Beyond niceness: on pillows, blankets & nervous system overrides

It takes effort to get yourself to an acupuncture treatment. You have to carve out time for an appointment, make the appointment, arrive here, get through the forms if it’s your first time, and land in a chair. We do what we can to make it as smooth as possible, but we know it’s not easy for everyone. 

Once you’re here, we try to ensure that you don’t need to muscle your way through anything. “Nervous system override” is what we call it when your body says No, No No and you make yourself do the thing anyways. Most of us live in some form of nervous system override—i.e. chronic and seemingly inescapable stress—way too much of the time and it’s no surprise that this impacts us over our lives.

So when we offer to cover up your feet with a blanket, or take the time to make sure that the cushion behind your neck is the right height, it’s not just niceness. Co-creating a space where you are NOT gritting your teeth and pushing through is a part of the treatment. Our bodies learn through repetition. Acupuncture works because it supports the body to do what it already wants to do: rest and heal. Regular visits to a familiar, predictable place where your body gets to feel good (or, maybe just less bad) teaches your nervous system another way of being. Addressing basic needs for comfort are actually a part of the treatment.

Thank you to Marika Heinrichs of wild body somatics for articulating the importance of basic needs for comfort, of bodies learning through repetition, and that sometimes healing is just about feeling less bad.

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