June 02, 2020
Q: How does remote acupuncture work?
A: When you receive acupuncture, needles are inserted with careful thought to location, the purpose or intention of each needle, and to how they are relating to one another. The acupuncture channels (both primary and complementary channels) are simply part of our anatomy. They are our anatomy. They are there without the needles, functioning on their own, seamlessly united with the flow of our body/mind/soul matrix. The needle does several key things: 1) it allows the infinite potential that exists in each moment and breath to be focused and moved through the space of that needle and to have a conversation with the acupuncture point or channel where it is placed (we call this conducting qi) 2) it assists in the communication between multiple acupuncture points, 3) it “holds” an intention, a refined purpose and instruction to infuse into the shared space of needle, point, and patient (it also encompasses the practitioner). Once the needles are inserted the practitioner stands back, while the needles hold that vibration. The vibration resonates on, like a note that continues playing long after a note has been played. The needles continue to hold the intention and the practitioner keeps part of her attention on the work at the needles, and part on seeing the healing completed, and part on holding infinite possibilities for that patient. From there the treatment unfolds.
What’s happening in a remote session is actually almost entirely the same. What is different is the absence of the needles, and the fact that there is distance between us. We are in different rooms, different buildings, perhaps even different countries, but somehow still we can feel qi moving, building, dispersing. Sometimes the feeling is even stronger than when there are needles. This is what we call resonance. Just as musical instruments or voices can resonate together, we can intone specific resonances for the purpose of healing.
The very incredible thing about distance healing is that without the needles we realize the needles are one tool for affecting change or cultivation in the meridians, but the true tool is within the body. The acupuncture channels have their own brilliant mechanisms unto themselves. The needles are like tuning forks, or lightning rods. Technically speaking, acupuncture is the placement and holding of needles, but more accurately, acupuncture is a medicine of resonance. The needles are just assisting with tuning and holding that resonance, but this is just one way.
In a distance healing session, we connect enough for me to get a sense of the vibration of what we are working with, then we choose a place to work – which channel and points, and then we go into a state of meditation together, just as if you are laying on the treatment table and I am standing there with you. There are many ways to resonate with the points. When attention goes to the acupuncture points, qi follows. (I learned this from my medical qi gong teacher, Paul Fraser, before I learned to hold a needle.) With focus, I may write down the names of the two points and draw a line between them. I may hold the points in my own body, and request that the universal wisdom of those points be transmitted to the patient. I may hold two pencils, or discarded insertion tubes, or metal poles, one in each hand, and see them touching those specific points (thank you Ann Cecil-Sterman for that!). The energy of the points exists within your body, and it exists universally. The qi of the universe also exists within your body, just as it exists universally. And incredibly, the direction of your mind, held in your mind and body, at the same time as the acupuncture points, catalyzes the possibility for great, great healing. For the aspect of our minds that love the concrete, it is easier to put our faith and belief into the needles, but what if we place our faith in the universal and built-in healing technology of our own bodies?
*[For more on this topic, please see Chapter 9 of The Web That Has No Weaver, by Ted Kaptchuk — the story about tong shen ming, or the Penetrating Divine Illumination, hit me like a lightning bolt and the next month I was enrolled in Chinese medicine school.]