My relationship with Evan* began with me peering into his right ear flap. He’d walked into my weekly ear acupuncture clinic seeking relief from alcohol addiction. I was looking for Evan’s Shen Men, an acupuncture point, and when I located it, I swiftly inserted a tiny sterile needle.
I’d been turned on to auricular (ear) acupuncture by Dr Michael Smith of the Lincoln Hospital, NYC, who devised a simple 5 point protocol to help patients with addictions. In Chinese medicine the Shen Men point is often called the gateway to divinity. It’s believed to open up the operation of spiritual energies for healing.
At the time I underwent training I was a practitioner in the addictions field. I recognized the protocol was ideal for clients who were weary of therapy or reluctant to show their vulnerability to others, since it required little verbal interaction. Clients would simply fill out a consent form and sit for 30-45 minutes with 5 needles in each ear.
Evan was a perfect fit for this profile. He was a quiet and fiercely private person. He had built a successful business, was astute and hardworking. He was also a perfectionist. Evan would work into the night trying to make sure his projects were complete, taking little time to eat or exercise. He’d arrive home from his office exhausted but still thinking about work. In an attempt to relax Evan turned to alcohol. Eventually his drinking overwhelmed his ability to think clearly and he began making poor decisions. By the time Evan walked into my clinic his business was in liquidation.
For many years Evan’s striving resulted in business success. From the outside it appeared he had mastered life. In his inner world however, he was highly self-critical and preoccupied with what others thought of him. He found it almost impossible to feel relaxed with others. Underneath his drive to be perfect was a deep misunderstanding about his innate wholeness.
Stepping into the ear acupuncture clinic was a turning point. It represented Evan’s acknowledgement that he needed help. Six weeks later, he had not missed a single clinic session. His demeanor had become more open, and he was more willing to smile when greeted. This time, before leaving, he popped his head around my office door and asked to have a chat. He was ready to go deeper, to find out how his life would change by living out of his inner wholeness.
Over the next year Evan committed to healing. He examined all the ways he was preoccupied with getting things right and learned to let go of pushing himself. He learned to unhook from his inner critic and, through the practice of meditation, cultivated the ability to listen inwardly, to the loving intelligence of his heart. Evan’s life transformed from being a wrestling match, to being a space where he could express and enjoy his lighter side. He resumed his work, this time maintaining a healthy work-life balance, and even became a fundraiser for the acupuncture clinic.
Evan had stepped through his Shen Men, the gateway to his divinity, to discover that there was nothing he needed to do to prove himself worthy. Whenever he became stressed or tense he would simply re-direct his attention to the inner perfection within himself and, without fail, would find peace.
*not his real name.
What if your challenges are gateways to your divinity? This notion alone, when embraced with curiosity, acts as a transformative truth within your being. Simply hold this possibility lightly in mind. Watch how your relationship with what you struggle with begins to soften to reveal fresh insight and deeper impulses from your heart.
What are you discovering about living out of your inner wholeness? Come share on the comments below.
To read more about ear acupuncture and the work of Dr Smith go here.