Stick A Needle In It – Erin Kumpf’s Journey to Acupuncturist and Herbalist
When Erin started offering Ear Acupuncture Sessions I jumped on that bandwagon. I had just started acupuncture with another practitioner and wanted to add sessions that were focused on relaxation and energy as I was having some anxiety issues. I have been to all the auricular acupuncture sessions Erin has offered and every time I feel lighter, more centered, and truthfully ready to take a nap (and I do!). Erin tries to create a sanctuary-like environment and whether we are in chairs or on bolsters, I feel and believe in the safe space she has created.
Join me now as I interview Erin and learn about her journey from an IT professional living in Hoboken to a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist working, living, and being active in Jersey City.
What is Auricular (ear) Acupuncture?
The ear is a microcosm of the body and if we looked at a chart it would look like an upside down baby. There are points all over the ear that correlate to different parts of the body and you can address issues internally and externally just through the ears. The points I used today have a function of de-stressing and balancing the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system. They are a great way to take it down a notch.
Why did you start offering Ear Acupuncture?
Someone suggested that I add it to what I offer. I love the idea of community acupuncture and there are some practitioners that just dooffer community sessions. It is a space you can create that makes acupuncture more affordable. You also get the benefits of acupuncture in a community setting and there is a little bit of healing when you have this group dynamic. We don’t have the space to do that here all the time, but I try to emulate that in my 8 person sessions. So it is my way of offering it to people who have never had acupuncture before and can’t afford $75 per hour. They can come for $15 for 30 minutes and it is still really beneficial.
Have you seen any conversions from the ear sessions to full sessions?
Yes, absolutely! I have people that I am still seeing now from the last session in the fall. The point of it is to get people to experience it and determine if they actually want to continue with it. Our goal is to get you healthy and then once in a while come in to do for maintenance versus falling back into a hole.
How did you find acupuncture and why did you connect to it?
In 2002, I was working the desk at Devotion Yoga. I had been going through all kinds of issues, and was a little bit frustrated because no one could get to the root cause. When I was working at Devotion there was an acupuncturist working right next door, Aradhna Behl. I remembered my mother had gone to acupuncture in the 80s when no one was going (to acupuncture), and she had a lot of success. So I said, why not give it a shot because everything that was being suggested was masking things and not finding the problem.
I went in one random afternoon and the whole session was crazy; nothing like I had ever felt before. I was a little apprehensive and unsure of what to expect but decided to continue with her with acupuncture and herbs. After 2 months, the whole issue was resolved and hasn’t come back since.
Shortly after that, I started contemplating going back to school. I was working in IT at the time and I knew I wanted to be in the healthcare realm. Medical and nursing school didn’t jive with me, but helping people did. I have always marched to the beat of my own drum in terms of what I think is best for myself and after researching and contemplating for 2 to 3 years, I finally decided this was the time to go for my Masters degree in Acupuncture.
In 2009, I took a class as a non-matriculating student at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and BOOM that was it! I had a great teacher name Pony Chiang. He exuded everything you think of when you think of Chinese medicine, acupuncture, and astrology. He was so knowledgeable and engaging.
How do you integrate acupuncture into your patient’s modern life?
They can come see me and do for acupuncture which is great for removing blockages and freeing things like blood circulation or chi (energy) and I can give them herbal therapies, which can help change the energetics of the body sites -from the inside out.
When I work with any client we focus on two sets of ideologies. The first is the 4 pillars of Chinese Medicine: acupuncture, herbal medicine, and Qi Gong and Tui Na, which is meditation. The second is the 5 elements, which have a very shamanistic root of how our bodies are microcosms of everything. Where we live, what we eat, and what we and expose ourselves to on a day to day basis sets the tone for our health and I work to find solutions for my clients. I teach them how they can live their lives in conjunction with their environment.
You received glowing reviews from Jay McVey, Owner of life Logistics. What makes your practice so special?
I believe you have to give people space and they heal when they are given that space. I only see one client at a time giving them the whole hour so we can have an in-depth and meaningful dialogue.
What is the difference between having a practice in Jersey City and New York City where your practice previously was?
The difference is the energy. In NYC, people are very transient,transient; coming in for appointments on their lunch breaks or before they hit the gym, so they are a little more rushed. Here in Jersey City, people are a little more relaxed and looking to slow down a bit.
I think I bombarded them when they had the location on Palisade. I started going to their classes and was so excited because I only lived a block away. I originally met Bridget when she was pregnant and we started talking about her going to her acupuncturist. I was like “Hey! I am an acupuncturist as well” and that was how the original dialogue started.
[EKAH is now located at 212 Palisade Ave]
You are very active in Jersey City being part of the Washington Park Association, having a business in Jersey City, playing in a band. How did you get involved in the community?
I have to thank Nick Caballero for that. I live in a condo and our association wanted to redo the façade, so we reached out to the few people we knew. Nick came highly recommended. He and I developed a friendship and I learned he was part of the Washington Park Association. At the same time we met Becky Hoffman with Riverview Neighborhood Association. The farmer’s market had also just started. All of these showed up at the same time with a whirlwind of opportunity. Nick suggested I apply to become a trustee of the WPA and the rest is history.
I love the fact that I can go down the street and see a neighbor in the local bodega; the farmer’s market is right across the street; and Manhattan is still accessible, but then we can come back to this awesome community of people. We are so tight knit and you don’t get that these days in other urban neighborhoods. It is a crazy, wonderful, community that is right outside NYC.
I came to Jersey City via Hoboken. I moved there in 1999 and in 2003 I wrangled my husband tointo moving to move to NJ once we got married. After looking to purchase a place in Hoboken at the height of the bubble we decided to look in Jersey City. First we looked downtown, but we had an inkling that the Heights would be a great place with an artist community and a very diverse areawas very diverse. It is very different from the homogenous surroundings I had been in for years.
Finally, I love your music and love seeing you play at all the Jersey City Events. How did you and Ben start your band?
Ben is going to love this! Ben has been playing guitar since he was 14, but I didn’t pick up a guitar until 2008. I kind of taught myself by watching him and we were able to start playing together.
One day we filmed ourselves and jokingly made a video calling ourselves Twiddlin’ Thumbs with no intentions of playing out. Then the Trolley Car Bar opened and they have an open mic night put on by Nick Ciavatta every Wednesday. For our wedding anniversary on May 29th 2013 we played for the first time in front of an audience at the open mic. Big Thank you to Nick!
What is to come for you?
I have my masters, but I am continuing my education. I am in the process of getting my Doctorate of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine taking my career to the next level. Update: She will graduate from her doctorate program in Fall 2016.
To learn more about Erin and her practice check out her website
Or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org