Many of you know that I’ve been going through big changes lately. A month ago, I took my daughter to college on the East Coast, and as soon as I got back, I packed up our small two-bedroom townhouse and moved into a one bedroom apartment with my boyfriend. I knew it was going to be painful to leave my daughter far away. However, I didn’t realize what a shock it would be to move immediately afterwards. I’ve been grieving both not having her in my life day to day, and the loss of our space together. Somehow it feels like I lost our whole past life together. I’m beginning to acclimate, although pain still comes up every day.
We all go through transitions and changes in our lives, some much more extreme or painful than what I’m experiencing right now. The older I get, the more I see that it just never stops. We can’t get things to stay the same. And one thing my job as an acupuncturist has taught me is that it happens to, is happening to, all of us all the time. I’ve just gone through so many changes, and the crux of pain and excitement, of angst and opportunity and awareness, can be excruciating, or illuminating, depending on the day. At times, I can feel I’m the most down and out person in the world, no one can feel so overwhelmed and grief stricken as I do.
And then I go to work, and one person’s mother has just died, another’s just come from a funeral for an infant who died of SIDS, someone else has bone crushing pain possibly from leukemia, another is pregnant but bleeding and afraid of losing her child. It forces me to see that we are not alone; we are all in this together, going through our various pains and sufferings. And our joys. It’s not all bad. Another person might be elated because she hasn’t had a headache for two weeks since she got acupuncture; a client calls to say that after a diligent course of herbs and acupuncture, she is pregnant; an old client comes by who is still happy we resolved his herniated disc and sciatica two years before. This reminds me of the good.
No matter how mired in the muck I find myself, acupuncture and massage always helps. Change is difficult even for the most flexible of us. All our habitual patterns have been disrupted on both a physical and emotional level. Our body feels it. On an energetic level, the flow of energy gets stuck. We feel this in our bodies as tension and eventually pain, in our psyches as irritability, even depression. I especially felt this when it was time to fly to the East Coast and really let go of my daughter, and my neck froze up.
Unless we are enlightened beings, we resist the change at some level. This only makes things worse. We are holding on internally. More stuckness. Acupuncture helps relieve all that. Getting an acupuncture session is like opening the floodgates. Quite literally, in the Chinese language, it is thought of like that. The channels of energy are like canals that are normally flowing at a nice rate. The liver is the source of that flow. With stress and change, it all gets constricted and slows down. In more extreme cases, the canals can even fill with silt. The acupuncture needles inserted at the right location just open things up. The flood gates open and the energy starts to flow again. Certain points and especially herbs are even said to “dredge” the canals, clearing them of blocked up silt. After a session we feel the immediate results of being more relaxed and we may feel freer and more “open.” If we have been able to open or “dredge” enough, we may be relieved of certain pains. If the blockage is too deep, it may take several or many sessions to get that far.
And if we are going through big change and/or stress, the canals may tend to constrict and slow again fairly quickly. But for at least a little while, 12 hours, 24, 48 we feel more open and freer and can handle the change a little more smoothly, “Go with the flow” as they say. If we are going through significant change, we may want to open the floodgates a couple of times a week for a while. In this way, we can help ourselves manage the stress and strain and prevent it from causing too much damage in our bodies.