You are so incredibly powerful. Why do you keep forgetting that? Each and every one of us has unlimited potential for...well, really anything. At any given moment, we can completely change the course of our lives. At any given moment, we can choose to heal, or we can choose to get sicker. We are creatures that are built to soar, and to create. Why do we keep forgetting that?

Think of all the intricate connections that lie behind your basic, boring, run of the mill wall. It's just a blank white wall. Yet, within the framework of that wall is an entire system that allows the magic of electricity to light up your life. That circuitry gives you access to light, to music, to warmth. So much potential...but what if the switch to get that electricity flowing was missing? If that switch never gets flipped, the potential never gets tapped into.

Hypnoacupuncture is that switch.

Acupuncture is the perfect pairing of magic and science. We know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that chemical changes take place within our bodies once those needles go in. It's measurable. Even the most skeptical soul cannot refuse that physical, testable changes take place with this modality. As someone who has treated thousands of patients, I cannot deny the magic that also exists within this medicine. I have seen so many miraculous things that I can't explain, that I am now used to having my mind BLOWN on a regular basis.

Every single cell of our bodies strives to heal, grow, and stay in a state of balance. This is the natural order of things. The choices we make either block our cells from doing their jobs, or they catalyze them into speeding up this process. Every time we choose good food, move our bodies, remove a little stress from our lives, think a happy thought, get a good night's sleep, we are basically giving our cells a pat on the head and telling them that they're doing a good job, could they work just a little harder? And they respond accordingly.

When acupuncture needles are placed into the body, these healing mechanisms are shifted into a higher gear. The body receives the message to ease pain, send fresh blood and cells into the injured area, and to flood the system with endorphins. The sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems are regulated, and we get change on every level: mental, physical, and emotional. It's all good.

So what do we get when we add hypnosis into the mix?

We reach a level of change that goes beyond all of these states. Remember that blank wall I mentioned previously? Once hypnotherapy is incorporated into the session, it's as if I have added a switch to your wall, giving you the ability to tap into your full potential. In this state, virtually anything is possible.

People often ask me what can be treated with hypnoacupuncture. I feel like it's difficult to think of something that can't be treated with it. Anxiety, depression, insomnia...these are my faves. I love treating these issues, but I have treated fears and phobias, heartbreak, obsessions, inability to focus, difficulty with studying and retaining information, procrastination...even warts! Yes, oddly enough, I have treated warts with hypnoacupuncture and they just sort of melted away after the session, never to return. If you can think of something that you want to change, the odds are that it can be treated with hypnoacupuncture.

I love this stuff. Love it, love it, love it. I never imagined that I would see so many people's lives changed through this modality, and I am so grateful to be able to share this with the world.


I Feel, Therefore I Have

We attract what we feel. This is indisputable. Every time I wake up feeling grumpy, I find more and more things throughout the course of the day that bring in more grumpiness. Things go wrong, I stumble into rude people everywhere...I turn into a vortex that sucks in jackasses and unexpected bills. When I feel happy, every time I turn around there's something else to be happy about. People will go out of their way to compliment me, I'll attract great ideas, life is grand.

For the most part, I tend to stay in this space of being happy, and I honestly believe that this is why my life doesn't suck most of the time.

Let's talk about relationships. We attract what we feel.

Many years ago, I was a complete makeup addict. I've always loved makeup, but back in my late 20's/early 30's I seriously needed a Sephora intervention. I would not even think of leaving the house without full foundation, shadow and liner, mascara, lipstick, and a final puff of shimmery powder for extra glow. This was my happy, comfortable place. A few times I had friends arrive at my place unexpectedly early, before all the makeup. On those rare occasions that I had a bare face, I felt literally naked. I felt like I wanted to hide, like I couldn't stay far enough in the shadows. It was so uncomfortable and all I wanted to do was stay invisible.

One year, I went to California. I took a solo coastline tour of the Pacific Coast highway, and I felt like my eyes couldn't open wide enough to take in all the beauty of my trip. I drank delectable wines and ate amazing food. I was sundrenched and filled with a new appreciation for every moment. I was so, so distracted by joy that I accidentally ended up going to a bar one night without wearing any makeup! That had never happened to me before, and I never imagined that it could. I was always so rigid with my makeup routine. But the sun, the surf, the wine...all of it served to bring me to another place where my focus was outside of myself.

