Interview by Isao Tokuhashi
Edited by Jennifer A. Hoff
Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sebastian Zieliński (Poland)
Acupuncturist and Chiropractor
There are some countries that we’ve met people from, but not interviewed. One of them is Poland. Kakikofu (和氣香風), a traditional Japanese medicine clinic in Tokyo, has allowed us to introduce a great student from this country.
Sebastian Zieliński, a young, energetic, serious, enthusiastic acupuncturist, flew to Japan all the way from across Eurasia to take training on acupuncture, martial arts and bodywork from Hiroshi Yamamoto, the co-owner of Kakikofu. Yamamoto has been sharing his medical knowledge and philosophy with many people from all over the world.
This is the second interview with one of his disciples, with the previous one being Renato Riberti, an experienced Italian Shiatsu Operator/Martial artist. Yamamoto expects Sebastian to be a good acupuncturist and for them to work together after he gains more experience.
*Interview at Kakikofu (Meguro-ku)
Travelling is my university, people are my professors
I’m from Warsaw, the capital of Poland. I’ve travelled to Asian countries because I feel deeply fascinated by the Eastern culture.
Travelling and meeting new people is my great passion, and source of inspiration and wisdom. It allows me to open myself to other people and their cultures. To me, travelling is my university. People that I meet are my professors.
It was during my first trip to South Korea where I experienced training in Buddhism and Tai Chi. I started to get interested in the deep understanding of human beings. After that, an opportunity to go to India emerged.
I worked at a children’s clinic as a volunteer in the Ladakh region in northern India. I’d already finished chiropractic school by then, but I was unsure of which field to pursue.
After seeing that my treatments were turning out to be effective and seeing the relief I was able to bring to people even if they were in the most serious conditions, I decided to take the path to becoming a “doctor”. I’ve developed a burning desire to deepen my skills in the art of healing.
I highly recommend that everyone take the opportunities that they get for solo traveling, because I believe that travelling on your own gives you a unique experience of finding your true self. If you are scared of traveling by yourself and of a feeling of loneliness the solo travel might cause you, don’t worry! People who you meet along the way will always bring you their good company. You’ll find your true self not only when you take a closer look at yourself alone, but also when you stay with people in a community.
Encountering the greatest professors
This is my 3rd visit to Japan and I’ve been here for 3 months. Since 2017, I have been coming to the country every year in order to learn from my great teachers. I’ll stay a learner my entire life, because the process of learning has no finish line. Quoting the Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki (鈴木俊隆): “In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”.
I used to learn martial arts, bodywork and chiropractic study before, and got interested in natural medicine and natural ways of healing people in Poland. That’s one of the reasons I have decided to come to Japan: to meet teachers who are able to teach medicine of a different kind from the Western style. By coming here I have had the ability to learn directly from the source.
However, I had no idea who I should meet to accomplish my goal. I decided to leave it up to fate. I didn’t know anyone here so I asked the locals and searched online. I found people who I would be able to learn from and met a karate master, an acupuncture physician, a doctor and many others. They treated me as their student and I felt accepted as a part of their community.
Then I met Yamamoto sensei for the first time in 2017 during my first visit to Japan. It was before he opened his clinic. I found him via the Internet and messaged him. He was supposed to come to Poland soon, but I decided to travel to meet him myself.
He brought me to his hometown in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture. His mother served me really good vegetarian meals at her own family-run cafe. He taught me Qi-gong (気功) and some martial arts. I feel very thankful to have the opportunity of leaning from him.
He also taught me the basics of Oriental medicine and I was really fascinated. I wanted to explore it more seriously, so I started studying acupuncture. Yamamoto sensei introduced me to Oskar Olszewski, a Polish acupuncturist, and eventually I worked at his clinic in Poland right after going back home from Japan. The opportunity to work with Oskar and learn from him has been one of my most precious and challenging educational experiences. I feel endlessly grateful to him. I also learned more about acupuncture from Tsugio Sugiura, a Japanese acupuncturist/dietetic instructor in Kyoto, and a teacher in South Korea. They offered further insight into medicine.
I’m interested in kampoyaku (漢方薬, Chinese herbal medicine), too. Actually, I’ve been learning about it for several years. I learned from some teachers, including from Kaori Kobayashi, Yamamoto sensei’s wife, and Fusako Tsuchiya, a Japanese pharmacist from Shakuyakudo in Azumino, Nagano Prefecture. I’ll learn more about it in Taiwan next year (in 2020).
Difficult life challenges have made me the person I am today
I grew up in Italy, in sunny Tuscany. After living there for 12 years, I moved to Poland where my dad was living. At that time, I took training of Kung Fu and Taekwondo which made me stronger physically and mentally. I started practicing Kung Fu at the age of 13. At that time, I was watching Bruce Lee and Jean-Claude Van Damme’s movies on TV. I tried other martial arts such as karate and boxing, but I focused on kung-fu, because I felt that my master was like a father to me as he provided me with mental support. My father did not hold the same sentiments towards my passion, so I practiced in secret.
Eventually, I had to take care of my father, but that got me interested in how the body functions–how it moves and the systems of human body. I started learning chiropractic after I graduated high school. I also started traveling mostly to Asian countries to find out different ways of healing. I felt my purpose was to help people into more conscious living, during these travels.
Taking care of our lives, children and planet
After departing from Japan, I will start working at my new clinic in Warsaw.
I have just launched my own foundation called “Heart To Heart Foundation” in Poland, in June, 2019. Our goal is to combine Western and Eastern medicine.
We will focus on three things:
Firstly, treating children who suffer from various diseases, including mental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder and Down’s syndrome, as well as diseases of civilization such as obesity and diabetes.
Secondly, teaching people how to take care of their health and live a conscious life with respect to the ecosystem which we are part of.
The 3rd one is, teaching everyone about alimentation and medicine. Also, we will focus on young people because they are the ones who will create our common future.
Becoming a good doctor and working with those who try to take care of the planet earth — That’s my dream.
What is Tokyo to you?
Tokyo is a very good place for discovering new things.
To me, each place is like a “gold mine”. The only thing you have to do is to take the time to realize it. You can do it while you sip on a cup of tea while not rushing, and observe people passing by at a café. You can do it when you sit on a bench in a park, or when you stand at a ramen shop and watch others.
A hairdresser can share his/her life story with us, and it’s mixed with the stories told by other people. Each day a new chapter may begin—a word, a friend whom we have just met—for a moment, or for a lifetime. And soon, a seemingly bleak, meaningless place becomes a mirror of the whole universe and a window of life. Tokyo reminds me of the word “Ichigo Ichie” (一期一会, “Treasure every encounter as it may not come again.”) You might be able to turn a moment into an eternity here.
I’ve had a really good time here in Tokyo because I met many people, not only from Japan but also from abroad. I shared my stories, knowledge, feelings and emotions with them and this sharing has been a great time for learning.
I like nature, but also the city. It’s like Yin and Yang (陰陽).
Akupunktura Sebastian Zieliński (Facebook): facebook.com/AkupunkturaSebastian/