Group Qi: Reconnecting

I like the focus on group qi. Here’s another couple angles.

think our nature as humans is to be interconnected: emotionally, creatively, by
touch, and all sorts of other inexplicable ways. But, our daily lives
are largely set up to shut down these connections so that we can be
more productive, so that we consume more. We all try, though, all the
time, to restore these connections; and, every way that we do is a big
political act. If our natural connectedness was fully intact, it’d be
much harder for powers to wage wars in our name, flaunt contempt for
democracy and human rights, or deny us health care.

things happen when we really make space for each other. We’ve all
listened to a friend or a loved one at one time or another for as long
as it took for that person to work something out, for them to heal from
some rift. We made it safe for that person to show their real selves by
listening mostly silently, withholding judgement, refusing to argue or
reassure, and just showing that we care and trust that person and the
brilliance in his or her mind and body. I think community acupuncture is a
big wonderful version of that, where the quiet, the proximity of
relaxed strangers and neighbors, and some carefully placed needles all
contribute to a rare opportunity for a number of people to heal,
naturally, together.

3) I sometimes long, however, for
a more rambuctious and less serene or solemn vibe in our clinic. I
think there’s all kinds of ways we can do this. Here’s an example of
what can happen when we’re not shooting for quiet as a primary
condition. And this is why the video linked in Lisa’s last post is so
cool. I wrote this in new Orleans when I was treating folks right after
Katrina. If I wasn’t with Jordan on this partcular corner, we had
worked together there recently with some of the same people.

A woman from the neighborhood is walking by and sees several
of her neighbors sitting in an oddly meditative manner. Mr. Ali, who has had
three unsuccessful surgeries on his cervical spine in the last 15 years is
looking at me with heavy eyelids and asking me how the acupuncture can so
quickly make his neck looser. I am trying to answer as simply and quietly as
possible, and I’m being helped by another man being treated, a 60 something
year old cab driver. Mr. Clarke studied Mao and Chinese culture when actively a
Black Panther in the 70s. He’s identifying a point I used on Mr. Ali’s arm as
lying along the Triple Burner channel. Lamar is a middle-aged painter and
contractor who’s been working 12 and 14 hour days since the flood. His forearm
and fingers are numb and he cannot sleep. Francine is a 49 year old white woman
who is working 10 hour days at the one welfare office which survived of seven. She is here for the third day in a row
to get help quitting smoking, a decision made in the throes of the emphysema
like coughing that has racked her since the mold set in. She knows of these men
but has never spent any time talking to them. She and Lamar are almost whispering
to one another, both crying
periodically, which gets the attention of a small orphan dog which has made its
way to their feet. The clinic’s only pharmacist, a woman from Detroit, has been
sleeping in her chair with one leg elevated since the needles went in a half hour ago. She had asked for help with
an acute migraine and a swollen ankle. The woman passing through catches eyes
with another man who’s getting a treatment, a man appears to know well. He’s
been orating irrepressibly since 5 or 10 minutes into the treatment. He’s
looking at her saying

“Lord have
mercy…. Wow…… Like I’m in high school…….. This is alright….. Aint this something…… Feel like a
bird…. Like a body ought to feel in this world…..
Aint this something…. Somebody discovered something…. Lord have mercy……. Makes my back straight and
takes my defenses right down……. Like a
bird I tell you….”

And the passing woman shoots back

“Well, go
on and fly…”

Her only question is if the needles will hurt.


And, several people close their eyes and reassuringly shake
their head.

“Like a
little bug bite,” Francine says.

She sits down with her neighbors.

Author: korben

I'm an acupunk and owner at Kindred Community Acupuncture in Pawtucket, RI. I co-founded Philadelphia Community Acupuncture in 2007, and moved to Providence in 2011 to be close to family after the birth of my son, and to work with the inimitable Cris Monteiro at PCA.

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  1. interconnection

    Hey Korben, That sounds like the sidewalk in front of the Mosque. Or maybe Rainbow People’s Park, or maybe a bunch of other places….maybe even one of our clinics on any given day.

    Funny how our grade schools and government taught us to honor “Independence Day”…which only underscores the me-ism culture of consume and militate. Today the mall, tomorrow the planet.

    Interdependence is the secret passage to enlightenment though….when we see this deeply…we recognize that to serve is the highest calling we can rise to in our life. We need not fear the small minded thoughts about survival though. What goes around comes around.

    We are indeed fortunate to be the orchestra conductors in the center of wheels of Chi, watching the waves of music propagate outwards into the world.



    true religions seek to gain access to that level of consciousness which
    is not ego-bound.

  2. beautiful story-thanks for

    beautiful story-thanks for sharing that 

    Sometimes it is hard to make space for community on a day to day basis-crises seems to bring us together and the beauty of pain is that it causes us to reach out to each other for healing-yin and yang