Acupuncture is a healing practice that originates in China and has been practiced there for thousands of years. Acupuncture involves the insertion of very thin needles through a patient’s skin at specific points on the body. These points are on meridians through which qi vital energy runs. When our qi or vital energy flows, there is no pain. Where there is pain, qi is not flowing.
The community acupuncture room at PR Healthworks is spacious enough for six people to share comfortably; it has a subdued, serene air and is bathed in soft colours. The room, with refinished old-growth fir flooring, is dotted with chairs and rugs; its plastered walls are hanging with paintings. It’s quiet inside the healing room and the same soft light that has visited this home since it was built in the 1930s comes softly through the gossamer blinds. Acupuncturist Edward Sanderson sits with his hands folded before him, centered and calm, in a chair across the room. We’re discussing acupuncture and Edward’s journey to becoming a healer and the practice of community acupuncture he has introduced to Powell River.
It began with a night school course Edward signed up for while studying in Berkley, California. “When I took this Tai Chi course I could actually feel the energy flowing through me, and it made me very curious,” Edward said. “I wanted to learn more about energy, qi gong and acupuncture. And although I tried other disciplines I soon realized psychology and counselling weren’t for me, and my interest in health and energy flow eventually turned into an interest in acupuncture and acupressure.”
Edward began studying Traditional Chinese Medicine in 1983, and graduated in 1988 with a Master of Science degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine. He has taught acupuncture at the International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Vancouver, BC, and has taught acupressure, qigong, and stress reduction techniques in group and private sessions. His continuing studies have focused on chronic pain, with an emphasis on structural and energetic balance.
When Edward returned to Powell River in 2006, he opened Powell River Healthworks; he is a registered acupuncturist with the CTCMA of BC.
But Edward is an acupuncturist with a difference. While most acupuncturists treat patients on tables in individual rooms, Edward uses the traditional Asian approach where acupuncture occurs in a communal setting with up to four, five or six patients receiving treatment together. While some patients initially expressed concern about this new practice, they soon changed their minds as they saw the added benefits of receiving treatments alongside others. “I wondered if the presence of others would disturb the healing process,” said one patient. “My worries were unfounded. In fact, quite the opposite occurred. With three other people in the room, the space was very serene and the energy was calm. The presence of others seemed to enhance my experience.”
At the beginning of each treatment patients have a private consultation where health history and current health concerns are discussed. Patients are requested to wear loose, comfortable clothing as needles are applied using points on the ears and below the elbows and knees only. “So, there’s no need for patients to undress for treatments,” Edward said.
Acupuncture works by stimulating your body’s natural healing abilities. According to acupuncture theory, vital energy flows throughout the body, along pathways called meridians.
This energy is the source of our physical, mental and emotional function. When this energy is not flowing abundantly and smoothly, pain and other symptoms develop.
Acupuncture improves the flow of energy by placing needles in points along the meridians, where the energy is most easily manipulated, which leads to the elimination of symptoms.
Patients phone ahead for an appointment and when they arrive they are escorted into the treatment room,” Edward said. “Typically there are several other patients already there, sleeping or resting with their ears and forearms and lower legs studded with tiny silver needles. Treatments typically last from 30 minutes to an hour, depending upon the condition being treated.”
The mission of Powell River Healthworks is to provide affordable, high quality acupuncture to the community. One of the ways they do this is by asking patients to determine what they can afford to pay for treatment, on a sliding scale. “Acupuncture is a therapy that works best with regular treatments given at least once a week, to get lasting effects,” Edward said. “We want patients to come often enough to really be able to get better and stay better, and the sliding scale is our way of helping you make that commitment.”
(Many extended health plans cover acupuncture and those on low incomes, with MSP premium assistance plans, may receive up to ten free treatments).
As a healing gesture for the community, Edward offers Acupuncture for Charity Saturday, held on the first Saturday of the month from October through May. “We invite people to come by for a treatment and to leave a donation for local charities,” Edward said. The next Acupuncture for Charity is Saturday, January 9th, 2016, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at PR Healthworks, 4898 Manson Avenue. Check out PR Healthworks website, click here.