This weekend, many of us were gifted a palpable sense of relief, a collective EXHALE, with the election news. Patients walked into the office on Monday with an extra pep in their step, a general lightness that has been missing this year, or these four years, for that matter. For myself and many others, we may not have realized until this moment to how great an extent we have been holding our breaths–our heightened caution and alertness; the social injustices, distancing and isolation; the unrelenting task of making safe decisions for ourselves and our families; and ultimately, the endless bracing of ourselves from more bad news or potential harm. It’s a weight we have all grown accustomed to and have found ways to survive, endure and even thrive. But as news rang out of the upcoming changing of the guard, we were suddenly given permission to let go a little, to even feel joy.
The act of bracing oneself in order to persist through difficulty, pain or uncertainty is a very common response we often see in our office. A patient may be in chronic pain, seeking to make sense of confusing symptoms, or perhaps trying to conceive without success. In all of these cases, a natural reaction to confusion, fear and uncertainty is to protect oneself from potential bad news. But this fortification of ourselves, much like the shield many of us have put up during these difficult times, becomes another layer of unease that permeates one’s entire being until we barely notice its existence. It then emerges as general low-grade malaise, anxiety or depression.
One of the huge benefits of acupuncture and an essential goal we as practitioners have for our patients, is to give each one a taste of healing, a morsel of what it is like to be free from discomfort, and instead be able to connect with one’s inner calm and vitality. Even if this calm state only lasts for just a moment at first, it offers each person a chance to experience relief and the peace that comes along with it. This shedding of the protective shield in and of itself is part of healing.
With regular acupuncture and Chinese medicine care, we are rebuilding a trusting relationship between oneself and one’s body. Too often, patients come through our doors resigned to pain, having lost the hope for healing and change. Acupuncture sends a message of realignment and rebalance. The body receives it and can experience a sense of full body equilibrium and freedom. As symptoms decrease, not only does one benefit from being free from pain or unease, one also begins to trust in the potential for healing, in the innate strength and vitality of one’s own body. This trust can then build upon itself and beget more healing.
Just as we all needed a moment of hope for better times this weekend, I am grateful for a medicine that can remind us of what it feels like to let go and feel well.