The last couple of months have been challenging, both emotionally and physically. Grad school is definitely a marathon, you do the best you can day by day, and try your best to tell yourself why you are doing things. I have always been a mover and a shaker; I like to get one project done and move on to the next (so satisfying!) but working on a skill like this really takes a lot of time and practice. You may not necessarily want to think of all the practice hours your acupuncturist had to put in before they touch you and poke you with needles, but aren’t you glad they did?! This medicine sometimes reminds me of when I began baking gluten-free goods. I would try to make everything healthy – take out the sugar, add applesauce. Take out the flour, add broccoli. No eggs, make chia seed eggs. Pretty soon all my sweet friends at every birthday party were wondering if I was going to bring some weird chocolate covered broccoli concoction that tasted… well, let’s be honest, like chocolate broccoli. But now that I’ve had a few years of experience, my friend’s responses are going from, “Mmm, this tastes healthy,” to, “This is amazing!! What IS this?!” It took a lot of broccoli cakes to get there.
So, back to my original topic. A question I ask myself when I feel like I don’t know what the heck or why the heck I’m doing something is, am I doing it because it brings immediate joy? No way man. I would say that often I do things because the benefits come later, and it’s difficult to try and remind myself of that, but I need to in order to keep motivation. I try not to do things because I feel like I should do them, but because I remind myself of the feeling that I know will come later if I am diligent and keep with the process. Eventually, I began to enjoy the process too. At one point it was something like, “eat veggies = tastes yucky = feel good” to now “eat veggies = mmmmmm = feel good!”
With the state of the world right now, the huge amount of stress we put ourselves under as humans, practices such as these (yoga, walking, qi gong) are just constant reminders for us to come back to our body. We create a quiet space in our day for peace and calm and to REWIRE ourselves. Meditation, cooking, getting acupuncture, doing tai qi, walking your dog…there are so many ways to get there. (Heck, even baking gluten-free cake!! It might not taste as good as your “normal” cupcake, but you can guess that in an hour you won’t feel like crap if you make that decision now).
It’s also funny how we twist ourselves up all day, physically and mentally. You realize when you’re sitting at work all day, you’re training yourself to stay in this hunched, crunched over position. You realize that when you’re being negative about your state or talking poorly of your neighbor, that you’re spending all of your energy on that? Eknath Eswaran said in Words to Live By:, “Destructive desires thrive on talk too; the more we talk about them, the stronger they get.” The more energy you are putting in your body by external means, means that THAT stays in your body, mind and heart, and it takes just as much time to undo that as it does to do it.
Think about what you can do today for the elongation of feeling GOOD. I mean, even walking takes practice – think of yourself as a baby, learning to crawl, learning to walk. Practicing that muscle, tendon & sinew memory over and over so that you can actually hold yourself up.
Now, how does this apply to acupuncture? If you have just been in a car accident or traumatic event – your body is tense and frightened, all the nerves are shot, the sympathetic nervous system – fight or flight – is in full mode. How can we deprogram this? With acupuncture, we are using needles to send signals to the body that say, “Hey, everything’s okay, you can relax now.” After you do that enough times (sometimes even once) the body responds and starts to reprogram itself. That is why acupuncture can treat SO many different kinds of things: digestive issues, trauma, burns, acne, depression, anxiety, pain, dizziness, and so much more.
As far as these other practices go – yoga, Qi Gong and walking for me in particular – I do these because they help me to deprogram from so many things that I get knotted up over during the day. From sitting too long, from driving too much, from hearing too many bad things on the news and not breathing enough, to stress. When I feel overwhelmed and don’t want to do them, I remind myself of why I’m doing them, to reap the goodness I feel physically and emotionally, to send that energy out into my community that hopefully emanates peace and love. I practice for myself and for you! I challenge you to do the same.