Acupuncture + Singalong: Indigo Girls

Our next singalong session is coming up on Saturday, December 28, at 10am and will be a mix of Indigo Girls favorites from their first ten years of albums. Since it’s not an existing ‘greatest hits’ collection, here’s the playlist on Spotify and YouTube, if you want to make sure you know all the songs.

Track list: Crazy Game (Strange Fire); Closer to Fine, Secure Yourself, land of Canaan (Indigo Girls), Hammer and Nail, Watershed, You and Me of the 10,000 Wars (Nomads Indians Saints); Galileo, Ghost, Joking, Love Will Come to You, Let It Be Me (Rites of Passage); Least Complicated, Power of Two (Swamp Ophelia); Get Out the Map, Shame on You (Shaming of the Sun).

Singalongs are available to returning patients only, and require an appointment — no walk-ins. Same price as regular treatments. Sign up now!

Our First Acupuncture + Singalong: Buffy Musical!

On Tuesday the clinic held its first Acupuncture + Singalong session, and it was so fun! The music was Once More with Feeling, the soundtrack from the musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The music played over the clinic speaker, everyone was needled with the same treatment, and everyone just sang their hearts out.

People were lying back in the recliners with their eyes closed as usual, so they were singing up toward the ceiling, while the speaker was turned up loud and aimed into the room. Because of this, you could hear that other people were singing, but mostly you heard the speaker — kind of like when you turn up the radio really loud and you’re singing by yourself in the car.

The treatment was aimed at moving lung qi, reducing anxiety, and stimulating the vagus nerve…. all things that singing does, too. It was very cool to be lying back in the chair singing and feel the vibrations in your body. The time went by quickly, and everyone had a great time.

More singalongs are coming up! The next one is Saturday morning, December 28, a mix of Indigo Girls favorites from their first ten years of albums. In January there will be a singalong every Tuesday at 6pm and Saturday at 10am. Tuesday evenings will be musical soundtracks, while Saturday mornings will be mellow singer-songwriters.

December 28, 2019: Indigo Girls, some favorites from 1987-1997
January 4, 2020: Simon & Garfunkel, Concert in Central Park (Live)
January 7, 2020: Hamilton, Disc 1
January 11, 2020: Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman
January 14, 2020: Hamilton, Disc 2
January 18, 2020: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, So Far
January 21, 2020: Rent, Disc 1
January 25, 2020: Joni Mitchell, Blue
January 28, 2020: Rent, Disc 2

Want to suggest another music genre or specific albums for future singalongs? Head to the singalong suggestion survey

Want to grab a seat for one of the upcoming singalong treatment sessions? On the Make an Appointment page, just scroll down to the Singalongs sections and choose the date(s) for the album(s) you want to sing with. 

Want to set up a private singalong session for you and your friends with the music of your choosing? Use the contact form to get in touch or ask the next time you’re in the clinic. 

For more general information, check out Acupuncture + Singalongs. 


New Expanded Hours

As of this week, we’re adding more hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays because we now have a second acupuncturist, Vera Brink LAc. Some of you might remember Vera from Brooklyn Community Acupuncture further up Powell Blvd. When you make appointments online, you now have the option to select a specific acupuncturist (Jen or Vera) before choosing your date/time. If you choose “any available,” it will show you all available appointment slots regardless of practitioner. Here are the updated clinic hours effective now:

Monday 4-7pm (Jen)
Tuesday 10am – 8pm (Jen 10-2, Vera 2-8)
Wednesday 9am – 2pm (Jen)
Thursday 9am – 7pm (Vera 9-2, Jen 2-7)
Friday 12-5pm (Jen)
Last appointment begins about an hour before closing. 

We’ll continue with occasional Saturdays being appointment only, based on Jen’s schedule. If you see Saturday appointments in the scheduler, you can go ahead and book. If no appointment slots show, it means we’ll be closed that Saturday. 

Acupuncture + Guided Meditation

Series Begins May 1 8.

Next month we’re starting our first Acupuncture + treatment series. The first 6-week series will begin May 1 8, and will combine community acupuncture with guided meditation. Each session will last one hour, on Tuesdays from 6-7pm. The 6-session series will cost $100.

Q. What will the sessions be like?

A. Each session will feature a different guided meditation and a different acupuncture treatment designed to go with the meditation. You’ll arrive a few minutes early to get settled in your recliner. At 6pm, we’ll start playing the pre-recorded guided meditation over the clinic speakers, and will go around the room inserting needles. Everyone will be getting the same acupuncture treatment and there will be no chairside check-ins (like we do during normal clinic hours), so everyone will have their needles inserted within the first 15 minutes or so. Once your needles are in, we’ll cover you with a blanket and you can rest while listening to the guided meditation. After 45 minutes, the needles will be removed, and when the meditation ends, you can head back into the world rested and relaxed.

