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Autogenic training is really just a way of saying "healing coming from within." We love this idea, because it revolves around the same idea as acupuncture - a way to stimulate the body into healing itself.

Insomnia in particular responds well to autogenic training, and studies have proven that those diagnosed with insomnia are able to become normal sleepers for the rest of their lives. What are normal sleepers? Generally, it is a sign of health to fall asleep within 10 to 20 minutes, and either stay asleep or wake once to use the bathroom, then fall back asleep within 10 to 20 minutes again. It is also normal to have periods of sleeplessness during time of stress, transition, or on vacation, especially when there is jet lag involved.

So what's the catch to autogenic training? It takes six weeks of practice and training to fall asleep regularly and wake rested. Generally, though, people begin to feel better within one to weeks.

Autogenic training is a self-guided meditation you can do when you get into bed to sleep. You focus on your feet and then imagine them feeling heavy, warm, or numb. Then you move up your body slowly, imagining the same sensations. If you have trouble understanding how to implement this, here's a wonderful video of an autogenic training script.

For the best results, practice this script once during the day. Try it at lunch time, even as you're just sitting down to eat. Try it as you're taking a walk. Obviously, please do not do the script while you are driving, operating machinery or biking.

In addition to autogenic training, make sure you're doing the following things to get a good night's rest:

  • No caffeine after 2 p.m., or no caffeine at least 6 to 7 hours before bed.

  • Do not eat close to bedtime.

  • No nicotine before bed

  • Limit alcohol before bed as well. While alcohol can make you feel sleepy initially, it does wake you up more at night

  • If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up. Read a book that's not overly stimulating, or do something mundane but not overly stressful on the body (like folding clothes). Sense your own cues of sleepiness - do your eyes get heavy? Do you feel your breathing slow? Sink into those sensations, and once you feel them again, go back to bed and try to sleep again.

  • If you have trouble relaxing, take a hot shower or drink a cup of hot tea two hours before bed. This will relax you and raise your body temperature, and then cause a sharp fall into body temperature. The cooler temperature will signal to your body that you are ready for sleep

  • Keep a sleep diary. Note what you did during the day to support a good night's rest, and then the following morning, write how many hours you slept, how long it took you to fall asleep, and how many times you woke up. Many people can feel like their sleep isn't improving, when it fact it gradually IS getting better - it just takes a few weeks. This sleep diary serves to give you confidence in your ability to get a good night's rest.

We have seen amazing results with autogenic training, and it doesn't just support sleep - it also helps with many painful and chronic conditions.

A lot of people are curious about our practice model. It wasn’t too long ago when patients would typically see doctors or acupuncturists in their home instead of at a separate clinic. This provided a warm, comforting environment for the patient, and it was a way of life for the clinician. While most of the world has moved away from this model, there are still parts of the globe where doctors pay house calls or see patients in their home.

When Glenn and me met that first semester of acupuncture school, starting a home-based practice was all we could talk about. We loved the idea of launching a nonprofit clinic that was built right into the heart of the community. Both of us are homebodies with a deep passion for and commitment to medicine. Our happiest days are spent sitting next to each other on the couch, reading aloud from textbooks and discussing new ideas or treatment plans. A home-based practice just seemed to fit!

Laughing Tao Martial Arts was what Glenn named his business when he started teaching jujutsu, self-defense, and qi gong decades ago. The name spoke to both sides of his personality – his love of goofy jokes and the bright sider of life, as well as his reverence for Taoism. While I wasn’t thrilled about the name initially – I had already started to think of my future clinic as Hummingbird Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine (!) – I grew to love all that the name Laughing Tao embodies; laughter, harmony, and a respect for all living creatures.

We started calling our home Laughing Tao, and we are teaching our kids those same values: how to exist in harmony with others that may not agree with you, how to respect both colleagues and elders while forging your own unique path, and how to always save some time in the day for laughter.

For us, acupuncture is not just a job or a way to pay the bills. Acupuncture is our way of life, too. We give acupuncture treatments and herbs to our kids when they are sick (don’t worry – we still take them to get checked out by the doctor regularly, too), we bring an acupuncture travel kit with us everywhere for emergency treatments, and not a day passes when we’re not talking about how to improve the care we provide to our patients.

Laughing Tao is our home, our clinic, our way of living. We invite you in to rest, heal, and leave with a smile that brightens your day.

A question I’m getting a lot these days is: “Well, it sounds great – but does acupuncture hurt?”

I don’t like to lie to people. As acupuncturists, we stick surgical steel into people’s bodies. Acupuncture is actually considered to be a surgical procedure. And yes, sometimes that does hurt.

But most people I’ve seen don’t even flinch when I sink the needle into their skin. When they do flinch, it’s usually because the spot on their body was tender to begin with, like in the case of a muscle knot. Other times, needle insertion causes them to feel a quick tingle, a very brief “shock” of sensation through their limb, or a pinch. I always ask after insertion, “How does the needle feel now?” 99% of the time, that uncomfortable sensation dissipates within less than ten seconds.

Once the needles are in, you may feel a heaviness in your body or limbs, a gentle vibration or tingle, or a sense of energy moving up and down your arms and legs. You may even see the needles rotating or moving on their own! This is what we call “De Qi” in Traditional Chinese Medicine. De Qi means “the arrival of vital energy.” The sensations you feel mean the treatment is working, and the body is working hard to heal and repair itself. All the needles do is awaken that healing energy.

Most people, though, fall dead asleep on the table within five or ten minutes. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve tapped quietly on the clinic door to check in on a patient, and when I poke my head in they are snoozing away. Why is this? Well, the body heals fastest when you fall asleep. This is why when you’re sick, you feel so fatigued, and you’re liable to nap all day. That’s your body telling you: “Let’s rest now. I need to heal.”

So, in sum: yes, acupuncture can hurt. But rest assured, the pain is a quick pinch and very brief, if it even does hurt at all. And as a patient for many years before becoming a practitioner of acupuncture, I can tell you: any discomfort is worth how much better you feel after treatments.

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