Time on airplanes and holiday festivities that include people I have never met inevitably leads to an array of clishmaclaver, and the dreaded question "So, what do you do?" It's a deceptively simple question that I hesitantly answer with "I'm an acupuncturist ....and a yoga teacher," with a resigned assent to my own statement, because it falls incredibly short of explaining what I actually do. This is usually followed with the person I'm conversing with telling me how he/she is also a reiki "master" or how a friend or relative is also a yoga teacher and maybe we could meet some time, and then all the possible health concerns they can vomit out, and how their body is so stiff they can't do yoga, and then some reference to an episode of "Grey's Anatomy" or "Sex and the City" when the acupuncturist told the client to relax and think peaceful thoughts and then left the room for 20 minutes. This couldn't be a more flagrant misrepresentation of my profession or how I fill my time, but the task of redefining what it means to practice Chinese Medicine and teach yoga seems insurmountable and momentarily overwhelming.
The common ideas about acupuncture and yoga aren't totally inaccurate in the health industry so I can't really fault anyone for these perceptions. I've seen and heard of acupuncturists who are inattentive with time, words and energy and I've certainly been to yoga classes from time to time that are simply physical fitness classes no matter how they are disguised. But that is not all that's out there. Some Acupuncturists do much more than throwing a few needles in and telling their clients to relax, and some yoga teachers guide students to do more than open their hips or engage their core. Some health practitioners (and I would put myself in this category) are using these different modalities to help others truly understand and get to know their deepest, kindest nature. The body is just one part of this whole system of who we are, and this intricate web of humanity includes habitual thoughts, emotions, life force/Qi and our spirit. So I think for many of us these professional labels do not represent the truth of what I and many others like me actually do for a living. Not only that, but for me this is a life PRACTICE, not just what I do or who I'm being for the office or studio. It's not just my profession. When we get to know this benevolent side of ourselves, it naturally ripples out to every part of our life and to all those we connect with.
I would love to share what I do and how I live but not cringe at the thought of having to say it. And though it often feels like a difficult task, I think it's time, more than ever, to re-frame what it means to be an acupuncturist/healer/yoga teacher in the world today and try my best to offer the full scope of what I do. It may take time and patience but I'm willing to try harder, to change the conversation, to revive understanding and acceptance, and I'm starting right here with you.
Happy New Year!!!!