Standing at the head of the treatment table in my office at the end of a beautiful and rewarding long day, suddenly the sun lit up the stainless steel cladding on the Empire State Building just a few blocks away. It was a dazzling sight. The mother of all needles that crowns the city’s main icon, now a shining vertical beam, cut a shimmering image in the sky as it lined up exactly with the center of the treatment table. During the day, I frequently imagine its influence on the spines and sagittal meridians of all who lie there. The gleaming sight inspired me to write some notes about the day, before I went home. This morning at 8 a.m. I saw a woman who told me that again, her periods had become unbearably painful. I remembered seeing her at this particular time of the year on other occasions and wondered whether there was a pattern.

“Early September… Isn’t this the same time that you came in with the same complaint for the last two years?”
“Actually, yes it is. Wow, that’s weird.”

“Let’s work this out. When did you get your first period?”
“Oh, yes, it was around this time of the year.”

“Were you at school at the time?
Yes, it was the beginning of my first year at high school.”

“Were you expecting your period, or was it a shock?”
I was expecting it. I knew all I needed to know. Most of my friends had had their first.”

“Were you happy at school?
No, not at all. I wanted to go to one of two high schools for musical theater, but my parents sent me to a private girl’s school. It was the exact opposite of my dreams.”

“What was your overriding emotion at the beginning of high school, being in a school you didn’t want to be at.”
I was very angry. Very.”

“So your first experience of having periods was combined with a time in which you experienced a lot of anger?”

“If you go back there now in your imagination with your eyes closed and experience that anger about school, can you show me with your hands where in your body you feel that emotion?”
[The patient placed her hands over the back of her head, pointed to her throat, covered her liver, and then moved the first hand down to cover her uterus.]

“Ah, with your hands you’re telling a very clear story that likely explains what is going on with your periods. The channel that you are drawing with your hands is called Yin Qiao Mai, the Yin Stance Vessel. It’s a channel that reflects how you feel about yourself in the context of your surroundings. It treats withdrawal from one’s environment. At the same time, your liver is trying to gather and bank enough blood to contain your emotions. Your hand goes straight to your liver. Period blood is delivered to the uterus with energetic imprint from the liver. The lining of the uterus is just a small fraction of the blood released through the uterus. If you are frustrated, let alone full blown angry, the liver—the seat of anger—cannot deliver the qi from its blood to the uterus but at the same time, Yin (hormones) are commanding the uterus to release and so the uterus tightens, trying to contain blood. This creates terrible tension in both organs, increased anger, and often debilitating uterine pain.”
All because I was angry about going to that school?”

“Yes, the very first period has a unique emotional stamp and that is impressed on the body-mind. If you were angry and tense during your first period, there will be a resonance with each period unless you release the link between the experience and the outdated thought.”
“It’s so amazing to hear that because for a week before every single period, and we’re talking about 20 years of periods now, I always question why I am where I am. I ask myself why I am still in a situation that isn’t right and I ALWAYS want to move away. What you’re saying makes perfect sense.”

“So close your eyes and imagine that you are going through your regular day and it’s a few days before your period and you cannot access the thought “I am in the wrong place.” Imagine that you can’t get frustrated. Put your hands on the places that relax immediately when you go into that space.”

[She placed both hands over her uterus]. “Wow, my whole uterus just relaxed. I can actually feel it finding a new position.” [The patient burst into tears and experienced a huge emotional release.]

“I’ll take your pulses and we’ll see what we find and treat that. The aim of the treatment is to move your body and mind into the present moment and to stop you continually bringing the past into every period.”

There was indeed a Yin Qiao Mai pulse. The treatment was deep and the patient had a profound healing on the table. When I returned to remove the needles she appeared a full couple of inches longer on the table. When repression is released, expansion is physical, mental and emotional. The next 20 years could have been one monthly nightmare after another. Acupuncture is an unspeakable gift.

Ann Cecil-Sterman
Flatiron, Manhattan

PS: Just over two weeks later, this text came in:

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