A moment to breath...
Articles on acupuncture, health, life, and some actionable steps we can take...
The desire of my practice is to honor the ancient traditions of the people I have been so fortunate as to learn from. I am deeply grateful and indebted to East Asian medicine, and I desire to honor their peoples, lands, cultures, histories, knowledge, and skills. When I ere in these efforts, may I quickly realize, acknowledge, and pursue greater understanding to prevent such ere from occurring again.
I acknowledge that acupuncture and Chinese medicine, sometimes referred to as East Asian medicine, is the medicine of the various tribes and people of China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, and other lands and people of Asia. I acknowledge that Chinese medicine is several thousand years old, and is likely a branch of the over 5,000 year old medicine of India, Ayurvedic medicine. We must always acknowledge and honor the original people and practitioners of this medicine. We must consider how native practitioners of the medicine are helped or hindered by the advancement of acupuncture in the U.S. How do we honor their degrees in Chinese medicine, earned in China? How do our efforts for responsible regulations support or hinder their businesses? When are we harming their lineage through cultural appropriation rather than doing our part to continue and respect their native medicine?
My particular style of acupuncture and approach is heavily based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, with many influences by Japanese acupuncture, moxibustion, and massage lineages. My foundation is in TCM, but is heavily influenced by Shiatsu massage, and the gentle techniques of Japanese acupuncture and moxibustion styles. I hope to continue my study of Shonihari to better honor the medicine and improve my practice.
The standardized version of Chinese medicine, called TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), was set by Mao Zedong in his attempt to make medicine available to all people in China. Western medicines were too expensive to make available to all at that time, and he realized they had access to an incredible medicine of their own. Prior to this standardized version, Chinese medicine was practiced and taught by scholar families. The knowledge was esoteric and mostly reserved for the wealthy. The variety of styles, and the specific use and application of various herbal formulas, were often proprietary secrets of particular families, passed down from Master to apprentice for generations. Many of these families were wiped out, their knowledge lost, during the Cultural Revolution. The standardized form of medicine that was created remains the main version of Chinese medicine to be taught in mainland China, though much progress and research has continued in the field.
Today's researchers are recognizing the importance of looking to the history of Chinese medicine use in the wide variety of cultures, regions, and peoples of China, much of which has been lost or forgotten with the standardization of medicine in China. Today, China is home to over 300 different living languages, and approximately 276 of those are indigenous. There are about 55 ethnic groups in China in addition to the Han, who comprise about 91% of the population. Some areas are highly diverse, such as Yunnan in SW China, which is home to 25 ethnic groups. In Yunnan, villages within a mile of each other can have completely different customs, and their languages can be completely unintelligible to one another! Mandarin may be the official language to the entirety of China, but it is the language of the Han people, originating from the area around Beijing. For instance, Shanghai has it's own native language, known as the Hu language.
Here is an interesting application of seeking native Chinese herbs for modern problems, and is a recent discovery to help with coronaviruses: towardsdatascience.com/the-forgotten-legacy-of-traditional-medicine-in-the-age-of-coronavirus-56fc6235b2f5 . The Yu people in Yunnan have been dealing with coronaviruses for ages, the hunt for this information took a huge amount of research! This article is a fascinating read.
I acknowledge that I live and work on the traditional lands of the Multnomah, Kathlamet, Clackamas, Tumwater, Tualatin Kalapuya, Wasco, Molalla, Cowlitz and Watlala bands of the Chinook and many other tribes of the Columbia River basin. These original people of the land were displaced and massacred by genocide and colonization.
For more information, please visit ljist.com/featured/acknowledging-indigenous-people/
This acknowledgment is only an infant step in recognizing the unaddressed harm, and does not encompass any actionable step of moving forward. It is my desire to open myself to this conversation and find what the remaining descendants of the native tribes would like for us to do.
It is my belief as an herbalist and healer that we can seek the solutions to so many of our modern problems through the ancient wisdom of native people. The original tribes were brilliant and resourceful stewards of the land. As life continues to careen so out-of-balance, I hope we can restore the tribes' stewardship. So many issues we see today were prevented for thousands of years with their careful planning, wisdom and work. We can reign in the destructive wildfires, restore fish populations, and bring healthy diversity back to the forests we took. We can find solutions to common health ailments, according to regional issues and the solutions used by the native tribes in those areas.
We must be absolutely meticulous in our approach to such progress, however. We must always acknowledge the tribes, and not take their wisdom and claim it under our own names in the white supremacist act of declaring "discovery". May we restore balance, and always show great respect to these native tribes.
Sallie McKibben, LAc
Owner of Belmont Acupuncture
Note: If you are a Person of Color and would like to find an acupuncturist who is as well, please visit my resources page here. I would love to work with you, but I am happy to send referrals to these excellent providers!
As a white woman, I know that I benefit from white privilege. I have grown up and found my way forward in a society that is built upon a deep foundation of white supremacy. The nature of this is hidden. It's obvious when you really look at it, but white people have defined the rules of "respectability" and "culture" so thoroughly that it is easy for us to mistake the ideas and signs of white culture for what is "proper".
We know how to look and how to speak when we go into a bank to request a loan. If you didn't have to think for a second about the color of your skin and how to adjust the way you present yourself when walking into a bank, you are probably white. If you have never had to view yourself as being a particular race when going through your every day life and activities, you are probably white. Colorblindness only exists for white people. Not wanting to consider the different experience that people of color have in this broken, racist system is what perpetuates the racism.
I am racist. We are all racist. And I am committed to work hard for the rest of my life to try to find, learn and apply any and all antiracist language, concepts, perspectives, activities, measures, interventions, and actionable steps. I know I am only in my infant steps towards this goal. I know this work will never be done.
