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Hello, it's Elizabeth Day here, and welcome to this one off special mini series of how to fail.
Now, one of the things that you wonderful listeners have repeatedly asked me to do is to feature normal people as guests on the podcast. But of course, there's no such thing as a normal person.
We are all unique and interesting and resilient and contradictory and loving and wise and funny and sad and experienced in our own particular ways. We all have our stories to tell. So in the next four episodes, I'm doing something slightly different. You'll hear from people who aren't necessarily household names about who they are and the moments that shaped them.
You'll hear from them about what it means to live victoriously. It's a different format from usual.
We're not discussing three failures, but we are talking about resilience and what it means to live a fulfilled life. We're talking about difficulties that have been overcome, lessons that have been learned, gratitude that has been earned, and the joy of celebrating the every day. This is how to fail, as you've never heard it before. Ordinary people, extraordinary stories for weeks for different lives, because we can learn from everyone if we just listen carefully enough. Today's guest is Rossbach.
Hello, I'm Rossborough and I'm the five weatherman, acupuncturist and fertility specialist. Hello Rossbach.
You are also one of my dearest friends and is such a delight to welcome onto the podcast. Thank you.
Thank you. Delighted to be here. I think for anyone who is uninitiated and who hasn't ever had acupuncture, will you describe exactly what five ataman acupuncture is and what you do exactly?
The biggest difference with acupuncture, I think, compared to traditional Chinese medicine, is that our aim is for you to feel not just physiologically or physically better, but emotionally better. You should really describe feeling like the version of yourself that you prefer after you've seen a five of acupuncturist, a patient once beautifully described it that way to me, and I thought that really summed it up nicely.
I have to say that when I first came to you, I was a very adrenalized point in my life, I think, where I felt low, but I didn't know why. And that's exactly how I put it, that every time I'm treated by you, I walk out afterwards and I feel so much calmer, almost like lightly stoned. And whenever I go and buy a tea or a sandwich afterwards, I notice that people respond to me so much better because I think my face has lost its tension.
So how many people do you see frowning exactly?
I'm not frowning all of the time, but how many people do you see who are really tense but they don't know about themselves?
I think a lot of people don't realize how they're feeling until they're not feeling that way. You know, in that way that we do, we often describe ourselves as feeling fine. And it's only till you feel somewhat different or hopeful. When you leave, you realize that you feel completely different than when you came in. That's how I feel when I come out of the session.
And how did you get into acupuncture in the first place and why did you go? First of all, I grew up a Scottish mother and father, a big Scottish family, and we grew up near Oxford, which was a lovely place to grow up. I got into acupuncture because my lovely mum suggested that me and my brothers go and get some acupuncture. Our father died out of the blue and I think that's around twenty now. And she recommended that we give it a try because it helped her through so many different situations.
I didn't know it was good for grief or bereavement or heartbreak or any of those things. But yes, I think I went two weeks after it happened. Yeah, it was kind of a night and day thing going in and coming out of there. It's a kind of a cliche. You end up doing something. Well, I think the this way, I had no intention of being an acupuncturist until I experienced what it did for me. And it just meant such huge fundamental difference to how it dealt with the whole thing.
So that was really the start of it, I think.
I'm so sorry about your dad. What was it like for you losing him so suddenly when you were still so young?
I think when you look when I look back on it now, when you get further away from it, you look back on it. And I think you view it very differently. I mean, I think you kind of think about as a kid growing up, you think about the worst possible thing that could ever happen to you. And I think that was definitely it. And it knocks your legs away from it. It's kind of rips your chest out.
It takes you to a place you've never experienced before. But then I was, you know, looking back at it now, if it wasn't for that experience, I think as I speak to my little brother about it's not that long ago, I think both of my brothers, the both of us would describe we're very grateful to the world, but I think I don't think I'll be as happy as I am now. If it hadn't happened in many respects, so brutal as it was.
I look back on it now with funding is the right word with a different viewpoint on it.
I think it kind of made you into the person that you are. And you said that it was like night and day when you had your first acupuncture treatment.
How did it help lift your grief or how did it help you process it?
I mean, I remember walking in there in a complete state of shock. I think it was two weeks after it happened. And I met this lovely, lovely man who I never had acupuncture before. I was very skeptical, but I believed in what my mum said to me. And we talked about shock a little bit. And I remember there's great descriptions about shock in Chinese medicine and it being like sounds a wee bit hocus pocus, but like anyone has experience shock, I think probably it resonates with.
