June 12, 2017
Recently I was at my 20th high school reunion, a mixture of surface-level platitudes and superficial synopses of the lives of our classmates. “What do you do?” was naturally a common question. The quick, elevator-speech answer I gave was, “I’m an acupuncturist.” However, that answer is resoundingly incomplete.
On paper I am an acupuncturist and energy worker. More accurately, those are just tools for me to accomplish what it is that I really do.
At the center of all my work is mindfulness. I use mindfulness in how I view my clients, as I take into account all that I can about them, including their physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. In addition, I teach my clients about mindfulness, showing them how to take a deep and thorough account of themselves and their experiences.
People will often come to see me for acupuncture with the intent of focusing on a particular physical or emotional issue, such as back pain and anxiety. However, regardless of the issue that they are specifically coming to see me for, I will ask about all parts of their life. If what brings them into my office is back pain, for instance, I will still ask about their diet and sleep patterns, as well as their relationships, hobbies, and how they feel as they move through their days.
Often they ask, “Why are we talking about this? I’m coming in because I have migraines. What do my hobbies have to do with that?” I see specific illnesses or symptoms as manifestations of an imbalance to the entire system of their life, so I strive to understand who my client is in their entirety to best see any existing imbalances. This way, I can treat the root imbalance, bringing awareness to the core of why their symptoms have manifested in the first place.
I don’t treat specific diseases or ailments. I don’t symptom-chase. I don’t have a set of acupuncture points I use each and every time someone has anxiety. That’s far too simplistic an approach, as each person is unique, and their life is a dynamic journey.
I treat the whole person, working to restore balance to their entire being. This can only be done by examining all parts of who they are. Not all physical ailments are rooted in physical dysfunction. This is where mindfulness plays a powerful role. For a vast majority of my clients, when we address the mental and emotional sides of their being, their physical symptoms ease and even disappear.
Of course I want their specific symptoms to ease, and my approach is to set them up for success in the longest term possible. I want to be sure that their symptoms ease in a way that sets them up not to return for a long time, if ever.
An Individual Session
When clients come to see me, we talk for about 20-30 minutes before they get on the table (except for their first session, where we do a more thorough intake). My aim is for the majority of our work to be done with the mindfulness coaching we do in that first block of time. That way, whatever treatment they receive on the table (acupuncture, energy work, or a combination) will act as a reinforcing and solidifying of what we have already discussed.
I am not dictatorial in my approach to clients, from suggestions about their diet and exercise to how frequently we meet. I say, “Let me offer this to you…” or “what if we try this out…” or “what do you notice if you do this…” as a way to encourage my clients to really see their lives as something to explore instead of something to deal with.
Calling me a healer is a bit of a misnomer. I don’t heal people. I help people heal themselves. I facilitate their healing, which means I offer new perspectives for them to consider and expose them to deeper dimensions of themselves. Together we explore the interconnectedness and interdependence of their mind, body, and soul, and learn how to sort through it all.
In a session, I will do everything I can to help point someone back to full-person balance. However, if I see someone once a week, there will be 6 days and 23 hours of their week that I am not seeing them, and the one hour is unlikely to unilaterally and magically bring about, and maintain, a sense of balance. I frequently give my clients homework to help them maintain the balance we work to restore in session. After all, it is their health, and their life.
Homework may include journaling or mindfulness techniques, bringing greater awareness to how they feel in their bodies when their anxiety kicks up, a change in diet or exercise, exploration of hobbies, or to find an activity that nourishes their soul.
When people step in to work with me, I facilitate them changing their lives in a way that will serve them for the rest of their lives. However, it is they who change. I offer perspective and suggestions, and they decide what steps they want to take.
When I first work with clients, I like to see them once a week for four to six weeks. This gives us time to build rapport and get a solid understanding if our work together is bearing fruit. We will have an ongoing conversation about how things are going during that time, and hopefully begin to reduce the frequency of our meetings as things improve in their lives.
Ultimately, I see the work I do as preventative medicine, and I have many clients who see me once every four to six weeks just for a “tune-up.” I hope for all of us to see health care as maintaining health, not fending off sickness.
I love what I do.
Interested in exploring your own awareness? Reach out to me: firstname.lastname@example.org or (978) 503-1048.