As practitioners of Chinese Medicine, it’s our responsibility to address all aspects of our patient’s experience: mind, body, and spirit. This demands that we listen carefully to the various streams of information at our disposal—whether from our learned experience or from what the patient’s body is telling us.

In this conversation with Velia Wortman, we explore the importance of paying attention to what the body is saying, using our senses to best serve our patients, how to discern subtle motion from wishful thinking, along with recognizing and avoiding overtreatment.

Listen into this discussion as we engage with our patient’s vitality through palpation, osteopathic listening methods and that curious space that arises between knowing and attending.


In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • A poem by Stonehouse (Shiwu)
  • The transformative journey of Velia as she got hooked to medicine and acupuncture
  • Kinship and quantum physics – we’re all connected in some way
  • Using our senses, knowing, and our ‘not knowing’ in service of our patients
  • The palpation experience of Engaging Vitality – using an osteopathic technique to find out what is going on in the body
  • “How do you discern subtle motion that you're feeling from your own wishful thinking?”
  • The significant role of tongue diagnosis in Chinese Medicine
  • “Hallucinations” and replicability
  • Coping with uncertainties in practice and life
  • The issue of over-treatment.
  • The beauty and vulnerability of unlearning in order to learn

Resist the urge to treat everything in one acupuncture treatment. I find one of the main problems in our field is overtreatment, usually too many needles and too strong stimulation which can deplete the patients’ Qi. This can be avoided by carefully tracking subtle changes which can be seen on the tongue, and felt in the pulse and along the meridians using techniques we teach in Engaging Vitality.

Born in Mexico City to an Anglo- Canadian father and a Chinese mother and grew up in the Caribbean. After studying social anthropology at the University of Toronto I went to the UK to study medicine at the Royal Free Hospital. In 1978 my brother and I were invited to China as part of a delegation organized by old “China hands” including the British scholar Joseph Needham. Here, we had the opportunity to see how Chinese medicine was practised in TCM hospitals and by “barefoot doctors”.

Around 20 years, four children and two medical specialties later, I began to study acupuncture in Germany and Chinese herbal medicine at the Anglo-Dutch College with Ted Kaptchuk. Here I also met Dan Bensky where he presented the Engaging Vitality method combining osteopathic techniques with acupuncture. Since then, I have used and taught this unique style of practice with great success.


Links and Resources

Learn more about Engaging Vitality.

Here is a correction about the time of the Great Leap Forward, which occurred from 1956 to 1962, it was the Four Modernizations took place in 1978. 


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