Acupuncture is an ancient, adaptogenic medicine that helps us navigate change. Our degree of disease or well-being is integrally linked to how well we can cope with the stress of transition. And, our most reliable constant is constant change.

Instantly relaxing us, acupuncture relieves our acute pain by stimulating the release of endorphins, building collagen, and improving the radiance and beauty of our skin. It can even treat a variety of chronic and sometimes severe internal illnesses. Acupuncture works internally because, rather than merely addressing symptoms, it treats the energetic roots of an illness.

Think of the physical body as a mirror that reflects a person’s inner world. A cultivated acupuncturist sees a patient’s physical symptoms as a metaphor for what is happening emotionally, mentally, and spiritually within that person, and then selects points to facilitate optimal balance. The acupuncture energy meridians and their points correspond to both the physical and metaphysical.

There is so much more to us than just the physical body. Ancient practitioners have understood this for centuries, and modern science is finally catching up, revealing that the most effective healing is collaborative and holistic.

The mechanism behind the magic has to do with the fact that an intrinsic part of this medicine is that it actually trains us to become more in tune with the changing energetic landscape of our own bodies. The central objective of this profound science is preserving the harmony of yin and yang. Yin and yang are polarity principles that constitute our reality: night/day, down/up, cool/hot, deficiency/excess, and so on.

Acupuncture helps us to become more sensitive, more emotionally intelligent, more comfortable with change, and more equipped to handle stress gracefully. It works by capitalizing on change as a solution, rather than identifying it as a problem. And, in this way, it’s truly an empowering medicine that keeps us looking and feeling young and vibrant.

Intention and energetic clarity is everything when it comes to treatment.

Anyone can sit through classes, take a test, get a license, and stick needles in points and call it acupuncture, but the difference between a ‘good’ acupuncturist and a ‘bad’ practitioner is in the energy cultivation and the therapeutic intention.

A true healer has the power to facilitate healing in others because they know how to heal themselves, and have done it over and over again.

Acupuncture is energy medicine. It’s both a science and an art. If a practitioner is emotionally unstable or energetically uncultivated, their treatment can sometimes have the reverse effect. It’s an intimate process and should not be taken lightly.

Aside from intention and energetic clarity, there are other ways to ‘mess up.’ In an effective acupuncture session, needles aren’t just inserted in a uniform fashion. They are manipulated with very specific techniques to tonify deficiency or clear excess, warm or cool, raise energy up or move it down — essentially, to work with yin and yang balance. The wrong type of manipulation on a particular point can have the opposite effect desired. This is why it’s so important to find a skilled and trusted practitioner to work with.

Additionally, there are points contraindicated for specific conditions. Pregnancy, for example, is a delicate time, making it essential to avoid certain points and areas of the body.

Every person is different and requires unique treatment. Sometimes acupuncture just isn’t necessary for a particular person. In young children, for example, acupuncture would only be used in severe cases. Wonderful alternative treatments for children and babies are acupressure, moxibustion, sometimes light cupping, tui na massage, and possibly herbs and tonics.

Self-care practices between treatments are equally important and can dramatically enhance the effects of the acupuncture. Some of my favorite recommendations for clients are pranayama (breathing) meditations, simple kundalini yoga postures, holistic nutrition supplements like herbs, tinctures, and teas, essential oil self massage on acupressure points, and ear seeds.

Conscious movement and breathing have such a profound effect on our wellbeing that I always recommend these practices first. Simple postures like seated spinal flex, and breathing meditations like alternate nostril breathing or 4-count breath can help us reduce stress and increase circulation. Nothing ages a person more than stress, which is why these ancient practices have been called anti-aging secrets.

Supplements are also an amazing way of nourishing the body between sessions — my favorite general recommendations are turmeric as an anti-inflammatory or reishi mushroom as an immune system booster.

Lastly, ear seeds are a great tool to sustain the effects of a treatment throughout the week. Ear seeds are small seed-shaped bundles of herbs backed with a light adhesive that fit onto the auricular points and can be stimulated by simply pressing them throughout the day. They’re great for patients using acupuncture as a treatment to boost metabolism and control their appetite, or for patients using acupuncture to help quit smoking.

Aliksandra Keller is a multimodality healer working in acupuncture, sound, kundalini yoga, and her own innovative somatic process, energy mapping. For the past decade, she has studied with globally renowned healers and teachers, earned numerous credentials, and is currently pursuing her PhD. She works from her home base in New York City, and leads retreats and private healing experiences for clients all around the world.

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