Acupuncture and the Lesson of Impermanence
Contributed by Anne Carruth, Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine Practitioner
As an acupuncturist, I am regularly asked how I got into Chinese medicine. I think people assume that I had an awe-inspiring acupuncture treatment that jump-started me onto this path. Or perhaps a longtime fascination with Chinese culture that evolved into a study of Chinese medicine. Truth be told, I leapt into acupuncture almost by default, and wound up learning how to both wield needles, and embrace the ebb and flow of life.
Back in the day, I was searching for a complete and holistic style of healthcare. One that emphasized preventative medicine and physical touch, and focused just as much on a patient’s emotional stress, lifestyle, and diet, as it did on their physical symptoms. When I couldn’t find this in traditional western medicine, I visited a rolfing institute, toured a Buddhist liberal arts campus, researched nutrition programs, and personal trainer certifications. I pin-balled from one option to the next, but it wasn’t until I stumbled upon the Colorado School for Traditional Chinese Medicine that I found a path I truly resonated with. The program encompassed everything I was looking for in healthcare, so I decided to trust the universe and jump in.
That was ten years ago, and my work as an acupuncturist has proven to be immensely fulfilling. Chinese medicine is an incredible field that has educated me on disease processes, herbal remedies, acupuncture points, meridian theory, nutrition, the management of stress, pain, emotions, and more. But the most valuable lesson acupuncture has taught me, is that of impermanence. I see it in both my patients and myself every day, and it has changed the way I view my life and my health.
Acupuncture ultimately boils down to movement. Our bodies and minds are constantly moving, regulating, thinking, responding, filtering, adjusting, pumping blood, breathing air, taking in fuel and excreting waste. My role as an acupuncturist is to enhance wellbeing by balancing these movements within the body. Stagnation of qi, blood, or nutrients within us allows for pain and disease processes to set up. Acupuncture prevents stagnation by promoting the smooth, even movement of these things within our bodies. In fact, the only time we are ever static is when we die. Wellness = Movement = Impermanence. Thus, we are impermanent. We are constantly changing and so is the world around us. And acknowledging that you are impermanent – that everything is a balancing act, a cycle, a flow - is as liberating as it is motivating.
Impermanence means that everything you are experiencing right now – in your mind, body, and environment - will change. Negative things will eventually shift, good can become great, and great cannot be taken for granted. It means that poor health can always be improved upon, and that good health needs continual support to remain good. Knowing that everything I am right now will evolve, motivates me to set positive intentions, and gives me solace when things aren’t going as planned. Impermanence provides opportunities to improve all aspects of your life.
Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine have given me knowledge about healthcare in all the ways I was hoping for, but more importantly, they have taught me that we are truly impermanent, that we are constantly changing, and that life is supposed to work this way!
So, in my professional opinion, I recommend that you:
- Embrace change!
- Don’t sweat the small stuff…it’s not permanent.
- Set intentions to move forward in all aspects of your life. Don’t let anything get too stagnant.
- Remember that it’s never too late to start.
- Be present. THIS moment only happens once.
- And smile. It just makes everything better
Anne Carruth is a Midwest girl, who has followed her career, family, and love of the outdoors from Ohio, to Colorado, and finally to Oregon. After completing her undergraduate studies in Ohio, she earned her Masters in Denver at the Colorado School of Traditional Chinese Medicine. She now holds a Masters of Science in Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and is certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM).
Anne’s philosophy on health is founded in preventative medicine and a holistic view of the mind, body, and spirit. She embraces the traditional Chinese model of treating the “branch” and the “root”; thus treating one’s symptoms, as well as their underlying cause. This approach enables her to treat a wide variety of health concerns, ranging from pain to the common cold. Anne loves her work as an acupuncturist and feels privileged to help others achieve their wellness goals. Her gentle needling technique and compassionate approach make her an ideal practitioner for children, sensitive patients, and those new to acupuncture. While her extensive training and clinical experience enable her to tackle the most difficult of cases.
You can also find her at the next Taking Care event.