Monday, February 1, 2010

Getting the Most Out of Your Acupuncture Session

Getting the Most Out of Your Acupuncture Session

A patient recently asked, what’s the deal with this whole resting thing, can’t I just read a book while I’m getting acupuncture?
We talked briefly about the apprehension to have a few moments of silence. There were many things pressing on this patient’s mind and the silence allowed the mind to move too quickly. Patient comfortability is of our highest goal at Whole Health Acupuncture and I devised a treatment that allowed her to read her book. In the end it was her most relaxing session to date.
So why do you have to rest with those needles in?
First and foremost your body heals itself in a restful state. This is why we must sleep every night, to allow the body to repair itself. Have you ever gone a night with no sleep? How did you feel the next day? Tired, achy, crabby? When we are sick we require more sleep so that the body can fight the illness. I often encourage people to go to their “happy place”, telling especially new patients the best thing they can do is to take a little nap for the very same reasons we rest when we are sick: so the body can take over and repair itself. Acupuncture’s goal is to correct imbalances and improve the overall functioning of the body. It’s a stimulus to the body to remember what it already knows what to do: heal itself.
But what about the patient with too much weighing on the mind that finds it hard to sit still? Sometimes reading a book is most restful, although I don’t necessarily endorse it. There is a practice of sitting still, its called meditation, and it can take a long time to enjoy that stillness. In my opinion, our society doesn’t place enough value on relaxation, stillness, or prevention. I think we are all a little out of practice and could benefit from some regular peace and quiet. It is in this still place that patients at Whole Health have reported sensations of their pain intensifying and then completely dissipating, where anxiety has risen and reduced lessening the severity of anxiety in their daily lives, where inspiration has appeared for all sorts of decisions like writing books, making something work better, or has allowed some feeling stressed with many thoughts weighing on their minds when they arrived to leave feeling light and at peace. I sometimes think of the image of a patient receiving acupuncture like being metaphorically nailed down for a moment (the patient really isn’t) so that they are forced to be in the moment if at no other time but for the moment of their treatment. Why would this be a good thing? For starters, to be an active participant in the healing process and to witness the pain leaving the body, the lessening of anxiety, the inspiration etc. A great teacher once said,” awareness precedes change.” We can’t know what or how to change until we are aware.
What if you’re the one who needs the book during a treatment?
Start with the book! As you are reading be aware of your thoughts and body calming down. When you feel ready spend a minute or two without the book.
Practice some deep breathing. Imagine a big balloon in your belly. Inhale and fill up your balloon (maybe even with those thoughts weighing on your mind). Exhale and deflate your balloon. Make sure your breath is relaxed, not forced and as much as possible keep your focus on a complete exhale.
Take some time to observe (without judgment). I like to start with sounds that feel like distractions and place all of my attention on them. Then I slowly listen for the other softer sounds around me. This usually puts me right to sleep. You might also observe your thoughts (again no judgment) and just notice how those thoughts are affecting you and if they are serving you. Try and replace any negative thoughts especially about yourself into positive thoughts. You can also observe sensations in your body. Often times patients have many sensations during acupuncture: heaviness, lightness, waves and many others.
Use an intention. Why are you here for treatment? If acupuncture is a task to fill in the blank here then use this time for just that. You might say to yourself a few times, “it is my intention to leave here without pain, to feel energized and relaxed.” The ancients argue that saying an intention 3 times lets the universe know you are serious. Give it a try and see.
If you’ve received acupuncture or are currently receiving acupuncture let us know what helps you get the most out of your treatment.

Sarah Zender LAc, LMT
Whole Health Acupuncture 50 Turner Ave Elk Grove Village IL 847.357.3929


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