I Love Needles

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This is kind of maudlin and strange, but what the hell.

Every couple of weeks I drive 20 miles for a block of alternative health therapies: a chiropractic adjustment, a massage, an acupuncture treatment.

I start off with an adjustment from Jack, the chiropractor, whom I really like. He's young, 6'5", well muscled, blond, and affable. If you're going to let some guy you hardly know cradle you in his arms and squeeze until all your joints crack, it might as well be some hot guy with a slow, sly grin. Yesterday I told Jack I was just a mess, and he agreed–said my adrenals were shot and marveled at how toxic my system was, until I told him I've been treating my insomnia with booze, benadryl and prescription sleeping pills.

Bonnie, my masseuse, was astonished at how knotted and tight my neck and shoulders were, until I told her I've begun standing on my head for a few minutes every day as part of my yoga practice. She refuses to believe this is a good idea, even when I explained how it's supposed to massage your internal organs and give you a new perspective on your problems and flood your brain with oxygen etc etc. She had no sympathy when I cried out in pain as she dug her thumbs into these kinked lumps along my trapezius muscles, but at least I felt better when I got up off the table.

I save the best for last: I LOVE acupuncture. Maki, my acupuncturist these days, is a very cool Japanese woman who trained at the New England School of Acupuncture, the oldest school of acupuncture and Oriental medicine in the United States, also the alma mater of my other favorite acupuncturist, who lives in Iowa. I told Maki what I told Bonnie and Jack: that I was a mess, and she agreed. She started some process of assessment, then told me, "Your mind is so busy, isn't it. You think too much."

"Everyone tells me that," I said. "But it's hard to stop."

She paused, then said, "But it's your heart that's most disorderly. It's going crazy. What happened to you?"

So I told her some of what I've been dealing with lately. And then she started inserting needles.

One of the things I love about acupuncture is that it works: it has healed and improved so many of my ailments. Another is that it sometimes causes these funky altered states. It doesn't happen every treatment, but when I feel it coming, I get really happy because I know it'll be good. One part of my brain turns off and another part takes over and I go on this cool ride to someplace I don't get to visit often enough. When I felt the transition starting last Friday, I told Maki, "I need to tell you while I still can that I'm OK, but I'm going away now. And I won't be able to talk to you for a while."

Instead, I talked to my heart. I could feel myself having this conversation with it, I could hear it and I could feel it, could feel it as if it were a separate entity, this presence living inside me with an identity of its own, talking to me, telling me how I'd neglected it. It seemed terribly brave and strong to me, in ways that astonished and humbled me. I kept offering to protect it, and it kept telling me it didn't need protecting; it just needed attention from me, and nurturing after it got hurt.

So now, however cliched and silly it sounds, I'm trying to listen to my heart. I guess as I consider the matter it seems that phrase might have become a cliche because it can mean something real. And I'm trying to trust this bravery I somehow carry inside me, this refusal to accept protection and safety as a substitute for experience, discovery and growth.

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This page contains a single entry by Holly published on August 20, 2005 12:16 PM.

Out with the Guys was the previous entry in this blog.

Kant's Three Questions and Yo! God is the next entry in this blog.

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