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Peak Experience Inspires Life Transformation

by Tobey Williamson, L.Ac.

Realized something as I walked along the harbor the other morning at home in Rockland, ME after some great early season skiing the day before at Sugarloaf, near my new acupuncture clinic in Kingfield, ME.

Opening this new location to help even more people find ease in their bodies has been part of a life transformation for me.  What came to me as I reflected on the reflections in Penobscot Bay and replayed the memories of my turns down northern Franklin County's iconic mountain the day before: this new life phase is modeled on a peak experience I had in the midst of my last major life shift.  Enjoy these photos from Hawaii, they tell the story before I tell the story.

Peak Experience Inspires Life Transformation, Good Hearth in Rockland, MaineSnowy peak of Mauna Kea (White Mountain) from the beach
High red juvenile Hawaiian green sea turtle  
All photos from the reefs of Hawaii courtesy of my friend Jason Murray and his amazing site The rest of the Hawaiian landscapes are my own shots.)

Mauna Kea & Mauna Loa Good Hearth Acupuncture Rockland & Kingfield MaineSnow capped Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa from the lush pastures of Waimea, HI

Near the end of my schooling and apprenticeship in Seitai Shinpo Japanese Structural Acupuncture and other Eastern Medical Arts on the Big Island of Hawaii, things finally came together for a dream I had been incubating.

I skied in the morning.  Snorkeled with the fishes in the afternoon.

Mauna Loa from Mauna Kea Good Hearth Acupuncture Rockland & Kingfield MaineMauna Loa from Mauna Kea

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine  Good Hearth in Rockland, MaineClockwise from top Indo-Pacific Sargents, Moorish Idol, Yellow Tang

Two storms in a row had painted Mauna Kea its namesake white. 

Time was somehow available in the midst of millions of obligations with school, board exams, clinical duties, child rearing, and solar energy sales. 

Ebay delivered just-in-time some serviceable skis, poles, and some too-small boots that needed to have the toes cut out of the liner to squeeze them on. 

A friend agreed to join the adventure - and we were off! 

When we got to the peak (my ancient Rav4 sputtered and slowed down in the thin air, but we made it!), we arranged to hitch rides in the back of a pickup owned by a dad shuttling his kids. 

We got four of the most uniquely scenic and exhilarating ski runs on the planet!! 

Peak Experience Inspires Life Transformation, Good Hearth in Rockland, MaineHumuhumunukunukuapu'aa (Hawaiian Reef Triggerfish)

After that, we drove straight to a beach with easy access to snorkeling on a beautiful reef teeming with vibrant life.  A few hours out exploring the coral and its endless variety of fish, eels, turtles and invertebrates always put me in a state of bliss.  Though we did not see any that day, sharks, dolphins, whales, rays, and monk seals all frequent the waters of Hawaii. 
Hawaiian Sunset Good Hearth Acupuncture Rockland & Kingfield Maine

Sitting in the warm edge of a Pacific Ocean lagoon that evening reveling in the sheer magic of the day is one of the peak experiences of my life so far.

My mind and my outlook are richer for it.  Not every day can be like that, though.  So, how do we move on, when something magical evaporates into the past and we are again faced with ourselves and the grind that everyday life can sometimes be?  

What I have learned repeatedly, and sometimes painfully over the last ten years is that change is not a choice.  Vitality depends on it.  So, flow with it.  Even when its hard.  Especially when its hard.

We are all, of course, surfing atop a moving train, on a rotating globe, circling the sun, spinning in an ocean of stars.  Harmony amidst dynamism requires balance and purpose.  Perhaps leaps of faith are not last resorts, but a major part of the safety plan for gracefully moving forward amidst the ordered chaos. 

Peak experiences rarely just happen.  We envision them.  Turn them over in our minds until we feel them, smell them, taste them.  Our decisions are guided by the moment magnetically attracting us from where we are to where we know we NEED to be.

