Meet the Wellness Professional: Britton Mann, Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, Open Door Integrative Wellness in White River Junction
Every week I highlight someone in the Upper Valley who falls under the title of "Wellness Professional" - trainers, nutritionists, therapists of all kinds (physical, psychological, massage), and creators of healthy products, to name just a few. I give them a list of 20 questions and they choose to answer them however they'd like. [Are you a "Wellness Professional"? Email RVCAmy at gmail dot com to be featured here.]
This week I'd like to introduce you to Britton Mann, Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine
I was born and raised in New York City, but fled to the countryside for Williams College, and then to the mountains of Colorado where I worked in environmental education and studied massage therapy and yoga. After several fruitful years teaching yoga and practicing massage here in the Upper Valley, I went back to school in Portland, Oregon for a Masters and subsequently a Doctorate degree in acupuncture and Oriental medicine.
What is your fitness/wellness philosophy?
Go along with the flow, with the current. The Chinese term is shun. If it is a warm summer day and I’m feeling rested and strong, I’ll tackle a long and hilly bike ride. Going counter to the flow (ni) would be doing a hard bike ride while under slept and injured. In that circumstance, I’m better with restorative yoga, practicing qigong, or spending the time cooking a nice meal.
How did you get to where you are now?
I’ve had a meandering path to get to where I am professionally, but all my professional pursuits, and many avocations, have had threads of time-honored traditional medicine and healing arts.
Did you ever have any setbacks and how did you get past them?
Early in college I took a year off to do some soul-searching, to “find myself.” Ironically, I spent the better part of this academic break getting lost in the woods in various places in the U.S. and abroad. In the process I did find (or re-find) myself.
What makes you unique in your field?
Length of training, breadth of study, depth of experience, medical multilingualism.
Typically, acupuncturists study for four years and receive a Master’s degree that entitles licensure. I completed a six-year course of study with a Doctoral degree, and had a three year apprenticeship with my mentor in Portland, Oregon before moving back to the Upper Valley.
Prior to acupuncture and herbal medicine, my first career was in massage therapy and teaching yoga. In sum, I’ve been in the healing arts for eighteen years in both external medicine (musculoskeletal issues), and internal medicine, and at this point I feel equipped to work with most anyone who comes to Open Door.
That said, I regularly interface with colleagues across medical disciplines to get the best outcomes possible with my patients. I can speak the language of medicine from both the traditional Chinese and modern biomedical perspectives, and feel that communication and collaboration between allopaths (M.D.s) and Chinese medicine practitioners is critical. Too often, patients under care from allopaths and integrative medicine practitioners feel like their care is fragmented and that practitioners are not communicating. I like to encourage cross-talk. In fact, I do it almost every day because my wife is a medical doctor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock!
What's your go to meal for: breakfast, snacks/sweets, lunch, dinner, beverage?
I’m omnivorous and don’t stick to any particular foods, save for what is in season and looks good at the stores, farmsteads, and markets. I generally have plates of food that are colorful, and varied in texture and flavor. Daily staples are vegetables in mass, with smaller quantities of dark chocolate, coffee, and tea.
What's you favorite place to eat out in the Upper Valley? What do you usually get?
Eating a great meal out seems to me a social and temporal phenomenon. I’ve had equally great meals of eggs and french toast with my kids at Lou’s on a Saturday morning, or a kale salad at Cedar Circle Farm after a summer outing.
What's your guilty pleasure (food or otherwise)?
I haven’t had a television since the days when I watched Fraggle Rock and Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, and for the past decade have been hearing how amazing television has become. This past July on vacation, our rental house had Netflix and I watched Breaking Bad into the wee hours for several days straight. I can’t say I felt guilty about that pleasure, but I sure was tired in the mornings.
What's something health and wellness related that you wish you'd known years ago?
Healing doesn’t take a linear course.
What's your favorite quote or mantra?
Pema Chodron speaks about “leaning into the sharp points.” I think that’s solid advice for just about any challenging situation.
Who or what gives you inspiration?
Professionally, I’ve been inspired by patients who have summoned will and determination to change the course of their mental and physical health. I show up for clinic in the mornings because I love to see that kind of change.
What's something you wish your clients/class participants knew? Or did? Or didn't do?
I spend a lot of time researching and thinking over individual patient situations. Disease and imbalance is always a multifaceted puzzle. Occasionally I see a clear solution during an initial interview. More often, however, I get glimpses of solutions that need further mulling over, reading, and talking through with peer counselors. I give this process an earnest effort.
If you could only have one piece of fitness/wellness equipment what would it be?
In the absence of a bicycle, I ascribe to the Rocky IV mentality that you don’t need a lot of gear to be fit and feel well. Just to refresh everyone on Rocky IV: Balboa does his training in spartan rural Russia while his nemesis, Ivan Drago, relies on lots of newfangled technology. Guess who wins the fight.
What are your passions outside of your field?
I’m really interested in the impact that digital devices and social media are having on children. There is more and more evidence suggesting that the unprecedented rise in anxiety and depression among adolescents (and pre-adolescents) is directly related to the outsized role that social media and screen time on devices plays in the lives of teens. As a parent of two young children, I am very motivated to keep my eyes wide open to these changes so that my kids and their peers can have strong minds and good hearts.
What is your least favorite exercise?
I am completely inept on ice skates.
What are one or two tips you can give to help people be successful in their wellness journey?
Be forgiving of yourself! There’s a heck of a lot of self-blaming in our culture, and that puts a big hit on vitality.
Where can people learn more about you?
- My clinic is Open Door Integrative Wellness in White River Junction.