"Acupuncture Didn't Work For Me"

I hear this a lot.

I know, you are all probably asking yourselves why an ACUPUNCTURIST would be writing about how what she does for a living doesn’t work. But hear me out.

Acupuncture is slowly becoming more mainstream, but it still isn’t most peoples' initial go-to for health issues. Take rotator cuff injuries. Generally, people start with Western doctors…then medication…then PT, then cortisone shots…and maybe surgery. Perhaps before surgery they’ll give acupuncture a try. But many of my patients see me as a “physician of last resort.” They’ve gone down every other avenue, and I’m their last potential option.

For these types of people, if the acupuncture doesn’t work, it’s just another thing they’ve tried that did nothing for their pain. And they will usually think back on the experience and tell people that, well, “acupuncture doesn’t work.”

Earlier this year, I started seeing a patient who was suffering from migraines. She had tried acupuncture before. It didn’t work.

My first question when I hear this is always, “How many sessions did you have?” The more long-standing the issue, the longer it takes to reverse it. You’d be amazed at how many people expect complete resolution from their 30 year pain condition in 30 minutes. And even if they feel 50% better after the first session, they feel like it “didn’t work.”

But I digress…

This woman had given acupuncture MORE than a fair shot. She had gone for months, and had no relief. As she spoke with me, I could tell that she had no confidence that this would help, and I was impressed that she was willing to give it another try. It’s hard enough to stretch beyond your comfort zone and do something unfamiliar; when it doesn’t work after that many months, I wouldn’t blame her for just giving up on it.

I explained that we acupuncturists all have different styles and techniques, and that I’d do my best for her.

Fast-forward to six months later, and she is living a migraine-free life.

We spoke about this the other day, as she marveled over how different her life had become now that she could plan things without fear of having to leave early, or avoiding fun activities because she knew that she’d likely have to cancel due to the pain. “Who would’ve thought that after trying it before, this time it would work? Do you think that other acupuncturist knew what she was doing?” she asked.

“As much as my narcissistic side would love to take credit for giving better treatments than anyone around, it’s really more a matter of technique and style. We respond differently to different types of treatment, and her style probably didn’t resonate with you. It doesn’t mean that she was a bad acupuncturist. I mean, think about massage. If you’re a delicate person who hates a lot of deep work, and you found a massage therapist who was amazing but only does deep tissue massage, you wouldn’t think of them as bad at their job-only that you didn’t pick a good match for what you need. I like getting deep work. If I went to someone who specialized in lymphatic massage, where they barely touch you, I wouldn’t dismiss them as a crappy practitioner-they just aren’t a good match for my body’s needs. People need to realize this about acupuncture, because it’s such a powerful tool. It’s sad when they try one person and immediately write off the medicine as a whole because they didn’t connect with that particular style. You know what? I should write a blog about this!”

And here it is!

If you are living with pain, dysfunction, emotional issues…and you’ve tried one acupuncturist who didn’t seem to help you, it’s well worth giving it another try with someone new. You could be passing up the opportunity to live a better life simply because you never had anyone explain to you that we are all so different.

Acupuncture and Adventures in Bizarroland

In this day and age, we’ve wandered far from our preconceived notions of acupuncturists as patchouli-drenched nudists who invoke spirits to heal their hapless clientele. At least, I hope that most of you have.

When you go in for an acupuncture appointment, you're more likely to feel as if you’ve wandered into a cross between a medical office and a massage therapist’s establishment. We keep things sterile and might have medical-looking tools, but we’ve usually got a little relaxing, cushy vibe to our environs…at least, as far as I have seen.

There are still acupuncturists out there who are…well, WAY out there: healers who practice this medicine with an esoteric flair. Many of these practitioners do incredible work, but I find that they tend to be terrible at marketing, mainly because marketing is all about delivering a clear message. And if you can’t properly explain what you do, it’s unlikely that you have a clear message to deliver.

Then you’ve got your very science-based practitioners, the ones who will never mention the word “energy” when it comes to their work. They are all about the biochemical reactions that occur within the body with the insertion of a needle.

There is someone for everyone, and no right or wrong way to practice.

