Many patients, who first came to The Turning Point when it opened last November, had initially expressed some reservations about how they would like group acupuncture sessions once the clinic grew.  They enjoyed their affordable treatments, but in the beginning months, they were often the only ones in the room.  These individuals are now returning from a summer’s hiatus to find the clinic filled to near-capacity.

One woman, who received care three times a week throughout the wintertime but never drifted-off to dreamland, was astounded to fall deeply asleep her first time back from an “acupuncture vacation.”   After waking to a room full of sleepers, she commented that she was experiencing a sensation new to her: it felt like she was floating out of her body, light and tingly all over.  Another patient, who began care last year, returned to the clinic after her own busy summer and awoke to report that she had just experienced her deepest treatment of these many months.  When I asked if she had noticed how busy the clinic was during her slumber—all ten treatment chairs had filled and I was working with three patients in the waiting room—she looked at me in surprise.  She had been oblivious to the quiet activity around her, and yet it had dramatically impacted her treatment’s intensity.

Now that these patients have had an opportunity to compare both experiences (acupuncture alone in an empty room vs. cocooned in a community setting), I hear over and over again that they love the feeling of hibernating in a room with other napping acupuncturees.  They share a similar response: amidst a room full of restful acupuncture recipients, they now fall more deeply into their session and experience more dramatic results from the treatments. 

The most impressive response though has come from the most unlikely of group qi recipients: my plants.  I am a Capricorn (earth element) born in the year of the Ox (another earth element).  I love plants…I love being surrounded by their luscious growth, their fragrant soil, their tender new shoots and delicate flowerings.  And yet, I have never successfully maintained any plant life in my own environment.  Cacti shrivel; ivies wither; spider plants and African violets all protest my maltreatment.  I have even killed a peace lily.  (*gasp*)

But in The Turning Point, amidst the daily group meditations and healing intentions set forth by practitioner and patients, my 30+ plants are THRIVING!   They grow and bloom and multiply.  Patients ask me what I feed them, how often I water them, what soil and fertilizers I use…searching for the secret to my “green thumb.” 

In truth, I have little more to do with my plants’ phenomenal growth than I do with my patients’ healing. 

I care for these plants no differently now than I have for their fallen comrades of the past fifteen years: simply watering them when I remember to.  Likewise, the acupuncture treatments I use now are no more sophisticated or technical than they were a year or two ago; and yet my patients report much more dramatic results from the protocols I employ.  In the same way that my plants’ growth seems to be exponential in relation to the number of individuals receiving acupuncture in the room with them, so too is my patients’ healing.

I believe this—in and of itself—makes a community acupuncture clinic an IDEAL venture for virgin licensees.  The group qi enhances their emerging clinical skills.  A group experience is more comfortable and deep-sleep-inducing for patients than one in a private room with a nervous new grad.   The group-healing-effect provides even more impetus for patients to refer friends and family to the community clinic, because not only will their referrals help the clinic to stay afloat financially, but referrals serve the patients’ own self-interests in the healing department: the busier the clinic is when they receive acupuncture, the better they will feel when they walk-out.  I wonder, when evaluating the sustainability of medium-sized community clinics, if there isn’t perhaps another reason for pursuing the BDC: in addition to economy of scale and political populism, there’s the snowballing effect of large group meditation and healing.    

When I look at my medium-sized clinic, I know that I could share the space with another practitioner who would work opposite my schedule.  Together we could split the overhead for cost-effectiveness, expand evening and weekend hours for greater accessibility, and provide services to hundreds of individuals in the community for populism’s sake.  And that will probably be the next stage of growth.  But I can’t fit any more chairs in my current space, which means that I’ve capped-out on the upper limit of this group experience.  Having seen how much more effective treatments are with ten people together in a room vs. two or three patients in the space, I have to wonder how much better they would respond in a BDC with twenty chairs in it. 

