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musings on Yoga, Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine

Blue Beryl Blog


by Hyoun Bae on 04/11/18

As previously notified, we will begin accepting out of network insurance – as requested by numerous clients over the years – by June 1, latest.  

For over ten years, we have offered sliding scale services through our Community Acupuncture Project. I know this has been a valuable follow up format, and low-cost healthcare option, for thousands of clients. We are still looking for other locations to maintain this service, but can refer you to three or so other Community clinics in the area, if these are more cost effective and appropriate routes of service for you.

Please do come in this last month for CAP. We will be on brief sabbatical, and to prepare for our service transitions in Mid May.

We will keep you posted on these options. It has been a commitment to serve seniors, students, underserved populations and to make services accessible and affordable.
With these changes, there will be amenable shifts in fee schedule.

·      Packages will likely be minimally increased.
·      We will no longer be offering sales and promotionals after June 1.

We kindly ask that all clients who are currently enrolled in a treatment package, to utilize remaining visits by the end of May.

We will be offering our last online sales packages, likely this month.

If you wish to make use of CAP, please do so by June 1, as the service will no longer be available at our Williamsburg primary office. We look to open another satellite, as we have in the past.
We’ll send follow up bulletins with our billing and insurance updates, but until May 15, we will continue as we have for the rest of the spring.
The fee for time of service payment for each treatment will remain. Invoiced appointments will be charged full for all services and adjunct modalities provided.  This applies for those patients that cannot pay the treatment service rate (cost of treatment) at the time of service. 
If we verify that your insurance does provide Out of Network coverage for acupuncture, we will submit our claims directly with your insurance company. If your insurance company refuses payment, you agree to pay the service fee for each visit that applies.
Patients will be responsible for any deductibles or copays that are part of their insurance coverage.

To begin this process (in May), you may kindly be asked to provide the following information:
Insurance Carrier
Member ID

Mindfulness and Trauma

by Hyoun Bae on 03/10/18

Mindfulness and Trauma

Trauma is ubiquitous in contemporary experience. 

We might not equate certain experiences as having been traumatic. Rather, we’re referring to the response of the bodymind, in general, to experiences that fail to be integrated and simply impact the way we implicitly move about, perceive and regulate intense emotions and stress.

In many cases, we just go on our way - that is adaptive intelligence, but I'd argue self-care should be ritualized, such that we consciously mitigate the impact of every day stress, as a measure of preventative care.

The impact of trauma is that it creates dysregulation of the nervous system. Mark Epstein, psychoanalyst and Buddhist contemplative, in a series of recent works (The Trauma of Everyday Life and Advice not Given), takes a look at the encounter of therapy and meditation, while narrating his growing intimacy with knowledge of trauma and its impact. In the latter, Epstein conveys a path of healing based on the therapeutic and transformative framework of Buddhism, within a psychoanalytic frame.

In his encouraging new work, therapist David Treleaven (Trauma-Sensitive Mindfulness 2018) explores ways that mindfulness can be adapted for trauma-sensitivity.

The evident truth this book advocates for are the needs for traumatic experience, and the understanding of individuals in a variety of social contexts, to be acknowledged when engaging mindfulness practice. Both therapy and mindfulness purport to uncover difficult and often unconscious material, for many, even short-term meditation may stir up or awaken us to parts of our experience that are less than comfortable.

The same may occur to us when we receive difficult news, are confronted with old feelings of abandonment, insecurity or blanketed pain – we might move into fight, flight, freeze or immobilization. Each of these presents a considerable sense of loss of control, what to speak of disengagement from the things we need to take care of, in the day to day. 

Having undergone a number of intensive, and even long-term retreats, I have limited knowledge of some perils that beginning and advanced meditators encounter. While most retreats have provided great insight, opening and much needed respite – meaning they promote personal growth, healing and transformation – I learned from them that they offer precisely what they claim. 

They are methods and technologies aimed at deconstructing limiting thoughts, habitual behavioral patterns, and releasing imprints of the past, that condition our way of experiencing in the present. 

Treleaven’s book offers some grounded appeals and guidelines for those who teach mindfulness to larger populations. I would agree that meditation instructors can benefit from therapeutic and neuroscientific insights, and that even traditional teachers can learn from these contexts. These insights can be instrumental to how we adapt meditation for our own healing, outside of retreat, when we apply meditation to difficult experience.