I myself tend to be middle-of-the-road, as I am with so many things. I’m very interested in the science behind acupuncture, yet I honestly believe that there’s a little sprinkle of magic thrown in there, as well. Someone told me recently that magic is just science that hasn’t been sufficiently understood yet, and he has a point. But is it so wrong to want to believe that magic exists? That there will always be pieces of this medicine that work for no discernible reason other than our desire to create beautiful, positive changes in the lives of others?

Yeah, I sound like a freaking Pollyanna. But there’s worse things to be, right?

So this takes me back to my story.

We have this theory in TCM about the energy of the mother affecting the child. And yes, in Scienceland this completely makes sense. If you have a stressed-out, anxious mom, you are likely to see the same patterns getting passed on to the child. An angry parent creates an angry child. It’s basic psychology.

But what if this could relate to healing, as well?

In this medicine, we believe that treating the mother with the same points that we would use to treat the child can heal the child’s affliction. Oh yes, I already know how wacky it sounds. That’s why I don’t normally talk about it with patients.

But the other day, I had a regular client come in who is very open to everything. We have a great relationship, so I can speak freely with her. She mentioned being very anxious about her daughter, who had been running a high fever for five days straight. She had been to the doctor, and they couldn’t find anything wrong with her. Although I was hesitant to bring it up, I felt compelled to say something.

“Ok, so you’re gonna think I’m nuts. I know it sounds crazy. But in this medicine, we have this theory about treating the mom to heal the kid. I don’t usually tell people this but…”

“Go for it,” she said. “You know I’m open to it. And I was thinking, before I even came in, that I was going to focus on her throughout my treatment and send her healing vibes. So this isn’t much different, right?”

I agreed, and then felt something in my hands. Within a few seconds, they were SO hot that they were uncomfortable. I put my hand over her face, not touching her, to see if she felt the heat radiating from them. She did.

I focused on her daughter as I used all the points on her mother that I would have used on her, if she had been lying there.

A few hours later, I received this text: “So…took her temp when I got home, and it was normal for the first time since Thursday! Coincidence??”

A Note To Myself On My 43rd Birthday...

Yesterday was my birthday, and as always, I reassess the year and ask myself what I want more and less of in my life.

It's quite simple. In fact, it's easy math. I ask myself what has added the most to my life: not just financially, but energetically and spiritually.

Then I ask myself what has drained and depleted me the most, and if any of these things are negotiable in my life.

Last year, what brought me the most joy was my relationships with patients, my space of co-creation with other talented practitioners, and my creative expression.

What drained and depleted me was saying "yes" to things that I didn't truly want to do. It was energetic vampires that only take and take, immersed in their patterns of unending negativity. It was putting other peoples' needs before my own. And it was refusing to ask for help, even when I truly needed it.

My pride was draining me. My inability to let go and believe that others could do or care as much as I did was draining me. My desire to do it all on my own was draining me.

So this year, I am giving myself the gift of trust. I trust that others are competent and capable of co-creating with me, rather than expending all of my energy on pulling them up-even though they are doing fine on their own. I trust that my intuition will guide me into knowing what I should say "yes" and "no" to. I will trust in others as much as I trust in myself.

It's not easy to let go of patterns and beliefs, but the first step is acknowledgment. I am ready to go so much bigger this year. Not just for myself, but for my clients and co-creators. But to do this, I have to trust that delegation is more powerful than solitude. I have to trust in the innate strength of my patients, that they can thrive with guidance but without hand-holding. I have to trust my intuition.

I look forward to the challenge.

When you think of your own life, what is taking from you? And what is building you up?

What is within your power to change, today?

Can You Hear Yourself Breathing?

Can you?

Not normally, most likely. But now you can, because I’ve brought your attention to it. We breathe ALL DAY LONG, and never give it a second thought. The moment that someone mentions it to you, you shift your field of focus to your breath…and now it exists for you in a different way. Now, it’s all you can think about, hear, and feel.

So often we forget the power we have over creating the world we exist within. At any moment, we can shift our field of focus to creating a new perception, and therefore, a new reality.

Take acupuncture, for example.

