We don't often allow ourselves to sit and do nothing. Despite our increasingly sedentary lifestyles we are 'going' at 90mph more than ever. Arguably most of us are doing things that don't amount to much like checking Instagram 90% of the time, but to our brains we might as well be hunting our dinner.
My initial curiosity with acupuncture came from a sticky running injury (plantar fasciitis) which I have been battling (on and off) for over two years rendering me with the desperate willingness to try anything that could remotely help. I had all but given up on running, resorting to walking a mile on 'good' days. At first I assumed that, living in LA, I just drive to much which didn't letting my right foot recover. So I bought a bike to avoid running errands in the car and wallah I was back on the move. Pretty soon I was taking 40 mile rides and my calves were so tight I could hear people commenting on them in Trader Joe's. That seemed to aggravate my PF(the tight calves, not the complements) so I quit biking. Actually my bike was stolen so I didn't have a choice. This lit a fire for me to fix this once and for all. I threw everything I could think of at it... night splints, orthotics, rollers of every shape and kind, A R T massages, chamomile to relax the muscles and fish oil to reduce inflammation(not at the same time).
So I explain this saga as well as the stabbing pain in my foot and tightness in my achilles/calf to the acupuncturist who has a Phd in eastern medicine. After conversing a bit he swabs a couple areas on the lower leg and sticks just three needles in my leg the first time, sometimes adding one on recurring visits. They aren't deep and most of them go in painlessly, but the muscles on the inside of my heal are super sore given all the nerves in the feet. I flinch every time one of those is tapped in. Then he places electronic pulse massager pads over the painful areas and leaves me in the dimly lit room for 45 minutes with this meditative trance-inducing ohm music playing over the buildings intercom/stereo system. On his way out of the room he always says, "lets have you rest".
Okay, so here I am trying to figure out the best way to be a patient of this holistic medicine. I immediately realize that it's better to leave the phone in the car if I'm to resist the urge of taking pictures of the needles sticking out of my leg. After decidedly placing my phone as far away as possible I begin to relax. Pretty soon I find myself breathing in time with the music and almost falling asleep. Thoughts about the day float in and out of my mind but mostly I'm imagining the pain melting away like butter in a pan. Im imagining oxygen flowing through my veins to my whole body. Im suddenly struck by the thought that the needles' ability to heal me is completely controlled by me. And even if they don't physically/scientifically change my nerves and muscles, it's beneficial taking this time to release the stress that is built up by never letting my mind just be. If my insurance covered meditation rooms I would pay the copay just to use them! but wait, i know what you're thinking, I can do this on my own can't I? While it's the permission of a doctor telling you to rest that expels the anxiety pervading the rest of life (potentially because it's what our parents used to do?), there's no reason we can't learn to set aside that time each day or at least once a week for some golden concentrated nothingness. We'd probably be better mentally prepared to take on the world.
The doctor comes back after my time is up and takes out the needles which have numbed up. The one in my foot doesn't hurt when he pulls it out. Of course this is just one element of proper recovery, and wether it's the deadening of the nerves or the care of a medical practitioner or the meditative time spent zen-ing out I feel that it helps. In any case...
✓ tried acupuncture