Obstacles arise.  We slide sideways on a greasy road, counter steer just right to avoid the oncoming truck and back into the groove.  Aim again for what beckons.

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine
Sugarloaf USA (Photo Credit Unknown)

Never give up. Develop the heart...
No matter what is happening. 
No matter what is going on around you. 
Never give up.

-Dalai Lama

So happy to have arrived at this moment to share my skills and hard-earned, humble wisdom with those in need of pain relief and inspiration in the Midcoast and Sugarloaf communities.  In gratitude, I serve. 

Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Peak Experience Inspires Life Transformation, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine
Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine


WHAT IS THERE TO FEAR?, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

My acupuncture teacher, Dr. Chieko Maekawa, is 84 years old now and a fountain of wisdom.  She always says that our acupuncture needles are only 1% of the healing.  All the other lifestyle advice, combined with our daily choices make all the difference in our ability to heal.  So the cornerstones of immunity from last week's blog is all about the other 99% of our health.

Before COVID-19, wellness may have seemed a luxury.  These days, being of strong and balanced health is a necessity.  We do not yet know the risks ahead as public health experts argue strenuously to maintain our isolation until we have good epidemiological data while economic and political pressure mounts to re-open society. 

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine
Traditional Chinese Medicine Organ Correspondences

But do not fear.  Fear, as with any strong and sustained emotional response, has a tendency to throw us off balance.  Emotional balance is a cornerstone of immunity, as our emotions have direct relationships with our organs. Strengthening our will in the face of fear would be considered the keystone to wellness in Eastern Medicine.  This is because the Kidney is the source of bodies internal energy - like a battery - and its emotion is fear with its opposite attribute being willpower.

When I spoke to Dr. Maekawa the other night, she emphasized the importance of staying calm during this pandemic and not letting fear grip us.  The story of her childhood experiences living near Tokyo during and after World War II punctuated this message, and it is worth repeating. 

Good Hearth in Rockland, MaineDr. Chieko Maekawa, LA.c., DOM, PH.d. on the occasion of her 80th birthday, with my son.

When the war started in Japan, all the men in her community, including her father, were drafted.  They simply disappeared one day, never expected to return.  As long as the war continued, their honor and their emperor required that they fight to the death. 

Families, neighborhoods, and cities adjusted themselves to this new reality and moved on. 

As the war continued on there were shortages of many items considered important and necessary to everyday life.  Again the people adjusted.  

Towards the end of the war, Tokyo and surrounding areas were firebombed.  My teacher and everyone she knew lost their houses.  They lived amidst complete devastation as the government that had brought them to war disintegrated and could no longer provide direction or services of any kind.

WHAT IS THERE TO FEAR?, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine

Tokoyo residents and destroyed blocks after 1945 firebombing.

Somehow without shelter, consistent supplies of food and clean water and without their beloved fathers, uncles, and brothers, the people of Japan put their lives back together. 

They did this by focusing on what they did have — steeling the power of their wills against the fear they felt and doing what needed to be done every day to survive and eventually to thrive. 

At first this meant walking for miles through burned out neighborhoods to get fresh water. Caring for the sick and wounded.  Later it meant developing small garden plots and gathering seeds to grow fresh food.   Supporting others and making them smile was paramount. 

My teacher’s father eventually made it home from China after the war ended.  He was exhausted.  After years of fighting he had to run for his life from behind victorious enemy lines with no supplies.  He finally secured passage on a ship back to Japan.  The family attempted to nurse him back to health, but he died 6 months later. 

Again life went on, despite the tragedy and difficulty of their new existence.  Her family and its business at the heart of their community eventually thrived again.  Today she is a beacon of light and her clinic is a sanctuary for all who need healing.

So, when my teacher says not to fear our current situation, it carries some weight. 

Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine
Dr. Chieko Maekawa with apprentices/graduates in her Kona, Hawaii Seitai Shinpo Acupuncture Clinic.

