Practice, Practice, Practice…

Throughout my childhood I found myself observing or participating in art classes on a regular basis. For over twenty years my father taught drawing, painting, and color theory at the local art college and in private classes. Many of these classes were held in the evenings and as a young high school student that gave me the opportunity to spend time in town with friends or skateboard before driving 20 miles back to our rural home. Sometimes, though, at the end of one of these evenings, I would hangout in my dad’s classroom and, out of interest, participate in some of the class exercises. From these many experiences one particular exercise that my dad taught still stands out in my mind due its mix of challenge, fun, and fright. The exercise is simple. My dad would “loosen up the class and get the creative juices flowing” by asking people to draw or paint a complete picture, with all necessary details, color, and shading, in one minute. Further, students would repeat this exercise ten times in ten minutes and then basically have a small art show at the end to show for their effort.

 

My dad discovered that when students work in this way they go through most of the same emotions that he goes through to complete any piece of art, just that all of these emotions that come up in the creative process are condensed into one minute. First, students are overwhelmed and a little excited to begin a new project, second, they are scared and frustrated that they have to create a whole piece of art in a short amount of time, third, they are either determined to push through and make it happen or feel stuck from fear of failure and have a very hard time starting the work at all. Fourth, there is the experience of being cut off in the middle of working once the minute is over, which seemed to bring up mixed emotions depending on the individual student.

 

This intense focus for short periods of time is both potentially emotionally exhausting and eventually, with lots of practice, energizing due to the various emotional walls that come up and are pushed through while making decisions in such quick succession due to the one minute time limit. After the first picture is completed, many students would begin to slow down and take a breath when they suddenly remember that they have to continue with the same process nine more times before the exercise is over. After a few seconds of frantic preparation, students once again go through the whole process of creating a complete picture until the exercise is over. Around the third minute mark I would often notice a kind of meditative hum of focused action throughout the art class.

 

Once the ten minutes and ten drawings or paintings are complete, there is a collective pause and moment of calm reflection on what just happened. After the paintings are displayed and people start milling about the room there is a mix of pride and embarrassment as people see what they and others created. The sense of pride, however small, gained from decisive action in the midst of time pressure is briefly discussed in class, and students are acknowledged for completing the exercise in whatever form they could.

 

I could always tell the students that had done the one minute exercise in previous classes because those students were quick to get to work without first going through obvious emotional pause and preparation. Also, students familiar with the exercise tended to have more completed works by the end and more consistently powerful strokes in the images they created. One thing that struck me in these exercises was that some very accomplished artists who completed the exercise had a hard time with it, which I had not anticipated. I suppose it potentially showed that working quickly is not a good fit for all people, or that those unaccustomed to a quick pace would struggle more at first and eventually prevail.

 

Creating one minute drawings or paintings is similar to providing community acupuncture (CA) treatments in five or ten minute increments because in each discipline the practitioner gets to the creative essence or flow state of an activity by making critical decisions under time pressure. In my experience, this time pressure encourages a clear goal oriented focus coupled with a personalized approach that becomes increasingly more effective and efficient through practice. As you participate in the art class exercise you get more comfortable with developing the structure of your drawing or painting quickly and effectively. It is always a challenging exercise due to the time constraint, yet the results tends to get increasingly bold, clear, goal oriented and powerful in proportion to the students’ familiarity with the exercise.

 

A similar process of refinement through practice happens in practicing CA. Over time a community acupuncture practitioner (CAP) develops efficiency of diagnostic skill and eventually an intake with a new patient becomes shorter due to this refined skill level. CA practitioners assess which questions and orientation information are most relevant to a new patient from how the patient holds themselves, their tone of voice, the level of animation in their bodies, and how they interact with their environment. This refinement of assessment skills is of course true for all types of acupuncturists, yet CA provides a unique venue for quick development of these types of practitioner skills. Treating a high volume of patients each day translates into encountering and pushing through unfamiliar practitioner/ patient experiences often, which in turn forces the CA practitioner to develop his or her communication skills rapidly.

 

My dad was fond of relating that art was something you had to do in a state of mind where you set your expectations and personal boundaries for expression aside for the moment and just create. When in a purely creative state of mind, one performs in ways one might never believe possible by allowing the experience to happen without getting carried away by judgment or by fear of failure. When you allow yourself to do something without projecting judgment about your ability to achieve that goal, you step into a place of power and efficiently guide your hopes and intentions through your actions as you create.

 

Your first ever one minute drawing may look anywhere from unrecognizable to ok to great, yet, as you practice over and over again your lines on the canvas or paper become more steady and you develop a confidence and power in your efficiency. As genuine confidence builds the result in your experience is a power and life that begins to show in the images. Eventually, a one minute drawing becomes a relatively smooth and stable endeavor, with natural pacing amid careful efficiency. With practice, you find that you don’t need a whole minute to get the basic scene drawn, and that you start filling in more and more details in that same period of time.

