A warm breeze was flowing through the window of my acupuncturist’s office in Brooklyn, tickling my exposed abdomen. I’d felt this way before—raw and vulnerable under the cold eye and gloved hands of Western medical doctors—and in remembering those appointments everything inside me tensed. Inexplicable digestive turmoil, hormonal imbalances, rash-less itching and thinning hair—these and other symptoms had plagued me for years, and the best answers I could arouse from these educated experts was usually along the lines of “It’ll go away on its own,” “Let’s get you on a dose of XXX,” or my personal favorite, “It’s stress. Practice more yoga.” As if adding to my schedule of five classes a week and teaching two would help the constant state of overwhelm I felt from work, family, and social responsibilities.
While I practiced deep breathing exercises to try and quiet these thoughts, the acupuncturist began performing an intricate choreography of twisting, pulling, pushing, and palpating all along my belly, ribs, and legs, feeling for “signs.” My attempt at mindfulness failed, for once again my mind spun into a frenzy. Why did that spot hurt but not the other, why’s he doing that, how in the world could the tenderness on the left side of my abdomen warrant sticking a needle near my second toe?
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