Acupuncture, beyond a shadow of a doubt, promotes measurable physiological changes within the body. It clearly and consistently creates positive shifts in sleep quality, digestion, pain levels, anxiety…the list goes on. Why am I so sure of this? Well, science. And also, something that I witnessed during my intern days, back in school.

When you go through a graduate program in acupuncture, you intern in various medical settings, just like Western docs do. One of my internships involved treating babies that were born addicted to drugs.

It goes without saying that this was heartbreaking work. I wanted to remain unbiased but I was quietly enraged when I saw the parents of these screaming, suffering infants shuffling around and playing the happy family. I struggled to remain neutral and not to judge, but let me tell you, it was HARD. If you’ve never been around a baby born with drugs in its system, it is painful to watch. They are so helpless, so sick, and lack understanding of the WHY. They are born into a world of pain with no idea of anything that exists beyond it.

We wouldn’t needle these infants, of course. We had tools called teishins: non-insertive metal pointers that were used to press on the acupuncture points. What I witnessed in this setting was nothing short of miraculous.

The babies were all hooked up to machines that measured their heart rate, respiration, oxygen levels. As we gently pressed on a point to stimulate the lungs, we could see the machines change instantly and dramatically. Oxygen levels would increase immediately, and the respiration would even out. Bear in mind that this was not a slow process that we measured over minutes; this would happen the second we touched the acupuncture point. As we stimulated the heart point, the heart rate would slow down and even out. It was so dramatic that it seemed almost unbelievable. And as we continued our work, the screaming, flailing babies would settle and drift off.

If this doesn’t offer compelling proof that acupuncture isn’t placebo, I don’t know what does!

But I DO believe that there is also a powerful placebo effect involved in any type of self-care. And much of what constitutes the “placebo effect” is simply a shift in focus.

Think about it.

You’ve just come in for acupuncture for your cranky knee. This is all you care about, that your knee pain is preventing you from doing a long run this weekend and you want the pain to stop. You schedule yourself in for your session and you bustle into the office, still on your phone, dealing with some stressful work issue.

We finally pry the phone from your hand and needle you up, inserting needles not just in your knee but in various places in your body.

You lie there, waiting. Maybe you’re annoyed at first…dammit, you have so many irons in the fire at work and this hour is taking you away from that. You want to hurry up and get this over with so you can get to the next thing…

But then, something happens.

Despite your insistence on staying vigilant and stressed about work, you start to drift. Your breathing regulates. Your heart rate slows. You start to feel your muscles melting. Suddenly…it’s HARD to stay focused on your stress and irritation and overwhelm. Even when you try to focus on your work issues, you can’t seem to feel the emotion around the thoughts. They’re just thoughts, and they pass almost as quickly as they come.

An hour later, you are a better version of yourself.

More importantly, you have shifted your field of focus. You’ve created a different reality for yourself.

Your reality an hour ago was:

Work is more important than my well-being.

I am a ball of stress, and this will not change until my circumstances change.

My work is what creates my value.

I’m not important enough to deserve an hour of free time.

An hour later, your reality is this:

Work is what I do, not who I am.

Stress is an internal factor that I am fully in control of.

My value lies within, and I hold endless value.

My health and happiness are of primary importance, and I deserve to feel good and live in a state of optimal health.

Where you do choose to place YOUR focus today? What can you create for yourself before the day is through?

The A#$hole Workshop

Aren’t we all such walking contradictions?

I feel so confident and carefree in my day to day life. I’m so good about self-care and refusing to do what I DON’T want to do. To the outside world, I am, I daresay, a pretty powerful force…

But put me in a situation where I have to actually confront someone, tell someone “no,” or let someone know that I can’t or won’t succumb to their requests…and I turn into a quivering mess. At least on the inside.

I HATE confrontation. HATE IT. And I hate letting people down. If I get the slightest whiff of disappointment off of someone, I wither and die inside. I can’t take knowing that I’ve hurt someone, let them down, or have some sort of conflict looming in the future. It kills me.

But.

As someone who deals with more people than you can imagine on a daily basis, it’s inevitable. If I caved to every request, if I gave my time and energy to everyone who asked of me, I wouldn’t have time to breathe or pee. (Actually, I don’t have time to do that now…)

I’m lucky in that I tend to attract truly positive, wonderful people into my business. People always think that I’m coating the truth when I tell them that I never have issues with clients being rude, taking advantage, or treating me disrespectfully. But it’s true.

