Yesterday I had my very first acupuncture session. After a relaxing morning at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and a quick practice in Chelsea, I prepared to allow another human being to stick needles all over my body and call it therapy.
I should mention that if ever there was a Summer of Yes moment, this might be it. I have a long standing fear of needles, or needles and blood in some combination- I spend too much time avoiding them to have figured it out. I cannot watch myself get a shot, but instead crane my neck as far in the opposite direction as possible. Having labs drawn is the same story, except that I have to actively avoid looking at the vials of my own blood long after the needle has been removed from my arm.
I have given blood exactly once. On a bloodmobile bus, I stared out the window the entire time and was feeling rather successful and proud of myself. After it was over I drank the requisite juice and continued to sit for a couple more minutes. Feeling daring, I turned to look at the other occupants of the bus. Oh, there was the nice gentleman ahead of me in line. He was donating plasma- which meant that he had about four tubes sticking out of his arm, to separate the blood and then woosh it all back into his body. Next thing I know, the nurse is saying “I’ll get you a Pepsi” and I am slurring my words as I mumble “Why? Do I look bad?” The blood drained from my face and my vision had become a swiftly narrowing circle of light. I was only saved in the last moment by smelling salts. Yes, smelling salts, good old-fashioned Victorian era-my-corset-is-so-tight-I-literally-can’t-breathe-but-they-call-it-my-delicate-constitution smelling salts.
So what on earth was I doing lying on this table, face firmly pressed into the headrest in order not to see ANY of what was about to take place? My body is out of whack at the moment- the Summer of Yes has mainly benefitted my mind and my heart, leaving the temple a little in need of repair. And little by little, on my own terms, I am trying to face my fears. To root out the resistances I have, examine them closely, massage and soften them. Or maybe just stick a needle in them, sit and wait.
And I did okay! I didn’t look at one single needle in my body the entire time. I only winced once or twice, but the pain was not really my concern. (It’s more the thought of a needle under my skin that makes my chest ache and my throat clamp down- where pain is concerned, I think I’m a pretty tough cookie).
Once the needles were all in place, I was left alone for about 10 minutes. I thought “Is this when the magic happens?” I tried not to anticipate ACTUAL magic, since I had no idea what to expect from this practice. I didn’t know whether the effects would be immediate or happen later in the day. But what I do know is this is reason #6,738,492 that I do yoga- what kept me tethered and from freaking out in those moments when the panic threatened to bubble up was a smooth, controlled breath, a one-pointed focus, and a determination to keep all sharp, poky thoughts out of my head.
I found that lying there, I was able to bring my awareness to most of the needles, and feel the subtlest of sensations coursing through my body. After the needles were removed, I legitimately felt high as a kite. After being warned to make sure I looked carefully before crossing into traffic, I headed toward the train. Noticing new sensations in my body, I would stop in the middle of the sidewalk, and lift an arm, or sink into a hip, just to feel the small changes that had started happening.
For the last 24 hours, I have felt a little bit like a crazy person. The energy in my body is running wild, and something that I heard about how the needles and your fascia conduct electricity together has stuck with me- my system has been shocked. I’ve slept 12 hours out of the last 22, slept like the dead, and have felt a series of changes coursing through me. I have no idea whether this was typical, but I suspect the session allowed my body to demand exactly what it needed, and my good intentions of being productive be damned. And I am happy to give in, to give my body back its voice. I will definitely be returning for more acupuncture, and next time I might even sneak a peek- well, at least I’ll think about it.