Businesswoman Eleinor Reidy Barry has brought traditional Chinese therapy to a quiet corner of east Limerick
Tell us a little about your clinic
Shades of Healing acupuncture is a little acupuncture clinic nestled under the shade of a very large horse chestnut tree in Doon. I founded the clinic three years ago after returning home from a venture to Shanghai, China. It was in Shanghai that I started upon my new career path, putting my degree in design aside and embarking on the study of acupuncture at Shanghai University of traditional Chinese medicine (SHUTCM). I spent the past three years taking case studies and pursuing my licentiate in acupuncture from the College of Medical Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine and I am now ready to officially open my clinic.
What is the role of an acupuncturist?
The role of an acupuncturist is to help in rebalancing the flow of energy so the body can repair itself. The practice of acupuncture can also be used to maintain general health. As an acupuncturist, you’ll ask your patient about their symptoms, take their pulse at three points from both wrists, check their tongue and observe their demeanour all from a Traditional Chinese Medicine perspective. A very detailed questionnaire will establish how the treatment should progress and a diagnosis will be made through the differentiation of syndromes according to the eight principles of TCM. The acupuncturist will establish if the patient’s condition is exterior or interior, if it’s hot or cold, if it’s deficiency or excess, or a yin or yang imbalance and choose a combination of acupuncture points on the body to treat the condition. As an acupuncturist it is most important to make your client feel relaxed and comfortable. Some people are worried that the treatment will hurt but are pleasantly surprised at how easy and calming the whole process is.
What is your educational background?
My educational background is varied, I have a bachelor of arts in design. I worked and studied in the design and advertising industry for over 18 years working on many prestigious permanent museum exhibitions. Some of my photographic work has been published in magazines throughout Ireland. I still enjoy dabbling in some creative design work but my focus has become more directed towards the continued academic study of traditional Chinese medicine, my studies in Shanghai University of traditional Chinese medicine and my licentiate in acupuncture from the College of Medical Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine have broadened my mind to pursue more. I really love learning and enjoy discovering new ideas through research. Maybe I’ll pursue a research masters next!
Why did you decide to study acupuncture?
I had a neck injury as a teenager which started to act up about 12 years ago; I had to have surgery. Acupuncture really helped me recover and gave me the confidence to manage the pain. When the proposal of moving to China came our way through my husband’s work I decided it would be a great adventure and what a fantastic opportunity to study in China, the home of traditional Chinese acupuncture.
What are your goals for the next 12 months?
I would really love to share what I’ve learned. I want to help people with the skills I obtained while shadowing masters and specialists of TCM in private consultations and public hospitals throughout Shanghai, observing, learning and practicing the ancient and modern knowledge and techniques of traditional Chinese medicine. I would love to fill my clinic with people who need me to help them, help themselves through the art and science of TCM.
Who do you admire in this business?
I had the privilege of becoming friends with Zhang Yifang, she is a third-generation expert TCM practitioner, as well as an associate professor, consulting doctor in TCM. She is also a licensed herbalist and acupuncturist. She has studied in Nanjing University and has 30 years of clinical and teaching experience in China, England and the United States. She has published 20 books in Chinese and completed ten national research projects in related fields. I had treatment from Yifang to help maintain my back while living in China, I was so fortunate to observe her expertise and extensive knowledge first hand and to learn directly from her treatments, she has a wonderful warmth about her and I was taken mostly by her kindness.
In business and life, are you guided by any particular motto?
When people come to you with a serious disease and ask for help, you cannot concern yourself with whether they are esteemed or dishonourable, wealthy or poor, elderly or young, beautiful or ugly. Your care must be safe, and not swayed by whether they are your dearest family member or your adversary, your good friend or a stranger, Chinese or foreigner, foolish or wise. In your mind’s eye each patient is on the same level, degree and class, and is treated as close as family. Your care must never be self serving or motivated by what brings good or bad fortune, or by that which is pleasing or upsetting. Your protection and care should be precisely what is necessary: no more, no less, without deference to your own safety and life. Know, in your heart, that your good deeds are sincere and not a game. Show courage but caution. Actively explore and broaden your knowledge, but stand firmly on the principles of which you are certain. This is a direct quote from Sun Ss-Miao, a Tang dynasty physician.
Away from work, what are your pastimes and hobbies?
I like singing, I’m a member of the Limerick Gospel Choir. I enjoy meditation, quilt making, arts and crafts, cooking and photography. Most of all I love to spend my free time with my children and my husband.