Wisdom Guild: Listening to Our Practice
With Guest: Njemile Carol Jones, Laura Christensen, Esther Platner
What gets us started is not what sustains us over the long haul. The energy of beginning is essential at the start of any new endeavor. But what got us to here, will not get us to there. It’s easy to think that we are broken because what brought us success does not help us in managing success. Nor does it help us to move through the stages of development as we age and face the challenges slowing our practice down, passing it along or letting go of it altogether.
In this conversation we explore our practices in mid and late career. How we find sustenance in our work. How at some point we let go of the business and practice that has sustained us for decades. And the vital importance in sharing something of what we have learned with those who are at the beginning of the journey.
In this conversation we discuss:
- Right-sizing your practice
- What makes for a successful practice
- Wisdom of aging- more trust in the inner voice
- The delight of being-with people
- The reliable compass of internal regulation
- Profound need for stillness
- The nourishing aspect of relationships
- The problems of success
- The person at the front desk is the first part of the treatment
- Infinite possibility for learning
- The seasons of our lives
- Passing along what we’ve discovered
- Recognizing there is an end
“Whether you’ve been practicing for 2 months or 20 years, remember that your patients always notice the quality of your care and attention. Be present with them, listen, and try to be interested in more than placing the needles and moving on to the next patient. Give them your sincere care and attention – it goes a long way, and they won’t forget it. They’ll be happy to send their family and friends, and your practice will thrive easily.”
Njemile Carol Jones
“Even though it seems to take more energy and time, evaluate your patient thoroughly. It is easy for us to get lazy and just throw in some needles and call it good. Use palpation to evaluate the effect of each needle you place. You might not need that whole set that you had planned if the system begins shifting. Be careful of over treatment.”
“Follow the scent of what sparks your interest and Joy. Practice Presence. Along side the infinite study of our Medicine, is the necessity to cultivate deep listening from stillness.”
Njemile Carol Jones, L.Ac
I have had a deep interest in East Asian medicine for 30 years. In the late 1980’s, I turned to acupuncture to heal my own very painful menstrual periods. I was so impressed with the immediate results, and amazed to discover that each month, I could have periods without cramps, food cravings or debilitating pain.
I wanted to know more about how this medicine worked. For years I read every book I could find on acupuncture & Chinese herbs, while studying tai qi & qi gong regularly. In the mid-90’s I left my career in broadcast journalism, for formal study. And been practicing since graduating from PCOM in 1999. After almost 20 years of practice, I still love studying and learning about our medicine. I am currently a student of Engaging Vitality, with Dan Bensky, Marguerite Dinkins, and the late Chip Chace. And a longtime student in White Pine Institute's Graduate Mentorship Program.
Laura Christensen, L.Ac
I never planned to be an acupuncturist. My participation in this medicine evolved from curiosity about how to use safe and natural methods of healing to help people. Various events, people's comments, my own curiosity, and inner wisdom have brought me to where I am now, running a general practice clinic with an emphasis on orthopedics and pain, in Iowa City, IA. I was the first professionally trained acupuncturist to establish a successful practice in Iowa, beginning here in 1992 before there was licensing. I call myself the old lady acupuncturist of Iowa.
Back in '95 a patient told me that I was working like a blind acupuncturist in Japan. I was amazed, and curious to learn more. That lead me to study Japanese acupuncture in some depth and end up in a lineage of blind acupuncturists, using palpation as my main tool. I'll say that being trained as a cellist was very helpful in developing those skills as well. I'm working with the Saam method as well ass the Engaging Vitality work, where we integrate cranio-sacral principles with acupuncture, We must continue to question ourselves, stay curious about the medicine, and be honest about our mistakes and shortcomings. Enthusiasm is wonderful, but now that I am an older practitioner I find more comfort in curiosity and not knowing. This makes some other practitioners uncomfortable, but I know that each health journey is unique.
Esther Plater, L.Ac
The calling to enter the field of Traditional Chinese Medicine came my way in 1982 as a result of being catapulted out of a professional dance career, due to a severe injury and even worse surgery. What appeared to be a devastating blow was in fact the gift that directed my attention towards seeking help through acupuncture. During nine months of treatment not only did my body find a newly elevated equilibrium, my mind became enthralled with the natural beauty of this medicine and my spirit was reignited, recognizing that this was to be my path. I graduated from ACTCM in San Francisco in 1986. Once licensed I zoomed into practicing and learning, which continues to this day. Thirty three years down the road, my awe and appreciation for the depth, brilliance and mystery of our medicine continues to grow. Learning to be a Quantum Physician is an ongoing adventure! Currently I have an eclectic approach to treatment. My central focus is assisting those whom I have the opportunity to work with in returning to their Essential Selves. There are a number of windows of study that have become mainstays in my tool box including; SAAM, various Japanese styles, Worsley, Classical 5 Element, Cranial Sacral, Somatic Experiencing, and Nutritional counseling. What happens in the treatment room is a synthesis guided by the current need of each person, allowing for the creative process to unfold in the alchemy of presence. At this juncture what I love the most about our medicine is that it is alive, informing us in all aspects of life, laying the foundation for living harmoniously whether working or drinking a cup of tea. It permeates my awareness that indeed, “everything is everything.”
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I’ve heard it said that for something to be heard — it takes someone to speak and another to listen.
Acupuncturist, Podcast Host
I've always been more drawn to questions than answers. And the practice of medicine seems to more lively when infused with a sense of curiosity and inquiry. It's been delight and honor to be able to discuss our medicine with so many thoughtful and skilled practitioners.