The Tao of Art II was amazing!

I want to thank those of you who attended last night’s The Tao of Art II: Comics workshop, and as before, a very special thanks to Katharine Houpt of Katharine Houpt Therapy and Counseling for her wonderful guidance.

Just like the previous workshop, we started off with a short talk about Taoism and the principle of non-contrivance as applied in the creation of art, and a brief meditation to set the tone for artistic creation. Katharine then led the way by giving us a series of writing and drawing exercises to get us under way to creating our very own comics!

The end result was amazing, and everyone who participated shared their comics after the drawing portion was over. Everyone had the most intimately profound stories to tell about their work, mostly autobiographical, and showed that the creation of comics can be a very powerful form of therapy.

In this workshop, I learned that comics can be used like a journal, a non-linear form of story-telling to record your deepest, darkest, and most intimate thoughts. Or, in my case, it can be used as a silly way to teach a lesson. Here’s the comic that I created last night:

If you can’t read my writing…

Me: Hey Mr. Popsicle, I’m getting good at meditating.
Mr. Popsicle: “Good?”
Me: Yeah, I can stop thinking.
Mr. Popsicle: Umm…
Me: Check this out…
Mr. Popsicle: Dude, a car is about to fall on your head.
Me: …no thoughts.
*car falls on my head*
Mr. Popsicle: How’s the not-thinking thing working out for you?
Me: Shut up.
Mr. Popsicle: Find your inner peace yet?
Me: Go away

It’s a lesson that I always teach my patients who want to learn how to meditate. Meditating is not about not-thinking, because that’s what our brains do in order to survive. Meditation is learning how to no longer become controlled by your own thoughts.

See how fun comics are?!

I’d like to once again thank everyone for participating in this fun and enlightening workshop, and stay tuned for more!



The Tao of Art Workshop II: Comics!

The Tao of Art Workshop I


Purple Cloud is excited to announce that art therapist Katharine Houpt (of Katharine Houpt Art Therapy and Counseling) and acupuncturist/meditation teacher Sonny Zaide will be teaming up together again for “The Tao of Art II: Comics!” on July 28th, 2016!

In the last workshop, we married the therapy of creating visual art (drawings/paintings) with the Taoist philosophy of “Wu-Wei,” or effortless action, by learning how to spontaneously bring forth your inner creativity without getting in your own way or trying too hard. But in this coming workshop, we will be extending that philosophy into creating stories with our drawings with comics!

Katharine, who will be teaching the bulk of the class, has an amazing background in the creation of comics. Both she and I share the same love of illustrations created by renown cartoonists Linda Barry (What It Is) and Matt Groening (School is Hell, The Simpsons). So when it comes to comics, Katharine is an amazing teacher to learn from. More on her bio here.

Comics are an amazing way to tell  your own stories. They can be lighthearted or deep, long or short. You don’t have to be a “good artist” to have fun with them. For example, here’s two from Sonny (click to enlarge):



The class will feature Sonny leading a pre-workshop Taoist meditation in order to get you in the mindset of inner peace and spontaneity, and Katharine will be leading you through a short series of drawing exercises as a warm-up. Then you’ll be left to peacefully allow your spirit to bring forth the images of your innermost mind onto your paper. Post-workshop discussion is optional if you’d like to talk about your comics, and where it comes from deep within your heart.

Our goal is to show you that by keeping your mind calm, you can express yourself through effortlessness; that true art and happiness comes from being at peace with your own inner beauty.

  • Where: Purple Cloud Center for Eastern Medicine – 6710 N. Clark, Chicago, IL 60626
  • When: July 28th at 7pm-8:30pm
  • Price: $25 per person
  • Skill level: All skill levels

*Only Paper and limited basic drawing materials will be provided. Please bring your own materials – pens, colored pencils, pencils, chalk, water color, crayons, or markers, or whatever materials you’d like to explore.***

*Maximum 10 attendees for this workshop!

Please reserve your spot on the form below!
($25 will be due at the workshop, credit card and cash only.)

The Tao of Art Workshop was a Success!

I’d like to thank everyone who attended The Tao of Art Workshop, and special thanks to art therapist Katharine Houpt of Katharine Houpt Therapy and Counseling for sharing her techniques and knowledge to help make it an amazing experience!

