As someone who has a heightened sensitivity to nearly all internal and external physical sensations, I hate needles. When I get a shot or have my blood drawn, the doctor or nurse always ask as I turn my head away from them, “are you scared of needles?” I answer something along the lines of: “I dislike them; I’m not scared. Don’t worry about it, I’ll just be looking away.”
However, as my yoga practice led me to a greater understanding of my subtle/energetic body, I became increasingly more curious about acupuncture. Two weeks ago, the City Acupuncture booth caught my attention while I was perusing the YogaJournal Marketplace in midtown. I went up to it, flipped through their brochures, and asked the girl at the table, “Does anyone ever get acupuncture done… for kicks?”
"What do you mean ‘for kicks’?"
"I mean, I don’t think there’s anything really ailing my body. I’m pretty intrigued about the energy channels in the body and how acupuncture can be used to open them up and wanted to learn about it by experiencing it firsthand."
I set up an appointment on the spot. Prior to going in, I was asked to fill out an extensive questionnaire online regarding my physical and mental state. When I went in, Melissa (my acupuncturist), went through the items I checked off (e.g., joint pain, headaches, restlessness) Admittedly, I was a little dismissive in elaborating on these things.
"When I do experience joint pain, it’s pretty intermittent. Like, from bending my knees in yoga too much or something." "Headaches usually abound when I am thinking too hard." "I’m more physically restless than I am mentally, so going for a run or doing yoga helps."
After going through the rest of the list, I was instructed to lie down. Melissa adeptly placed eight needles in me. A pair were placed at my wrists, a second pair between my first and second toe, a third pair in my inner ankles, one below my navel, and the last one on my forehead. I noticed a bit of a pinch as the needles went in, and didn’t experience any other pain beyond that.
Then, I closed my eyes and meditated. I noticed my right arm and leg begin to tingle and I remember thinking to myself “oh so this is the magic happening!” (before returning to my breath, of course).
After an hour, Melissa came back to remove the needles as I fired away on questions. I asked about how she decided where to place the needles, and she talked about the location of different meridians in the body and their functions. I told her about the tingling I experienced in the right side of my body, and she said that depending on where women are in their menstrual cycle, they can feel varying degrees of left-right imbalance (of how much they feel the acupuncture). She also talked about the trends of people during different times of the year - that is, people who come in for acupuncture in the spring report feelings of anxiety / nervousness, people are generally happier in the summer, and then as fall and winter come around, people start to cocoon up in their bodies to ‘plant their seeds’ in order to bloom for spring. I found that concept of constant rejuvenation incredibly logically beautiful.
She shook my hand as I got off the bed. “It was a pleasure meeting you, Wudan. And don’t brush off the little things; everything is related.”