Acupuncturist & DJ Bam Truong On How Music and Medicine Connect

Written by

Leticia Trandafir
August 7th, 2020


Maybe you’ve been to one of our NVA parties where Bamboo Hermann was playing. Then you’ve encountered the magic of Bam’s entrancing DJ sets. Lately she’s been busy with something else though: acupuncture. At first glance these may seem unrelated, but as we find out, it all fits together as a healing practice centred in the body. We caught up with Bam to find out more about her new endeavour, Bam Truong Accupuncture.

You’ve worked as an architect and you’ve also been an active DJ in the queer scenes of London and Montreal. Now you’ve completed your acupuncture and massage therapy trainings. How do these different practices feed each other?

I would say there is a common thread between DJing, massage therapy and acupuncture, which is mainly to provide a sense of wellbeing while being fully immersed in the moment and in our bodies. I would say architecture is a bit apart from music and physical therapy in the sense that it has a different way and scale of projecting one’s intent in time and space (being an architect was actually more of an unhappy high school career choice…)

When I was younger, I used to see clubbing-raving as this utopian social space that would transcend space, time and social divides, an ideal state I always aspired to reach in some way or another in my work. The immediacy of communication and the exchange of energies through dance and through music (DJing) is something I also recognized later on in the immediacy of working with the body and the sense of touch in massage therapy and acupuncture. I like to think that I’m basically doing the same job: where I used to release people’s bodies and emotions with knobs and speakers, I now do that by poking needles into their bodies!

Interestingly enough, etymologically the term “medicine” in ancient Chinese stems from the term “music”, which are one and the same character with the ideogram for “plants” added on top of “music” to become “medicine”. Hence, the ancient Chinese recognized the healing power of music and its beneficial effect on both the mind and the body.

What is the story behind Bam Truong Acupuncture and how was the process of opening your own business?

I grew up surrounded by acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). My father, an acupuncturist himself, founded our family clinic over 30 years ago after immigrating here. I used to live upstairs from the clinic, helping out during the holidays etc. The typical immigrant family business story. I never considered acupuncture as a career choice for myself growing up because I wanted to be an artist or do something creative.

As I got older and started to strive for more balance in my life, I learned to rediscover the wealth of wisdom and knowledge of this ancient medicine and how it could become a lifeline for a more healthy and happy life, not only for myself but also for others. There also was a desire to root myself again in my family’s Chinese culture and reconnect with my ancestry. So I decided to retrain at College Rosemont when I came back to Montreal 3 years ago and here I am now, taking over the family business with my sister Valérie Truong, who’s been practicing acupuncture for over 20 years.

Can you describe the different kinds of services that are offered at Bam Truong Acupuncture?

We offer massage therapy and acupuncture. On the massage therapy side, we have either relaxation massage for calming down the nervous system and releasing stress, or therapeutic massage for releasing myofascial tensions and preventing chronic pain. The techniques I use are a blend of Swedish massage, Thai oil massage and Tui Na (traditional Chinese manual therapy).

On the acupuncture side, we can help alleviate symptoms of various conditions, whether it be musculo-skeletal issues and pain, to internal conditions such as digestive, fertility, uro-genital issues or issues related to emotions such as migraine, insomnia, anxiety, depression, etc. We use in addition to needles a variety of techniques such as Gua Sha (scraping), cupping, electrostimulation, bloodletting, Tui Na and moxibustion which is a technique used to heat the body by burning a herb called moxa (mugwort in english).

What is the philosophy behind your acupuncture and massage therapy (does queerness play into it in any way)?

I think I just want to help relieve physical pain and help to find balance both physically and emotionally. Queerness comes into play in the sense that I am queer, so my perspective on things is always going to be from a queer perspective, especially from an understanding that things never happen within a fixed binary. Chinese medicine is essentially a non-binary form of knowledge, since we find the Yin Yang theory at its core, which understands the world as a constant dynamic interplay between 2 poles, creating an infinity of possibilities within that spectrum. Being queer has also definitely given me the awareness of the importance of creating space for others and of always treating everyone with equal amounts of care.

For those who have never tried acupuncture, what can they expect from the experience?

Some people come with some apprehension of the needles. The needles are actually really thin (about a quarter of a mm-thick) and there is usually no pain apart from a brief small pinching sensation as the needle goes through the skin. The sensation once the needle is in can be quite varied, from a small tingling sensation, to a feeling of warmth, or the sensation of some energy flowing between acupuncture points and to other parts of the body. Most people come out of an acupuncture session feeling relaxed, centred and more in tune with their bodies.

You have this beautiful quote on your website “The Way to do is to be” by Lao Tzu. What is the significance of this quote and can you elaborate on it a bit?

I love how this quote really captures the common thread I was talking about earlier between music, dancing and bodywork: the idea that the spirit and the body are one, and that in order to function and manifest oneself into the world, one has to look after one’s interface with the world, i.e. our hearts, minds and bodies. Music, dance and therapy are for me different ways to achieve such synchronicity between being and doing.

Why is it so important to combine both physical and spiritual wellness?

In traditional Chinese medicine, physical, emotional and spiritual health are one big interdependent whole. If one aspect is affected or unbalanced, the others will suffer inevitably. Therefore, from such a perspective, when we work on the body, we simultaneously work on our emotional and spiritual wellbeing. There is the Daoist notion of “Ming” in TCM, that can be translated as “destiny” or “heavenly mandate”. It’s the notion that every being has a heavenly purpose to achieve on earth during their lifetime. Chinese medicine’s ultimate goal is to help people align themselves with their “Ming” by removing physical, emotional and spiritual disorders that might hinder the achievement of one’s “destiny”.

If there would be a top 3 healing / health tips you’ve learned through your training and practice, what would it be?

I will talk about the little things I learned that I find useful for myself!…

1 – Practice some kind of breathing exercise, such as Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga, meditation or just actively breathing while walking. Breathing is such a powerful tool, it’s an instant and direct access to our inner emotional center allowing us to regulate emotional blockages.

2 – Massage the back of your head and neck in the morning (at the bottom of the skull where the tendons and muscles of the neck attach). I use a little Gua Sha jade stone to scrape and massage this area where a lot of nerves and blood vessels go through. I often wake up feeling heavy headed, so massaging that area all the way down to the neck and shoulders really helps to feel more alert and ready to start the day. I also like to massage my ears to pump more blood to the head in the morning.

3 – Drink water and take small naps whenever you feel tired!

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  1. I love massage, acupuncture and qi gong (and music!) and enjoyed reading this article very much, thank you 🙂

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