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Completing the circle: acupuncture and Mexico

By Phaedra Barratt

For most people, acupuncture and Mexico share no connection. After all, the first is a healing art and the other–is a country I love. For me however, they are intricately entwined and mark a genesis of personal exploration and growth.

Open House
In honor of Phaedra Barratt
New acupuncturist from England at LifePath Center
Sat, Oct 13, 4-6pm
LifePath Center
Pila Seca 11

As a recent graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design, I received a Fulbright Scholarship to Mexico in 2000. I came to Oaxaca from New York City where I had been photographing the ethnographic collections for the American Museum of Natural History. Oaxaca greeted me warmly. I felt a palpable sense of magic in the air. I was touched by the openness of people. Mexicans invited me into their homes and generously shared meals with me, without even knowing me. I fell in love with the architecture, the colors, and the bright-yellow quality of the sunlight. I started to settle into myself as New York City began to fade out of (from) me. Life took on a slower place.

There is a saying -“Man makes plans, while God laughs from above.” The Fulbright Scholarship was granted to me to create mixed-media art installations incorporating Mexican-Catholic iconography. Instead I found myself in a Hospice and Home for the aged, volunteering my services and photographing my new friends who lived there. The photographs honored the individuals and asked the viewer to contemplate his own mortality. Mexicans do this so very well.

The Fulbright Scholarship affords so much more than scholarly pursuits. It grants the recipient the great gift of time. Time to reflect, to ponder. Time to get to know oneself much more intimately in the face of another culture and context. Time to relax. Perhaps this is why, on a typically sunny day in Oaxaca I meandered into an Acupuncturist’s office on a whim. I had always been curious about the practice. I lay on the table and surrendered to the practitioner. An hour later, I floated out of the office in a profoundly blissful state. I drifted to my favorite bench in front of the Iglesia de Santo Domingo, where I sat in silence and observed the world around me. In my post-acupuncture state, I lost track of time.

I did not know it then, but that experience changed my life and set me on the path to discovering my passion for the healing arts. When my Fulbright scholarship ended, I moved to London to pursue a career in photography. God must have laughed at me, as it became increasingly clear over time that my destiny was in Chinese Medicine. In 2008, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Acupuncture with Honors from the University of Portsmouth. I set up a thriving practice in London treating patients with every ailment and learned priceless lessons of humility, presence and compassion.

Joseph Campbell, the renowned scholar of Mythology once said that “If you truly follow your bliss, doors open where you never would have dreamed possible.” I left Mexico an artist, and twelve years later, I returned as a passionate and dedicated healer. I come to San Miguel de Allende now as a practicing Acupuncturist, completing the circle to the place where my journey began. Such is the synchronicity of a destined Life Path…

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