Why You Need to Try Community Acupuncture Now

Photo: Barefoot Clinic

Many people have heard about the benefits of acupuncture. But if you are looking for social change along with healing your ailment, CA is for you.

We’re all sick. And tired. Too much lip service, no real change.

Health care is still synonymous with health insurance and health insurance is still synonymous with
sickness. Our lives are still too fast paced, too high stress, too high impact.

Our imaginations know better and change is in the air, but we still have our bodies and minds to care for down here on the ground. And some of our bodies hurt. Our minds are scattered by all the interference. We’re feeling disconnected from care and disempowered. We yearn for a little peace. Accessible. Now.

There is good news. It IS here. Accessible. Now.

We’re in the midst of a quiet little revolution, brewing up some good old fashioned rest, relaxation and honest to goodness healing. It’s as near as your local Community Acupuncture (CA) clinic.

And you’re all more than welcome. In fact, you’re needed. Because without you, there IS no CA. It is you, your friends, your neighbors, sitting and sharing some healing space. It is people, like you, working to create that space. Because, like you, we want it too. And we happen to think that we all deserve it.

What It Is

CA is making its way around the country / Photo: {Guerrilla Futures | Jason Tester}

If you aren’t familiar with Community Acupuncture, you aren’t alone.

The movement is relatively new. I’m a newbie first year acupuncturist, and I first heard about it within the last year of school. In fact, I didn’t fully get it until a friend handed me the book Acupuncture Is Like Noodles. It’s sort of the manifesto for CA, written by the people who founded the first clinic, Working Class Acupuncture in Portland, Oregon.

Though written for an acupuncturist audience, it’s worth a read if you’re interested in learning more about the reasons and intentions behind the CA movement.

Because CA is definitely a movement. Beyond a clinic model, it is a simple and radical rethinking of what health care is and what it can be. With a few simple guiding principles, CA envisions how medicine can become more affordable, accessible, person and community centered, low impact and effective.

I’ll give a brief description of each, and hopefully encourage you to find a local clinic and check it out for yourself.

Affordability

It might seem crass to begin with money, but the negative impact of stress related to the economics of health care is a reality that can’t be overstated. If we can’t afford health care, then we can’t have health care. We might not even feel we deserve to be healthy, due to the psychology of economic classism. CA recognizes that treatment cost is a major barrier for many people.

In fact, it was founded specifically to address that problem. So we treat in a group setting. Treating more people at the same time allows us to lower our fees and make it an affordable option for many more people. The sliding scale for CA starts at $15 or $20, more than a third less than the typical private acupuncture session.

Person and Community Centered

Photo: Sarasota Community Acupuncture

Healing doesn’t occur in a vacuum. It is facilitated, usually by someone trained in the healing arts and sciences, but also by our interactions with the world.

It helps me to think of my role as a gardener; I might give the plants some food and water and tend the space where they grow, but the plants in the garden interact with and influence each other. When you walk into a room of blissed out people and sit with them, something is transmitted to you beyond any skill your acupuncturist has.

This is collective healing, and there are very few avenues for it in this modern culture of increasing isolation. CA is bringing this collectivism back to the forefront of our practice.

CA also extends into the greater community. CA acupuncturists tend to be activists by nature. We are drawn to it because we have this need to contribute something to the world around us, and that extends beyond our clinic walls. When the local Occupy encampment set up in Oakland, it didn’t take long for a free acupuncture tent to pop up alongside the medic tent.

Recently, there was a violent murder two blocks from my clinic. I offered free ear acupuncture treatments for trauma to the local neighbors impacted by the tragedy.

Clinics will variously offer local classes, events and deals for specific communities of interest. There is something about the intimacy of a collective healing space that fosters this kind of connectedness.

Accessibility

CA broadens the reach of acupuncture. CA is very much a movement with working class people in mind – people who might not be thinking about the esoteric nature of qi, but have stubborn back pain that makes it impossible to get through the day without suffering.

We want to reach beyond the culture of people who are naturally drawn to our medicine, and introduce it to every person who never thought of it, but desperately needs it. With the recent development of the People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture (POCA) cooperative, CA also seeks to expand clinics into underserved parts of the country, creating avenues for communities who desire affordable acupuncture to microfinance the creation of local clinics.

Low Impact

Even the army is using acupuncture to treat a variety of ailments, including PTSD. / Photo: Army Medicine

Acupuncture is a low impact medicine. And CA clinics require less space than the typical acupuncture practice. Since we treat in a group setting, all we really need are some needles and chairs. You can do it just about anywhere.

It is minimally invasive compared to the onslaught of pharmaceuticals, radiation, surgical procedures, and implants that are introduced to our bodies via modern medicine.

In CA we’re saying, “Hey, the body is assaulted every day with more sensory and chemical input than it can deal with. Let’s give it some quiet space AWAY from all of that. Let’s allow it to go inward and practice it’s own healing method. Come on in and see what it can do. We’ll provide the needles and chairs.”

Effective

Yep. Acupuncture is effective. And the more you receive it, the more effective it becomes. Effective for what? Pretty much anything, since acupuncture doesn’t heal the body, per se. Rather, it creates conditions for the body to heal itself.

But how does it work? To be honest, most acupuncturists don’t know much more about that than anyone else. We know it works because we see it work. Medical scientists are interested in examining why it works, but acupuncturists are more interested in giving treatments and seeing people feel better.

You might still want some proof. For that, I suggest that you try it and see for yourself. There is no greater proof than the way you feel after having a course of treatment and fortunately, CA gives lots more of you an opportunity to do so.

If you haven’t visited a CA clinic, please come on in and experience it for yourself. You can read more about CA and find a nifty clinic locator at www.pocacoop.com.

There’s a new documentary, Community Acupuncture: The Calmest Revolution Ever Staged, which you can view for free online.

Consider this your official invitation. You deserve it, and we can’t do it without you.

This story was posted on March 2 2012 by POCA Guest Blogger.

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