We began the workshop with my brief talk about Taoist philosophy, and how it would relate to the spontaneity of art. I then led us through a short guided meditation to help let go of one’s ego in order to allow the creative energy to flow through us.

Katharine then took the reigns and asked us to note in a short phrase how we’re feeling at the exact moment, and guided us through a series of drawing exercises, including creating lines and circles, drawing each other, and drawing castles. After that, everyone was to draw freely as we played jazz music to truly capture the spirit of spontaneity and improvisation.

When the drawing portion was over, each attendee shared their work and discussed how their mindset influenced what they drew. It was simply inspiring to hear that everyone’s true inner self shined in their work. Everyone had let go of what their preconceived beliefs of what art “should” be, and allowed themselves to shine with a childlike, youthful sense of creativity. But unlike the innocence of a child’s art, what manifested in this workshop was everyone’s innate wisdom and inner brilliance.

It was like watching everyone’s original nature come out right before our very eyes.

Again, I want to thank everyone who participated for such an enlightening experience, and though I observed more than participated, it was quite the spiritual experience for me, and I’m truly grateful! We will do this again, so stay tuned!

The Tao of Art Workshop


Photo Credit: Etsy Store

Purple Cloud is proud to announce a unique workshop entitled “The Tao of Art,” featuring art therapist Katharine Houpt and licensed acupuncturist and meditation teacher Lorel “Sonny” Zaide. In this class we will be marrying the therapy of creating visual art (drawings/paintings) with the Taoist philosophy of “Wu-Wei,” or effortless action. Meaning, you’ll learn how to peacefully create beautiful drawings that are reflective of your inner brilliance without getting in your own way.

img_7764The class will feature Sonny leading a pre-workshop Taoist meditation in order to get you in the mindset of inner peace and spontaneity, and Katharine will be leading you through a short series of drawing exercises as a warm-up. Then you’ll be left to peacefully allow your spirit to bring forth the images of your innermost mind onto your paper. Post-workshop discussion is optional if you’d like to talk about your drawing, and where it comes from deep within your heart.

Our goal is to show you that by keeping your mind calm, you can express yourself through effortlessness; that true art and happiness comes from being at peace with your own inner beauty.

  • Where: Purple Cloud Center for Eastern Medicine – 6710 N. Clark, Chicago, IL 60626
  • When: March 16th at 7pm-8:30pm
  • Price: $25 per person
  • Skill level: All skill levels – from “I’ve never drawn before!” to “I’m Jackson Pollock!”

***Only Paper and limited basic drawing materials will be provided. Please bring your own materials – pens, colored pencils, pencils, chalk, water color, crayons, or markers, or whatever materials you’d like to explore.***

Maximum 10 attendees for this workshop!

Please reserve your seat here!


*cash or debit/credit is accepted*




The Amazing Potential Energy of Water

So many times, I’ve told friends, patients, and even my own Mom that in order to build energy, you must have water. People have always asked me why, or how I know this, and I’ve never had a clear way to explain it, other than my use of Taoist principles of Yin and Yang… that is, up until a colleague shared this Ted Talks presentation about water.

What he’s basically saying here is that water creates an environment inside of the body that provides us with plenty of potential energy. When light interacts with this water, that interaction becomes a catalyst for kinetic energy.

This means that sufficient water gives us the foundational energy to allow our bodies to function at the optimal level for healthy organ functions and muscle movement. With plenty of water, we can move, think, and feel our best and healthiest!

This also confirms my previous explanations of my use of the Taoist Yin and Yang theory. According to this scientist’s presentation, water is a foundational substance which we’re mostly made of (Yin), and provides us with potential energy (Yin). When water mixes with light (Yang), the interaction between water and light provide us with kinetic energy (Yang). When both Yin and Yang are sufficient and balanced, you’ll have the environment for optimal health (Yin-Yang homeostasis).

What a wonderful presentation. Taoism is the philosophy and lifestyle practice of understanding nature, and using that understanding to find health and happiness.

Therefore, Taoism is science, and science is Taoism.

The presenter also touches upon ways to gather more “Yin” potential energy other than water, such as juicing (which explains why I lost weight and felt so much energy, explained in this blog post), and grounding (the act of interacting with the Earth’s negatively charged energy through walking barefooted on grass).

