I Thought TCM Was BS — Until I Was Diagnosed With An Autoimmune Disease
When I was in my late 20s, I developed an autoimmune disorder. My very open-minded doctor told me that Western medicine didn't have a lot of good answers for my condition other than taking six pills a day to address the symptoms. While I needed to start on that regimen, I had no intention of living my life that way. Six pills a day and liver testing every six months? Nope, not for me. There had to be another answer. There just had to be.
Since my doctor was clear that she had no other options to suggest, I was forced to consider Eastern medicine options. Fortunately, my open-minded Western doctor was encouraging about this. I decided to try acupuncture. Now, keep in mind that I had the same view of acupuncture as I had of voodoo. But I was willing to try anything that may help my condition. If acupuncture didn't work, then I would just try something else.
I found a really experienced acupuncturist and paid my $50 in cash for an initial appointment. Feeling a little like someone getting ripped off by a snake-oil salesman, I walked into the office and asked the acupuncturist, "So, how do I know this is really going to work?" He turned, smiled, and said, "Because it has been working for about 6,000 years in China."
OK, I have to admit it—that was a pretty good answer.
I decided to try it for a while. What did I really have to lose, anyway? Fifty dollars and a little bit of my pride, I supposed. So, for the next few weeks I would spend half an hour lying on a table while I had needles stuck in various points on my body. (And no, I really couldn't feel a thing when they were put in.) I just lay there and waited. I really didn't believe that this could possibly be doing anything. Whatever.
I didn't realize how closed-minded I was until I was forced out of my comfort zone by an illness for which my belief system had no acceptable answer.
A few appointments later, a funny thing happened. For years before the diagnosis of my autoimmune disorder, I had an occasional pain in one very small section of my lower left back. No one could ever figure out what it was. It wasn't that bothersome, however, so I just let it go and lived with it.
During my fourth acupuncture appointment, as I was lying on the table, I noticed that that section of my back began to feel warm. The warmth was in the very spot where I had felt pain for so many years. It gradually got warmer—almost hot—and stayed that way for a few minutes. Then, the warmth dissipated.
Whoa! That was really cool. It could not have been a coincidence that warmth showed up in the very spot where I had had pain for years. Somehow, that "warmth" knew exactly where to go. I had always been one of those "I'll believe it when I see it" people, and I was pretty fascinated by something I couldn't explain.
It took about five visits to the acupuncturist before I was able to stop taking all six of those pills every day. My condition has been in remission for more than 20 years, and I've never had pain in my lower back again.
Stepping out of my existing belief system and trying something new fixed my autoimmune disorder—and some back pain I had actually forgotten about. It also showed me how closed-minded I had been about other belief systems. I had thought of myself as fairly open-minded. But, hey, even I knew acupuncture was voodoo, right? I mean, I wasn't stupid! Well, I was never happier to be proven wrong.
Whenever my assumptions are proven wrong it makes me wonder how many of my other assumptions are incorrect. If this acupuncture thing was credible, what did that mean for all the other Eastern belief systems that I had dismissed?
"The universe has shaken you to awaken you."
Looking back on that time, I realize that my experience with acupuncture was when my spiritual life slowly began to develop. I didn't realize how closed-minded I was until I was forced out of my comfort zone by an illness for which my belief system had no acceptable answer. I then experienced a power I couldn't explain—and that science couldn't explain. Instead of feeling bad about my close-mindedness, however, I felt excited to discover all of the other unseen powerful forces there are to call upon when needed.
Over the 20 years since my autoimmune disorder introduced me to concepts beyond my belief system, my life has benefited extraordinarily. I've immersed myself in the exploration of everything from feng shui to meditation to past-life regression. Some of it still seems too "out there" for me, but much of it has become an important part of my well-being.
I would have never thought of myself as someone who meditates regularly and has really learned to home in on my intuitive inner voice to guide my decisions. However, it has slowly and methodically guided me to a life in which many of my dreams have come true.
The next time you hear yourself automatically dismissing an idea, consider it instead. It might open your life up to benefits you never imagined.
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