The Body-Mind Connection
When people think about Chinese Medicine, they may think about needles being used to fix knee pain, headaches, or regulate digestion. However, acupuncture has a much broader spectrum of symptoms and issues that it covers, and what many people discover through regular treatment is that all of their symptoms are connected, even the emotional ones. One of the ways practitioners use this medicine is to evaluate the emotions by seeing how they are affecting the body. Although this concept is greatly reduced in Western Medicine, for thousands of years acupuncturists have been observing the body as being interconnected with the mind and spirit. Along those lines, when patients talk about symptoms a big word I hear in my practice a lot is stress. Almost every patient I have experiences stress and every patient experiences it differently. So to understand how acupuncture works with it, let’s evaluate what it means to different people.
“Stress” in the Body
As you read this, think about something in your life that causes you some stress. It does not have to be anything extreme, but something you know will trigger a stressed response. Now while picturing yourself in the scenario, start to pay attention to your body. Some people may notice their breathing becomes shallow while others have the feeling of butterflies in their stomach. This is because everyone is different. Chemically, everyone has a similar stress response, but emotionally everyone experiences it separately. When an acupuncturist works with emotions, this is the emotional information we utilize the most. Of course, we are also helping the patient navigate portions of their life that are stressful in attempts to facilitate healing, but we also need to know where those emotions are manifesting in the body. By combining this info with other observations and symptoms, we can select the proper acupuncture points and meridians to work on. Once the charge of that emotion is reduced in the body, people often find it easier to deal with their stressful emotions as the energy is no longer stuck. It is a critical step in holistically approaching patient health and can help relieve many people of unnecessary suffering.
Exercises for Reducing Stress
For days that are particularly stressful, and your acupuncturist isn’t around, here is an exercise for reducing stress and regaining your good composure. When a stressful situation occurs first look at the breath. A cool way to reset the body’s chemistry is to breathe in for 4 seconds, hold the breath for 7, and exhale for 8. Do this 3 times while focusing on the “stressed” area of your body, and you’ll be surprised at the changes it can help to manifest. Another good tool is simply orienting yourself to the present moment. By slowly looking around your environment and taking note of exactly where you are and what you are doing, you are getting out of your stressed out head and into your present body in the now. Stress can be a good tool in certain situations, but most of the time people are stressed because of their thoughts, even when the contributing factor is nowhere around!
These are two techniques I share with many patients, and also techniques I utilize for myself. I hope you find them useful!
In my next few blogs, I will discuss different emotions and how they manifest in the body!! Stay tuned for my blog on fear!