I often get asked, “How did you get into acupuncture”? The standard answer I’ve given for many years has been something like this: I was in my early 20’s, just out of college, when I first encountered acupuncture. I had been exposed to Reiki early in life when my mom was attuned to that energy, and then I received my first attunement while in college through an absolutely magical healer and mentor. After graduating I had some sense I wanted to pursue something more in the healing arts, but wasn’t sure what direction to take. I met some new friends, who I still hold among my dearest, who were in the Western herb and acupuncture programs at Tai Sophia Institute and they encouraged me in that direction. Initially I was dubious. I knew nothing about acupuncture or Chinese Medicine. So I began seeing a student practitioner for acupuncture sessions and quickly realized this was something with incredible value which I could love.
There’s a little more depth to that story which shines some light onto why I practice as I do today, and how I found acupuncture to be a valuable support in self-discovery and healing.
In that part of my life, around age 22/23, I was pretty lost but trying to find my way. I knew when I engaged with Reiki and the sense of spirituality I connected to with energy work that it felt right, freeing, and true. I knew that Nature felt like medicine too, and that when I journaled and spent time looking inward and meditating I found some peace. But the unrecognized and certainly unprocessed trauma of my history had led me down a path of numbing and escapism through drugs and alcohol from a very early age. I was a decade into drug and alcohol abuse at that point, struggling a lot with asthma and allergy symptoms and unable to make the changes that would support health there. Depressed and anxious but not even clearly aware of it, I was in a haze of partying too much, putting too much energy into social and sometimes dysfunctional relationships. I was barely attuned to my body at all and overly attuned to the over-activity of my mind and the people in my life. I had no real grounded sense of my Self, no clear picture of what I wanted and no consistency with self care.
It was from this place that I began to engage with acupuncture treatment. I realize now that those weekly treatments early on were the first experiences I ever had with regular check-ins with another human who asked me how I was in my body, in my mind, and in my spirit. It led me into some accountability to another person, which ultimately led me into accountability to the stirrings of my own Soul. I had never engaged in a therapeutic relationship like that before and I was incredibly thirsty for it! My practitioner would spend 20-30 minutes talking with me about how I was feeling physically and emotionally. She asked about how I took care of my body and Spirit that week. She heard what I was struggling with and then created an acupuncture treatment that could support the relief of symptoms and facilitate a clearer connection with my body and Spirit. The maladaptive patterns I had unconsciously created to distance me from myself began to shift. I began reevaluating how I was spending my time, who I was spending it with, and what I was putting into my body. Over time my focus shifted from the external to the internal callings, and more of the Truth of who I am began to emerge. Regular acupuncture helped keep me at the leading edge of my personal evolution, engaged with what was emerging from within and attending, rather than numbing, to that call.
To me, the supports in life that keep us truly engaged with ourselves are everything. Acupuncture is one way to do it. It was the first I used consistently and therefore nearest to my heart in many ways. The energetic clearing and alignment I received from the relationship with my practitioner and the treatments she provided helped me to access other tools of self inquiry I have relied on for the past 20 years: meditation, journaling, Tarot and Oracle cards, inspiration from Nature, talk therapy, dreamwork and more. But, for me, none of those supports felt like clear lines of communication until acupuncture helped restore me to myself.
This is why I practice the way I do with a fair amount of talking with and listening to my patients before offering treatments. Because as I see it the whole experience of an acupuncture session is, at it’s best and most effective, leading us into closer alignment with the stirrings of our Soul through the relationship as well as the needles. The experience can help clear the way for our intuitive knowledge of how best to care for our bodies and spirits to surface. Essentially acupuncture treatment clears energetic stagnations whether treatment is focused on physical symptoms, illness or less tangible ailments of the Spirit. When obstructions have arisen as a result of dysfunctional patterns that distance us from our bodies, painful emotions or realities in our lives acupuncture can strengthen our connection and access to the truth that lies within. This is part of the value of acupuncture on a Soul evolutionary level, and why I have particular passion for treating patients in recovery from addictions and trauma and contending with depression and anxiety. It’s personal. Acupuncture treatment and my relationship with a caring practitioner changed the course of my life at a vulnerable time. And it continues to do so.