A common thing for people to say before they leave Guelph Community Acupuncture (GCA) is "I never want to leave", and my response is usually "that's why I started working here." That's exactly what happened.
One year ago today, February 2nd 2014, I headed to Guelph Community Acupuncture for the first time. I had heard of community-style acupuncture before and was even considering eventually opening up my own community space, but had never entered a POCA clinic before. I was completely unaware that there are communities across North America getting acupuncture together in lazyboy chairs, quietly healing in numbers.
A year ago today was also GCA's first birthday. Just a few days before I had googled "Community Acupuncture Guelph" and came across the GCA first birthday facebook event. Acupuncture and cake, who could say no?
My relationship with that space has grown tremendously in the past year and brought so much richness to my life. I started out as a super keen client, so excited by affordable acupuncture that I actually personally preferred over what I now know as "boutique acupuncture". There is something so powerfully comforting about relaxing with needles in with other community members at my side, I often compare it to meditating on my own vs meditating in a group. There are certain social norms that make it easier to be quiet in a room where other people are relaxing or napping. It's easier to zone out for a bit in a room where others are doing the same.
There has been immense movement and change in my life since I first discovered GCA, and the lessons have been plentiful. Most of them have involved unlearning: realizing acupuncture doesn't need to be expensive to be effective and that you don't need to stick needles into the pain in order to get relief. That back, chest and abdomen points aren't necessary for a powerful treatment. That having a private room does not mean you will benefit more from an acupuncture treatment. And that more often than not, people can experience almost immediate pain reduction. Sometimes it freaks people out a little. It still catches me by surprise and it's so hard to contain my excitement when that happens. A common response is "how does that work?". My usual answer: "I could make something up for you. there's a lot of interesting theories, but really, I like to think it's just magic. All that I'm 100% sure of is that acupuncture works most of the time."
In the past year I went from being an engaged client to a proud acupunk at GCA. It's been quite the journey, but every step has felt so right. I now not only work alongside my favourite acupunk, but I also get to geek out about needling with her on a regular basis. Our front desk volunteers inspire me with their appreciation of GCA and keep me in-check and on time when I'm on shift (we really do have the best volunteers). GCA has added purpose to my life, hope about our community's health, and invaluable connection and friendship. I feel appreciated, challenged, and part of something much bigger than an acupuncture clinic.
Looking forward to another exciting year. And, of course, POCA fest in June.
HAPPY TWO YEARS GCA!