More than any other question I hear as an acupuncturist and herbalist (aside from 'Does it work?' Answer: Absolutely! In more ways than you can imagine.) is 'How did you get into this?' I love answering this question. The first time I was on the receiving end of those tiny pins was a banner day. I credit my phenomenal inspiration to my first and much-admired acupuncturist and friend, Andrew Cahn, D.O.M., P.A. I had ruptured my achilles tendon in a rather more-strenuous-than-usual racketball game. After surgery he encouraged me to come in for treatment as the pain wasn't abating as it should have. I was skeptical and nervous, not knowing much about acupuncture, but finally assented. After the needles were inserted I felt a calm I had not, to that date, experienced. And after I left I think I floated for days.
I went weekly and as I did, the achilles pain resolved easily, but also subtler things: I was sleeping like a dream, I had more energy, and the chronic nightmares that had plagued me for years literally disappeared. How could something so subtle shift me on so many levels? How could stainless steel needles the width of a hair have such an effect on my life, my spirit? This was also my foray into Chinese Herbal medicine. I thought myself fairly well-versed in Western Herbalism, but what I began to learn about Chinese herbs was taking me in a new direction. Western Herbalism has a long and beautiful tradition. It is based on simples, mostly, or single herbs. Some combinations, to be sure, but it would seem that a great deal of the herbal knowledge of the West has sadly been lost. Chinese herbalism, by comparison had maintained a great deal more history and coming from such a radically different paradigm and cultural context held a different focus for me. Single herbs are rarely used in Chinese herbalism. In general, 5 to 15, sometimes more herbs were used at a time in complex and elegant formulations. And what an enormous effect it seemed to have on my body. Suffice it to say I had to learn all about this stuff.
At risk of sounding dramatic, I knew I had stumbled upon my life purpose. Andrew encouraged me to enroll in acupuncture school and despite having a small child and a business to run, I jumped in head-first and to put it simply I haven't been the same since. Today I revel in the great joy of treating patients and sharing the same deep shifts, calm joys, healing crises, tears, and breakthroughs with my own patients. Acupuncture is a heart-centered, spiritual journey. And I still wish I could experience my first time all over again.