Saturday, July 02, 2005

Epiphanies Say the Darndest Things

I bought a new purse today. I've been using a midget backpack, which I continually forget to zip and always seem to have it tipped upside down, spilling all my worldly belongs over sidewalks, grocery aisles, and lobbies of one kind or another. After I bought a new purse and wallet, I went to my next appointment.

Today, at the clinic where I work, I got to be a patient, receiving my very first acupuncture treatment.

Admittedly, I was a little nervous--not because of the needles--but because I'd never experienced acupuncture before. And because I'm still getting to know the practitioners at the clinic, and after years of working within the safety of cubicle and front counter barriers, the intimacy of this type of interaction is, for me personally, awkward.

But Natasha made me comfortable right away. Warm and understanding, intuitive and funny, she put me at ease. After going over my medical history and concerns, she took my wrist and felt my pulse, shaking my arm a little bit, the way one does with a stubborn bottle of ketchup. Then she felt for a pulse in the other wrist.

"You're damp," she decided as she sat back down.

I suppose this is something that only a woman could say to another woman, but I couldn't help but feel overexposed and a little defensive.

She immediately explained the correlation--according to Chinese medicine--of the elemental phenomenon of dampness to my symptoms."Ohhhhh, damp. Relieved and enlightened, I've added it to my list of ' hey baby, what's your sign' stats: I'm a Leo-Dragon-4-Damp-Unitarian.

Following her instructions, I positioned myelf on the blanketed table and let her work her magic. She began with gentle bodywork--pulling, turning, massaging--focusing on my legs and feet. Then she explained what I might feel once the needles are inserted. A dull ache is what many people experience, and others have reported itching, stinging, and tingling.

I wasn't apprehensive about the actual insertion, I explained. I've been raising a kitten for the last 10 or 11 months. After nearly a year of tooth and talon inflicted gouging, shredding, and flaying, there isn't anything Natasha could do that could possibly hurt me. From the top of my head to the tip of my toes, I've become a mass of scar tissue. Jab all you want. I can take it.

I hardly felt her insert the needles along meridian points in my feet and legs, hands and arms, and my ears. But when she twisted them--that's when I felt the aching. Sometimes a big, deep ache, other places--a thinner, higher kind of aching. Sometimes the sensation radiated, other locations registered a slight twinge just in the area around the needle.

Once the needles were in place, she massaged my neck, shoulders, scalp, and ears. I wasn't expecting this. I was in heaven. She gently pulled and pushed, lifing my head and stretching my neck. Aaaahhhhh. Did I mention how very heavenly this was?

She left the room so I could bake a little bit under a cozy heat lamp, and advised me to bring my focus to my body as much as possible. My focus meandered from my feet to my hands to my ears, and then I thought about the Angel card I picked from the bowl at the front desk when I arrived for my appointment:


How appropriate. Trying something new required openness. Relaxing into the gentle manipulations took quite a bit more openness. I told her as she moved my head from side to side, that relaxing was difficult for me because I have trouble receiving. I thought about this for a moment. I really do resist receiving. I'm ok with giving, and doing, but not receiving. It occured to me that receiving isn't taking. It's the act of letting go and being open. It's not demanding, or needing, or wanting. It's just being a space that holds what is given. A space that is open to pain and pleasure, to what is hard and what is easy.

And then I thought, "I'm a receptionist. My job, my work is to receive." A light went on. A happy, patient, dancing light. My work is to receive. And where I am, my position at the clinic--and the very point of being at this clinic--I'm learning to receive by being (a) patient.

Funny how the universe answers our prayers and questions with the grand gestures of day to day living. Right under our noses.

Thank you, Natasha.


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