As I sat in this bar my myself, relaxed and happy, I was approached by one man after another. I felt like a piece of steak surrounded by vultures. There I was, in a state of facial nudity which would normally have me feeling completely paralyzed with self-doubt, getting so much male attention. At one point, a man sat next to me and commented, "So...I'm gay, and my boyfriend is over there. But I just felt like I had to tell you that you are so pretty. You absolutely glow. Totally not hitting on you."

was beautiful, because who can resist straight-up happiness and joy? When you feel that bliss, everyone is attracted to it.

On Friday, July 14th, Marissa Bognanno and I will be hosting a session of hypnosis and energy healing based on this...bringing in that deep self-love, really feeling it, and allowing the feelings to put the energy in motion to attract a partner. I recently had a conversation with a friend who is feeling kind of down about relationships (who hasn't been there?). She asked, "Why bother? You put so much time and effort into it, and most of the times it ends in heartbreak."

I see it differently. I honestly believe that every relationship, good or bad, hones us into a better version of who we are. And by the time we meet our true partner, we've been through the fire and molded into our soul's highest potential: enlightened, kind, and self-aware.

This event is going to be life-changing. If you are interested, contact me asap.

Cupping: A First Date Story

Now that Michael Phelps and the Olympics have brought so much attention to the concept of cupping, I have been fielding calls for days asking for more information. In fact, I just had a reporter come in to write a feature about fire-cupping for the local paper. I absolutely adore cupping, but it isn't anything new; I've been doing it in my practice for years, and patients love it. In fact, I still have fond memories of the first time I cupped someone outside of the classroom. We had been fire-cupping all week long in school, and I was dying to try it on a willing victim. The perfect opportunity arose later that month: a first date! That night, as usual, I was carrying around my entire life in my car...including my shiny new acupuncture cups. I can't quite remember how it came up, but my date started asking me about acupuncture, and somehow the topic of cupping came up. I mentioned having a set of cups in my car, and he grew curious. The next thing I knew, I had him sprawled out shirtless on his living room floor. Fortunately (for me), the guy had a lot of old injuries and pain, so I had plenty to work with. As I cupped him, he was left with huge purple marks in the area of a previous shoulder injury. Impressed with my work, I decided to use the sliding cup method to really work out the kinks. I straddled him, tube of Vaseline in hand...only to be interrupted by the arrival of his unsuspecting roommate. Awkward.

Now, many practitioners use cupping in their practices, but most tend to settle for plastic cups that can be suctioned to the skin. Not me. I'm all about the drama. I prefer the traditional fire-cupping, where there is an element of theatrics involved. In fire-cupping, glass cups are used. A cotton ball is held with tweezers and set on fire, then swirled around the inside of the cup. The flame sucks all of the oxygen out of the cup, and then the cup is quickly pressed against the skin. Due to the lack of oxygen, the cup suctions tightly to the skin. This suction breaks up stagnation in the muscles, creating a deep tissue massage.

We acupuncturists use cupping for other issues, as well. It doesn't necessarily have to be used for musculoskeletal issues; the suction can also be used to stimulate acupuncture points. It is common to use cups in the lung area for relief of asthma, and also to expel pathogens (such as the common cold). Small cups can be used to stimulate acupuncture points in lieu of needles.

One of my favorite techniques is called ranchi ho, and I find it to be extremely effective for all sorts of issues where there is too much qi or heat in the upper part of the body. During a session of ranchi ho, tiny pricks are made in the skin, and then the area is cupped. The release of blood leads to a state of relaxation that can be mind-blowing. This is great for stress, insomnia, and agitation-although it sounds grotesque, patients often beg me for it!

One of the coolest things about cupping is the physical proof of stagnation that comes up when it is done correctly. There are two types of cupping: stationary and sliding. Stationary is, well, stationary. The cup sits on the skin without being moved. Sliding cup is done with some sort of lubricant, such as Vaseline. After the skin is prepped with the lubricant, the cup is moved up and down the patient's back. If there is no stagnation, the skin will redden, but then quickly fade back to its normal shade. If there is an area of stagnation, however, tiny red dots will rise to the surface. These dots look like sand, and we call them "sha". If there is enough stagnation, the dots will turn almost black, and the patient will be left with dark purple marks that will fade in a few days. It's really quite amazing. I can use cups on a patient's entire back, and only the area of pain will be left with marks. It's like a roadmap of pain!

