"On October 24, 2003, a group of eight, on a wet rainy night, met at the library in Madison, Wisconsin. We sat. We talked.We gave and received the five needles in the ear, healing ourselves and the healing the world."
The genesis for the aforementioned gathering was participation in the Global Group Qi celebration of AOM Day 2003. The comment, made by Dr. Joseph Blustein on "healing ourselves and healing the world," had a special meaning on that day, and during that profound, joyful and spiritual event. Global Group Qi, a joint effort between the Acupuncture and Oreintal Medicine A lliance and the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association (NADA), is the expanded experience of the group qi phenomenon so typical of NADA-style group acupuncture sessions, in which the group process enhances the depth of the acupuncture-provoked meditative experience.
Opportunity knocks again, as the third annual Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day approaches. AOM Day was born out of an international partnership involving AOM organizations from Canada, Mexico, the United States and other nations. There are various ways to take part in the celebration while increasing public awareness regarding the effectiveness of acupuncture and Oriental medicine and how the practice supports health and balance within our communities. While AOM Day will be observed on Sunday, October 24, NADA and the AOM Alliance will reprise the popular Global Group Qi event, which will be celebrated on Monday, October 25.
When done in a group, the calm and centering aspect of acupuncture treatment is enhanced and often creates a sense of connection throughout the room. The Global Group Qi acupuncture event capitalizes on that group bond by broadening the experience. A worldwide link is created, and the experience expands from a room full of qi to worldwide qi communication.
Seventy-five sites around the world registered their participation and consciously shared the group qi experience during the 2003 event. Multiple locations in Australia, Bermuda, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Mexico, South Africa, Uganda, the United Kingdom, and the United States registered participation. Once registered, each location received a list of all of the other registered sites. The list was used by participants to help create the conscious connection of shared experience through acupuncture.
With Global Group Qi, the group expands from one room to one world. From an energetic perspective, the qi expands beyond the personal, connecting - consciously - with the whole and thereby consolidating the life force of the individual while raising the vibration of the universal.
There is a special magic that occurs though this process, especially when done on the global level. When expanded consciously, the innate power that is qi encourages joy, light, healing and profound empowerment to those who participate. These qualities are carried forward and spread globally.
The various participants made the event a celebration of empowerment. Many of the groups involved included participants whose life experiences seldom allow for any activity beyond basic survival. Who are these survival-based populations, and how did they come to be a part of an AOM Day experience? The "zero" children of Mexico, HIV/AIDS patients in Uganda and South Africa, women in a San Francisco jail, and drug court participants in Manatee County, Florida, have given and received powerful qi during the Global Group Qi event through practitioners committed to treating those who often fall between the cracks of our society. These are the populations that both NADA and the Alliance seek to support through the public health aspect of acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Here are some of their stories.
The "zero" children of Mexico are second- and third-generation street children, so-called "zeros" by the Mexican government because they are not counted in the population census. They literally don't count.
In Mexico City, Dr. Humberto Broccada and a few of his colleagues actually go down into the city's sewer systems where the children live. They offer a program of education, life-skills, psychotherapy and acupuncture - often times with little or no funding, and in addition to their regular health care practices. The children of Mexico City live in a cultural situation where little is offered unconditionally, and they sometimes have to compete with dogs and rats for scraps of food. The beneficence of Dr. Broccada brings them an opening unavailable to most. The event of Global Group Qi offers them another unprecedented opportunity - it lets the children know that they count. Through their participation, they receive unconditional love, light and qi from participants all over the world. More than this, they have the opportunity to give to others in the same unconditional manner. This is an opportunity for empowerment that goes far beyond the possibilities of their everyday survival-based lives.
In Morelia, Michuacan, Dr. Rosario DeVerduzco runs a private medical practice during the week and works in her husband's factory at night in order to afford her Friday free clinic for addiction treatment. Her primary clients are zombie-like teenagers, addicted to sniffing inhalants and brought in for treatment by family members. These children, on arrival, make eye contact with no one, make no attempt at conversation, and have no relationship with reality. Following acupuncture treatments, however, they become present to their surroundings, smile at "Dr. Rosa," and are tearfully welcomed back into their families by parents who thought they would be lost to drugs forever. In contrast to Dr. Rosa's clinic, the local government offers a very different kind of therapy, if you could call it that. Children caught using or possessing drugs are committed to "treatment homes," where they are chained to furniture and subjected to what could constitute abuse. Family members are not allowed to have contact with the teenagers, and all windows are covered so that no one can see inside. Once released from "treatment," they are kicked out of school for their offense. This leaves the teenagers on the streets during the day, which could make them more likely to use drugs, get into prostitution and have other problematic behaviors. Where the government "program" offers them a dead end, Dr. Verduzco's acupuncture program offers hope and healing.
