cougar resting in treeWhat do a mountain lion and an acupuncturist have in common (other than they both carry sharp objects around with them)?  I have been thinking about this a lot in the past few days because on my vacation in the Sawtooth Mountains, I came (relatively) face to face with a cougar!  Not an attractive, frisky, older woman (those were in nearby Sun Valley), but a real mountain lion.

While hiking up a small foothill, my young cousin and I saw a bush moving about 100 yards out.  It was really shaking and there was a large raven squawking in it too.  Thinking it was just squirrels arguing, we hiked on, against my better judgement.  Closer in, I looked up at the bush again.  This time I saw a different movement, slower, as well as a patch of orangish fur.  This was definitely not a squirrel.  Below the fur I saw her tail with a black tip.  Then she poked her face out to look at us.  We froze.  Literally, I couldn’t move or speak for about 15 seconds while my brain registered the situation.  Then we raced back down the mountain about 3x faster than we went up.  I’m surprised we didn’t cause a rock slide we were moving so fast.

What an awe-some adventure that was!  My heart was racing and knees shaking with adrenaline like I had never felt before.  That night I could hardly sleep as my mind pondered what could have been…

When we returned to civilization (and internet access) a few days later I looked up “mountain lion” on Google to get more information on the beautiful, majestic cats.  For those of you who don’t know, I LOVE cats.  To my dismay, most of the information on them is about hunting them.  At least half of the images regarding cougars shows them dead, being held up as a prize by some hunter.  Sure, they can be dangerous, but do we really need to – literally – hunt them down and wipe them out to extinction?  I could understand killing one if you were defending your life, but they are treated as a pest that needs to be eradicated off the face of this earth.

I thought, how appropriate.  If anyone wants to know what it’s like being in practice as an “alternative medicine” practitioner, look no further than to the life of the mountain lion!  Here’s how I figure our similarities:

  • In touch with nature:  our medicine uses natural elements, plants, and seasons to heal; the cougar’s life depends on the sanctity of its natural habitat.
  • “Hunted” by “the man”:  although it’s getting easier than in years past, acupuncture is condemned by many insurance companies and so-called “scientists” who I have no doubt are on payroll for big pharma.  It’s a virtual miracle if someone’s insurance pays for treatment in our office.  If we get people off of their drugs, we affect their bottom line and they do not like that; the mountain lion species is in danger of extinction due to man’s greed and want of total control of the land.
  • Misunderstood:  people have many misconceptions about natural medicine.  Some think it’s a one-shot deal; if it does nothing the first time, they give up on it.  Some thmountain lion tracks from my vacation in Idahoink it’s voo-doo medicine or that it’s against their religion.  The cougar is thought to be a man-eating predator, but really it’s natural diet consists of deer and small animals.  It only attacks man if provoked, or if it’s habitat is incringed upon (like what I did!).

Acupuncture now is the fastest growing field in medicine.  More and more when I tell people that I am an acupuncturist, they say “Oh, wow!  I’ve always wanted to try that!”  I think this is a sign of real progress.  Our nation is in desperate need of healing, and Oriental medicine (as well as other natural healing fields) can offer that.  My ultimate dream is to see holistic medicine as people’s first choice when they need a healthcare practitioner; as a respected field; and as a covered benefit on people’s insurance plans.  I think to heal our bodies is one step closer to healing the world as a whole.