This Practitioner Is Merging Her Chinese Roots Along With Efforts Of Accessibility For WOC To Bring Acupuncture & Cupping To Healing Spaces
We had the honor of chatting with an extradorinaiy practitioner who is unapologetically bringing ancient healing techniques derived from her Chinese culture and intentionally making sure that women of color are able to have access to it. During a time when wellness techniques are appropriated and healing is commodified - it’s nice to be in company with a woman who is authentic about “alternative” selfcare. Emily Grace of Emily Grace Acupuncture, is consciously connecting race relations, healing and representation through her practice and we love it … not to mention she is extremely inspirational (check out her instagram).
Check out the interview:
When and why did you start your acupuncture and cupping private practice?
I started my private practice June 2015. I wanted to build my practice inorder to give a safe space for busy New Yorkers to heal and also be more informed about their bodys and lifestyle. I began working for other clinics around the same time but ultimately found myself focusing more and more on my private practice because I am a solitary person and being an acupuncturist means that I am able to work on my own and for myself. I came into this work with very personal intentions which cannot live under someone else's roof.
What are there real benefits of each modality and how can they more effective substitutes for medication?
The benefits of using Chinese Medicine is that it is a truly holistic way of looking at the body. Chinese medicine has been around for more than 4 thousand years and it has been used consistently for that long. It is the oldest form of medicine to date. Acupuncture and cupping therapies are tried and true, natural methods to treat multiple conditions. The benefits are that you are not adding anything into your system but instead stimulating your immune system to create a better healing effect that it is already doing on its own. Chinese Medical theory is based on health while Western medicine is a system based on disease. This means that Chinese Medicine is to keep you from being sick -it is about prevention. A natural treatment means there are no side effects. Holistic in Chinese Medicine doesn't just mean we treat the body as a whole but we are also treating you as an individual and how you interact with your surroundings. This is a complete picture of health. Currently, our country is an opioid crisis. We take the most pain killers than any other country and we also take the most prescription medications than any other country. This is important to note! Chinese Medicine gives you a lot of options before having to take a pain killers. We can offer you acupuncture, cupping, massage, herbal formulas. Of course it is a good substitute for painkillers. Why take medications with side effects that are addictive if you have a safe natural option? It seems like an obvious choice when we break it down but it also uncovers the larger problem of our American culture where we want quick fixes without having to do too much work.
How does your cultural background/heritage tie into your work?
Growing up ethnically Chinese in the US means that I always have to identify myself. I am asked to explain where my family came from and where my grandparents and parents were born. The need to for me to identify myself to others even as a child made me grow up in a place where I needed to understand myself because I am always asked to give these answers about the last 3 generations of my family. I needed to know where my people came from. It is a life long journey, as coming from an East Asian culture means our customs and way of life can differ so much to the standard white american person. I am often explaining myself because of it and at the same time needing to learn more. I love learning about Chinese Medicine because it not only informs me of the history of generations past but it also teaches me about why things are in nature. There is a spiritual need for me to be in this work.
You host affordable group acupuncture sessions for WOC, when did you start this and why was this important for you?
This is something I started in March of 2018 at the Women of Color in Solidarity Conference (@wocsolidarity) by Cheyenne (@cheyennewj) and Florcyx (@florcyx) . During this event I offered 2 sessions of WOC community acupuncture. I felt the need to offer this because I know that social justice work is necessary but it can be hard on WOC, on top of everyday life being already hard on us. I wanted to offer a place to pause and heal during this hard work. Cheyenne and Florcyx really emphasize healing in their work as well. Those who are involved in the revolution are trying to do right by all of us, and someone needs to feed these women too. I had such a beautiful response from the many participants and I really felt that this needed to be offered consistently. I feel that WOC deserve this treatment and they deserve access to it. I have also given community acupuncture to womens organizations and have seen the profound healing effects it has had over time. Every time I am in a space for WOC I personally feel an energetic sigh of relief and it has always told me that being among each other alone is quite healing which is why having a group healing with acupuncture is extremely powerful and it only gives more strength to our intentions.
What do you think may be the biggest obstacle preventing WOC from investing in alternative medicine?
Racism of course is at the forefront -because we have to even identify ourselves as WOC. WOC are doing so much to survive our everyday. We must work harder as women to deal with the wage gap and then work around the microaggressions of racism against us that occurs in our daily interactions with life. Many of us operate on survival mode.
When I started my practice I wanted to build a website and I wanted to do it quickly, so I looked for stock images. Guess what? There was not one photo of a black or brown women receiving acupuncture. It made me feel that if there were no images of these women getting taken care of -how are they supposed to feel that this type of care is for them? Of course costs are an obstacle to some extent -luckily in NYC there are many clinics that offer low cost treatments. Another way racism effects alternative medicine is that just because acupuncture comes from East Asia -it is considered "alternative" when in fact it is far more historically relevant than modern medicine. I meet so many people who think its weird and strange and somehow not backed by science because it is simply "Chinese". This is something I have always been faced with being that my appearance is Asian. People initially have to feel I am so foreign and different from them.
What is the best self-care/wellness advice you can give for people dealing with the daily stress of living in today's world?
We have to slow down, pause, breathe and pay attention to ourselves. What I love about being an East Asian practitioner is that my patients can learn something from getting treated. It isn't always something that can be verabalized but through the experience of receiving acupuncture people will learn how to feel and understand sensations in the body. Through that they build trust with themselves and all that is in the universe. This is super informative and helpful when you want to prevent imbalances in the body in the future. This is what keeps you from getting sick. The most interesting thing about treating patients with 14th century medicine in the modern world is -many of our imbalances are preventable. It is less often that I meet a patient who has a back injury or knee pain from a car accident, bike accident etc, but more often than not it is because in the modern world we allow our bodies to be worn and torn. We allow stress to become bigger than it needs to me. This is good news because it means if we can pay more attention and be more mindful we can prevent a lot of illnesses! Make acupuncture your go to best friend when you need relief!