However, my personal life is a different story…

As someone who is a born people-pleaser, I always find myself struggling to draw a line between being kind, generous, and likable…and having people prey on this and suck me dry. And because I am so attuned to my perception of potentially disappointing someone or hurting them, I suffer from these bloodsuckers. I can feel my life force draining away when one of these people gets ahold of me, and it sucks (literally).

Acupuncture helps. Seriously! When you start getting more in tune with your health and energy, it helps you to draw the appropriate lines. This is likely the case for all types of self-care; so much of creating change starts with awareness, and determination to preserve what you hold as invaluable: your health, energy, and happiness.

Acupuncture helps, self-care helps, but I want to take it to the next level.

So often, when I create new events, classes, add extra goodies to my treatments, it’s all coming from my own worldview: What would make ME happy? What’s the extra something that I can add in that would make me feel like I had gotten so much more value from my session? What do I need, that I have a hard time finding?

I need boundary work. I need to find a way to preserve myself while still feeling good. Because when we hold our boundaries in a way that doesn’t resonate with us, it’s even more draining.

I started thinking about how much certain people take from us…and how much we take from OURSELVES. Because yes, there are vampires out there who feed off of us, but we are often equally guilty of making ourselves feel freaking gross.

Maybe your mother/”friend”/coworker is pushing you into doing or believing something that doesn’t serve you. Or maybe it’s that inner voice doing it to you. Either way, it’s equally damaging.

It’s time to learn ways to deal with the a#%holes in your life: the inner ones, and the outer ones.

So many of you need this. We’re all going to rock this.

Keep checking back. This class will be a turning point for you in finding your voice and “no” in a way that feels authentic and safe.

It’s going to teach you how to keep yourself protected again the energy vampires.

And it’s going to teach you how to fight off your own inner a#%hole: that voice that says you can’t, you won’t, you’re not worthy enough or smart enough or pretty enough.

Imagine what your life would feel like if you had zero doubt in yourself. Imagine what it would be like if other’s opinions ever entered the equation. Imagine what it would feel like to not have that irritating a#$hole little voice whispering all the reasons why not.

I’m ready for a new level of freedom. Are you?

This is going to be SO GOOD.

It's All About Balance

This morning is rough.

Last night was DECADENT. My friends and I went to a steakhouse and consumed meat and wine, followed by martinis. Part two of our adventure was a cigar bar with hefty pours of scotch. This is something that is a VERY rare occurrence, and I feel smoky and disgusting today, but we had a fantastic time.

These friends have known me since my waitressing days, so they've seen the trajectory of my business. At one point, as we were sipping away, one friend began to talk about how cool it has been to witness the progression of Healing Point Therapeutics.

"I remember your first space, that one room, and you would go behind that divider with each patient and pretend you weren't there," he laughed. "And now you've got all these rooms, this great space. Your business really has changed."

Then he said something that really stuck with me.

"You know the best part of the way you run your business, though? THIS. Look at us. Here we are, we're out on a Sunday night, having a good time, drinking, living life. You weren't like, 'No, I can't go out, it's a Sunday, I have work tomorrow.' You still live. You built a business that allows you to live. You go out, you take vacations, you enjoy your life."

"Well, isn't that the whole point...of EVERYTHING?" I asked. "What's the point of making money and making your own schedule if you don't use what you've built to spend time with your friends, have fun, and be happy?"

"True, but not everyone can do that," he answered. "You have. It's so great."

Lately I have been thinking that my sole focus has been work, on all the creative projects I've got brewing, and I'm out of balance. And make no mistake: I LOVE it. Work energizes me. But I make my schedule, and there is no excuse not to slow down and take a breath, drive to Connecticut to visit my gorgeous little niece, or go outside and take advantage of my favorite time of year. This was a good reminder that I'm not totally screwing it up.

But I'm still a work in progress. We all are.

What can YOU do today to bring out your inner hedonistic child, and have a little fun that is free of responsibility?