Last post, I introduced you briefly to the POCA organization, and the marvelous idea of community acupuncture.
I probably should have mentioned that part of what enables the folks at Community Acupuncture clinics to do their thing affordably is that there's a tremendous amount of volunteer activity going on. (I'm not sure, but I think the receptionists might even be volunteers).
So, MY experience.
On Friday afternoon, I found that I actually had time, was on the right side of town, and this opportunity presented itself during their open hours. So, I dropped in (yep, you got it, I wandered in on a Friday afternoon and lo, they were able to take me right then). I had to wait to see the acupuncturist for about the same time as I usually wait at the doctor when I have an appointment (and far less time than when I have to go to the drop in clinic). The receptionist was friendly. She explained how things work, and gave me some forms to fill out. Once I'd filled out my little forms, she took them, and set them in where the acupuncturist would be looking for his next client.
In mere moments, the acupuncturist came out, introduced himself to me (his first name is Jim, so that's what I'll call him to save typing out the title repeatedly), and went over my issues with me. He looked at my tongue, since I'd raised the whole wide feeling and teethmarks thing, asked a few more questions, then led me back to a large dim room where I'd be receiving my treatment.
The room was spacious, quiet except for the soothing sounds of surf with occasional songbird calls, and lit just enough for him to see what he needed to. Scattered about the room were about a dozen recliners, some of which cradled other people resting with their needles in place.
He led me to a chair, the one you see in the picture above that has the long scroll over it, and invited me to sit down, take off my shoes and lean back to get comfortable. He then went to get a packet (or 2?) of acupuncture needles. He returned, squatted down to be at my side, and took the 9 pulses relevant to acupuncture.
He then carefully placed about a dozen or so needles along specific points on my legs, feet, arms, hands, ears and head.* I later asked, and learned that he had started with a Meridian Balancing pattern for hormonal and digestive balance (in part because I reported some menopausal symptoms and a desire to lose some weight), with a couple of add on points. After verifying that I was comfortable, he slipped away quietly. I rested.
At first, I felt what was rather like a mini-adrenalin rush. It made it hard to really relax since it felt like I'd gotten a burst of tense sort of energy. (As an energy worker myself, I'm guessing that this was a rapid unblocking of something). This abated, and soon I found myself drifting along on slow thoughts, enjoying the comfortable chair and the soothing sounds.
After a little while, the needles that Jim had put in my ears fell out. When he walked by to check on folks, I told him, and he put in new ones.
After awhile, Monkey Brain woke up again, and I began to wonder -- how long should I be staying here? They said I should stay for at least 15 minutes, preferably half an hour, but generally as long as I wanted to. But it's dim, and quiet, and there are no clocks around. I have a poor sense of time on the best days. In this setting? none. So I decided that since I could see the fellow who came in before me, I'd not fret about it being time to stop until he had gotten up to go. That worked.
Other than having decided to use the other people in the room as my timer, I was pretty much unaware of them. It just felt like a lovely healing place to be.
When I was ready to go, I opened my eyes again, and watched for him to be walking about. When I saw him, I raised my hand and he came over to take out the needles. He encouraged me to rest and take my time. He handed me a piece of paper with his recommendation for how often I should come back, and for how many total sessions, then went off to take care of whomever needed him.
I rested for a bit, and was pleased to know that if I'd wanted to stay there for another half hour, it would have been okay. I stepped out of the soothing room, and checked out. They asked how much I wanted to pay, and asked when I wanted to come back. I felt good. I could tell that things were shifting. I won't trouble you with the details.
On Saturday, I went back. Things were much the same, though as a returning client, I checked in, paid, scheduled my next visit, and paid for today's session before entering the treatment room myself. I chose a chair, settled in, and immediately relaxed. It was very peaceful waiting for Jim to come by.
Again, he checked my 9 pulses, and again, he placed about a dozen needles. This time, he used a different ear point. Again, I had that surge of energy that wasn't quite an adrenaline rush, but I relaxed more quickly, and zoned out readily. Again, my ears sent their needles out moderately early in the session; this time, they'd been in long enough that Jim said to leave them be - when your body has been sufficiently stimulated, more is not better. A little later, the one in my forehead dropped away.
Again, I cycled in and out of deep relaxation. It occurred to me that doing that 15 minute meditation right before a session could be awesome -- I'd be primed to continue meditating on that theme. Anyway, when I'd been there quite a while and one of the needles dropped out of my wrist, I figured it was time to go. Once again, Jim came fairly quickly after I raised my hand; he gathered all my needles, and encouraged me to rest.
Once again... I felt good. Time will tell what sort of changes have begun.
* For those who are insanely curious (like me), the needles were places at the following points: Li-4, TW-5, 4, SP-36, 79, KD-6, ST-36, 42, GB-34, Lu-7, PC-6 and GV-20. I know I'll be looking these up.