When I was nineteen years of age I sustained a serious back injury doing what all nineteen year old young men do so well - taking silly risks. It wasn’t just one event, but a series of events, that culminated in a serious disc protrusion in my lower back. At first it was diving off a 15 meter diving tower. It didn’t help that I couldn’t dive. Upshot of this event was a resounding collision with the water; my ankles wrapped around my ears. If you have ever hit water at speed you will know that it is remarkably similar to concrete. To say it hurt is an understatement.
A couple of weeks later I managed to slam my motor bike (at high speed of course) into the side of a friend’s motorbike. Fortunately for me, I was catapulted across the top of my friend and his bike, finally coming to rest in a ditch after taking out a white post and splitting my helmet in half. Of course I have no memory of the actual event; other than the pain of concussion and a back that no longer felt like that of my nineteen years. No! It felt like an ancient back of a warrior returned from too many lost battles. By the way, my friend escaped unscathed.
My short working life as a builder’s labourer came to an abrupt halt. I couldn't work and some days I could barely walk a block without breaking into a cold sweat. Not a great start for one coming into the prime of his life. I don’t think I ever became depressed, but there were certainly days where I cursed the universe for my “ruined life.”
Three long years I suffered. Countless visits to Physiotherapists, Chiropractors and doctors gave me short-lived relief. Some days were better than others and those days I planned a future that could cope with this ailment. I do believe, in hindsight, that I came very, very close to accepting that I would never get any better. But, somewhere, deep inside was a part of me that refused to give up. A part of me knew that there was light at the end of the tunnel - all I had to do was find the switch.
Please excuse me for digressing - for just a moment or two. Earlier in my teens I was afflicted with a very nasty dose of cold sores that smothered my mouth, my social life and my confidence. But it did teach me to believe that things do get better - sometimes it just takes time - and a belief in oneself - to do so. Hence, my proclivity towards ‘stubborn optimism’. I am eternally grateful for this even today. At 14, I truly believed my life was over; that the herpes would never go away; that I was destined to the life of a leper. Of course, it did go away and my life returned to normal.
Why the digression? Well, what I learned here was that things do get better. I believe that this lesson stood me in good stead for the back injury. It taught me to be optimistic; even in the face of adversity there is always possibility. It taught me to believe in my own ability to heal. This experience sowed the seeds of what was to come. It was at this stage I began to take an interest in how the mind and body worked. As raw as my ideas were they certainly had been fertilised by these two major events.
And the back injury? Well every story has a happy ending - right? In my case it did. After three long years I had the good fortune to meet the then Principle of the Australian College of Acupuncture; he was giving a talk - on Chinese Philosophy and Chinese Medicine - to a Philosophy class I was taking at LaTrobe University.
I was “blown away” by his presentation. Here was a man fitting the missing pieces into my jigsaw. What he said opened up my world. I made a point of introducing myself after class. Even though I understood little of the ideas he presented, somehow they made perfect sense to me. I knew I had finally met someone who could teach me something about why I was in pain, and how I might be able to change that.
I made time to see Peter Fraser and within a few short weeks the burden I carried began to lift. If you have ever experienced this, you will know exactly what it does for one’s spirit. I think at this point I began to understand that there is far more to being human than bones, muscles and organs. There is something deeper that drives us to be more than the sum of our physical bits and pieces.
I had six sessions of Acupuncture with Peter and from day one I knew I had found the key. I distinctly remember that first visit and the drive back from Mt Waverley to LaTrobe; with each kilometre's passing three years of pain began to dissolve. That memory is as clear today as it was thirty two years ago.
Within a month I was pain free and back into life. I had also found my future calling. "One day," I told myself, "when I have the money and the time, I will study Acupuncture" - and of course I did. Ten years later I graduated, with first class honours, and a Practitioner Diploma of Acupuncture.
Never a day passes when I don’t remind myself how fortunate I was to have experienced that pain. Yes - I did say fortunate. I remind myself every day, that without it, I would not be who and where I am today. That experience still helps me today. It helps me to understand the pain that I see on your face when you visit me; it helps me to know how you will respond to my treatment; it gives me the confidence to tell you that you will get better; it reminds me of how much is taken away from us when we are in pain.
But, you know what, above all it reminds me that pain is something we experience - the suffering is optional.
Pain, in Acupuncture circles, is viewed quite differently to that in the west. In the West pain generally indicates an organic (physical) problem. To an Acupuncturist, pain can mean many things and this article is a great starting point in your understanding of how Acupuncture works. If you can understand this then the rest is easy. A famous old Chinese and Western Medicine trained doctor put it simply: "Western medicine is difficult to learn, easy to practice. Chinese medicine is easy to learn, difficult to practice.”
With that quote in mind I hope to give you a very quick lesson in Acupuncture theory, by looking at Painful Obstruction Syndrome (Pain). Chinese Medicine - and in particular Acupuncture - is an energetic medicine. We talk about energy, it’s flow through the body and its connections with both the internal world of your BodyMind and the external world - out here. It is said in the ancient Chinese medical classics that when one is healthy the energy (called Qi - pronounced chee ) flows freely; one's body is like that of a graceful bird, and one's mind is sharp and clear.
