As an acupuncturist, I’m often asked what acupuncture can do for a person. The guy at the Apple Store was the latest optimistic skeptic with whom I crossed paths and he, like most people, was blown away that it can treat such a wide variety of symptoms and ailments. I get this question from most everyone who poses the simple inquiry on what I do for a living, and I try to respond with as much information as possible - because even though acupuncture is gaining popularity, many conventionally-minded folk still consider it decidedly "fringe," and fringe can lead to the very instinctual idea of "other." The idea of other is rooted in biology but in our modern world - a world that generally lacks the requisite animal predators and physical dangers of our predecessors - it can often just lead to irrational fear. And though fear can be a very healthy response in some life-or-death situations, it is a total, total shame in this one.
Because, acupuncture works. Because acupuncture leads to health.
Because acupuncture clears your path to receptivity and as a predictive medicine, it can help stave off serious illness.
Because acupuncture has the propensity to change a person's life.
“I’m an acupuncturist,” is usually followed by “oh, does it work?” and since the sarcastic side of me has been hog-tied and thrown in a corner for moments like this, I answer sincerely: “Yes, it sure does!” (And then I invariably launch into a long-winded explanation of why that is so, generally to the chagrin of my unwitting audience. Whoops.)
So speaking of launching into something long-winded! I get pretty excited about nerdy things, or more appropriately I nerdify things that are decidedly un-nerdy. Like the biology of what we humans perceive as love, and some of the weird things that bring us to that place.
For example: kissing. I mean - objectively speaking, say as an alien outsider - it’s kinda weird, right? Let’s smush our lips together and then touch tongues. REPEATEDLY. FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME.
Growing up, I had a friend who was super squeamish about saliva: sharing a drink and using the same utensils - that kinda thing just pushed her over the edge. I'd asked her how she'd managed to kiss anyone ever and she answered definitively (and quickly) that that was different - kind of like, why would I even ask that question because what does kissing have to do with saliva?
Turns out, kind of everything!
And I tried to reason with her that it was actually a culmination of all that she had perceived as negative about saliva - at least, the way she had described her bacterial misgivings on the topic. But, biology (and my friend) wins again - she's married and with toddler to the man she had been kissing at the time! And she was right: It was different. It is different.
So why do we kiss? According to this video, we kiss because of science. We kiss to do recon on the person we’re kissing. We kiss to let our bodies do their very real chemistry tests. What is his or her biological makeup? How does it mingle with mine?
Has anyone ever had the experience of a really bad kiss? It’s can be offensive in a weirdly personal way. Personal not because you realized you no longer wanted to be swappin’ spit with this person, but because primally and unconsciously you knew that this person was not indeed a potential mate - which of course came across consciously as, “I don’t know! It was just weird!”
And what does this have to do with acupuncture, anyway? What does it have to do with something that is weird, and primal, and personal, and connects with a deeper part of ourselves that we normally don't have access to? Consider this quote from the YouTube link above:
"Over time, life has favored activities that turn uncertainty into knowledge." One of the basic tenets of acupuncture theory - and in fact of Chinese medical theory - is that of homeostasis. Homeostasis is that seeking of stability and certainty, within our own bodies, and acupuncture can be seen as the "weird" way of getting us there. The way that acupuncture works on the body fits in well with the flow of evolution, because it allows the person to become more certain in their body, a decidedly favored experience.
A homeostatic environment in the body is a healthy environment in the body, and acupuncture can help to realign a person in order to achieve a more balanced state.
Acupuncture is not a one-size fits all kind of therapy, just like kissing one person is different from kissing another - because our bodies are different, our chemistries differ, and what is good for one person is decidedly ohmygoshnotgoodthatwasweird for another.
Acupuncture can be helpful for one person twice a year, and it can be necessary for another person two times a week. How often do we go out of balance? How much relief do we derive from the treatment? How long has the issue been going on - because the longer the problem, the more acupuncture it will take. Some ailments require acupuncture indefinitely and that isn't a bad thing, because ultimately maintenance across all aspects of life is a huge component to optimal health. Maintaining a weekly acupuncture habit will guarantee you an endorphin release that gives positive physiological and psychological effects which last for hours post-treatment, and the more acupuncture you get, the stronger you make that mind-body connection.
We kiss to suss out information and we continue to kiss because it is fiercely passionate. But underneath that fire we kiss for real connection, and we connect for real stability. Acupuncture can stir up some pretty intense emotions and once those pass and transform into something more positively enduring, a truer homeostasis returns - most likely, one unmarred by the uncertainty that had been clouding perception before. Stability returns, and there is clarity. People are reminded once again where their core is, and they actually connect with it, sink into it, and feel themselves again.
It’s a beautiful thing, that there is medicine out there in this world to connect us to our biology in a manner so similar to something that is so basic and expressive to us, like kissing.