Many of us have already lost loved ones and each of us has watched helplessly as others suffer.  Life has changed and will continue to do so.  But we have no choice but to stand up tall and do what we can to make life as good as we can make it for our families and others. 

What I have noticed is that so many people have expanded their circles of concern to include a much vaster number of people.  What is also important now is recognizing the limits of our circles of influence, beyond which our efforts and worries would be wasted energy. 

If you have an abundance of time right now, let me help you use it to your best wellness advantage.  Even more so, if you are so busy caring for others that time is short, let me help you focus some energy inward to build up your reserves.  Staying healthy and motivated helps us all be better servants.  It is in this spirit, that I am offering distance medicine and wellness coaching to strengthen our individual immunity and determine new collective purpose during this unprecedented time.

Please contact me if I can be helpful to you or your loved ones on your self-care journey to the 99% of health that is within our control during chaotic times.

WHAT IS THERE TO FEAR?, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Supporting my Community in Times of Pandemic - Cornerstones of Natural Immune Boosting

These weeks have been real.  Bracing for this growing wave that may not crest anytime soon.
Supporting my Community in Times of Pandemic - Cornerstones of Natural Immune Boosting, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Some folks are working harder than ever.  Those on the front lines of public health; the doers in government and social welfare at every level who are planning and executing relief programs; the teachers who have had to rework their lesson plans; and the rest of all those helpers out there that form a line too long to list… 

Others are finding themselves with seemingly endless time at home.  Trying to maintain a semblance of normalcy for the youngest, protect the oldest and give our family members the space they need to get along in newly cramped quarters. 

Or perhaps being all by yourself for the longest stretches of time you can recall. 

No matter what, this is uncharted territory.

My clinic has been closed since March 13.  Having 100% confidence that my treatment supports immune function (more here, here, and here), especially the moxibustion, it was a VERY hard decision to cancel appointments.  Ultimately, public health wins out over individual health, and all of our efforts should be aimed at flattening the curve.  As soon as I know I can practice safely in this community, my doors will open again. 

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine"I firmly believe that  once the people of North  America learn the simple secrets of Japanese direct moxibustion therapy, they will recognize its tremendous benefits...In this day and age, when the weakening of the immune system has given
rise to a whole host of problems, strengthening our immunity is one of the most urgent needs."                                                                  -- Mizutani Junji, LAc.

In the meantime, we’ve been enjoying a lot of family time with our young kids, eating well, getting lots of exercise and fresh air, playing games, laughing a lot, and breathing deeply all while holding the highest and best outcome in mind.

This will be a time to remember.  Incredible transformation will greet us all on the other side.

I am making best use of the time to get organized and prepared to support all of you — my patients, friends and family — and anyone in your network who asks for my help.  Specifically here is what I am prepared to offer:

Good Hearth in Rockland, MaineSupporting my Community in Times of Pandemic - Cornerstones of Natural Immune Boosting, Good Hearth in Rockland, MaineTobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine


  Surviving & Thriving COVID-19 Wellness Package

Guidance and Support with the Following Cornerstones of Natural Immunity:
* Nutrition
* Breathing and Exercise
* Spirit & Mental Health
* Herbs, Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements
  to support constitution and natural immunity
* Acupressure, Self Massage & Moxibustion

Methods of Delivery:
* Online Resources
* Educational Links & Connections with other Wellness Professionals
* Sourcing/Sales of Wellness Supplies
* Clearinghouse of Ideas to Support One Another
* Private and Family Consults by Phone, Email and Video Conferencing

Please contact Tobey for more details.
Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine
Together we will get through this.


Chinese Medicine and COVID-19

Chinese Medicine and COVID-19, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Chinese medicine is rooted in a long history of successfully combatting infectious disease. So, despite being the source of this new cornonavirus, perhaps due to questionable cultural practices, the medicine is sophisticated when it comes to colds/flus/infectious disease.  Just not in the way we think about Western Medicine being sophisticated. 

