What in the World is Acupuncture
A common misunderstanding is that acupuncture is only for aches and pains, when in truth it can be used to treat any condition in the body. Whether it is mental, emotional or physical, chronic or acute, acupuncture can help significantly. It has the ability to address all conditions because it works directly with the body’s healing capacity. The body has the tools to repair itself. Acupuncture helps to focus its resources where they are most needed.
From a Chinese perspective, there are 4 root causes of disease or disharmony in the body and they are all gauged as either in excess or deficiency.
1) One cause is exposure to an external environment that is either too hot or too cold, too dry or too damp, etc. 2) It can also be caused by internal extremes, such as too much anger, or inability to be assertive, never expressing grief, or lamenting in grief for too long, too much excitement, or lack of joy. These are just a few examples. 3) Our lifestyle: what we eat and drink, the quality of the air we breathe, and our general balance between work, play, rest, and sleep. 4) Finally there is our genetic, ancestral, or constitutional make-up.
The role of acupuncture is to help the body bring these extremes back into balance so that the body is functioning more appropriately. Some issues may be resolved very quickly, while others may take a bit more time to see dramatic results.
What I do is observe how a person presents themselves, and then I ask questions about their experience of life. I want to know how their sleep is, what their appetite is like, what brings them joy, what are their deepest fears, what is their vision for themselves. Then I will spend some time observing what are known as pulses. This is done near the radial pulse area but is very different from a standard pulse a nurse practitioner might measure. The pulse qualities inform me how the energy is moving through different body systems and help me to understand where there is a general excess or deficiency of energy. All of this information will help me select acupuncture points that can be used alone or in many different combinations to reestablish more balance in the body systems. Each point conveys a very unique set of instructions to the body as to how to use its resources more efficiently. All of the points will help to boost our immune system and amplify our internal and external awareness. Mostly what people notice during a treatment are slight sensation as the needles are inserted and then a sensation of relaxation and deeper breathing.
What is Qi?
Qi is the Chinese word for energy or life force. In scientific terms, it may be compared to an electromagnetic current. Simply put, Qi or energy is the force that lies within everything in this world. Reduce any piece of matter to its subatomic particles and we will begin to see more clearly what is meant by energy. The Ancient Chinese of course were not aware of this on a scientific level, but they had an understanding of an animating life force that existed within everything around us. This energy makes up a whole spectrum of density, ranging from metal, rock, earth, trees, bones, flesh, blood, breath and so on. It underlies all of our metabolic processes. This is where disturbances happen first before they become a measurable disease or pathology. An energetic disturbance can cause a very subtle to very dramatic symptom. If it is subtle, chances are it will be ignored or covered up very easily. If it is dramatic, the person will likely be in and out of doctors’ offices without many conclusive test results. When these issues are not addressed, they can develop into more severe pathology that may eventually need more drastic interventions. If treated in this early stage, healing can happen very quickly. Once more balance is found, it is always important to become aware of what caused the disturbance in the first place. The more conscious we are of balance in all aspects of our lives, the more empowered we are to stay healthy rather than being a victim of what seems to be illnesses that strike at random.
The important thing to remember is that while we are responsible for our health, it is not useful to blame ourselves for our current circumstances. This can seem like a complicated distinction. Certain aspects of our genetic make-up may make us predisposed to certain illnesses. This does not change the fact that our lifestyle along with how we relate to these circumstances will play a role in how well we are able to cope with them.