But they say your spirit kind of jumps out of your body temporarily and then it it doesn't quite reside fully back in. And you get left this very strange feeling that you're in a kind of weird autopilot patient. Describe it to me very recently said she said she felt like she was standing behind herself, observing herself go through life. I think that's a great description of shock. And that's kind of how I went going in. Pretty numb, exhausted, just in a lot of pain.
And this lovely fellow who incidentally, I spoke to yesterday on the phone for the first time in about fifteen years, just out of the blue, he burnt some herbs on me. He did some acupuncture points on me that I now know very well, some lovely names, the very pertinent to what's going on with you at the time. And I just remember walking out there and thinking, how is it that something so bad has happened? But, yeah, I kind of feel like everything would actually be OK.
And I felt myself I felt like that I was able to engage with people in a way that I want to go back to life again for sure. So it wasn't like one day. And I would say probably from that moment I kind of fell in love with the medicine and I saw this kind and offering to speak to announce.
And you mentioned that the notion that some people could find it a bit hocus pocus, but actually there's thousands of years behind this medicine. And so it outdates Western medicine by quite some margin. So it's like a scientific thing, isn't it?
I mean, that's 5000 years of what, scholarship, study, trial and error. I mean, it's there's huge scientific in the east and Western medicine is wonderful as it is as may be. I don't know, maybe one hundred and eighty years old at best, you could look at it that way is 5000 years worth. It's not hocus pocus, as somebody said to me yesterday. Is it one of those medicines? Where does it work? If you don't believe in it and it works full stop providing weapons.
Practitioners got diagnosis right. We get the right points to our job properly. It's not like it works for some people and not others.
You are not one of the most sought after acupuncturists, not just in the country, but in the world, because famously you treated the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who some of us might have heard of.
And it's now increasingly difficult for your regular clients to get an appointment. But I'm not complaining. But is your mother quite smug that she was the one who led you down this path?
If my mom is an incredible woman, which she has to remember, my little brother sent her the press rossides treatment, making it very clear that she won't come and see me.
When you treated the Queen, then I'll be the first to keep it on the ground.
I will not be allowed to go by myself with any Scottish family. You know, that's come what she's like when you treat royalty.
I know you treat all your clients as royalty and you're incredibly respectful and would never dream of breaking anyone's confidence. But I wanted to ask from your perspective, was it intimidating the first time you went to stick needles into Harry and Michael? Yeah, of course.
OK, but, you know, if it's to me that is the right word. I think that, you know, when you you're out of your comfort zone and when you're visiting a different premise and going to some of these house or a palace, it is out of your comfort zone. But I think that dissipates within a couple of minutes when you really start talking to one another, whether it's you or making Harry or the Queen or my mum, for instance, I think, yeah, there's a healthy amount of nerves.
But when you get into it and when you get down to the crux of what you're trying to do and treat somebody, I think that soon goes. I think when you do this job as well, you're in a privileged position whereby you treat many different people from many different demographics and backgrounds, and you just realised there were just exactly the same. Also, I get to see the vulnerabilities of individuals, so I get to see that kind of true self.
And that's not intimidating.
Yeah, I mean, you've seen me cry probably 85 percent of the time that we spend together, which is not to do with you.
You could argue that you've probably been one of the most intimidating people I've met.
Shut up as a oh, not in the slightest.
What is the most common thing that people come to see you about or rather the most common thing that you end up treating?
I think the last few weeks has been very unique. There's been so much future fantasized scenarios of huge fantasies, violations and what ifs that all of us have been performing that that causes a kind of rise in adrenaline and the underground system. And, you know, adrenaline is designed for us to sort of risk assess and fight danger. And we've been running on it for a good while now. We're only supposed to running it for short periods of time. But with all the uncertainty, there's so much risk assessment and what ifs and and that can lead catastrophizing and feeling completely out of control.
Largely what we've been doing the last few weeks is just trying to calm that down, just trying to help people, just grant them again and just get them feeling like the more rational person themselves. And interestingly, in the last couple, I think when people know what's happening now, the lockdown was announced and we know where we're at with it, in some ways it actually makes people feel better is the right word, but at least there's no more future fantasizing.
They now know what's expected of what's happening. So that's calmed down a wee bit.
Yeah, I guess it makes total sense and I feel exactly like that. So just to be clear, for anyone listening, we're recording this the second day of the second national lockdown. And I have definitely felt better now that there's a clarity to my situation, the limbo and the uncertainty was really stressful, whereas now I know where I stand and I can adapt my expectations accordingly. I know that you in the past have done work with Cambodian orphans in helping them process trauma.
