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Yours Truly needling a patient at the AWB acupuncture clinic at the LGBT Center in Chelsea, NYC.
Copyright © 2012 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved.

Healing After Sandy: A Collective Journey

Two weeks later, the devastation of Hurricane Sandy is still reverberating throughout the New York Metro Area.  People who don’t live here may think, “The hurricane’s over, everything’s back to normal”.  The reality is, it won’t be normal for quite some time.  Some folks here say there’s “a new normal” that we are all getting used to.  Some power may have returned in some areas, and it is no longer 1 million people without power; but ConEd reports that two weeks later, 16,000 people are still without power in Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.  11,500 LIPA customers are without power in the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens.  Many people are still without homes, without heat in the middle of a freakish weather spell mid-Fall, some living with friends or living temporarily in hotels, if they’re lucky.  Some folks have only been able to power their phones by chancing upon the random acts of kindness of neighborhood residents extending power strips from their home into the street for those passing by and needing to recharge.

I am grateful that my loved and I ones fared well in the hurricane.  As Sandy’s energy swirled before she hit, I sent love into the eye of the hurricane.  I could feel other energyworkers doing the same.  Lights flickered, my building creaked and swayed, and from the sound of it, medium pieces of debris whacked heartily against my windows.  But, I still had power, heat, and hot water.  I was prepared for my possible impending cabin fever with a crockpot stew of grass-fed beef, organic root vegetables from the Farmers Market, and rice, which lasted me the entire week.  I took my candles out, and prepared a large pail of water for sponge baths, the toilet, brushing teeth.

Afterwards, I was thankful that I was not really effected by the hurricane.  I realized quickly that others were not as lucky, and so I started putting my computer internet to use, connected with people who might still be hooked up to power.  It was a strange time.  Soon, I began to give and receive updates, photos, and scene reports from friends who were stranded, who were unable to get around, who lost power, but still had enough juice in their mobile devices to post onto Facebook.  Soon, Facebook became a way we all communicated.

Not so coincidentally, I had just finished an Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) training simply out of interest for healing communities during trauma, and for continuing education units.  I signed up for this a month or so in advance, and had no idea that I’d be putting the skills I learned of mobilizing on-site community acupuncture clinics for disaster relief to immediate use in the next few days!

Outside On-site Acupuncture Clinic, Rockaways, Queens, NY. Photo by AWB volunteer Michelle LaDue.

I started collaborating with other concerned acupuncturists in the New York Metro area, some of us having attended the training, some of us who had not, and we rolled up our sleeves and dove in, determined to bring some stress and pain relief to our communities that have just been hard hit.  We call our relief effort Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) Sandy Reponse.  We had an overwhelming response from acupuncturists who wanted to get involved, and it was interesting to learn about bringing calm in the midst of chaos.  It has certainly been a lesson of releasing one’s expectations and control issues!  If there’s one thing Sandy has taught us, it was a slam bam reminder that we are NOT in control!  All part of the energetic releasing we are all being called to do on a major scale.

Me and fellow AWB volunteers at the AWB LGBT Center acupuncture clinic in Chelsea, NYC on November 8, 2012. I’m the mug on the left. Copyright © 2012 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved.

The AWB Sandy Response is now solidifying venues in all boroughs, as well as NJ, and have set up active, ongoing community clinics in Rockaway Beach, Queens, Park Slope, Brooklyn, and Point Pleasant, NJ.  Some clinics have already finished their short run, such as in Red Hook, Brooklyn, and the one that I recently participated in at the LGBT Center, in Chelsea, Manhattan.  We are on the lookout for more venues at which to serve!  And as one of the coordinators of the AWB Sandy Response in Manhattan, I am particularly honing in on any communities in New York City, to provide a space to relax, decompress, and services that help with insomnia, stress, anxiety, and trauma.  Remember the blog post I had written about my work doing NADA ear acupuncture protocol (5 needles in each ear) in the Bronx for populations recovering from addiction?  It is actually the same one that is used in hospitals, and now in the battlefield, because it is helpful for those suffering from PTSD.  This is what we use at the relief clinics, as well.

Has your community been effected by Hurricane Sandy?  Would you like me and my fellow AWB Sandy Response acupuncture volunteers to set up a community clinic in your area for the short or long term to provide healing services to help you and yours sleep better, release anxiety, or just have a space to release the tensions of the day/week?  We’re ready!  Email me at, and we’ll be there, like white on rice!

My office had no power for a week.  But, once it came back up, I started seeing my patients.  One patient in hard hit Hoboken, NJ, actually texted me from the second story of her house, because she and her husband had totally lost power, and their first floor was flooded.  She had reported that the national guard was on their way, so she was hopeful.  But the patients who were able to see last week came in.  One by one, they shared a similar story.  And it became clear to me that not only have those who’ve lost everything – their homes, loved ones, life as they knew it – were directly effected, but those who haven’t lost such immensity, were effected as well.  It’s a little more subtle, because it is this underlying current in the guise of “I shouldn’t feel bad, I didn’t lose anything/anyone”.  Survivor’s guilt.  It was then I realized that all of us in New York City, Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx, Long Island, Staten Island, and New Jersey are experiencing community trauma, just on different levels.  A certain sense of powerlessness has pervaded our lives, and so we try to make sense out of it by helping each other, volunteering, sending love through the ether to those we are unable to still get in contact with.

