(This is only one CAP’s outlook on the development of a practice, but perhaps someone out there will resonate with it?)
I make sure I have fewer credit cards, fewer memberships in anything, fewer places I have to go, fewer folks I have to write to.I’m learning to do this in order to conserve my time and energy, and allow me to focus on what’s (and who is) really important.Life is too short to fritter away my time and Qi on whims and people-pleasing.When I decided to begin this process a couple of years ago, I imagined I’d end up in a sort of austere Zen garden of sorts in my life.Instead, nothing seems to have changed on the surface, and but somehow in the process of learning to say “No” to many things and people,I find myself in an inner environment that feels more tranquil and rich.
I’m glad I decided to take this path, because it seems to reflect positively on my practice and my self-confidence.I’ve felt the patient traffic increase gradually.When regulars go away for weeks, new folks come in to take their place.I’ve not been marketing but somehow the “ripples” are still moving, and folks find this clinic either through friends or the internet.When the numbers drop, it’s always because I can’t be there for that many people, for one reason or another.In trying to be more honest with myself, I find it easier to be very direct with new patients when they come in.Not all of them get it that I really do want them to get well, but most do.They come in with hope, and most come when they have a really acute, bothersome problem.So I tell them to come in as often as they can for the first few weeks, then scale down to once or twice a week.
I often remember things that Lisa said about boundaries she draws with patients.She’s learned just where those boundaries are, and she’s clear about them.So she stopped having Patients from Hell a long time ago.At one time I wondered if I could learn that, and now it feels like it’s coming together!!Getting to this stage (and there are many more ahead, I realize) wasn’t easy, but it came gradually as I got clearer with my own life.I couldn’t tell anyone how to do this.I just remember that I used to waste a lot of time and energy trying to resolve inner conflicts brought up by situations where I spoke or acted in a way that wasn’t in accord with my deepest beliefs, some so deep that I was barely aware of them, they’d been so effectively covered over by social conditioning.
I step back now and see the clinic as a manifestation of my life and my beliefs, and I see how I created this, and how I can create even more.Just because I started with a vision and stayed with that vision until it manifested doesn’t mean that it was easy.I had many lessons along the way, some business-oriented but mostly heart-oriented.What was easy was thatin every step of that journey I could look inside and feel good about the path I had chosen, and know that I wasn’t pretending or lying about what I wanted or needed or intended.
This journey hasn’t been so much about building a business as about finding my life’s work in my heart.
My practice hasn’t grown spectacularly as some of the other newer clinics, God Bless ‘Em, they are doing such good work!It’s more a reflection of my personal growth, so I am not dissatisfied with it, small as it is.I’m laying the groundwork for a bigger, faster-growing practice.I want to do that and at the same time keep the clinic, the ground rules, the systems, and my personal life simple and uncluttered.This is what I want to offer patients who come for healing.
Some do come in with long lists of medications or symptoms and complaints and official diagnoses.These may seem very impressive to them, but I try to reduce everything to a simple approach that will either get them out of pain or ease their mind and give them a restful, rejuvenating session.Some want to talk and talk, but my message is always the same: relax and listen to your body.It knows what to do with these needles and will take care of the most important things first.Have patience and allow your body to self-correct, in the time it needs for healing.They also learn to expect the unexpected, and to flow with it.No one can predict what will happen in a session, even the acupuncturist.
Just being there for them, and holding that healing space for them, as Lisa envisions, is probably the most important thing I do.If I see something besides acupuncture that will make a big difference for them, I’ll find a way to squeeze it briefly into our sessions, like dietary tips or muscle release techniques.
Most of it is focused on the acupuncture and the stillness they create in the clinic.THEY create this sacred space, and I patrol the borders, keeping out unnecessary noise and disturbance if I can.
Next week I move my reception and waiting room into a separate unit, so that the treatment area will be even quieter.I’ll be moving through the room more frequently to check on individual patients, so there’ll be more walking around on my part, but less paper rustling and cupboard door opening and closing.And folks will be able to speak in normal tones in the other room.I’m excited about this change and hope folks will like it.
Here’s a quote from a new patient who came in yesterday.(Isn’t that great?That’s another reason we love our patients!)
“You’re only as dysfunctional as the secrets you’re keeping.”