Occupy Acupuncture – Power to the POCA

Last night I stopped by Occupy Seattle’s Meditation tent to sit in solidarity with non-violent peaceful freedom loving individuals enduring 40 degree damp chill. The twenty minute meditation was joined by about a half dozen other people as the rest of the encampment milled about prior to the General Assembly.

It was only my second time at the encampment, a fact I don’t feel guilty about.  As a community acupuncture clinic owner,  I know where my primary commitment lies, and that is ensuring that there is affordable acupuncture in my community, a big part of which is managing a sustainable business that pays its employees, pays the government its payroll taxes, and hopefully has something to pay the owner a sustainable wage at the end of every month.

CommuniChi is approaching its five year anniversary in January. I figure we’ve offered close to 15,000 affordable sliding scale acupuncture treatments in that time, something that brings a lot of happiness to my mind when I think about it.

Some of the more noticeable feel good stories from the clinic lately are helping a six month old infant get huge relief from regular acupuncture treatments for her asthma, and helping a man who was diagnosed unexpectedly with stomach cancer return to health. Someone at the hospital actually said to him when they first came back with the results – “do you want to die at home, or in the hospital?” How utterly deficient in both compassion and wisdom to say such a thing!

There is a lot of suffering in this world and spiritual origins aside, much of it comes from economic, class and racial oppression and marginalization which is why there is unequal access to basic services such as health care.   While it is always a challenge to run a successful business, regardless of the model or the philosophy, or the target  – one percent or ninety nine percent  –  students and budding practitioners would do well to take heed:  

More money and bragging rights to celebrity acupuncture patients  do not by themselves bring happiness. A wealth of virtue is the foundation. Acupuncture practices and the profession itself do not exist in a socioeconomic and political vacuum.  The choices we each make regarding who we choose to serve and who we choose to ignore, has huge implications for our communities and our world.

Jordan Van Voast

CommuniChi Acupuncture Clinic


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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