The 2006 Southwest Symposium was held March 24-26 at The Crossings, a learning center and wellness spa spa tucked into the lush hill country of Austin, Texas. The peaceful and contemplative retreat center provided deep nourishment and relaxation for speakers, attendees and exhibitors alike.Many of the symposium's attendees reported that it was the best conference they had attended, while the lecturers felt enriched by the location, which featured architecture designed to connect directly with the environment.
The symposium began early on the morning of the 24th with world-renowned practitioner and author Giovanni Maciocia, who presented a day-long program titled "The Swamplands of the Body: The Pathology and Treatment of Dampness and Phlegm." Maciocia emphasized the importance of "clearing the terrain" before boosting and supplementing the substances. Participants found his presentation amazing and informative.
International qigong Master Li Jun Feng, head coach for the Chinese Wu Shu team, taught "The Gathering of Healing Qi From the Universe," which also lasted all of Friday. According to Master Li, the power of intention is immense. When one summons the qi, the universe responds. Breathing with the chest, the practitioner relaxes and invites the qi in from all directions. This was considered one of the conference's most extraordinary programs, and resonated with all those who attended.
Friday's final program, presented by Leslie Lynn Myers, was simply titled "Ethics." As an acupuncturist and an attorney, Ms. Myers highlighted imperative ethical concerns in Texas, as well as entertaining complex dialogues related to the ambiguities of the legal code for the profession of acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
On Saturday, Dr. Mikio Sankey presented a discussion on "Esoteric Acupuncture." Dr. Sankey's depth of knowledge in the esoteric traditions of East and West was thoroughly enjoyed by the participants, as evidenced by the fact that none of the attendees wanted to leave his class, even after speaking for four hours. Dr. Sankey was kind enough to stay on and keep the discussion going, long past the scheduled end time. He combined the Five Phases and traditional Chinese acupuncture theory with the neuroendocrinological nodes, geometric principles in point selection, color therapy and elements of the Nei Jing.
During the same time as Dr. Sankey's discussion, Victor Sierpina, MD, spoke about "Acupuncture's Role in Integrative Medicine." The roundtable session with Dr. Sierpina was attended by physicians, nurses and professional Oriental medical providers. He discussed referable conditions and integral concepts of care with an active group of participants. In a similar vein, Elizabeth Gomes, LAc, RN, provided her discussion, "Introduction to Chinese Medicine," for nurses and other professionals new to TCM.
AAOM's "Educator of the Year" for 2005, Mary Elizabeth Wakefield, presented her exciting and entertaining facial program, "Constitutional Facial Acupuncture Renewal." Attendees developed special skills for performing acupuncture facials, a powerful method of healing that is gaining exposure nationwide. As John H.F. Shen, a famous master of Chinese pulse diagnosis, was famous for saying, "You must face the face."
After two days filled with academic programs, attendees gathered to enjoy the rhythms of Lannaya, a West African drumming and dancing group, for a celebration called "Drumming, Dancing & Drinks." The artists danced and drummed to the delight of the audience. After performing for approximately 30 minutes, they invited the attendees to join the revelry on-stage. After the dancing, the Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin (which has hosted the symposium each year since 2001) held a party for attendees and Lannaya. Sarah Bentley, the academy's community services coordinator, played guitar and sang as Dr. Will Morris, AAOM president, accompanied her on the flute.
On Sunday, presenter Lillian Bridges shared her 20 years of experience in a family tradition of facial diagnosis. During her workshop, "Facial Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine," learners discussed the face as a map of life experience and a blueprint for the body's functions. Attendees discussed the areas of the face that correlate with anatomy, pathophysiology, and the underlying psychosocial factors that connect with health and well-being. Using a framework based upon the ancient science of Chinese face reading, learners evaluated jing and qi, as well as specific disease patterns.
Sharon Weizenbaum captivated her audience with her presentation, "Clinical Strategies Using Oriental Medicine in Gynecology." Interweaving among substantial clinical experience, her teachers' wisdom and the great sources of Chinese medicine, Sharon touched a deep and resonant chord with the listeners as she expounded upon primordial truths contained within the Yi Jing.
Also on Sunday, Dr. Erqiang Li drew senior practitioners and faculty to his program, "Advanced Needling Techniques." His portion of the program was quite practical and methodically presented. He presented his unique freehand tapping-insertion method, along with reinforcement of many classical needling methodologies.
By all accounts, the 2006 Southwest Symposium was considered a tremendous success. The Academy of Oriental Medicine at Austin already is planning the dates and location for the 2007 conference. For more information about next year's event, call (512) 454-1188, ext. 238, or send an e-mail to .
Click here for previous articles by William Morris, DAOM, PhD, LAc.