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I’m a high energy individual. My days are often spent packing as much as humanly possible into every hour. I have many passions, interests, commitments, and ideas that keep me in a perpetual state of striving, accomplishing, doing—and for most of my life, I have dealt with stress by doing more.
Many years ago when I suffered a sports-induced injury, I lost my primary coping mechanism of exercise. Suddenly, I could not do the physical activity that my system had learned to rely on to be well. That’s when I turned to meditation, a coping skill that requires no action, no activity, and no doing. As I began to sit in silence regularly, I realized I was learning to just be. Over time, I have continued to learn that practicing the art of “being” allows me to maintain the high energy and multi-passionate parts of myself without feeling frantic or overwhelmed.
As a Holistic Psychologist, here are my two guiding mantras for embracing the “power of the pause.”
After years of meditation practice, I still have to intentionally remind myself to do less and simply just be. For example, I recently had a meeting canceled last-minute, which opened up a full hour in my day. My mind immediately went to all the emails I’d be able to respond to.
When I took a breath to listen to my body, I realized I felt frazzled by running from one thing to the next. I put my devices away and sat in a park for a full hour—thinking, reflecting, breathing, people watching, and just being. I noticed a sense of calm flow through my body, a sense of thankfulness fill my heart, and a feeling of contentment wash over me. Listening to my own internal need to do less is what propels me to carry on with my day in my usual upbeat and high-energy manner.
When we create space to be, our nervous system calms. When our nervous system is relaxed, our body and brain function better. Therefore, somewhat ironically, the best thing we can do for our productivity and our drive is to take a break—hit pause, slow down, breathe. I teach clients how to pause, since both mental and physical health depends on restful moments.
Science shows that continually being in a state of activity causes stress at a cellular level. Our systems need to decompress and rejuvenate to prevent disease, illness and to thrive. So the question is: to be or to do. My answer is both. I will always love being active and doing, and over time I’ve come to know the deep value in learning the skill of just being.
With doing as my default, practicing the importance of being is an ongoing journey for me. It’s also a skill I feel passionate about sharing with others, as we can all benefit from being given the permission to just be. So, the next time you feel like you “should do something,” remind yourself that taking the time to be is positively fueling your entire system—mind and body.
Acupuncture is extremely beneficial for various ailments ranging from digestion to carpal tunnel, but the level of effectiveness varies from person-to-person. I’ve had Sciatica patients spend months combating their back and leg pain, and others hop off the table in two hours, never needing a follow-up appointment. Some rotator cuffs take six weeks; others take two years.
Why is this?
While your body's response to acupuncture depends on the complaint or injury, it also depends on your overall health, and how well you take care of the injured site between sessions. If we eat junk food all the time, are inactive, don’t sleep well, or overwork ourselves, then injury is imminent, and recovery is going to be hard. Equally, if we ignore an injury or don't care for it, then we will likely stay injured for longer.
So, let’s break down what’s best for you when it comes to acupuncture:
“How often should you get acupuncture with specific ailments?”
This is different for everyone, but here are some general guidelines.
More is better.
Acupuncture has cumulative effects, so while most feel relief after one session, it likely will not have resolved the issue. Multiple follow up sessions are needed, and for your own comfort, it’s recommended that you use sessions before the effects have completely worn off each time.
Every time you receive a session, your relief should be more significant, and the effects should last longer—bringing the injury closer to resolution. With this in mind; the worse the injury, the more frequent you’ll want to receive acupuncture. Several times a week is standard, that way you will get out of discomfort faster, and you’ll need fewer sessions overall.
Understanding acute versus chronic ailments.
Some acute symptoms like nausea, dizziness, bleeding, swelling, or anxiety will clear up on the spot. However, for recent injuries pertaining to tissues, like a strained muscle, you can use three acupuncture sessions in one week with great effect. For example, with strained lower back muscles, you will feel less pain in one session, a significant reduction in inflammation and symptoms within three sessions. An ankle sprain is a little more serious and may take two or three weeks, but the general idea is the same.
With stubborn pain, or chronic issues like sciatica, skin rashes, nerve pain, hormone irregularities, it can take a bunch of sessions to see lingering results. Often there will be relief right after each session, but the symptoms return quickly (albeit with a little less vengeance). This just means the results are happening in smaller increments. For this reason, your practitioner will tell you to come in over three times a week for two or three weeks so you’ll get more relief faster, but you can space the sessions out as you begin to feel better.
“What can I do to make my acupuncture benefits bigger?”
As mentioned, how you care for yourself between sessions makes a big difference. Here’s a few pro tips.
Your practitioner will give you specific directions they want you to follow for your ailment, but generally, after an acupuncture visit, it is wise to drink a lot of water and rest.
Here’s the obvious thing we don’t often consider. If you get instant relief for your pulled hamstring, but then you go running the next day, it’s going to take forever to heal! That injured body part needs to be pampered and catered to. Your acupuncturist will give you food, supplement, lifestyle, and movement suggestions to use between sessions– use them all.
I’ve seen countless patients walk in with frozen shoulder, spend 90 minutes in the chair with various points and stimulation techniques, and then leave swinging their arm painlessly with 50% more range of motion. If they eat well, do their physical therapy, and are kind to their shoulders, the effects will last. Then, next time, we can add another 50% on to their range of motionBut, if they paint a house or swing a baseball, then I see them go right back to square one overnight. How we take care of ourselves between sessions really matters.
You will want to note any changes; no matter how small or irrelevant they seem. Your practitioner is armed with many protocols and techniques. They will always start with the combo that they’ve seen work best for your complaint, from there they will work backward or tweak it slightly based on the information you give them. Make sure to tell them every detail, even if it seems unrelated.
One lady, with unrelenting pain, finally revealed a game-changing nugget to me while nonchalantly laughing about her need to wear neck scarves everywhere. I found out she had been experiencing chills and had a significant aversion to wind during the summer. This “irrelevant” snippet made me radically change the protocol, and she was pain-free and healing rapidly within four sessions.
So, there you have it. How acupuncture benefits various body parts depends on the area concerned, but also on how we treat our bodies before, during, and after injury.