So what was that like, first of all?
It was interesting to use the medicine in an environment like that, because I think initially acupuncture was used in those sorts of environments, in very poor areas, because it's very cheap, it's very effective, and you get good results very quickly. And there was a lot of trauma in the areas that I worked in. And I was treating a lot of shock, not just children, but of people have lived through the Khmer Rouge. There's a very particular type of shock and trauma there.
And so the great points for treating the shock I described earlier when I touched my legs, my dad, when you feel like you're not quite residing in yourself or you, you feel like you're in a weird autopilot with this medicine, there's a very particular post quality in a very particular look in somebody's eyes when somebody is experiencing that or have that. And so a lot of what we're treating was that type of thing. But also there was no health care service there.
So I remember a lady who was who was maybe our age and she had had a stroke six months before and there's no health care. So she lost her job. She lost her husband. She was living in a meat station and one of her arms was contorted and stuck. So we just worked on that every day to work on getting the mechanics about that. And it was wonderful to use medicine in that scenario because you get to treat people really intensively on a daily basis.
And you can see from start to finish you get great results, whereas I guess here we be more like to treat somebody weekly. But there it was day in, day out, and it was very satisfying. I also have to say what was also interesting as well as you go to different corners of the world and most of what I was doing was through an interpreter and the first couple of patients that I saw were coming in with, maybe it was all done through an interpreter, which was basically telling me that her boyfriend had really pissed off.
And it's just the same things that we treat here just in different parts of the world.
I love it. That is so exactly what you were saying earlier about how we are so connected by our vulnerabilities. And the sooner you start treating someone, you see how similar we all are or whatever part of the world we come from.
I love that.
What percentage of the people that you see are men and what percentage of women?
I think it's probably about 20 percent men, 80 percent women, I would say. And why do you think that is?
Do you think it's that women have more problems or that they're more willing to try something slightly different?
I think women are more complex physiologically. And as a result of that, there is when you treat a man, you sort of get them to balance. They generally stay there for a wee bit longer. But as a woman, you know, you've got various different stages of your cycle ovulation period. There's blood loss and there's much more to tip the scales more often. So I think women generally need slightly more for want of a better word, maintenance throughout the cycle, throughout life as well.
I mean, this is more impressive for stock.
You know, when you aren't some special beings is basically what you're saying.
They are. They are. Yeah. You soon learn that when you do this job. Tell us what the five elements themselves are. The crux of it is that when you're born, everyone's consists of five elements which are fire, earth, water, metal and wood. And depending on who you are, one of those elements is always slightly out of kilter from the rest. And that's where your physiological and psychological kind of emotional attributes come from. You know, when you think about the amount of water we have in our bodies or the amount of metals we have in our blood, it's more from that angle.
We all have tendencies. What this medicine does is really when you diagnose what elements somebody is and their character, there will be a certain set of points that would be tailor made for that individual and there would be a certain set of emotions that they would experience more than other emotions when they're out of bounds or imbalanced. Does that make sense?
It makes total sense. And I also wanted to say to the listeners that some of the things that you said to me have been so exceptionally insightful about my character. So I'm a fire element and that means that I require my fire stoking. So sometimes I feel need for kind of approbation.
And I have a very strong sense of fairness. And if something is unjust, that will really, really bother me. And you can tell this staff from putting two of your fingers on the pulse of my wrist. And I find it incredibly helpful physically, but also therapeutically. You are a really lovely person to talk to and you are someone who is exceptional at listening. Have you always been a good listener? That's a baby, I think you're going to make a joke.
There we go again. I grew up in a relatively noisy household, I think. Yeah, maybe it was maybe through laziness more than anything, to be honest. But how much is being a therapist part of what you do?
That's a difficult one to answer, because I think what is great, I can see where people think it or it feels like therapy. And it's one who really listening to somebody and you're really trying to get to the bottom of what's going on with them. And the five 11 system is great for really helping people understand why they might be feeling some emotions more than others or why those emotions that they're experiencing are having a physiological effect on them. For instance, if somebody is going through a really frustrating time or they're involved in a battle or they feel particularly stagnant or stuck in a situation that has a very profound effect on them physiologically, you know, that can lead to things that painful periods or headaches or neck tension when you talk about through somebody.
