My Major Teachers


1 – Dr van Buren

Dr van Buren trained firstly as a nurse before studying naturopathy, osteopathy and homeopathy. He travelled extensively and gained insights that were well beyond what is found in any written works.

He became extraordinarily interested in the more esoteric and, different to the Worsley school, at the same time, developed his own interpretation of Stems and branches. Some of his work is carried forwards on other’s attempts to also keep alive his life work.

Wendy Williams ( is a great place start here.

Wendy’s initial experience in acupuncture was actually being one of Dr John Shen’s patients.

Some of us are involved in our women’s lives, and the maternal urges and echoes often fudge what else we do.

This is a feminist issue – she who looks after and tends, may not ‘get out there’ /get published or gain recognition from the masses – but most women practitioners who become teachers, have been majorly nurturing to all around them. Their service shines in small circles.

Dr van Buren was a magician in practice – he worked with the more alchemic and the more astrological.

When he was teaching over 30 years ago, it was a study just to try to make sense of the journey – as it was highly individualised and there was a lot of personality leakage. Such is being a person.

They, like all before, will sink into obscurity as there is very little of their work published. I very much wonder how much of their work will actually be retained for others as the older practitioners such as myself fade out also. Their experience and teachings have added to our medicine’s character and flavours,

Through a lifetime career of working on my own, my children’s and my student’s and patients’ blockages, worrying them at the edges, wondering whatever I can do – sometimes it is at the ‘give up’ point that inspiration strikes . . . . here I am hoping if it is you that is thinking of the giving up – as it all looks too hard – be it staying on as a student, as a practitioner or as this patients’ practitioner, you will find inspiration.

A different look – through different eyes – and a peeling back of preconceptions is often important in all endeavours.

2 – Dr John Shen

Starting with acupuncture, one of the first things that I do is try to do what Dr Shen said –

“first get the patients’ love”.

I am not sure whether he actually meant the romantic notions of this word – I would imagine he meant more being worthy of the professional respect and admiration and from there, the wanting to be ‘good’ as this is the practitioners’ intention may be closer the mark.

Whatever he meant, through being a mentor and role model, to be there for the release of fear seemed to be development, here he worked from.

Helping all understand that what was happening was an orderly progression from where they had strayed from life’s blueprint.

He devised a system of looking very differently at the human condition.

As I go through seminar development, I will be adding to this model.

His pulse work was technically portrayed in some of Dr Leon Hammer’s works. The framework that makes it live was not.

I intend to offer some of what I gleaned from Dr Shen, very briefly in the seminars I observed him work in the early 1980’s in Australia.

From following Dr Hammer about, in 1982 and in 1994, I was able to remember a lot more of the essence that Dr Shen carried. He really was a master at assisting other’s to heal themselves.

He did this through very quiet observation. Within 30 seconds he seemed to understand what had broken the blueprint.

He maybe asked a question, listened to the pulse, and then out came the answer – using physiognomy, ear inspection, and every other sense he had honed to the task.

Rarely these days is there time to just observe, to contemplate and to then spend a lifetime thinking independently.

  • Both men had been in practice for decades by the time I met them.
  • Both were at the end of their productive lives, and were very clear on their ways of working.
  • Both were pulse masters – and both had very different style of pulse, of being and of working.
  • Both also carried immense learning gained through others as they had actively sought out perfection in all before them.

This is not apparent in either teaching or practice as the masters in China went through the tumult of a revolution, where it was not safe to be in practice.Dr Shen, like so many others escaped.

More about Dr Shen

3 – LIFE: my own and that of my students and patients…

I strongly suggest to all when studying acupuncture also start looking with either an anthologists’ or a sociologists’ eyes at the context of the medicine we choose to follow- both now and in the recent past.

There is a whole genre of writing coming from the earlier days of the past century and studying these places in context what has happened to our medicine – it is not in the form it was even a century ago.

Vastly altered through the upheavals its country of origin went through being treated with as much respect as the more than 6,000 universities destroyed in the neighbouring Tibet, we in the west need to take off our blinkers and start discovering where we can take this medicine, ourselves.

We live in very different times; and these keep on changing.

We have patients whose lives are making no more sense to them than our own may make to us.

We are losing our direction in all things – and the fabric of all that has woven humans together is unravelling.

Perhaps this gets more obvious as we age – I now also have been working with acupuncture as long as Dr van Buren had when I met him in the late 1970’s.

Rewriting and hiding in the past that made it out of the dark days we all pretend did not happen – this has been translated into the culture or the medicine we use today.

Also the gifts of having been raised in another language /culture/age and setting to those whose work forms the basis for what is written currently.

Sometimes it does not fit.

Both these men went ahead and developed from where their teachers had given them a basis, to where their more important teachers – their patients – lead them.

Dr Shen always said ‘don’t worry’.

He always tried to get the person to stop the inner battle that was actually destroying their likelihood of healing.

All acupuncture writing gives lip service to this – major cause of disease? Emotions.

This can get lost as we in the west are forgetting the Chinese had a cultural revolution.

Watching either man work with someone was an inspiration. They were absolutely working Shen to Shen.

I sincerely hope that this comes through in the work you see before you on this site, as I believe that unless we see the totality of all that the person is we cannot work for/with them.

Sometimes the information here may appear mechanical – we do have to undo what has happened and the physical is easy to present – hence the photos.

Although this work is not in text book form I have done my best to show the practical application of a senior acupuncturists ‘ thinking and her clinical work.

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