The African continent is in the midst of devastation through its health care crisis of AIDS, HIV and other contagious diseases. Few resources are available to treat the enormous numbers of citizens infected with disease. In the age-old tradition of the barefoot doctor, Richard Mandell, LAc, brings a team of volunteer practitioners from Boston and other parts of the U.S. to Africa to train the front-line social workers and health care staff of impoverished areas in some basic protocols, so that they can treat the various conditions they see on a daily basis. Here is a primary example of acupuncture's ability to provide for public health in an inexpensive and effective way, allowing health care access that would otherwise be unavailable.
In Kiswa, at a clinic in which people with HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other contagious diseases come for treatment, the staff and health care workers recently received acupuncture training from Mandell and his team. NADA trainee and midwife, Mary Achan, continues the work there. Also associated with this site and others in Uganda are Dr. Margaret Muganwa (president of the SWAA - Society of Women and AIDS in Africa), Josephine Kasolo and Victoria Mukasa.
In South Africa, meanwhile, Ann Pithey is working with Richard Mandell to create programming similar to the work occurring in Uganda.
These African sites are active by the grace and vision of Richard Mandell and others who staff the PanAfrican Acupuncture Project. Their aim is to enroll Ugandan and South African public health workers and train them in specific acupuncture protocols to treat HIV/AIDS, not just for patients, but also their families andcaregivers. They are seeking the funding necessary to get U.S. acupuncturists back to Uganda for a follow-up trip. To offer support or donate supplies, visit www.panafricanacupuncture.org.
Experiences of Global Group Qi 2003
From Delhi, India to St. Vincent's Hospital in New York City, people gathered to take part in the 2003 Global Group Qi event. For everyone who participated, the opportunity in sharing the experience was one of both giving and receiving in deep and powerful ways.
No matter where the location or who participated, the similarities in experience were remarkable. From treatment centers in India, to drug court participants in Bradenton, Florida, to a gathering in Madison, Wisconsin, people reported a variety of sensations. Here are some of the comments participants made:
- "Deep peace"
- "Feeling of freshness"
- "Less anxious"
- "A sense of connection"
- "A very positive and energetic experience"
- "I am feeling emotional and tearful"
- "I feel calm and focused"
- "I am calmed and quieted, feeling the invisible thread that connects those who reach out to others."
- "I have hope instead of helplessness, and feel someone cares!"
- "I felt a great sense of calmness and have more energy now, after the treatment. It is great to be a part of a global event."
While one founding NADA member and research expert, Pat Culliton, noted feeling that she was "with all of us in spirit," another founding member and past NADA president, David Eisen felt the energy of the Global Group Qi in a more concrete way. "The qi was good - that was the day we heard about a grant that had come through for the clinic," he recalled.
AOM Alliance president Floyd Herdrich coordinated supervisors and trainees at the Fairfax County Detox Unit in Fairfax, Virginia, in an outreach to other treatment services. Later, in his private practice, he offered a stress management clinic to patients, families and significant others. With Herdrich's support, the VaNADAnet (a network of licensed acupuncturists, NADA acupuncture detoxification specialists and NADA-certified physician acupuncturists) observed AOM Day at acudetox sites across Virginia.
It was not uncommon for the Global Group Qi event to represent a person's first exposure to acupuncture. At the Remedy Alternative Happy Hour, provided by NADA board member Claudia Voyles in Austin, Texas, approximately 35 people participated, with the majority noting this was their first acupuncture experience.
In New York, Cynthia Neipris, LAc, wrote, "Here at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine-New York, we celebrated the day by providing complementary acupuncture treatments for balance and stress in a community-style setting. Interns, under the supervision of licensed acupuncturists, provided auricular treatments according to NADA protocol. Students and staff offered tours of the Pacific College Acupuncture Center and answered questions about acupuncture and Oriental medicine."
"There couldn't have been a more fitting way to celebrate National Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine Day than by opening our clinic doors to the community," commented PCOM-New York Director of Clinical Services, Jean Fitzgerald. "Both current and new patients appreciated the special benefits of acupuncture in a group setting, and our students valued the opportunity to practice community style treatments, answering questions, and sharing in the 'group qi' experience. It was a great success for everyone who participated. Our calendars are marked for next year."
Global Group Qi 2004: How to Participate
Both NADA and the AOM A lliance are committed to recreating the Global Group Qi event on an annual basis. To register as a participating site, send an e-mail to . NADA provides many of the resources for connecting with public health sites around the world and guidance in creating the group qi process, while support materials will be published and available at www.aomalliance.org. Thanks are also due to the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine for the resource materials available on their Web site.
Rachel Toomim has been practicing acupuncture for more than 18 years. She educates health care and criminal justice professionals in the use of acupuncture, and serves as a board member for the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association and the AAAOM.