The pungent bonfire-esque aroma of burning mugwort greeted me at the front door as I eyed a Buddha statue, lush green plants, framed medical credentials, a glass case filled with herbal supplements and the patient before me finishing up at the front desk.
I was in a local acupuncture office, getting ready to pay a woman to poke needles into me. Here’s to trying new things!
Over the years I’ve wanted to try this Eastern medicine technique, but never really felt the call to actually make an appointment. I adore energy clearing processes like reiki and breathwork, so it’s no surprise acupuncture would be appealing.
And no, I’m not scared of needles.
Getting to Know My Medical History
Like all my other medical appointments, the session started with filling out pages of paperwork. I shared basic details, my medical history and current ailments. I listed my daily medications.
It was all pretty standard.
Then the doctor and I visited. I started to go through my timeline of medical issues, starting from my major episode of Steven Johnson Syndrome in 2008 that would alter my body’s chemistry and flip the switch on my immune system’s functioning, leading my body to start attacking itself with multiple autoimmune diseases.
She wasn’t very interested.
I was taken back until she explained why, in very simple terms. Your body is either in balance, or not. Mine is not.
Bring on the Acupuncture Needles
After explaining to me why my body was riddled with inflammation and sharing lifestyle changes to help calm the heat and flush out the excess dampness, we proceeded to the part of acupuncture that people are most familiar with.
I was asked to lie down flat on a medical exam table where she proceeded to cleanse, then insert slender needles into my skin in specific spots to increase the flow of energy in the body. These spots roughly align with the central nervous system, from my understanding.
She focused on my kidney and spleen functioning because they felt sluggish in her initial evaluation. After the needles were in, I was left alone in the darkened room with gentle music playing. The exam table vibrated in a massaging fashion to help me relax and get energy flowing though my body.
And, Now the Moxibustion
After stimulating my system with the needles, the doctor worked to clear the blockages in my system even more. She showed me a cigar-shaped stick of tightly bundled dried mugwort. Ahhh, the source of the scent! She lit the tip, much like a sage bundle, and then slowly smudged my body, carefully flowing specific paths. This process is called moxibustion.
Since the immune system is housed in the digestive system, she focused most of her time over my abdomen. It felt hot. Ashes softly fell on my skin as she moved slowly, stopping in areas that needed more attention. The slowness and heat were soothing and reminded me of a reiki session with warm, healing hands.
After she finished the moxibustion, she massaged both of my hands and part of my arms with a blend of fragrant essential oils. I forgot to ask what they were, but the aromatherapy added to the relaxing session. And, that was it. I felt like I just completed a gentle yoga class and needed a moment to become more present.
I slipped on my sandals, drank some water and headed to the front lobby to check out and pay for the services. I asked how often I should have an acupuncture session and she said it varies for each person. Some bodies take longer than others to get back to optimal functioning.
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How I’m Feeling Since my Acupuncture Session
I’ve waited awhile to write this post so I could give some honest feedback on how it went. It’s been almost three weeks since the session. My initial reason for booking the appointment was to improve my overall wellness, get energy flowing more effectively in my body, manage increased pain in my hands and address my elevated fatigue levels.
In addition to the needles, moxibustion and aromatherapy, I was instructed to cut back or eliminate dairy and sugar from my diet. These both add to the inflammation, or heat, that’s making my body ill. So, I’ve done that as well.
In the first two weeks after the appointment, I noticed feeling more clear-minded and my energy levels are improving. The pain in my hands is gone. I’ve also been limiting my time at the keyboard and on my phone because I notice a resurgence of pain when I scroll or mouse click for extended periods of time for work.
One week after acupuncture, I also had a visit with my mental health therapist. We’re working with two specific modalities, Internal Family Systems (IFS) and Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) to heal past traumas. We hit on a new area to soothe, and I’ve also been working on processing those emotions, which helps to release pent-up emotional energy in the body.
Think of when you’re angry and you do something physical like grit your teeth or squeeze your fists. That same physical tension (spurred by emotions) can happen inside the body with your muscles, organs and nerves. Old tensions equal long-term physical ailments. If this is intriguing to you, pick up the book The Body Keeps the Score. Learning the information in that book was truly the pivoting moment in my healing journey, and I even wrote a post about how to read it because this isn’t easy, light text to just jump into.
I will make another appointment for acupuncture to see if we can keep leveling up and improving the flow of qi, or energy, through my body. When everything flows, it can heal naturally and work optimally. When things are out of balance and stagnant, the body doesn’t function as it should. It really is that simple.
Here’s to another form of physical and mental healing!
Until next time,
PS: For those who have messaged me, my rainbow leggings are from Amazon. They are silky smooth for daily wear, but do not offer exercise/tummy support like yoga pants!
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Note: This post was last updated on November 8, 2021.