Friday, April 4, 2014

Article for Yo San University

Article for Yo San 
University (Learning Point Newsletter)

Written by: Gabrielle Olko
The following covers some of what you all have already read, but written in an enhanced light, as well as entailing new aspects of my journey.  I was asked by Yo San University (my college) to write an article for their online newsletter.  Thank you Yo San! What an honor. 

My journey that I am currently on has guided me to look inward to discover how my path in life has led me to where I am.  Sometimes we do not understand why certain challenges approach us along the way; but I believe they happen to us for a reason to lead us to where we are meant to be.  It has taken me a while to understand the importance of being in the moment. I have found the importance is to not wish my life away or into the future and to remind myself each and everyday to embrace the journey I am in and on right in this very moment.

Four years ago, in February I broke my wrist and was cooped up at my home in Virginia, in snowstorm after snowstorm, waiting for interviews to come my way after I had applied to be a teacher at several elementary schools.  I had just received my teaching certificate as well as a Masters Degree in Early Childhood Education from James Madison University.  I had been working in a long-term substitute position in a second grade classroom; but after my wrist was broken, I started filling the position of lying on my couch. Several weeks passed by and suddenly one day I woke up and felt as though it was time to lift myself up and search inward and outward to continue to unfold my life journey.  I found out about a Life Coaching Certification Workshop being held in Los Angeles at Yo San University, which was being led by Dr. Maoshing Ni (one of the brothers who founded Yo San) as well as Phillip Christman. I felt as though this would be an amazing opportunity to find my life guidance as well as help guide others as well as be able to explore the coast of California before I came back and committed fully to becoming a teacher. This experience served as a catalyst to the journey I am now on. Three months later I filled out my application to attend Yo San University and began looking for a new place to live.  It's amazing how an injury can lead us in a new direction for a reason.

That fall, I was a brand new student at Yo San University beginning to pursue what, at the time, I believed was just a masters degree and license in acupuncture.  What I have learned four years later is that the journey at this school is much more than just receiving a new profession, but that it is a voyage inward and outward to discovering our own self, body, mind and soul.  I have created relationships with fellow students, teachers, supervisors, masters, and employees that I will treasure throughout my lifetime. There have been challenges that have arisen along the way, and times that I have wanted to fight against what I have been working hard towards, as well as moments where school has seemed to be on the bottom of my list in life.  But what I have noticed is that along the way I am always drawn back in to the energetic and beautiful safe haven I like to call school.

On my first day of school at orientation, Dr. Maoshing Ni told us a story about a patient of his that was diagnosed with a stage 4 melanoma brain cancer.  The doctors at the hospital gave her three months left to live.  She came to Dr. Mao's office in tears and in fright of her approaching death.  His advice to her was to do all the treatments that she could, but to look within and do what fit her soul the most. She exclaimed to Dr. Mao that her soul wanted to go swim with the dolphins in Hawaii.  So off she went, and three months later after swimming in the beautiful ocean with the dolphins at her side, the sun shining on her body, and connecting with the medicine of nature, she had forgotten she even had a tumor in her brain at all.  When she got back her MRI results showed, to everyone's surprise, that the tumor was almost gone! Its amazing how impactful the healing of nature can be on our body when we connect with it as well as allow our body to relax, and to let go of over-thinking and over-emotion and just live.  This story has resonated with me throughout the past four years, but was immediately awakened within me in a new light over the past six months and has helped me throughout my own recent health journey of my own brain, and given me courage and a deeper insight about life.  I look back to the first day of school and this story in amazement and how it deeply connects to where I am now. Throughout the past four years of school I have compared myself to other fellow students, felt rushed to to finish and get into clinic at the same time as those I started with as well as wanting to hurry to get a professional job and start making money in what I thought of as the "real world," wishing away my time at school.  One thing I have been awakened to in the past six months has been that each of our experiences in life are our own personal journey and we are exactly where we are meant  to be right now for a reason.