Why Do We Keep People In Our Lives Who Suck?

We all have those people in our lives. People who suck the life out of us. People who bring us down. People who, in spite of their denial, truly can't wait to see us fall on our faces.  Seriously, you can see their eyes light up every time you fail (or, if you're an optimist like me, "learn a lesson.") Time and time again, we wonder: "Why do I keep this person in my life? Why am I spending my energy on someone that always brings me down into that negative place?"

For some of us, it's simply ingrained to hold on to those people who have had years of common experiences. That junior high friend might be catty and judgmental, but she is the only one who can commiserate with your first crush, or that horrible science teacher that made your life hell, or the unfortunate feathered hair trend. That's something. Even if he or she doesn't make you feel great, at least you have the bond of the past, and that can't be replicated with just anyone.

I think of myself as a positive, patient person, and I have a very high tolerance for all kinds of BS. I can let a lot go. However, even this Pollyanna has to admit that some people...well, they just suck. Maybe that suckiness isn't the whole of who they are, but they suck at being friends (or partners). Yet, we hold on to them, even though we know it only leads to states ranging from frustration to outright rage. Truly, if a day spent with someone is bookended by dread and regret, your energy is better spent on either better people or solitude.

Again, though, why is it so hard to let go of these people? Sometimes I wonder if having someone in your life to complain about is a necessary outlet. I was reading an article a few years ago about the bonding properties of gossip. Nothing brings people together like having a third party to bitch about, apparently. Think about how much better it feels to vent about someone with your best friend, rather than saying something positive. It feels deeper somehow, doesn't it? Talking about how lovely the new girl is with your water cooler buddies isn't nearly as satisfying as telling stories about how horrid your boss is. Perhaps having some negative people in your life is a way to stock up on opportunities to vent and let out some steam from your daily life?

Or maybe having negative people around is a way for us to put ourselves on pedestals, if only temporarily. There's a certain level of judgment involved in martyring ourselves and being around people who make us feel bad. Even if we feel down or angry after spending time with these people, there's a type of superiority in knowing that at least you aren't as malicious/negative/cranky as he/she is.

I also speculate that there is a large subset of people who gravitate toward people who suck because deep down inside, they feel this is all they deserve. If someone treats them well, they look upon it with suspicion. If you believe that you deserve to get treated poorly, that is what you will attract. For these types of people, getting treated with disrespect isn't pleasant, but it is familiar. It's comfortable. It's the same reason why people date the same types of abusive partners, over and over, or stay at that job they hate until they retire. These people probably view their miserable "friends" as a necessary evil, and see no need to try to upgrade.

That sounds terrible, doesn't it? The idea of "upgrading" your friends? It's so very junior high. But in reality, some people lift us up, and support us, and make us better people. Others just can't wait to drag us down into the depths with them. Why should we feel guilty allowing ourselves to break free from that?

I remember being in one program or another, long ago. There was a woman in the program whom I will call "Sue," and she sucked. She complained non-stop. She needed endless amounts of attention from everyone around her, and if she didn't get it she would pout like a child. She was highly competitive and obsessed with everyone else's grades. And worst of all, she was the world's biggest one-upper. Any story you told, it was nothing compared to what she had been through. So. Freaking. Annoying.

In that particular program, I had become friendly with a woman who was my polar opposite in personality-she had a very strong, assertive nature and had no problem calling anyone out on anything. She was very sweet (sometimes) but SO confrontational. One day we were in class together and she brought up the topic of Sue, telling me that she was had grown extremely frustrated with her neediness and competitive nature. I agreed, thinking nothing of it-everyone in our program had issues with her. She went on to tell me that, after losing her patience with Sue, she had written her a long, long letter detailing everything she didn't like about her. This letter addressed all of Sue's flaws and shortcomings, and came with a warning that she could either opt to change, or stay away, because her various negative attributes were no longer going to be tolerated. Listening to this, I was overwhelmed with so many emotions: cringing horror at the thought of receiving a letter like that, pity, and finally admiration; I could never do something like that! I imagined the anger and humiliation I would feel if I was the recipient, and asked how Sue had responded. I couldn't believe what I heard next: "Oh, she was very responsive. She thanked me and said she would take this as an opportunity to work on herself."

My mind was blown.

And you know what? She actually did change after that letter. She didn't blossom into a new person overnight, but she really toned it down. So I suppose that this letter truly was a gift to her, but somehow I don't believe that most would respond this way. I know I wouldn't.

