Henry Claflin, R.Ac, R.TCMP
An Ongoing Practice
In The Forest
I grew up in the forest. Every day after school, every weekend, exploring the woods and fields around my home in the northeast States. These memories flood back anytime I press my hand into soil or sit down and lean on an old tree for rest. I moved to the city in 2005 to find excitement—ideas, music, art, the drumbeats of human culture. After a few years in Montreal, and then Toronto, the distance from nature began to wear on me. I couldn’t leave the city, but I yearned for that physical connection to earth. What to do?
I followed a thread that began as a kid studying Zazen meditation. This thread eventually took me to learn Tai Chi with one of the most exceptional people I have ever met, a man who opened the door for me to East Asian medicine.
I found a philosophy of medicine, of healing, and of living, that rested entirely on harmony between humans and the natural environment they live in. Every day it inspires me, guides me, renews me. I am deeply grateful to spend my life practising acupuncture and East Asian medicine. Its teachings hold keys to navigating the global environmental and health crises we face today. It continues to teach me how to live with nature in any setting, and how to use this to treat disease and improve health in my patients.
Acupuncture, moxibustion, herbs, these are all simply tools to bring us back to a place where we are not severed from the natural world we came from.
Acupuncture & Moxibustion
A set of tools and a philosophy of health
Acupuncture uses very thin filiform needles as well as round-tipped massage tools that gently promote circulation in blood vessels, skin and muscles. Moxibustion is a treatment that uses heat and essential oil to improve cell metabolism, reduce inflammation and boost the immune system.
Both techniques are used to re-establish healthy circulation in the channel system (jingluo 經絡)—pathways of interconnected tissues and blood and fluid circulation. This system is described in detail by scholar-physicians and natural scientists in the Chinese medical classics. Over generations, they carefully observed their practice and tested their theories, passing on to us a reliable framework for understanding and treating our bodies and minds.
The philosophy of health in these classical texts is tied to the movements of the natural world. All living things respond what’s going on in nature at different times of day or night, and different times of year. Just by watching these changes and accepting that we are not really so different from all the other things living on this planet, we can improve our health and find vitality and long life.
I draw on the practices and guidance of Eastern medicine and bring its long history of accumulated clinical experience into each session. With an holistic and individualized approach, I seek to uncover the root of imbalance and guide my patients to find balance within themselves and in their social and physical environments.
I graduated from the Institute of Traditional Medicine with a Diploma of Acupuncture and Eastern Medicine, covering over 3,500 hours of training in acupuncture, herbology, tui na medical massage, holistic nutrition, and biomedical sciences.
During my training, I completed internships and clinical placements in fertility, cancer care and HIV/AIDS support. In 2014, I moved to China to pursue a one-year internship with Dr. Wang Ju-yi, founder and director of the Applied Channel Theory Research Center, and studied closely with his apprentices, who themselves were very talented and experienced acupuncturists.
Since returning to Toronto, I have been practising my reading of Classical Chinese and studying the 2,000 year old medical Chinese texts that are the foundation of this medicine. An important part of this study is paying closer attention to the natural environment we live in, how the shifts in climate and plant life feel resonating in my body. I hope that this study will benefit my patients by bringing all of us closer to more rhythmic, harmonious lives with less resistance, less suffering and more joy.
Martial Arts & Mindfulness
I practice and teach Tai Ji Quan (also written as “Tai Chi”), an internal martial art and a practice of mindful movement. A Chinese phrase that means “Supreme Ultimate Boxing”, Tai Ji Quan exercises every part of a person. It engages your body as well as your intellect, instincts and emotions. After a half-hour practice, you feel refreshed and relaxed, able to engage with the world from a place of inner stillness. Occasionally, there is some extra stuckness that requires one or more additional exercises, qi gong, or seated meditation. These exercises support Tai Ji practice by releasing stubborn tension and training specific elements of movement and awareness that may need more attention.
Since 2009, I have studied with Sifu Paul McCaughey, master teacher and founder of the Rising Sun School of Tai Chi Chuan. I have taught classes for the Toronto District School Board, Classical Theatre Project, People With AIDS Foundation, and the Ontario HIV Treatment Network Conference. In China, I studied martial arts, qi gong and tui na with masters in Beijing and at the famous Wudang Mountain, the birthplace of Daoism.
I am currently an instructor and apprentice of Paul McCaughey at the Rising Sun School of Tai Chi Chuan, located at 982 Bathurst St in Toronto.