Last week, I drove to Charlottesville, Virginia to visit the M Clinic. Founded by Zach Bush, the M Clinic’s approach to treating illness rests on the concept of intrinsic health. Intrinsic health relies on a sustained partnership between patient and practitioner, merging holistic practices and sciences. Meaning, one can uncover the root causes of stress and disease, rather than treating symptoms.

Nestled in an otherwise unremarkable location in Albemarle Square, from the outside the clinic seems similar to any other wellbeing center. However, from the moment you enter the space, it becomes clear that the thing that sets the M Clinic apart is the staff. From the front desk receptionist who trades equal parts wit and charm to the nutritionist who can discuss both dating histories and probiotic regimes simultaneously — the staff foster a sense of comfort and belonging, instantly.

My reason for visiting the M Clinic was to get a more concrete diagnosis, or dare I say, relief from the series of gut, uterine, and digestive issues that I have experienced for about a year.

As a young and otherwise healthy woman — it was eye-opening to see the limitations of the current medical system, and frustrating to have to constantly be my own advocate going up against Western MDs who continued to inform me that “everything is fine.”

Instead of the standard one-way consultation in the American healthcare system, I participated in something called BodyTalk Therapy. The session began as I met a wellness practitioner, William, who had a kind radiance emanating through his eyes and form. The procedure was pretty simple; I stuck each one of my fingers in something called a “Bio-Well GDV Camera,” to measure my energy field. The computer, after whirring through scans of all my fingers, thought for a little bit then spit out a series of photographs that purportedly predicted my organ function and energy levels.

The computer also spits out a chakra alignment prediction. Using Eastern medicine (both Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine), the body’s functioning was plotted out across various functioning organs. The software quantifies Eastern medicine’s ideology and runs through various statistical exercises in determining the deviation from the norm.

After we read through the computer print out, William asked me to rest against a curved bed and began to communicate with my body, literally, using my arm as a kind of gramophone. He tapped various areas of my body with my own hand, listening to my pulse, and placing energy cards on me throughout the process. The energy cards were clear plastic cards with pictorial diagrams on them — they looked like what fourth grade geometry should look like if it were ever taught in a way that was fun.

William told me that my Wei Qi, or my protective life force, was low and that I had to strengthen both my psychic and emotional skin while simultaneously improving my health. The Bodytalk Balance session boosted the qualities of wood (in Chinese medicine, this translates to asserting oneself, owning space, and an initiative to get going). He told me that there was an imbalance on my left side and that energy “ascends with wood,” and “descends with metal.”

William also informed me that I was carrying an energetic parasite, projected onto me from a former partner. The parasite was energized by repressed anger, and a belief in my right to express myself. I won’t go into all the gory details of my former relationship but this held eerily true. After my session with William, I found my thoughts to be lighter, clearer, and sequential. I had been confronting a series of looped thoughts that played out over and over again — inflicted injustices, as I perceived them, from my previous relationship. I have not been engaging with this looped thought pattern since my session; I hadn’t placed much conscious effort in changing this behavior either.

After my consultation with William and my time at the M Clinic, I was more reflective, more connected to my own spirituality, and more questioning regarding the behaviors I embody, consciously and unconsciously. It led me to reflect on where this health journey started — with pain and a seemingly unsolvable problem — to where it is now in this renewed sense of wonder and enjoyment at living and existing, freely.

Still, some days I wake up tired — even having a full night’s rest; some days I’m inexplicably bloated; some days I feel foggy and stupid; some days I feel inadequate sexually (but I have a wonderful partner who makes me feel comfortable, even when my body doesn’t quite play its part). And on the worst of those days, I feel resentful — of myself, of my body’s limitations, of what I can’t do that I used to be able to do with ease.

It has become clear to me that my most valuable asset is my health, and I’ve invested in it over the course of this past year, treating this chronic issue. For some context, the cost of a visit to the M Clinic and the associated 6-part acupuncture series is about $2,000. It’s not accessible for all persons, but I think the value is immense. I would feel silly writing this article without some nod to my own privilege, agency, and financial ability to seek a more comprehensive health treatment.

The M Clinic is a great treatment plan for people who feel like something is just not quite right, who are struggling with health issues and can’t receive proper treatment from traditional doctors. Gut issues can be incredibly complex and multi-faceted, and I imagine more people struggle with them than we know. I’m never sure how to wrap up an essay; I always want to acknowledge what else could be, or what isn’t, but I’m learning how to enjoy adjourning — and yes, William at the M Clinic taught me that too.

Aneesha Rao is the Head of Growth at Coop Home Goods, a company focused on ensuring every person has a good night’s sleep ahead of them. Having previously founded Lantera Labs — a startup focused on redistributing access to technology education, she has worked across e-commerce sectors, and has worked with and for organizations like Google, Outdoor Voices, Capital One, Side Real Estate, the City of Richmond, and more.

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