Most of the time people feel very relaxed while getting acupuncture and even fall asleep. Sometimes though, people have trouble relaxing during the treatment and even have trouble sitting still. Why is this? Am I broken? I have a secret for you: you are not broken.
Sometimes people have a hard time relaxing while they get acupuncture treatment. First of all, it's OK. I promise. The acupuncture is still working. Whether you fall asleep or not is zero indication as to efficacy of the treatment. Your body is just stuck in a habit of either go-go-go or chronic stress and its going to take a minute for your body to do something different. And that is OK.
Sometimes sitting still is scary. That's OK too. You are not alone. You are safe here.
Here is my advice. Put your phone away. Put the book or magazine away. These things just re-stimulate your brain and our goal is to shut your brain off. Don't keep turning it back on. Let your mind wander. Some people find it helpful to focus on their breathing. You can do that but you don't have to. You can't fail at this. The success is in taking the time for yourself to coax your bodymindspirit to do something its not used to. Taking time to practice self care can be really really hard- you’re doing a great job just by being here so give yourself a break. Changing a habit is hard. It takes many intentional acts before momentum kicks in and the cycle starts to build on itself and take over and become a routine to maintain. This is why it takes about 30 days to form a habit. Human beings are highly adaptable but it takes a little time for change to happen and stick: this is a good thing because if it didn't we would be all over the place.
Give it time. Have patience with yourself. When my kids were smaller, I talked to them all the time about working their "patience muscle" when they want me to do the thing RIGHT NOW, usually when I'm driving or pouring a pot full of boiling pasta into the strainer. I get you though, you don’t want to wait. Be easy with yourself and your body. It’s ok, you're a work in progress. What counts is regular practice, regular treatment, being pointed in the general direction of where you want to go and making tiny steps to get there or at least closer. You might even have some fun and a few surprises along the way.
Progress might be small, regular and incremental or there might be nothing for a while and then suddenly everything at once. Everyone is different. Context is important too. If you are going through major life stuff it might be unrealistic to expect to be completely zen right in the middle of it all- especially in the beginning. But being able to take a couple of deep breaths, peace out in a chair for 30 minutes with needles twice a week and finding the time to take a quick walk can make all the difference. This is the balm to keep you going, to get you through with as few scrapes as possible. You can do it, I have faith in you. Just keep at it. You got this. I love answering your questions!
Meaghan Massella, M.Ac, L.Ac, Dipl. Ac (NCCAOM) is an acupuncturist, business owner and mother of 2.