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Acupuncture, Coffee, & Kindness

Updated: Jul 8, 2023

Today a young woman gave me a coffee on the house. There was no reason, no real conversation exchanged. Just a “Please, can I have your darkest roast?” and “Here you go. Don’t worry about it.”

I was so grateful. Not because I didn’t have the money to pay for the coffee, but because I so needed the reminder that small acts of kindness, the still but enduring rock of our humanity, does still exist.

Medicine is so much more than reviewing vitals, balancing prescription cocktails, and relaying basic information on dietary guidance. It’s more than five-minute interventions. We all seek health, whether we mean to or not. We all wish to feel better, stronger, more capable, more balanced – even if we aren’t ready to take the steps towards that aspiration, or are afraid of the road to get to who we wish to become. We want closer, more loving relationships. We want to eat, and enjoy every bite without worry. We want to wake ready, excited at the prospects the day ahead holds. This, too, is health.

Health is not about our bodies. Our bodies are simply superficial manifestations of a deeper struggle. Health is about building the confidence and mindset to gracefully accept and navigate whatever challenges may come our way. And health, too, is about relaying kindness to the people, however heartbroken and ill, may cross our path.

Sometimes the people I see are angry. They are sharp and push me away. They walk into my office wanting miracles. They leave in a huff of gray smoke trailing behind them. Despite the barbed prickles around them and little storm clouds above them, my only job in the conversation is to hold space. To accept them for who they are, right here and right now in their journey. My only goal is firm but gentle kindness. I want them to understand that the world is not really so rough as they’ve been taught. There are indeed miracles to be had with acupuncture. But the true miracle is the honest and wholehearted commitment to themselves, and the grace to eventually open their hearts to the same world that hurt them.

I know I’m on the right path as an acupuncturist when someone returns after a treatment and admits that they need help, and signed up for a support group. Or they decided that it was time to start cooking for themselves. They bought sweet potatoes and brown rice. Maybe they decided that they needed prescription medication, and they made an appointment with a psychiatrist. They started writing, or drawing, or dancing again. Or they finally decided enough was enough, and cut a certain someone from their lives for good.

And after these choices are made, their body starts to shift from its slumber. The gift my patients give me is to be witness to this beautiful and natural wonder happening before me. Their slow, gentle return to humanity, kindness, and compassion is their way towards health.

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