Happy National Acupuncture Day!

All across the country acupuncture clinics are celebrating the beauty and benefits of Chinese Medicine in different ways. A brief look at Facebook over the last few days showed me that our graduates are hard at work in their practices, using today’s celebration to promote health and awareness to new patients and current patients alike. They’re offering wonderful incentives to start treatment, or continue it, as well as plenty of educational information for those who aren’t quite sure they’re ready to (as one alum put it) “take a stab at it.” For those of you not linked in on Facebook, you can search for events on www.aom.org, or search generally for practitioners in your area.

This day is about promoting awareness of the health benefits that acupuncture provides. But I’m not going to rattle off a list of ailments and conditions that acupuncture successfully treats. I will leave that to the AFEA website and the other practitioners offering educational sessions today. In the end, people choose acupuncture treatment because they know someone who has experienced it, and they have seen their friends or family members healthier as a result of treatment. There’s no better recommendation than a real life success story, particularly from someone you know and love.

So in this vein of contributing to the awareness raising efforts of National Acupuncture Day, I am inviting my readers to share their most memorable experiences of acupuncture treatment, why they went in the first place, what benefits they saw, what changes occurred, etc. Our students come to the Academy mostly because they’ve witnessed first-hand the healing power of acupuncture. Their stories are nothing short of miraculous (hence the desire to become a practitioner). But you don’t have to want to be an acupuncturist to have had your health positively impacted by acupuncture. And so, to start things off, I’d like to share with you one of my most memorable acupuncture treatments and how the effects rippled out to the rest of my life.

I should state that I’ve had many treatments that stand out in my memory. They stand out for different reasons too, but my most memorable treatment doesn’t come from the alleviation of a physical symptom. It comes from the emotional/psychological affects of the treatment, borne out by needles, points, and the relationship I had with my practitioner.

At the particular stage of treatment in general, my practitioner and I were addressing the pervasive fatigue that kept coming back and managing my anxiety. I seemed to be tired all of the time, and there was no “real” reason that I could come up with. I just felt like I had hit a very frustrating, and very familiar wall in my life. I went in for an herb follow-up appointment to see what adjustments might be needed to my formula. Upon checking my pulses, the clinic supervisor that day consulted with my intern practitioner about the Husband & Wife block that she had detected. This is a rather serious block to the movement of qi (I’ll let you research that if you need more information). Suffice it to say, it was big enough for the supervisor to let my practitioner treat the block during my herb appointment rather than have me wait for an appointment in the acupuncture clinic the following Monday.

This wasn’t one of the treatments where I remember the exact physical sensations of each needled point. It was an overall whoosh, like a pin ball had been shot through me and was able to move without impediment. There was a balancing sensation as energy moved and debris was cleared out. So much fell away by the end of the treatment: the anxiety, the fear, the extreme sense of lethargy and lack of purpose that always seemed to dog me. And yet, at the same time, it wasn’t a blinding eureka! moment. It was more like waking up, alert, from sleep and being able to see without a veil. And I realized my practitioner was talking to me. When I tuned in I heard her say, “I really think you’re at a crossroads here where you can take control of which path you take. You have the ability to choose.” And for the first time in my life, I actually was able to choose my path instead of letting circumstances and old patterns choose it for me. Decisions suddenly felt solid, without the lingering what if. I didn’t need to keep looking backwards anymore.

My practitioner didn’t break the energetic block in my body with just needles. It was her knowledge and understanding of me as a person, as my own unique self, and the partnership that we had built that enabled me to go back to my life and make sweeping changes to habits, routines, and my life’s direction. Without that partnership, I don’t believe the treatment would have been as powerful as it was. Five Element students and practitioners spend a lot of time learning how to build rapport with their patients. And this treatment was a telling instance of how important that work is.

I could tell you that my migraines became almost non-existent through acupuncture. I could tell you that my allergies are better managed, that I no longer have knee pain keeping me from running, and that I sleep without interruption for the first time since high school. There are plenty of physical ailments that I have treated with acupuncture. And while those issues were impediments to daily life, there was no greater impediment to living my life than my emotional and spiritual being. These aspects of ourselves shouldn’t be discounted as just being “in our heads.” You don’t always have to throw pills at anxiety and depression. There are other options.

So, please join us as we celebrate National Acupuncture Day. I invite and encourage those of you who have had acupuncture to share your stories with friends, family members, or even strangers you happen to be chatting to. You never know how your experience might help heal someone else. And if you’re in the Gainesville area, come join us at the Downtown Farmer’s Market. See you there!