A truly enlightening Ted Talk, please do take time to watch it, and fill up that water bottle!

Yoga with Lucie Herman at Purple Cloud!

Purple Cloud is proud to announce that we’re now offering periodic yoga workshops featuring guest instructor Lucie Herman!

Lucie is a Registered Yoga Teacher, and will be teaching yoga to honor the natural cycles of our bodies and our planet. This class is held on the Sunday nearest the Full Moon and New moon of each month. You will learn how to do the physical yoga to prepare the body for the stillness of meditation. Class includes standing and seated meditation, dance-like movement, sun (and lunar) salutations, group and partner yoga and deep stretching to soften and open the body and mind to a greater potential. Hopefully this class will be like no other yoga class you’ve taken or heard of before.

Wear truly comfortable clothes you can freely move, play and relax in! Bring a yoga mat if you have one!

UPDATED (10/29/16)

Next class available will be October 30 at 11:30a-12:30p [click to book!]  

Classes will be a sliding scale of $10-$20 per class, please bring cash or check. There will be a limit of 8 students per class, so book soon!

Lucie’s Bio


Lucie Herman is a RYT and practitioner of Yoga for life. She grew up in the chosen lineages of her mother who brought eastern medicine, yoga and diverse spiritual traditions into the home. Trained at Heaven Meets Earth Yoga Studio and RYS in 2014 she found herself teaching predominately with kids and families. Her goal is to help make Yoga accessible (and truly enjoyable) to all people of all ages, types and abilities. Secretly she cringes at sitting still and prefers dance as a form of meditation. She incorporates an innumerable and growing list of disciplines and sage wisdom into her practice (and teaching) and hopes to share it all with you.





Taoist Meditation Classes for October!

Several times per week people ask me if acupuncture can treat certain health conditions. Usually (but not always), people are inquiring about health conditions that are a result of a cascade of lifestyle decisions. Depending on the condition, my answer may be (and I steal this from my late-great mentor Dr. Alan Uretz): I can treat several conditions, but I can’t treat karma.**

56738997Just like any other health care professional (well, the good ones, at least), you’ve probably heard me say that although Acupuncture/Oriental Medicine can help tremendously for a vast array of health conditions, it’s not the be-all-end-all of medicine… because taking control of your lifestyle is. On a daily basis we’re face to face with hundreds of forks on the road, and our decisions are what dictates our medical future. For example, sometimes you’re faced with the decision of having either a Big Mac, a power green salad, or a candy bar. Or sometimes if someone cuts you off on the road, you can either let it go or freak the heck out and allow your blood pressure to skyrocket. We’re faced with these kind of decisions every single moment of our lives, and many times (especially in modern-day American society) we make horrible lifestyle decisions such as allowing ourselves to be angry or allowing ourselves to eat those chili fries… not just that one time, but several times a week. And the next thing you know, something starts to hurt. Maybe it’s knee pain from weight gain or muscle tightness from under-activity. Or maybe it’s stress and its resulting in insomnia or migraines.

So what I mean by “karma” is that it’s the result of your decisions. Meaning, although acupuncture can treat whatever it is that’s ailing you… acupuncture cannot prevent you from putting a Burger King Whopper in your mouth, or indulging in whatever unhealthy lifestyle decision that comes into your head. But it’s a tough, stressful world, and it’s easy to make decisions that lead us into chaos. So how can we condition our minds in order to be able to make better decisions in our lives?

You guessed it: meditation.

Meditation allows you to approach life in a much more balanced manner. To put it shortly (and I don’t want to keep boring you over here), meditation teaches your mind to reevaluate your relationship with your thoughts. And what are your cravings, your worries, and all your stresses? They’re simply just thoughts. Meditation thus teaches you to not be controlled by your thoughts and all of your anxieties so that you can continue making better lifestyle choices. But beware, just like any other life skill, it takes time and effort to learn!

I can bring your mind and body to feel peaceful and pain free with acupuncture, but I can also help you learn the mental/emotional skills that can help you keep it going for the rest of your days. In other words: “Give a person a fish, you feed them for a day. Teach a person how to fish, you feed them for a lifetime.”

Allow my meditation classes to help! They’re only $10 per person (pre-paid online at the time of scheduling), but space is limited to only 6 students per class.

