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MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal

by Mindful Medicine Worldwide
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MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal
MMW 10-Year Anniversary $10,000 Goal

Here Derek is pictured with Debaki, the local translator. His relationship with Debaki was quite special. She studied acupuncture at a new acupuncture school in Kathmandu. She has been working for another group called Acupuncture Relief Project, a group from Oregon that we know well and are friendly with.

The Acupuncture Relief Project brought us to Debaki. She was incredible. She not only translated for Derek impeccably, going between English, Nepali, and 2-3 other dialects, but she also assisted him in the clinic. She did moxa on patients, she pulled needles, and did tui na, learning from Derek all the way through. Together they did over 400 treatments on one hundred unique individuals!

Because of experiences like these, Derek wants to be sure volunteering is a part of his life for always. We at MMW could not be more happy to hear this!

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On February 15th, our most recent Acupuncture volunteer, Derek Becker, arrived in Nepal to begin serving patients in the Kathmandu Valley. He is now treating patients in a clinic in Chabahil, just outside Boudhanath in Kathmandu. Derek is assisted by a Nepali translator, Debaki who just graduated from a new acupuncture school in Nepal. Derek is serving as her mentor and helping to prepare her to be an indepedent acupuncturist for a nearby hospital. Here is a description of his experince so far. We are so thankful for Derek's hard work and for the collaboration with Debaki. We could not be treating patients so effectively without her help. We are also grateful to the Acupuncture Relief Project for offering her training as a wonderful translator.

In three week’s time we have delivered a total of 282 treatments to 70 unique patients.  The age range is typically 40-60 years old and roughly 65% female.  Most patients have returned for treatments at least four times, and only 15% of patients haven’t returned at all. So far people have come to clinic seeking relief from pain (shoulder/arm, sciatica/low back pain, joint pain/arthritis, burning pain in the legs, gout), severe menopausal symptoms, hypertension, thyroid issues (mostly hypo), constipation, gastritis, urinary issues, headaches and insomnia.


Shoulder pain is by far the most common chief complaint. So far acupuncture has been effective at alleviating pain in nearly every patient with shoulder pain.  Sometimes the pain decreases incrementally over the week and other times the pain is completely gone by the end of the treatment (but typically returns within 24-48 hours, progressively getting better throughout the week).  


Treating the same patients daily for a week affords many learning opportunities.  Let’s be honest – some of the patients have conditions that I’ve struggled to figure out how to treat.  One of those patients was Bishnu.


Bishnu is a lovely human who came to clinic two weeks ago reporting pain behind the knees.  Though she didn't include it in her chief complaints, it was clear that she was severely congested nasally and has lymph drainage issues with scrofula of the neck and swelling near her left lymphatic duct. We have been focusing on this in clinic and have taught her lymph drainage massage techniques which she is practicing daily.  It's a slow burn, but her facial complexion and shen (countenance) has brightened daily.  It is such a joy to partner with her and Saroj in healing.


The clinic day typically ends between 4p and 5p.  After another brisk 35 minute walk back to my apartment in Bodha, I am both tired and invigorated.


In order to keep up the pace, self-care is a must.  My routine involves getting to bed relatively early, starting every morning with Qi Gong, video chatting with my wife and daughter twice a day (the best thing), journaling, playing guitar and walking 4 miles a day. As I did not previously have a daily meditation practice, I committed to an online peer-group embarking on a 21-day guided meditation (and so far it’s been great).  In order to stay present and connected while in clinic, I try to give every patient a JMT (Japanese Meridian Therapy) Root Treatment before deep needling. The process involves clearing the mind and waiting/welcoming the arrival of Qi, which not only gives me a chance to energetically connect with the patient and prepare us for collaborative healing, it also gives me an opportunity to practice "micro-meditations" throughout the day. 


In order to connect socially, I have a ritual of ending every work-week Friday night at an “open jam” (music) night at a café near my apartment that is a haven for ex-pats (many of them old hippies).  I have made friends from Austalia, Spain, Lithuania, India and the US – and took a guitar lesson from one of the awesome bluegrass musicians.  


All in all the experience has been life-affirming, informing and enriching.  The healing interactions in clinic are very much collaborative, and I believe the process is impacting everyone involved.  I am ever grateful to be a part of it. 

