The idea of taking six weeks off to travel around Europe seemed very exciting, yet at the same time also quite terrifying. Could I really leave the clinic and my patients for so long? Could I allow myself to have a break, to look after myself? It’s a bit self-indulgent, isn’t it? And who would look after my cat? So many questions that came up!
In the end the excitement won over, and the journey began.
First stop Istanbul. I absolutely fell in love with the beauty of the city, and the kindness of its inhabitants towards stray cats. Sooo many cats everywhere!!!! Locals are leaving food and drink bowls and little cathouses outside their homes, in parks and even inside the Aya Sofia.
I must have walked 20km a day, photographed all the tiles and ceilings in mosques and palaces, petted at least 100 cats, became entranced by whirling dervishes, climbed the 7 hills, took a ferry to the Asian side of the city, drank buckets of chai (the Turkish version) and shed a few tears when leaving this charming city so full of stories and history.
Rothenburg, a medieval, walled city along “the Romantic Road” in Germany is simply stunning, and looks like it came straight out of a fairy tale. The main reason for coming to this place was, however, not its beauty but because it holds a gigantic Chinese Medicine Conference every year. For a whole week I got to meet practitioners from all over the world. We got to discuss, share ideas, learn from each other, listen to talks and participate in workshops. I got to meet and assist some of my Chinese Medicine superheroes – teachers whose books I’ve been using in clinic and that I regularly referenced in my university essays. I learned more about assisting patients with cancer by using herbs and acupuncture, discovered new palpation skills, found out about the use of ancient herbal formulae and their uses in gynaecological issues (e.g. painful, irregular or heavy menstruation, menopause, etc.). Additionally, I learned about acupuncture point protocols for patients suffering from insomnia, as well as herbal formulae that may benefit anxiety, depression and trauma.
It was a full week, a mind-blowing week, an exhausting week, a week that made my heart and brain smile again and again.
My journey continued through Germany and over to England, where I got to catch up with family and friends that I had not seen in years. And yet, it was just like yesterday when I saw them (and just as wet and miserable in England). It turns out that a close friend of mine from Melbourne who moved to the UK now happens to share a house with a good friend of mine from that little green island. I love those wonderful ‘coincidences’ and serendipitous moments! What a small world we live in!
England is where I first fell in love with Chinese Medicine, where I started my training and so it only seemed poignant to leave via East Grinstead, a little town in Sussex, which is home to a Chinese Medicine college where Giovanni Maciocia, a famous practitioner, author and teacher, studied in the 1970s.
I am now sitting with a big woolly jumper and a cup of lemon & ginger tea in a hotel in Iceland, where I will start a yoga & hiking retreat tomorrow. I haven’t met Björk yet unfortunately, but the landscape is breath taking – and other tourists keep asking me for directions (which bizarrely enough I seem to know), so I am fitting in quite well it seems.
It has been a soul nourishing, heart warming, mind-boggling and overall just an incredible adventure. But now I am also looking forward to coming home, to returning to the clinic and starting to apply all the new things that I have learned, and to take care of my cat again (who will no doubt completely ignore me).
Leela is a Traditional Chinese Medicine (https://kundalinihouse.com.au/acupuncture-chinese-herbs/) practitioner at Kundalini House in North Fitzroy. She will be returning from her adventures on the 3rd of July 2019. If you would like to take advantage of her post-holiday/study qi BOOK NOW!