• Clare Gardner Nieto

My Healing Journey / Releasing the Fear Inside

Updated: Aug 29, 2019

Journal Entry | Clare Gardner Nieto


is an extraordinarily painful feeling. It hurts at a basic core level.


Nothing wants to be where it is.

Run, hide, curl up and squeeze close eyes.

I didn't even know the extent of the pain until it was released.

Acupuncture as Energy Work

Many modalities have helped me during this journey. I definitely subscribe to integrative and collaborative medicine. And I explore everything. Acupuncture helped with this piece of the puzzle for me.

Acupuncture has been instrumental in helping me to release the tension and rebalance the energy in my body.

I added acupuncture to my toolkit for pancreatitis at the beginning of May this year. I've gone to community acupuncture an average of once a week since then. We've been working up and down my energy centers, releasing emotions and memories that have been locked in my body. This has decreased my anxiety and increased circulation to those parts of my body. Both effects have decreased my pain and aided in healing.

During a recent session, the tension I was holding around my brain stem melted. Before it released, I wasn't really aware that it was there. It was just my normal. I'm still astounded at how much tension was locked deep inside my brain. It felt tense and twisted at the base of my skull, reaching gnarled fingers deep inside my brain.

Journal Entry | Clare Gardner Nieto

The loosening of this area allowed for the release of tension not just in my head but all over my body. It was a huge and beautiful blossoming. I went from fearful laser focus, blind, rigid, hot terror to free-flowing, sighted, broad awareness. As the brain relaxed, the trapezius muscles stretching from my neck down to mid-back did too. This took pressure off my nerves and allowed for better circulation to all of my organs, but—most importantly for me—to my stomach and pancreas.

This was a huge step in releasing long-term anxiety as well. Although, I had made real progress in the last two years and was feeling more resilient, the complex physical symptoms of pancreatitis flared the anxiety wildly out of control. What I thought had been solved came back to haunt me with a vengeance. Being able to step back and see again with peripheral vision made a huge difference to my overall fear level.

It’s gradual a process. It's been 3 weeks since that session and I still practice releasing that area multiple times a day.

I know how the big picture feels, though, and I can tap back into that feeling at any time. I'm diving deeper and focusing on the small muscles in that area now. I don't just want to feel OK. I want to feel great. So I keep on working it. Going deeper—with kindness and patience—I dig into the details.

Here’s what I’ve learned about acupuncture:

  • It’s not always the right modality for the issue or the time. For my current issues at this time of my life, acupuncture has been amazing. However, it didn’t do anything for me when I tried it for back pain a few years ago. It wasn’t the right modality for me at that time for that issue. If it doesn’t help with the issue after the first 2-3 sessions, I recommend trying another modality. For something like this, craniosacral massage would be another fantastic option either in lieu of or in addition to acupuncture.

  • There is no one solution for an issue. As with every modality, acupuncture is just a piece of the journey toward health. Everything builds on everything else. One modality may jump out and place a key in the lock, but that’s the culmination of that piece of the journey rather than the journey itself.

  • Getting the right acupuncturist matters. It’s a combination of skill, intuition and attunement with your body. If it's not doing what you need or if the process is stuck, try changing practitioners. Don't be afraid to talk with your acupuncturist about this, especially if you like them. They may be able to give you a referral.

  • Community acupuncture with the right practitioner is cheaper and works as well as a 1:1 session.

  • Being consistent helps. Thankfully, with a community model, once a week is generally affordable.

  • I’ve learned to take a more active role in my own healing rather than sitting back and allowing healing to happen. I find that I experience greater relief and more aha! moments when I am aware of, listen to and ask questions of the needles and energy throughout the session. (Every once in a while, I still fall asleep and that works healing wonders too.)

  • I often have my own intuition as to where I need needles placed. My acupuncturist is completely open to this, trusting that I know my body. Medicine and healing is best when it's collaborative! We create a more complete remedy together.

I am deeply grateful for my acupuncturist Ashley Steffensen, L.Ac at NE Wellness. She is highly intuitive and has a talent for connecting the web of energy throughout my body to help me find physical and emotional release.

NE Minneapolis is an awesome neighborhood. Here’s a shout out to our local acupuncture and wellness clinic NE Wellness. Among a slew of other excellent services, NEW offers inexpensive, high quality community acupuncture.

Here's to continuing to explore the healing journey! Each healing technique helps support and rebuild the whole. The next one may hold the key.

Healing Journey | Exploration is Key

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