NCNM Personal Statement

There's a 1000 word limit that I had to stay within. Sometimes when I get inspired, I just write and write. I cut a lot out to meet the word limit; there is so much more to say. There is always more to say. And, when it comes down to it, the story means nothing (even though it sometimes feels like everything. And it does provide a basis for everything else, in the mythology of my life, and the world that I've woven around myself in my head, and therefore also in reality.)

I left the Academy for Five Element Acupuncture (AFEA). It was a complex multi-layered decision that I still feel deeply conflicted about: sad, angry, somewhat helpless... and, necessary. And now, onwards.

I just sent in my application for the National College of Natural Medicine (NCNM) in Portland, OR. I don't have many friends or connections in the Portland area, and am looking for connections and support, especially around finding affordable housing, preferably an "alternative" housing situation where I can do worktrade in exchange for a place to make a nest, make beautiful, and rest at night. NCNM will be an intense education; a "real" Chinese medicine education that includes the study of classical Chinese, translating ancient texts, as well as engaging full-time in school, work, clinic, personal practice, memorization, experiencing, and so much more.

I applied for, and hope to embark on, the Doctors of Science in Oriental Medicine (DSOM) program, beginning January 2016. It will be more than double the cost of education at AFEA. The total should add up to around $130,000 for just tuition alone. After considering my options, this one still feels like the best one. Daunting, yes.

I want to share one of my application essays with you. And, I want to ask for your assistance for school finances, again. You can donate via my Jiling Botanicals business page here, or you can just send me a check (preferable, so I don't get money deducted from using a credit card). Any help is appreciated--- I'm asking for at least $5 from each person, if possible. If not, then send me your prayers; I'll need it!

There are four essays required for the application to NCNM. I should hear if I get accepted or not within a week or two. I expect an easy acceptance, but who knows.

Writing all four of the essays brought me to tears. Making this commitment is truly life-changing for myself and all those I come into contact with. It feels like a decision that is larger than just my life, not just affecting my future clients and students, but also wrapped into the fabric of my very being, and all of my ancestors. It feels deeply personal, and through its depth of connection with my heart and being, touches humanity.

Thanks for reading!

Personal Statement
Jiling Lin, 10/ 2015

We lit candles, placing them into lanterns, then paraded around the empty streets with our colorful florally painted paper lanterns swinging from ropes, suspended on chopsticks that we delicately held in our small hands, as we tried not to run too fast, or jump too high with excitement. I loved singing the old Chinese songs, eating moon cake, and staring at the moon during the Moon Festival, lighting our incense sticks and wafting their magical perfume up towards the sky, with muttered prayers flying up with the smoke, to reach the ears and nostrils of our ancestors. I grew up in a white neighborhood, getting stereotypical Asian-sounds thrown at me like bullets from across the playground. I wore red often, feeling a connection with a land across the ocean where my parents and ancestors came from, where I spent the first year of my life, where I didn’t get to return to much at all again, until after I grew up, after experiencing the blessings and difficulties of being a first generation Taiwanese-American in a new land but still feeling a curiosity, affinity, and pride, for where I felt like I really came from.

I studied Native American traditions, western herbalism, Thai massage, Yoga, esoteric spiritual new-agey traditions from all over, and more. Nothing really connected, until I met a man nicknamed “Tofu” through a series of coincidences, who sees patients for free in his humble mountain abode of the YangMingShan Mountains that lie to the north of the capitol of Taiwan, Taipei, where my parents were born and raised, where the pre-birth of my birth arose from the Earth, where my grandparents fled when the Communists took over China, where I went and lived for three years after three years of travel around the USA as an adult after graduating from UCLA, where I re-fell in love with something ancient, refound my bones, resculpted myself, and then returned to the USA with something that I didn’t have before: a vision.

I just started teaching my own western herbal classes last July, after completing 1.5 years of formal intensive education at two different herb schools. Teaching has been invaluable for solidifying all that I learned in school, while continually challenging all I think I know and don’t know, constantly humbling me, while slowly and gently increasing my confidence. Embarking on this Chinese medicine school journeys feels like starting all over again, but also like returning home, back to something so very familiar, tucked into the folds of my childhood dreams, of falling asleep to the sound of my grandma counting her prayer beads, knocking on her wooden fish, and singing all the old Buddhist chants in a high-pitched, nasal, single-toned sing-song voice, led from her heart; falling asleep to the smell of complex Chinese herbal formulas stewing in old clay pots, then waking to the babbling of a community of elders and children, a true community moving around me.

He placed a needle in my hand. “Start with yourself,” he said. He showed me where my He Gu (LI 4) is, and how to needle it. It took me a while to actually dredge up the courage to needle myself. Then, I did it. The simultaneous pain and exciting electricity shot from the point of needled contact up the meridian line, and electrified, ecstatified my entire system. “Sing the body electric,” said Whitman. I felt it.

Where to, from here?

I started traveling intensively after graduating from college, eventually landing myself at the bottom of a cliff after a failed mountain summit deep in the Sierra Nevadas, after free-falling forty feet, and rolling 400 feet to what luckily was not a death, but was instead a rebirth: two broken wrists, a fractured chin, a cracked skull, and half my face torn off. Many stitches and surgery later, I returned to the world physically, emotionally, and spiritually shattered and changed. Impossible to return to my job as a “mere” photojournalist, I turned to the road, to a life of infinite possibilities and possible impossibilities, where nothing was clear, until after walking with the unclarity for a long enough distance, I eventually stomped out a clear enough path to notice the way I was walking, the patterns therein: wilderness, creativity, and spirituality. Body, mind, and spirit. Healing the entire person, the entire being.

It starts simultaneously inside and outside, and there are no clear answers. Every process is a journey, a process. I start with myself.

I experience dull chronic pain in my wrist, which is exacerbated by stress, coldness, and dampness. Coagulated scar tissue sits at the area of surgery, right along my Pericardium meridian. I experience numbness and tingling in my fingers, among various other symptoms that arose after my transformative mountain experience. Part of my travels was learning how to feel better, how to heal fully, how to embrace life again, after being so painfully close to death. I learned that the best, most powerful medicine that one can embrace is that which one feels an affinity with. I feel passionate about old traditions, paths that carry weight via time, experience, story, and lived lives. I love the tales of those who came before, especially if they are finely wrapped in magic and mythology, these nonliteral metaphorical tales that fire my blood and reinforce all the ways in which I’m woven into this world, via my heartstrings, inspired connection of Earth, plant, body, and life medicine. Story, connection, and Earth healed me back into life. Now, for more questions: how can I continue to walk my path in such a way as to continue helping others on their own healing paths? Herbalist, adventurer, educator, and bridger between the worlds of Taiwanese and American, seen and unseen, old and new, microcosm within macrocosm--- here, I stand at the brink of Classical Chinese medicine studies at NCNM, knocking on the door, with an open heart and mind.