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We can't change the external stressors in our lives. Life happens, with its winding roads and obstacles - and it is part and parcel of our unique path to learn, grow, and figure out how to navigate our journey.

What we CAN change, however, is the perception of our lives, relationships, and the world at large. This, we understand, is the true and powerful role of Eastern medicine. Through regular acupuncture treatments, our patients not only experience relief from pain or discomfort, but they begin to bear witness and hold sacred space for themselves. They reorient their mind to understand the role a challenge represents in their lives. They attune to the messages held deep in their gut, their blood, and their bones - and start to understand the why behind their pain.

I (Genevieve) am writing this from my own vantage point. For the past two weeks, I've held latent thoughts too close to my heart; thoughts I knew not to be true, but ideas I entertained nonetheless about my ability and inner resources to forge a difficult path ahead. My body began to suffer. For the first time in months, I experienced the symptoms of endometriosis returning. I took a handful of lancets and bled the back of my legs, a treatment to surface and work through difficult emotions.

That night, as I was winding down from a full day, I began sobbing inexplicably. Each and every negative thought, which before I'd been unable to articulate, came to me with a lucidity I was so grateful for. I cried for an hour as I worked through every thought, reframing it with the context of a deep compassion for myself. Then, with that open heart, I fell into a restful sleep.

Life is not a something that is done to us. It is a gift, however shadowy and dark, that we reveal to ourselves like a series of nesting dolls. And within lies that smallest, most delicate gift; the inner compass for the way ahead.

Today a young woman gave me a coffee on the house. There was no reason, no real conversation exchanged. Just a “Please, can I have your darkest roast?” and “Here you go. Don’t worry about it.”

I was so grateful. Not because I didn’t have the money to pay for the coffee, but because I so needed the reminder that small acts of kindness, the still but enduring rock of our humanity, does still exist.

Medicine is so much more than reviewing vitals, balancing prescription cocktails, and relaying basic information on dietary guidance. It’s more than five-minute interventions. We all seek health, whether we mean to or not. We all wish to feel better, stronger, more capable, more balanced – even if we aren’t ready to take the steps towards that aspiration, or are afraid of the road to get to who we wish to become. We want closer, more loving relationships. We want to eat, and enjoy every bite without worry. We want to wake ready, excited at the prospects the day ahead holds. This, too, is health.

Health is not about our bodies. Our bodies are simply superficial manifestations of a deeper struggle. Health is about building the confidence and mindset to gracefully accept and navigate whatever challenges may come our way. And health, too, is about relaying kindness to the people, however heartbroken and ill, may cross our path.

Sometimes the people I see are angry. They are sharp and push me away. They walk into my office wanting miracles. They leave in a huff of gray smoke trailing behind them. Despite the barbed prickles around them and little storm clouds above them, my only job in the conversation is to hold space. To accept them for who they are, right here and right now in their journey. My only goal is firm but gentle kindness. I want them to understand that the world is not really so rough as they’ve been taught. There are indeed miracles to be had with acupuncture. But the true miracle is the honest and wholehearted commitment to themselves, and the grace to eventually open their hearts to the same world that hurt them.

I know I’m on the right path as an acupuncturist when someone returns after a treatment and admits that they need help, and signed up for a support group. Or they decided that it was time to start cooking for themselves. They bought sweet potatoes and brown rice. Maybe they decided that they needed prescription medication, and they made an appointment with a psychiatrist. They started writing, or drawing, or dancing again. Or they finally decided enough was enough, and cut a certain someone from their lives for good.

And after these choices are made, their body starts to shift from its slumber. The gift my patients give me is to be witness to this beautiful and natural wonder happening before me. Their slow, gentle return to humanity, kindness, and compassion is their way towards health.

Everyone experiences trauma. It doesn't matter whether you witnessed the passing of a loved one, whether you were bullied, or whether you fell out of a tree you climbed when you were six. The body and our immediate, visceral emotional responses do not understand the layers of severity of a negative experience. To the body, each traumatic experience triggers danger signals that we interpret as our lives being threatened.

How we later work that trauma into the narrative of our lives, however, DOES make a difference in our ability to heal from those deeply impactful negative experiences. In the long run, and with enough work, we may even be able to view the trauma as a lending a fundamental piece in shaping the beautiful person we have become.

One's perspective on their self, life, relationships, and how they live has a profound effect on overall health. And yet, too often those with chronic pain, migraines, allergies, and other health struggles refuse to acknowledge that their mental state has anything to do with the state of their body.

The body often serves as a potent metaphor for the impact of the negative experience we have lived through. If you have digestive issues, you may want to ask yourself: What can't you 'stomach'? What are you having trouble 'digesting,' or processing? What do you need to let go of? With autoimmune diseases, you may want to consider if you're fighting yourself, or if you have trouble trusting yourself. Why is that? And what are your core beliefs about yourself?

Those are just a couple examples. Too often people deny their own emotions, or attribute their emotions to worrying about the disease they struggle with. But it's more helpful to instead tune into the story they are telling themselves about themselves, their lives, and their relationships. The story is often very deeply ingrained.

Acupuncture helps in a very literal way, by releasing the emotions that have become suppressed in the body - what manifests as a disease state. We accomplish this through needles, or through bloodletting with small lancets. Acupuncture opens up your heart and mind to begin to process emotions and old patterns of thinking. This can be very frightening for some people, and for others, it's just what they need.

Regardless, we are here to walk with you as you navigate your body and heart both.

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