It is not uncommon to hear colorful reports from my patients at the conclusion of their acupuncture session. Common are reports on the movement of energy, sensations throughout the body or in specific areas, or activation of affected body parts during treatment.
Mostly, these experiences are minor, expected, and tolerable by the patient. I consider them to be interesting little artifacts of the acupuncture treatment effect. However, these are not the kind of experiences I will be discussing in this post.
Instead, I want to describe to you some of the more, dare I say, spiritual events that have occurred in my acupuncture clinic. There have been many instances of patients reporting deeply transformative experiences during treatment.
Some have told me that they encountered “beings” while laying on the treatment table, which are usually described as discarnate people. Sometimes the patient experiences the presence of animals or mythological creatures. The descriptions of their experiences are often very detailed. I will share some of them with you.
Only one of my patients had a negative experience – a fear response – to her experience of what she described to be a golden Chinese dragon suddenly staring her in the face during the treatment. The dragon had startled her and she did not recognize it as a dragon. Somewhat flustered, she nervously addressed it and asked what it wanted and it flew away. The whole thing freaked her out sufficiently that she never finished her course of treatment.
This is the exception to the rule however. Mostly patients who have such experiences are quite moved by it and report it as something positive. One such experience was reported to me quite a while ago.
The reporting patient was given an auriculotherapy (ear acupuncture) treatment for her chronic pain and anxiety conditions. About half-way through the treatment session, I checked in with her and she stated that she was having a “big release,” so I encouraged her to continue and stepped out to the room.
When I came back to pull out her needles and finish her treatment, she told me of her encounters on the table. She reported that she started thinking about her eyes and that they resembled her grandfather’s eyes. Then her grandfather appeared to her, along with her grandmother. She thought about her great-grandmother, and suddenly all her ancestors – some of whom she knew on sight and some she had never seen before – appeared in her mind’s eye.
She reported that these ancestors were present with her, in the treatment room during the treatment and somehow helping the treatment along or at least encouraging her. She also reported that she felt her chakras activating and lots of sensations throughout her body. Once I removed the needles, she got up and smiled broadly at me, thanking me for the experience.
When I saw this patient for her final visit a few days later, she reported that this supportive feeling from her ancestors endured past the day of the treatment, right up to the current time.
“They are with me even now.”
A while ago, another patient had a profound experience on the treatment table. It was her last visit and she was grieving due to the loss of her pet. She was telling me about her grief during the intake and I could tell that she was upset and her eyes were welling-up with tears.
I work hard to provide my patients with a supportive and safe place for them to let out their emotions as a part of the healing experience.
“It’s okay to let it out, this is a safe place,” I said to her as I handed her a box of tissues.
I left the room shortly thereafter so she could rest with her acupuncture needles retained. At the end of her treatment session, she reported to me that she encountered a being which was, “either an old man or an elephant.”
She further reported that this was a deeply moving experience and that she was not afraid when this being was present in the treatment room with her.
She felt as if seeing this being was a message for her at her current level of development. Something that she needed to navigate the difficult times through which she was currently traveling. I was grateful that she chose to share her encounter with me.
I first started noticing that my patients would sometimes have strange and/ or wonderful encounters with what can only be described as “spiritual beings” during acupuncture treatment early on in my career.
My ex-fiancee used to get a lot of treatment from me in the early days of my training. After one treatment that she received at home, she reported to me that she had a very nurturing and transformative encounter during the treatment.
She described falling into the softest downy bed, it was all warm and white. She fell deeper still into this extremely comforting and warm environment for a while. At some point during her relaxation into this new environment, she realized that she was actually nestled between the great wings of a giant swan.
The swan took to flight, gently, supporting her all the while. She drifted softly with the swan through warm and comfortable air currents for quite a while. When the treatment was finished, she emerged with new hope, a sense of renewal, a greatly increased sense of well-being and calm.
When I started working at a hospital, I expected that these kinds of experiences would cease. To my great surprise, they became more frequent instead.
As my hospital practice was ramping-up, I offered free treatments to the staff members of other departments on the same floor that I work on. Some of them took me up on my offer and got treated.
One such patient had an interesting experience while on the table. At the end of her treatment, I walked into the room and asked, “how did the treatment go, are you feeling okay?”
“No, actually I’m feeling kind of agitated because some Chinese guy was in her messing with my needles.”
I was appalled. I asked her who was it that was in the room? I will go tell this person directly to stop harassing my patients during treatment!
“It was not a person but the spirit of a person,” she said. “An old Chinese man who was bald but had a long, scraggily white beard and mustache. He kept tweaking my needles like he was trying to help with the treatment.”
After that, I started to intuit that there may be some discarnate beings that are interested in my work as an acupuncturist and that perhaps they can somehow assist me in my work. Suffice it to say that I have had other personal meditative and visionary experiences which tend to confirm this possibility in my mind.
Things got really interesting when I started to work with a new patient. I’ll call her “B.” She came in for a number of chronic pain problems and was in the process of dealing with an angry ex-husband who was abusive toward her. Nevertheless, she told me that she was a healer of sorts in her own right and had been exposed to much of Chinese philosophy and martial arts traditions.
On our first visit, I completed an initial intake with her, delivered an acupuncture treatment, and left the room to let her rest with needles retained.
