beach treasures

Reading the CAN blog is like walking on a beach and picking up treasures…pretty stones, shells, admiring the uniqueness in each individual’s way of expression. I like to leave Nature the way I found it, put down the pretty stones and shells so other creatures can use them, but that doesn’t stop me from taking the essential beauty in my heart.

Maybe my stone is pretty ordinary today, or it could be rare depending upon what light you like. Maybe you feel like throwing it into deep water: A month or so ago, an activity coordinator from the local YMCA called me up and I agreed to let her bring a dozen kids aged ~ 16 to CommuniChi to explore unique avenues in health care.

It was a wild and radical day…like most days are when they are lived to their utter fullness. I was operating on 2.5 hours of sleep. Being the full moon, I chose to awake at 3 a.m. and lengthen my morning meditation, intentionally fasting in order to focus on spiritual awareness. Technically, it was my day off – my first day with my two employees staffing the clinic from 9am to 6pm. 

I was excited to meet the young adults and they were full of probing and provactive questions – everything from how acupuncture works, how a practitioner finds the points, to the current healthcare mess which excludes care for most of the population.

I had only started trying to field the questions when who pops their head in the door but Steve Knobler, another CA punk from the other side of town. Quickly I sensed the opportunity and roped him into participating in the little forum that was unfolding. Meanwhile, I was simultaneously playing receptionist to patients walking in the door, directing traffic, and offering support to Amber who was doing an admirable job helping new patients feel at home in a packed 300 square foot reception area with 15 people, phones ringing, patients coming and going….it was cool having a business colleague drop in like that, spontaneously, and dive into the conversation without a whiff of competitiveness, but just complete enthusiasm for sharing the responsibility to educate the public about what we are trying to accomplish with CA. (Steve, please share your comments about the day).

The rich discussions of the past few days on CAN were bubbling in my brain as I had fun responding to questions. I realized in sharing my story to the teens that although in school, I strived hard for technical profiency in things like Zang Fu diagnosis, point location, needle technique, etc. over the years, I’ve gradually come to rely more and more on creating a space of openness and receptivity between myself and the patient, in order to facilitate the greatest healing. I expressed by saying to the youth that when you are needling patients, your mind needs to be in a total “yes” mode, exuding confidence, radiating positive chi from the depths of your heart. I also shared how affordable acupuncture and the CA model lays a solid foundation upon which such a radically simple, seemingly non-technical approach (for me) can bring positive results in healing.

I have no delusions of my mastery of this art though. I resonant with Lisa’s statement somewhere in one of her books where she labels herself mediocre…B- or something. I also resonant with her passion (and compassion) for service. And in my experience, that’s worth maybe a whole heck more than technical proficiency in the long run.

Yeah, this is a ramble, and I need to go turn off the noodle right now so I can treat some people tomorrow…I’ll close with a reflection that arose from one question. “What about bad energy, is there such a thing?” Conventionally, of course there is evil Chi – adverse environmental influences, epidemics, spirit harm, and psychosis. But ultimately, our minds are pure, and it’s our responsibility to get in touch with that and allow that to be the source of all the healing we are seeking. Acupuncture can play a huge role in that process, and that’s only possible when it is accessible.

I hope to post some reports from some of the youth. 

river Jordan
Author: river Jordan

After graduating from the Northwest Institute of Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine in 1997, I had a hobby practice for a few years before moving to Northern India to study Buddhism. During this time, I volunteered in a local clinic, giving acupuncture to Tibetan refugees and Indian nationals. <p> Returning to the U.S. in 2002, I started a typical insurance based acupuncture practice catering to the upper middle class. In 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, I volunteered with <a href="" target="_blank">Acupuncturists Without Borders</a>, using community style acupuncture to treat trauma victims in a natural disaster setting. </p> Inspired by the power and efficacy of acupuncture in a post-disaster setting, I began to contemplate issues of socioeconomic class. What could be done to make acupuncture accessible to everyone and still provider a livable wage for an acupuncturist? After attending WCA's first conference in October of 2006, I had found the answer to that question. In January 2007, together with my partner Serena Sundaram, we founded <a href="" target="_blank">Communichi</a>, Seattle's first dedicated community acupuncture clinic. <p> As a Buddhist, I believe that healing begins in the mind. As the positive qualities of wisdom and compassion are cultivated in the mind of a practitioner, this...