And together we both understand where it's coming from. Like you said earlier, just I think it makes a massive difference to understand why we're behaving the way we are in certain situations and also to know that sometimes it's as a result of physiological imbalance and that we are not crazy as we sometimes feel like we are. So I think from that point of view, it's very therapeutic. I just think it's about understanding ourselves.
We put more this miniseries is all about celebrating and marking everyday moments that sometimes we forget about because we're so obsessed with our quest for perfection and the ultimate moment that will make everything make sense.
Is acupuncture a good way of kind of leveling that out and helping you take gratitude in the everyday?
I think a good session will give you a type of internal peace that we strive for and it's very difficult to obtain. And so when you got that internal peace, I think you're much more likely to enjoy what's going on in front of you. There were great points of invigorating the senses that are said to really help you enjoy what's good about your life, whether exercise, smell, taste. For me personally, I just feel like the version of myself that I prefer.
And I think that means I'm probably able to be a bit more present. And what I'm doing, I'm quicker to laugh and find things funny. As someone described to me brilliantly earlier, she was saying that where she'd been worrying last week about something after a treatment, she said that she was trying to latch on to those same things and she couldn't find the worry in them anymore. She just said and she found that she wasn't going to ship other things that she really was obsessing about last week, if that answers your question.
Yeah, I think so. I think so.
It does ask my question. And are you one of those people who applies your holistic treatment to the rest of your life so that you are constantly dining wheatgrass shots and making butterballs and doing yoga poses at sunset? Are you one of those roles?
Well, I'm all for balance. I would generally say I am extremely healthy 80 percent of the time and then pretty unhealthy the rest of the time. I know it's unhealthy. What I've learned over the years, I think, is that the happiest people that I treat and see or observe are the ones that get that sort of balance. I spend a lot of people really strive for health and fitness and they kind of do it to the detriment of peace.
And that becomes itself a type of imbalance, or they become really depleted or really anxious about what they're eating or obsessed. And I think that the happiest folk I observe and for me that the happiest place to be is when you if you're looking after yourself 80 percent of the time and do the basics right. Three meals a day, don't drink to two in the week, mostly don't have a coffee. Be good food. I always think that that can give you a type of robustness that when you do that other 20 percent, you do it wholeheartedly with complete abandon and no guilt.
And then I don't think it paints really a better picture on you. Then if you do 80, 20 percent thing, I think when you're in that 20 percent, you just enjoy it wholeheartedly and it won't affect you in the way that you fear an inability to say no.
Is that something that you see a lot of?
Yes, without a doubt. Without a doubt. I think that kind of manifests itself in people finding it very difficult to do less. And I've noticed a trend in the last maybe five to 10 years. Things used to be about well for me and used to be about people wanting to become healthier. So was possibly getting to do more exercise or eating well, better rather be healthier in that respect. And now I think it's about trying to get people just to do less.
There's so much adrenaline around. There's so much connection online that people are so wired. I was laughing something about it last week about just trying to get a bit more nineteen ninety somethings. I was talking to my lovely nephew about this actually. I was asking him about him watching a. Music that I love, and he said he'd seen it and I said, what do you think about it? He said, Yes, alright, you know, it's fine.
Did you actually watch it, though? You see what you mean? And his generation will generally watch something while doing something else. And yeah, you know, it's like sometimes with your half watching something on Netflix and then you're messing around on your phone or your laptop, you're not fully engaged. I remember in the 1990s when the great privileges of having a VHS machine, as you put it in, you'd sit there and you fully invested it. And as a result of that, you would enjoy a movie for all it was worth the same reading a book, but sit down and read a hard copy of a book and do with your phone off in another room and fully embed yourself in that book.
That is not easy for a lot of people these days. Certainly full of people. I see. And I noticed that being a real barometer for when people get better, then come back in and they'll say, you know, just I had a lady said to me she wrote two books last week and she hadn't read a book in six months. And we were both delighted. She loves reading and she hasn't been able to buckle down and be on the page long enough because she's on just about so many other things.
So, you know, we grew up and they were I think the way it's easy to look back with nostalgia, but we were able to do one thing at one time and fully embed ourselves in it. And that's a lovely thing. And I think that's with some patients recently. That's what we've been trying to get to.
That's so interesting because I completely hear what you're saying. There was a really big trend for Scandinavian police procedurals a few years ago. Oh, they were so good. The killing, the bridge, Borgen, all of them. And I got really into them. And I realized that part of the reason I was enjoying them so much was precisely that sense of being embedded because I had to read the subtitles. So there was no way that I could also be looking at my phone.
