Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Musings from the Acupuncture Table

Acupuncture is a key component of ancient Chinese medicine and therapy. It involves placing small needles in the skin along the body's energy pathways to manipulate blood and energy flow. It also invites the individual receiving treatment to experience deep relaxation.

Acupuncture also allows individuals to experience an "ancient" or "lost" art- the art of distraction-free quiet time. You are laying on a table with needles sticking out of you. You can't exactly get up and run away! No phone, no technology, only your breathing and your thoughts.

To some people, this may seem like a strange kind of torture that you pay to experience. But to me, the idea of being relaxed and alone for 30 minutes with nothing but thoughts for company seemed exciting and terrifying at the same time.

I started by focusing on deep breathing and repeating a mantra, similar to what I do with meditation. (My current mantra is "God help me to accept" on the in breath, and "that which I can't control" on the out breath.) But when my mind wanders during acupuncture, I allow it, as long as it doesn't go to my to-do list.

Recently, I was thinking about our individualistic culture that focuses on the self and how we as individuals navigate through life.

Just think about this: How many of your sentences every day start with "I"?

Thinking from the perspective of the individual is easy. What is more difficult is remembering the people and things that support our everyday existence. We'd like to think that we direct everything in our lives, but this is simply not true.

For example, during my last acupuncture session, it was easy to think, "I am lying down on this table."

But then I shifted my focus. What if the table wasn't there? I would fall to the floor with a "thump"! I was completely dependent on the table to support my entire body weight.

"The table is supporting me. Without it, I would fall."

Take a breath in. Now out. In. Now out. What is happening?

"I am breathing."


"Oxygen is filing my lungs and supporting my bodily functions."

How do we cultivate this mindset when it's so easy to get back into "I, me, my" mode?

The easiest answer to this is establishing a daily gratitude ritual. If you are thinking about what you are grateful for, you immediately go outside your own headspace.

When you wake up, blink your eyes open and think, "I am grateful for this bed." Stretch and be grateful for your body. Go to the bathroom and be grateful you can walk. Drink water and be grateful for clean water and its life-sustaining properties. In three minutes, you've shifted your approach to the day.

Meditation also encourages us to be aware of not only what is going on in our bodies, but also outside of our bodies. After closing your eyes and breathing slow and deep, shift your focus to the chair supporting your weight. Feel "grounded" with the floor under your feet. Feel every contact point and recognize how your weight is supported.

This mindset helps us to remember that we are not floating alone in space, but we are grounded to the people and things that support us and for that we should be grateful.

I for one am grateful for your support. Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your blog about acupuncture as its something I have recently been interested in. I have a very sore shoulder and acupuncture has helped in the past. However it does come back. I think its great that you have a daily grounding ritual and that's something I would like to do in my own life. Hope the acupuncture worked for you and that you are feeling better.

    Shanell Custer @ Sage Health and Wellness