I Tried It: Acupuncture
Are any of you out there experimenting with alternative forms of healing? OK… that’s probably a loaded question. If you are reading this, then I bet you’re already into what the rest of the non-yogi world considers “alternative.” You’re into yoga. You meditate, maybe. You’ve probably experienced aromatherapy. It’s likely massage is a constant in your life (or you wish it were). Maybe you’ve even been introduced to the art of Reiki. You are willing to open yourself to many different methods to heal the mind, body, and soul.
I have found that the older I get, the more I am open to these “alternative” healing practices.
I don’t know if that’s because I have had my fair share of experiences with what is publicly accepted with “normal” medicine, or that I have finally relaxed my attitude about “alternatives”. It’s probably a combination of both. Don’t get me wrong. I have not given up on my physician. I am just more willing to have open discussions with her about other healing practices that will accentuate her efforts to keep me well. And surprisingly, she is sometimes the one that starts the conversation.
And all that being said, a couple of months ago I found myself lying on a table getting small needles stuck into my lower legs, my cheeks and my forehead. You guessed it, I was experiencing my first ever visit to an acupuncturist! And it could not have been more cliché. Please don’t take the word cliché in any way as a negative description though! Let me explain.
The acupuncturist was highly recommended and only known as Master Yao (name has been changed). As I entered his office, I found myself surrounded by photos I would later find out to be of his elders. Master Yao came from generations of masters in the arts of Chinese healing and meditation. I was immediately offered hot tea. As I relaxed in the waiting area I noticed the lights were dimmed. There was no bright loud fluorescent lighting. There were candles diffusing a relaxing and calming light. An incense of spring flowers was in the air.
Soon Master Yao came out and led me back to a treatment room. For the next ½ hour or so he went through my history and the reasons I had sought out his help (chronic lower back pain and Right knee pain). Then he gave me an exceptional explanation on how acupuncture may or may not help me. He made no promises. It was here I found so many similarities to my Yoga practices, and to Hindu teachings. We spoke of the beliefs of the Yin and of the Yang. He spoke of energy coming from both the heavens and the earth. He explained how balance of all is the objective.
Then it was time for the needles!
And it was time for the unexpected. I expected the needles to be placed in the injured areas of my body. I thought needles would poke me in my lower back and in my knee. Nope. Master Yao set needles into my calves, forehead and upper lip. As he explained to me, it was his job to bring the balance of my upper body back to the balance of my lower body. Now I was instructed to lie still, in the dimmed room while balance was attempted. For three periods of 20 minutes I meditated while the needles did their job.
I thanked Master Yao and walked out of his clinic feeling better than I had before the appointment. One experience with anything cannot tell you enough, so I was willing to continue upon this newfound journey. But before I could make another appointment with Master Yao, a bit of kismet intervened. An article in my local newspaper appeared highlighting the opening of a new acupuncture office much closer to my home. Having the opportunity to compare practitioners intrigued me so I made my next appointment with Madame Claire (again the name has been changed).
I went into this next experience with acupuncture the same way I go into a Yoga class with a teacher that is new to me. I had a feeling confidence but also a sense of excitement for the unknown. And this time the results were even better. Madam Claire was kind, intuitive to my needs, and explained what she would do. She placed the needles into the same areas as Master Yao but instead of having me meditate, she used hand and neck massage to get me to relax during the treatment. When Madam Claire completed her treatment, not only did I have a relief of pain but I also had a sense of overall wellness.
I still cannot decide if my decrease in pain comes from a placebo effect or if the treatment actually works. But does it really matter? It does not matter to me. What matters is that I feel better. I am glad I chose to experience acupuncture. This alternative healing method has become part of my “normal” wellness practice. And as I do with my yoga mat, I always anxiously anticipate my next appointment.
Oh, and one last thing …. answering the question you are asking, it is NOT painful. I have yet to feel any of the needles!
Have you tried acupuncture, yogis? How did it go? Any other favorite “alternative” forms of healing? Tell us in the comments!