Needling

For some, it's a massage or a facial. For me, it's acupuncture. As soon as I'm overwhelmed by stress, run down or simply in need of TLC (not to mention if ever I have a health concern), I book in for some needling.  Many an issue has been resolved with a few well-placed needles.

 

My favourite thing about acupuncture is that it thinks outside the box and joins unthinkably distant dots.  When one part of your body sounds an alarm bell or even just starts whimpering, the acupuncturist will consult all your other organs and functions – like a kind of body world summit – to find out who's really responsible. 

 

A few years ago, a strange-looking discoloured patch appeared on my body.  I went to the doctor.  She poked me, squeezed me and kneaded me.  "It's probably nothing," she declared sapiently.  "It'll probably go away."

 

I don't care for the word probably where my health is concerned.  The discoloured patch grew in size.  I went to see an acupuncturist.  She said the patch was located along my liver meridian (who said the body doesn't give you signs?).  She examined my tongue.  Liver issues.  Let's treat your liver and see.  

 

The discolouration disappeared within a couple of weeks.

 

It never ceases to fascinate me how my tongue seems to be the spokesperson for the rest of my body, how a Traditional Chinese Medicine-trained practitioner is able to diagnose a condition by studying a person's tongue.  I have vague memories of Western doctors telling me to "say 'Aaah'" when I was a small child.  Did they also use the same method of overview? Is it another skill the West has lost?

 

Chinese diagnosis, of course, uses a way of thinking that can feel very alien to a Western mind, at least at first.  It's just a matter of switching your brain to a different narrative.  You might be told that you have yin or yang deficiency, excessive damp, too much fire, for example.  As I gradually learn to get my head around these concepts, I find that they are extremely accurate as far as I am concerned.  And extremely wise.  Moreover, they convey a panoramic view of health and the body that allows one to see how everything is actually connected.  A method which Western medicine, in its increasingly localised specialisation, would certainly benefit from, in my opinion.

 

I first discovered acupuncture about twenty years ago.  I lifted something heavy awkwardly and my back froze, in excruciating pain.  I couldn't move.  The doctor was called (it was back in the golden days when it was easy to get a GP to visit you at home).  "It's a slipped disc," she said, prescribing pain killers – to be taken at four-hour intervals – and telling me to rest my back.

 

Within fifteen minutes of swallowing the tablets, the pain would plummet at supersonic speed, only to soar back up like a rocket during the fifteen minutes that followed, which left me in pain for the ensuing three and a half hours while I waited to be allowed another dose.  My life degenerated into a yo-yo of pain, mood swings, tears and depression.  "My life is going down the toilet!" I sobbed, a week later, when a friend rang to ask if I was better.  

    

She recommended a Traditional Chinese doctor.  The thought of needles pushed into my skin horrified me, but I was ready to try anything to get my life back.  I somehow made it to the front door and into a taxi.  I cried out at every speed bump.  By the time I reached the doctor, I was a wreck of tears, curses and despair.  The pain wouldn't even allow me to sit down.  The Chinese doctor examined me.  "It's not a slipped disc, it's a muscular spasm," she said.  

 

This was my introduction to the unsuspected connection acupuncture makes between seemingly unrelated dots.  It wasn't into my back the doctor put the needles, as I had expected – it was between my eyebrows.  "Sit down," she said calmly.

"I can't – it hurts... Oh? How did this happen?" 

I moved my hips gingerly, sat down, wriggled some more.  

 

No more pain.  No pain!

 

A few minutes later, I took the rush-hour, crowded bus home, stopped on the way to buy food from the supermarket and cooked my first proper meal in a week.

I look forward to my regular acupuncture sessions.  The practitioner examines my tongue, takes my pulses (yes, in Traditional Chinese Medicine this is a plural) and listens to my concerns or needs.  I lie down.  I generally don't feel any pain when the needles are pushed in.  Sometimes, I can't even feel them.  And then, more often than not, something wonderful and extraordinary happens to me.  I feel as though whirlwinds start to form around the points where the needles are inserted, and spread throughout my body like a warm, invigorating wave.  On occasions, I'll feel a pain or a twinge which will travel across my body, as though flying through a channel, then it disappears.  It feels as though my body becomes a hub of conversations, questions and answers and negotiations.  More often than not, I fall into a deep sleep.  I wake up feeling reborn.  Feeling taller.   Feeling truly, truly wonderful. 

