Tuesday, October 08, 2013

Nudity & Pursuit & The Pursuit of Nudity

Vol. II, No. 11, Final for "Following Someone Else's Dream"
Ancient Chinese cupping therapy

"Your shoulder no good," the Chinese therapist said. He was young, maybe twenty-two, with a slight frame and big hands. "I fix it for you." And with that, he mimed what he was promising to do by cupping his hands and displaying a book of matches. 

At first, I had no idea what he was trying to convey. My husband and baby and I were in Beijing, and while she slept, we took turns exploring. Incredibly, I stumbled on an underground massage parlor, the exact same one I'd stumbled on years earlier when I'd visited Beijing with my mom. Back then, she'd joined me in China to see me off on my adventure into Mongolia. It was my mom who'd insisted (and, of course, nagged until I complied!) that I write a book, and that's the book that'll be released on October 21st, the true story of what happens when you follow your wildest dream. So, all this in mind as I stared in awe at the same parlor I'd visited seven years ago, I knew I had to pay them a visit again! But this time I'd get something I hadn't bargained for.

And that's when I realized what the therapist was offering: Chinese cupping. Cupping therapy is one of the most ancient forms of medicine. It's been around for 5000 years, and was discovered as a treatment
Cupping therapy: "Shoulder no good!"
in the oldest medical book (published, I believe, on papyrus, and probably not available on Kindle). Cupping uses suction to draw blood flow to the injured area to encourage healing. I hadn't heard of it until I'd moved to Singapore years ago, where my colleagues raved about its healing properties. So there I was in China, getting a chance to experience cupping for myself. 

I laid down on the table, topless, and shut my eyes. The therapist pressed a dozen or so glass cups to my back, lighting a match beneath each to create the vacuum suction, and then left me alone in the dark for a half hour to ponder what was happening. I couldn't see anything, and I couldn't move, so when he finally came back, I asked him to take a few photos.

And really, this is all a long-winded way of explaining the pictures at right, a long way of assuring you that I don't actually have a dozen enormous nipples. The top photo is during the treatment; the bottom is after the treatment. It was fascinating to see which spots were reddest, in particular the shoulder he'd pointed out before he'd even begun the treatment. 

Drop everything and come here. If you can find it.
If we'd stayed longer in China, I'd have returned regularly to cupping therapy, because for the first time in years, my shoulder felt better immediately. But alas, we were off, to move to New Zealand. Which brings me up to date. 

This weekend, I'm heading home! Home to New York City and possibly Cincinnati too, to publish my book. As many of you know, the book has been a long time coming, and I've been through a lot of trials and tribulations, a lot of sitting in my pajamas at noon wondering if I'd ever make it to this day. A few months ago for WE Talk, I interviewed Tian Hao Jiang, a Chinese factory worker who worked his way all the way up to opera singer, opera singer at The Met no less. When I asked Tian how he faced down his own obstacles to his wildest dream, he told me this: "Although I doubted myself now and again, I never doubted The Path." 

I couldn't agree more.

*Goodreads is doing a giveaway for LIVE from Mongolia! Two autographed advance review copies are available to anyone, anywhere in the world. Click here to enter to win: Goodreads giveaway ending October 14th.*

- Patricia Sexton is the author of LIVE from Mongolia, the true story of what can happen when you follow your wildest dream. She's also the host of Sinovision's WE Talk, a talk show exploring how celebrities and artists have overcome big obstacles to follow extraordinary dreams. She's on Twitter @PatriciaSexton and on Facebook @LiveFromMongolia

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