Bucket List Destination of the Week: Open Space Community Acupuncture, 66-70 Union Square #102
Goal: Find an excuse to write about napping
Successful? It required letting a stranger poke needles in our ears, but yes.
We honestly cannot remember how we came across Open Space Community Acupuncture, but somehow we heard about the free intro sessions they offer new patients on Thursdays, signed up online, and headed to Union Square. Open Space rents a small office in a larger commercial building, just above the popular bar, Precinct, former home of the Somerville Police Department.
Acupuncture: Needles and Qi
Originating in ancient China, acupuncture is a type of healing in which small needles are inserted into various acupuncture points to help correct the flow of qi in the body. In the US, acupuncturists have adapted to the Western model of medicine, providing expensive, one-on-one sessions with patients. In the traditional Eastern model, after which Open Space is modeled, treatment takes place in a communal space by a single acupuncturist. The common experience creates a shared relaxation between all the patients.
Beach chairs and La-Z-Boys
Open Space has no lobby, reception area, or waiting room. Instead, we entered straight into the main acupuncture space, a large room filled with patients undergoing treatment. Depending on the day and hour, this could mean as few as one other customer or even as many as eight. Up front, the reception desk is mostly bare, but houses a sign-in clipboard, a few informational pamphlets, and a basket to place payment envelopes. Payment follows the honor system and is based on a sliding scale: the higher your income, the more you are encouraged to pay ($15-$40). Behind a Japanese paper divider, the room is lined by La-Z-Boys and reclining beach chairs, which are padded with fuzzy, fleece blankets to make them look a little less tacky. Our acupuncturist, Daphne, offered us blankets and ear-plugs to drown out the Union Square buzz and to make sure we were as cozy and relaxed as possible.
Daphne, M.Ac., L.Ac., Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)
Daphne Jochnick, licensed acupuncturist and founder of Open Space, treated us on our visit. Pointing us to the blanketed seats, she told us to take off our shoes and socks, roll our pants up to our knees, and wait for her to explain the process. The treatment began with Daphne taking our pulses, examining our tongues, and asking about any ailments or tension areas. “People generally stay as long as they like,” she explained. “They tend to relax first and often fall asleep for a while.” She was soft-spoken and nurturing, putting us at ease throughout the process and answering all our naive and unusual questions. Daphne’s genuine passion and dedication to her patients was clear from the amount of time she spent attending to each patient, despite the high employee to patient ratio.
After completing the assessment, Daphne began placing the needles one by one, around fifteen in total. Surprisingly, the process was not painful in the least; first you feel a light pressure and then a tingling sensation beneath your skin, which is a good sign, according to Daphne. Once everything was placed, our focus turned to the music, a soundtrack composed of a white-noise machine and alternating classical and New Age tonal music. Though we usually grow restless faster than your average 5-year-old, we fell into a complete, body-numbing trance. At this point we grew hyperaware of our breathing, a usually strenuous realization that builds nervous tension, but in this case it proved oddly calming. It steadied the pace of our breaths and helped us ooze into a more relaxed state. The more we slipped into our comas, the more we began to feel an out-of-body numbness. The easiest way to describe the extent of our relaxation is to say that there was simply no limit to our ability to let go; we felt no urge to fidget or adjust. Instead, we just lost track. Our minds felt blank, clear and meditative. As instructed, we silently signaled to Daphne by opening our eyes when we were ready to leave. After a short debriefing, we drifted to the bus stop in a daze. On our bus ride back, we remained in our ethereal state removed from reality, any attempt at conversation quickly subsiding.