Sitting a spell is sort of a theme in this Fall issue. As the frenetic activity of summer settles down, the chill of Fall days and evenings draws us indoors. We tend to gather around tables in coffee shops, in kitchens over simmering soups and stews. As our bodies move inward, our souls too settle into a more inward focus. Or maybe that's just in an ideal world.
Sitting a spell, according to Deann Bishop, the owner of Roanoke Community Acupuncture, is something women actually don't do much. "Women tend to be caretakers, always going, always doing--for others. Self-care is just not a priority women allow themselves. Sitting still is something society has trained them to believe is not acceptable."
"When a woman comes here, what we start with is just this: a woman in a chair breathing. It can just be about that pause."
That pause. Yes.
The mere act of sitting still, taking a breath, going inward into silence, focusing on our bodies, our breathing, ourselves--focusing our energy inward instead of outward. That has value in and of itself, Deann believes. Even without the needles.
But then, insert the needles, and what you've got can be a real game-changer.
The body begins to relax, the brain looks around and registers the peace, the serenity, and it says yes. Yes, I like this. It starts firing off feel-good endorphins. Yes, the brain says, I can start repairing, yes, I can start healing, yes, I can catch up on all the backed up maintenance work I've been trying to get around to in this poor, overworked, stressed, aging body. Yes, I can take care of me.
What is the function of the needles? The needles are the signposts. They signal the brain and the body's innate self-healing energies to stop and examine, repair and evaluate, certain points in the flow of qi or life energy in our bodies. They pinpoint obstructions in the path to wellness.
Deann describes acupuncture as one limb of a larger body, a medical system that is at least 5000 years old. Acupuncture works, she says, with underlying energy pathways in circulation in the body to initiate and encourage organic systems to boost and heal internal functions and organs.
"In over 5000 years, there's been a lot of time to experiment with what happens when you put a needle here versus here. We've been at this awhile. We've learned what works."
Deann has a Masters in Oriental Medicine and practices not only acupuncture but Chinese herbal medicine and other healing modalities in the same school of thought at her private clinic.
"People think of acupuncture as belonging to Chinese medicine, but actually, it has been traced back and can be found all over the world. The first recorded history of acupuncture was found in China, but its origins pre-date recorded history - back when bones were sharpened into needles. Ayurveda included a form of acupuncture used in India as many as 8000 years ago. Some suggest it was practiced in Sri Lanka even earlier than in China or India. Acupuncture belongs to everyone."
It may well belong to everyone, but traditionally, in Western societies, it has not been accessible to everyone. Acupuncture is expensive. It can cost $100/hour or more for private sessions.
Deann agrees and says that's why she brought the model of community acupuncture to the Roanoke Valley. She wanted acupuncture to be accessible to everyone. She didn't want cost to be the deciding factor. RCA operates on a sliding scale with a minimum payment of $20. You decide how much you can afford. They don't ask you to provide income verification. It's all done on the honor system.
"What I wanted to do with this clinic was be able to help more people - the people that traditionally have not benefited from acupuncture because of cost or time constraints. We’re open 6 days a week, offer mornings and evenings…and folks can pay as little as $20 a session. The initial session, because it takes longer, has a small ($10) initial fee tacked onto it… I couldn't afford acupuncture three times a week at the going rates, how can I ask other people to do it? This way, we get to see more people getting more acupuncture and getting better faster. It is inspiring and exciting for me to watch people change really quickly, to watch their health transform."
The community acupuncture model is spreading like wildfire across the country. Instead of private seasions on tables in individual rooms, people experience acupuncture in comfortable recliners in a large room - together. Isn't that a novel idea - togetherness in our culture of isolation? But Deann says people benefit from the healing going on around them. It has an exponential effect. In the same way that you can be impacted by other people's negativity, you can be impacted by their healing, their joy, their serenity and the life-giving forces operating around you.
When asked how a young girl from Lexington, Virginia stumbled into practicing the ancient arts of Oriental medicine, she says it came as much of a surprise to her as anyone.
"I experienced my own healing through acupressure, and I became fascinated. The more I learned, the more I realized it was what I wanted to spend my time learning about and doing. At 25, after majoring in international studies at American University, working in the medical industry in DC and aiming for a job in the state department, I shifted gears, dumped the 401(k) and the career, and went back to school. Looking back, it seems like a rather adventurous and risky thing to have done, but at the time, it was just very clear. I knew it was what I was supposed to do. At the state department, I would have spent my time behind a desk pushing paper, and that just wasn't who I was."
There is nothing acupuncture cannot help, and the team at Roanoke Community Acupuncture starts with the basics--the "basic, pure stuff" Deann call its, "that everybody needs. We always want to start there."
There is a team of volunteers and staff acupuncturists who make up the RCA family. In addition to the work they do at RCA, most of the acupuncturists also have private practices where they offer more intense one-on-one services, and they each have their specialty areas of practice. The youngest is 31 and the oldest is 51. They all happen to be women.
