Can you introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
My name is Karen Bauer and I am a licensed practitioner of Daoist Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine. Daoist acupuncture is very different from the kind of acupuncture practiced by 90% of the acupuncturists in America today. It is the classical, original form of the medicine that was practiced for thousands of years, before the communists took over China in the 1950s.
How is Daoist acupuncture different than traditional Chinese acupuncture? We have artifacts dating Chinese medicine to 5,000 years ago, and we have extensive written records of acupuncture treatments that date back 2,500 years. The acupuncture most people are familiar with in the United States is a modern form of the medicine developed by the communists when they took over China in the early 1950s. They believed Chinese medicine was a tool of the imperial system, so they threw most of it out. They preserved a tiny piece of it that was taught in one year of textbook, classroom learning, as opposed to the old-school medicine that was taught one-on-one, the student living with the master for 10 years or more. Daoist acupuncture has many, many more meridian systems than the modern communist version of the medicine. And it is in these older, more complex meridian systems that the most amazing transformations become possible! It would take me days or weeks to explain just how many amazing things these other meridians can do.
Can you walk us through a treatment? I take a detailed health and life history, looking for patterns in how your body has responded to stressors like illness, accidents, and emotional losses. I evaluate the pulses at the wrist. Classical medicine is different from the modern communist medicine here again, because they take six pulses while we look at three depths at each of those six position, and then we look at how things communicate between all those pulses. It’s a very complex reading, but makes it easy to be very precise in our diagnoses, and in knowing exactly what resources your body has to work with so we know what we can do to help you heal.
You were an opera singer before you started your career in acupuncture. How was that transition for you? Are there any parallels between the two careers? It was through my opera singing that I discovered the efficacy of acupuncture. I had come down with a severe illness (fibromyalgia), a chronic pain syndrome that pretty much destroyed my very active life. I wasn’t just a singer, I was an athlete, I loved dancing and hiking and surfing. I tried to keep singing for as long as I could, but I was always scared that I would get a flareup of the pain and stiffness right before a performance, which would have made it almost impossible to perform. I was so afraid of disappointing the people who were counting on me! So I began to get acupuncture several times a week while I was in rehearsal for a show, as a way of preventing flareups. If I didn’t need the appointment, another singer or one of the orchestra players and even the conductor would take that appointment after seeing how much it helped my voice stay healthy and me stay strong.
As for parallels, they both require intense concentration and being fully in the moment. You have to be aware of so many different things all at once, both onstage and when interviewing and examining a patient. You have to be able to adjust immediately based on what’s going on around you. It’s a delicate balance, but a very satisfying way to spend the work day!
What are your daily rituals? Can you walk us through your morning and nightly routines? I do Qi Gong every morning and evening, to develop my own Qi (the vital force that runs through your body and through the whole universe), which helps me be more effective as a healer. But even if I wasn’t an acupuncturist, I would do it for my own wellbeing and longevity. I also meditate almost every day, and do a few minutes whenever I have free time or need a quick rejuvenation. The more I meditate, the more smoothly and easily my life flows, so that’s a huge motivation to do it as often as I can. If I’m finding it difficult to meditate for whatever reason, I get out my iPhone and pull up Headspace, a fantastic meditation app that makes meditating effortless. I recommend it to all my patients who want to learn to meditate, it makes it so easy to do.
How does acupuncture work as a modality to heal people? What would you say to a skeptic? Acupuncture allows energy to move freely. We can release blockages, we can strengthen individual organs, we can build specific resources (Qi, Blood, Fluids, Jing, whatever might be deficient in that person). We can balance the energies, Yin and Yang, which allows people to be both relaxed and awake, a wonderful place to be!
I can take an electronic device that reads the impedance at the level of the skin, run that device up the arm or leg, and every place there is an acupuncture point, the device will beep, to show there is a distinct difference in the electrical field of the body at those points. It’s pretty cool. Kids love to have me do that on them! If it’s someone who really needs convincing, I tell them to go look up articles on acupuncture in the U.S. military; they are the biggest researcher into acupuncture today. All five branches of our military use acupuncture, and everyone knows they wouldn’t waste their time or money on something that didn’t work. Olympic athletes get acupuncture, major league sports teams have acupuncturists on staff, the Metropolitan Opera has an acupuncturist on staff, race horses and racing dogs are given acupuncture (and have been for many decades, way before people in America started getting it).
How often do you get acupuncture and why? I don’t get it every week, but when something crops up that I want to work on, I go see my acupuncturist once a week for 3 or 4 months, to do work using the Eight Extraordinary Meridians. They are great for emotional and psychological issues that stem from childhood. They are also used for dealing with the various stages of life, but are also good for many many other things. I called my private practice “Transformative Chinese Medicine” because of my work with the Eight Extraordinary Meridians. I’ve seen lives transformed, over and over and over again. It’s tremendously satisfying to watch that happen.
What are your top five picks from CAP? Sacred Rose Water – I don’t know the brand name — when I sprayed it on, I thought I had died and gone to heaven, I want to bathe in this! (Ed Note: Available for purchase in store) The CAPtivator Energy Mist – I often need a little pick-me-up midday, and this does it naturally. Marie Veronique’s Vitamin C+E+ Ferulic Serum – Having spent much of my life outdoors doing fun stuff, I need to get rid of those pesky age spots. Nordic Nordic Bilberry and Lingonberry Powders – Yummmmm! I add these antioxidant superheroes to tea, yogurt, or just drink it by itself. Wunder Workshop’s Organic Instantly Golden Turmeric Latte Blend – The dirty NYC air triggers inflammation, so this is a preventive, to keep inflammation down, and tastes yummy.