Instead of focusing in on the minutest of details at the molecular level and creating technological fixes that can be lifesaving in the most dire of circumstances, Chinese medicine excels at pattern differentiation leading to highly focused acupuncture and herbal treatment plans from the earliest to the latest stages of disease progression.  Here is an example of Traditional Chinese Medicine diagnoses and treatments prescriptions for COVID-19 that came from an integrated (TCM/Western) hospital in China.  A quick look will give you an idea of the detailed nature of symptomatic classifications through time and their associated treatment plans.

Little known, but true, the Chinese were the first to record experimenting with what would later become vaccines — using desiccated small pox blisters to inoculate people and give their immune system a chance to recognize the coming invasion.  They also developed two different understandings of pestilent diseases - the Warm Disease theory and the Cold Damage theory.

Rockland.Maine.Herbal Medicine.TCM.Chinese
These books are incredible in their depth of description on the differentiation, progression and treatment of colds and flus - which are often coronaviruses.

If you’ve ever noticed that some years you get a cold/flu that starts with chills, a stiff neck and a clear runny nose, and that other years you get a sore throat, a fever, and thick yellow mucous, you have discerned the essential differences between these two patterns of disease. From there the Chinese have mapped out the general progression of these diseases and have thousands of years of treatment notes and understandings of which types of treatments help to resolve the different stages.

COVID-19 is a warm invasion - with fever, chest congestion, sore throat, leading to thick, toxic mucous that is difficult to expectorate and, if allowed to progress, eventually becomes interstitial pneumonia.  It has elements of what TCM calls Toxic Heat and Dampness.

The reports out of China are that 75-80% of people infected with COVID-19 were treated with a mixture of Chinese and Western Medicine.  The power of this combination is credited with the resolution of illness in many many people.  More news articles here and here and here.  So, this means that the numbers may be skewed somewhat towards making us believe the illness is weaker than it actually it will be in other places without such sophisticated treatment of symptoms at each stage.

Especially prevention and management at the earliest stages, since it is easier to snuff out a match than it is to fight a forest fire.  Reports out of Italy of completely overwhelmed hospitals and medical staff may be what we ought to be expecting, rather than a somewhat swift recovery and slow down of transmission…

COVID-19.TCM.Herbal.Therapy.Granules.Rockland.MaineChinese Herbal Pharmacy in an integrated TCM/Western hospital. Note small text below the photo.

There is, however, excellent information coming out of China and passed among practitioners of this medicine around the world on the exact treatments that have been effective with people infected by COVID-19.  So, I have ordered the herbs that will help to prevent infection and also the herbs that help to control the disease in its earliest stages.  I will have them prepared into pill form in limited quantities within a week or so and am happy to make them available to people who meet the following criteria:

1. At risk due to advanced age and/or lung weakness; and
2. Likely to actually use them rather than leave them on the shelf.

To be clear, I DO NOT intend to open my clinic to people to come to me for treatment if they believe they have COVID-19.  Those people should self-quarantine and/or seek qualified western care in facilities that are equipped to contain the spread of the virus.  Assuming my family is well, I will make arrangements to have a family member or friend of a recently sick person pick up the herbs useful for the initial mild stages after a phone consultation to confirm symptoms and rule out contra-indications.  I will develop and communicate methods to ensure that the transfer of the herbs does not transmit the virus.

My current focus is on the prevention of the disease and containing its spread.  Lots of advice has been shared in that regard, but here it is again:

1. It is time to begin limiting our contacts with other people, especially large groups of people coming from different areas - the virus is in Maine and likely circulating in our communities with out us knowing it yet.  It takes up to a week for people to show symptoms, and some people, especially children never develop symptoms at all or show only mild ones.  These are the people who are unwittingly spreading it. This article explains in great detail the importance of acting now.

2. If you have to go out, practice social distancing.  This virus has been confirmed to travel through the airborne route.  Meaning a sneeze or even shared air for prolonged periods in indoor spaces can transmit it between people.

