, I’m still employed there, delivering roughly 3000 treatments per year in a very busy clinical practice.

Working inside a hospital is great and if you want to explore more of my thoughts on that topic, click here. I’m extremely grateful for the experience I’ve gained working in a hospital setting.

However, I am not allowed to practice herbal medicine in my practice there. Furthermore, many patients need a more comprehensive approach to their health concerns than what I can provide with just acupuncture treatment. This is a major reason for me wanting to start The Rambling Herbalist.

I hope you have enjoyed my story, thank you for reading.

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