On Wednesday 12 June 2013 the Bhakti Lounge in Newton Park will welcome Ruth Charsley, a local Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner. Ruth will talk on “How to identify your Body Type and eat accordingly for optimum health”. Entrance is free and a vegetarian meal is provided. If you wish to attend this talk please RSVP to Prabhu on 083 389 9163, Manesh on 082 716 3796 so that catering arrangements can be made. A very healthy Satvic vegetarian feast will be served to all and donations will be gratefully accepted accepted for charity work with Food For Life.
Who would ever think that in the tiny village of Colchester, 40 kilometers from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape, is home to a Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner.
The setting with its Sand Dunes, the Sea and the river with the mountains on the other side, relates beautifully with the science of Feng Shui which forms part of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine).
Ruth Charsley of Qi Hai Health, and Healing Center explains her journey to her TCM Qualification:
Let me first explain that in South Africa you are not able to go to a University to study Traditional Chinese Medicine. You need to learn from a Dr who practices Chinese Medicine, until you have the experience. In my case, my studies began in 1999, and I was eventually fortunate enough to complete my studies and to qualify at a University in China.
I started my study with Dr Zhong Lan, who was from Communist China. She is one of the Doctors that are sent by the Chinese Government, to outside countries for example Thailand, Switzerland and Sweden, to teach Acupuncture and to Mozambique to treat patients in their hospitals.
My husband Beau, and I were living in Mozambique at the time when Dr Zhong Lan who we got to know quite well, was there. I knew that this was to be my future, so during one of her visits, I asked her if she would teach me the skills of TCM. Dr Zhong Lan told me “You talk too much and ask too many Question”. I realised many years later that, her statement was my first lesson, which was, “clear your mind and listen with your inner being”. By doing this, you open yourself to receive all teachings. I left it at that and was disappointed but had to accept her decision. After 3 months, while meeting with her again, she said “I will teach you”. I was delighted !!!
Little did I realise the enormity of what I let myself in for. She started by teaching me about the different properties of food and how it relates to our organs and bodies. Adding to that, how we are affected by the Qi or energies of the trees, water, earth and fire, metal in the universe around us. How each person is unique, but, each falls into a category of body and mind type.
So my journey began, not only learning about the science of Holistic healing, but also about myself. I learned that I am blessed with an inborn understanding and awareness of the influence of natural elements. My being resonates with awareness of the powers of the Universe. My teachers have been instrumental in focusing this blessing. I will be eternally grateful and devoted, and respect them for this understanding.
On a visit to Australia, I spent time with Dr Yoland Lim, who originates from Singapore and has a lineage of family doctors. He taught me more about the art of using foods and extracting juices from vegetables and fruits to medicate diseases and ailments of the body. Using food as medicine is part of the culture of the Chinese people.
He has written many books on this subject. I quote him saying “All living things in the Universe exist within a system of counter balanced forces. Within the body, the harmony or balance between the organs – known as Qi – is maintained by a correct balance in the food we take in”.
Dr Michael Lan of Cape Town. A revered TCM Dr and a Master in the art of Tai Chi and Qi Gong, which is an Internal Alchemy, taught me how to use the energies around us to assist the patients’ body in the healing processes . He taught me the art of Tui-Na massage and the meridian pathways. Acupuncture points and the application of these for the healing of, or the managing of pain. Also how to use these healing techniques for diseases and for balancing the organs, in order to enjoy ease of living.
One very fundamental piece of advice among the many he gave me, was that I must learn the medical terms, acupuncture points etc in Chinese, which I did, and am extremely grateful to him for this, as it made my studies at the University in China much easier. Those circumstances were extremely difficult, as I could not speak their language, except for the medical terms and a little to get by for daily living in China.
After seven years of study, I was able to apply to the University of Chengdu, in the Sichuan Province in China. This is the home of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The home of the Tao. I was accepted as they felt that my studies and experience were sufficient. That University experience had a profound bearing on my life. This is where my previous years of learning from my teachers came into being. The blessing of being there at the University, studying from those knowledgeable and humble Professors and Drs, was an experience that has been imbedded in my soul.
My study time was extremely intense and working through interpreters was not easy. All lectures were in Chinese as were the notes. Trying to follow the lecturer, and then listening to the translation from the interpreter was rather difficult. The interpreters English, (known by foreign students as Chinglish) was also difficult to follow. The Chinese accent, the pronunciation as well as the English sentence structure which is so unbelievably different.
I lived in an apartment of my own and my day started with Meditation and Qi Gong. This was followed by a brisk walk at 7:30am for a couple of blocks to the University and University hospital. Here I would work with a Dr. seeing patients. Sometimes in the University hospital, at other times in the Hospital Clinics.
When working in the Clinics, we saw many, many patients. When we walked into the clinic, the people sat around in chairs placed against the walls of each waiting room. Let me add, in China, it is very different to the luxury of the spacious rooms and privacy of the Western culture. They do not recline on luxury spa plinths or beds, while receiving treatment. Under certain circumstances they will lay down and then it is usually only when acupuncture or other treatments are administered to the back of the body. Receiving acupuncture has been their way of treating ailments for over 5,000 years.