Energetically, we are all in a major shift.  Hurricane Sandy was one big blast of it, the whirling energies surrounding the election, the snow of the Nor’Easter two days after Sandy.  Most folks feel it, although some may not be able to put their finger on it.  But, essentially, we are all being called to raise our consciousness in ways we have not had to before, release old patterns in significant (and oftentimes, sudden) ways.  If you’ve been feeling unsettled, ungrounded, and sensitive, do not fear.  The changes are big, but the unsettled feeling is temporary.  We are in it together, and we’re making it!

Things to take note of as we heal from these major energetic shifts:

  1. Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired (HALT):  If you are feeling hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, take this as an immediate signal to exercise extreme self-care.  This means eat a meal that you know is nourishing (and try to remember to eat regularly to help fortify your Spleen).  If you’re angry, it’s time to be aware that your emotions are in need of decompressing.  If you’re lonely, make sure to reach out (I know this is hard for some of you, but believe me the rewards far outweigh the initial awkwardness.)  If you’re tired from working too hard, watching too much news, thinking and worrying too much, just stop, and take a moment to rest.
  2. Sleep, Hydration, Exercise, Nutrition (SHEN):  “Shen” is the Spirit in Chinese Medicine, which is housed in the Heart.  When our Shen is disturbed, we feel unsettled, have insomnia, among other things.  When we experience extreme stress, such as in a major disaster, our Shens can feel unsettled.  With this SHEN acronym, we learn to help our Shen through getting enough Sleep, Hydrating constantly to flush out toxins (physically and emotionally), Exercising to keep the stress level in check, and adequate Nutrition to help our bodies manage these shifts with more ease.
  3. Give yourself extra time to accomplish your tasks.  Give yourself a cushion in your schedule to exhale!
  4. When things get too frenzied, remind yourself that you are doing the very best that you can, and that, alone, is enough.
  5. Enjoy some Chinese herbs to help you de-stress:
    Longan Fruit (Long Yan Rou) – tonifies the Heart (related to joy/lack of joy) and Spleen (worrying, over thinking), restores Shen (Shen is the root of the spirit), helps rebuild qi and blood from fatigue, shortness of breath, insomnia (only take up to 9 longan fruits or digestive issues can happen)
    – Jujube Fruit (Da Zao) (especially the black ones) – tonifies the Spleen (over thinking, fatigue, weakness in limbs, lack of appetite), calms the Shen/Spirit, can put a few in a congee (Chinese rice porridge), cookies, or soups
    – Ginger (Sheng Jiang) – helps with nausea, digestion, coughs, helps drive out incoming cold, excellent as a comforting tea during these cold months
    – Walnuts (Hu Tao Ren) – tonifies Kidneys (the Traditional Chinese Medicine organ that relates to the emotion of Fear), warms the Lungs to help coughs and wheezing

Here are some links that are helpful: – Occupy Sandy volunteers have really been there for our community.  The buzz on Facebook has been that Occupy Sandy has done more for the community than the Red Cross.  That they were there in places that were not getting relief.  Hey, it’s the community’s words, not mine!

CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities – What the community said about Occupy Sandy goes ditto for the community in Chinatown and the Lower East Side towards CAAAV’s efforts post-Sandy.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance – If you lost income due to the hurricane, NYS Dept. of Labor just implemented Hurricane Sandy Department Services to give financial Disaster Unemployment Assistance to those in NYS, even if you don’t qualify for regular unemployment.  This can be helpful to those of us who are self-employed, and is for anyone living in NYS who lost work and wages due to the hurricane. They encourage you to file asap, but application deadline is 12/3/12. You’ll have a long wait to get to a representative, so juice up your phone to be on hold. I was on hold for more than an hour, but the rep who helped me file was nice.

Acupuncturists Without Borders Donation – This is a link to donate towards Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) Relief Efforts, particularly for Sandy.  Any amount will be helpful in helping us obtain supplies needed to safely and accurately perform stress relieving treatments for those effected and displaced.

Superstorm Sandy Free Acupuncture Relief Clinics – AWB recently put this up to help others know where they can receive free community acupuncture as part of the AWB relief efforts.

Acupuncture Today Article On AWB’s Sandy Response – We made headlines recently on Acupuncture Today, where they covered our work.

And, here’s a November 2012 Energy Forecast by Lee Harris that I wanted to share.  Perhaps you’ll find it as fascinating as I did:




Copyright © 2012 by Alcantara Acupuncture & Healing Arts. All rights reserved. You may quote, copy, translate and link to this article, in its entirety, on free, non-donation based websites only, as long as you include the author name and a working link back to this website. All other uses are strictly prohibited.

All information on this website is my own opinion, and not to be taken as medical advice. Reliance on any information provided on this website is solely at your own risk. Please refer to your medical practitioner before making any medical decisions.


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