Classes in October (only two this month due to time constraints!):

Thursday, October 6th at 7:30p (sorry for the short notice!): [CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE]

Wednesday, October 19th at 7:30p: [CLICK HERE TO SCHEDULE]

For more information about the class:

**Respectfully, I know that “karma” is a lot more involved than this, I’m just taking the simplified road here!

New Taoist Meditation Classes!

Last Thursday I taught my first meditation class at Purple Cloud, and after receiving such positive feedback, I decided to teach it regularly!

Below is the link for the class schedule.

I’ve posted various dates throughout the rest of August and September, all at 7:30pm. You will be learning basic moving, standing, and sitting meditation from various Taoist traditions. I’ll be teaching you the very methods that I use in order to get through my hectic 12-hour work days, calmly and energetically. These are also the same techniques that helped me reduce stress and anxiety.

Space is limited to only 6 people per class, so make sure you book soon! Each class is $10 per person.

See you there!

I Just Finished a Juice Reboot!

Look how puffy I was just 31 days ago! This is embarrassing for me because I’m not very big with posting selfies, but I feel I have to share, as other people may actually benefit from this!

Why Did I Do a Reboot?

For quite some time, I’ve been feeling overall weak, fatigued, water-bloated, and foggy-headed, and I couldn’t understand why. So back in September of last year (2015), I had a blood test done to check my levels and to see if I was gluten-sensitive. And just as I suspected, I not only was gluten-sensitive, but the doctors diagnosed me with celiac disease. This was on top of my high cholesterol which runs in my family. So for a time, I maintained my plant-based diet and cut out bread…. well… “almost” completely. Hey, I’m only human, right? Plus being gluten-free is what I call a “severely anti-social diet.”

When this last February came around, I decided to clean up my act and cut out gluten completely. However, by then, I had already ballooned up with even more water retention, and was feeling more fatigued, foggy-headed, and water-bloated than ever before. So I cleaned up my diet even more and started working out 6 days a week. But over the course of 4 months, I felt no changes, as a matter of fact, I gained even more unwanted weight. That’s when I knew that my entire digestive system was full of inflammation. So after re-watching Joe Cross’ movie “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead,” on Netflix, I decided to give his “Juice Reboot” a go.

The premise of the movie was that Joe Cross was severely overweight and on a large cocktail of prescription medication for various conditions that he’d been suffering for several years, including autoimmune disease. So he took to juice fasting for 60 days. In short, the idea behind juice fasting is that juicing extracts all the fiber from the veggies/fruits and allows your body to absorb the vitamins and nutrients much faster and more directly than smoothies or simply eating a plant based diet. Juicing then facilitates the natural healing of your body. So not to spoil the detailed results of the movie, as predicted, Joe’s Juice Reboot had completely changed his life (otherwise he wouldn’t have released his movie, duh!!!).

That’s when I decided to buy myself a juicer and to try the Juice Reboot myself for 30 days just to try it out. I could have done the 5, 10, or even 15 day fast, but decided “what the heck,” I’ll just go for the full 30 days. Because I’m a practitioner of holistic medicine and lead a life of meditative health practices, I’m very sensitive to what my body is telling me (though sometimes I don’t listen), so I was fully prepared to stop the reboot if I knew I was hurting my body.

I started July 10, 2016 and just finished yesterday August 9, 2016. And I’ve never felt better. I no longer feel heavy and bloated, my blood pressure normalized, my mind has cleared, my energetic Qigong meditations have been out of this world, I can “listen” to my patients’ bodies with more clarity, and my energy has gone up tremendously. I also lost 25 pounds. I haven’t felt this good since I was 20 years old (over 22 years ago)! I can’t wait to get another blood test to see how much my cholesterol level has gone down, and to see if it’s affected my celiac disease!

So now that I’m finished, I’m going back to drinking my green smoothies, eating a largely plant-based diet, and exercising regularly. This, on top of my daily meditation/Qigong practice to help me center my mind and body in order to maintain the clarity that I’ve gained. A clear and relaxed mind helps prevent making bad diet decisions!

What Kind of Juicer?

