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Accepting Acupuncture

For 30 years, pins, needles and shots equated me either being held down or putting myself into a meditative practice.  I do not do well.
I was a rough and tumble kid.  Losing count on the number of stitches, there were at least a half-dozen trips to the ER to get me sewed back together.  Somewhere in there a fear was born.
In the past, the thought or suggestion from someone to consider I try acupuncture was a literature laugh, in their face, LOL.  You want me to pay someone to not only give me one shot, but multiple needles…that are left there while I slip into a state of panic for twenty minutes?!
That was until I began to develop what I saw as anxiety for no reason at all.  I would find myself in enjoyable situations, yet be nearly crippled with fear or worry that did not match my surroundings.  It was troublesome.  At its worst it neared what would probably be called a panic attack.  I guess it makes sense, for the first time since I was 13 I was not working.
Around that same time a dear friend told me about her positive experiences with acupuncture.  After mentioning it to me a few times, it must have set in.  Six weeks ago I called up her doctor for my first appointment.
By definition acupuncture is

A collection of procedures which involves the stimulation of points on the body using a variety of techniques, such as penetrating the skin with needles that are then manipulated manually or by electrical stimulation. It is one of the key components of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and is among the oldest healing practices in the world.  According to the traditional Chinese medicine approach, stimulating specific acupuncture points corrects imbalances in the flow of qi through channels known as meridians. 

But how does it work?!

Traditional Chinese medicine explains that health is the result of a harmonious balance of the complementary extremes of yin and yan of the life force known as gi or chiQi is said to flow through meridians (pathways) in the human body. Through 350 acupuncture points in the body, these meridians and energy flows may be accessed. Illness is said to be the consequence of an imbalance of the forces. If needles are inserted into these points with appropriate combinations it is said that the energy flow can be brought back into proper balance.  Found at

Energy is a very good descriptor of my experience thus far.  While I have only gone through six sessions, there is something significantly different going on.  While anxiety levels are still there, it is as if I have a thicker skin to keep panic away.
In case you aren’t convinced, Huffington Post author Sara Calabro offered 13 Benefits to Acupuncture

1. It will open your mind.
Acupuncture requires us to think about health in entirely new ways. It will remind you that there are multiple ways of seeing the world.
2. It can help make you less stressed.
By mellowing out the nervous system, acupuncture can help you feel less affected by and better equipped to manage the stressful aspects of life.
3. It will inspire you to get outside more.
In acupuncture theory, humans are viewed as microcosms of the natural world that surrounds them.
4. It can help give you more energy.
Many people report having more energy in the hours, days and even weeks after acupuncture treatment.
5. It will clear your head.
It’s as if the mental cobwebs have been cleared out. Suddenly, you will be out of your own way.
6. It will allow you to give yourself a break.
Acupuncture broadens your awareness of the things that can potentially influence your physical and emotional health. This, hopefully, will help you be a little kinder to yourself.
7. It can help you sleep.
Insomnia is one of the most common complaints seen by acupuncturists, and acupuncture can be highly effective at helping it.
8. It will get you thinking differently about food.
Acupuncture dietary theory sheds light on why some people can eat certain foods and feel unaffected while others can’t even look in their direction.
9. It will help you embrace change.
Acupuncture works in this gray area and teaches us to reflect on the small changes happening within and around us all the time.
10. It will give you something to talk about at parties.
Acupuncture is a crowd pleaser! Next time you’re feeling awkward or bored at a social gathering, mention that you recently had acupuncture. You’ll be an instant sensation.
11. It will make you more patient.
Acupuncture is an ongoing process that requires an investment of time and a willingness to let go of our desire for instant gratification.
12. It will make you tough.
Acupuncture, although becoming more popular, is still not the norm. It requires a conscious commitment to understanding ourselves in a way that the majority shuns.
13. It will make you believe in yourself.
The driving idea behind acupuncture is that we’re already in possession of everything we need to be well. It reminds you that you have the power to heal yourself.

I choose to write about this because in the last week I have caught myself recommending acupuncture to four separate people.  It is not like I was purposefully being a billboard, but hearing some of their symptoms were similar to my own, I couldn’t help myself.
If this post has you considering acupuncture, I would suggest you find it like I did.  Start asking friends or family you trust if they have tried it.  Then more importantly if there is a acupuncturist they would recommend.
Let’s be honest, you need to be very picky to choose someone to push needles into you.  Please don’t stop at the next sign that says something acupuncture and assume you’ll have a good experience.
I am six sessions in and my acupuncturist says after twelve is when I will see my most significant long-term advances.  Research is mixed on the medically proven impact of acupuncture.
But I am drinking the Kool-Aid.  I am actually looking forward to being pricked.  While I am still nervous about needles, I am not fearful.  Accepting acupuncture as a means to explore, tune in to and strengthen all of me.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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