Thursday, July 19, 2007

put the needle on the record

The title and this picture really have little to do with the content I am about to share. I was using twisted marketing ploys to grab the reader's attention. Are you intrigued? Well then, read on my minions........................

Sorry, feeling incongruously goofy tonight. Anyway, what I really want to write about is my experience with acupuncture in general and specifically my session today. Quite a few years back, and for reasons I choose not to write about here, I decided to try acupuncture. I went to a sweet and gentle practitioner on Stony Brook Road, not too far from my home town. I had always been partial to alternative/complementary medicines, but I entered into this experience with an open mind with no expectations. Once the numerous needles were inserted, the kind doctor left the room with the simple instruction to relax and she would check in on me later. The door gently closed behind her and, try as I may, I attempted to enjoy the soft music being piped in. Being who I am, my monkey-mind kept chattering and chattering for a solid ten minutes, thinking about what I "should" be feeling, where I had to go after this appointment, do I have enough money to go out tonight, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah... Then suddenly and without warning, my chatter monkey hushed and every ounce of tension melted out of my body. I can only describe it as if there was a sheet of silk that landed daintily over my body and as it touched me any physical discomfort dissipated. I have been hooked on the needles ever since.

At different times in my life, I have received Traditional Chinese acupuncture (TC) and Five Element. My body seems to react better, quicker and more effectively to TC. Being conscious of money but wanting to find an able practitioner of TC acupuncture in RI, I had someone recommend a clinic that offers sessions on a sliding scale ($20-40, pay what you can!!!), but it is set up in a traditional Chinese clinic fashion. Instead of having a private room, there are a few tables and reclining chairs in three separate but open rooms. In essence, they can charge much less than a standard acupuncture session because they treat multiple clients at once. People are scheduled appointments starting at fifteen minute intervals and you can be treated for as short or as long as you need. Sometimes there is no one else in the room with you, other times you may have up to three others. The acupuncturist lets you relax until you feel your session is complete (she checks in the rooms regularly).

Though nervous for my first appointment, since this model was new to me, I quickly began enjoying being able to have an individual yet shared energy experience. Each time I have an appointment I never know what it will be like. Sometimes I drift out of my conscious and into a dreamlike state. Sometimes it fells very somatic and "buzzy". There are times I am aware of blockages in my meridians and can feel the energy serge when it frees up. Sometimes the needles hit a nerve when they enter my skin and that stinging subsides in a few seconds. There have been sessions where I am pleasantly aware of the other people in the room and can ponder our shared experience. Often this is extremely humbling and grounding. Today, I felt something entirely different, new and a bit disturbing.

I had arrived in the parking lot a quarter-hour ahead of schedule so, as I usually do, I spent those minutes relaxing in my car (today it was listening to music and singing). For some reason, I felt like just going home and skipping out. I knew I would not leave, so I just observed the sensation in my gut. After a few deep breaths, I stepped out of my car, into the rain and across the small parking lot to the building. After greeting the acupuncturist, Kris, I felt markedly better. I scheduled my appointment for next week, paid my measly $20, choose a chair in the front room where two other women were already being treated and discussed what I was going on for me this week. Kris worked her needle magic, about ten or so points, and I took a deep breath, got comfy and closed my eyes.

The beginning of the treatment I observed that, contrary to my usual points of blocked sensation (my left arm), all the points except my left arm seemed to have a funky, kind of achy-zappy thing happening. No big deal. A short time later, the one woman to my right had finished and left, leaving me and the other woman in the opposite corner of the room. At that point, I noticed my breathing which normally becomes quite slow and melodic, became a "hot breath" that I could only sense moving from my upper palette and out the top of my nostrils. This was odd. My right arm twitched at unusual intervals. I felt anger and hatred, but it didn't feel like it was from within me; I can only explain it as above me (supine) and over my heart center and my upper palette. I felt an imaginary shrill scream (this was a sensation, not any actual noise) coming out from in front of my tonsils and upper palette. It was not in any quality of my voice but seemingly coming from me. I was "screaming" at the other woman to "Get out! Get out! Get out! Just fucking get out!" I wanted to push her, shove her out of the room. This sensation felt horrible to be experiencing. This was not out of any real feeling of anger, it was more of wanting this horrific feeling to cease. I didn't understand it (and still don't) but I observed it. I found it slightly frightening and disheartening, but it was what I was experiencing and I do not judge it. I also felt a far off energy embracing me and keeping me safe, but it was still scary in a sense. Luckily, this woman finished up and left before I couldn't take any more.

The cool, rainy air enter briefly as she passed through the door to leave and, as it shut behind her, the sensations and screaming ceased. The rest of the session was rather relaxing and enjoyable, and I was able to feel complete before I had Kris take the needles out. This was truly an unusual experience and I have no idea what to make of it.

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