There are basically two disturbances that interfere with the flow of the Qi: obstruction and depletion. When the flow is obstructed the Qi slows down and, initially, this can cause a sense of heaviness, as if the body becomes stuck or slow and the Mind becomes shrouded in fog. If the Qi is further impaired it becomes stuck and this results in obstructions and this creates sharp, intense pain.
The other common presentation is the depletion of the Qi. This is often a more serious condition because it usually comes as the result of a long standing problem. In this case the pain is often more chronic, non-responsive to almost all other forms of treatment, and variously described as deep, dull, non-fixed and aching - or a weak pain that drains the sufferer. It is also accompanied by other symptoms such as tiredness and weakness.
For me, it is not about treating a headache, upset bowel, coughing and sneezing, or a back pain. No, I treat disorders of Qi - disharmonies in the body’s landscape. I interpret the flow, the nature of the impairment, and the likely causes. I then set about correcting the flow of the Qi. Once corrected the BodyMind is in a better position to reclaim its authority over the terrain - restoring harmony and balance. The pain then dissipates.
For me, it really is that simple. The challenge lies in reading the landscape of your BodyMind; working out how best to restore it to Harmony and then placing the needles delicately and decisively, in just the right places, at just the right time - the BodyMind does the rest.
Painful and Obstructive conditions are - broadly speaking - all of those conditions that involve bones, muscles, tendons and soft tissue. So, we are talking about muscular aches, pains, sprains, and strains.
A recent report provides some evidence for the efficacy of Acupuncture treatment for a range of painful muscular-skeletal conditions. Acupuncture's gentle and subtle nature makes it a great choice for those in pain. Some conditions for which Acupuncture may be helpful Include, but is not limited to are:
elbow pain and stiffness
wrist pain and stiffness
and more …
A large spectrum of emotional issues respond well to Acupuncture treatment - especially where stress is a contributing factor. I often find that my Life Coaching work juxtaposes extremely well with Acupuncture and vice versa. Given the Life Coaching deals with the behavioural and environmental issues and the Acupuncture deals with the energetic component, the two blend into a very powerful mode of treatment.
Acupuncture is a fantastic and supportive treatment for those suffering from the wear and tear of everyday life and the stresses it brings to the body.
Sleep problems can also respond to Acupuncture, helping to reduce physical tension and emotional stress and poor energy utilisation.
So many people come to me with vague signs and symptoms of the digestive system. Whilst the more serious of these conditions are referred to appropriate medical and dietary specialists I often find that Acupuncture can assist the work of these modalities.
I find digestive distresses of this sort are often part of a very complex pattern. This makes it very resistant to standard forms of treatment alone. However, the Acupuncture paradigm allows me to generate a clearer picture of your overall state of wellbeing. Given the diversity of my experience and theoretical models, I believe I am able to create a helpful explanation, and wellness intervention for you.
Historically, Acupuncture has been used to help enhance and strengthen the individual's resistance (known as Wei Qi - protective energy) against the day to day stressors. To this end I have a special interest in working with people who wish to take care of their general wellbeing.
Utilising a combination of Acupuncture, Oriental Dietary Therapy, various Exercise Therapies, Mindfulness and Breathing Techniques I can work with you to improve your bodymind's strength and resistance to ill health.
Honest answer is: not much, if at all! If you were to take a look at an Acupuncture needle you would notice that it is very, very fine. The needles I use are made of the very best surgical stainless steel. The other thing that must be remembered about Acupuncture needles is that they are solid. This means that they actually push the skin and tissue aside when inserted; they don't cut like a normal hypodermic (injection) needle does. This means little or no pain on insertion. Finally, the main source of pain with an injection is the liquid being forced into the tissue. With Acupuncture, there is nothing being injected; therefore no pain.
Combine this with 29 years experience and hundreds of thousands of needles inserted by my very own hand, and I think I am reasonably good at painless insertions. Of course, having said that, I must say there are always those who are so nervous that they will feel something. For you folk, all I can suggest is that the most common remark I have after a first session is, "is that all there is to it; I hardly felt a thing."
So if you like your needles with a touch of pain, perhaps you will have to look elsewhere.
If by this you mean how many treatments will you need, all I can say is how long is a piece of string? If you mean how long does a session last ? About an hour. When you compare Acupuncture to drugs, the response time is certainly much slower; but then Acupuncture doesn't have side effects. When you compare it to doing nothing then Acupuncture is much quicker - and still without side effects.
In all honesty I would rather we reframe this question. It really isn't helpful to lock ourselves into precise time frames. Everybody varies; everybodys' experience of pain is subject to so many variables and everybody has a different level of wellness. For some, to be well is to have no pain; for others it is a little pain, and yet for some it is pain, but without the discomfort.
Let me make you this promise instead. I will provide you with the very best treatment that I can, and I will always aim at achieving the very best results in the shortest possible time frame; all this without ever compromising your comfort and wellbeing. How does that sound?
Let me put it to you like this. Acupuncture has undergone the longest clinical trials in the history of any medicine. Billions of cases over 5,000 or so years. What does that say? I don't know about you, but I think that speaks volumes! You don't last that long if you don't have something to offer. Right?
I often find videos more interesting than the written word. If you are the same then this section is for you. The intention of this section of the web site is to present you with interesting, entertaining and informative video content. Whilst I do not necessarily agree with, or advocate, all that is said in these videos I am presenting them as possible and plausible explanations. Please enjoy and if you have any feedback please feel free to send me a comment.
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