This past October, I was involved in a scooter accident, where I was immediately taken to the ER.  My main injury was located in my left shoulder, but they performed multiple tests on me to make sure that no other body parts had been affected in the accident.  Because of the location of the broken shoulder being located near the spine, they decided to run a CAT scan to make sure my head had not been injured at all.  To their surprise as well as mine, there was fogginess presented on the CAT scan, which led them to performing a full MRI scan. Thirteen hours later, at the end of the day when they found that I did not have health insurance, I was released out on my own and told by them that I had a broken humerus bone in my shoulder and a cancerous tumor in my brain.  Two days later, I was accepted into the public hospital where I embarked on a new chapter in my education of viewing and becoming fully immersed into aspects of how the western medical system works.  During my first eight days there, I underwent extensive pain killers, two more MRI scans, a spinal tap, as well as an EEG scan. These extra tests were performed to rule out any other possibility of what was seen on the scan before deciding where to go next.  I lay in the hospital hoping that what was there was a glitch in the system or a silly mistake.  The evening the doctors came into my office to sit down with me and tell me their diagnosis of the results, was one of the greatest challenges I have experienced.  They explained to me that the tumor presented was in my left temporal and frontal lobe area in my brain and seemed to be a grade 2 glioma.  They also let me know that this type of tumor was a form of malignant cancer and the best thing to do next would be to undergo a biopsy to determine the exact type, location, and size of the tumor.  I barely heard anything else that they said afterwards because my physical body seemed to collapse into a pile of emotion. Shortly after I was released from the hospital for the next ten days before returning to undergo my scheduled biopsy.

During the ten days before returning to the hospital, I made acupuncture appointments at my school with Dr. Wing as well as appointments at the Tao of Wellness with Dr. Maoshing Ni.  Dr. Wing was one of my teachers at Yo San as well as an incredible practitioner there, whom I had never actually scheduled an appointment with yet until then.  When I went in for a treatment with him, I felt a spiritual bond to him and his healing, which I have realized served and is still serving a purpose, and was brought to me exactly at that time for a reason.  Before my first treatment with him that day, as soon as I walked into the University, I felt a new love and safety there, like I had never felt before. I had no idea that students at school had started a fundraiser for me in the bookstore to assist me on my journey.  I stopped in my tracks, in tears, when I saw what they had done; not because of the money but because of all the support, love and healing energy that was being sent my way from my Yo San family.  Even new students at the school and patients whom I had never met were reaching out to me.  I suddenly realized, as I mentioned earlier, that sometimes the greatest love is directly in front of us and around us all along, and we tend to be avidly searching ahead and in the future, that we forget to embrace the moment and where we are.  I realized the feelings along the way of comparing myself to other students or wishing away my time at Yo San, so that I could graduate and work already, is what was causing me to lose the shining beauty of the greatest lesson in life of accepting and loving exactly where I am.

The accident happened midway through the fall semester of my fourth year, so I ended up having to drop out of the "official" classes I was taking that semester in school and drop into learning about my own body and health. This experience has opened my mind to healing and acupuncture as well as the human body, in an even greater sense than I have ever known.  This has been the most challenging yet most meaningful "elective" course I have taken in my life.  Suddenly what I had been learning at school all along, was now unfolding in a new light.  Right before this occurrence happened I was extremely busy cramming and studying to take the pre-clinical exam, so that this spring I could have began my internship in the clinic at Yo San University.  I did not end up taking the exam, but what I have realized is, that the universe has brought to me something else first, which is the importance of looking inward and healing, loving and protecting myself before reaching out to and healing others.

