Adventures in Healing

18 Feb

It’s Tuesday at English Village.  The second day of my new weekday-weekend and my time off is quickly slipping through my fingers. I am spending a little time at home.  Quieting down.  Settling into my bones.  Enjoying a simple meal of a veggie filled omelette with some quinoa on the side.

Now that the Lunar Holiday has passed and I’ve been back to work, my life and job are quite different at English Village.  Gone are my intimate weekday classes with small collections of young English readers as the weekday Bookclub program is no more. The program continues on Saturdays only.  Wednesday through Friday I am back with the masses teaching the often bustling programs of our middle school students (and sometimes elementary, high school, university and adult students) here for just a week or a few days.  It has felt surprisingly good to return to teaching these classes.  While at times the sheer number of students in these programs can be overwhelming to me, it seems my more personal teaching time with a small group of regular young students has brought some benefit to me.  Returning to the older students I have noticed subtle changes in my experience in the classroom.  I feel more present with the students and a bit more at ease and laid back in the classroom. And while I enjoy and appreciate good content, it is clear to me that the first priority is simply to connect with the students.

Positive experiences aside, it was still good to return to teach Bookclub on Saturday.  I appreciate its simple nature of two regular teachers and a small collection of familiar faces. I enjoy the basic lessons we prepare for them newly each week. Two of my Saturday students who used to be in the youngest weekday classes have now “graduated” to the next higher reading level. It is really a delight to see their sparky little faces participating well in the class.

The weekend, now newly located on Mondays and Tuesdays, is of course still a welcome break. Earlier today I used some of my weekend time to take a bit of an adventure in healing with Korean traditional medicine.  I have heard from other expats and locals alike that acupuncture is very affordable here in Korea.  Even better, there is a clinic in Paju just a short taxi ride away.  So, in my earnest continued explorations for healing on all levels, most notably now my long-term pain from an injured ankle and a persistent stiff neck and painful back, I thought I would try it out.

For me, any excursion beyond English Village can turn in to an adventure.  While the clinic was just up the road, I took a taxi just to be sure I could find it.  I asked our security guard to call me a cab and when I hopped in the back seat I showed the driver a map on my smart phone of where I needed to go.  I pointed to it and used one of my small collection of Korean words, “yogi” which means, here.

With ease we skipped down the road and soon arrived at the clinic.  Upon entering I took off my shoes, put them in the cubbies at the door and put on the communal slippers available (which, notably all had “love” printed on them).  I was welcomed by a warm and friendly face greeting me with some basic English.  She asked just a few questions and within minutes I was escorted to the back of the clinic. There were an array of private cots with curtains drawn around them and a mysterious vent of some sort that looked suspiciously like the ones you see at Korean style barbecue restaurants.  I wasn’t quite sure what would happen next.

The doctor at the clinic couldn’t have been more kind and it was a comfort to me that he spoke some basic English.  We talked briefly about my health concerns.  He asked me if I had ever tried… and he used a word I did not recognize, but it wasn’t acupuncture. I smiled and said no and thought perhaps I was in for a bit more than acupuncture today. Shortly thereafter he began his treatment.

He began with needles in just a few points on my arm and my head and then continued later with additional needles focused more directly in the area of my injuries and pain.  It was after the acupuncture, however, that the real fun started. The practitioners removed the needles, pulled the vent overhead closer and then placed some smoldering coils on my ankle.  It was hard for me to see, but … interesting… I thought.  It was warm but didn’t hurt. Upon returning home I did a little google search and I believe the treatment was moxibustion.

When this treatment was complete, they flipped me on my stomach, and began again with acupuncture.  But that wasn’t all! Next they did what I think was cupping, an alternative medicine practice that I have seen but never experienced before. He filled smallish ceramic cups with gas or something and then cupped them on my back.  All over my back.  In truth, while the sensation was a bit odd… it felt pretty good!  And finally, the highlight of the day, they attached four or five suction-cup-like devices to my back that were hooked up to a machine.  When they turned it on it felt like there were tiny little feet running and pressing on pressure points on my back.  It was an odd and unexpected sensation, for sure.  But altogether, not bad.

When my treatment was complete, I was so grateful for the thorough care and experience I had.  All that was left to do was pay.  This was an unbelievable experience in and of itself.  My grand total for the extensive treatment?  Equal to about $10 USD.  Extraordinary. The doctor recommended that I return regularly to treat my concerns.  And so begins my new adventure with traditional Korean medicine!

I am back now at home enjoying the final hours of my weekend before returning to work.  It’s been a good day.  How about you?  Any new experiences or adventures to share?  It’s always good to hear from you!

Bye for now from the quiet winter lands of Paju and Gyeonggi English Village.

Featured image, dwindling snow and lingering winter days at Gyeonggi English Village.

8 Responses to “Adventures in Healing”

  1. Cletus Billesbach 18/02/2014 at 18:46 #

    Nothing new here, just a long winter. Millie

    ________________________________

    • nancieteresa 22/02/2014 at 06:28 #

      Stay Warm Millie! I think it is getting warmer soon,yes?

  2. bill biver (@BBiver) 18/02/2014 at 18:55 #

    Your experience sounded pretty neat. You going to have it done again? Love Dad

    • nancieteresa 22/02/2014 at 06:28 #

      HI Dad! Yes. It was interesting. I already went again this past week and plan to keep going regularly and see how it goes!

  3. Mary Anne 19/02/2014 at 03:22 #

    Nanci, I recently had 3 acupuncture treatments and also had cupping twice for sciatica. I was like you, wondering what was going on, since I had not experienced cupping. Unfortunately, my sciatica is returning. I have had several weeks of relief. Maybe, when we return home I will go again. I was also treated by a Korean Accupuncture Dr. He studied for 6 yrs.

    • nancieteresa 22/02/2014 at 06:31 #

      Hi Mary Anne! Yes it is an interesting experience, isn’t it. Good to hear from you!

  4. Jordan 20/02/2014 at 20:02 #

    I am so happy that I’ve found your blog!
    I know Paju isn’t exactly near Seoul, but how did you connect with the SGI in your area? The Sgi-Korea website isn’t in English.

    • nancieteresa 22/02/2014 at 06:33 #

      Hi Jordan! Thanks for writing. Paju is not far from Seoul, about an hour. I made an SGI connection through a mutual friend in Seoul. There is a very active English speaking SGI chapter in South Korea called Morning Sun. I am happy to share a few contacts in Seoul with you. Just drop me a line through the contact form on my blog and I will email you their information!

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