I’d also add that we as practitioners also need to learn more about these potentially unsettling experiences, and that traditional teachers and experienced retreat leaders (those with extensive long-term solitary experience) may have received unique training to counter these processes and struggles. 

Mindfulness, coopted for secular contexts, requires such contextualization, stripped from what Epstein highlights as Right View – which includes the type of perspectives that are beneficial at the time of traumatic upheaval in the contemplative encounter. The same goes for medicine and healing – including so-called healing crises or how we deal with anxiety, depression and trauma in acupuncture or herbal medicine. There is a view of therapeutic process. To just give pills, without insight and dialogue is more akin to contemporary psychiatric practice. 

Asian medicine always returns to the body, self-regulation and experience as it is to be engaged in therapeutic process.

Last month, the Veteran’s Health Administration published a document, expanding upon the welcome inclusion of more extensive and advanced acupuncture treatment for veterans and how acupuncture, and other wellness and integrative care strategies, can be covered for populations that would benefit from it. 

Mindfulness is also part of the expanding “tool kit.”

We share the same concerns for best practice, as everybody has experienced trauma, in different degrees. Others may have experienced emotional loss, early childhood shame from bullying, systemic racial oppression – but the imprints are similar. The mechanism of trauma is not only related to memory, but also regulation and integration.

These types of experiences can also come up in acupuncture, or yoga, and yet they present a new terrain of conscientiousness and learning, as we co-create novel approaches to care and healing.

What trauma research has shown is not so much the experience or circumstance, but how we responded and reacted to traumatic influences in the present – how we integrate through narrative and agency. The young and courageous survivors of the latest Florida school shooting tragedy reflect an act of resiliency we often do not see, but which is somewhat essential to more rapid and thorough recovery – the ability to speak, act and mobilize – in a manner in which the indelible wounds and emotional scars may be a source of strength, learning or appeased pain.

A traumatic imprint may be known or unknown, but rather than a rude awakening, mindfulness, yoga and acupuncture can be integrated into our therapeutic strategies, provided we engage practice skillfully.

A Reappraisal of Desire: Love, Longing and Sexuality

by Hyoun Bae on 01/27/18

A Reappraisal of Desire: Sexuality, Longing and Connection

(article extract)

“Your Body is the Source of all Goodness.” – Chokyi Gyaltsen


Former Buddhist nun, Damcho Dyson, experienced a dramatic turnaround after her sexual desire was reawakened following a massage, and reclaiming the power and beauty of her sexuality has made headlines through her donning of latex.

I don’t suppose much of a contradiction – believe it or not (having been a monastic) – because the experience of joy in contemplative life is abundant. Sometimes we have a wakeup call to different areas of our life. We recognize how desire, aesthetic appreciation and eudomia (internally-generated joy), aren’t essentially aligned with hedonistic values, and can drive us is meaningful directions, expose us to our power and deliver us to our hearts.

After a lot of yoga, you realize that the body itself is a bliss factory.

Hence, latex and meditation, and late nite parties. The connection is “obvious.”


One might be surprised to find that in early mindfulness practice, attitudes toward the body and sexual attraction involved contemplating corpses and the body as illness ridden, as a counter to attraction – the belief being that lust and attachment arise in the mind, and that to achieve total happiness one must overcome them through an understanding of desire’s influence upon compulsive behavior. I was reading a translation on the train today – giggling. The phrase was contemplating the “loathsome” flesh.


So how do we negotiate happiness and our relationship to desire? Disowning desire will cause a backlash. Luckily, there are other – more body-positive orientations.


In traditional medicine, there’s a focus on sexual enhancement, fertility optimization and longevity. Cultural variations in how sexuality and the complexities of love and intimate relationship are viewed, are reflected in not only how we view the body, but also how we orient toward desire.

Desire is called “kama” in Sanskrit. It’s said to make the world go ‘round, but must occasionally be extracted like a thorn, because our taste for the pleasurable grows exponentially, like a fire (kama-agni).

Mindfulness of desire builds restraint. Our drives for bodily joy are bartrered by systems of reward and immediate gratification. Yet, our feelings of desire can be nebulous.

Beyond Mindfulness, restraint figures in how we transform and express desire, as well as incorporate new levels of satisfaction, joy and vitality that go hand in hand with rejuvenation methods. When we begin to conserve our energy and essence, we have also to renegotiate unconscious ties with feelings of desire and satisfaction, as vitality increases in the body.

