Thursday, February 15, 2018

Happy Year of the Earth Dog

Dog year is a time of fairness and equality. Controversial issues are given their due, revolutions are successful, politics are liberal, and political oppression is opposed. Justice and honesty are the values that lead to success during Dog year. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

This post is about a lot of things

South Austin Community Acupuncture's sign circa 2006

It has been some two years, three months, and two days since I last heralded the return of the blog. Well, look out! The blog is back again, again. So much has happened! I could probably while away the rest of my years just recounting what has transpired over the last few years.

I often marvel at the goings on around here, and not infrequently survey the whole mad glorious proceedings as a sort of parade of souls. I always thought it would be cool to have a time lapsed overhead view of the comings and goings in the day of a community acupuncture clinic. 

Likewise, I not infrequently marvel at the busyness and craziness of what might be going on related to running the clinic or doing some other acupuncture profession related endeavor in the front office, while in the treatment room, the sanctuary of a room full of people under the influence of acupuncture together is invariably maintained.

Today, the day I again (again) proclaim the return of the South Austin Community Acupuncture blog, is also Valentine's Day.

And so, a Happy Valentine's Day to all of you. 

We love you all, and thank you for your support over the years. Community acupuncture is community supported acupuncture, and we could not do what we do without your support. 


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Saturday, January 26, 2013

And for our next number...

Erica Chu
This week newly minted licensed acupuncturist Erica Chu makes her debut at the clinic!
We are considering the week of January 28th – Feb 1 a “soft” opening, if you will. We’ll officially embark on a new practitioner schedule the first full week of February. So please come on out and show Erica some love: Ask for her by name. Accept no substitutes.

Shift shapers
Along with bringing Erica onboard comes our biggest scheduling changes in a while:

Following in the footsteps of some the more bustling community acupuncture clinics around the country, we are making a few adjustments to how we do things around here

One, we are now scheduling on 10 minute increments. It often works out, with walk ins and such, that we wind up seeing more than four patients per hour anyway. So we are just formalizing this. To accomplish this, and to accommodate three practitioners, we had to have a very large custom schedule book printed. We’d like to see your name written in it.

Secondly, we are compressing some shifts: so where before a given practitioner might work 6 hours, we are squeezing that down to four in some instances. The idea behind all of this is to keep the treatment room full and your acupuncturist acupuncturing. That’s how this works best.

And last, we are expanding our hours here and there. Starting Feb. 4th, we will be open until 8pm Monday thru Thursday, and 10-4 Friday thru Sunday We will consider going later on Fridays if there is a demand. And likewise, we will eventually open earlier at some point...but for now 10am continues to feel mighty civilized to us, and works.

Keep an eye out around town for some nifty new patient coupons, and some groovy new posters and flyers. We’ve got an extraordinary team happening here, and look forward to spending some quality nap time with you in 2013.

Monday, October 1, 2012

There are all kinds of doors

My house in San Antonio when I was growing up had a very remarkable door.  And by “remarkable” I mean that very often people would ask me “Oh so you live in the house that has the six door knobs?”  That was us.  Tall, grey double doors that, because of their hexa-knobbiness, always made people pause as they approached it.  “Do I have to touch them in a certain order to make this thing open?”  What made it even better was that not a single one of the six knobs actually turned.  They were simply ornamentation.  I think people often tried turning one, then another and another, thinking surely one of them had to turn.  All the door needed was a little push.  So the knobs were simply there for aesthetics.

I make no bones about it: this temporary plywood door up at the clinic is completely lacking in aesthetics.   But the door is only part of the process.  Wanting to open it and come into the clinic; telling your friends and neighbors; participating in the community of qi--those are the the bigger parts.  The door is just one small piece of the representation of all that.  We find them apt metaphors because they slice out a plane of everything and indicate: things on this side of the door are like this, and things on the other side will be like that. 

The needles and cups and recliners and comfortable lighting and planetarium music and bespectacled acupuncturists are all still here in their proper places.  All those things that make this a door worth opening are still here.  And so once more, with feeling: we are open 7 days of week (regardless of what type of door we have up).

Saturday, September 29, 2012

In the hour of the wolf

Not to disparage wolves....but sometime in the wee hours of September 28th, our front door was smashed in; computer, money, and a camera taken. While painful certainly, I feel strangely less violated than when I have had my house ripped off in the past. Maybe it's because, although I am an owner, South Austin Community Acupuncture is a public place ultimately. That feels like a kind of buffer somehow. And so it becomes more a matter of just cleaning up the mess, piecing together data from a few days, and moving forward. It's unfortunate that this individual hit a business whose mission is to serve their fellow man, but so it is.
    I came home after a long day of cleaning up and tending to insurance and police reports and such, and I sat in my yard staring at a glorious Live Oak, my two canine companions cheerfully at my side, and the woman who is soon to be my wife. I counted my blessings. The inconveniences of the day a small thing comparatively. Whatever suffering is driving that individual to steal is greater than any suffering I have known. My very humble world is resplendent with little treasures of all kinds: the little purple flowers that open up on the fence line in the morning, the countless interactions with the many fine folks who come to us at South Austin Community Acupuncture with all manner of this and that, and on and on....every vantage point a place of beauty.
     And so today we are back, with a boarded up door that is not so much a thing of beauty at all. But we are here, same as we were the days before, ready to do what we love doing the most.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

What it is, and what it is not

Wally, the human acupuncturist here:
A conversation with a patient recently got me thinking about how, again, it is time to clarify what community acupuncture is and what we are doing here at South Austin Community Acupuncture.

