PERSONAL ESSAY: CAM Forum #2 Set for April 2

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By IKU KIRIYAMA

On a rainy Sunday, March 9, 2016, 216 people attended the Complementary Alternative Medicine Forum. It was very well received with excellent presenters commenting on acupuncture, chiropractic, reiki at the UCLA Oncology Center, and researching medical online sites. It was organized and moderated by my friend Elaine Takahashi, who introduced me to the world of CAM.

Since then, I have experienced other modes of CAM and decided to share my experiences and present a sequel, CAM #2, on Sunday, April 2, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute’s JCI Hall, 1964 W. 162 St. in Gardena.

My daughter, Traci, experienced early signs of carpal tunnel syndrome (constantly on the computer). She tried acupuncture and reiki and then found Alan Saruwatari, a certified shiatsu-anma therapist. With one 90-minute session, her carpal tunnel disappeared.

Around the same time, I was experiencing periodic but excruciating pain in my left thigh whenever I sat down or stood up or went up the stairs. I mean PAIN! I felt the issue was not in my joints but muscular. The pain began when I enrolled in a Pilates class, which was done lying down. I started to feel pain in my leg after about five sessions. I was not in good physical shape, so I think while it is seemingly easy to do, the Pilates probably required a lot of stretching or whatever prior to the classes. At first, I thought the Pilates caused my pain, but I found out from Alan that I had old scar tissue from tendonitis that was aggravated but not caused by the Pilates.

I went for three sessions, then two more when the pain recurred. I continued to go to Alan until the last two months when the pain seemed to have gone away. Alan concentrates on the area of the pain but also finds where the pain originates. He was puzzled at first when my leg pain continued and discovered it was coming from my lower back. You don’t realize you have pain until he touches the spot…and Ouch!

Speakers Emmy Akiyama, Patty Tahara Rissouli and Alan Saruwatari

For over 25 years, Alan has provided therapeutic treatments for pain conditions and is the innovator of “Focused Shiatsu-Anma Therapy” (FST). Since 1990, he has provided trainings and coached individuals, groups, and companies at the local, state and national levels in the areas of sports, therapeutic treatment, health education and business wellness.

As a fee-based optional supplement to the forum, Alan will offer a three-hour workshop on Sunday, May 7, for participants to learn self-pain relief and management, using specific sources of points for pain relief with techniques that optimize the release of muscle/tendon tensions and “qi” blockages in a comfortable and effective manner.

Prepaid reservations are required and priority will be given to forum attendees. The workshop will be held at my home in Torrance for a minimum of 10 and maximum of 20 people. Participants will be asked to pre-select the condition they wish to manage. Reservations for this workshop will be handled solely by me and are not connected to GVJCI. Email me for the list of self-treatable pain issues or see me at the April 2 forum.

At the first CAM forum, I was intrigued by Cheryl Abe’s talk about reiki as one of the methods used at the UCLA Oncology Center. I later asked her if she could do a private session for a small group at my home, but she said I should get a reiki master…she is not one. It so happened that she had been approached by Patty Tahara Rassouli, a reiki master, at the forum. Patty is a reiki master teacher of Usui and Tibetan lineage, practicing for almost a decade. She is also a certified yoga teacher from Dancing Shiva Yoga and Ayurveda in Los Angeles. Currently, she teaches at CSULB, Los Angeles Harbor College, San Pedro Chiropractic and Posture, and privately.

A brief definition of reiki: “On a basic level, reiki is the laying of hands on a person’s body, allowing the universal energy to enter a person, to remove blockages and to heal. The life force in our bodies called ‘ki’ needs to flow effortlessly for good health. It is believed that when ‘ki’ is blocked, then harmful thinking patterns, emotional duress and eventually illness can occur.”

I set up a session at my home with my friends Elaine and Sandy Koyama. The three of us decided we’d prefer to have all the sessions in one week instead of once a week over a period of time. We agreed at the end of the sessions that once a week is advisable because we had no time to reflect or use what we had learned when the sessions were back-to-back. It was an interesting class, using a variety of methods, including meditation and chair yoga. For me, personally, learning to breathe was the most helpful when I experience emotional stress.

At the April 2 forum, Patty will take attendees through a meditation and a yoga chair exercise used in the reiki session.

I discovered the third CAM during an appointment with Alan. Emmy Akiyama also shares the office and uses art therapy with clients. I was immediately intrigued and wondered, “What is that?” Emmy is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a registered art therapist who works with clients of all ages in individual and group sessions. Her card has this statement:

“It is well known that creating art has therapeutic benefits. Whatever the form – drawing, writing, dancing or making music – the process of making art engages the mind, body and spirit, and can be healing.”

I went in one morning for two hours. She had me do one of the exercises she often uses – making a collage. She asked me to cut out anything from magazines, which would introduce me to her. My initial thought was that might be hard, looking at the magazines I had to choose from. I had 30 minutes to create my art, which also included some psycho-education about art therapy. I was surprised that words and pictures seemed to pop out at me that illustrated aspects of my life. As we talked about what I had glued onto a poster board, it became clearly evident that I was sharing my childhood, my career, my hobbies, my work habits, my health…I was able to reveal a pretty broad but detailed look at my life over 70 years – in 30 minutes! That would have been impossible if I had been asked to write an autobiography or give a speech about my life. As a former teacher, I saw this as a great non-threatening technique to add to a teacher’s bag of tricks!

Postscript to CAM #1: I have been going to Dr. Mike Yanagita for a little over a year, initially for chiropractic for lower back pains, but chiropractic is now less frequent – for back, pelvis and leg adjustments to keep them aligned. Mike also does acupuncture and began treatment when I told him about my lightheadedness that came on in 2009 after getting vertigo when I fainted.

The neurologist could not find the cause for five years and eventually prescribed Ativan, an anti-anxiety medication, to take whenever I had an episode, which was practically every day. Mike’s acupuncture treatments saw a steady decrease in lightheaded episodes until I would have months without having to take Ativan.

Traci was diagnosed with breast cancer the end of June last year, and I didn’t go to Mike for three months while Traci sought medical care. In the third month, I had lightheaded episodes every day and had to return to taking Ativan.

Elaine Takahashi insisted on driving me to Mike’s office in Toluca Lake, driving from Orange County to pick me up. She has taken me for five months. It took a month back with Mike for the episodes to decrease, and the past three months I have had just one; evidence that Mike’s acupuncture treatments work for my lightheadedness – without meds!

Reservations are requested for CAM #2 on April 2. RSVPs by email are preferred over phone calls. Please email both Nicole Sato, programs director at GVJCI, and me (Iku) with full names of all attending — [email protected] and [email protected] For those with no email, please call GVJCI at (310) 324-6611.

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