Do you see this? This is probably why I never was too excited about acupuncture. This image was stuck in my head. This scary looking dude is from the movie Hellraiser. I've never seen the movie, so I have no idea how or why he got that way, but I am pretty confident that he wasn't getting acupuncture (though he may have been a prime candidate as he looks like the kind of guy that could benefit from some balanced qi, I'm just saying).
I'm a pretty "woo woo" chick (I guess that's the common language these days to describe a person who is interested in personal development... I am embracing it). I am fascinated by all things metaphysical, and as an extension of that, I like to sample from the buffet of alternative medicine. That said, I also like to sample from the buffet of traditional medicine. Oddly, I have always been much more amenable to being pricked with a needle used to either get something out of me or put something in me than a needle that promises to help realign my energy. There's something less tangible about that, and under most circumstances intangible is a fascinating concept to me (one that I'd be urgent to explore) but when it comes with the possibility of pain, however slight, let's just say I wasn't in such a rush.
I suppose for most people when they are driven to have acupuncture done, they have an issue in mind. Maybe an ache or pain, or some other such malady that they have probably talked to their doctor about. While I have more issues than People Magazine, I was not exactly sure what I wanted to have treated by an acupuncturist. If I am going to get stuck with a bunch of needles and spend an hour or so looking like Pinhead, I better come up with something good -- because it's not going to be worth it if all I'm looking to cure is a little cough or something. So I dug deep and found a very private issue that I believe is just as much emotional and energetic as it is physical, and decided that I wanted to find a practitioner who would be respectful of that.
I have walked by an acupuncturist's place of practice for the past two years. It's literally in my backyard. Just three short blocks behind my house. I have seen the sign that advertises the acupuncture and other healing modalities practiced by this Master of Oriental Medicine, but had not ever honestly considered visiting... until I committed to this challenge. Even then, it didn't occur to me that three short blocks was all that stood between me and getting needled. I actually googled "Minneapolis Acupuncture" and was met with a slew of practitioners with a 612 area code. One in particular stood out to me because I recognized the name of the practice, but I still couldn't put my finger on it. Where had I heard this name "Rapha-El Acupuncture Plus"? It dawned on me when I took a closer look at the address that this is the location that I have taken notice of for the past two years. Remember, I am a woo woo chick so I don't believe in coincidences at all. I dialed the number faster than you can say, "om."
Mary Denison is a very well credentialed Master of Oriental Medicine, and she was able to get me in within the week for a first appointment. I spilled my guts about my super secret personal issue that I hoped she could help resolve specifically using acupuncture (Mary does more than just acupuncture, she's got a lot of different tricks up her well educated sleeve including, but not limited to reflexology and massage) - and was confident that at our first face to face meeting she would not only be respectful of my situation, but that she would have some insights that would aid me in my own resolution.
I had told a couple of friends that I was planning to get acupuncture, and had two very specific reactions. One friend told me that she had a transcendent experience that she believes lead her to ultimate resolution of the issue that she was being seen for, and the other friend told me that she was so bored that she forced herself to recite the 50 states of the Union until she remembered all 50. So, naturally I figured that I would either levitate or fall asleep. Honestly, either one sounded exciting to me, if only I could get the image of Pinhead from Hellraiser out of my mind.
I am not generally afraid of needles. I get blood drawn with an abnormal frequency, so I am well aquainted with those needles, the ones that scare most people. Those needles don't stay in you for prolonged periods of time, though. It was hard for me to imagine that a person could fully relax while they had needles actually in them for the better part of an hour. Here's the deal, I was dead wrong. After a very thorough intake process where I completed a lot of paperwork that informed Mary of where my energy blocks were (and a whole lot of more in depth and complicated things which Mary's knowlege of is particularly impressive) Mary inserted a series of very thin needles into my skin. Now, when I put it that way, it sounds pretty easy. But Mary's extensive training tells her which points on the energy meridian are appropriate for my particular issues. It really is fascinating. I don't know how many needles she put in, and I only looked once. I could feel each needle being placed very faintly and once they were in, I felt nothing. Literally, nothing. I mean I have never in my life been so relaxed. Mary left me alone in the room with the tinkly music, and I was completely out of it. So out of it, that when she came back 45 or so minutes later, I had no concept of how long it had been.
There may not be appropriate words for what I experienced, and actually it was so personal that I am glad there aren't appropriate words. The important thing for you to know is that the needles, while essential to the experience, were a secondary element of the experience for me, in that I did not feel them as I thought I would. I had imagined that the challenge would be acheiving relaxation despite the fact I was uncomfortable because I was covered in needles. In fact, that was what I feared. This was not at all the case.
When we challenge ourselves to do something that makes us even a little afraid, often we are very specific about what we are afraid of. We rarely consider that what we are afraid of may not be part of the experience at all, that in fact by fearing it we are making it part of our experience. I personally don't subscribe to the notion that it is practical or possible to live completely without fear. Fear is often there to protect us, but yes, fear can also inhibit us from reaching our potential or acheiving our goals. Instead of looking at fear as a wall, I am learning with each challenge to see fear as a gateway to possibility. When you are afraid of something, it's a perfect opportunity to examine yourself and become concsious about the life experience you are creating. Not every challenge inspires a fear, but every fear inspires a challenge - and it's ours to rise to the occasion.
Next week, I'm going to my first Opera, and I am going to attempt to enjoy it.