Hurricane Katrina- "Acu-whuuut?" asks a contractor, slightly sarcastically, at the Belle Chasse Air
National Guard Base just outside New Orleans. "Acu-puncture" replies
Diana Fried, with her characteristically friendly smile. "What's it
good for?" "It'll help you relax, and make you feel better" It is the
type of conversation Fried and her team members are having a lot these
days. Fried is the founder and director of Acupuncturists Without
Borders (AWB) which she formed in response to the Hurricane Katrina and
Acupuncture after Hurricane Katrina
Disaster response in America has traditionally
been organized around the Red Cross model – supplying basic material
needs like food, clothing, shelter, and medicine. Partly due to the
immense scope of the Gulf Coast disaster of 2005, but also due to
pre-existing social imbalances in the area, there is an increasing
recognition that this approach is incomplete by itself. Supporting
feelings of well being, and inner peace, is an important part of
healing from trauma and ultimately helping the whole recovery process.
Acupuncture treatment is one way for people to relax and rebuild their
personal strength after traumatic experiences.
and planners confront the complex tangle of political, economic, and
environmental issues involved in rebuilding the area, organizations
such as Acupuncturists Without Borders have mobilized to offer healing
on a level often missed by larger bureaucracies.
Yes, box lunches
and motel vouchers are important, as are mega-plans to rebuild the
levee and devastated neighborhoods. But unless the foundation is
repaired, fixing broken windows will only go so far. The foundation for
any vibrant civilization includes a just and compassionate society
which nourishes the body, mind, and spirit.
The guardsmen sit
quietly in a curved row of chairs – just a hint of a circle to
emphasize our mutual interdependence in the web of life, as well as
nature's fundamental design. Five acupuncture needles in each ear
balance the Qi (pronounced "chee") or energy, in their internal organs
and nervous systems, releasing endorphins, the body's natural feel good
chemicals, and increasing their feelings of relaxation and well being.
the minutes pass, there is a palpable shift in the energy of the tent,
a kind of smoothness and serenity in the air. After thirty or forty
minutes, we begin to remove the needles. The men thank us and ask when
we will be back. We hope to return in two days.
The scope of this
disaster impacts everyone – residents, evacuees, and responders. In the
proceeding weeks, AWB has treated citizens of New Orleans, National
Guardsmen, workers and officials for FEMA and the Red Cross, policemen,
utility workers, contractors, volunteers at Food Kitchens and health
clinics, as well as their own team members.
Herein lies the
magic: A quick and easy treatment protocol, portable, and easily
rendered to large groups in a communal setting. Within the quiet
healing circle of an acupuncture treatment room, the boundaries of fear
and suspicion separating a member of one particular race, class,
occupation – and so forth – from another, are lowered and sometimes
dissolved completely. The web of life becomes deeply apparent,
bestowing a type of wisdom needed not merely to heal New Orleans and
the Gulf Coast, but the entire planet.
By Jordan Van Voast, Lic. Ac.
Without Borders is urgently asking for donations to continue the relief
work in Louisiana. Please go to www.acuwithoutborders.org to donate.