Q. Can I drop in if I don’t want to commit to the whole 6-session series?

A. Sorry, nope. If you want to combine guided meditation with your acupuncture treatment on a different schedule, we recommend bringing headphones to the clinic during your regular visits and listening to a guided meditation on your own.

Q. I can’t start May 1st, but I’m interested in doing the rest of the series. Can I buy the package and just start late?

A. Yes. There’s no refund for missed sessions, but even if you miss a couple, it’s still cheap for acupuncture!

Q. My back hurts — can you give me a back pain treatment instead of the same treatment as everyone else?

A. Sorry, nope. There are a few reasons for this. One is that the series is specially designed so that each treatment builds on the one that came before it, and to reinforce the meditation in that session. The other reason is logistics — doing the same treatment on everyone makes it possible to get everyone needled quickly enough to get a full acupuncture treatment during the meditation, and avoids disrupting the meditation with chairside chats. You can always come in for regular treatments during normal clinic hours in addition to doing the guided meditation series, though!

** A follow-up: The truth is, any acupuncture will help get things moving, so while it won’t be possible to do individualized treatments for specific aches and pains during this series, these treatments will probably still help with pain, insomnia, etc.


Q. What kind of guided meditations? I’ve never done this before!

A. We’ll be using meditations from various teachers through Insight Timer. The meditations chosen for this series will be appropriate for beginners, and may include meditations around breathing, body awareness, your emotions, and other topics aimed at lowering stress and anxiety.

Q. I’ll do it! How do I sign up?

A. You can register for the series here on the website. You can choose to pay online with a credit/debit card, or you can pay in person with cash/check/card at the clinic. Space is limited, so if you are interested, reserve your spot soon!

Sign up for the Acupuncture + Guided Meditation Series

The Hot Tube

Long white tube hanging from ceiling in a room with blue walls

Long white tube hanging from ceiling in a room with blue wallsI’ve been asked by a few patients why the light behind the clinic desk is vibrating, so I thought I’d explain it here. People see the long tube of white crinkled fabric hanging from the ceiling and illuminated from within by colored lights, and assume it’s a pretty lamp. Lamps don’t usually vibrate, or make quiet white noise sounds. This creation is actually a clever device to help the clinic be more energy efficient!

It’s called a Hot Tube, and was created by a guy named Bill in Maine who wanted to solve the problem of hot air collecting on the ceiling in the winter. In the northeast, this happens a lot when you’re heating with a woodstove, but here in the clinic, the same thing was happening due to the heating vents being located in the ceiling. (Why? Who would design such a thing? Even fifth graders know that heat rises!)

When the weather first got cold enough to require the clinic’s heat to be turned on, I was frustrated that it never seemed to warm up. Then one day I had to adjust a curtain rod near the ceiling, and had to pull my hand away because the metal was actually hot. The warm air was just collecting in the eight inches or so below the ceiling. While it was 60-something degrees at the desk, the ceiling zone was in the 80s! I thought, “Surely someone has figured out how to fix this,” and after some time with Google I wound up on the kickstarter page for the Hot Tube.

I love it. The way it works is that a fan at the top of the tube sucks in the hot ceiling air, then sends it down the tube and out through a a vent at the bottom. If the fan is turned up all the way, that’s when you see the tube vibrating a little bit. The quiet white noise sound is from the fan action, not a white noise generator. The lights inside allow it to also function as a pretty lamp. 🙂

Since installing the Hot Tube, the treatment room temperature has been more consistent. We’ve had some furnace problems this winter, but the hot tube has made it possible to keep the treatment room warm with a couple of space heaters.

If you think you want a hot tube for your house, you can order them on the Tube-Works website for 99 bucks.

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Acupuncture

Happy solstice!

Today is winter solstice, the day with the smallest number of daylight hours in the year. After today, the days gradually will start getting longer, giving us an extra minute or two each day of sunlight until we reach the longest day at summer solstice in June. Our part of the planet is turned its furthest away from the sun, and this is when the coldest temperatures begin. I thought about that as I (grumbling) scraped ice off my car this morning for the first time this season, and the temperature gauge read 32 degrees. This is the body’s hunker down season.