Ironically, it is not uncommonly the patients who are more oriented towards a “holistic” approach to their health that kind of miss the point of community acupuncture. These people often speak a language that actually belies a very compartmentalized view of their bodies, and their lives. It is a linear language of inputs and outcomes - Can you put a needle in for my adrenals? - when in fact Chinese medicine would never conceive of any system of the body apart from the context of its relationship to other systems.

Some people exhibit an appetite for information about their bodies and place great value on things like multiple page computer generated workups provided by their alternative medicine provider, for example, but can’t really can’t wrap their brains around what is going on with acupuncture…much less community acupuncture. Perhaps they are seeking an exact and tidy solution to what ails them. And just as their lives and their bodies are not tidy and exact, neither is how acupuncture works (much less community acupuncture) - so maybe it’s hard for them to see how acupuncture could possibly offer a solution.

Or I’ve seen the disappointment when I do not put on airs of gleaning deep insight into a patient’s nature by touching their pulse. To me, when a patient asks me what their pulse tells me, they might as well be asking me what the sky tells me, because essentially what I am doing is observing the natural world. Maybe next time I will simply answer, “The sky is blue.” I don’t know what to say. Sometimes the pulse informs what I do or corroborates with a person’s symptoms, sometimes not. I find usually what is of relevance has been revealed by chatting briefly, or all has been revealed because it is mostly obvious.  And then there are the many times, heaven forbid, that I do not take the pulse at all. The effect of acupuncture, as far as I can tell, is no less for it.

Sometimes it’s the simple things that can make the biggest difference in a person’s life, and I have always admired Chinese medicine for the elegance of its simplicity. That is how I practice: simply.

Likewise, I have always admired Lisa Rohleder of Working Class Acupuncture and grand dame of the community acupuncture movement for her clarity in articulating simple truths about acupuncture and community acupuncture as a way of delivering acupuncture on a grand scale. Just as I was contemplating putting this blog together, I came across a recent piece of writing from Lisa. Of course she articulates what I am trying to say far better than I ever could.  Here is an excerpt:

“One of the big reasons that acupuncture is important and needed in Western society is that it’s not dualistic in the way that so much of our culture and our medicine is. We can talk about yin and yang, certainly, but yin and yang are not simply opposites. They’re the shady side of the hill and the sunny side of the hill, right? Just one hill, not cut in half or separated. In Western society we love to chop things up, especially in Western medicine. Acupuncture doesn’t do that, and that’s one reason we need it so badly.

One of the things that you learn pretty quickly when you are working in a community
acupuncture clinic, whether you are a punk in the treatment room or a receptionist at the front
desk, is that a lot of dualisms go right out the window. Health and illness are not these separate, distinct states -- you can see that in the people who come in to the clinic. Most people are on a continuum somewhere, making the best of it. You can also see that the mind and the body are not at all separate either. People’s mental states have enormous influence on their physical state, and vice versa. And of course, a lot of how the clinic is set up is to make the haves and the havenots less separate from each other. So instead of a lot of nice, neat, abstract categories, in a community acupuncture clinic, what you get is a lot of messy human life. (It’s great.)

I think that lack of dualism is a large part of why so many people feel that our clinic spaces are healing to them. Things that were cut apart get to grow back together, in peace. And everything doesn't have to be perfect before you can relax. You get to just relax anyway.

In Western medicine, there’s often a sense that the goal is to triumph over illness. To diagnose it and to beat it and to win. But so often in community acupuncture, we are treating people who are not going to triumph over whatever they have going on. Whether it’s a chronic condition, or it’s age, or it’s stress, or just some difficult aspect of life, there isn’t going to be any clear-cut victorious moment where you get to pop a bottle of champagne and say, Yay, we won! It’s not like that. In fact, even if you do “beat” one condition, then another one pops up, or somehow, the guy’s left knee still hurts for no reason you can figure out, or just when his shoulder pain was finally going away, he gets into ANOTHER bike accident and breaks his arm. A lot of what we do is to help people accept and work with whatever it is: stress, pain, disability, limitations, illness, terminal illness, loss. We encourage and support and accompany people in working with whatever it is that their lives have given them to work with. We try to get out of the way and let them connect with their own inner resources, their own source of healing -- which doesn’t mean that everything gets fixed.

Probably the main thing we are doing in community acupuncture is trying to give ordinary people a better quality of life. That’s not a dualistic undertaking, it’s not a win-lose kind of scenario. It’s creative and it’s hopeful and it emphasizes working with what you’ve got. And of course, it helps immensely that acupuncture itself almost always gives people more energy, better sleep, a lift in their mood, a reduction in their stress. Those are humble benefits but they are very important.”

So I am writing this because I want people to better understand what we do and also to clarify what we are not.

While we do practice a fair amount of Chinese herbal medicine here, at heart, what we do and what we are about is community acupuncture. We are not spa-like, or new-age, or fancy - and it is enough. We are not here to ply you with hundreds of dollars of supplements, or to exert our authority over every nuance of your life and health. What we do is pretty straight forward: acupuncture, herbs, some cupping as needed.

No Halo Ascension Infusions here…sorry.


Just as I finished writing this, I got taken for $10 by a Reiki master who then proceeded to ask the death knoll question after her first visit, “What is your slowest time?” No shit. 

We are a community acupuncture clinic. We put it on the line every day to make acupuncture affordable and accessible to as many people as possible. If you get what we do, you do not want us to ever have a slow time. This is my mission, and I’d like to you to make it yours. Community acupuncture is community supported acupuncture, and it is only with the enthusiastic support of the community that we can make this gloriously unruly thing happen. Keep South Austin Community Acupuncture busy. Or, how about:
Keep South Austin Community Acupuncture weirdly busy.