Saturday, October 2, 2010

Human Flourishing

Had an appointment with an acupuncturist yesterday. Because it is a community setting and the treatment takes place in a recliner, I thought about taking a book or listening to my MP3 player until I read Getting The Most Out of Your Acupuncture Session.

But what about the patient with too much weighing on the mind that finds it hard to sit still? Sometimes reading a book is most restful, although I don’t necessarily endorse it. There is a practice of sitting still, its called meditation, and it can take a long time to enjoy that stillness. In my opinion, our society doesn’t place enough value on relaxation, stillness, or prevention.
I bit the bullet and reclined sans distractions and, I have to admit, it was restful.

Note: If you do decide to take the meditative and community-oriented route, you might not want to book an appointment at the same time as your curious friend who has trouble locating the off switch and who will then proceed to chat up the equally chit chatty acupuncturist -- almost negating your meditative state.

I told the acupuncturist that my primary concerns were my shoulder (consistent, subtle kink) and stress. Hmmm, which came first -- the kink or the stress?

I had two firsts: needles in the palm right underneath the thumb and a needle in my forehead. Very appropriate don't you think? A needle in the forehead -- hitting me right where all those nagging thoughts are wearing me down.

I'm gonna have to say it was noticeable when the needle entered the palms.

Between the acupuncture and the rain, I was in a little trance this morning. I finally left bed around 10:00 a.m...

Last night, I checked out National Geographic's Stress: Portrait of a Killer on Netflix.

In less the one minute, the narrator gets to the heart of the matter:

Stress – it is everyone’s inferno bedeviling our minds, igniting our nights, upending our equilibrium but it hasn’t always been so. Once, it’s purpose was to save us. Once, what helped us survive has now become the scourge of our lives.

According to Dr. Carol Shively of Wake Forest University:

This is not an abstract concept. It’s not something that maybe someday you should do something about; you need to attend to it today. (01:35)

Raise your hand if you know that fat brought on by stress is more dangerous.

Robert Sapolsky, a MacArthur Grant recipient and professor at Stanford University, studied a baboon troop in Africa. His research was almost nullified when the troop ate tuberculosis-tainted meat.

What Supolsky realized, though, was that there were certain troop members that succumbed:

It wasn’t random who died. In that troop, if you were aggressive and if you were not particularly socially connected, socially affiliated, you didn’t spent your time grooming and hanging out – if you were that kind of male, you died...

And what you were left with was twice as many females and the males who were remaining were, you know, just to use scientific jargon –- they were good guys; they were not aggressive jerks; they were nice to the females and socially affiliated – and it completely transformed the atmosphere of the group. (45:00 range)

I loved what Dr. Shively said about decompressing:

Whatever it is that works for an individual, they need to value stress reduction. I think the problem in our society is that we don’t value stress reduction. We, in fact, value the opposite. We admire the person who not only multitasks and does two things at once but does five things at once; we kind of admire that person…Well, that’s an incredibly stressful way to live. We have to change our values and value people who understand a balanced and serene life. (34:00)
In addition, I didn't get this gentleman's name but I think he's affiliated with The Whitehall Study in England. He posed the following question:

How can we create a society that has the conditions to allow people to flourish?


  1. I would be tempted to bring a book as well - especially since I've never been to an acupuncture clinic before!

  2. I've never done accupuncture but I'm really tempted. I'm tempted because I have some chronic conditions that I would like some relief from. Please let us know how the treatment progresses.

    Oh, and I would have blown them all away when I started texting, tweeting, and checking in on foursquare during my session. Whoopsies.

  3. Never tried acupuncture before. Maybe I should, my friends who have are raving about it.

    I am Fickle Cattle.

  4. @Diane,

    The previous acupuncturist that I went to had tables; so I was never tempted to read. Although, I guess that I could have read while lying down.

    With this new acupuncturist, it's completely tempting to read since you're getting treated in a recliner. ;)


    I've had pretty good results with acupuncture. I plan to continue going for a while. I definitely think you should try it.

    And, yeah, it is hard to unplug, isn't it?

    Hi Fickle Cattle,

    Ditto what I said to Sara, I think you should give acupuncture a try. It has definitely helped when I've been ailing.