This Community Thing.

Austria has no separate acupuncture profession, as the only people legally allowed to poke people are MDs. Period. I know nothing about their training, but one lady I treated (in Millstatt, south Austria, deep in the country) said that years ago she had been acupunctured by a doc who did local points for her neck. It didn’t help her, she said. One treatment with me using only hand points on one side, and she became an addict. She wanted to return the next day. We had been waking for in this beautiful farmhouse, eating less than day-old eggs and grass-fed milk for breakfast, touring the town’s monasteries and chapels afterwards, then spending the afternoon swimming and sunbathing at the town nude beach. Oh yes, and in the evenings the cuckoo calling from the woods. Ahhhh. But back to the acupuncture. She could only come twice, but this experience convinced her that she didn’t need to bow to medical exhortations to use surgery for relief.

About community. One afternoon found me treating eight people in the living room of our friends in Austria. Most had never had acupuncture before, but they were in various stages of spinal pain and restriction as well as fatigue. These people all knew each other. Four were two married couples. Some spoke English well and some spoke only a little English. My German consisted of a few phrases I’d carefully learned in case I met someone new. Our hostess translated as the session progressed. Finally, only one person remained to be treated, and he was standing hesitantly off to the side. He asked if I could treat him with acupressure. I explained that in a group situation, it was not easily done. His friends asked if he was afraid of needles. He politely declined any further involvement.

I think that the whole group felt the awkwardness of his refusal, and a slight unease settled over us, until his wife, lying on the couch, finally “outed” him by explaining that he saw that everyone had pulled up their pant legs for the needles, and he was unwilling to reveal his legs because he was ashamed of them. Immediately the entire group turned to him and compassionately asked for an explanation. This poor soul had to tell them; they were so loving and concerned, and when he explained that he had foolishly gotten tattoos all over his limbs as a young man (one was Brigit Bardot), everyone was relieved. Then we saw that his arms were scarred from the tattoo removal process. What followed was a discussion about the current popularity of tattoos with the “young people” and how “cool” it had become. When someone made the comment about every person carrying tattoos from the past with us, some of them mental, he agreed to get acupuncture. He took a chair, rolled up his pants, and got needled. Thus everyone got treated, tea was served, conversation was light and cheerful. What we didn’t know is that afterwards, the man with the tattoos wept on the hostess’ shoulder with relief that this burden he had carried for most of his life had finally been lifted.

Alone with this patient, I would never have been able to do what his community of friends did for him in that room.

Author: lumiel

I earned a B.A. in Hotel/Restaurant Admin, but soon realized that I wanted to do something more meaningful.  Became interested in nutrition and education when pregnant with my first child. Interest in health led me to becoming a foot reflexologist, which led to a massage practice and suddenly discovering the love of my life: Chinese medicine! Practicing for 18 years, Hawaiian/Californian, acu-educated PCOM San Diego/OCOM Portland. Started my CAP in <a href="" target="_blank">San Rafael</a>, Marin County, July 4, 2006, even while earning my doctorate at OCOM.  This didn't seem to make sense, but it was my way of comparing the old way of practicing acupuncture to a simpler, truer expression of what I had learned in school.  I love it. And I love being a part of this grand movement to change the world by being true to our conscience. Reopened all over again when I moved to a place where no one had ever heard of me. 3 months open so far, and just beginning to meet expenses. I have no doubt this will succeed and I will be hiring by next year.

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  1. wonderful story

    Hi Lumiel,

    Beautiful story. Recently, I watched a movie called “A Crude Awakening” about Peak Oil. I started to try to think of how human beings will adapt to life after the oil crash. Any difficulty is always a lot easier when it is shared with others. Strengthening community is such an important role of the CAN style clinics.



    “Consciously restrain your mind from recollecting the past or anticipating, fearing, or hoping about the future. Simply focus on the present moment and do not allow your mind to chase after external objects or events. Do not objectify things, but rat