Hi Clark, welcome and thank you for taking the time to speak with me today.
It is a pleasure.
Clark, to begin with, will you please tell us more about your clinic Middleway Medicine.
Middleway has been in Talent for nearly 17 years. We practice in a beautiful clinic surrounded by gardens. We offer several different styles of acupuncture, including Five Element and Traditional Chinese Medicine. We also have an extensive herbal pharmacy. We love living in and serving the Rogue Valley. We value being part of a smaller community where we can build deep and lasting relationships.
Our business is “in the middle,” between Talent and Medford in both location and ideology. We strive to make everyone feel welcome here. We have patients from Bend to Brookings, and Roseburg to Redding.
Clark, when you and Ann first started the clinic, what were some of your initial inspirations and goals for the clinic?
As grand as it sounds, we have always hoped to help heal the world, by healing individuals. When people feel healthy, vital and present they tend to share this with their family, friends and community. When one person heals, everyone benefits. It has always been important to us to be a contributing part of the community. We envisioned helping people achieve and maintain good health, but also to continue to grow and evolve into their best selves. We write articles, teach meditation classes, and help with community service projects. We value being a business that the community can count on. We see this vision unfolding as we attract new patients mostly through referral from satisfied patients and other health care practitioners. They send in their families, neighbors and coworkers with high hopes for healing what ails them. We often treat entire extended families.
Over the course of the past 17 years, what have you seen your clinic come to be known for?
We are known as very skilled practitioners, who offer top-tier medical service with presence and compassion. We are dedicated to our patients and to our community. One of the most common things we hear from patients is that they are surprised by their experience at Middleway. People often visit our clinic seeking help with their physical pain and discomfort, but they also improve in ways that they hadn’t imagined. We often hear that patients feel more settled, experience better relationships, and find more fulfillment in their lives. We listen to each of our patients, get very good healing results, and offer great continuity of care. We also take pride in our beautiful clinic, our professionalism, and in making the experience an easy one. We offer in-house billing and friendly reception. We work closely with Western medical practitioners, as well as a wide variety of alternative healers.
Clark, over the course of the past 17 years both you and Ann have really grown your specialties in your own directions. Please tell us about this.
One of our mentors in school said that “you don’t choose your specialty, your specialty chooses you.” This has been our experience. It took a lot of effort for Ann and me to have our daughter, and Ann has harnessed this struggle to become an expert in fertility, pregnancy and women’s health. I have always been a detective, so it is not enough to just allay suffering for the moment. I want to discover the deepest seed of someone’s suffering and help them to redefine their relationship with their original wounds. This led me to study and practice Five Element style acupuncture, which believes that our initial trauma greatly impacts the way we experience the world.
Clark, please talk about your specialty in acupuncture.
I believe that the purpose of life is to grow and evolve into the purest expression of our individual self. When we do this, we not only limit illness, but we feel whole. There is a tangible peace and bliss that arises when we are balanced in our lives. Our experiences, our illnesses, our struggles and triumphs all point us towards the places we get to grow. I am intrigued by the role that emotions play in our lives. Emotions show us the places where we are stuck, and offer opportunities to integrate or let go of our experiences. It is not enough just to avoid illness: I am interested in how we can thrive. The Five Element system of acupuncture says that we are born whole and bright, but our trauma is like a cloud that covers the sun. The sun still shines, but we can’t see or feel it. When we clear the clouds of trauma, and the stories we embody, we get to experience life as a wonderful gift.
Please talk about the Five Elements history of acupuncture as you practice it.
Chinese Medicine is a vast system that spans thousands of years and many different regions. During the cultural revolution in China, there was a move to streamline the extensive body of medical knowledge. The government edited and condensed these traditions into a standardized form known as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). This cut out or minimized many of the more spiritual and emotional aspects of the medicine. The Five Element system is a collection of the aspects of the tradition that believe illness and pain in the physical body is interwoven and greatly impacted by our emotional and spiritual imbalances. What we may think of as randomly caused discomfort can usually be traced back to an original trauma and its resulting stories.
What do you find most interesting and compelling in the work you do?
I love the fact that this medicine is a sort of alchemy. It mixes a very refined science with the poetry and symbolism of yin and yang, and the interplay of the five elements. It dances in that place between the physical and the energetic. It serves as a bridge between two seemingly opposite systems, drawing on the best aspects of each.
I approach this work with the belief that if we want to change the world, we begin with ourselves. When we work on the microcosm of the self, this ripples outward, ultimately impacting the whole world. Change is really an inside job.
Are there any particular moments you can recall in which you knew you were on “your path” with this practice and how?
When I first began practicing, I wanted patients to get instant results. Patients would improve for awhile, but would often return with the same old problem.
I recall, about 5 years into my practice, working with a fairly regular patient with intense tension headaches.
He would oscillate between feeling good, and bouts of intense pain. He was pleased with the effects of our treatments, but felt they were temporary. When we began to explore the conditions surrounding his latest headache, he got angry and explained it started when his boss wouldn’t listen to his ideas. He said it made him feel like a child, and was reminded of when his abusive dad wouldn’t let him speak. It was then that this medicine really opened up for me. I could trace his current symptoms to his history and help him unwind the pattern in a more meaningful way, by speaking with him of his past, and helping to clear some of his traumatic relationship with his father with acupuncture. I began studying and applying more Five Element approaches.
