We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Feinstein and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
Something that people might not know about Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is just how differently we view the internal organs of the body. The role of the organs plays a much bigger part in the physical AND mental/emotional function of the system, as opposed to only a specific use in western medicine. The main organs we focus on (with some outliers) are the liver, heart, kidneys, spleen, and lungs. We don’t ignore their physiological usages like the lungs providing our ability to breathe or the heart as the circulator of blood in the system, but each organ has it’s own set of unique functions, according to TCM theory, that we take into account when looking at the influence they have on our energetic flow. (Otherwise known as “Qi,”). Each organ has an emotional component as well: for example, the liver is the angry organ, heart is the organ of joy, kidneys pertain to fear, the spleen is the worrier, and the lungs are the organ of grief. In TCM, we look at all of the body systems as a whole and how a person is presenting. We don’t leave anything out as we view everything as being connected– what are their sleep patterns, digestive functions, stress levels, energy levels, immune system functions, emotional states, etc. to paint a clearer picture of what is happening internally. Based on all of the above, we are able to choose acupuncture points and herbs, other modalities that might be useful, and diet and lifestyle adjustments that might aid in their healing process. It makes for some very interesting diagnoses and treatment patterns!
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
From the time I decided this is what I wanted to do for a living, I was determined and driven, and my parents were perplexed, so needless to say, I think there’s a healthy amount of risk involved when someone chooses the path of acupuncture. I was raised in the western-medicine model. My parents had never heard of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), let alone “acupuncture” and what it entailed. Once I made up my mind, I looked, leapt and expected the safety net of the universe to catch me. This is more or less how I’ve lived my life up to this point. I am a person who sees an opportunity and goes for something that “feels right” as opposed to seriously thinking it through. I trust my intuition. Originally, I left Texas to pursue college in Colorado, knowing no one. I cruised through school and was lucky enough to go on a semester abroad my junior year. Many of my friends went to places in Europe together and I chose Semester at Sea, knowing no one again, only to have a life-altering experience that altered everything for me. Through that experience, I was able to see the world in a raw, unfiltered way that was truly eye-opening. There, I tried acupuncture in southeast Asia and fell in love with the ideals that would change the way I viewed the body, mind, and energy(!). This experience would steer the ship (pun-intended) on what I would do for the rest of my life. Now as an established professional, with a thriving practice, there are a lot more factors to consider. I find my approach to be more intentional than it once was; I think things through a lot more, but I do believe that with all risks come reward. Similar to Eastern medicine, decision making should involve more than just your mind. Trusting the gut is arguably the most important factor in decision making, so finding your own balance of head and heart will help push you forward. The most important thing behind my personal success has been patience and trust. Without the two and a little bit of luck, I wouldn’t be where I am today. A successful practice takes time to build and without those three, it can be an uphill battle. Another factor that has worked well with my practice is meeting patients with an open mind. If I expect them to come to Eastern medicine, from a variety of backgrounds, and to trust an alternative healing path, I must meet them where they’re at. Embracing everyone and the experiences they have had helps build trust and opens the mind to new, different and less conventional modes of healing.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
If I had to plan a week in Colorado (with an unlimited budget), these are the places I would stay and go: Half the week at the Ramble in the Rino district. It’s such a cool hotel, surrounded by some of our favorite restaurants you could try every night: Uchi, Cart Driver, Super Mega Bien, and Stowaway. Not to mention, if you needed a night cap cocktail, Death & Co. is one of the coolest bars in town! For the second half of the week, I would go up to Boulder and do some hiking! Again, with an unlimited budget, I would stay in the St. Julien and enjoy their spa. OR stay in the lodges at Chautauqua. Day hikes would include: the first flatiron, Green Mountain, and Lion’s Lair (on the back side of Sanitas). Foodwise, I would frequent Wonder Press for juice and broth daily, Gelato Boy for a sweet treat and treat myself to dinners at: Corrida (and sit on the patio outdoors), Centro, and Arcana. Window shopping is my favorite in Boulder as well– going into Jones & Co., Haven, and Cedar & Hyde. Sounds like a blast!! Sign me up.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to give a shoutout to my coworker Karen Chiabotti. She is the owner and visionary of our amazing business, Alpenglow Acupuncture. She saw something in me 7 years ago and together we have built our amazing practice into what it is today. Without her encouragement, guidance, and leadership my understanding of what a thriving, successful practice looked like, would not be what it is today.