 

In the same way that the impressionist painting style creates a sense of aliveness in the images portrayed, without relying heavily on realist detail, the CA practitioner creates simple yet powerful acupuncture treatments in a short period of time. Impressionism struck a cord with my father. He draws and paints quickly, with determined strokes and when I watch him work I see a blur of lines and movement and then suddenly the energy or impression of the scene or subject emerges. My dad feels comfortable using only enough lines to get the job done and occasionally comments to his students that you can “over-paint” a painting and ruin the effectiveness of portraying the energy of the environment you are looking at through adding excess detail.

 

Just as my father’s art students learned to create impressive works of art in one minute, CA practitioners can learn to treat patients powerfully and efficiently in 5 to 15 minute interactions.Treating patients with this style of acupuncture is a skill that can be developed.It is simply a matter of having a passion for this type of business model and the perseverance to practice, practice, practice…

 

- Moses

 

P.S. Anyone interested in seeing my dad’s paintings can visit his website at www.toadrock.com

This story was posted on April 4 2008 by Moses.C.

Comments

  • April 4 2008 at 12:36 PM
    MattGulbransen writes:

    Bloody Brilliant!  This is

    Bloody Brilliant!  This is pretty much what I was trying to say before about “speeding up to slow down”, but with a very poignant and elegant metaphor.  I’ve been wondering if it would be possible to do a similar exercise at acu schools, no needling of course, no one wants a newbie “speed needling” them, but maybe timed treatment plans. . . 

      0 likes
  • April 4 2008 at 5:51 PM
    Nora writes:

    Yeah!  Good stuff Moses. 

    Yeah!  Good stuff Moses.  Makes me want to do some speed painting before starting an acu shift (or just whenever, for fun).  I liked the point you made about people who had done this exercise before, and how they were more able to quickly get into that “flow” mindset, and how that holds true for acupunctursists as well.  Like painting with needles, eh?

    P.S. I love your Dad’s website (has he read “Proust Was a Neuroscientist”?  I think he’d like the chapter on Cezanne).

     

     

      0 likes
  • April 4 2008 at 7:16 PM
    bonnyrhoads writes:

    Way cool Moses!

    Thank you so much for this - you’ve given me something really tangible to reach for - its inspiring.!  All the best, Bonny

      0 likes
  • April 4 2008 at 10:15 PM
    andy wegman writes:

    Nicely done, Moses…

     
    ...a thoroughly satisfying blog post, for sho’.  

     

      0 likes
  • April 4 2008 at 10:57 PM
    lumiel writes:

    Awesome post, Mose.

    I intend to print this out and carry it around for a few days.  Thanks.

    Lumiel

      0 likes
  • April 5 2008 at 6:19 PM
    Guest writes:

    I can relate

    in two ways - as a CAP and as a water colorist.  I like the loose, floaty style of watercolor so I’m all over this.  Thanks a lot, Moses.  I love how you wove this all together.  Ann

      0 likes
  • April 6 2008 at 12:23 AM
    River Jordan writes:

    flow

    Okay, response in one minute or less. Life is movement. Movement is life. That’s where the learning happens. Thanks for sharing this Moses. I loved your dads paintings. I want to bring more of the spirit of his landscapes into my needling. Time! Jordan

     

    Cynicism is a smokescreen for laziness and fear. Clear light mind awaken! Pierce through all layers of doubt and delusion! Inspire me onwards in ceaseless waves of selfless activity.

      0 likes
  • April 6 2008 at 12:24 AM
    River Jordan writes:

    cheating….15 more seconds

    Of course, there is something to be said for slowing down, resting, between the periods of intense movement. 

    Cynicism is a smokescreen for laziness and fear. Clear light mind awaken! Pierce through all layers of doubt and delusion! Inspire me onwards in ceaseless waves of selfless activity.

      0 likes
  • April 30 2008 at 9:48 PM
    Moses.C writes:

    practice, practice, practice…

    Thank you all for the comments.

    I am becoming more clear about how some of the acupuncturists I observed with in China were able to treat 50 to 80 patients daily and still have plenty of energy at the end of each week. Also, my dad read this post recently and is tickled that some of the lessons from his art classes have a chance to live on in CA.

    Moses

      0 likes

Add your 2 cents!

You must be logged in to comment on the blog.


Who Likes This:

-- placeholder --

Who's been POCAing lately.