So my first step was to get a juicer. You can get any juicer. Joe Cross used a Breville brand centrifugal juicer, which works fine, and is relatively affordable. I used an SKG slow-masticating juicer. The difference between centrifugal juicers and slow masticating (or cold press) juicers, is that the slow juicers tend to maintain the integrity of the veggie/fruit nutrients better than the centrifugal juicers, where the blades spin so quickly that it heats up and burns out some of the vitamins and enzymes essential to the food. But really, I don’t think it matters too much since it worked for Joe really well. In any case here’s my juicer:


click to see on

What did I juice?

Second step, it was time to get some produce. For my juices, I used kale, spinach, pineapples, apples, carrots, oranges, lemons, ginger, beets, cucumbers, grapefruits, and dandelion greens. But not all at once. The mix of fruits and vegetables that I used during most days were kale, cucumber, carrots, green apples, and ginger. It was a simple recipe, and it tasted pretty decently. And since I was pre-making juice for the whole day (about 70 ounces), I needed to use produce that yielded a lot of fluid, such as cucumbers and apples. So basically, I drank 70 ounces of juice throughout the day. Joe recommends you drink 16-20 ounces of juice 4 times a day.

Third step was the hardest part… the dedication, motivation, and discipline. The thought of not eating any food and only consuming juice and water for 30 days was crazy to me. It’s even crazier to actually go through with it! So be prepared for a mental jousting with yourself.

Motivation and Dedication

I got sick of feeling bad all the time, and as a practitioner of holistic health, I felt that I wasn’t a good example for my patients. So things had to change. That was enough motivation for me. But the real test of my motivation came in the morning, when I was faced with the daunting task of having to spend one hour per day to prepare my juice (from clean kitchen to clean kitchen). I had to prepare the juicer and the produce, make the juice, dump the juice in a large enough container (I used a Thermos), and then clean the juicer. There were times I wanted to give up based on the amount of work I had to do. But I kept going. It was only temporary.


For the first five days of the reboot, there were some times – awful times – when I’d feel headaches, severe fatigue, and just overall… blaaaah. Sometimes I didn’t even wanna get out of bed or talk to people. Sometimes you regret making your son some nachos only to listen to him munch on them when you’re sitting at the couch sipping juice. Sometimes I had the wildest cravings for all the garbage that got me in trouble in the first place, such as pizza, cheese enchiladas, and fried chicken. But that’s going to happen throughout the fast. I had to dig really deep to find the discipline to stay on course. And I’m glad I did.

So the first few days are pretty rough. But believe me, it gets better. I promise. Eventually, finding the discipline, motivation, and dedication gets easier and easier. And once you’re off the food withdrawals, you start feeling more and more energetic. By my 6th day, I began walking 3.5 miles per day. By my 1oth day, I was doing walk/jog intervals for the same distance. It’s hard to believe I can do that considering I haven’t had anything in my mouth but juice, but it’s true. If you’re eating the true essence of plant life, you’re absorbing what you need to survive and to stay active.

I was going to post my Juice Reboot journal entries here, but it became hard creatively try to find euphemisms for all the bad language I wrote during the first few days! Hey, I’m part Navy Sailor, remember? But definitely keep a journal of your experiences.

For more information about the Juice Reboot, you can either watch “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” on Netflix, or visit Joe Cross’ website at

And please make sure you check with a doctor before you try this reboot. The results are amazing, but the process can be quite intense. And remember, this isn’t meant to be a permanent lifestyle. It’s simple a tool to jumpstart your newfound healthy life.

My goodness, I feel great! 🙂

My love for Paris, France.

On the streets of Paris, 2003.

On the streets of Paris, 2003

Back in 2003 while I was living in Las Vegas, my childhood friend James called me from Germany where he was stationed in the Air Force, and told me that he had been taking college courses during his time there and was going to graduate in May, and that he’d love if I were to be there with him while he walks down that aisle of academic achievement. Of course, I exclaimed… I’d never been to Europe, and he was there for my graduation at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, so it’d be an honor to return the gesture of support to be there with him.

So as time drew closer, I had moved from Las Vegas – my home of nine years – back to my childhood stomping grounds of Chicago, IL. When May came around, I boarded the plane with James’ family and mine, and before we knew it, we had landed in Germany.

While we were in Germany, James presented me with a bus ticket and said, “Look, I’ve got a lot of stuff to do for the next couple of days and you need something to do too, so here’s a two-day trip to Paris. Have fun.”