 

I guess there's something to be said for a form of medicine that has been practised and perfected for a couple of thousand years longer than our Western medicine. Old is not always passé.

Scribe Doll

 

With huge thanks to, among others, Rebecca Geanty (https://www.treatnorwich.co.uk)

 

15 November is World Acupuncture Day

 

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Painting Sunsets

My new children’s fantasy novel Painting Sunsets will go on sale next month. You can pre-order the book online or through your local bookstore.

Find out more here:

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The Butterfly of Memory

An extract from my diary of 12th October 2018:

Today, a white butterfly caught my eye as it flew briefly through the tiny garden of our ground-floor flat and as the wee airborne insect fluttered about, I was reminded of an event of many years ago.

It was 1970 and I had just exited the family home in Fitzwilliam Place in Dublin heading towards the city centre. I was on my own and the weather was fine. I remember passing Fitzwilliam Square, an urban haven of greenery, trees and harmony, and as I did so, a white butterfly suddenly landed on my left shoulder. Whilst not breaking my stride, I glanced at this beautiful presence expecting it to fly away at any moment but my impudent yet fine-looking visitor seemed very much at ease on this mobile resting place. 

As a 15-year old boy, I was truly fascinated at what had happened and I did eventually slow down and stopped in my tracks as I couldn't take my eyes off this marvellous interloper still calmly seated on my shoulder. I noticed the outline of its translucent white wings varying in whiteness, its exquisitely-thin body and the two small antennae gently moving to and fro. To and fro. I walked on and I recall an upsurge of happiness inside me as I pondered on why this delicate, tiny creature of the air with gossamer-like wings had chosen me as a new friend; someone to trust.

I wondered if this was an omen of some sort: was I good person or perhaps I might not be a good person and this butterfly was sent as a warning so that I might mend my ways and banish any evil tendencies lurking in my soul. Would I lead a long and happy life, I mused, or would some other pathway be mine? 

My miraculous butterfly remained with me for ages and I felt emboldened with its presence as I left Fitzwilliam Square far behind me. In a way that I couldn't explain, I felt a connection with this new-found companion. I felt happy. Happy.

Then, with a sense of drama to match its exciting arrival, all of a sudden my friendly butterfly flew away and as it faded from my vision, I felt a twinge of sadness that I had lost someone close. I was alone again.

Perhaps, the white butterfly of today just spotted in my compact urban garden was a reincarnation of that Irish winged friend all those years ago. 

 

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Why Seek Ye the Living Among the Dead?

 

Burn scars are hard to erase. They leave
lasting evidence of trauma and despair.
And yet -- I can't stop looking at them.
When will they heal?  Will I ever see it?

 

How many years have I watched and waited?
Is there a flicker of hope?  Fire destroys.
In the forest, fire also brings rebirth.
It just takes so long.

 

There's a spark of life here. There's some color over there.
The Pines are gone but the Aspens know what to do.
They are survivors with roots that protect the future.
Fire is what they were waiting for.

 

 

Why seek ye the living among the dead? But they never died.
I'm compelled -- season after season -- to seek the living.
The wounds are healing but it's not the same as before.
But there are some rewards for those who wait.

 

The Elk are back and know that the forest will return.
It may be stronger than before if given a little time.
On Autumn days it is a sight to behold.
Especially on this cold, cloudy day sputtering snow.

 

Burn scars are hard to erase.
The Jemez Mountains show muscle and bone
beneath the scar of the old forest. Now a new
and beautiful skin brings life among the dead.

                                                                            

The Home Place — 2018

 

 

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Latest Comments

Nicholas Mackey The Butterfly of Memory
13 November 2018
Wow, Rosie, what an incredible comment to post and I marvel at the 'personal synchronicity' you desc...
Ken Hartke Why Seek Ye the Living Among the Dead?
12 November 2018
Aspens have beautiful fall colors and snow-white bark that draws attention but they seem to have ano...
Stephen Evans Painting Sunsets
12 November 2018
Thank you! Wouldn't that be nice!
Rosy Cole Painting Sunsets
12 November 2018
Good luck with your launch. You deserve to be able to live off the proceeds! :-)
Rosy Cole The Butterfly of Memory
12 November 2018
By some quirk of coincidence, I was thinking about this kind of synchronicity the day you posted thi...

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