“Its like breathing through a straw”, my mother explained to my sister as we were rushing to the hospital. These emergency “Candace-can’t-breath” trips were traumatizing and a normal event in our family. The best way I can explain my childhood asthma is that I can do every exercise that everyone else can, I just vigorously fight to be able to breath throughout it, which isn’t normal. Doctors ensured my mother I would grow out of it, I am 22 years old now and I wheezed every single day.

            I met a friend who taught me about Chinese medicine healing and the concept that diseases and sicknesses can be expelled through Qi Gong, meditation, and an understanding that the mind can heal the body. I was compelled to practice these techniques because Western medicine was running out of options for me and I was outright exhausted with the constant chest constriction.  By the time I decided to come to White Horse Mountain, I was beyond desperate and praying with every ounce of my being that the medicine tactics at the temple would ease the constricting demon that has been living in my chest my whole life.  I was afraid, however, to be let down. I heard stories of other people coming to Li Shifu with asthma and his magical abilities ridding them of it forever. But maybe I was different, maybe my asthma demon somehow has grown too strong and powerful.

The first week at the temple, I observed many miraculously healing instances and felt the awe inspiring, power and medicinal magic of every person, plant, and brick. I started to build hope. 6 days; 6 days of up to the top of the mountain and down, 6 days of such low oxygen that I truly thought I wasn’t going to be able to make it. 2 days; the next 2 days a cough came so strong that I can’t even remember the last time my chest burned so bad, 2 days of wheezing nonstop. 1 night; 1 night of finally not being able to take it anymore, 1 night of feeling maybe this will slowly kill me, I found Li Shifu in the living room. I didn’t have to say much, he could hear my wheezing himself and calmly places his fingers on my hands and wrists and pressed. Every time he pressed I felt an electrifying energy roll through my chest and with every wave, my chest got more loose. He then pushed my head down, placed his hands on my back, and smacked my lungs as if telling the demon that Daoist Medicine was no longer allowing it to control my oxygen levels. And in an instant, faster than any Western inhaler, I could breathe. One smack and my eyes shot open, I sucked in air and felt as if this was the first breath I was ever allowed to take on my own.

The next 5 days I sipped Chinese herbal medicine and practiced a specific lung Qi Gong that Li Shifu showed me. Although my coughing persisted, it went away faster then it ever has in my life, and I went to the top of the mountain every day without a single inhale affected by a constricting wheeze. Throughout the rigorous Gong Fu training, I often find myself breathing in as much as I can to just listen, reminding myself that the magic is still in my lungs, and I have gone the longest in my life now without a single wheeze. 22 years of being controlled and it is all vanishing from natural Daoist healing, and the power I found within these misty mountains.

Candace Boettcher