“You gotta be kidding me,” I said. “You know we just invaded Iraq, right? And against the wishes of the entire world, especially France, right? I’m gonna get spit on out there!”

He smiled and assured me that I’ll have a good time. I sighed and jumped onto that bus for the long road trip to Paris.

I was sitting on the aisle seat on the bus next to my loudly snoring father who was somehow taking up the window view, so I didn’t pay much attention as we entered the Paris city limits. But finally the bus door opened and I slowly, and reluctantly trudged out of the bus and stepped on to the sidewalk and took my first deep breath of Parisian air. When I lifted up my eyes and looked all around me, I felt like I was struck by lightning… only not the kind that would electrocute you, but the kind that would revive you, a defibrillation that brings your very consciousness back to life.

And suddenly time stood still.

For a moment, I lost myself. I felt “it.” The “it” that you heard about in books and movies, but never understood. That “it” that I’ve been missing all my life. I had no idea what “it” was, but it took over me, vibrating, oscillating right through my very soul. “It” was different. “It” was a feeling that I’ve never felt before. I looked all around me and felt the very vibe that I had been missing all my life.

In America, we’re born to produce and consume. We’re hell bent on being “number one,” accumulating wealth and experiencing the latest and greatest “things.” We only care about “what’s next.” To a certain extent, there’s nothing wrong with that. But in order to experience the rest of life, that is, an everlasting veneration for history and the arts and humanities – the very things that make us uniquely human – you have to actively seek it. Where I’m from, you have to go out and find it. However in Paris, it was all right there staring right at you in the face. Surrounding you. Embracing you. Welcoming you home. This resounding feeling overcame me in that micro-moment I got off that bus.

Me, at the Louvre

Me, at the Louvre

I spent the next two days in a euphoric daze, walking around the historic sites with a hint of envy, but overwhelmed by inspiration. Eiffel Tower, Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Louvre, cafes, the beautiful people, the architecture, the hundreds of years of profound history, and the undying love of literature, philosophy, art and music… especially jazz. It was heaven.

We took an evening boat cruise along the Seine, the artery of water that gives vitality to Paris, floating from one breathtaking landmark to another. When the Eiffel Tower came into view, shining its spotlight majestically into the evening sky, one of my favorite all-time big band songs came on the boat’s loud speaker. It was Count Basie’s “April in Paris.” I was so overcome with such amorous emotion, wishing so badly that my then-girlfriend (now wife) was with me, that I bought a rose from a young vendor on board, and gave it to my father to give to my mom.

Mom and Dad, and the rose I bought them :)

Mom and Dad, and the rose I bought them 🙂

And before we knew it, the trip was over.

No one on that trip felt what I felt in Paris. To many, it was just another “nice” big and busy city. Some people felt Parisians were rude though I had the opposite experience. I’m positive that two days in Paris means nothing to most people, and that my tourist experience is vastly different to someone who lives there. But to me, that trip was the start of a personal evolution. It was a healing experience. My love of the historic arts was always suppressed and taken hostage by the modern American pursuit of money, power, and fame. But Paris showed me that it’s okay to be in touch with the humanities – the very expressions of our human experience. So it was on the bus ride back to Germany when I decided to pursue the arts as a vocation, and to hopefully heal and inspire others through the music of the great American songbook of vocal jazz.

Over the coming years, I got my Las Vegas jazz buddies together and we recorded my one and only jazz vocal album. And to honor my love of Paris, I chose to record “April in Paris.” I then lived a life of music for four years until I decided that healing through Taoism and holistic medicine was going to be my ultimate expression of love and compassion. My life has evolved dramatically since then.

Nowadays, I’ve been able to help many people with the acupuncture treatments that I provide here at Purple Cloud. Some of my patients have even told me that I’ve changed their lives.

None of it would have been possible if my buddy James never got me on that bus to Paris.

Thank you, James. Thank you, Paris.

And during this time of great mourning… Paris, I mourn with you. I’m indebted to you. My heart is forever with you.

So as an epilogue, although I’m profoundly embarrassed by my own singing voice, attached is my rendition of “April in Paris.” 🙂

You can download it here.

Vocals: L.Zaide
Drums: Nolan Stolz
Piano: Tony Branco
Bass: Geoff Neuman
Guitar: Richard Forrester