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Complementary Corner

A life well lived

Renee Lehman

(11/2016) In last month’s article I wrote about the season of Fall, and that a gift of Fall was the opportunity for nature (and us) to "let go." On October 5, Robert (Bob) Duggan, M.A, M.Ac.(U.K.), Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM), L.Ac., the President Emeritus and Co-founder of The Traditional Acupuncture Institute (later called Tai Sophia Institute, and now known as The Maryland University of Integrative Health), let go of his physical existence on this earth. Please permit me to share more about this man and his gifts.

Bob’s education was varied. He had advanced degrees in philosophy, theology, human relations, inter-cultural communications, canon law and acupuncture. He had also served as a priest in the U.S. and abroad.

He was gifted in many ways and shared these gifts with everyone he met. He was a unique combination of professor, clinical practitioner, management executive, and inspirational leader. He practiced traditional acupuncture since 1972, acted as a White House advisor, and was one of the leading voices for the integration of traditional and complementary medicine. Bob authored the books Common Sense for the Healing Arts (2003) and Breaking the Iron Triangle: Reducing Health-Care Costs in Corporate America (2012).

Bob was a nationally recognized thought leader, speaker and advisor to policy makers and organizations on complementary medicine and wellness. He testified before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and had been a panelist at meetings sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

As you can see, Bob had many roles in his life. To me, he was one of my most important mentors. When I began acupuncture school in 2003, with his and co-founder Dianne Connelly’s teachings, my life was changed forever. He transformed my thinking about health and wellness. He embodied living life fully, and his impact on me is deeply rooted. Because he influenced my life, through me, he has touched your life - you who have read my articles, have been a client of mine, who have taken a class with me, or interacted with me professionally or personally. The seeds of Bob’s teachings have been sown all over the world. Many have benefited from his teachings.

What are some of these teachings? I must begin with a phrase from the SOPHIA (School of Philosophy and Healing in Action) Handbook that I received my first day of acupuncture school: "SOPHIA’s purpose is to enable us to come to life more fully, so as to serve life more wisely and more nobly." This has its roots in an ancient Chinese ideal of life. I want to share just a few of the practices that I learned during my study of SOPHIA. I hope that you use these gifts, to let go of unnecessary suffering and live your life more fully.

  • Point to someone else and say, "I am pointing to myself." This means that you are declaring ONENESS as your starting point. We are all one! You are not separate from the world around you! I loved the fact that Bob always declared Oneness. He started from Oneness in every conversation and interaction.
  • To accept what is so, not what "should be." Suffering comes from your expectations not being met. It is important to make a distinction between hope and expectation. Hope allows for change, while also allows for what is. Expectation breeds disappointment when change does not occur.
  • Always allow yourself to be a beginner. In everything! It’s okay to make mistakes. Rather than saying, "This is hard to do," try saying, "I am a beginner." This will allow you to grow rather than shut you down.
  • Crisis is opportunity. Hiding in every problem is an opportunity. Life is change. Breakdown bears the seeds.
  • Use "AND" instead of "BUT." By replacing a BUT with an AND, you are enabling yourself to see the possibilities.
  • Let go of judgement. Just BE present.
  • Difficulties will happen. Upset is optional. All upset is, is a request in disguise! Choose something you are upset about. Then have someone ask you, "Could you let it go?" Of course you could. Then have someone ask you, "Would you let it go?" If you cannot agree to this, ask, "For the sake of whom would I let it go?" If you are not willing to let it go for good, might you let it go for an hour, or ten minutes? When you get to yes, ask, "When?" "Now." (So the questions are Could you? Would you? When?) Feel the release in your shoulders or tummy or wherever you were holding that fight. Then Smile.
  • Let go of any complaint or take effective action with compassion (not submission).
  • EVERY WORD is a treatment. Words create your world. Do you want to create a heaven or a hell?
  • Make decisions that serve the 7 generations. Before speaking or taking action, ask the following question: "Will this honor my great grandparents (ancestors) and serve my great grandchildren (future generations)?" This reminds us to think big, and that we have an impact on everything around us.

I have shared these teachings with you in hope that they will have a positive impact on your life.

I mourn the loss of my mentor, AND know how blessed I was to have had his influence in my life. Bob, I am grateful that you followed your passion in life, because you helped me to be a healing presence in the world. Thank you for the wisdom that you offered, it was transformative!

"Do, or do not. There is no try." - Jedi Master Yoda (and Bob Duggan!)

Renee Lehman is a licensed acupuncturist and physical therapist with over 25 years of health care experience. Her office is located at 249B York Street in Gettysburg, PA. She can be reached at 717-752-5728.

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