Heart, Brain and Courage | Acupuncture Relief Project | Volunteer Community Health Clinic | Nepal

Sarah Richards Massage Therapist Volunteer Nepal

I swear that when I asked the Wizard for the brain, he gave me the heart instead! Luckily, I have chosen a career path where leading with your heart is completely acceptable. For the last 10 years I've had a successful massage practice relying solely on my instincts, intuition and following my heart.

Here at the clinic in Chapagaon fear and anxiety have surfaced in me because we are asked to track results and do case studies like clinical practitioners. We need to quantify, measure and prove efficacy, and this is where that brain would prove to be a bit more useful!


While being here in Nepal, some of my insecurities have surfaced. The amazing  acupuncture practitioners constantly awe me with their breadth of knowledge, medical skills and healing abilities; rarely can I even speak their language! I've panicked a few times wondering what am I doing here? What were they thinking when picked me to come here? Are they gonna see right through me and realize that I don't feel like I know what I'm doing? I am so fearful  of letting them, and myself, down; being present, a good listener and showing compassion come easily for me, but here I also crave to be a good clinician as well.


Can't we measure our clinical progress with smiles, moments when a patient finally lets go, kind comments and gratitude? How about the gifts we receive in appreciation; don't  eggs, mustard greens, jello and homemade liquor count somehow?!

Maybe I'm struggling to track and measure my progress exactly and precisely as is desired, but here's what I can relay:

- I had a patient tell me that the gods are singing when I am working on her -  that has to count for something, right!?

- Mini Monks! I have made a couple of regular patients from the Buddhist monastery next door, which is for young monks ages 8-18, hence "mini". One has even asked for my email address in case he thinks of more questions to ask me.


- My schedule is booked with 10 massage patients almost every day, I became very popular very fast!

- I am called "Doctor Sarah" here, so at least it sounds like I know what I'm doing!

- I've had a patient weep on the table because she is overwhelmed that she has somewhere to go where people genuinely want to be kind to her and take care of her.

- I get feedback from the acupuncturists that patients are loving their massages and they are feeling better. And the acupuncturists, since they are treating so many patients community style, are appreciative that there is someone spending more hands on time with the patients since that can be a critical piece of healing.

- I have had the pleasure of adding Tibetan singing bowls to my treatments. These are antique bowls that when massaged properly make an amazing sound and vibration. It has been a powerful tool, the sound and vibrations reach inside and massage where I cannot touch. The patients recognize the bowl as, well a bowl, like something they might cook in, and at first are not sure how it could possibly help them. But once it starts singing they relax in a way that my hands cannot always achieve on these rigid Nepali bodies.


- I have patients who could have acupuncture at one of our satellite clinics closer to their home, but travel 1.5 hours by bus to our main clinic because I am here. One such gentleman has improved greatly but continues to make the journey each week because he enjoys his massage so much. He has invited me to visit him in his home and is planning to bring two other family members to see me.

- I am co-treating a patient with daily massage and acupuncture, this young man has contorted his spine in order to relieve the pain he feels from a herniated disc. He gets up off the massage table smiling and his mood shifts from sullen to happy, his body standing 50% straighter and with significantly less pain.

I came here to be challenged, to expand and grow. I have 3 weeks left to grow as much as I possibly can in beautiful Nepal. I think that I am constantly challenged by my own limitations, but in order to move forward I need to love and embrace those limitations first, and then I can set them aside. I am using this blog post to help me see myself a little more clearly, and now I can't wait to get back in the treatment room and love my patients the best way I know how!

Next time I'm in Oz I'm gonna thank the Wizard for choosing to give me the heart!

Insecurities Secured

What am I doing here?
To share and expand.

Why me?
Only you can do what you do.

Am I good enough?
You are perfect enough.

Am I smart enough?
Never stop learning.

Will I make a difference?
Every second.

---Sarah Richards

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