Acupuncture is, among many things, a transfer of energy. When we needle a point, we are using the needle to active the acupuncture point’s unique function. Each acupuncture treatment is a combination of points that are used to treat each person’s Chinese medical pathology. However, I have found that the concept of intention is just as important in an acupuncture session as the point prescription. Intention is the idea that when the acupuncturist is inserting needles, they direct their energy into the overall intention of the treatment. In recent months, I have found that when I focus my intention of the overall acupuncture treatment, my patients report a greater sense of relaxation during the treatment and longer lasting results. As the acupuncturist, focusing my intention means being very clear in my choice of acupuncture points for a session(I ask myself “what am I trying to do?”) and focusing on this intention as I insert the needle into the body. It also involves “listening” to the patient’s body as well. This means not merely needling a point based on its described location but also feeling the patient’s body and where the point may be slightly different from the “textbook” location.
I experienced this phenomenon firsthand while I was in acupuncture school. During the first few semesters of school, we were required to take a massage class and practice on our friends. I was massaging my friend’s calves because she was experiencing leg cramps at night. During the massage, I was talking to my friends and not really setting my energy or focus on the massage itself; I know now that I was working without intention. That night, I woke in the middle of the night from horrible cramping in my claves. I had never experienced that pain before nor have I ever experienced it since that time. This was how I realized and truly understood the value of intention and focus in giving acupuncture (or any other) treatment.