Soraya Faris Applegate, DAOM, L.Ac, is a licensed acupuncturist in the state of Hawaii where she practices acupuncture, life coaching, yoga, and more in her practice Soulistic Houlistics. She studied Acupuncture, herbal medicine, and medical QI Gong with Dr. Chang Yi Hsiang, the founder of World Medicine Institute. After graduating from there in 2014, she went on to further her education at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and earn her Doctorate in 2020. Additionally, she is on the Hawaii Acupuncture Board of Directors to ensure the highest standards of medicine are maintained within the field. Her mission is to empower her patients to reach their health and happiness goals through nutrition and lifestyle wisdom, acupuncture & herbal medicine, anti-aging & longevity treatments, detoxification, biofeedback, aromatherapy, sound healing, and mind-body therapies including yoga, meditation, and manifestation techniques.
Welcome, Soraya Faris Applegate, DAOM, L.Ac! Thank you for joining us for Acupuncturist of the Month!
So, how long have you been practicing acupuncture for, and what are your specialties?
I have been a licensed acupuncturist for 6 years. I don’t claim to specialize in any one area or condition, although I would say the majority of my patients come in to see me initially for pain issues.
What inspired you to become an acupuncturist?
When I was younger I had asthma and allergies, and I was on medications such as inhalers and sometimes steroids. I had read an article about acupuncture and decided to try it for my seasonal allergies and it was very effective, and over time I was able to reduce my medications and my allergic reactions. I was really impressed, and this was where I had the initial thought about studying this medicine. Years later I was having voice and throat issues (I kept loosing my voice, which was scary as I was a school teacher at the time!) I was referred to a throat specialist who basically told me I had a damaged larynx and should stop teaching. I went straight to an acupuncturist, and after 10 or so sessions, my voice was fine and I continued to teach.
Tell us more about SCIO biofeedback, and what made you decide to implement it?
The SCIO biofeedback therapy is a high tech quantum energetic device. I was first introduced to it by a colleague while I was in acupuncture school. It reads the energetic frequencies which are causing stress in the body. It gives extremely detailed information, which is fascinating. I bought the machine while I was in school, I used it on myself and my family. I actually used the super learning programs while I was studying for my NCCAOM exams! I love science and technology. It’s a great asset to my clinical practice – pairing ancient Chinese medicine with quantum energetic healing!
On your journey to become an acupuncturist, what obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
When I finally decided to leave teaching and study acupuncture, I was living in Japan. I tried to learn Japanese so that I could study there – that was obstacle #1. I found the Japanese language very difficult to learn. I decided to move to Hawaii where I could study in English. I applied to the World Medicine Institute in Hawaii, and they obviously they required all my previous education paperwork – proof of my Bachelors degree etc. It was a long and costly process retrieving all this information. I had to hire a company that specialized in transcripts from other countries
#2. When I finally got accepted at WMI, I had to move from Japan to Hawaii, and start a new life there (which is a lot of work – house, transport, etc.) at the same time as starting my masters degree which was full time classes and clinic.
#3. An obstacle I created in my mind was that I was pretty much the oldest student in the class. I was 47 when I began my studies. I over came these obstacles because I fully believed that I was going to be an acupuncturist and nothing was going to stop me! It was my calling.
Share a recent success story you had with a patient. What acupuncture points, herbs, or other interventions (meditation, yoga, nutrition, etc) did you use to help them achieve results?
I recently had a patient who had been an extreme sports athlete his whole life. He had suffered so many injuries over the years and had so many surgeries – he was half metal! He came in initially to see me for back pain. I treated him with all the modalities – acupuncture, cupping, moxibustion, and gua sha. Over the course of a few treatments his back pain was so much better, but the most astonishing thing (for him) was that he was able to fully move his neck; turning his head fully to the side, Apparently this was something he had not been able to do since he damaged his neck in a surfing accident about 20 yrs before!
What makes you feel inspired about acupuncture?
I’m inspired every time I treat a patient and they not only report physical improvements, but they notice emotional improvements too. I am inspired by a medical system that treats body, mind, and spirit at the same time.
Looking back, what advice would you have given to the younger version of yourself, who was just getting started in this profession?
What keeps an acupuncture practice going?
Commitment, insurance, location, reputation, devotion, patients, income.
What are specific roadblocks to watch out for as a new acupuncturist?
It’s a challenge to integrate the healing arts and skills with the business side. Most acupuncturists work for themselves, so being business savvy is a must, if not, watch out for too much compassion and too little income.
We have all occasionally had a patient come into our practice who is upset, frustrated, and a little angry. Maybe it’s from work, being stuck in traffic, or life in general – we have all been there! What advice would you give to fellow acupuncture students and/or colleagues on how to deal with situations like these?
