Saturday, June 30, 2007

Journey to Health and Healing

(for July issue of Personal Fortune magazine)

My acupuncturist’s clinic smells like healing.
Every week I visit Dr. Eddie Concepcion at Centro Maginhawa Acupuncture Clinic, 97 Maginhawa St, Teacher’s Village, Quezon City. His patients range from young to old, of all sizes and walks of life, recovering stroke victims to ladies-who-lunch who need to lose weight. He sees his patients on a strictly-by-appointment basis, and his list is kilometric. Currently, he doesn’t accept new patients, but he has a team of four other equally-competent doctors who can accommodate newcomers and who have their own stable (and growing list) of patients, as well.
There’s a distinct aroma of incense in the clinic. Not your cloying, sandalwood-type of scent, but something more toasty, more organic. It smells faintly of the type of incense they use in churches, but rounder, like pleasantly-burnt sesame seeds or sawdust. It’s a smell I’ve come to associate with safety and security. If you’re relaxed enough, once you’re in your appointed cubicle and getting your treatment, the smell may even waft you off to sleep.
I’ve got too much fire inside me, Dr, Eddie says. My system is full of heat. All this he sees by mere examination of my tongue (which has got “red spots” to indicate the flares in my system), which is how practitioners of Chinese medicine perceive what needs to be fixed in their patients. As a result, I’m sometimes (ok, ok, most of the time) so wired that it’s hard for me to relax, I get night sweats, I wake up feeling un-refreshed. All the heat inside me manifests in my skin—the dryness in my mouth, my pale and chapped lips, the hunger in my belly (literally) that rears up again and again even if I’ve already had three full meals and a merienda with rice. It may sound too voodoo to some of you, but his diagnosis is right. I do feel off-center; sometimes it’s hard for me to focus. I hate getting bored, waiting, waiting. (And here’s another interesting thing that Dr. Eddie’s observed by the appearance of my tongue—it’s got a cleft in it, right where the heart area is, which means my heart has been broken big time. He took a double take at my records and said, “you’re a single mom?” I nodded. He laughed and gave me a mock bow. “Wow, bilib ako!” Yeah!) But since I’ve begun seeing Dr. Eddie (I’ve just finished my fourth session), I’ve found myself to be calmer, less jumpy. I sleep better, and I wake up feeling rested. My appetite has normalized—I don’t need to go on wolfing down boneless chicken from the nearby Reyes Barbeque and solo pizzas from Greenwich. His goal: to tweak my system so that yin and yang are balanced. Your body has gotten used to that kind of energy, he explains, referring to my penchant for giving into moodiness and lethargy and anxiety. It’s time to whip it back on track.
Thus, despite my busy schedule, getting my acupuncture has become one of my recent non-negotiables in my pursuit of work-life balance. A single mom—for obvious reasons--has more at risk if that balance gets out of whack.
My former mentor, An Alcantara, used to liken a mother’s life as a fulcrum, upon which she balances all that she has to deal with in her life: her children, her husband, her work, her time for herself. We’re too busy juggling all the components--if one component dips, the rest are sure to collapse, too—that we forget that what’s holding it all up is the fulcrum itself. It’s a no-brainer, sure, but a no-brainer that many of us forget so many times because of stress, pressure to give into expectations, and guilt. Guilt of having time for ourselves, fear of what other people will say, pressure to act like supermom.
I confess—and can say with all truthfulness and modesty—that I’ve felt and overcome, at different points in my life, all three barriers. Going on holidays alone has helped; so has yoga, the occasional night out with friends, packing my kids off to my mom’s, and just letting go and accepting that I don’t have to prove to anyone how nicely decorated my home is (it’s not). But life does have its cycles, and the same stressors come and go in varying levels, and so do ways of coping. For me, now, it’s acupuncture. The journey continues.

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