If you come for acupuncture treatment I will usually ask you to remove your wrist watch, if you are wearing one. This is because I may want to take your pulse at the radial artery on both of your wrists, and also sometimes I may want to use one or two acupuncture points on or near the wrist. But there is also a symbolic significance to removing your watch.
For most of us, clock-time rules our day. We have so many things to do, and we have to fit them in to a certain period of time. Often indeed some of us are trying to fit an impossible number of things in to a short interval; I can think of at least one current patient of mine whose job is a non-stop race against the clock, a race which she almost inevitably loses – too much to do in too short a space of time. In her case that is a situation imposed on her by the nature of her job, and perhaps the unrealistic expectations of her employers, but many of us impose something similar on ourselves, trying to cram a few more things into our waking hours. Sometimes even what we think of as our leisure time becomes like this.
I heard someone say recently that ‘stress is a perverted relationship to time’, which seems about right. So it is important sometimes to take off your watch (and turn off your phone) and experience a different kind of time for a while, or a different relationship to time – maybe a less perverted one. And it is not just removing your watch which enables this to happen; acupuncture treatment itself, which can be deeply relaxing, often evokes that different sense of time. No longer are you racing through the day, trying to beat the clock, no longer does every second count, no longer are you wanting to rush on to the next thing before you have really finished with the present one. Instead, you can luxuriate in a sense, almost, of timelessness, free from the oppression of the ticking clock. Time still passes, but in a different way, almost more slowly, or more spaciously. For a while, at least, you have all the time in the world.