I always give my patients time to talk, time to wind down from the journey and their day. This always eases any situation.
What are your favorite acupuncture points, and why?
Fengchi, Baihui, Guanyuan, Zusanli, Diji, Yinlingquan, Sanyinjiao, Taichong, Hegu, Yintang. I trained with a Taoist Master, and these were her favorite points!
How do your yoga practices compliment your acupuncture practice?
Breathing & stretching. I teach my patients how to breathe, how to use simple stretches or postures to help ease their pain. I also teach the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. I sometimes play specific meditations for them once their needles are in.
Sometimes, the best resource for improving our skills is by learning from the other acupuncturists we meet along our professional journey. What is one thing you learned from a fellow acupuncturist or holistic practitioner, that has helped you in your professional growth, or in your care for patients?
Compassion, compassion, compassion.
What is sound healing, and how does it help our patients?
I often give sound healing to my patients, I use tuning forks, crystal bowls, gong, and voice. It is an aspect of healing (and life) that is overlooked and undervalued. Our voice and our words are our most precious healing tool. Tuning forks can be used instead of needles for those who are super sensitive.
The COVID-19 pandemic has without a doubt had a significant impact on the acupuncture practice community and small businesses alike. How have you been handling the COVID-19 situation as an acupuncture practitioner? What advice or wisdom would you like to share with other acupuncturists who are also navigating through these sensitive times?
It has been a challenging year for all, practitioners and patients. In my situation, I am a one room, one practitioner clinic, and so the impact has not been too devastating. I had to adjust my scheduling by 15- 30 mins between each patient, and removed the waiting room so timeliness is an issue, no overlapping patients.
Do you have any daily habits or rituals that keep you at your “best-self”, both as an acupuncture practitioner and person?
Yes! I love my mornings and keep them aside for my own personal practice – whether that’s yoga, dog walking, having a good breakfast, a walk on the beach; I do not open my clinic until 10 am. I also treat myself with acupuncture, biofeedback etc in my clinic at least once a week. On Mondays we have family day. The chiropractor that I work with treats me and my husband and then I treat my husband, the chiropractor and his wife. That’s how we start our week!
The kindest thing a patient said to you recently:
I am so much calmer and peaceful, I remember when I first came to see you, I felt like I couldn’t cope any longer.
The funniest thing a patient said to you recently:
I have many funny moments with my patients. I am funny, I like to laugh, I believe in that laughter is good medicine. Probably the funniest thing my patients say is ‘can you come home with me and put me to sleep at night’. Most people go into a deep sleep in their treatment, and yet, can’t fall asleep at night.
As an acupuncturist, what are you most proud of thus far in your professional journey?
I am proud of still having an open clinic in these times. I am proud of staying completely healthy and well this year and being available to be of service to my community. I am proud of working my clinic and studying for my doctorate for the last 2 years. I am proud of being one of the pioneers in holding the title of Doctor for our profession.
We see that you have created oracle cards, how cool! Tell us more about them, what they do, and how they are incorporated into your acupuncture practice?
Yes, I created my own oracle/intention deck – 55 cards. I have always drawn inspiration from oracle decks, simple to use and very effective. I had a vision of my own deck, and as I was doing my Doctorate, decided it would be a perfect creative project to do alongside. I use them in my yoga classes, I have deck in my clinic and most of my patients look forward to pulling a card at the end of their sessions (even though most of them also have bought their own deck, they love being with me when they pull a card). I definitely feel they were divinely guided.
If you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it be and why?
Have more fun! I think most health challenges are created due to stressful lives, too much responsibility and not enough light heartedness and fun. Most people, when I ask them what do they do for fun, cant give me a ready answer.
What is your definition of success?
Health, an ability to adapt to life’s changes and challenges, enough money to support yourself and your family in the style you choose to live, community, friends and feeling a connection with your souls purpose.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
I believe my super power is to connect people, to bring people together, to build community.
*Rapid fire questions! *:
Morning or night? Night
Tea or coffee? Coffee
Sun or moon? Sun
Cupping or Tui na? Cupping
Meditation or exercise? Exercise
Instagram or Facebook? Facebook
Where can other licensed acupuncturists, students, and patients go to learn more about your work?
I have a website: www.SoulisticHolisticsHawaii.com, I have a clinic in Kaneohe, Oahu Hawaii. I have 2 Youtube Channels ‘Kundalini Bliss 808’ (for all things yoga) and Soraya Applegate (for all things health). I have been featured on a podcast ‘Boundless Living’ which is on Apple & Spotify, I am on and helped create and produce a sound healing CD ‘Medicine Resonance’. I have a Facebook business page ‘ Dr. Soraya at Soulistic Holistics, and Instagram @Dr_Soraya2020
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