Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Needles and music and moxa, oh my!


I had my very first acupuncture experience last night. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the friend who’d given me a gift certificate always raves about how great she feels after her session. I know most people use acupuncture to treat ailments or injuries, but I wasn’t certain what my goal or target was since, well, I have more medical crap going on than most octogenarians in China. Because acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine, those healthy seniors must be onto something.

When I arrived, the first thing that captured my attention wasn’t the pot of hot water and varieties of tea bags, the bottled water, Eastern religion figurines and artwork or the soft music. It was the smell. There was a distinct odor in the air that I hadn’t smelled since my last visit to a college dormitory. Kind of a sweet yet musky, cloying aroma. Yup. It was the scent of really low quality marijuana.

As she was ushering me into a private room, my acupuncturist quickly explained that the odor was not cheap pot but a recompounded herb called Moxa, derived from mug worth. Their office burned it as part of the treatment and in lieu of other incense.

Once in the room, we went over the health history questionnaire I’d filled out and determined that my focus for the visit would be simply, a fresh start. I’m embarking on several personal growth projects and need a clear mind and refreshed body. As soon as the decision was made, my acupuncturist grabbed her needles and went to work.

Picture this: you’re laying in your underwear on a massage table, covered by a sheet, pillow under your knees and a few strategically placed heat lamps warming you. Your legs are uncovered from the knee down, and your arms are on top of the covers. Suddenly, a needle is poked into the side of your calf. Strangely enough, no pain.

My friends know I’m needle shy. The surprise of having no pain was short lived, however, when the second needle insertion sent a tingle down my other calf, much like a weak electrical shock. I was more nervous than hurt, but I did have to engage in some relaxation breathing so I wouldn’t feel stressed at the thought of more needles.

In short time I had needles in my feet, near the insides of my elbows, at my wrists and in the webbing of my thumb and forefinger, at the top of the bridge of my nose between my eyebrows, sternum and even in the crown of my head. The acupuncturist patted me and told me she was leaving me for about 25 minutes to go “release someone”. She said I may feel sleepy or like I’m drifting in and out of consciousness.

I lay there, soothing music in the background, heat lamps on and felt exactly like a bug pinned to an entomologist’s specimen board. Well, maybe not a regular bug…perhaps a prettily colored butterfly. I did drift off to a state of semi-consciousness, drowsily clearing my mind until a sharp rat-a-tat, rat-a-tat-tat threw me back into reality. My eyes flew open just to see a cardinal perched outside the window, tapping at the glass. As soon as I lifted my head, he flew off. Odd, but it really seemed as if he knew he was rousing me from relaxation.

After a comfortable amount of time, my acupuncturist returned, removed the needles and had me flip over onto my tummy. She then inserted a needle several inches below my neck, in the upper part of my back, and two in my lower back, an area that has always been sensitive to touch, whether it’s wind, fingertips or otherwise. This is where the moxa came into play. The burning of the herb on my body produced a localized heat that spread through me in a deliciously soporific manner. I could have lain there for hours, feeling less like a pinned down bug and more like a pampered socialite at an expensive spa.

Leaving the office was entertaining. I felt languorous, almost as if I was in an altered state of consciousness. And yes, folks, I drove home. The rest of the evening can be summed up this way: ate dinner, drank copious amounts of water, sank into a deep, deep sleep. I’ve definitely become a fan of the needle.

1 comment:

Amanda Barras said...

Sounds fab! I am still not sure I am going to run out an djoin your fan club, but I am glad you had a good experience!

Amanda