I recently started treating an older man, one who has never tried acupuncture before. The reason he is coming in to see me is irrelevant. Suffice it to say that he has gotten results that have far surpassed resolution of his original issue. He has found acupuncture to be the factor that has improved every aspect of his life: sleep, energy, mood, and overall well-being. During our last session, we had a very interesting conversation. As he was preparing to get on the treatment table, he turned to me and said, "This is all kind of scary, when you think about it."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"I mean that it's like you have some kind of magic, like there is some kind of magic involved here."
I laughed. "I know it seems like magic when you see all these crazy changes going on, but they are all good, aren't they?"
"Well, yes!" he exclaimed. "I'm not saying that it's bad magic. But..." He hesitated for a long moment, trying to put his thoughts together. "It's just that I have spent the last 70 years feeling and living one way. And then I came to see you, and it's like you put some spell on me and changed my whole personality. How did you do that?"
I was stumped for a moment. "But...my treatments didn't change your personality. They didn't change who you are. You just feel differently, because you've reached a higher level of potential. You're still you...only now you're you at your very best. Does that make sense?" I was starting to confuse myself.
"I suppose," he said, although he didn't sound very convincing.
"Think of it this way: you are the same person whether you are sick or well, right?"
"And when you are cranky and miserable, your wife will still come home and know that you are her husband, right? You may be more pleasant at times. Sometimes you might be tired, sometimes you wake up full of energy. But when you are well-rested, you are still the same person as when you are tired. You just express yourself differently."
"So, now, these treatments have just brought you to a place where you are a well-rested, happier, more calm and relaxed version of yourself. You aren't different, you're just you at a higher level."
He smiled at that, and then got on the table. As he lay there with his eyes closed, he murmured, "It makes me sad."
"What makes you sad?" I asked, as I started needling.
"I wasted 70 years of my life not feeling this way. Not living up to my potential. Why didn't I do this years ago? Everything would have been so different."
"I hear this all the time," I said. "People come in who have been in pain for years, and then realize that they had an out, but they didn't take it before. But you know what? Maybe there was a reason for that. Maybe there was a reason for their suffering. Who knows? All I can tell you is what I have told them."
"Oh? What is that?"
"You're here now, and that's all that matters." I answered.