I'd love to hear some input on this. Do you have someone in your life who sucks? Why do you think you keep them around? And if you have gotten rid of one of these people, how did you do it?? Please post in the comments below.


Back Pain: Pain That Stems From Deficiency

In the world of acupuncture, we see a LOT of back pain. In fact, I will often treat entire families that suffer from the same issue. I recently treated a husband and wife who both came in for back pain. After their sessions with me, they compared notes and asked me why they each had received needles in different areas.

I explained to them that each acupuncture session is different because we treat the entire person, not just the issue that they are coming in with. Since each person is different, no two treatments are completely alike. Back pain itself varies so much that there is no cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all treatment. We acupuncturists look more deeply into the issue of pain before making a decision about what points and techniques are appropriate for you.

One differentiation it is important to make is whether the back pain stems from excess or deficiency. Proper treatment is based on knowing the difference between the two. Deficient pain stems from a lack of energy or blood to nourish the area, and excess pain is stagnation of the blood or energy; basically, things are “stuck” and not flowing freely as they should.

So what does this mean? Think of it this way: if you are deficient, your body lacks the energy to heal the affected area. Anything you do that further drains the overall energy of the body will cause the problem to get worse. We start with a certain amount of energy when we wake in the morning, which slowly declines throughout the course of the day. This being the case, pain that comes from deficiency is usually worse at night, when our vital force is at its lowest. In the morning, the pain improves. Movement takes energy, so deficiency pain is often better with rest rather than movement. Aging depletes us, and this can also lead to deficiency back pain.  In practice, I see many older people who present with this type of pain.

Generally, deficiency pain tends to be more chronic, slow to build and slow to disappear. It usually feels better with pressure. If you have ever had the type of back pain that you just wanted someone to massage to get some relief, it was likely deficiency pain. Deficiency back pain is more mild and achy than pain caused by excess conditions, which is more pronounced and feels worse with touch. It can also move around, whereas excess pain is fixed in one spot.

When you see your acupuncturist for back pain, expect to be asked many questions regarding the location of the pain, what makes it feel better and worse, and what quality of pain it is. This will give your practitioner the information they need to provide the best possible treatment for you.

This Stuff Really Works

It goes without saying that I completely believe in Chinese medicine, and know without a doubt how effective it is. But I just love those days when I get to experience the magic for myself, all over again. So, please don't judge me, but last week I decided to enjoy a few beers on my day off. On Tuesday. At noon. Hey, I can't help that Tuesdays are my Saturdays!

Unfortunately, I sometimes forget that I am old, and I can't handle day-drinking as I once did. By 3:00, I had a mild headache and needed a nap, which I took. By 5:00, I was awake with a full-blown migraine. The pain was so bad that I was dry-heaving. I had an acupuncture appointment at 6:00, and I almost decided to just pay for the missed session and cancel; I felt that sick. I'm always confused when patients call to cancel their sessions because they aren't feeling well-isn't that the point of coming to see me? But at that moment, head throbbing, stomach churning, I totally understood. Leaving the house when you are in that much pain is sometimes just too hard.

My acupuncturist is only about 10 minutes from my house, so I decided to push through the headache and force myself to go. I'm sure I was a lovely shade of green when I entered her office; we usually chat before my session but I cut her off and explained that I had a migraine and felt too nauseous to talk. She quickly got me on the table and started needling. As I lay there, the intense pain in my forehead and temples began to move toward the back of my head. Lying still was difficult, but I hoped that soon I would get some relief and the appointment would be worth it.

Within no more than three minutes of the needles being inserted, my stomach had settled completely; I hadn't the slightest trace of nausea. Great. My head was still pounding, though, although the intensity had settled somewhat. I tried to distract myself by bargaining with the Universe that I would never have another Jack's Abby Framinghammer Graham Cracker Porter again in my life, if only the pain would end.

After about five minutes, the pain had melted into a dull ache that I felt in various places all over my head. I know how well acupuncture works for headaches and migraines, but I had never appreciated how FAST it could work. I had never seen my acupuncturist when I had a headache, and had no idea. It was almost disconcerting how quickly the pain disappeared. Within 10-15 minutes, I had drifted off into that dreamy "acu-stoned"state where you can't feel any part of your body and you don't care about anything. Pain level: 0.

I love that I've been doing this so long and I can still be blown away by this medicine!