Who’s Afraid of Needles?

Not Me. Not anymore.

I get pricked with dozens of needles each week (willingly) at this place:

Philadelphia Community Acupuncture. It’s up the road from my house and it’s awesome.

But real quick, a little acupuncture 101. Here’s what goes down: an acupuncturist sticks super-thin (and I meanĀ thin, like hair thin) needles into various points in your skin. This is supposed to improve circulation, as well as release endorphins and serotonin into your brain. All of this allegedly makes you feel like a rock star and cures a variety of ailments.

In the US, acupuncture is usually performed in cubicles or other sectioned-off spaces, but this place treats everyone in the same room, in recliner chairs. They say this is more in line with traditional practices in Asia. Something about creating a collective energetic field and blah, blah, blah. You can choose to sit in a fancy modern mesh recliner or an old-school plush lazy boy with a blanket over it. I always go for the lazy boy.

Sound weird? It is, a little, at first. But the treatment room is in a huge old firehouse with brick walls and high ceilings. Light filters through big windows, making everything look warm and soft. There’s usually soothing music playing on low in the background and everyone talks in whispers. It’s very calming. Plus, the style of acupuncture they use only inserts needles on your arms up to your elbow, your legs up to you knees, and your head. So it’s not like you have to strip down or lift up your shirt or anything. Because that would be weird.

Does it hurt? Nah, not really. The needles are so thin and they don’t go very deep. Once in a while, they’ll put one in a tough spot, like the side of my foot or the web between my thumb and index finger, and that will hurt. But usually only for a second.

Here’s the cool part. After the acupuncturist finishes inserting the needles, covers me with blankets and tells me to have a good rest, something happens. I close my eyes and, bam, I get a rush. My body feels light and heavy at the same time. I feel instantly relaxed. After a few minutes, I find that I can’t really open my eyes, even if I wanted to. And, sometimes, I fall asleep.

I fall asleep.

I do not take naps. Ever. My mind is constantly humming with all sorts of anxious-making thoughts. I am mentally wired, always. So the fact that I can fall asleep in a room that is not my bedroom, surrounded by dozens of people, in the middle of the day, is a small miracle.

I originally started going to Philadelphia Community Acupuncture to treat carpal tunnel and irregular periods. My carpal tunnel, which had been bothering me for a couple of years, was gone within a month. Poof. The irregular periods? Well, that’s just taking a little longer, I suppose.

Regardless of what acupuncture cures or doesn’t cure for me, every time I get up from that recliner, I feel rested, relaxed and calm. To me, that is worth a million bucks. And then some.