On November 13th, I re-entered back into the public hospital to begin my biopsy process.  I kept going back and forth as to if it was even necessary for me to go through this process at all.  I realize now that although perhaps it was not necessary, as no decision is set in stone and everyone has a different aspect of why they are drawn to undergoing certain things for a reason, I feel as though choosing to undergo this challenge for myself has given me many meaningful lessons about life, one of which is appreciating the small things in life that we tend to take for granted each day and feeling grateful for the time we have here on earth and how precious each moment is for us.  I awoke from the biopsy with half of my head bald, and 43 metal staples holding my scalp together.  What I truly woke up to had nothing to do with the baldness or staples at all, but was the joy I felt of being alive.  I felt awakened by the presence of my breath coming in and flowing out and felt a smile spread over my face and into my body filling me with gratitude, vibration, energy and love connecting to the universe, myself and the people in my life.

After coming home from the hospital the second time, I succumbed my body completely into acupuncture and chinese medicine to help speed up and assist my recovery from the biopsy, the immense amount of medication still in my system, as well my broken shoulder (which they had told me it would take me at least six months to be able to reach my hand up to the sky).  I started undergoing treatments with another amazing acupuncturist and tuina specialist who is also a teacher at Yo San University, Dr. Benny Lin.  Dr. Lin has been giving me incredible treatments. Within one month I was able to reach my arm up to the stars.  I also continued my treatments with Dr. Wing and Dr. Mao.  The energy at Benny Lin's office, as well as at Yo San University Clinic and the Tao of Wellness put me at complete ease and created within me a feeling of being calm, relaxed and nurtured.  As the New Year rolled in, so did my healing and I began to feel inspired to open new doorways of light into my life.  One of my New Years resolutions was to begin to take singing lessons.  The vocal vibration led to an even greater healing arising within my being.  I started to become grateful for the little friend within my brain.  One morning I awoke with the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World" in my mind, and I felt drawn to sing this at Yo San University's Chinese New Years celebration as a surprise, in front of my father the student body, teachers, Mao and Dao Shing Ni, as well guests from the outside to thank and give back some of the immense amount of love and healing that has been sent my way.

Dr. Dao & Mao Shing Ni (in the background)

I could already feel and still feel the power of this Chinese New Years 2014 Year of the Horse.  Dr. Mao explained at the celebration that starting on January 31st the year of the horse began which this year also has presented the elements of wood and fire.  He spoke of the year of the Horse is 2014 symbolizing momentum and movement.  He explained the importance of having a clear purpose and well-defined direction in our endeavor because then the momentum of the year will carry us the distance.  We can accomplish much this year.  He also explained how containing our impulsiveness is important otherwise many confrontations and challenges will stand in the way. It is important for us to learn to ride and steer our horse so that we do not end up out of control and lose too much as a result.  The fact that it is already April and the momentum and movement of this year has already begun leads me to understand more deeply how present the horse is this year.
 I have also been focusing on learning to ride the horse in the best way I can, as challenges and confrontations at times have started to present themselves.  I think recognizing this has made it more helpful to when challenges seem to arise to step back and be able to understand how to ride the horse.  One clear purpose and defined direction which arose for myself was being able to face my fears, one of them being to sing in front of everyone at the Chinese New Years celebration.  It has began this year for myself with a greater courage in being able to breath in courage and breath out fear as it comes my way.

Since the New Years Celebration I have underwent one follow up MRI to check on my tumor.  A fear that began to arise for me when undergoing this MRI was the idea "It must be gone!" or the fear "what if it has grown?" After viewing the results which showed that it was exactly the same and there has been nothing different.  I have begun to look inward and realize that the most important thing is to continue what I have been working on of, accepting myself exactly where I am and embracing and loving who I am in this current moment.  I felt that it was important to continue to be healthy, heal myself and explore my body in a beautiful way, but to remember to accept and love myself and that where I am and what I am doing in this moment are extraordinary and important. I smile and feel at peace when I remember the story of the woman who swam with the dolphins and connected with nature and the moment and forgot and let go of what was creating her negative emotions and dis-ease.  Today I feel healthy, and happy and excited to continue on my path of healing myself and healing others, as well as embracing the little friend that has been given to me in my brain.  I am consistently learning and practicing how to relax and quiet my mind and open my heart. My journey throughout my life, at Yo San as well as throughout this experience has lead me on the true path of healing.

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