"Our community acupuncture center is a portal into this world, and you can experience as much or as little as you need. You can choose to experience group acupuncture or one-on-one specialized sessions or a combination. You can incorporate Chinese herbs, acupressure or massage. One of the goals in opening RCA was I wanted women to experience a broader scope of possibilities for wellness. I wanted them to experience first-hand the sense of balance and ease that comes through natural healing."
Natural healing can work as a standalone, but it can also be used to complement the other more invasive, traumatic treatment protocols that currently exist in the conventional medical system.
Deann specializes in using acupuncture for women's health, oncology and mental health. Mental health? Yes. Deann says acupuncture is amazingly effective in addressing depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, stress, PTSD and menstruation and menopause-related mood swings. Even eating disorders and other addictions.
"Does it work? Yes. I can speak from experience. I was on anti-depressants from the time I was in the eighth grade, and I haven't needed medication for 25 years." Deann says she is not against medication when necessary, but for people who are forced to take medications they absolutely do not feel aligned with, acupuncture is renowned for restoring mental health as well as physical health.
"Of course, some people have unrealistic expectations for what acupuncture can do. After sometimes decades of being sick and trying every conventional cure in the book, they come to acupuncture as a last resort and if they are not completely cured after three sessions, they say it doesn't work."
Deann says she has seen miracle cures in just one session, but when they happen, she is as much in awe as anyone. Acupuncture has always been a mystery. Though there are theories, nobody really knows how or why it works. No one can predict who it will work for or how fast it will work.
"But after 5000 years, we know it can help just about anything and usually does. We also know it won't kill you. So what have you got to lose? Twenty bucks? Some stress? Sickness? Pain?"
Speaking of pain, do the needles hurt? Deann says no. "Some practitioners believe it has to hurt to help, but we're not of that school of thought. I personally am terrified of needles, which is hilarious for an acupuncturist, but acupuncture needles are not scary needles. If placed properly, you can barely feel them being inserted. If you feel any discomfort with a needle placement, you can ask for a needle to be moved or removed."
The community acupuncture model offered at Roanoke Community Acupuncture is the only one of its kind in the area. Deann opened a sister practice in her home town of Lexington. The Rockbridge County location was going gangbusters until her primary staff acupuncturist made some life changes that took her out of the area. Deann couldn't find anybody who was the right fit to take her place. There has always been a shortage of acupuncturists - especially in rural areas.
"I was trying to keep it open by myself--running back and forth from my private practice in Troutville, then to RCA in Roanoke and then to our location in Lexington because I didn't want to close that practice. I cried many tears when it closed, but with all my talk about self-care to the women I treat, I have to practice what I preach. In this last four years, I've been trying to slow down. In fact, when I started my blog on my website last winter, my very first blog was about slowing down."
For now, Deann is trying to slow down and focus on reaching the most people she can reach through Roanoke Community Acupuncture. She was thrilled when Ageless Woman Magazine asked to feature the community acupuncture model and her team of acupuncturists at RCA.
Click here if you want to read a special note from our publisher and editor, Donna Gail, about her first experiences with acupuncture at Deann's clinic.
sitting a spell with deann & crew at
roanoke community acupuncture
Deann Bishop with an acupuncture patient
Book your first community acupuncture appointment at:
Hi, I am Rita Johnson, and I am the owner operator of Thrive Mind Body Massage in Roanoke.
Growing up on a farm in rural Franklin County, I was taught that everyone has something to offer others, and no matter what you choose to do, it's best if you enjoy it!
While my practice is located in the Hollins area of Roanoke, my home is in Franklin County on the same farm I lived growing up. It's a great place to enjoy spending time with my family; being outdoors, kayaking, happily enjoying a cup of coffee reading on my porch, and more recently enjoying drives with my husband in his 'new' old jeep!
A mid-life career change happened when I was 45ish. I realized while I had a wonderful life and a great job, I wanted to spend my days doing something different, something more fulfilling.
This wish to enjoy my life as deeply as possible (and help others do the same) was how my business found its name. It was also what led me on a path to become a:
Board Certified Massage Therapist
Certified Prenatal Massage Therapist
Practitioner of Aroma Acupoint Therapy
Graduate of the Hakomi Method
Certified NADA Acu-Detox Specialist
I'm so glad I didn't listen to the fearful "what if's" that peppered my thoughts before taking the leap into my career change!!! My path and business were founded with the desire to help each client receive the care and resources they need to live and enjoy their fullest potential in both body and mind.
Being trained in these multiple modalities allows me an opportunity to integrate techniques and resources to provide customized sessions to help meet the individual needs and goals of each client to help create positive change.
You can find complete descriptions of services offered and my contact information at:
MEET OUR TEAM
Ageless Woman Magazine will feature a different member of the RCA team in each issue. In this issue, meet Rita.