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Dennis Willmont, Acupuncture Therapist/Herbalist/Writer/Publisher
Dennis Willmont has been practicing shiatsu, acupressure, Taijiquan, and Daoist meditation since 1971 and acupuncture since 1976. In 1969 Dennis received his bachelor's degree in Creative Writing and Philosophy from Bowling Green State University in Ohio. During this period, he took a philosophy course in Comparative Religion and was exposed to ancient Chinese Daoism and its primary text, the Daodejing. He intuitively understood that this text explained something about life and the world so comprehensive that nothing else he had read to date could compare. In particular, it seemed to convey a spiritual perspective that could be practiced in everyday life where the mundane world could be integrated with higher spiritual principles. These teachings became the seed potential that motivated Dennis' future life direction.
Knowing that these principles were not understood or practiced in the Western world around him, Dennis moved to San Francisco after graduation and began his studies of Chinese Herbs and Natural Foods Dietary Therapy with Noburo Muramoto and Herman Aihara of the George Ohsawa Macrobiotic Foundation. Herman was giving weekly lectures out of his home preceded by cooking classes and a dinner by his wife, Cornelia. One day before the cooking class, another student offered Dennis a shiatsu massage, which he had never heard of prior to that time. After the massage he felt enlightened, an experience that reminded him of his earlier experience with the Daodejing. When he asked the person what shiatsu was for, he was told that it was for healing. The idea that something so simple could combine the spiritual development of an enlightened state of mind with healing the physical and psycho-emotional body was irresistible and from that moment his life work began!
In 1971 he also began studies in Shiatsu with Shizuko Yamamoto and other local San Francisco-based Japanese practitioners, as well as in Wu Style Taijiquan with Li Lita, the famous Chinese calligrapher. He then practiced these Asian healing systems daily for three years in the mountains of West Virginia where he received the fundamentals of his fourteen-volume life work in Natural Healing and Asian Medical systems in the form of a spiritual vision. During the course of three different meditations an ancient healing text written in letters of living rainbow colors of light was presented to Dennis until he understood that it was his path to bring these various inter-connected teachings into the world. He then decided to move to Boston in order to study acupuncture. When he first came to Boston, he taught Wu style Taiji at Boston University and Framingham University. It was during this period that Dennis graduated from the first class of the first accredited school of acupuncture, The New England School of Acupuncture (NESA), in 1976 and continued his studies with Ted Kaptchuk there until 1983. At this time he also studied Yang style Taiji with T.T. Liang. This was a very creative and productive time in the Boston area in the acupuncture field and Dennis was exposed to Modern Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and various European styles of acupuncture.
From 1977 to 1984 he directed the Training Program in Shiatsu and Acupressure at The Acupuncture and Shiatsu Therapy Center in Boston where his program in Acupressure, a synthesis of ancient palm healing and acupuncture energetics became the standard of acupressure tested in national examinations by the American Oriental Bodywork Therapy Association today. Dennis' efforts were finally rewarded in the Spring of 2011 when he was given an honorary membership and a Certified Instructor status by this organization. Between 1985 and 1988 Dennis also taught regular weekly classes in Meditation, Self-Healing and Spiritual Development at The Healer's Resource Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts; The Theosophical Society in Boston; and The Seven Stars Bookstore in Cambridge, Massachusetts as well as shiatsu/acupressure at the Kushi Institute in Brookline.
Dennis' choice to pursue shiatsu, acupuncture, and Chinese herbs was based upon their ideological similarity to the Daodejing where the body, mind, and spirit were thought of as different aspects of the same whole. Treating one level would, therefore, have a significant aspect on the other and the person could be treated as one whole unity instead of the fragmented self fostered by the drug and surgery-related symptomatic medicine of the West. The cohesive principles of the acupuncture approach were also traditionally related to the herbal, dietary, psychological, and spiritual realms so that all of these levels could be practiced together for the same goal with the same basic foundational principles. At this time, this idea was totally unknown, unappreciated, and incomprehensible to the western mind. Nevertheless, this approach has been kept alive and is still being practiced in different parts of the world since the time it began over two thousand years ago.
Like the fable of the blind men and the elephant, each of these different traditions (mainly Chinese, Japanese, Korea, Vietnamese, and Europe) has retained a different part of the whole teaching. Separated as they have been geographically, historically, and intellectually, the teachings of these traditions have also become separated from each other. Each holds an important part of the whole that, like a giant jigsaw puzzle, needs to be reassembled for the power of the whole to reassert itself for the benefit of mankind. It has been Dennis' lifelong mission to complete this project through his writings, teachings, and clinical practice. One of the more important ways in which these schools vary is through their understanding of the Root and Branch Levels of treatment. Root treatment is based on the Five Phases (aka the Five Elements) and strives to understand the patient on the deepest level of Yin and Yang to fulfill human potential. In ancient China, this level was considered the highest level of treatment. Branch Treatment is more oriented toward the lower levels of preventive and symptomatic healing and works with the Fundamental Substances (Qi, Blood, Body Fluids, and Essence) as well as with the energetic connections between all of the various meridians and functions used in acupuncture.
Some of the important teachings from each of these traditions include:
- China: The modern Chinese approach includes a sophisticated and detailed use of Yin and Yang that enables it to understand the healing process on a very detailed and useful level. It also incorporates this understanding into herbalism, nutrition, and meditation practices, an integrated approach that makes it invaluable in clinical practice, especially on the Branch Level of the Fundamental Substances. It uses strong needle stimulation with few needles. It is also the best known and most widely practiced tradition worldwide, an advantage that makes its teachings most accessible to the practitioner and most available to the general public. Dennis received most of his modern Chinese education through Ted Kaptchuk at the New England School of Acupuncture.
