Mistakes and Discoveries- group discussion on learning Saam acupuncture

by Michael Max | With: Laura Christensen, Sharon Weizenbaum and Toby Daly

Mistakes and discoveries go hand in hand. And there is really no way to get it right in medicine without getting wrong on the way to getting right.

This is another in a continuing series of conversations between Toby Daly and some practitioners who are actively engaged in learning the Sa’am acupuncture method.

While we know that the practice of medicine requires of us constant study and sometimes diving into a new perspective, it is usually easier said than done.

Listen in to this conversation for some areas of uncertainty in the midst of learning a new system, and for the clinical insights that come from attentive and thoughtful practice.

In This Conversation We Discuss:

  • Engaging the process of mistakes and discoveries
  • The clinical perspective that opens up when you connect the six confirmations with the five phases
  • The case of the high strung violinist
  • Focus and attention when needling
  • Discussing Kidney water and fire
  • Kidney consolidation vs Sm Intestine dispersing
  • Treating pain
  • Symptoms and weather changes
  • Treatment of insomnia
  • A textbook case of san jiao excess

This is a conversation with with two previous guests of the podcast

Laura Christensen, L.Ac  
Guest of Qi033 Treating Sciatica; Unkinking the Hitch in Your Get-Along

I never planned to be an acupuncturist. My participation in this medicine evolved from curiosity about how to use safe and natural methods of healing to help people. Various events, people's comments, my own curiosity, and inner wisdom have brought me to where I am now, running a general practice clinic with an emphasis on orthopedics and pain, in Iowa City, IA

I'm afraid of thinking I've got it figured out. I know that leads to bad outcomes for our patients. We must continue to question ourselves, stay curious about the medicine, and be honest about our mistakes and shortcomings. Enthusiasm is wonderful, but now that I am an older practitioner I find more comfort in curiosity and not knowing. This makes some other practitioners uncomfortable, but I know that each health journey is unique. A big challenge is actually patient education and managing their expectations for treatment. I work hard to help patients become owners of their health journey and help them stay focused on what they can do for themselves with my assistance. As a profession we still have a huge amount of education to do, to help our patients and future patients understand what to expect from our medicine and how to gain the most from what we do.


Sharon Weizenbaum, L.Ac
Guest of Qi070 Stages and Cycles of Practice
I can hardly believe that it’s been 38 years since I heard about Chinese medicine and caught the bug. Little did I know that I would never recover from my intense involvement in this endlessly interesting medicine. The path of Chinese medicine, for me, has been sleuth-like and consequently circuitous. Though I didn’t know it at the time, graduating for acupuncture school left me with crude tools for healing. There were gaps in my ability to see into a patient’s pathology clearly and to effectively help. What am I not seeing? How do I see more clearly so I can be more effective? I had a fundamental assumption that the fault was not in the heart of Chinese medicine itself. It was in my access to the heart of it and in my ability to really GET it.

So began a journey into the Chinese language, extraordinary teachers and the classics of Chinese medicine, always with the questions as my guides: What am I not seeing? How do I see more clearly so I can be more effective? I was lucky to be able to study with two super smart Chinese medical ob-gyn doctors in mainland China, Dr. Qiu Xiao-mei and Dr. Cheng Yu-Feng.

Throughout, I have not been a follower or disciple of a particular tradition. I like to be attuned to what makes sense to me. I like to learn and be aware of what resonates, clarifies, opens up knowledge and what feels limited, contrived, heady or unhelpful. I encourage this process in my students because ultimately, all of us have to make this medicine our own, learn, receive and enact it in a way that speaks deeply to us and gives us those “oh I SEE” moments with our best teachers, our patients.


Toby Daly, PhD, L.Ac

Guest of Qi045 Four Needles, Buckle Up- An introduction to Saam Acupuncture Saam – The Acupuncture of Wandering Monks
I began studying Chinese medicine in 1997 with Sunim Doam a Korean monk trained in the Saam tradition. I earned a master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2002 upon completion of training at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco and Chengdu University in China. During my four years of training in San Francisco, I interned with Dr. Angela Wu who taught me how to apply the lofty theories I was studying in school into the pragmatic setting of a busy clinic. She also taught me how to eat an entire cheesecake in one sitting!

In 2013, I developed the Chinese Nutritional Strategies app to provide digital access to the wealth of Chinese dietary wisdom. In 2016, proving once again that some people never learn, I completed a PhD in Classical Chinese Medicine under the guidance of 88th generation Daoist priest Jeffery Yuen.