Frederic Lim believed that Mayans in the Guatemalan highlands might benefit from learning Acupuncture, Qi Gong and Reiki. So, the founder of (the for profit organisation) Healer2Healer put together an April workshop with the Quiche Women’s Q’anil Collective. The Guatemalans offered to provide hospitality and lessons in Mayan herbs and, in exchange, two volunteer instructors from the NY campus of the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and a Reiki master would conduct trainings. Using this model, both the collective’s members and the six New York students would get extraordinary practice and instruction in oriental and natural methods.
The temporary clinic was about 7,500 SqFt and set up with a receptionist desk at the door and a 30 chair waiting area. About half way toward the back wall there was an intake desk and beyond that a generous 12 chair “Reiki Circle.” And, discretely concealed behind floor to ceiling yellow feed sack curtains, was the treatment area with several types of tables at the ready.
Patients wandered into the unused market invited by a giant sign over the door announcing: “Ancestral Medicines and Therapies” – The banner didn’t specify just whose ancestors were the source
Acupuncturist, Joan Boccino had already been up in Santa Cruz D’Quiche for a few days treating patients while overseeing student’s moxibustion techniques. She said that the NADA Protocol had been specifically presented because it is limited. Placing five needles in the ears is an easy way to learn technique and particularly useful in the treatment of PTSD. In certain times of the year, this affliction is nearly ubiquitous, here, due to this country’s tendency to have earthquakes, volcanoes and seasonal mudslides. The Mayans were quite keen to pick up on these point placements and absorbed theory that might take a NY class weeks.
Healer2Healer had received donations of needles and they brought herbs and other equipment to leave behind. A work-around method using tape and small seeds or rice to anchor a point was taught and it will serve when supplies run out. This is good training — the smaller the seed, the more exact the placement must be and evidently, the co-op members liked a challenge because, the next day, they all had tiny pieces of tape holding a single sesame seed in between their eyes. They looked quite like Hindus with this uncharacteristic face “decoration.” In combination with their native suit of cloth skirts, elaborate belting and distinctive guipils the ensemble took a second to take in.
By mid morning the waiting room filled up with knots of chatting Mayans. Some people were coming back for second treatments and immediately took seats while new people required a little prescreening. Translators were there for patients who spoke the regional dialect. Soon enough, they would each sit with Mr. Lim and tell him their symptoms, then be moved into the healing circle. At this station, the Reiki practitioners quietly moved behind the patients and cupped their hands over them. Eventually, the seated people would be offered alcohol swabs for their ears. Perhaps the NADA Protocol (that was originated in the Bronx to help with drug addicts) has the patient self-clean both ears prior to needle insertion. For sure, Reiki is not invasive.
At last in the treatment area, patient’s charts were reviewed and options discussed at length. Ms. Boccino would tell of a near emergency: a middle aged man with a history of epileptic seizures and these were always followed by hideous headaches. As soon as he was down on the table he seemed to be starting to have seizure. Since the patient had no history of violent movement during an attack, she quickly placed needles, discussing the anti-seizure points as she work. In due time, the man awoke and left — feeling better than he had before.
Surprising as it was seeing how neatly China’s Barefoot Doctor tradition seems to fit onto rural Guatemala and how iconic references to elements like “wood,” “metal,” “water,” or “air” make common sense around here where people still cook on wood stoves, the most amazing part was watching folks, who normally turn a graceful Paso Doble and toe down a peppy Salsa, get deliberate Qi Gong forms right away. One woman carefully bowed and executed each of the postures with a baby on her back.
The harmonious exchange with the collective had some dark moments when one of the leaders,Maria Paulina Yus López, talked us through the pharmacopeia. One by one she would show the sample and explain how each herb was used and more than a few times she would say something like. “This used to grow wild in the forest but the mountain was cleared.” or “..the climate changed so we have to buy that from further way.”
Healer2Healer and Q’anil Collectiva’s Jornada worked many everyday miracles. Over that few days, a women’s swollen knee would shrink by half and a worrisome case of fever, a stiff neck would respond positively and attitudes would change. In processing hundreds of patients the student-assistants logged in lots of contact hours and, in fact, gained more experience than would ever be possible in an ordinary semester.
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