The thing you don't want to do, when laying with 25 acupuncture needles inserted into your body, is to make a sudden movement.
Your muscles will tense. They will tense around the needle. They will lock onto the needle and drive it more deeply into your body, a subtle tensile pull.
You will come out of your foggy liminal state into pain. Radiating waves of intense pain. You will forget what has happened because you were in the liminal state, floating elsewhere in your consciousness when your leg made the independent decision to stretch out, toes flexing.
The word that shouts into your skull cavity is "RELEASE!" You do not shout this out loud because you would startle the other people in the room who are, presumably, deep in their own fuzzy liminal states. Instead you focus on the word and the mechanical process of trying to consciously unclench your muscle from around the needle.
This is not a swift process. Moment before you were not asleep and not awake. "RELEASE.RELEASE.RELEASE.RELEASE" loops like a warning siren, rattling around your previously fluffy, zen brain cavity.
The body reacts to pain by withdrawing, pulling back into itself. This is not unique to humans. All living organisms withdraw from pain. What I must simultaneously manage is my body withdrawing, locking up, locking down, sending messages to my fingers to "GET IT OUT" with the awareness that removing the needle does not help. Removing the thing causing my pain does not help. The benefit will only come when I walk up to the pain and melt myself around it.
I take deep breaths and exhale slowly. It must be clear to the others in the room that something has happened. There has been a shift in my breathing and the others must have noticed, the way a parent can hear when the sleep cycle of their child is disturbed. You hear it before you hear it.
In tiny increments, the circles of pain begin to subside. I breathe. "Don't fear the pain", I say to the "RELEASE" siren. I do not ignore it, I do not console myself that it will be better soon if I just wait long enough.
I am tapping at my shell.