Acknowledging the Love in Community Acupuncture

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“Being together we learn to understand and allow the process of community to transform us.” Gururas Khalsa, Seminole Heights Community Acupuncture

If you haven’t picked up and read the book Acupuncture is Like Noodles, which is available in our waiting room, then please do. The book is the origin story of community acupuncture clinics and, according to Ann Mongeau, L.Ac., a former family nurse practitioner and nursing educator, “[the book] offers a vision of how health care should be: honest, straightforward, accessible, affordable, uncomplicated and based on a relationship of mutual trust and respect.” With this in mind, I am inspired to pause and reflect on how these ideas play out in our clinic.

For example, we treat in a common area as this allows us to share acupuncture with more people and to keep our fees low. New patients often find this hard to believe. They ask if our acupuncturists are licensed. They are. They ask about hidden fees. There are none. They ask if the service changes based on what they pay. It doesn’t. And when they ask about the community treatment room, I smile to myself as I think on how best to articulate the special kind of magic that happens here. Here are just a handful of stories that come to mind:

  • One day, a sweet patient exited the treatment room and closed the door ever so quietly and carefully; she remarked that everyone in the treatment room looked so peaceful and she didn’t want to disturb them.

  • A new patient came to our clinic and was very nervous about his first ever acupuncture treatment. As he waited, three patients exited at the same time and shared in passing how much they “needed that” and how wonderful their “acu-naps” were. He looked over to me and smiled, I saw his shoulders instantly lower as he started to relax and feel more settled.

  • One night, a patient brought in a bag of lemons. I couldn’t possibly take all of them, so she offered them to other patients arriving and departing. Soon, I witnessed a beautiful, happy-hearted conversation between four strangers as they expressed a love for fresh fruit and exchanged recipe ideas for lemon cupcakes, bars, and cookies.

  • On a Saturday, a mother and daughter came in to honor the passing of a loved one and we chatted about loss and the processing that follows. Before heading in, the daughter shared with me an uplifting story about how she helped her little one understand death and grief. After they headed into the treatment room, another patient looked over with reluctant tears in her eyes, “that’s exactly what I needed to hear today”.

I don’t know about you, but moments like these leave me feeling full and warm-hearted at the end of a day. It’s uplifting to see strangers come together to sit in stillness and heal; to have a chat now and then; and to be sweet to one another because, to quote Ram Dass, “we’re all just walking each other home”.

So this month, the month so often associated with romantic love, consider for a moment the countless other forms of love. Love from friends, family, and pets, as well as love within your community. Allow community the chance to transform you and I think you’ll be surprised at how quickly the world becomes a brighter place.