Is Anyone Paying Attention?

My first alma mater, Washington State University, sends out quarterly
newsletters with interesting information, mostly on scientific discoveries
and research. Their latest article on brain research seemed to relate to
community acupuncture clinics here:
Words from a social scientist Herbert Simon…in 1971, a quarter century
before the flowering of the Internet: “a wealth of information creates a
poverty of attention.”
“There’s so much more coming at us all the time from so many different
kinds of communication platforms, “ says Erica Austin, a Murrow College of
Communications professor who has looked at the ways marketers catch the eyes
of children. “You think about it: If you’re just walking down the
street, people have their iPods. There are cars going by all the time. Some
of them are vans that have advertising emblazoned on them. You’ve got
billboards. You may be walking into a store where they’ve got stuff
playing, promotional end caps of merchandise. There’s just stuff
 “Attention is the portal of our experience, the gatekeeper of all we know
and love and hope to avoid. It keeps us alive, tipping us off to tempting
foodstuffs and warning of dangers hurtling at us from the corner of our eye
It alerts us to possible mates. All the while weeding out billions of bits
of information a second to focus on just enough to think, react, and
Add to that the phenomena of all the time demanded of us on the Internet:
email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, news sites and Wikipedia which brings
massive amounts of more information into our lives, all of which needs to be
sifted and sorted by our brains. These researchers seem to think we have
moved as a group into a condition known as Attention Deficit Disorder, where
an overwhelming excess of constant distractions make it difficult and often
impossible to simply slow down and focus on a few important things in life.
When you cannot slow down to pay attention to some very important things in
life, it’s easy to fall into the feeling that you’re forgetting or
missing something, and perhaps we are! Relationships, spiritual values,
self-care and service to humanity may get short shrift in today’s
distracted lifestyle. Worse yet, anxiety and constant tension may take their
In addition, consider also the phenomenon of the increased number of ADD and
ADHD children in our population, now more than ever, and certainly not
proportionate to the increase in population. Could it be that the
toxin-ridden foods and environment create a reaction in the body that causes
these brain-stress conditions to flourish, in children as well as adults?
This is where community acupuncture can shine. What happens when you take an
hour to stop and take care of yourself at your local community acupuncture
clinic? You enter a room entirely dedicated to slowing down and focusing on
harmonizing body, mind and spirit. You lie there for almost an hour and
suspend all activity and thoughts (this can take practice, but it does
happen if you come regularly). This quiet time can be very productive. Many
people simply fall asleep through the process, as so many come in completely
frazzled or exhausted from insomnia. Others who are new will lie there and
watch the sensations of the needles working to clear up congestion in
different areas. Often they will experience strong aching in the areas of
complaint, such as painful knees or lower back. After this, there often is a
point where a calm descends, and one can slip into a restful slumber or
reverie. This is when a deeper healing can take place.
Even if you come in with a physical complaint, good things happen to your
brain while you get acupuncture. The body harmonizes, the flow of energy is
smoothed and enhanced, the cells are bathed in nourishment, and a profound
overall “re-set” occurs. People report that they leave feeling rested.
Or clarified in their thinking. Or just plan relaxed. Later they may notice
that their concentration has improved. Or their interactions with other
people are more enjoyable. It is common for new patients to report better
sleep and more energy during the day after having acupuncture regularly, one
to three times a week.

(Bringing ADD and ADHD into the picture is something that's been surfacing
in my consciousness in the past year. I even began wondering secretly if
that was happening to me, especially when I noticed that my interactions
with people was turning into 10-minute conversations. period. Now I think
that it's happening everywhere, to everyone. I wrote the above in my last
newsletter, for the general public. But I think it applies to us, as well.)

Author: melissa

Found community acupuncture in my last year of acupuncture school and it was like cool water on the dry desert of aculand. It addressed all those nagging questions of how to make acupuncture accessible and inviting to people like me, in my own communities as well as actually make a living and I knew I would practice this way for the rest of my life. I have learned more (about acupuncture, about people and community, about myself) in the past few years of running a CA clinic and being an acupunk at another BDC clinic than ever before. It's one of my all-time favorite places to be. I am eternally grateful to this community for its welcoming support, its passionate determination and its irreverence for useless sacred cows. I look forward to our continued work in supporting community acupuncture clinics worldwide!

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Conference Keynote: Breaking the Ceiling

The theme for this conference is “Breaking Barriers”. You know, there are so many barriers to break in acupuncture that it was really hard to choose which ones to talk about for this speech. But since I’ve spent so much time talking about classism as a barrier, I thought it might be fun to shift gears a little and talk about numbers.


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  1. I’ve been likening the clear-headed, rested feeling post-acunap to my experience having been hypnotized a few times in the past…

    I come out of an acunap with a calm energy and focus not attributable to anything as simple as the sleep i got, or the relaxed environment. It’s an amazing thing, a phenomenon that occurs over and over, and that I get to watch from the desk People who really understand that there’s something deeper going on during their community acupuncture appointments seem to crave that feeling as I used to, before I was getting tons of acu as a WCA employee.

    I remember that as a once-a-week patient at WCA-Cully, acupuncture was something I looked forward to all week, with the thought that, “everything will be okay by Wednesday, I have an acu appointment.” And low-and-behold it was! It was the calm mid-storm that let me keep going through to the end of the week in a crappy retail job, in a town where i knew almost nobody, in a city that, like so many other cities in the US and around the world, seems to be working against people accomplishing the needs of their everyday lives…

    Yay acu-naps!!!

  2. Thanks Lumiel, this is a good one to post on the front window of the clinic.