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My mentor, Bob Duggan – a life well-lived

My mentor, Bob Duggan – a life well-lived

Bob Duggan

It’s been about a week and a half since Bob Duggan, one of my greatest teachers, the founder of my acupuncture school, visionary, father, grandfather, passed away. Amidst the grief I feel, there is immense gratitude, and a deep reflection on everything I’ve learned from him.

He taught me just how radical getting down to basics can be. If you feel something, where do you feel it in your body? Do you know when you’re tired, thirsty, hungry, when you stop breathing, when you tighten? He knew that we are all one thing, just different densities from breath to bone, as he would say. Our bodies are very wise, and our symptoms are our teachers, if we only listen.

He taught me to be precise with my language. He would always ask, what do you mean? Simple things like saying AND instead of BUT. Saying I CHOOSE to instead of I HAVE to. Reminders that we are often freer than we think we are in how we respond to life.

He taught me that upset is optional. Suffering is not – that is part of the make-up of human life, sorrow along with joy. And yet we can be with the suffering without adding additional suffering. Life is constantly moving. Grief is just as valid an emotion as any other, and we can breathe even with that.

These aren’t just “tips”. Taking on these basic practices is a huge part of what will change healthcare, which right now is based on the premise of fighting death, fighting disease, and having some expert fix you, rather than waking up a person to be their own caretaker in the basic ways and learning how to be with life as it is. I recommend his excellent book, Breaking the Iron Triangle for more about this.

When I was a year out of school, I was struggling to build a practice and on the verge of drowning in existential questions and despair. He took time out of his busy schedule to ground me again in the basics, and pester me about not holding back this medicine that I knew well. He helped me save my life. Now 7 years later, I have a thriving practice where I get to share what he taught me every day. It’s hard to even fathom the gratitude I feel for that.

And I am by no means the only person he showed up for in that way. Countless other colleagues shared similar stories of Bob continuing to remind them of their power, of their breath. Every interaction with him was a wake-up call to a bigger life, and his death is that as well. His teachings will continue to be that.

Chance had me back at my school last weekend for another class. It was painful, and yet wonderful to be around others who knew him and loved him, sharing stories, and feeling a connection to the community that he created.
He gave so much. What he would ask for in return is for me to give it away, which I will continue to do. I want him to feel my deep gratitude. I know that he does.

For an interview with Bob and Dr. Wayne Jonas, click here.

For information on how you can monetarily support Bob’s vision, click here. Please keep his family in your hearts. Jade, Susan, and Dianne are acupuncturists and powerful waker-uppers in their own right. I want to help them continue his legacy. And Bob had 8 grandchildren, three of whom are especially dear to me. Much much love.

2 thoughts on “My mentor, Bob Duggan – a life well-lived

  1. I just found this while working on something else. I love you. You are amazing. I am in tears of gratitude and graceful grief. Your words are medicine. Thank you.

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The Nuin Center
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