Our Twitter feed this week asked the following question: “What was your most memorable acupuncture treatment?” I had to sit with this question for a bit to think about my most memorable treatment, and then after awhile I realized that not only were there just too many to pick one, the reasons they were memorable were too different.
Some of my treatments have provoked immediate responses. For instance, there was my first treatment, where they were testing to see if I was a Fire CF. When my student practitioner needled the points at my wrist it felt like a burst of bubbles rushed into my hands, kind of like how Alka-Seltzer feels when you drink it. I was so moved that I actually started singing the commercial jingle. Then, I starting laughing so hard that I couldn’t stop. I made the supervisor on duty and my intern start laughing, until they realized I couldn’t stop. When I finally calmed down, there was an amazing sense of sadness underneath the laughter. Sadness I hadn’t been able to acknowledge and wouldn’t have been able to without the laughter (or the treatment). I don’t know if it’s the laughter or the sadness that I remember most. But it was definitely a memorable treatment.
Other treatments were memorable because of specific points. The first time I had points on my feet needled definitely stands out. Foot points are, well, more tender, but it wasn’t the tenderness that I remember, it was the strength of the energy that rushed through my feet as a result. The power took my breath away. Then there was the first time I had the point “Amidst Elegance” needled. I felt my own strength and a clearly defined sense of self. I don’t think I’ve ever been able to sit up that straight and that calmly before. And then, I remember going in one day and talking about a need for balance. They needled a point called “Equilibrium Middle,” which is located behind the knee. I remember thinking, “All that time I’ve spent seeking balance and it’s been behind my knee the whole time. ” Everyone in the room got a kick out of that escaping thought.
Perhaps the most memorable points have been points needled on my head. It’s like being transported through and into the universe. I don’t know where I go, but I try to hold onto the sensation and guide myself back to it in times of stress. I have known for awhile that acupuncture was helping me feel better, but I don’t think I fully recognized how powerful just a few acupuncture points could be until I had head points needled.
In the end, it doesn’t seem to be about one treatment or one point. Particularly with Five Element Acupuncture, the succession and progression of treatments is the key to achieving balance and health. The immediate sensations are wonderful, but the changes that occur and that become possible because of the movement of energy are more important. In my mind, none of this would be possible without a deep sense of trust between the patient and the practitioner. If you don’t trust your practitioner, you won’t go back. And the rapport between patient and practitioner is essential in being able to get at the root of the problem. Those of you already being treated know this. Those of you being treated in our student clinic know how amazingly supportive and sacred the clinic space is, how our interns and supervisors focus their intentions so carefully on you.
And so, if I was really forced to pick a most memorable treatment, it would actually have to be my TD, the two-hour Traditional Diagnosis. That’s right, my intake, where there were no needles, no points, just me and my practitioner, talking about my health and my life. I’d never felt so heard in my life by a medical professional. More than anything, that moment stands out because it was the beginning of an amazing journey towards health and well-being.
So, I’m going to rephrase our Twitter question and turn it back to you: what makes acupuncture memorable for you? Is it your practitioner, the immediate sensations, the way you feel three weeks later, the names of the points? If you tell me that it’s all of the above, maybe you should consider becoming a practitioner.