LSS: Challenging your beliefs can be liberating

Walking through malls, parks or down sidewalks with our new baby daughter, total strangers would walk up to us and adjust her clothing. If her little pants had crawled up her calf or her sleeves didn’t cover her wrists, some would be so bold as to tsk-tsk us.

Our guide warned us to keep our babies fully covered.

“Only the babies’ faces exposed,” he said. “Chinese people believe babies need to be fully covered. They will walk up to you and cover your baby if you don’t.”

He was right.

They did.

We took a typical American approach to the strange custom. We would wait until the strangers were done covering our new daughter’s half-inch swatches of exposed skin. When they were out of sight, we would smile and chuckle at the “ways of the natives.”

How could tiny patches of exposed skin possibly hurt? We would never let something hurt our baby.

And then.

Within two weeks, our little lovely started breaking out with very irritated skin.

Where?

Her ankles and wrists.

In retrospect, what were we thinking?

Why wouldn’t we acknowledge that if it was important enough for otherwise mild-mannered people to repeatedly walk up and cover our daughter’s skin that maybe, just maybe, there was something to keeping a Chinese baby’s skin covered?

I’ll tell you what we were thinking.

“We know better.”

Over and over again, this universe tries to teach me that just because I think I do, I don’t always know better. It’s time I acknowledge that I may not know everything I think I do – and that our culture may not consistently use “best practices” either.

Case in point.

Last week, I got my first-ever pinched nerve. It was brutal, with pain radiating down my right arm. I researched and learned that for that particular pinched nerve, traditional medicine doesn’t offer a lot. Basically, everything I read said, “Wait three to six weeks for it to heal.” However, even in traditional medicine sources on pinched nerves, I noticed recurring mentions of acupuncture.

Acupuncture has fascinated me since I wrote my senior in high school research paper on it (title, “Acupuncture: Should we stick with it?”). However, given a life-long extreme fear of needles, acupuncture never crossed my radar.

Last week, though, the pain had me ready to give my husband a cup of toothpicks and say, “Go at it.”

I was nervous as a ninny as I chatted with the acupuncture practitioner. He asked if I wanted to see the needles. I said, “No thanks.” As he placed the first five needles, I was in so much pinched-nerve pain that I couldn’t focus on the needles. And then, he put the sixth needle near my left shoulder.

It was the closest thing to magic I’ve ever experienced (and yet, I realize there is science behind it).

While all the pain didn’t go away, it instantly eased to a very manageable degree. The experience reinforced the importance of not simply accepting things I believe to be correct.

Not just being open, but seeking new things is good for our hearts, minds and bodies.

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