Here in Portland, we don’t get many sunny days over the winter months, and a lot of folks experience some level of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) — a type of depression that’s typically tied to the seasons with shorter days. SAD can make you sleep a lot, feel like you have no energy, moody, crave carbohydrates, gain weight, and generally experience all the symptoms of depression. In fact, in the latest DSM, they stopped classifying SAD as its own disorder altogether, and instead they now add a qualifier of “with seasonal pattern” to diagnoses of depression or bipolar disorder. Along with the depression, many people also experience anxiety symptoms. Any way you slice it, it sucks.

Light therapy using a light box can help. The idea is that you sit near a high-intensity light for 20-30 minutes each morning and it helps regulate your circadian rhythm. small light boxI started using a light box last year, and it has really helped. I have a small one that uses LEDs and doesn’t take up much room, so that I can take it with me if I travel or am late getting out of the house. This is the one I have: Sphere Gadget Technologies Lightphoria, 10,000 Lux Energy Light Lamp.

Acupuncture can also help. Some people come in when they’re feeling overwhelmed by the heaviness, to get some relief. Getting that instant rush of relaxation is nothing to sneeze at — if you’re feeling overwhelmed, come on in! For me, like a lot of people, it’s harder to motivate myself to do things for self-care if I’m already in a pit of overwhelm, so I tend to favor prevention if it’s possible. I’ve found that getting acupuncture once a week during the dark season smooths out and dials down the depression and anxiety symptoms and makes it a lot more manageable.

If you suffer from seasonal depression, you’re not alone, and there are many things that can help. Come in for an acunap, try a light box, talk to a therapist or a friend, get some exercise, snuggle your cats and dogs, see a doctor about possible medication… there are a lot of options, and whichever options work for you are the right ones.

Free Acupuncture on Miriam Lee’s Birthday

Free acupuncture next Saturday, December 9 in honor of Miriam Lee’s birthday! Free treatments are available to both new and existing patients, and all treatments that day will be “Miriam Lee’s 10 Great Points.” Make an appointment to come in and try this awesome treatment for yourself!

But who the heck is Miriam Lee, you ask? She’s an amazing figure in acupuncture history, and since I wrote a paper about her once upon a time, I thought I’d share some of her story for anyone who’s interested.

Continue reading “Free Acupuncture on Miriam Lee’s Birthday”

Stuffed Animals for Mental Health

four stuffed animals: a tan rabbit, a brown and white dog, a gray tabby kitten, and a golden lab puppy

People use acupuncture for stress, depression, and anxiety all the time. These conditions are widespread in our culture, and heading to an acupuncture clinic can help in a few different ways. The needles are obviously the biggest factor — acupuncture has been shown to be effective with these conditions in many studies. For the people who tend to fall asleep during treatment, the nap has its own therapeutic value. Putting your phone away for an hour and disconnecting from your stressors, letting your body rest in a relaxed position, and being in a space with soothing sounds/colors/textures also contribute to the experience. At Feel Better, we’ve added another option to help chill you out: stuffed animals!

It might seem silly to think about adults snuggling stuffed animals while receiving acupuncture, but if you give it a try, you might find that your treatment is even more relaxing. Most people are aware that interacting with live animals can have a therapeutic effects, such as when they’re used in hospice, with veterans, or as emotional support animals. But studies also show that touching or petting a stuffed animal also can lower stress, depression, and anxiety. Live animals have a larger effect, but hey — when you’re dealing with chronic depression and anxiety, every little bit helps. One study even said stuffed animals can help reduce existential angst!

Stuffed animal dog in the lap of a person receiving acupunctureIs it the reassuring small weight on your lap or under your arm? The feeling of the ultrasoft (fake) fur under your fingers? The brain making an association to  real pets you’ve loved and/or stuffed animals you snuggled with in childhood? Maybe all of the above? Whatever the reason, it really does seem to make a difference.

So! We have a selection of stuffed animals in the clinic — affectionately known as the Feel Better Snugglebuggles — that you can choose from if you’d like to give it a try.

From patients who’ve tried it:

“Wow, that was so relaxing!”

“I thought it sounded silly, and I thought I looked silly, but it was actually really comforting. I’d totally take a nap with that kitten again.”

“This makes me want to get a stuffed animal to hold while I’m at home watching tv or working on my laptop, it really did make me feel relaxed.”

So given them a try the next time you come in for a treatment! We have a couple of puppies, some kittens, and a rabbit to choose from. And you can hide them under a blanket if you’re still worried about looking silly. 🙂

Small Business Saturday

If you’re out shopping tomorrow morning on Small Business Saturday, why not take an acupuncture break? Feel Better  opens at 8am and will take walk-ins until 1pm. We’re convenient to small businesses on Foster-Powell, Division, and Hawthorne, so if you’re shopping in SE Portland, drop by!