  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'POCAfest Marin Keynote: Chronic Pain and Endurance, by Jeff Levin of SOAP' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, October 16, 2019
  • Paxcow commented on the blog post 'POCAfest Marin Keynote: Chronic Pain and Endurance, by Jeff Levin of SOAP' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, October 09, 2019
  • swiggs commented on the blog post 'POCAfest Marin Keynote: Chronic Pain and Endurance, by Jeff Levin of SOAP' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, October 09, 2019
  • ChrisRogers commented on the blog post 'POCAfest Marin Keynote: Chronic Pain and Endurance, by Jeff Levin of SOAP' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, October 03, 2019
  • ewolfk commented on the blog post 'Come to Marin POCAfest September 27-29!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, August 16, 2019
  • urbanapuncture commented on the blog post 'YOUR COMMENTS, PLEASE!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, August 15, 2019
  • crismonteiro commented on the blog post 'YOUR COMMENTS, PLEASE!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, August 13, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'YOUR COMMENTS, PLEASE!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, August 13, 2019
  • catemax commented on the blog post 'Dear Prospective Punk (from a Recent Grad and New Punk), or Why We Need POCA Tech' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, July 26, 2019
  • joanneo commented on the blog post 'Cohort 3 Graduation Speech by Jess Long' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, July 08, 2019
  • Bob W commented on the blog post 'Cohort 3 Graduation Speech by Jess Long' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, July 02, 2019
  • melissa commented on the blog post 'Cohort 3 Graduation Speech by Jess Long' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, July 01, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, June 26, 2019
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, June 25, 2019
  • melissalac commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, June 25, 2019
  • zedmunds commented on the blog post 'Keynote POCA Fest Milwaukee May 2019 -- ALL EARS!!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 20, 2019
  • engerin commented on the blog post 'Student Circle at POCA Tech -- Guest Post by Shelby and Sonya' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 20, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, June 17, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'The Vows of Hua Tuo and Sun Si Miao..Actually Carried Out' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, June 14, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 13, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 13, 2019
  • Presence_CA commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, June 10, 2019
  • Presence_CA commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, June 10, 2019
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, June 07, 2019
  • teatree commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, June 07, 2019
  • teatree commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, June 07, 2019
  • janisx commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 06, 2019
  • janisx commented on the blog post 'Acupuncturists As Endangered Species' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 06, 2019
  • swiggs commented on the blog post 'A Successful May Membership Drive!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, June 06, 2019
  • Arene commented on the blog post 'A Successful May Membership Drive!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, June 04, 2019
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'A Successful May Membership Drive!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, June 04, 2019
  • Paxcow commented on the blog post 'A Successful May Membership Drive!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, June 04, 2019
  • Cynthia Marie commented on the blog post 'Why more punks in more places…' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, May 29, 2019
  • swiggs commented on the blog post 'Why more punks in more places…' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, May 24, 2019
  • Bob W commented on the blog post 'Why more punks in more places…' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, May 22, 2019
  • mcandela55 commented on the blog post 'Keynote POCA Fest Milwaukee May 2019 -- ALL EARS!!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, May 22, 2019
  • Laura commented on the blog post 'I Am Closing My Clinic -- Guest Post by Michelle Rivers' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, May 21, 2019
  • Laura commented on the blog post 'Keynote POCA Fest Milwaukee May 2019 -- ALL EARS!!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, May 20, 2019
  • Paxcow commented on the blog post 'Keynote POCA Fest Milwaukee May 2019 -- ALL EARS!!!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, May 20, 2019
  • crismonteiro commented on the blog post 'The Vows of Hua Tuo and Sun Si Miao..Actually Carried Out' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, May 13, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'The Vows of Hua Tuo and Sun Si Miao..Actually Carried Out' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, May 08, 2019
  • Paxcow commented on the blog post 'The Vows of Hua Tuo and Sun Si Miao..Actually Carried Out' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, May 06, 2019
  • Lisafer commented on the blog post 'Toward a Culture of Safety: Part 4, AERD as Relationship Management' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, April 29, 2019
  • ellengrover commented on the blog post 'Toward a Culture of Safety: Part 4, AERD as Relationship Management' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Saturday, April 27, 2019
  • ewolfk commented on the blog post 'Toward a Culture of Safety, Part 1' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Friday, April 12, 2019
  • Paxcow commented on the blog post 'All Ears!' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Thursday, March 28, 2019
  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'New POCA Tech FAQs' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, March 13, 2019
  • urbanapuncture commented on the blog post 'Fatphobia Part 3: Some Thoughts about Diet Culture and Talking to Patients' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Wednesday, March 13, 2019
  • Roppy commented on the blog post 'The Acupuncture Profession has 99 problems, but NADA ain’t one of them.' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Tuesday, March 12, 2019
  • OpenSourceEverything commented on the blog post 'Open Sourcing Modern Acupuncture, Part Two: Trouble' in the blog 'Prick Prod and Provoke Blog' - Monday, March 11, 2019