Yesterday I received the news that one of my most influential teachers, Bob Duggan, has passed away. Bob was an acupuncturist but he was also a wellness visionary, seeing ways of bringing health and healing outside the treatment room.
In 1991 I was fortunate to be part of a group of 20 who made up the SOPHIA training in San Francisco. Bob, along with Diane Connelly, Julia Measures and John Sullivan, made seasonal trips from Maryland to teach us about using the wisdom of the Five Elements to support change and healing in all areas of life, not just in the treatment room. My own path owes a great deal to this training. My acupressure courses, my books and my direction in life were profoundly influenced by Bob’s view of the world.
When I received the news about Bob’s change of vibration, I went Googling and found a short interview with him from 2009 which I recommend to you. In it he tells this story:
I’ve practised acupuncture for 35 years now and some 30 years ago a man came back into me and he said, “I never thought asthma would be my friend.” I said, “Charlie what are you talking about, asthma is your friend?” And he said, “Well before I came to you I was in and out of the emergency room, I was constantly on prednisone. Now I pick up the wheezing about three days earlier and if I pay attention I realise I’m overtired, I’ve had too much caffeine, I’m having a fight with my wife. And if I change the life circumstances I don’t ever get an asthmatic attack.” That story has stayed with me. I’ve told it to virtually every patient since then and found that people say to me, “My body’s very smart.”
This reminds me of what I already know but try to forget. My headaches are my friends, my neck stiffness is my friend, my insomnia is my friend. These symptoms are kindly pointing out the ways that my life is out of balance. I just need to investigate and find out what needs to change, whether it is what I’m eating, what I’m thinking, what I’m feeling. Or not feeling.
As a practitioner it reminds me that my role is to support my clients to discover these things for themselves. And that if I simply “fix” their problems and nothing more, then I am doing them a great disservice. If I help them to turn off the fire alarm without finding the fire that triggered the alarm, then the change that the alarm is suggesting will not happen.
Thank you Bob Duggan for your wisdom and guidance. Thea Elijah called you a radical healing provocateur. I hope that you continue to provoke healing in whichever dimension you inhabit.