When I came back to check on her, I could tell immediately upon entering the room that she had gone deep during the first half of the treatment. I decided to quietly step out and leave her alone for the last half of the session.
“Do you believe in lineage?” she asked upon my return to the treatment room. I was a little confused, as I had never been asked such a question before in quite that way.
I told her that I was aware of the concept of “lineage” and that in Chinese culture, it was a concept that held a strong sway on the consciousness of the Chinese. It is, in my understanding, an important concept in martial arts and in healing traditions. Where your knowledge and training originates from is your lineage.
I asked why she wanted to know the answer, what she would ask that question of me specifically? She replied, “You are a part of a lineage and one of your ancestors was in the treatment room with me.”
I immediately remembered my experience with my co-worker and asked “B” the question, “can you describe this ancestor to me?”
“He’s got deep, penetrating eyes, very wise and old eyes… he’s old, bald with thin facial hair, but there’s something special about his eyes,” she said. “I think he’s Chinese. He was here to assist in my treatment. I wasn’t alarmed by this, in fact I am blown away that I could have this kind of deeply healing experience in a hospital setting.”
I treated my patient “B” with several short-courses of acupuncture over a time span of about one and a half years. After her first treatment and the report she had for me, I was excited to see what would happen next.
On the day of her next treatment, she brought in a hand-drawn picture of the being she encountered during her first session. I was very grateful that she had taken the time to do this and was surprised at the detail she included with the picture and written description of the qualities of this being.
She told me that this being was someone in my lineage, a “healing ancestor” of my own. This being was interested in my clinical work and would show up from time to time to assist with treatment from a non- physical plane.
She told me that in fact, there were many such beings interested in my work as an acupuncturist. Depending upon the medical needs and capacity for perception of any particular patient, one of perhaps hundreds of such discarnate beings may enter the treatment room and assist with the treatment.
This patient “B” would come in for a number of subsequent treatment sessions, and she did report success. This case was very complicated as the patient had years of abuse piled upon her chronic pain issues.
Never before had I seen such an integral tie between body, mind, emotions and spirit. Her years of emotional abuse had literally caused layer upon
layer of physical ailment. With each treatment, we successfully peeled a layer after layer away.
After one acupuncture treatment, she reported that this time it was two Chinese sisters that came to assist in the treatment.
“They entered my meridians and started doing kung-fu on my blockages,” she said. By the end of this treatment session she was feeling extremely relieved of her pain.
This idea is corroborated in Chinese medicine theory, wherein pain is generally understood as an obstruction of blood and/or qi.
How acupuncture works (according to the Chinese medicine model) is to generate qi in a channel by placing a needle in a channel somewhere else and stimulating it. This has the effect of sending qi “downstream,” so to speak, until the qi hits the blockage and “breaks” it, thus relieving the pain.
So, even though the patient was not formally trained in Chinese medicine, she was able to correctly describe the effect of acupuncture after her experience of it with the two sisters on the treatment table.
Another time during acupuncture treatment, she got a message from a particularly exuberant being. She described this one as male, shaven-head, wearing a monk’s saffron robes and not Chinese in descent but from some other Southeast Asian country.
“I think his name is Minh.”
He evidently really wanted me to know about his existence. He told my patient that he was really excited about this possibility and pleaded with her to tell me about him, which of course she did. She then urged me to contact this being on my own to receive whatever message he had for me.
He had told her also that he was also a part of my lineage and that in some past life, we were students of the same master. I thought this was all very interesting indeed.
A couple of weeks went by, and being caught-up in the work-a-day world, I found myself not having spent time in meditation to attempt to contact
The patient “B” showed up in the acupuncture clinic a few days later and I admitted to her that I had not yet etched out the time to sit and listen for his message.
“You know, it doesn’t have to be such a formal process, Scott. I don’t believe that you need to actually sit or achieve a deep state of meditation to contact this guy. Just reach out to him when you find you have a few minutes alone.”
I asked her if she had experienced anything else since the last treatment regarding Minh or any of these other beings. She said that she got that Minh was now a Bodhisattva – a term from Buddhism meaning a being who has renounced enlightenment until such a time that all sentient beings have attained to enlightenment.
That evening after work, I decided to attempt to contact Minh on my own.
“You have to save all the souls you possibly can, you must quell all the suffering you possibly can!” was the message I got when I did.
I thought to myself, “but wait… isn’t that the job of a priest? I am just an acupuncturist and herbalist.”
“It’s okay, just keep doing what you are doing,” he replied.
That is precisely what I intend to do, until perhaps a time comes that I can figure out how to positively affect the suffering of even more beings than I am currently with acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine.
Ultimately, patient “B” got very good and long-lasting relief from her chronic pain, probably because she did some deep healing work on my acupuncture table. I am honored to say that at some point after our work together, in a public forum, she credited me with saving her life.
As you can see from my experiences above, I have evidence that here exists a spiritual dimension to healing that is often overlooked or completely disregarded by conventional medical providers. In doing so, a very important element to the human healing experience is left out. This does a great disservice to patients who really need this level of care.
Perhaps modern scientific medicine will someday include these factors as a part of their treatment paradigm. It is my suspicion that when and if they do, they could begin to approach a holistic viewpoint. I would encourage any results-driven medical practitioner to take these aspects of the human experience into consideration when providing care.