Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Articles
Acupuncture for Anxiety and Calming the Mind
by Patricia Kowal, Licensed Acupuncturist in Noosa
We constantly hear that modern times have presented us with hectic and demanding schedules, pulling us further away from quietness and peace. It’s true that we have become more separate from quietness and peace. As an acupuncturist, I have noticed acupuncture treatments to have a calming affect on our mind state by helping us step back from unnecessary thoughts, a practice that in turn can help us through the stresses of modern living and feelings of nervousness or anxiety.
Anxiety presents itself in many shapes and forms. Some experience it in brief intense moments that come on suddenly and some experience it to a lesser degree but feel like it never goes away. Anxiety can arise from difficulties in the past, intense periods of emotional trauma and upheaval and can also accumulate inside of us if it's not addressed or recognized. Throughout my years as a crisis counselor and acupuncturist there has been a common thread associated with anxiety: over thinking. This article focuses on how calming the mind may affect our anxiety provoking thought processes and learning to recognize when they are starting.
Noticing Our Thoughts and Calming Our Mind
As a practicing acupuncturist, I have explored how we can become skilled in noticing the effects of our thoughts by how we interact with them. How can we notice when thoughts arise, and how are we able to decide what to do with them? My explorations have shown me that sitting in the quietness we can understand how our thoughts arise and determine how we want to become involved with them. By using acupuncture and a commitment to taking a few moments to calm our minds through the day, we may be able allow our minds to settle and help prevent feelings of anxiety, or lessen our overall experience with them.
If you look at the photo to the right, the man has grabbed on to the balloons that are carrying him into the sky. Say those balloons are your thoughts. Recognize when a balloon has presented itself in your mind and choose whether to grab on to it, or not. If you consciously decide to not grab onto the balloon (thought), perhaps you are helping your mind from lauching into over thinking, which has the potential to cause feelings of nervousness, fear, low self-esteem or anxiety.
So, how do we create quietness in our busy hectic lives? Most articles will send you off on a journey of exploring meditation and trying to sit quietly after a hectic day working. Some people may try it once and never do it again; others may try it and hang it up after a week. But I want you to avoid the discomfort of forcing yourself into the idea of meditation. Meditation is beneficial, but if the thought of meditation turns you off, then perhaps altering your approach and using a different concept of the word and its true practice may help.
Consider instead taking moments out of your day to settle your mind more often—put your pen down and take a deep breath, wait a few moments before starting the car, lower your head while at your computer and clear your mind. Such small moments will help you on your way to a less stressful experience of your daily demands. If a thought arises and you are aware that it is present, be thankful you have noticed it happening—then you can choose to freak out about it, involve yourself in the story, or you can allow it to float away on its own like a balloon into the sky. When you have a choice about your interaction with your thoughts, you may feel less anxiety and more power to handle the consequences of your choices. Whatever visual works for you, use it!
Acupuncture and Calming the Mind
Many acupuncture patients in my practice have reported feeling a sense of calm and peace following acupuncture treatments. This level of relaxation may help us step back from what’s happening in front of us and start to make choices about how to interact with them. For example, we may not be aware of the ten thousand thoughts generated by our minds in reaction to a co-worker or boss. These ten thousand thoughts have the potential to trigger nervousness, feelings of anxiousness and unrealistic stories in our mind. Normally, we may let those thoughts invade our mind and change our mood. When we are aware that these thoughts are present at all in our mind we can create a choice. We have a choice to interact with them, grab them, and let them change our mood, or we can notice them and allow them to continue on their way outside of our conscious thought process (letting them go). The more we recognize anxiety triggering thought processes, the better we become at deciding not to get involved in them. Imagine being more aware of how our thoughts are affecting our moods at any given time! You may get closer to achieving this by calming and resting the mind more often.
Acupuncture has the potential to help calm the mind and may help you create more moments of calmness. In Chinese medical theory it is called “calming the spirit”. Traditional Chinese medicine views anxiety and emotional related issues as an imbalance of either the five elements (fire, earth, metal, water, wood), temperature regulation, or a disruption of the smooth flow of circulation in the body. Depending on what your body is experiencing (too much heat, stagnant circulation, etc), your acupuncturist will treat you accordingly in order to recreate balance in the body and therefore getting closer to a feeling of calm and stillness of mind.
Find out how acupuncture may help you calm your mind by experiencing treatments aimed at balancing your body’s energies. Your acupuncturist will ask you questions to determine which approach to take with you depending on your symptoms and your personal experience with nervousness and feelings of anxiety. As the treatments are cumulative in nature, you will find that repeated acupuncture sessions aim to build on one another to help you in staying in a calm mindset.
Using acupuncture treatments as well as taking moments to help calm your mind through your day may help you to start noticing that daily stresses and feelings of anxiety may no longer affect you as much, and you may notice your ability to let go of negative thoughts that can translate themselves into muscular tension, anxiety, anger, or sad and depressed moods. Talk to your acupuncturist about acupuncture for calming the mind and start taking moments daily to feel the quietness in your mind. You may not regret it.
Are you interested in addressing your anxiety naturally and would like some suggestion on how to help create balance in your emotions? Contact me today, I am happy to answer questions about how acupuncture and Chinese herbs may be able to help you with your experience of anxiety.
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> Patricia Kowal is an AHPRA Licensed Acupuncturist, Chinese Herbal Practitioner in Noosa on the Sunshine Coast.
Disclaimer: Please follow up with your practitioner if you are unsure or are having questions about the information contained in this material.