Category Archives: Acupuncture

Observation: Practice Lesson #4

As this is the last post in the Practice series I’ve been thinking an awful lot about what makes people stick to a routine. I’ve already talked about how I don’t think that discipline builds a practice or keeps it going, I’ve talked about lighting a spark to keep the fire alive in your practice and I’ve helped brainstorm ideas for the actually composition of a practice. Now what is going to keep you showing up every morning, every Thursday at 6:30 or Sundays at 3, whatever your chosen time slot.

This is what led me to the fundamental question: what do you gain from a practice?

I tried to think of the people in my life who have practices that don’t involve yoga, because I know all the benefits of doing yoga on a regular basis. I wanted to see the benefits of their non-exercise based practices. Two immediately came to mind. First would be my parents’ practice of drinking coffee together every morning in their living room. They don’t down their coffee over breakfast, they instead take about half an hour (sometimes more) and just drink their coffee and chat. They use it as a time to catch up, make plans for the day and to de-stress if the day is going to be hectic. I know it lowers both of their stress levels and I know it is the secret to their marriage. The other practice would be that of my father-in-law’s writing on Saturday mornings. In the midst of raising four boys and maintaining a very full career, he devoted each Saturday morning throughout his life to writing. It helped him keep the mindset of a writer, allowed for alone time in a busy household and energized him for the week.

These are two successful, long-term practices that are very simple, but additions to a busy lifestyle. So why when things get crazy did they keep them? Why is it worth showing up on your mat again and again?

Observation. Think of all the people in our lives we pay to observe us: doctors, therapists, supervisors, massage therapists, acupuncturists, etc. We want someone else to see the patterns, to notice the thing we’ve missed. And don’t get me wrong—that is a necessary skill set. Every time my acupuncturist treats me she sheds new light on this body of mine that I try to figure out 24 hours a day. We need that outside advice, but we also need to make sure that when we see these caregivers we know what is normal.

Even if normal isn’t healthy, it is worth knowing about. A practice lets you compare every single day to every other day that you do the same thing. Yoga students can attest to that first down dog in a practice when you first check in with the body. Think of the first down dog after vacation or after you’ve been for a long hike. The body is entirely different than the last time. We need to be able to compare.

You owe it to yourself to know what the body is capable of, what it is learning to do and when it has achieved something it didn’t expect. This isn’t just about injury and illness, though aren’t those two reasons enough? This is also about improving and the ability to be proud of yourself. With equal positive awareness it is also about aging and noticing what may be harder than it used to be.

The better we are able to say, hmmm, this is new, when something catches us off guard—the better equipped we are to walk into a doctor’s office and say this is new and I’m worried. Knowledge is power, but it requires regular observation.

When you show up to your next practice, be mindful. Do your day’s work. See what there is to see. Make a list of all the things you want to observe from this perspective. My parents are not just drinking coffee; they are monitoring their marriage, making sure it is healthy every morning. My father-in-law isn’t just writing, he is taking time to be an artist and see how his artist-self is after a week.

What observations are out there for the viewing in your practice?

Window Of Heaven

WOH logo mediumThe logo for my business had its infancy in a google search for beautiful windows. Windows have long been a fascination of mine as they are only half about what is inside and what is outside, but also half about this moment in between. I am lover of houses with special, distinctive windows on the street side. These spectacular windows always seem like the journey or transition period from who I am on the street to who those people are living inside their unique life.

It wasn’t until we were canoeing this summer that I saw the window inspiration for my logo. Seeing it from the water made it all the more stately and elegant. Before I could protest my husband had his camera out and was swiping a picture while we paddled by. The house was one of those dream retirement houses. Okay, it was one of those houses we like to dream about retiring to—close to some quiet, but deep body of water where we could keep a sailboat, big backyard looking over the water, and a grand kitchen with tons of floor to ceiling windows so every meal cooked and tasted is also a picnic. I bet we would have missed that whole house if it weren’t for that window, which stole our attention and offered us a moment.

Windows do that. They offer a pause, and a possibility.

I decided to call my business Window of Heaven Acupuncture & Yoga when we learned about Window of Heaven points in my theory class at school. I came home that night told my husband, wrote it on a card and put it in my desk. This set of 10 points mystifies me. They are on 9 of the 12 meridians and are mostly located around the neck and throat. Here is the exciting part—they are suggested for use when the body and the mind are disconnected.  Needling them is like making a small stitch in an invisible tear between the thinking head and whole of the physical self.

It is that separation that brings me to yoga and brings me to acupuncture. I desperately want everyone to feel what is going on in their body, if they so desire. If they don’t want to feel what is happening, I want to teach them how to ask the question why. We get separated from fear, from too strong emotions, from pain or from forgetting. Naming that reason is half of the way to welcoming the body back.

On the mat this morning I was lazily enjoying a delicious moment in a hip opener as I was thinking about writing this post and the phrase “this is a window too” popped into my mind. This following of sensation and search for exceptional moments in yoga is the seeking of windows to the inner self.  In fact it is the exact way I teach though I never before would have used that word.

Some Westerners prefer the translation “Window of the Sky” because the word heaven is too loaded. I’ve never been afraid of loaded words. So today I want to express my use of the word heaven in naming my business. I’m taking the definition of place. A perfect place or ideal location. A place we arrive at every time we stumble upon beauty in any of its forms, within ourselves or in the world around us.

Conversation Officially Started

After three years of Acupuncture school and roughly 90,000 miles of driving the Mass Pike to class and home again I am in recovery, both intellectually and physically.  While I am, of course, grappling with the threat of pending student loans and the usual concerns about starting a new part of my business, I am struggling with something new I didn’t expect—a loss of community to discuss the zillion things I am forever contemplating. In the last three years I’ve started making brief manifestos of discoveries I had made about the body at the beginning of each of my yoga classes. And while I will no doubt still be doing that, I want a place to go into greater detail and allow for links to further information for those that are interested in the topic.

Instead of branching out into this next phase alone, I’m reaching out for you. I already know who I am. I am Courtney Hill Wulsin, Licensed Acupuncturist and Herbalist, Yoga Teacher, Writer, Doula, Dancer, Reiki Master. I specialize in teaching people how to find comfort in their body and enjoy the sensuality of movement and awareness. It is you that interests me as I start this communication with the greater world.

You must be a reader who finds interest in the body and mind. You would have to be a wandering sort, like myself, who seeks answers in unusual places and never trusts anything that doesn’t resonate inside the body, as well as inside the mind. You would be interested in medicine as a means to prevent disease, not cure it. You would define wellness not as an absence of symptoms, but as a strength and sturdiness of body that brings you joy and comfort. You would be interested in learning about all the systems of the body and how to use metaphor to understand those systems. You would have to be an art lover and see the body as the world’s most beautiful work of art. If those things do describe you than perhaps you would care about my ramblings, even if you don’t attend my classes or seek out my services as an acupuncturist.

I am starting to write today as a declaration. I want to integrate. For three years I’ve been integrating with select, classmates, students and clients, but now I’m throwing the doors open and asking for others to join me on this path. Come integrate with me, suggest books, correct me, ask questions, get confused, get excited. Whatever it is. This is Window of Heaven Acupuncture and Yoga and I am Courtney Hill Wulsin and as of today, we are open for business. Conversation officially started.