We tend to think of the body in the same way we think of buildings. There is a frame (bones), plumbing (blood vessels), wiring (nerves) — and all these work like the mechanical aspects of a building. But we forget one essential thing: We are organic living beings, not machines. We, and all life really, has evolved to not only maintain a steady state of balance in a changing world, but to self-repair as well.
We often use arithmetic when thinking about biology, but we should be using calculus!
There are no straight lines in nature. And, as in nature, our bodies are more like interconnected webs of systems, structures and intelligence.
I’m not using the word “intelligence” here in the sense of passing a test for graduate school or solving a complex problem. I’m referring to the intelligence that works completely outside the restrictions and confines of our conscious awareness and maintains our bodies in homeodynamic balance.
Our bodies are living systems of interconnected and overlapping webs of function and form. Giving the system a bit of input at particularly influential points ignites a cascade of changes that can dramatically change our experience of pain or improve the functioning of systems we didn’t even realize were underperforming.
Which brings us back to the question of why your acupuncturist might put needles in your feet or hands to treat neck pain, needles around the knees to treat the lower back or needles in your shoulder to ease that stitch in your hip.
It’s all about reflective resonance.
Our bodies have an interwebbed intelligence that connects our various parts, one that plays a vital role in our wellbeing. And that is why people can have bulging discs or arthritis and still maintain mobility and live basically pain-free. Our nervous system maintains a map of the body, which is why you can close your eyes, stand on one leg and touch your nose with your left pinky finger.
That map explains why people who have lost a limb still feel it. Mechanical connections hold us together, but it is the neurological map we associate with “me.” That map at times needs updating, which is where acupuncture — especially acupuncture NOT in the location of the perceived problem — can really help. The intention behind the placement of needles is to get the nervous system to update its synaptically drawn map of our body. Simply put, working on areas that have a reflective resonance is a much more powerful way to help the body recalibrate.
It’s rather like telling an eight-year-old to “shape up!” That never helps. But, if you redirect the child’s attention to something that catches their interest or better yet, their curiosity, then you notice some changes in perception and behavior.
So it is with many problems that people bring to the acupuncturist, especially problems that have failed to respond to the direct action of other therapies.
Rather than “fix” the troublemaker, we look to tickle the inter-connective intelligence and let that bring about a new balance. By the way, that’s why it’s not uncommon to notice that digestion, sleep, and mood often change even after the acupuncturist works on your sore knees!