2018, 2019, and the kata of medicine

Happy New Year! 2018 was another pleasant year for Peninsula Family Acupuncture, and that is thanks to the wonderful patients who support it over and over again. Your trust in me is a holy sacrament, and I remember it often. I know 2018 was difficult for a lot of people, but I was privileged to hold the eye of the storm, sheltered from the worst and able to provide a safe, if temporary harbor for the storm-battered. I hope PFA can continue to be regarded as a safe house; a place where people can bring their imperfect selves and find acceptance, some healing, and a way forward.

With the arrival of 2019, lots of my colleagues and friends are sharing their goals for the year, and their resolutions. As usual, I don’t have any resolutions that are new for this year, nor do I have any specific business or practice goals. My sole goal in starting PFA was to earn a decent living doing this work. I’ve achieved that goal, so the goal now is to sustain it.

Goal-setting is such a strong foundation of growth. Why don’t I set more goals for myself? It isn’t that I never have goals. They come to me spontaneously, often with their timelines attached. It seems foreign to me to sit down and contrive goals, attaching considered timelines to them. My life has just never been like that. I appreciate that goal-setting is an approach that works for others; I just find that goals and timelines contrived from my cognitive brain fail to capture my interest. Rather, the goals that arise from my heart, my spirit, come to me with such force I am compelled to move with near obsessive determination. The rest of the time, I practice my kata.

“Kata” is a Japanese word for the practice of a set of skills, such as scales on a musical instrument, or the pliés of ballet, or the prescribed movements of martial arts practice, from which the term originates. Katas are set practice forms designed to develop the skills of the practitioner, and keep them sharp. Even for the master, katas call us back to our foundations, and keep us from becoming complacent. In the practice of acupuncture, there is a form to each treatment. While every patient and every treatment is different, the underlying kata remains present. Patients often think treatment is solely for their benefit, but it is also an important opportunity for the provider to practice their kata, their skills. When I practice the kata of treatment, I develop, hone, and maintain myriad skills that propel me along the course of my life’s path. I am immensely grateful for this opportunity.

While I may be short on goals and resolutions for 2019, you can be certain that I remain dedicated to the kata that is my work, and to the patients who step into the treatment room to be my partners for that kata. May 2019 see us all learn more, develop more, and attain greater mastery over our selves.