- Japan: The Traditional Japanese approach is noted for its simple, yet profound, ability to understand healing on the Root Level of the Five Phases. This level works best to restore humanity on the level that precedes both symptomatic and preventive treatment. Its most amazing aspect is its ability to make symptomatic and preventive changes without necessarily having to deal with these levels directly. This approach affirms the core value of Root Level treatment by making the most profound changes with the least interference and effort on the part of the practitioner. It uses light needle stimulation with extra fine needles and a small number of acupuncture points. Dennis received most of his Japanese education through the shiatsu world, his early Japanese dietary teachers, as well as extensive reading and research on Traditional Japanese acupuncture.
- Korea: The Korean approach is the least well-known worldwide but offers an invaluable ability to connect the Root and Branch Levels through its extensive and masterful understanding of acupuncture principles. Dennis received his Korean training through the family system of Dr. Suh in Belmont, Massachusetts in the 1970s and from students of Dr. Pak's Korean School in Cambridge, Massachusetts, including Alex Tiberi, in the same era. It uses very light stimulation with very thin needles and more acupuncture points in treatment than does the Japanese approach.
- Vietnam: The Vietnamese approach is valuable for its extensive use of all seventy-one meridians of acupuncture, a feature not used so much in the other styles. These meridians and their interconnections make it easy to provide a deeper and more sophisticated level of treatment on the Branch Level so that the Root and Branch Levels are better connected and the treatment can have deeper and longer lasting effects.
- Europe: The prominent European Schools of acupuncture that Dennis has been exposed to are (1) Dr. Van Buren's School, which emphasized the Vietnamese approach through one of Dennis' first teachers at NESA, Robert Banever; the teachings of Soulie de Morant who made some of the older teachings of ancient China available to the west; and J.R. Worsley who brought the psycho-emotional aspects of acupuncture into prominence through emphasis of the Five Elements (aka Five Phases). Dennis was close friends with some of Worsley's early students in the days during and after his studies at NESA. Dennis was very inspired by this school and motivated by it to produce his text, The Five Phases of Acupuncture in the Classical Texts, which delves deeply into the psycho-emotional level of healing on the Root Level. He then establishes it even more fully to the Root Level and then connects it to the Branch Level in his upcoming books, The Inner Phases of Acupuncture and The Mysterious Gate.
- Ancient China: The ancient Chinese approach also connects acupuncture most deeply to its roots in Daoism and the Daodejing. To learn this approach, Dennis taught himself to read ancient Chinese and spent over a decade in the Brown University, Boston University, and Harvard University library systems researching over a thousand titles on ancient China that enabled him to reconstruct the ancient meaning of the acupuncture point names and publish his first book on that topic, Energetic Physiology in the Acupuncture Pointnames, and a forthcoming book, Energetic Psychology in the Acupuncture Pointnames. The point names provide a deeper level of access to both Root and Branch levels of treatment.
Dennis' in-house publications for The Acupuncture and Shiatsu Therapy Center include:
1. "The Five Elements," 1981 (Out of Print);
2. "Shiatsu/Acupressure: A Training Program in Energetic Therapy," 1982 (Out of Print);
3. "Oriental Diagnosis," 1982 (Out of Print);
4. "The Ancestral Meridians," 1983 (Out of Print); and
5. Acupuncture Energetics, 1984 (Out of Print).
Some of Dennis' published articles on Taiji and acupuncture include:
1. "Kidney 4, "Da Zhong Great Bell," in "Pulse," Manhasset: American Oriental Bodywork Association, 1993;
2. "A Look at the Acupuncture/Tai Chi Connection," in "Tai Chi: The International Magazine of Tai Chi Chuan," 20.1, Los Angeles: Wayfarer Publications, 1996;
3. "Sacrifice, Ritual, & Alchemy: The Spiritual Traditions in Taijiquan," in "Journal of Asian Martial Arts" 6.1, Erie, PA: Via Media Publishing Company, 1997;
4. "Perspectives on Traditional Oriental Medicine: The Need for an Historical Perspective," in "American Journal of Acupuncture" 26.2 & 3, Capitola, California, 1998;
5. "The Evolution of Will, Destiny, and Wisdom," in "Oriental Medicine Journal" 7.3-4:29-76, Fort Collins, Colorado, 1998;
6. "The Antique Points," in "Oriental Medicine Journal" 6.3 & 4, and 7.1, 1997, 98;
7. "Healing the Spirit With Acupuncture," in "The Spirit of Change" 12.53, Grafton, Massachusetts, 1999;
8. "Ming-men/Tan-t'ien: Abode of Wisdom, Center of Power," in "Qi: The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health & Fitness," 9.3, Anaheim Hills, California, 1999;
9. "Shen," in "Oriental Medicine Journal" 8.1&2:51-75, Fort Collins, Colorado, 2000.
He currently maintains a practice in acupuncture, Chinese Herbs, Whole Foods Dietary Practice, and Essential Oils in Marshfield, Massachusetts. Dennis has also studied Yang style Taijiquan with Yang Jwing-ming in Boston where he has earned the rank of assistant instructor as well as Xingyi, and Baguquan with Liang Shouyu. His books are used by acupuncturists, teachers, and acupuncture schools around the world .