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I thought it would be nice to give you, our dear friends, a timeline of how MMW came to be. Over the years I have met incredible visionaries who are passionate about a cause and want to make it their life’s work. I tell them, “Go for it!” Nothing is more satisfying than creating a dream from scratch and watching it come to fruition. Another question I am asked is how I funded this journey. When I graduated from Acupuncture school at SIOM,  I had leftover student loan money. That money took me on this journey. Everywhere I traveled I traded acupuncture service for housing and meals and so I am grateful every day to those generous individuals and clinics willing to offer me that trade.

This is my story of how MMW was born.


August 2008

I graduated from the Seattle Institute of Oriental Medicine after a 4-year post-graduate degree in Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine, sat for National Board Exams, and earned my license in Acupuncture.

September-December 2008

With only some leftover money from my student loans, I moved to Buenos Aires to dance the tango 16 hours per day and shake off all the studying of Chinese medicine school.


January 2009
I flew to Bali with another volunteer program founded by Frank Butler, LAc, called Global Health Acupuncture Project. Unfortunately, this project was shut down 2 days into the trip due to permit issues with the Indonesian Health Ministry. Thanks to an introduction by Frank, however, I stayed in Bali volunteering with a hard-working genius, Robin Lim at Yayasan Bumi Sehat. Robin was helping Balinese women have safe natural childbirths at home and at her birthing center. I spent many wee morning hours assisting midwives by turning babies who were breech as well as reducing blood pressure so that moms-to-be could avoid a hospital transfer and have their babies naturally at the birthing center as they wanted to do. Robin later won the CNN Hero of the Year for her work and has published several books on home birthing and breastfeeding. I learned so much from these patient midwives and the courageous birthing mothers. It also became clear to me that I wanted a home birth when the time came for me to give birth to my own child, which wouldn’t be for another six years.


March 2009

In Bali, I met fellow acupuncturist, volunteer, and Buddhist practitioner, Richard Blitstein, LAc, who became one of the first MMW board members and encouraged me to begin this non-profit. He also supported my clinical return to Chicago to open my own practice.

April 2009

A quick trip to Singapore to perform tango with Anibal Montenegro from Buenos Aires. I was aware that balancing work with play was necessary for sustaining my mental and physical well-being.


June 2009

Journeyed to Thailand to meet my brother, Arthur, and my mom for a yoga retreat, then to Nepal. Thanks again to an introduction by a teacher, Daniel Altschuler, LAc, of SIOM, I was permitted to volunteer at the Sechen Clinic in Boudhanath, Kathmandu, Nepal. After the first week, I was treating over 50 patients per day and knew this work needed more trained acupuncturists like me who wanted to volunteer with people in need.

In Thailand, at Samahita, the ashtanga yoga retreat center of Paul Dallaghan, the idea for Mindful Medicine Worldwide was born. Later, in Nepal, Arthur helped me to clarify this vision. We wrote the content for the website and I hired a local website designer to write the code.

Mindful Medicine Worldwide was born.

October 2009

Back in Seattle, I recruited Rosanna Marshall, LAc, from SIOM, to be the second volunteer for MMW. She courageously accepted and spent the next year in Nepal and Asia, traveling and giving acupuncture treatments in service to those who could not afford medical care. My friend in Nepal, James Hopkins, kindly befriended Rosanna and allowed her to use his apartment from time to time to warm up and have a hot shower.


November 2009

I returned to Chicago to gather a Board of Directors and to start my own practice. The Board of MMW included Rich Blitstein, LAc, whom I had met in Bali, Barry Kaplan, a long-time massage client, Sarah Workneh from SAIC Oxbo, and Mary Kate Daly from Children’s Memorial Hospital, my best friend from high school who had also agreed to help me start a non-profit after she graduated from Kellogg with her MA in Business. In 2010, Jodi Pelletierre, a friend of Barry Kaplan’s from the Board of River North Dance and a non-profit lawyer, agreed to help us get 501(c)(3) status pro bono. While I was visiting family in Ireland in 2010, she and I finalized the paperwork over phone and email and MMW was miraculously granted non-profit status in record time- just 3 months after applying.

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Organization Information

Mindful Medicine Worldwide

Location: Chicago, IL - USA
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
Grainne McKeown
Chicago, IL United States

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