Working with, and assisting the Dr. to whom I was assigned, in the Clinic and hospital, and learning the methods of diagnosis and then administering acupuncture, was a special experience. All the while learning from these wonderful men and women. At 1:00pm I would go off to Lectures. At 5:30pm, it would be a long walk home to start interpreting my notes from the interpreter. Only then after a quick supper, collected on my way home from one of the side walk “home restaurants”, and a quick shower, could I start studying. I knew that whatever lectures I received that day, would stand me in good stead for my work in treating patients the following day. I would study late into the nights, having very little sleep. Working with the Doctors also formed part of the practical examinations.
Finally the month arrived for the final examination. The case studies learned, the practical work done, the diagnosis and requirements of the different patients treated. Now was the final time for recognition for my many years of study. Anyone who has done study of any nature would understand the highs and lows of have I done enough?. Have I studied enough?. Do I know enough?. Have I given my absolute all?. The answer was YES. Finally I hold a Certificate for Traditional Chinese Healing.
I thank the patients that I treated in the University Hospital and Clinic under the guidance of the Doctors. I thank them too. Without them, even though I have the qualifications, I would not have had the experience and confidence to come back to South Africa and pursue my dream to assist people in this discipline of healing. I formed dear relationships with some of the patients, even though language was a problem. This is where the cliche’, speaking through the windows of ones soul is so true.
Once my studies were completed at the University, I stayed on in Chengdu to add to my experience and expertise. One of my Professors and Lecturers was Dr Larry Ronge, who taught the use of the Pestle Needle at the University and who runs his own clinic. He offered me the opportunity to work with him in his clinic. I jumped at the opportunity and spent a month working with him and learning from him. The use of the Pestle Needle is not common in the West. It is only taught at the University of Chengdu. The technique is based on the Baqua system.
He also taught me the application and use of the Gua Sha or Scraping tool. I learned it specifically, for use in Facial Rejuvenation. This system is deeply relaxing and works not only on the face but also on the points over the body.
I believed after all these months, that I had earned a sabbatical, and went by train to Tibet. The Holy Land. It took two days and two nights. I went to Lhasa, and visited the awesome Patala Palace. The largest Temple I’ve ever seen. I went into the room where the 13th Dalai Lama did most of his studying. An experience and feeling not easily transcribed into words. I spent many hours in the Temples in and around Lhasa. Walking and being with the Monks, and eating with them at their little eating houses in the village around Lhasa, was always a delight and so peaceful. I was also allowed to sit and observe the Monks during their Debate time.
From there, I travelled along extremely rugged roads, crossing streams of icy water, passing Yaks as they grazed what little there is on the icy grounds. I climbed hundreds of feet to where the Temples are high up in the mountains. I stayed in their Temples, Meditated with the Monks, ate with them and learned from them.
Another of the Temples I stayed at is called the Drugung Temple, it a Temple for Nuns. It is deep in a valley, where the mountains with their snow covered peaks rose on the one side and the melting snow forming a river down below. On the same side, next to the river, which is so incredible, there is a Hot Spring, where I bathed with the Nuns. Spent some time treating them with Tui-na massage. What an honour to be able to do this wonderful work and for such amazing and spiritual people.
Being a Vegetarian, I had to drink Butter tea as I knew and understood that it would keep me warm in those extreme temperatures. Butter tea is boiling water with Ghee in it. At night I would fill a 500ml plastic, drinking water bottle with boiling water to try to keep me warm. I still felt as though I was freezing to death, this was their summer, and although the little bottle just did what it could, it never actually got to keep me warm through the night. I was grateful for it’s attempt when I got into the bed which was a concrete slab on the floor.
My travels took me higher up into the mountains of Tibet, to the Nomsa Lake, the highest lake in the world. The splendour and beauty is breathtaking. The blue water is so clear, the skies so blue and clear with the rows and layers of Prayer flags tied up high on the mountain tops, to send their prayers on the winds to the world.
Eventually, I made my way back to Lhasa and departed by plane to Chengdu. Leaving behind a part of me that never wanted to leave. Taking with me, the yearning to return at the first opportunity and the incredible knowledge of a deep spiritual growth that I received.
Finally I left China with much the same feeling. A feeling of loss, as Chengdu had become my home, but enriched by the entire experience.
Later I went to New Zealand to visit my family. Here I met a Dr Stephan Chen a Traditional Chinese Practitioner in Wellington. During my stay I spent some time working with him and assisting him in treating patients.
I came back to South Africa and re-established my practice in Colchester on the banks of the beautiful Sundays River, with a whole lot more experience, knowledge and a greater and deeper understanding of Traditional Chinese Healing.
Beau Charsley writes and says; “As I see Ruth”:
When I first met Ruth, I realised that here is a child of the Universe. A flower child with an amazing awareness, of the good things in the natural world around us. She had that rare gift which allowed her to appreciate the natural order of life, and the importance of the beauty and significance of the creatures which live in the bush, certain spiders and snakes excepted. She has an amazing ability to see birds and game in their natural habitat, when most city born people have great difficulty.
She has always been involved in healthy living, and has owned and operated a ladies gym in Craighall, and a number of Beauty Salons. Although qualified and successful in these fields, they were not satisfying what she felt was her destiny.
She has always had an interest in the successful ways of the old world. Her eventual involvement in the philosophies and health and healing practises of the ancient Oriental Culture, has brought her to where she is able to serve the west and east, through the application of those healing disciplines.
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