The Power of Intent in Acupuncture Practice

By Darren Starwynn, OMD, LAc

Here is a fascinating question: Which of these factors is most significant for healing our patients: 1. the specific clinical techniques we administer, such as insertion of needles into well-chosen acupoints, giving herb formulas, physical therapy, bodywork, and so on; or 2. the healing intent we project while giving treatment?

This question has been of great interest to me. During my 24 years as an acupuncturist, I have noticed how my results have varied greatly with patients with whom I was giving very similar treatments. This has been especially noticeable when using microcurrent therapies. I've treated patients with low back pain at times with all of my best techniques, with patients reporting only minimal improvement. At other times, patients treated with the same techniques have reported dramatically reduced pain, and this shift lasted for weeks to months at a time after one or two treatments.

It is easy to chalk this up to individual variations in the patients, differences in their constitutions, physical findings, organ/meridian conditions, attitudes and exercise habits. Yes, all that is true, yet there is another, intangible factor that seems to be even more predominant. In this article, I am calling this factor intent.

I'm sure we all understand intent on the most basic level. When we are driving in our car, get into the left turn lane and put on the left turn signal, we are demonstrating total intent to turn left, and we may cause severe consequences by changing course. In the same way, simply scheduling a time for a treatment with a patient, then putting our attention on the patient while doing our best to give a quality treatment, is an expression of our positive intent.

I have explored more expansive aspects of intent with my patients. Intent can also be directed to summon greater healing potential that is beyond our knowledge and techniques. When I have directed this level of intent during clinical sessions, the results are just about always better, more profound and often life-changing for the patient.

Here are some procedures I use in my practice to tap into the awesome power of positive intent:

  1. I ask the patient to lie supine on the table and make themselves comfortable.
  2. I ask the patient to make a statement of intent for the session. I ask them to frame a statement starting with the words "It is my intention to..." It is important to start with these power words. Most people are used to diffusing their personal power through language. For example, the statement, "I'd like to feel better and stop having all these migraines," is less powerful than "It is my intention to accept comfort and ease in my body and release all old constriction and pain." One is a wish; the other is a choice. Somehow the words "It is my intention to..." spoken out loud, tap into the unlimited power that is inherent in the patient's subconscious mind.
  3. As I listen to the patient speak their intention statement, I observe how much resonance I feel in my body. Spoken words are vibrations of energy. When someone speaks from a place of clarity and truth, there is a felt response that often feels like a bodily tingle or a hair standing on end. If hearing the statement does not elicit this type of response in me, I ask them to refine the wording of the statement until it expresses their deeper truth. Sometimes a slight change in a word or two makes a huge difference in the vibrational resonance of the intentional statement. This is time well spent in the session. Once we have come up with the most resonant statement, I ask the patient to repeat it three times out loud, and I write it down for them to take home.
  4. Now that the patient has set and expressed her intention, I take a moment to clarify mine. I have found that the simple phrase "I am," spoken softly or silently, aligns me with a much greater field of healing energy. I also silently (or out loud in appropriate cases) invoke the patient's spirit or high self to be fully present in the session, and set the intention that the greatest good for the patient will result. I also ask for my highest guidance and clarity in selecting the most beneficial techniques, colors of light and acupuncture points to be utilized in the session.

Why do this? This is, in a sense, a quality-control procedure. At the moment a patient comes in, I may be involved in other business, personal concerns or feeling tired. Setting my intent and aligning myself in this way immediately puts me right back in the place of full presence and caring for this human being who has come to entrust me with his or her care. The shift is instantaneous.

Having done the above steps, I then use my training and experience as an acupuncturist to diagnose and treat the patient to the best of my ability. In my practice, I utilize a combination of TCM acupuncture with microcurrent and color light vibrational therapies. Combining these techniques has greatly increased my results with challenging patient cases in which symptoms of pain or disease are mingled with psycho-emotional-spiritual root causation. That may apply to most people.

This discussion may bring up the question: If the power of intent is the main factor needed for positive results, why do we need all of these other techniques? Why insert needles or invest in microcurrent equipment? My answer would be that the tools of our trade have definite physiological effects in themselves, and are appropriate and needed for people in the current consciousness of our world. They act as a bridge for people, so that their body and energy systems are balanced, supplemented and aligned in a way they can accept. This makes it much easier to make needed changes. To me, true healing is not as much about doing something to people; it is more about supporting them to making life-affirming shifts and claiming a greater degree of what they really want. As patients do this, it is much easier for their painful symptoms to ease.

You can direct the power of healing intent through acupuncture needles or microcurrent probes held in your hands. I often visualize them as "rods of power" through which healing light is being transmitted from the source. A different visualization may work better for you, but the essence is to acknowledge the true place where healing really comes from, and then allow that to empower and amplify the techniques of your healing art.

Click here for more information about Darren Starwynn, OMD, LAc.

Page printed from: