“The ocean is my only medication.” So sang Jimmy Buffet in the Zac Brown Band song “Knee Deep.” That sentiment might speak to many Rhode Islanders during the summer, but I had the chance to explore another alternative medicine – acupuncture and craniosacral therapy with Dr. Meredith Sabins in North Kingstown. Acupuncture is said to stimulate energy flow by inserting needles at points on the body’s energy lines. The very concept of energy flow was new to me, but I entered Dr. Sabins’ home with an open mind and nervous excitement.
After a quick conversation with Dr. Sabins about how she would focus the treatment, I hopped on her treatment table, and she began placing needles. The inevitable question about acupuncture is whether the needles hurt, and my answer is a confident “no.” Dr. Sabins explained that some points on the body are simply more sensitive to needles, but even in those areas, I felt nothing more than a quick tingle. Most of the needles were inserted around my neck and shoulders to address some stiffness there, but Dr. Sabins also placed some in my lower back, behind my knees, on my feet, and even on my outstretched hands. I must have looked like a porcupine.
After the needles were all in place, Dr. Sabins left the room for 30 minutes to let the treatment take effect. Calm music played; the lighting was low. As the minutes passed, my eyelids grew heavy, and my mind began to wander in an almost dreamlike way. I wasn’t sure if I dozed off, which means I probably did. Dr. Sabins had mentioned that acupuncture needles sometimes cause a patient’s body temperature to drop, and I began feeling a cool sensation around my legs that was somewhat soothing, especially juxtaposed against the warmth of a heat lamp she had positioned above my neck. When several minutes had gone by, I felt as if the muscles in my body had gradually unclenched, and I contentedly lay still.
Dr. Sabins re-entered the room, removed the needles, and began with the craniosacral therapy. This technique releases muscle constriction and re-balances cerebral fluid through light touch at critical points on the body. She began the treatment at my feet, then shifted to my knees, up to my abdomen, and finally to my head, neck, and shoulders. Whatever its mechanics, the process certainly settled me down, and I even felt a bit dazed when she was finished.
Dr. Sabins earned her master’s from the Arizona School of Acupuncture, and she wishes to break down the binary of Western-versus-Eastern medicine. She acknowledges that both schools of thought have their merits and aren’t mutually exclusive. Her gentle demeanor and patience set me even more at ease.
Regardless of how well I processed the events of my session, I admit that I emerged feeling as if the nervous energy from my day had been redirected. My muscles felt less tense across my body, I was insanely relaxed, and I slept terrifically that night. There’s a lot to be said for a cool ocean plunge on a scorching summer day, but for its rejuvenating power, acupuncture might well be worth a shot.
Dr. Meredith Sabins, L.Ac.
57 Wampanoag Circle, North Kingstown