My white friends, please don't be afraid. This does not nullify your agency or voice. This will not take away everything you've worked hard for in a world that has seemed hard to navigate or advance in. This is only the better way to finding and using your agency and voice. We will all benefit from addressing racism in our society!
I know my family has benefited from centuries of racism and white supremacy. This doesn't change the traumas and difficulties I have faced in such a deeply broken system, especially as a woman in a patriarchal world that seems to not really value human life (nor any life) very much. But it does mean that I don't have the much more thickly layered traumas and disadvantages of being black, indigenous or any other disadvantaged race.
I have, do, and will make mistakes. I will make every effort to notice, catch, and learn from every mistake. I take responsibility for discovering, unpacking, and learning about racism and my role in perpetuating it. Being racist does not nullify the good in our hearts- it is simply a fact of living in a society created upon the foundations of white supremacy. We need compassion for ourselves to extend that compassion to others.
May we all find strength and compassion for ourselves and others.
What a year 2020 has been! But we're not out of the woods yet.
Please continue practicing social distancing, wearing a mask, and washing your hands to protect others and yourself. Once you are able to get both doses of the vaccine, it is not yet known whether it will still be possible to pass the virus on to others. Please still wear a mask even once you are immunized.
To find where you stand in line for the vaccine:
It is looking like life might begin getting back to safely reopening in the Spring. As for Belmont Acupuncture, I still have not fully reopened. I have a very limited schedule of availability due to caring for my son and undergoing extensive cleaning for the days I am able to see a handful of high-risk patients. This year has been very challenging, and I greatly miss my patients! Working with you and helping you meet your goals is one of the greatest joys in life. It is a relief to know that we can get back to work soon.
This has been a year of coming home, and addressing what prevents so many of us from being able to do so. This has been a year of facing unaddressed trauma, prejudice, and systemic issues of racism and monetized suffering (U.S. healthcare system and longterm care facilities, privatized prisons combined with school-to-prison pipeline, housing bubble that leaves so many homeless to increase the wealth of the wealthy, insanely inflated pharmaceutical costs including long used life-saving Epi pens and insulin, insanely inflated CEO salaries and bonuses while the majority of their full-time workers cannot afford to feed their families). The average American is barely scraping by. Families are flooding food banks as a final lifeline. Rent moratoriums are about to end, and we know that a flood of evictions are waiting like a tsunami to hit our cities.
We're not out of the woods yet. We have so much work to do. As the wealthiest country on Earth, it is unacceptable for us to not take better care of our citizens. We cannot discard compassion from the idea of American entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship must include responsibility towards others! There has to be balance in life, and that includes personal self-reliance with civic duty. In other words, we must take good enough care of ourselves to help care for one another.
May our next year, 2021, bring lasting solutions and positive change for all. May I play my role in society to best of my ability with care, consideration, tact, humility, and actionable steps.
The greatest barrier for white women to accept our role in racism, I would argue, is for us to simultaneously hold space for and recognize the hard battles we've fought to gain position and power, while recognizing that doesn't remove our complacency, compliance and active participation with a racist system.
We fought hard in the early 1900's to get a voice in government, which was granted in 1920. While the first state in the US to ban the long-established right of men to beat their wives occurred in 1850, today we still find that between 40 to 70 percent of women murdered in the United States were killed by an intimate partner. Even today, it seems hit or miss whether police will respond accordingly to calls of domestic violence, as they themselves are associated with higher rates of domestic violence (2 to 4 times as common among families of police officers). We still get paid less than men, we still get judged more harshly than men (consider the "Karen" meme, or smear campaigns against women running for office), and we still have professors in Ivy league colleges promoting the idea that we aren't mentally capable of being scientists! 1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted by the age of 18- let's correct that- 1 in 4 girls will be sexually assaulted before reaching adulthood.
We, as women, were raised to put the needs of others first. We were raised to consider ourselves secondarily, and that we could only become proper women if we were dutiful and considerate others, especially the men in our lives. We were taught that our personal value is tied up in being good daughters, good sisters, good wives, and good mothers. We were taught to listen to everyone and not speak. It takes us decades for us to realize that we must consider our own needs and care for ourselves, and we often have to get angry before we do so. [I would argue that this is the definition of the Susan and Karen memes- every generation of women arriving at this stage in an earlier phase of life as women's rights progress.]
But none of that nullifies the benefits we gain from systemic racism. Instead, it just makes it harder for us to accept the power we hold and how we use it to perpetuate racism.
We have fought hard to find our voice and speak up. But we must acknowledge that we do, in fact, have a voice. And we do have power.
Only once we can acknowledge our power as white women can we be more responsible with how we use it. When do we draw upon our inner Karen and stand up, speak loudly, and make demands? We've fought hard to find our inner Karen and free her, so now we must learn how to summon her for the good of all. Let's use our inner Karen with the level of responsibility, care, and concern that we wish every person who had power over us had used.
I believe that it is, in fact, harder to process one's own abuse of power if one has not processed, accepted, and found a way through one's own trauma. We all carry trauma, and we need to be gently supportive of ourselves and others. We all carry baggage. Being considerate of the heavier load another carries does not mean we do not need help or support for our own heavy load. Get help. Ask for support. Respect yourself. Buy that Pumpkin Spice candle and thoroughly enjoy it with a long epson salt bath! Don't get caught up in the prison of shame that prevents steps forward.
Then you will be able to acknowledge the impact you have on those more disadvantaged than yourself.
There is plenty of space for all of us in this world. There are plenty of resources to share with everyone. There is enough food to feed every person on this planet. There is enough empty housing in our country to house every homeless person in America.
We will find a way forward, together.