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My First Experience with Acupuncture

The Arrival of Qi

An Energy-Balancing Experience

The room was dark, lit only by the hallway light seeping in from the crack beneath the door that George, the student practitioner had closed. I laid motionless on that crinkly paper–face up with a bolster supporting my knees. The sound of nature contrived filled the room with imitation ocean waves.

In the hour prior, I consulted with George. He was tall, thin, and had a walnut complexion. His eyes were kind, and his face was handsome. He asked me about my major complaints and evaluated the color and texture of my tongue. He checked my pulse and lungs, and noted the fatigue that must have been written on my face. I told him about my shoulder pain, but kept things brief. I just want to lay down, I thought.

A doctor entered the room; he and George began to speak to each other in medical jargen, mostly with a code of letters and numbers. I felt a sense of comfort, knowing that they seemed to be in a flow together, outlining the plan for where exactly these needles were going to be placed.

The doctor left the room, and George became the lone leader once again, guiding me to lie down and pull my yoga pants up above my knees. I was grateful for my thin calves.

To my left I had noticed a small dry erase board that read, “How many needle?

I tried to push any disconcerting thoughts away as I began to feel the prick of superficial skin being broken with intention. The sensation was a bit surprising, a little itchy at first, but that subsided as I began to feel anticipation for the next needle, and the next. Some insertions were attached to a stronger sensation than others, although I avoided labeling the feeling as pain. With these insertions, I noticed a sensation of twisting, and I envisioned an interesting twirly texture underneath my skin.

“Ok,” said George as he placed a plastic piece in my hand. It reminded me of the red Staples easy button from those early 2000s commercials. “I’ll let you rest for about 25 minutes. If you need anything, just push the button.”

Peace, quiet. Solitude.

I was acutely aware of my body. I noticed skin sensations, small muscle twitches, and other shifts within the deeper layers. I released my hopes and expectations. I just wanted to observe. I felt that perhaps the only way to achieve a memorable experience was to let go of any attachment to outcome.

Several minutes passed in the dark before my consciousness began to waver. I felt myself as sleepy, not wanting to go fully into slumber, but not fully resistant to that possibility either. I began to feel a gentle tug. It was inside of me, my left arm. That’s odd I thought, and I tried to release my evaluation. I worried that if I noticed the tug, that it would disappear out of sight for fear of being found out. It became stronger, identifying itself more clearly as the tug, which became a wave as it transferred itself to my right arm. Back and forth, back and forth, like a gentle, mysterious teeter totter. The sensation was loudly announcing itself now. Rhythmic pulses moved between my forearms, wrists, and hands in a perfectly symmetrical dance. I DID IT, I thought. I am so good at relaxing, said my ego. The waves gently subsided, and I was amazed.

George gave a gentle knock.

He moved swiftly to remove what I hoped was the right number of needles, recalling the disconcerting sign on the wall. I shared my experience with him. I had to. He smiled, clearly proud of both of us. “This is called ‘The Arrival of Qi,’” he said confidently.

It has a name?? It’s a real thing. I didn’t just make that up. And it’s an experience that’s not my own; it’s a shared possibility for all of humanity. I’m not the first, and I won’t be the last. This is acupuncture. This is energy work. This is the somatic experience of qi living and moving within the body, healing pathways as it travels.

I was a student at the time, at a massage school just down the road from Wongu Medical Center and Oriental Medicine School. While I had been experiencing shoulder pain, my experience of The Arrival of Qi gave me immediate clarity about how the energy, tissues, and circulation of my arms, wrists, and hands had become imbalanaced. With the new habit of daily hands-on learning, I was relying much more on my dominant right hand to do the lifting in my massage classes. I was grateful for the insight about the ongoing discomfort in my body, and I felt armed with a new superpower to help me stay balanced, physically, emotionally, and energetically.

The body is wise, as is ancient medicine.

Acupuncture is a treatment derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine which originated in China more than 3,000 years ago. You’re likely to be familiar with TCM’s concepts of Yin and Yang, and the associated black and white symbol that is pervasive across global culture today. Those who practice this medical model understand that a healthy circulation of qi, or life force energy, is vital to maintaining overall health. When qi becomes deficient, excessive, or stagnant, injury and disease may ensue.

Qi may be replenished through the food and water we intake as well as the air we breathe. (Did you notice how the Life Force Energy was drained from societies across the world as the 2020 pandemic pigeon-holed us into breathing our own recycled air, and as we breathed in toxic fear from the news, governments, and our social circles? Are you experiencing the long-term effects of this poor-quality qi flow today?).

The flow of qi happens within invisible channels in the body. These are called Meridians. Each of the 12 meridians is labeled in accordance with the part of the body that it is most intrinsically connected to, for example, the Lung Meridian runs from the space inferior to the mid collarbone, down the medial arm, and ends at the tip of the thumb bilaterally. Along the meridians are points that are marked by acupuncturists and other practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine. These points may be stimulated in order to interrupt qi congestion, stimulate flow, and encourage balance within the body, which is the healing I experienced during that fateful acupuncture appointment with George.

As a student at the time, I was sold. There are many methods of mapping the body, but this one seemed most interesting to me. I began to do some light research into TCM, and I began to understand the basic concepts of Yin and Yang, the 5 natural elements, and how herbs can be used as medicine.

Although my exposure to qi began almost 5 years ago, I didn’t begin to really dive into understanding how to work with it until 2021.

In December of 2020, I found myself sick, exhausted, and unable to work, feed myself, or even hold a proper conversation. My motivation was gone. I didn’t desire. I didn’t love. I could not become excited physically or emotionally, and my sadness was just as lackluster.

Fear took hold. How could this be? What’s happening to me? Am I dying

Fate was kind to me. I stumbled onto a Youtube Video that prompted me to find a Traditional Chinese Medicine doctor  near me. As I embarked on a new understanding of health through food and lifestyle with her, I also began a daily qigong practice at a local studio.

Three months of disciplined daily qigong practice introduced me to understanding how to use movement and breath to cultivate, transform, and palpate the qi inside and around me. Within 3 months of working with my new doctor, a decade-long depression spontaneously released itself from my body following my receiving of an extremely kind, 2 ½ hour massage.

The concept of qi is now highly influential on the bodywork that I perform on myself and others

Armed with this ancient wisdom passed down to us, I’m able to use the awareness of meridians, acupressure points, vibration, tapotement, and breathing to palpate and address qi stangnancy and to facilitate healthier flow in my clients’ bodies. This has a history of leading my clients to experience a lighter feeling in their bodies, improved circulation and posture, as well as decreased inflammation, pain, and intrusive thoughts.

Today, my daily qigong practices of grounding, vibration, body tapping, and breathing are what maintain my energy levels and a baseline of health. Beyond baseline, an understanding of proper nutrition, sufficient movement, healthy relationships, finances, and spiritual fulfillment are big pieces to the puzzle that takes shape to form Vitality within us and around us.

It is my delight and honor to pass on the wisdom and healing that have been shown to me in this lifetime by sharing these techniques and performing them on my clients so that they too may experience the magic of The Arrival of Qi.

702 Bodywork is the platform that allows you to explore healing your own vital life force energy. Consult with us today about how we can help facilitate the intrinsic, ancient healing that your body longs to create.

Aubrey Oiler

Licensed Massage Therapist and Integrative Nutrition Student Practitioner
Upon her quest to a quiet mind, she discovered that bodywork was so much more healing than she could have imagined. Today her personal practices of meditation, breathwork, qigong, yoga, and dance all meld together to inform her bodywork sessions. She works from the perspective that we are all bio-individuals with unique needs, fears, desires, traumas and modes of healing.
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