Living & Being, June 2008

Rushing off to work, dropping the kids off at school, you get stuck at a red light. You notice a bumper sticker on the car in front of you: “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” You think about contemplating that idea, one day. But right now the mortgage has to be paid, the gas is guzzling your paycheck, and spirit is on the back burner. Or is it?

In western cultures, spirit and matter are thought of as separate entities. We cut our finger – matter – we put a disinfectant and a band-aid on it. But what heals our spirit? It’s not considered part of the body. It is certainly not a cut finger. The ancient Chinese never distinguished body from mind or spirit, believing that disease affected all these areas, and could originate in one arena while manifesting in another. It’s all connected. Allergies, low back ache, PMS – while they manifest as physical symptoms, there will always be some aspect of “spirit” trauma as well- on a mental, spiritual or energetic level.

Our thoughts, our experiences – cumulative stress, emotional shock or trauma, grief – are all stored in our body, as energy. If we are mired in depression, anxiety, grief, anger, worry, fear – daily living can feel overwhelming. We may develop physical symptoms, or be more prone to developing illness due to the energetic stress.

For thousands of years, acupuncture has been healing diseases of the mind, body and spirit utilizing patterns of energy in the body. There are thought to be 12 of these energy patterns, or meridians, with hundreds of points where the body’s energy can be accessed. These points are located by anatomical landmarks and energetic distinctions. Illness – with its concomitant physical and energetic symptoms, occurs when these meridians are blocked, or stuck.

By treating specific points with needles, the body has access to the power of these pathways, with these unseen patterns of energy.

Mysteriously (or not so) you can needle a point on the left shin that will ameliorate gastrointestinal problems. It’s the pathway that is blocked.

There is a Chinese dictum: “If there is pain, there is no free flow. If there is no free flow, there is pain.” Think of a stream flowing – at one end it gets clogged by leaves and twigs. One side is dried out, the other side is flooded. Only when these blocks are removed will the stream act in its true nature – flowing smoothly and gracefully through the land.

It is in our true nature to be a free-flowing being of energy, utilizing that energy to our highest and best potential. There are many tools to access that state of being.

Acupuncture can be a powerful catalyst for this change, as it can unblock these meridian pathways. This, in turn, moves energy – that spirit within you that in turn moves you through each day.

An early patient taught me an invaluable lesson. He was coming to me for shoulder pain, which resulted from some of his work activities.

After each treatment, there was a decrease in pain and an increase in range of movement, but at one moment improvement seemed to have plateaued. During one of his sessions, I discovered my client had witnessed a traumatic accident involving the death of a family member. Shortly after, the shoulder problems started. While my primary focus had been physical – a gentle release of muscle tightness, an opening of meridian blockages – with the next session I focused primarily on spirit healing. The shoulder problem cleared up.

Presently I treat all patients who come to me for a series of treatments with at least one of these focused spirit energy sessions – even if they’re coming just for a physical ailment. I don’t need to know the details. There may not be a direct, cause-and-affect reaction to events – sometimes the patient may not even remember any specific situation. He or she may simply sense an uneasiness in the body – a “just not feeling right” sensation. Patterns of symptoms, including a careful reading of wrist pulse rhythms, tongue appearance and a careful listening to the patient’s complaints all guide the acupuncturist to choosing the best healing protocol.

Life will bring us its sorrows, its tragedies, its challenges. No acupuncture session will ever change that. But if we can move through life’s events, less encumbered by the energetic resonance that our bodies that can store, the journey is eased. Healing – of body, mind and spirit – is possible.

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