Clark, with more than twenty years of practice experience, what are some of the biggest you receive in working with your clients?
I love the privilege of witnessing someone’s transformation. People who have been meek, become confident, people who are angry tend to soften. Since this is a medicine of balance, whatever someone needs to find their center usually shows up. There is a sort of serendipity.
Clark, in your day-to-day life, what do you enjoy most about what you do?
When I truly began to realize that every moment of my life is an opportunity to serve; that every thought and action has the potential to heal and help, it changed the way I view my work. I get to align my occupation, my service, and curiosity all in one path.
Do you have a favorite quote or tip you like to share with your patients?
As the bodhisattva vow says, “may I be the doctor and the medicine.” This recognizes and honors the fact that each of us has the potential to heal ourselves and to help others heal. It is important to be educated and practiced, but it is equally important to BE the medicine.
We do this by cultivating awareness and showing up wholeheartedly in each interaction.
How do you help people see where they are stuck and fast-track their growth, healing and evolution? I imagine this could be a difficult process at times.
I like to impress upon my patients that each and everyone of us is innately whole. We are not a problem to be solved. The work of being human is to realize this and remove any lingering ignorance that impairs its full expression. It can seem difficult, but really it is the simplest of things. The wisdom of this medicine teaches how to see patterns that exist in all living systems. Along with the intuition that blossoms with practice and a dedication to self improvement, it is like a map is laid out in front of you. You simply read the map.
What is the promise of your work?
The promise of this work is that no stone is left unturned. We see each part of a person as essential to the whole. The distinctions of black and white, or good and bad soften with the recognition that everything has its place. That every moment, every word, every thought has the potential to heal, or to harm. When we sink into the essence of this medicine we find that it offers a pathway to wholeness, or what some call enlightenment. We leave nothing in ourselves untouched, we invite…..
Why do your clients choose you?
All of us at Middleway are very dedicated to helping people become more whole. This means experiencing less physical and emotional pain and discomfort.
It also means feeling satisfied with our work, and our place in our families and community. We often hear that we are the people that patients call when they feel they are not being seen or understood by the medical system. We can help people connect the dots of their healthcare. We help people interpret their Western medical diagnosis and integrate care with their other practitioners.
What is the greatest impact you see that you can make in your work?
We are here to participate in the healing of all beings in this world. When we help someone set positive transformation in motion, we see that it ripples out and touches everyone and everything. It may seem like hyperbole, but it is absolutely true. This is remarkable medicine.
Clark, why can you do what you do so well?
I am very skilled with my diagnostic skills. It is partly intuition, partly continuous study, and partly skillful listening. I am fully present with each patient, every treatment. I help the patient zero in on the most effective treatment. For instance, I treated a patient recently who was suffering from a lot of anxiety. This was manifesting as a lot of digestive distress, including pain in the lower abdomen, constipation, gas; as well as an inability to focus and organize her life. I noticed she had a reddish complexion, had a weak and scattered small intestine pulse, smelled a bit burnt, and laughed often when she shared something uncomfortable. She also reported having difficulty sorting through her life. These things pointed me to the small intestine, an organ related to the fire element. She also had “aggressive energy” in her pulse, which causes a person to be scattered and ungrounded. I did an aggressive energy clearing treatment, which involves placing 12 needles along the spine. Each pair of needles relates to one of the “spirits” that correspond to each main organ in the body. I often refer to this treatment as a “nervous system reboot.” It is like restarting a computer that has become overwhelmed and unresponsive.
I then spoke with her about the importance of stillness, as a balancing balm for her tendency to be scattered. This is like water to cool her fire. I recommended at least 10 minutes per day of meditation or qi gong. I also suggested limiting her inputs, less media and screen time. I recommended reading the book The Untethered Soul by Micheal Singer to help her learn to more skillfully watch her mind. The next week when we met she reported feeling much more settled and relaxed, and said she had felt better than she had in many years.
From the perspective of Middleway, what do you and Ann do exceptionally well that sets you apart?
We often joke that we are chameleons. We are able to see people for who they are, to meet people where they are, and to help them discover the best remedy to make them whole. Our training is top notch, we have many years of experience and we combine this with a remarkable ability to precisely discover the best medicine for each individual. We have also been told many times that we have a fantastic bedside manner.
Can you give us an overview of your current services and availability?
We offer acupuncture, an extensive herbal pharmacy, meditation classes, and appropriate medical referrals. We are open Monday-Friday 9-5:30.
Clark, what are some of your favorite life practices that you enjoy doing?
I love the balance of stillness and movement. I am a longtime meditator, as well as a musician, songwriter, juggler and dancer. I also enjoy rafting, skiing, surfing and hiking, especially with Ann and our daughter Aliya.
Finally, are there any last thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?
The path to wellness is a combination of letting go and staying curious and open. You have everything you need to be whole. This is what you were born to do.
88 Lapree St.