Kidney Failure Won’t Stop This Acupuncturist

Ben Fleisher’s kidneys are severely failing.

Yet, when looking at him, he looks pretty healthy. Diagnosed with IgA Nephropathy around a decade ago, Fleisher had been tracking the numbers on his kidneys every 3 months, but around two years ago, “the numbers started getting worse. I did everything I could to get it to stop, but they just kept going south,” he told me. It was a pleasure interviewing Ben, and to my surprise, he was speaking to me over the phone from a dialysis center. This skilled Acupuncturist and Zero Balancer has spent his life pursuing health and wellness and how it can help both him and others. Despite being on a high priority list for a kidney transplant, no one could ever tell. Perhaps his countenance of wellness has something to do with his lifestyle of treating his body, mind and spirit.

BEN FLEISHER, LAC, CZB

Fleisher’s interest in wellness began in his younger years, when he became fascinated with the concept of the mind-body connection. At age 14, he would spend his own time studying Buddhism, and at 18, went on to college to craft an individualized major in Buddhism and Psychology. During his college years, he was actively practicing yoga and meditation. Thus, he went on to pursue a career geared towards wellness: massage therapy.

Within a few years into being a massage therapist, however, his older brother suddenly died from a heart attack at the age of 31. “It was super shocking” he said, “ and pretty much slammed the brakes on what I was doing. It took me a while to come out from under that, and when I did, I started to really process it. I felt quite determined to make a deeper impact on people’s health and become a stronger advocate for preventative medicine.” Fleisher was inspired to go back to school to become a licensed Acupuncturist and, simultaneously, a certified Zero Balancer.

Along this journey of practicing the art of healing, he also began to notice the difficulty that so many practitioners have in supporting their own private practices. He co-created a company called Body Local in 2009 that helps train wellness professionals in the art of business and helps connect these practitioners with regional and national brands in this space.

Body Local puts together a large annual event called SummerFest, that takes place at the Mercedes Club in New York City to bring together the large community of health specialists nationwide.

“Practitioners don’t get enough support and are relatively isolated, so I wanted to bring them together.”

Fleisher’s drive towards healing, however, did not stop there. After falling in love and moving up to the country with his wife, he opened Woodstock Healing Arts, a facility with over twenty specialties geared towards preventative medicine. He practices Acupuncture as well as Zero Balancing, a type of acupressure that balances how energy is held in the bones of the body. It entails gentle but firm contact, feels great, and is very relaxing, according to Fleisher.

While Fleisher actively practices this healing art, he also lives it.

His health regime consists of routine Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, and most importantly, healthy eating. “I thought that I’d been eating healthy for twenty years,” he told me., “but when shit hits the fan, you have to re-evaluate what “healthy” really means. Like, whole-grain bread is still bread. Now I mostly eat vegetables and fruits with practically no processed food. Diet really is the biggest thing.”

When Fleisher visits his doctors, they remark on the irony of how healthy he looks in real life (compared to how poor his kidneys look on paper). “It’s probably because of all the self-care and diet… my body is relatively okay,” he says. Yet, the numbers on his kidneys reveal otherwise. He spends several days a week at the dialysis center for over 3 hours per visit to clear out toxins from his body until he can find a matching kidney donor.

Fleisher feels incredibly humbled for all that he has been given in life. The itchy skin, tasteless food and dialysis does not stop him from doing what he loves every day. Woodstock Healing Arts has been a dream come true. His kidney failure, however, has forced him to put life into greater perspective.

“What’s interesting to me is that no matter how much you do, or how much you control, with all of the health resources we have, we are still a biological mystery. For some things, like my kidney condition, there was just nothing I could do to make a difference, which is an incredibly humbling lesson to learn (for someone the ego the size of mine). It’s a healthy thing for people in health and wellness to remember.”

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