On Thursday morning I had an acupuncture treatment that centered on clearer vision. We were reducing some swelling and dryness on my right eye's tear duct, and aiming toward giving me some clearer insights over my travels this week. There were needles placed very close to the insides of my eyes, along the side of the bridge of the nose.
Despite my veins apparently being in a slightly different location than most people's, and a bit of sensitivity on that first needle, the experience was pleasant. Other points included the base of my pinky fingers on the outside (very sensitive on the right!), and the same kind of placement on the outside of my right pinky toe. The other sensitive needle was in the middle of my forehead, over the "third eye" area. This one I thought was sensitive because I have been so tense in general and probably frowning and clenching my jaw a lot, causing more tension there.
Quickly, I was able to relax and found the whole experience very calming. At some point, though, an object fell in an adjacent room and startled me. My body tensed and as it did so, my right pinky point launched into a fit of discomfort. I spent the rest of my forty or so minutes trying in various ways to avoid that pain. When I would relax my upper arm, the forearm would clench to hold the hand up slightly. Somehow I had shifted and I was afraid of letting go too much or else I would feel this terrible pain!
Probably ten minutes into this I wanted to laugh a bit. I was acting physically the same way I do mentally and emotionally. If there is pain to be avoided, I will choose a lesser but more enduring pain to avoid the sharp one. In fact, this lesser pain is so much more encompassing, I might as well just feel the localized one. To avoid a pain in my pinky, I caused myself to hold muscles in my wrist, arm, elbow, shoulder and neck, eventually even tightening my back a little bit - alternating which muscles were in use but only switching carefully to another set as each layer of muscle reached exhaustion and started shaking.
It was then that I realized that I really do hold so much tension in my body and mind regularly that I cause the same result pretty much every day. How could I be exhausted and physically using up all my energy when I seem to not physically do much more than paint, tattoo and type? Here it was for me to see: I think so much and get so anxious about it all that I tighten my jaw, my shoulders, my hands, and all of my body parts. I hold them so tightly that I shake, and I have wondered if it was some kind of sugar deficiency or overload. It might actually just be the inability to hold so much tension within the body and mind - it has to come out somewhere. As my arm shook, I knew this to be true, and I tried very much to relax my arm.
It was difficult. I really didn't want to hurt in my pinky, even though my whole arm was now hurting and exhausted. The rest of my time was spent trying to teach myself how to let it go, and having very short successes of about ten to fifteen seconds or so at a time.
I have been thinking about this tendency I have since then. I am trying to notice it more so that I can learn to let it all go. Holding on to thoughts and to stress really isn't a great way to live. Without noticing it, I will continue to build it up and hold on. And so, as we walked around Altoona this weekend, or got caught in traffic, or listened to lectures at Illuxcon, I sometimes was able to remember that I was holding my right hand clenched. I was able to feel that my upper shoulders were getting balled up and rock-like. I noticed that when I would start to think about how much email I was missing at home, part of my body would grab on to that thought and keep it alive with clenching. Sometimes I was able to lessen it, but sometimes not. For now, just noticing it is good.
One outcome from this treatment that I was not expecting at all was the improvement of my actual vision. I had lasik surgery done years ago and since then, my night vision gets halos around light sources and at night, it is difficult for me to read license plates and signs from distances due to the haloing reflection of light. That night, the halos were very much reduced, and reading signs even in the dark was a lot easier for me. When I noticed this improvement, the whole car trip became a wonder. The effect is not as sharp now as it was that first night, but it is still a great improvement over my normal ability to focus my eyes at a distance.
I am really pleased that this treatment had such broad effects. My tear duct is fine now (but the skin near it is still bruised from the unfortunate vein prick!), my eyesight is better, and I have indeed gained a nice insight about a pattern of behavior I have that could use some altering.