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  1. thank you for sharing this today

     perfect! this is just the right breath of fresh air today, so thanks again.


    it really makes me really miss the ocean!




    Good health is not a measure of adapting to a sick society.

    When the power of love outshines the love of power, the world will know peace.

  2. nice post Jordan. I second

    nice post Jordan. I second the need for a total ‘yes’ mode, a positive-professional mindset with clear and healthy boundaries, when interacting with folks in the clinic. 

  3. Zen and the art of needling

    I was reminded of a couple of things while reading your post in the theme of the “yes’ mode concept.

    When I was a kid I was a high jumper and I happened to jump from the left and so mostly was there by myself between jumps as all the rightys chatted and socialized on the other side.

    My coach was my mother and she was a good one who groomed quite a few commendable jumpers as an elementary school teacher over the years.  She trained me to always think myself over the bar before even taking off for my run up to jump and counselled that if I didnt see myself clearing the bar before I started running that I should just wait until I did .

    This meant that I often took up all of my 3 minutes per jump,which must have looked a little precious to all the multitudes waiting on the other side. I credit this mind training with getting me a lot further in competitions than I probably would have gone had I chatted with my competitors on the other side and not entered into all those moments.

    When I needle I mostly do the same thing. I center myself, and “see” myself over the bar . In our business that can variously mean seeing the needle going in like it is going into butter, clean and sweet and visualizing the best point selection for the patients needs that day and being open to the ” outlier” points that may suggest themselves in this quiet space.  …….Yes………

  4. clear and healthy boundaries

    Thanks for adding to the conversation. This is an important meditation (and delicate operation) too. Dissolving barriers of fear and ego-separation, while maintaining professional/ethical boundaries.  

  5. focus of a samurai warrior…er…acupunk…er…skateboarder

    i resonate with Diane’s visualization prep for jumping, needling, or whatever. Very zenny. Whatever motivates us acupunks to be in the ‘yes mode’, that zone of real, positive, stable communication with our selves and our patients, is worth taking moments to re-establish off and on throughout the day. Meditative work huh! I have read about many athletes that do this same prep before acting in some remarkable way. I think seeing it and feeling it aready done is a great method for anything we are hoping to acheive. Feels a littly funny at first, but works darn well. I use this skateboarding and in the clinic.

  6. I’ve been vacationing in Idaho

    But I am so glad I checked in on CAN to read the forums. Jordan – thank you so much for allowing me to join in on the fun with you and your YMCA visitors.

    When I first opened Communi-chi’s door, three young faces swung to see who was there. I was surprised to see them and, thinking a family might be doing a group intake with Jordan, I closed the door and remained in the hallway. I would have walked away, but something just felt right at giving “hello” a second try, so in I went.

    I love teaching, and there’s always that exciting feeling in a room when the vibrancy and curiosity of open minds is present. I felt I had waded into a pool of it, with Jordan as the life guard. And in more ways than one, for them and for me, I do see you as a “life guard”. I started down the path of CA by talking about Community Acupuncture with Acu-friend Paul Griffin, and then visiting with Jordan at Communi-chi, where you so calmly explained the basics of CA to me and presented yourself in such an open and sharing way.

    That openness has been the hallmark of the CAN community for me. We are a wonderful collection of “life guards” for each other as well as our patients. I believe that our non-competitiveness, and willingness to share, makes that possible.  

    Thanks so much for including me in the discussion. The young adults had so many thoughtful questions, and the freshness and unfiltered way in which they asked them was heartening. It is a breath of fresh air to have an experience like that. I am greatful.

    I’m returning from Idaho this afternoon. Yesterday, I visited New Moon Acupuncture in Spokane, WA. Rebekah Giangreco has a nice practice there and she did a good job helping me with my back pain (from a recent fence repair episode). I’m hoping that two of my Idaho relatives will begin seeing her soon.

    Best to you all, and thanks for sharing ~ Steve