1. Acupuncture works.
Whether it’s sciatica, allergies, digestion, depression, menstrual troubles, IVF, joint pain, insomnia or just wanting to deal with that stress in your shoulders and neck which everyone seems to have – acupuncture just works. The trick is coming to a number of sessions in that first month or two. For more chronic issues that are complex and long standing (multiple surgeries, multiple addictions, multiple pharmaceuticals) it may take longer, even up to a year of regular acupuncture treatments. The point is to come and get the balance and go home and see what that balance serves when you’re put in your normal situation again. How does this feel now that I’ve had acupuncture? What is my body telling me about this symptom? What can I change about my situation or my environment that works better for me? My symptoms are teaching me something about my life – can I listen?
One woman had sciatica going down her left leg. She noticed it came around whenever she was doing what she called “museum walking” or walking slowly in the grocery store, or in the museum, lost in thought or being overly thoughtful about something. So I treated her Spleen and Stomach, which governs thought and this kind of rumination. I also treated her Gall Bladder which is about the direction of thought, and making wise judgement (it also happened to lie over where she was experiencing the pain). She noticed a huge improvement and only came back one other time or two because she had had that realization while she was also getting the right treatment.
2. Believe in your ability to heal.
Placebo affect is a real thing in acupuncture and I now have a lot of respect for it. It’s why people seek out healers in the form of acupuncture and other modalities – because these healers believe they can heal and they give them unconditional love while they are doing it. The Western medicine system is meant to be broken so there is incentive for us to come back. It’s not based on healing. It helps, but does not fix. If we were fixed, we would not need the expensive surgeries or expensive drugs foretold of fixing. People come to acupuncture when there is nothing out there in the market that can work. Pills will just mask or complicate it. Surgeries just create more pain. Therapists and psychotherapists only know the part of the story and the trauma we are willing to reveal. Enter acupuncture.
I have a story of one woman who comes in two, sometimes three times a week every week. You wouldn’t presume she was suffering as much as she is. In her intake form, it is written into all of the margins all the things that are wrong – every last thing. When I pull up by her side for another treatment, she typically is in a rush, completely overwhelmed, and complaining about the same things, with no connection or progressive consciousness around them, over and over. She almost never stays for the recommended half an hour with the needles which we as a clinic recommend – like it’s on-purpose. She is one of the most difficult patients to see because she comes in so much yet never speaks about any marked change or improvement after each treatment. She doesn’t want to improve if you ask me. She never talks about what helps, she only talks about what is wrong and you can almost see a sort of obsessive search in her eyes for what is wrong and what else is wrong as she talking. She keeps coming back because she is getting something out of it, namely someone to listen to her talk about all this. I spoke to her about wanting to heal and believing she can heal as being part of the whole deal here and we walked through a couple things she can decide for herself that she will and won’t do so she can avoid some of her symptoms.
If you want to heal, you have to follow the rules. The first rule is wanting to heal. The second rule is being ready to make the change with what you see. What foods help, what routine helps, and more importantly what attitude helps. The attitude will get you results. No one will get anywhere if their mind is only searching for the bad. There is SO MUCH research on placebo, the subconscious mind, and our ability to heal our bodies when we believe we are already healed. Believe you are healed in this very moment and don’t pay attention to the circumstances that brought you here. You’ll get through it. The third rule is staying for the half an hour that is recommended. Taking such precautions, showing up for your ‘Why’, showing up for partnership with the practitioner working for you, as well as relaxing, and breathing into this knowing will be the magic elixir to garner that we are healed and healing. So much can come from this shift in our stance.
3. Don’t take anything personally.
I learned that in a community setting, as well as in life, the less you take things personally the more you save yourself necessary pain and the easier it will be to get back to your work helping others. In place of taking something personally, hold a stance of compassion that you don’t know what people are going through, but you are sending them love from that tenderness in your heart that you have also been hurt too. They are that way for a reason and you will never know why but you have to be compassionate. There is a lot of pain and sickness in the world. Not just children starving in Africa but people who can’t relax or who punish others constantly for their own state which they can’t control. This is a time where people need love. They need lots and lots of love. Most people probably don’t know what unconditional love is let alone feels like. If someone treats you like shit from the get-go, do your best not to react. This is such a good lesson, as difficult as it is. If a moment could be stretched out for five minutes, wow. We could see all the things that goes on in people’s heads and their assumptions of everything which create the cage of the experience that we have. We are what we put out there. Have compassion.
4. It’s O.K. to relax.
Everyone in community acupuncture must relax as a very important component of treatment. After we consult with their issues it’s time to put in the pins and let the acupuncture settle into their body. When you receive acupuncture, it’s like being drugged up on the sensation of life coursing through you. It is feeling your blood and your bones and you spirit aura around you getting a cleansing, especially the longer you stay and the more often you come. The lull of sleep with the brightness of healing – this is how it feels to me. This is a potent time to feel like you are being healed, to make resolutions, intentions, and awaken to your own feelings in your body and the feelings and pains we suppress so they can move out. I was so surprised to find how little people sleep or rest. This is so important. If we got more rest, a majority of our symptoms wouldn’t be there – this is almost a guarantee and I’ve read this in sleep studies. In a community setting you get to rest and it’s O.K. because other people are resting too! And the world is not collapsing and we are creating a new reality that it’s okay to take care of yourself and to rest. There’s also this fear about resting that people are afraid to rest even if their body needs this and is garnering this response from the treatment. Please don’t be afraid of rest or of naps or of going to bed early. This is a healing response and we have to willing to go through the healing so we can be healed.
5. Don’t let anyone tell you to hold back your love.
When I first started, the owner of the clinic told me that I needed to be “consistent” with people and he kept repeating this over and over to me. I understood the concept but at the same time it was very confusing to me. He meant that I shouldn’t do one thing one day to a patient and another thing another day with the same patient or other patients, whether it was pins placed in one part of the body versus another, or if having more of a conversation on one day than another day. I soon realized this had to do with his own fear in opening his heart than it had to do with a patient’s experience of the clinic or of the treatment they were getting from me (or of me as a practitioner). I learned that I can be loving and open to everyone in various ways, subtle and obtuse, without sacrificing the quality of the treatment and their experience. Patients will know immediately the difference. People can feel it. Some patients we naturally have the exchange of words, some others prefer to talk very little – and what matters every time, before I ever pick up a pin to insert, is my unconditional love that I feel for them before treating them. It comes with the intention of healing them, in the belief that they CAN be healed. Who else is going to hold that in possibility for them? It’s up to me to love and believe in them. People are desperate for a person to treat them with love, kindness, and care. This was a huge learning and I will always follow my own guidance in this regard and not hold anything about myself back when I am in a place of being in service to others. I have a lot of compassion for people who feel they have to hold back being who they are, or that who they are isn’t good enough to serve a person in the moment. I feel like this sums up all of the previous four things I have mentioned – that there is no holding back. If we give love to others without expectation or an agenda, then a majority of the healing has already been accomplished. We are not alone. We are here to grow together and we are all healed together.