By Sara Calabro
Here we are, about a month into fall. We’re a few days away from Halloween, about to officially enter the holiday season. This weekend we’ll turn back the clocks. Change is afoot.
As the days get darker and the holiday engine kicks into high gear, you may discover your body and mood shifting. Lower energy, higher stress levels, changes in sleep patterns, and digestive disturbances are all common this time of year.
If you notice yourself and the people around you changing in these or other ways in the coming months, remember: Change is good.
It doesn’t always feel that way. Change actually can be quite difficult, and many of us struggle with it. Whether it’s a big lifestyle change or slight alteration in routine, having to adapt sets us off our games.
I’m a champion change resister myself. I love my routines and tend toward situations I can predict and control. But acupuncture has been a big help to me in letting go of the reins a little bit.
In acupuncture theory, change is the primary ingredient for becoming a healthier person. Recognizing this allows us to approach all situations, regardless of how challenging, with greater hope and flexibility.
Why is change so hard?
Change is difficult primarily because we delude ourselves into believing that we can anticipate outcomes of the things we’re accustomed to. When things change, we don’t like it because now we can’t predict the outcomes. In an attempt to stay in control of our inherently out-of-control lives, we seek cut-and-dried explanations.
In medicine, we express this in absolute labels. We’re either sick or we’re healthy. Our numbers are too high or too low. We’re happy or we’re depressed. Even when we find ourselves on the negative sides of these black-or-white scales, sometimes it’s preferable to ambiguity.
But here’s a reality: It’s all ambiguous. And another: Our unwillingness to accept this is a huge source of stress and anxiety.
Every minute of every day, we are changing.
You may be depressed one day and happy the next two. We tend to call that a depressed person who had a good couple of days. But maybe it’s a happy person who felt depressed one day.
This does not mean that someone who is legitimately depressed should skip psychotherapy and ditch her antidepressants. It means that change is constant and the potential to transition from one state to another is always there. Progress looks different for everyone.
Acupuncture on change
In between the extremes of biomedical diagnoses, or our own negative assessments of ourselves, subtle yet significant shifts occur. Acupuncture works in this gray area. It teaches us to appreciate context and relativity, to reflect on the small changes happening within and around us all the time.
The goal of an acupuncture treatment is not just to eliminate symptoms. Symptom relief is nice, but it’s done with an eye on shifting the underlying patterns of disharmony that are causing symptoms in the first place.
Acupuncture in the most basic sense is about moving things that are stuck. Sometimes symptoms go away immediately and sometimes they get worse before dissipating. In either case, movement—change—is happening.
Pathways to true healing are different for everyone, and they are rarely linear. From an acupuncture perspective, change is the only universal marker of progress. We are getting better as long as we are no longer the same.
And so, cozy up on those dark afternoons. Breathe through the holiday craziness. Recognize the cycle and embrace the shifts. Change of another kind is just around the corner. You’ve got this.
Photo by Sara Calabro
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