3. Even still, wash your hands a lot, try not to touch your face, especially your eyes, nose and mouth.  We've begun using our Neti pot each night before bed to flush out our sinuses and nasal passages, as a preventative measure, though we feel fine.

4. Stay calm - stress weakens our immune systems and leads us to do all kinds of weird things, like horde toilet paper.

5. Eat less sugar, carbohydrates, dairy and fried foods.  This disease uses excess dampness in your body to create phlegm. Excessive amounts of these foods are hard to digest, leading to dampness and phlegm in the body.  Instead, focus on vegetables, nuts, legumes and lean meats.  Eat the rainbow of fruits and vegetables to ensure your body has the nutrients it needs.

6. Keep your blood moving with exercise, massage, acupuncture and moxibustion.

7. Protect your energy by getting enough sleep and maintaining your body temperature.  Drink warm liquids instead of ice water, cover up your head and neck out in the wind and rain, etc.

If you do think you are coming down with something do one or both of these things AS SOON AS YOU CAN:

1. Take a hot bath or soak your feet in hot water while drinking a hot beverage.  Get your body temperature high enough to induce a sweat, especially around the neck and head.  Make sure you dry off completely and stay covered up to keep the heat in.  Then go to bed.  If you get in bed while still really warm and bundled up, you may sweat more.  Make sure to drink enough water to replace fluids lost through sweating.  Another great description here.

2. Use pure vitamin C (ascorbic acid ONLY, with no sugar or minerals added) at high dosage (to bowel tolerance) to help your body fight off the virus before it begins to replicate at a high rate. More on this method here.
*I have relied heavily here on Duane Law's excellent Self-Care Advisor series on treating colds and flus.  Take a look at the rest of his writing and methods for helping people on

My clinic is currently closed for the weekend and I will be paying close attention to the news and recommendations of the MaineCDC and will make a decision about whether to open next week to continue treating patients without symptoms.  The risk of transmission vs. the good of supporting people to remain healthy will be my calculus, with emphasis on doing my part to protect public health.

Please contact me with questions and/or if you would like to be put on the list to purchase the preventative herbs (like the product Airborne, which is actually derived from a Chinese formula) or to be considered for herbs in the case of early mild stage infections.

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine

Pain Relief in 2-3 treatments

Pain Relief in 2-3 treatments, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

I'm active, So, I know that pain can be a real drag.  This winter, I have been playing ultimate frisbee at The Pitch in Warren with a great group of midcoast Maine athletes.  As fun as it is to run around and jump like its summer even when its snowy and cold outside... playing on artificial turf has its drawbacks.  Mainly its the fact that the thin layer of rubberized "grass" is sitting on top of concrete.  Which means that jumping up to catch long passes in traffic and landing repeatedly on cleats can be a bit rough on the legs...especially ones that are getting older like mine.

My ankles and heels and calves have been pretty creaky for a few weeks.  A new pair of turf shoes for Christmas helped some and so did taking some time off to rest.  But there was one spot on my left heel that was the definition of stubborn pain.  Notice I said, "WAS."

Tobey Williamson offers Acupuncture / Herbal Medicine / Immune Support in Rockland, Maine

Like many of my patients, I'm averse to needles in my feet.  Sort of like stepping on a Lego, intentionally putting a sharp object into the sole of my foot is generally something I avoid.  But like Androcles (the guy pictured above who took the thorn out of the lion's paw and not only lived to tell the tale, but thrived because of it) in reverse, there are benefits to having the courage to put a small needle into a painful location.

So, after much consideration and many false starts since the pain began, I finally gathered up all my gumption yesterday. Palpating with my fingers until I found the exact spot where the pain was the worst, I then carefully inserted a needle through the callous and into the tender flesh of my heel. 

Much like my own very first experience with acupuncture, I didn't feel the initial insertion.  As it went in deeper though, there was a bit of a shock for all of 1 second, then it was over. 

