Acupuncture is Empowerment Therapy
As I continue to experience the power and wisdom of Chinese Medicine, I learn about my own healing process. A large part of my acupuncture practice are the treatment of mental-emotional and psychosomatic issues. It is very common for people to come to me for treatment of a physical ailment, which becomes a jumping off point for deeper internal work they’ve been wanting to do.
I myself always view conditions of the body and mind in a spiritual light. It is helpful for me (and many others) to find meaning in the suffering that’s endemic to life. I want to know why the shoulder hurts. If shoulder pain can be an entrance into discovering a hidden truth about myself or my life, this is very exciting to me. Of course, sometimes shoulder pain can simply be from lifting too many weights at the gym. And that is fine. Let’s treat it and be done with it! But if the pain is a manifestation of something stuck on a deeper level, I am the type of practitioner that is willing to support my patient as they work through it, release it and move on.
Within my search to understand myself and my own suffering, I came to the profession of acupuncture. All it took was working with an acupuncturist to heal my own ailments. Working with her did heal my problems, but it also allowed me to develop an understanding and respect for myself and the wisdom of my body. Through studying the medicine of acupuncture myself, I’ve been able to understand my patterns, see where I’m stuck, and develop compassion, patience and understanding for my “issues.”
I bring the compassion and patience I’ve cultivated through healing myself to the people I work with. I’m often asked by patients how long it will take until a condition will get better. This is usually one of the first questions I’m asked. The true answer is, it’s hard to say. The process of healing is first a “detective search” for the cause of the condition. Sometimes we have the answers, sometimes it takes some digging and waiting for them to appear. I use the word “we,” since both myself and the patient are working together within the treatment room. I believe the patient has the answers. They may be buried or hidden. It is my job to open the layers of the body and clear away the obstructions that may be blocking awareness of these answers. I support and fortify the energies of the body to help in this process. But it is the patient that is doing a lot of the work. First of all, it is the patient that has the courage to come in for treatment, to look at themselves, to talk and surrender to the experience of learning about themselves. I am always greatly moved by this courage.
Through the theories and experience I possess as an acupuncturist, I can guide a patient through their process of opening, clearing and rebuilding. It’s not my job to push, or expect anything. I follow the lead of the patient. Through the clues I receive via the symptoms they are presenting, or the topics they choose to speak about, the patient leads me to the appropriate treatment. I remain patient. It is up to the person I’m working on to decide how long they need to take within any level we are working. How long will it take? As long as you need.
I am often amazed at how many people judge themselves harshly concerning the difficulties in their physical or mental life. Some people come to me feeling guilty or at fault for their condition. I’m moved to my core. I recognize myself in this. It has been redemptive to learn about the progression of emotional and/or physical conditions. I begin to understand why it was such a big deal for the ancient Chinese when a medical book was published which explained why people get sick. Before that, the people believed they were getting sick as some sort of punishment for their sins. Amazingly, this type of thinking still occurs. Often from some of the most educated, worldly people.
It’s redemptive to learn how an emotional experience can get stuck in the chest and progress all the way to obsessive-compulsive behavior, constipation or even cancer. There is a pathway that opens up: a way back to health and freedom. Once the person can return to the original stuck material, they can work on letting it go, regaining health and freedom. Compassion can be cultivated, as well as a sense of direction. I always say acupuncture is an empowerment therapy at its root. The obsessive-compulsive addictive behavior is not because you are crazy or sinful or bad: it may be simply because there is an emotional trauma stuck in the chest, having gone into the level of the unconscious, and is expressing itself through behavior instead of thought. There is a rational wisdom here that encourages forgiveness and active surrender.
Who is it that said “whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger?” This is also my view. The healing process empowers a person. How great does it feel when we accomplish something challenging and see results? It can feel even better to heal from a condition, especially one that doctors say is “severe” or “serious.” It certainly makes us stronger: it gives us tremendous insight into ourselves, and if we allow it, self-respect and self-love. And if we can reflect all of that outwards toward our fellow man, the good as been amplified ten-fold.
The fact that a collection of needles inserted shallowly into points on the body can do all of this is miraculous. The treatment and medical theory is impressive. Equally impressive and necessary is the effort and commitment of the patient and practitioner: working together to heal.