Or thirty…

Jessica Feltz
Author: Jessica Feltz

<p> I learned about Community Acupuncture while studying at the Midwest College of Oriental Medicine (MCOM) in the Spring of 2006 when Lisa Rohleder's first article about her clinic appeared in Acupuncture Today. Coming from a middle-class background myself, I was the only student in my acupuncture class to have not experienced the healing benefits of this medicine prior to beginning studies at MCOM. I couldn't afford it. And my family couldn't understand what I was doing by investing in an education that they didn't perceive to be financially sustainable. </p> <p> The Community Acupuncture model is a perfect fit for me, balancing social justice and taoist simplicity with the patient's innate ability to heal him/herself (with a few gentle nudges from strategically placed needles). I am grateful every day to have found CAN and the love it brings into my life. I want to share that joy by spreading the message about how we can create a new health care experience in our communities through each of our very small efforts...and how those very small efforts can in turn change the world. </p> I enjoy my two sons, my 4 cats, and big stacks of books.  I own and operate...

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  1. Fantastic post!

    Wow, Jessica, you may just have written my new favorite post.  I love how you synthesize so many CAN ideas here.  And I love the idea that my difficulty with plants (peace lilies included!) might be alleviated, with a little help from a roomful (a big roomful!) of patients.  Thanks, sister!

  2. Great book, the secret life of plants

    the plants in my clinic are doing really well too. Never really made the connection before between group qi and plant happiness. Thanks Jessica!

  3. Jessica,
    Judging by your


    Judging by your picture, you’ve probably been a little bit too exposed to this photosyntheqi stuff….

    We should all try to monitor the time we spend in that “group-qi” field.


  4. LOL!!!!

    That’s awesome!! I had this strange feeling before I commented on your photo…Maybe it is Jessica…Na..!! Can’t be..!

    I wonder where we’d be today if CAN started in 1952….Laughing

  5. More beings loving QI

    I have also noticed a couple of other critters that seem to love the treatment room.

    Spiders , which we in Australia consider lucky when they grace us with their presence indoors(mean rain is coming ) and….. Dust Bunnies, who seem to love to hang around the treatment chairs just when patients are looking around after napping, awaiting their needles to be pulled….!.

    One day I had the door to our garden open and a little native mouse moseyed in and hung out under the closest chair as I was talking to the patient. I assessed his possible reaction before telling him of his visitor and then tried to shoo the mouse out the door . The mouse wanted in ,in fact could still be in…maybe she is having muffin crumbs next door ….

  6. Control group

    The plants in my community space grow like crazy, I’m contantly having to trim them from getting out of control. I have a separate room with a table and plants seem to wither in that room where it only gets one or two people a day.

     It could be that the space heater dries them out or that the curtains aren’t always open, but I think it could also be the lack of a consistent healing / energy field. I’ve also noticed that clients don’t doze off as easily in that room compared to the community space, even though it’s private, quieter and darker.

    Go figure… 

  7. Critters

    That is so funny!  I forgot that I have a family of crickets nesting in the doorway (they sing my patients to sleep).  And one day last week, a bird flew in to the clinic while the door was open.  He was hopping all over the place, before deciding to leave. 

    “Let the beauty we love be what we do.  There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” –Rumi

  8. plants rule

    Plants seem to be taking over…this blog…and our room. We have a philodendron which is literally swallowing a chair. We’ve built up a plant island in the middle of the room, around the air purifier. I think this goes a long ways towards improving air quality which is a concern for some folks when there is coughing.

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

  9. I loved this post. 

    I loved this post.  Jessica, your clinic sounds amazing – congrats on building up so well.  Also I want to chime in that I am having the same thing happen with my plants!!!  My plants love the community room and my patients love the plants!  They’re flourishing and flowering and having a happy time growing beautifully.  I think plants really like people.  And sadly – the one plant I have alone in my herb room which I don’t frequent very often is the one that doesn’t look so hot – even though it is a cactus which should be doing fine.  Go figure.  Looks like I have to change something with that one…