Many of us come to this medicine to contribute to deep wellness in our communities.
We may want to do more than simply execute protocols that remove pain. We may feel in our hearts that we want to do more than help a person run that next marathon. To go beyond the noble goal of simply lifting suffering from a single human being. Don’t get me wrong, we’re here to do those things – to do them in spades.
But, if you’re like me, you’re here because you believe that alleviation of suffering will do some Good beyond. That helping the individual does more than help the individual. That a society of people free of pain, of disorder, of addiction, of the ravages of chronic disease will come together in harmony. That by helping people, you’re allowing them to be their best selves – to contribute in whatever ways they can. And, yeah, that may involve the important steps of alleviating pain, getting them through their first marathon, and so on. Of course!
It’s not just the work that we do, it’s also what we teach
Not just us, of course, but all kinds of practitioners – those of healing arts and beyond. As we teach people different ways of conceptualizing themselves and their relationships, we do a particular type of good. There are few things more delightful than when a patient, having learned a certain bit of theory in Chiense medicine, uses that to solve a problem or make a new decision that gets them closer to wellness.
Diving deep into the medicine that we are taught for ourselves, too, is part of it
Hearing its deeper truths, the things it says to us from the mouths of our teachers, and their teachers, and the greatest teacher – Nature. Abiding by that, not in lockstep to some preconceived ideology of course (that’s not the Dao, as it’s said) but striving to get closer to integration ourselves. Doing this work in the treatment room, in our teaching, in our personal lives – all are critical.
My work in the treatment room is primarily about integration
Helping the seemingly disparate parts of a person come together. One day they can’t imagine that the softness and kindness they have in their heart can ever find a home in the same body with pain, and anger and confusion. And, though my patients and I don’t actually talk about it that much, day by day the bits and pieces start to resonate. There starts to emerge music – full throated and pure – sometimes just a trickle before they move on from my practice. But true, powerful.
Your work in the treatment room may be different. You may find other ways to chip away at the filth that the worst parts of our society heap on people. There are so many ways to do it. I’m not here to say that one way is better than another.
But, I do want to call on you to do this work, overtly
To find that place that hurts in you and lean into it. To see what it has to teach you. To learn those lessons, and then to use them. To use them to lift others up – to help them lay bare their own wounds, to own them, to make peace with them and finally “transcend and include” what they teach.
You may be the one to turn someone’s heart from hate
To allow someone to have a conversation with a family member that changes points of view. You may be the one to remind someone that the poison in their heart need not consume them. That the worthlessness they feel is a lie. Lots of medicine can do that, of course, but this medicine is mine. This is my weapon of choice, my fulcrum.
There are more obvious things you can do in these times of terror as well
You can get trauma training through an organization like Acupuncturists Without Borders and then use those skills in the unfortunate event that disaster strikes. You can work with organizations seeking to bring our medicine to people on the margins like People’s Organization of Community Acupuncture. You can pay attention to what people like Liberation Acupuncture are saying. You can make your practice an open and welcoming place to people that need you, even if it makes you uncomfortable. Not because you’re obligated, but because it’s the truest expression of holism.
Holism as a philosophy demands that we see the integrations
The way that things fit together to create something bigger than ourselves. All of us are needed, human and not. We are needed, because the interactions between us are what create the fabric of this world. You may not see it every day, you may even seem to see counter-examples, but I humbly request you try to see beyond them. What do even the people who hate us have to teach? What do they point out and make us see? It’s simpler to look away, to pretend at isolation. But holism, I think, demands that we do more.
Today, I recommit myself to working for liberation through all of the work I do, and everything I am
For LGBT people. For black and brown people. For the poor and forgotten. For immigrants, documented and undocumented. For people who are not lucky enough to be born in places where clean water and streets (mostly) free of gunfire are commonplace. For people who have belief systems that make them targets. And ultimately, in doing so, I fight for the liberation of everyone – even those who hold the greatest power on Earth. Because even they are subject to decay, disease, fear, dismay, death.
There can be no greater world than one where everybody has the chance to see what they are made of, without restrictions, without fighting against obstacles that aren’t there naturally as part of being mortal. That beautiful image is what I work for every day.
Thank you for being part of it.