In the way of essences, the body of desire awakens. As with the vital energy – we have also to learn what to do with these newfound feelings. They too have to be integrated. Ojas and jing, the refined essences that support immunity and reproduction can be cultivated, but also misused or become stagnant.

Reawakening to desire can reconnect us to voices – initiate a dialogue with sensations, impulses and feelings that remained dormant and stagnant as they are reformulated by our changing awareness of the body. That’s why I’m not so interested in promoting commodities of knowledge to fill a consumerist void. What does it feel like when the well is filled, and what do we do with that newfound energy?

With the hallmark holiday right around the corner, preparation to awaken the body of desire can ensue.

Prior to launching into the role of aphrodisiacs and other such love potions, its important to consider the current state of ‘desire’– expressed, repressed, sublimated or transformed – and how it’s related to our sense of happiness, creativity, vitality and emotional regulation.

That’s called “rasayana,” the “path of juicing,” and vyajikarana. We’ll talk more on how nourishing the vital body, the reproductive body and the fluids and essences can promote greater degrees of “eudomonia” – the buzzword in contemplative science. It refers to inner happiness and flourishing, with our particular spin on embodiment and self-healing.


by Hyoun Bae on 11/26/17

Over the holidays, I immersed myself in the works of that great storyteller and polymath, Oliver Sacks. I frequented his short tract on gratitude, as well as his latest work River of Consciousness (2017). 

In this posthumous work River of Consciousness, Sacks continues his very human account of recovery, one that picks off from other works, around his experience with surgeries, as well as recovery from an ocular tumor.

In the short tract Gratitude, he communicates publicly after news of multiple liver metastases. There he shared:

“Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, a landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life. On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of insight.”

Sack's lessons on healing and resilience, adaptability and the intelligence of the human body in recovery continue to be informative. Below, another reminder of the value of gratitude:

“I cannot pretend I am without fear. By my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved. I have been given much and I have given something in return… Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.”

Yin Grace

by Hyoun Bae on 10/15/17


A young man and his mother lived on Mount Yaoshan. His mother, quite elderly, began to feel parched and dizzy after a day’s work. If she walked a longer distance, she would feel out of breath, and no matter how much she inhaled deeply, it felt like the qi, or vital energy, failed to sink in. Her skin was dry, and her joints felt a creaky.

A nagging cough lingered, and occasionally she would feel feverish, but there was no sign of a real cold. Her sinuses felt stuffy, but nothing expectorated. If she worked past her capacity, she felt pain all over.

Her son became quite worried, but luckily, he heard of a monk at the top of the mountain who treated locals at the temple. He planned an early morning hike with his mom, to get to the monastery by late afternoon. They both felt some hope.

About halfway through their trip, his mother had to stop and catch her breath. She told him, honestly, that it might be too much of a trek, and not to be concerned. They would figure something else out, but he insisted.

She thought it best he went along without her, and describe to the monk her symptoms. He would then retrieve any prescription, if need be.

Hesitant, the young man knew her idea was best so after getting some mountain spring water and heating it for her, for some time. Hurriedly, he forgot to place the lid on the vessel.

The fall winds blew some tender leaves of the mulberry tree. By the time she sat for tea, she was tired, and decided not to bother, and to drink the infused liquid. Couldn’t hurt.

Nightfall was about to arrive. The young man returned exasperated, as the monk must have been out to the market or performing errands for the temple. He was quite discouraged, but promised his mom that he’d try again the next day.

So they sat for a quiet meal and went to bed.

The next morning, mother woke up looking invigorated. Her son inquired what she had done? “Nothing, really. I had some of the hot water you prepared and rested until you returned,” she replied. “There were some leaves that fell in the pot. Maybe they are good for my condition. Help me fetch some more.”

As it were, his mother felt much better after a few more servings, as if Kwan Yin’s blessings saturated her, filling her with life. Hopeful, he rushed off to the temple to meet with the monk.

After relaying to the monk his mother’s condition, the monk jotted down a prescription – the frosted leaves of the mulberry leaf, best picked on a cooler morning. As the mountain air was a bit crisp and chilly in the am, they found the perfect medicine.

You never know the magic and blessing of the autumn winds, signaling change.

(adapted from Zhu and Zhu's Chinese Herbal Legends)

Traditional Medicine Research Database