Imaginary Acupuncture

Driving to work on a cool and damp spring day,  the commuter coughed several times on the way to work and then sneezed just before finding his parking place. Thinking he might be getting a cold, he decided his immune system needed assistance. He had slept well enough, had a good breakfast and had taken his vitamins that morning. But that might not have been enough. Coughing, sneezing, muscle tension, aches and pains can mean that all is not well with the body’s energy system. In Chinese medicine, acupuncture is one of the tools for restoring a healthy balance in the chi (qi) system, the flowing bio-energy that is our life force.

So, instead of worrying about getting a cold and visualizing the negative consequences of having a cold, which would generate negative emotion and likely suppress the immune system, our sneezy commuter gave himself an imaginary acupuncture treatment. For just a few minutes, he stood upright and visualized an unseen expert acupuncturist placing needles at various points on his body. Not being an acupuncturist himself, but having had some treatments, he trusted that his body would know where the flow of chi was impaired and where the imaginary needles would have to go to assist.

That was the end of the coughing and sneezing.

Does this prove anything? No. But it suggests a tool we might use to give our energy body a tweak when we aren’t feeling our best.

If one were to do this as a meditation, it might go like this:

Find a comfortable position. It can be sitting, standing or lying down. The important thing is that your spine be erect, so that all forms of energy in your body can flow unhindered. As you would unkink a hose to allow the water to flow through it, put your body in a position where there would be minimal restriction in the flow of blood, lymph, or nerve impulses. 

Support yourself emotionally by inviting a state of mind that is calm and confident. Health is natural. It is your default state. Release any fear thoughts about your health by turning your attention away from them to images of your preferred state of wellness.

Take a few slower, deeper breaths and become aware of the sensations in your body. Notice where there might be tension, pain, congestion, coolness, warmth, dampness or dryness. Maybe in your mind you sense areas of light or darkness in your energy field. There might be differences in color in your mental image of your body. Perhaps you notice that some parts of your body are just not part of your usual awareness and are faint in your mental representation of your body.

Form the intention in your mind that all parts of your body share in the flow of good health.

Now you might imagine that you are receiving an acupuncture treatment from a highly skilled acupuncturist. Even though you may not know a great deal about Chinese medicine, this wise and highly skilled acupuncturist you are imagining is the heir to thousands of years of Chinese medical knowledge. He or she will know where to place the needles. You need only imagine that the needles are placed and that they will enhance the flow of your vital force.

What we vividly imagine, our body/mind treats as real. If you imagine that energy is flowing and harmony is being restored, perhaps it will be.

Links of interest:

An Introduction to Acupuncture at National Advisory Council for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NACCAM) 

MedlinePlus on acupuncture

Tom Barrett is not a doctor and is not trained in acupuncture or any other form of medicine. He does not give medical advice. If you have a physical problem, consult a qualified medical practitioner for treatment. The ideas expressed here have not been tested scientifically and are offered as speculation and invitation to personal exploration.

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© 2008 Tom Barrett