Community Acupuncture and the Emperor

I just left the clinic and bumped into the Emperor coming up the stairs in the Community Center where CommuniChi is located – well, sort of anyways. Governor Christine Gregoire was dressed in work pants and a United Way t-shirt and was flanked by other volunteers as part of a community service day, fixing up the center, gardening, hauling out old furniture, etc.

I had heard Washington's popular two term Governor was going to be around our building and thought to myself at the time, “well that's cool, maybe I'll bump into Her”. But I didn't give it another thought – I was busy tilling my fields: checking the schedule, breaking open new packs of needles, seeing patients and planting seeds (needles) – all the stuff one does to run a Community acupuncture clinic.

She greeted me first and I looked at her more closely and recognized who she was.   “Hello Governor, I'm the local community acupuncturist”, I said – not in deference or adulation, not attempting to prove anything or gain official favor – just a simple recognition of my work and conventional identity. I extended my hand respectfully and we shook hands. She said “thank you for your work” with a smile, and kept going up the stairs with her entourage.  “Thank you for your work” I responded with sincerity.  Later, while floating home on my bicycle (yes, floating – a morning in an busy community clinic will do that for you), I critiqued my performance:

“Well, I could've at least invited her into the clinic for a minute, explained the mission of CAN, shown her the nationwide map with colorful push pins freshly put up on the wall, given her a contact Chi hit of people resting in the treatment room.   “Next time”, I thought, knowing full well such opportunities do not come very often in a lifetime.

Then I remembered the Chuang Tzu and his verses about how water seeks the lowest spots and therefore becomes the greatest of all. Community acupuncture is like the water – not desparately seeking recognition from the AAAAAAOM's of the world, but content to do its job and satisfy an ever widening circle of the public.

Perhaps the Governor will stop and reflect in a quiet moment later in her day and think “community acupuncture – what's that?” Or not, it probably doesn't matter. The name is quickly becoming as common as water regardless of whether people praise it or not.

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="https://www.acuwithoutborders.org/" 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="https://www.communichi.org/" 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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