To make sure the blood flow was good and that the original trauma would heal quickly, I burned some moxa on it.  The heat felt good. The pain of the needle in one of the most sensitive parts of the body didn't even last the length of the deep breath I took to help manage it.

Today?  No pain.

If only I had had the guts to do this earlier.

Sound familiar?

If you have been dealing with stubborn pain, you owe it to yourself to get over your fear of needles...or your disbelief that acupuncture could possibly help...or your story that you're too busy...or whatever it is that keeps you from making an appointment. 

Most people get some relief from their acute pain after just 2 or 3 of my treatments. Chronic pain may take longer, but still responds well.

Shouldn't you give acupuncture a try?

SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 5:30PM Fantastic Fungi Film and Community Discussion

by Tobey Williamson, L.Ac.

It is fun to announce my new connections with The Strand Theater in Rockland and some really interesting local leaders in human ecology.  Greg Marley, Mycologist/Author; Deb Soule, Herbalist, Avena Botanicals; and Jesse Watson, Designer, Midcoast Permaculture

The film, Fantastic Fungi: The Magic Beneath Us, will be playing at The Strand from Saturday 11/9 through Monday 11/11.

As an early Kickstarter contributor, nearly 5 years ago, I am VERY excited to finally see it. So excited that I have organized a community discussion after the 5:30 PM showing on Sunday November 10. This will be a great opportunity to be inspired by a beautiful film and then by people nearby working with nature to make the world a better place.

I hope you'll make an effort to see this film while it's here at The Strand. Details below in the flyer about the discussion.

Ultimately this film is about the networks of information flow that knit our world together and make it function better than it would otherwise. So, please help spread the word by forwarding this link, posting the flyer, or the photo below on social media!SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 5:30PM Fantastic Fungi Film and Community Discussion, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Potholes and Health Maintenance

by Tobey Williamson, L.Ac.

Potholes and Health Maintenance, Good Hearth in Rockland, Maine

Tis the season of disappearing hubcaps and bottomless potholes.  Seeking out the best route to my office so I can help my patients avoid the car repair bills that come with the jarring thuds, I contemplate the rubble and mud puddles that used to be our roads.  I don’t have much luck finding a smooth road, but it occurs to me that road maintenance is akin to health maintenance, and some of the same principles apply.  Allow me to explain…

I heard that we should expect an “ambitious set of paving projects” for the coming construction season.  Which of course means that traffic will be, shall we say, “different,” this summer. 

Let’s hope for the best. 

Personally, I think I would have preferred several less-ambitious paving projects done during the previous several seasons.  A stitch in time saves nine, so to speak.  Maybe then our daily driving would not be as disrupted first by the potholes, then the traffic associated with repairing nearly every road in the city at the same time.

Many of us see the maintenance of our bodies and our health the same way, unfortunately.  We choose not to exercise or to focus on the rich taste of our food rather than its nutritional value.  We don’t ask for help with our aches and pains.  It feels easier to discount the future today with decisions that may eventually lead to the “ambitious health repair project” in the future. 

If we have to we’ll get through the surgery and the rehab just like we’ll get around potholes and summer road construction traffic.  It will be inconvenient and we will wish it were different. 

Health maintenance really can be simple.  Eat the rainbow.  Not too much.  Make moving your body a regular part of each day.  Nourish your family and friends.  Grow your spirit and your mind.  Work at fulfilling projects with supportive colleagues.  Relax.  Get regular acupuncture and massage treatments for a few weeks when you hurt, and then monthly so you don’t.

Overall the goal is to keep your blood healthy and moving and your body flexible and pain free.  More information here about how Seitai Shinpo acupuncture is particularly helpful at nourishing blood and improving posture so your body can function best.  

So send a message to your future self.  Say, “I got you!  I’ll make the choices today that will serve me better in my present and your future.” 

Come on in for treatment and let’s talk about your health goals.