All over the United States Community Acupuncture is popping up in urban and suburban neighborhoods. The concept is that, in order to keep the treatment affordable and make it available to more people, it is done in a community treatment setting. For instance today was my 4th visit and my treatment was in a 5 station room with 3 other patients. Everyone comes and goes and you choose your station (either a recliner or a massage table) and sit to wait your turn for treatment. A licensed practitioner comes into the room every 10 to 15 minutes, places needles in newcomers after a brief chat, removed needles for those ready to leave, and just checks on the various patients.
It is a lovely concept and I both adore the practitioner I’ve seen and the setting. I love that I see people from all walks of life come in for a variety of healing treatments. I love that I can pay at the high end of the “sliding scale” to help make treatment possible for others. It feels like something I can do for the community while getting excellent care for some pain issues and anxiety that I’m dealing with. It’s a win win!!
And just when I think I get what community means…because man do we toss that word around in faith-based circles a lot these days…I experienced it in a new, heart-opening way.
A man came in who was obviously dealing with major pain. He struggled through the needle placement. After the practitioner left the room, the man’s breathing was labored and he wept. I was having a really crazy-brain kind of day and could not fully relax, so I started praying and silently offering him lovingkindness from across the room…even subtly moving my fingers in his direction without lifting my arm (partly because it had 5 needles in it). I imagined in my mind that I could move some of my health and calm(er?) energy out of my chest in circles that moved towards him like a stone dropping into a clear, still pool of water. I asked God to give him respite from his pain.
Let’s be honest…I’m “woo woo” about mysticism and believe that all of us and everything around us are made up of God energy. I believe that is what “In Him we live, and move, and have our being” means. But I am also not SO “woo woo” that I’m some sort of energy practitioner and know how to send my energy to this man. But I figured…what could it hurt? After about 10 minutes the man’s breathing settled and he fell asleep…soundly (like he started SNORING soundly). And then so did I (which quite frankly being REALLY honest the naps are my favorite thing about acupuncture).
As fate (or whatever) would have it, another woman and I were leaving about the same time and as we walked out onto the sidewalk she said “That was impression how you put that man to sleep with your energy” I was STUNNED and stammered, “How did you know I was doing that?” To which she responded with a laugh, “I saw your fingers moving and realized what you were doing. And when I started paying attention I could practically feel energy coming off of you…kind of like waves from your chest. It was a nice thing to do since I imagine you aren’t coming in here to get poked with needles for fun. May God repay your kindness.”
I smiled and wished her a lovely day. Then I climbed into my Jeep and cried. I cried because I was so surprised. I cried because I don’t understand it. I cried because I think I gave away a little of my energy and it made me weepy. I cried because the world is so damned mysterious and when we act as though we have it all figured out, we should probably sit down, shut up, and listen! I cried because in that moment God repaid me…as a matter of fact God overpaid!
That man weeping and vulnerable on the table…he shared community.
The gentle practitioner making less money than she can make in private practice…she embodied community.
My giving that man my energy…that was a community moment.
And the woman making sure to call it out to me and offering a blessing…she spoke community.