And it was such a satisfying experience because of it was something that happens you physiologically as well.
For me, it's kind of modern day meditation that it's very difficult to go from a place of being completely wired and stressed about to do meditation. And I think I remember someone telling me once that meditation was a kind of gift for the healthy. And I think it's very true. It can be kind of torturous if you're going from a place of trauma or high stress or to try and meditate. But if those stepping stones in between watching the film watch reading subtitles in the book, if you do those things and you give yourself over to it on the cinema, of course, then physiologically what you find is all your cortizone adrenaline falls back into where it came from.
And it's a really good way to relax.
I love it. So me watching The Real Housewives is actually a stepping stone to a more enlightened self is that relaxing is so relaxing.
It's brilliant. I've heard you mentioned a few times over the years.
I have a little watch today. It's particular a particular area there from these housewives.
There are various different franchises, roles in different cities. But I would recommend The Real Housewives of New York as being the peerless one.
But the reason I find interesting, though. Yeah, you do that is that this is a really big league. Sort of goes back to what you were saying at the very beginning about what connects us being stronger than what divides us, because you get these groups of women from such different strata of life. And what's fascinating is seeing how they communicate with each other and how friendships are formed and how arguments roll out of all proportion. And it sort of teaches you about human nature.
So that's my very kind of high beard for why people should watch Real Housewives.
And I said, I've already cut this out. Now bring it to you.
Ross, I was warned before I came to see for the first time by my friend who referred me. She said, you know, I've got to warn you, he is distractingly handsome. So don't be shocked when you see him.
And it's become something that is mentioned in every single newspaper profile that is done of you with one journalist describing you as a Disney prince. And I almost just want to say that to embarrass you, because I know that you're an incredibly humble on the ego driven person. But what is that like?
Like life? Yes. How does it feel when you read that by yourself? Is it embarrassing or nice?
Yes, I mean precious about it. Be nice to be talked about for the medicine. I mean, it's not of the worst problems to have. Is it so striking you like that I described as worse by people that really know me?
And didn't one of your friends constantly send you pictures of Disney princesses of Jesus? It's just abuse. I get jealous. No, this is where you get from your inner circle.
And I would be like, yeah, well, if someone is listening to this now and they've never had acupuncture before and they're scared of needles, what would you say to them?
I say with very few. It's not how it's always depicted on the likes of Sex and the City and the TV programs. We've maybe use anywhere from four to ten. That very fine, delicate little things, the very elegant, you will feel it. I wouldn't say it hurt. It doesn't hurt. No, it resonates. So there's a light, but then, you know, something's happening as well. So you should feel it. But I would say you just if it's far outweigh the fear of it.
And finally, Rosa, you mentioned earlier that every point has a name that can be really poetic. And I know I have my favorite point names, but what's your favorite point name?
Some of them I adore because you see what they do for folk and the difference it makes with people. There's one in particular I love. That's spirit burial ground and there's another one called Spirit Storehouse. And they're used in conjunction when somebody is really struggling or they're on the floor and they're what we call resurrection points. And you would often warm herbs on these points and then you would use names on them. And they're really great when somebody really hit rock bottom or they don't know whether they've got anything left in them to keep going.
And I've just seen them one to some people and sort of bring them back into themselves and just give them a wee bit more. The spirit storehouse is lovely because the Chinese this story depicts someone going out to a storehouse at the end of the garden just to get extra grain for when they really need it. And and that's what the fuck where abouts is it on the body.
If I tell you this, you're going to start self-administered. It's kind of on the. I know your life. I promise. Just get my school. Campus.
Yeah. It's around the Kandahar area. I'll say that.
OK, my favorite school is something like the whispering palace.
So I believe that, yes. That's a lovely hardpoint that works wonders only.
Is that actually what it's called? If I remembered that. Right.
A lot of the points of about two or three different names. It depends on the translation, but that's near enough. Yeah, there's probably acupuncture students listening to this game. It's not called that.
So I've just got it wrong.
Well, it doesn't matter if you got it wrong because failure is what makes us human. And that's what we're all about here. And I cannot thank you enough for agreeing to be interviewed by me. I know it's awkward being asked questions by a friend, but you have been an absolute wonder and you are a really fantastic acupuncturist and human being. Thank you so, so much for coming on my podcast. Thank you.
I'm delighted to be here. Thank you. If you enjoyed this episode of How to Fail with Elizabeth Day, I would so appreciate it if you could rate review and subscribe. Apparently it helps other people know that we exist.