We Need Our Planet

Acupuncture in Action with Kat: Conflicts Inside and Out

A peek into an acupuncture treatment with Kat Ao.

Yesterday a young man booked his first acupuncture session, looking for relief for an aching upper back muscle. Over half way into the treatment, he mentions the point I just used, the eighth in the session, is the first that’s actually felt like a needle (the previous points didn’t bring on a needle-like sensation). This cued me to explain one of my favorite features of Japanese-style acupuncture: If the short-term goal is to help our bodies out of a stressed state that causes pain, then the process has to be just as stress-free. In other words, healing is a process.

Back to the treatment. I explained how tension on his right hip, abdomen, and left shoulder can contribute to that nagging upper back. To test that I used points that released these distal tensions. And that nagging spot also toned down. So some myofascial connections were there. I listen to his story and we agreed the persistence of the pain (seven years!) didn’t seem to line up with what started it. And so I offered a possible pathophysiological explanation that may line up with the myofascial tensions. This cued me to explain two more great things about J-style: 1) musculoskeletal anatomy interacts with internal functions. In short, everything’s connected. 2) The long-term goal is to help our bodies respond appropriately to our present contexts. In short, change happens.

The hour ends and he feels different, like the conflict between him and his back has shifted. Results can happen when we respect that: a) healing is a process, b) everything’s connected, and c) change happens. These principles are relevant beyond an acupuncture treatment, and it’s that integrity between how we live in our bodies and what’s in our external environment that can be so inspiring. I’m grateful for communities that live by these principles and stand up for our future. And hope that in our own way as acupuncturists and as receivers of acupuncture, we contribute to something better.