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  • Writer's pictureMaddie Bergner

Why Acupuncture?

My journey to become an acupuncturist began over a decade ago (although I definitely didn't know that's where I was headed at the time). Completely by chance, I found myself in an East Asian politics and history survey class as a freshman in college. I became fascinated with China and, like most of the things I become interested in, I threw myself in headfirst and spent the next four years studying all that I could about Chinese language, politics, and culture. With a lifelong love of language, I found learning the Chinese language to be an intellectual challenge. In 2010, I spent the summer in Shanghai doing an intensive Chinese language program. I also learned for the first time what it was really like to live in China, and to call it overwhelming would be an understatement. That summer was also my first experience with acupuncture in a Chinese hospital, and although it I can't say I enjoyed it, the treatment was very effective in helping me get over a bad cold.

I continued my academic journey with a Master's in Public Policy. I wanted to work on diplomatic issues and broad-ranging policies to bridge US-China relations. This degree took me back to East Asia, but this time to Taipei, Taiwan. My time abroad left me questioning my career path and asking how I could make the most impact on others and find meaning in my career.

In a conversation with a colleague, I realized that connecting one-on-one felt more powerful to me than research and policy work. Understanding and recognizing something familiar with somebody who has ‘nothing’ in common with you, and fostering a sense of community and connection - that is what I wanted in my life and career. This drive, as well as a particularly timely conversation with my mom, brought me to school for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

What inspires my philosophy as a practitioner

I believe we all have a tendency to see things in their most extreme form. Something is either right or wrong, good or bad, etc. This is especially true of all things relating to health and diet. We are inundated by fad diets and exercise philosophies, each one promising the results we have been striving for all along. If something doesn't work for us, we have failed due to something inherently wrong with us, rather than a flaw in the system we are trying to adopt. For me, one of the biggest breakthroughs I have had in my own health and wellness journey is the understanding of duality and balance. We all have opposing things that exist harmoniously within us, and Chinese medicine looks at people as a whole system, not a collection of parts. I believe making subtle changes can create substantial movement toward physical and emotional balance.

My practice is built on three main principles: education, community, and empowerment. As annoying as I find this to say, knowledge is power. I strive to help my patients understand the why behind the steps we will take during your treatments. Personally, the more I learn about health and wellness, the more I want to learn, and the closer I pay attention to the signals my body is sending me.

Disharmony and disease can be incredibly isolating. In a world that is increasingly focused on the high points of our lives, admitting that something is wrong can seem challenging or impossible. When I developed chronic back pain in my late 20s, I did not want to admit to myself or anyone else that I was in a constant state of pain. Chronic pain (and any kind of chronic illness) not only hurts in the moment, it cumulatively impacts energy levels. One of the most freeing aspects of this problem for me has been to connect with other people who can understand and empathize. I believe meaningful connections and community are fundamental to healing.

Modern healthcare systems are designed to remove autonomy from our health and wellness decisions. When we get sick, we go to a doctor and receive a prescription that (at best) masks the symptoms we were experiencing, and often causes additional problems. We know these as "side-effects", and listening to a list rattled off at the end of a commercial can seem comical. Sure, your depression will be improved, but along with that you may experience nausea, weight gain, sexual dysfunction, constipation, insomnia, and many other mild to severe side effects. My goal is that you are as much a participant in your own healing process as I am. Your journey is only about me insofar as you have chosen me as a conduit for your own physical and emotional healing. It is my desire to empower you to take control of your health and find a balance that works for you on a long-term, sustainable basis.

Thanks for reading!

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