Finding Balance with Acupuncture

Like clockwork on a calm and breezy evening, I wander into the calm office near a busy road. It’s my monthly/bi-weekly/weekly appointment with my acupuncturist. I try to go at least every other week, but lately its a weekly endeavor as life can take a lot out of a person who works more than 60 hours a week.

Acupuncture wandered into my life in the middle of winter when the flu struck me down. I had given up on anything possibly fixing me and breathing through my nose was a wishful thought. I remember caving into my chiropractor’s recommendation to see an acupuncturist in desperation to seek relief from this virus that was consuming my life (looking back now, it may not have been that dramatic). I remember filling out lots of paperwork, the calmness of her voice as we talked about my medical history, and my brain wandering off, wondering, is this worth all this time so I can just breath a little?

I was wearing yoga pants and a t-shirt, a rarity for me in public, but that is what google recommended I wear, so I went with it. I had a hard boiled egg that morning, because apparently, you need protein, and then I was off. I remember being surprised when the needles didn’t kill me. She must have stuck a good dozen or more in me and the worst ones were in my nose. The next thing I knew, I could breath clearly through my nose, and I wasn’t dead.

I don’t remember feeling anything aside from clear nasal passages after my first appointment, and figured maybe acupuncture is like a drug free quick fix to the cold. My acupuncturist recommended that I come back for 4 more appointments weekly, and so I thought about, rethought about it, and then just did it. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting, however, the next 6 months and now 2 years after that taught me just why everyone needs acupuncture in their life.

Acupuncture is more than just fixing one thing, its about making sure the whole body runs well. There is more than needles involved in the process. There is an aspect of making sure you’re eating well, getting enough minerals and vitamins, and taking care of yourself that also goes alongside acupuncture. I take supplements to help me balance my life, and I assume that most acupuncturist do provide some too, since ancient eastern medicine is really heavy on herbal medicine (ie. non Merck made).

It wasn’t until my 6th or 7th acupuncture session did I really feel the results and benefits of acupuncture, and you might say, it was after that, and an incident playing bubble ball that I became hooked on acupuncture. I had an outing with my girlfriends after what was already a super long Friday in the office, and I wanted to cancel so bad, but I dragged myself into downtown after my acupuncture session and within an hour, I was full of energy and feeling great. When I crashed into bed that evening, grateful that I went, I thought about how great I was feeling, and knew the only thing different about my routine was acupuncture. That realization that the recharge to my system came from my body being well taken care of, had me sold on adding acupuncture to my health and wellness routine.

Acupuncture doesn’t fix the problem, acupuncture helps you fix the problem. Often times, I will say to my acupuncturist, ‘can you fix me?’, and she will say, NO. And really, its not her job to fix me, and the needles aren’t going to fix me, its my body that has to do the fixing. Think of your body as the busy highways of Los Angeles. Think of all your veins, arteries, and energy as super highways running throughout your body. Then pick a place or five to drop a car accident, mixed with Holiday commuters and rush hour. That is what’s going on in your body when you’re feeling fatigued and sickly, at least for me. A trip to the acupuncturist usually means she is finding the blocked channels and helps my body clear up the traffic jams so that it can get back on track to being a smooth ride. Acupuncture is weird in a way, unless you’re the acupuncturist or really well versed in ancient medicine, you probably won’t understand what goes into it, but if you’re participating in the art of acupuncture, trust me, you will feel the difference.

Some of my friends use pharmaceutical grade drugs, some binge drink on Friday, others smoke pot, and I go to acupuncture. Everyone has their own way of coping with life’s harsh challenges. I am a workaholic. I love my jobs (yes, its plural) and sometimes the commitments I make to balance personal and professional take a lot of out of a person, so I help keep my body balanced with acupuncture, chiropractic and massage so I can balance the challenges of life. Acupuncture doesn’t replace western doctors, nor is it a cure all for life, but its there to help you find balance within yourself, so you can balance the world around you. I see the acupuncturist for support when I am sick, when I have a muscle injury, when I am stressed, or if all things are working well, as a well-baby check for my system.

Acupuncture looks scary from the outside, but it actually isn’t supposed to be painful. Sometimes there is a prickly feeling, and if it ends up hurting, communicate with your acupuncturist, because that usually means something is off. That was a lesson to learn for me, just communicate, because the stereotype isn’t actually what acupuncture really is. Half the time, the needles don’t hurt at all, and this is coming from someone who cries at the dentist before they even start the cleaning.

Acupuncture for me involves herbal supplements (that taste gross, but work!), needles and quiet time, often times guasha (relaxing tight muscles with a tool), and sometimes cupping (which was all the talk  after the Olympics).

When I share how much I love acupuncture, people tend to asks the 3 same things: Doesn’t it Hurt? Isn’t it expensive? How do you communicate with the old Chinese lady?

I. Always. Laugh…. at them.

  1. It doesn’t hurt, refer to previous paragraph about the pain.
  2. It can be expensive, but so is therapy, surgery, and medications when you’re sick. Or that pricey pair of shoes you had to have but didn’t need. Is there a price you can really put on the luxury of a well balanced healthy life?
  3. We are not in China, this is not 1950, and why would you assume its an old Chinese lady? My acupuncturist is actually a super stylish, high-heel wearing blonde mid-western woman. I swear if you saw her in a mall, or walking the streets of Paris, you would never have assumed her job title was acupuncturist. She isn’t even an hippy.

Acupuncture is a way of life for me. I do it stay balanced, I do it to feel better, I do it prepare for my future. I think of it as health and wellness mixed with preventative care. Motherhood is something I want to add to my resume one day, and I feel like acupuncture could help make that happen in the future too. Finding your balance is part of the journey to adulthood, and I found part of my balance in an hour on a table, relaxed and letting my body do the work it needs.

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