“We don’t know what’s going on with the whole notion of energy medicine and healing,” summarizes James Dillard, MD, DC, CAc, a leading pain specialist, author of numerous books on pain relief and featured health expert on Oprah, Good Morning America, and CBS Evening News. “I think we all need to be able to accept and embrace some of the mystery that goes into health, wellness, healing I think we have to be humble in the face of that.”
What seems to lie at the core of everyone’s understanding is that there is something akin to a force or a field, where our optimum health lies. That state of being has an increased potential to be within our grasp when we tweak our perceptions of, and relationship to, pain and open ourselves to the infinite possibilities of the universe.
“What we as Reiki practitioners are empowered to do is to create a connection between the client and the very core of her being, the source,” says Pamela Miles, Reiki Master, integrative healthcare consultant, and author of Reiki: A Comprehensive Guide. “This is what physicists refer to as the unified field and meditators as ‘primordial consciousness,’ terms that are placeholders for a level of reality that is the absolute foundation of all that is manifest–an all-pervasive consciousness.”
But how do we access this state of consciousness when our attention and energetic resources are depleted by pain?
Having naturally healed from causalgia, the number one pain-related cause of suicide, Mitchell May, founder of The Synergy Company, understands the challenges involved.
“Pain grabs your awareness, like a pit bull that won’t let go,” he says. “Or, if it lets us go, it’s just momentarily, and we never know when it’s going to return. We tend to shrink down our world, trying to make sure we don’t ever trigger what might bring on the pit bull attack. We begin to identify pain as a thing that’s way more powerful than we are and a thing we’re terrified of. Pain is a thief. It steals from us. People come to feel their essence is gone, their vitality is gone, their hope is gone, their sexuality–all these different elements begin to get taken away.”
Move Away From The Pain
Bodyworkers can help people in pain, May says, by guiding clients to a vaster experience of space. “Because when you’re in pain,” he elaborates, “you have no space. Your world gets very tiny and dense. Your energy just tightens. Your sense of self tightens … You’re contracting. You almost freeze One has to find another aspect of one’s self that looks at and experiences pain in a completely different way.”
Perhaps that’s how the yoga teacher helped me at the desert retreat: even without directly addressing the issue of pain, he simply reminded me that I am bigger than any given sensation in my body. That reminder in turn may have brought me to a higher state of consciousness, where untapped power and potential lie.
“What happens is that when we get an injury, we get so afraid that we move our energy away from it,” explains Anna Kilmer, director of the IM School of Healing Arts. “In effect, we maintain the stamp of that injury We imagine ourselves as lumps of clay that get banged, and then that’s it, we’re chipped. But we really aren’t. We’re alive. So when we bring our attention–our consciousness, the light of our spirit, our energy–to that place [of injury], we grow the possibility for it to really change–for it not to be so contracted, not so frozen in pain Energy healing is just letting go of the fear.”
How does one let go of the fear, however, when there are so many reasons to be afraid, given not only the physical reality of chronic pain, but the chain reaction of uncertainty and chaos it creates in our lives?
When anxiety and fear come up, says Kilmer, “we want to run away from them. But actually those feelings are your energy. If you can kind of lean into those feelings, and really know them, you will suddenly open yourself to a whole lot more energy.”
Case in point: when I accessed and utilized the sensations of pain and anger–recognizing and harnessing the raw energy within them–I was able to put those sensations to work for me, turning them into a faucet of healing energy. But why couldn’t I apply this method consistently?
“That’s just a natural part of healing,” says DreamHealer, “and if you think about it, it’s no different than anything else. In any sport, you have on and off days. You have on and off days in school. It’s the exact same thing,” he says.
“Patience is essential, because there are so many advances and retreats, precious gains that disappear again into painful losses,” says Martin Rossman, MD, DiplAc, director of The Healing Mind, author of numerous books and CDs on mind-body medicine, and a pioneer in the field of guided imagery. “Perseverance is essential, because the methods we discover may sometimes work and other times not.”
Practice is also essential, says DreamHealer. “If you just put five minutes aside before you go to bed visualizing yourself in perfect health just putting that intention out there does increase the probability of that happening.”
The key word here is probability. On this note, May responds to my encounter with alternative health practitioners who fell into the trap of patient blame, through embracing patient empowerment: “[New Age] wants everything to be under our own desires, under our own fantasy and wishful thinking about how the universe works. If you have the right kind of thought, you’ll be wealthy. If you have the wrong kind of thought, you won’t be wealthy It’s all about how we can control the universe. I have seen [this ideology] being used in ways that are extremely destructive to people who are suffering, who go seeking assistance because of their suffering, and who end up in a relationship with a practitioner who comes from that point of view.”
Anasuya Batliner, NC, Dipl ABT, CST, agrees. “In the world of alternative health, there is a little bit more freedom to believe in whatever you want to believe, which is in some ways a good thing, and in some ways goes over the edge People take their own feelings, thoughts, and opinions and project them, coming up with statements like, ‘You’re creating this’ and ‘You need to clear this.’ Certainly, there may be things to clear, but who knows? There’s so much mystery in the world. Who knows why these things happen? Making snap decisions is something that bothers me about the [alternative health] profession. I’m really against people saying that you have this problem because you created it, or you’re drawing bad experiences to you because of something that’s unresolved in you,” Batliner says.
“I think that can be a really negative and mean thing to say to people It’s incredibly judgmental. And I think that there’s been, unfortunately, acceptance of these judgments. Some of them aren’t seen as judgments at all. They’re seen as, ‘Oh, well everyone believes this.'”
Dillard says this can be detrimental. “For any one of us, [as] an outside observer, to try to evaluate [the cause of pain] for somebody else and say, ‘Oh, they’re missing the real lesson of their suffering,’ is outrageous and arrogant,” Dillard adds.
“On the one hand, we do have a lot of potential responsibility and viability for our situation and for changing our situation,” May says. “However, at the same time, we are in an inextricably interwoven, dynamic, living relationship with all that is around us.”
DreamHealer says positive thoughts, intentions, and visualizations related to healing do not guarantee their manifestation. They do, however, increase our chances of healing, and the art of healing is all about increasing the odds in our favor. “You have to use everything at your disposal and just keep plugging away at the problem,” he says. But, he adds, “You can’t get into the mentality of blaming things–‘I’m sick because of this.’ It doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant. You’re focusing on getting it better.”
This pure focus, I find, is a place where self-healing intersects with personal and political activism. For chronic pain patients throughout America, the social structures in place to support our healing (medicine, insurance, law) instead subject us to an onslaught of suspicion, accusation, and isolation. We are treated as hypochondriacs with nothing better to do than make up symptoms, as crazy, lonely people looking for attention, or as swindlers try to make a quick buck. When we don’t get the support we need, and our lives spin out of control as a result, we are then blamed for the situation we have “caused.” And so we spiral downward to a physical, emotional, and financial nightmare that only serves to exacerbate our pain, create suffering, and leave us feeling powerless.
In order to truly focus on getting better, we have to ensure, to the best of our abilities, that everything around us is validating and supporting our healing process–the food in our bodies, the people in our lives, the practitioners in our healthcare team. We have to similarly ensure that anything in the way of our healing is ousted from our bodies, our minds, and our lives. When the healing process is supported in this way, the gateway is evident and the path toward wellness becomes clear.
By Loolwa Khazzoom, a professional writer, editor, and blogger. She also is the director of Dancing with Pain (www.dancingwithpain.com), through which she blogs about and offers workshops on natural pain relief for both chronic pain patients and the healthcare professionals who treat them. For more information, visit www.loolwa.com.
Originally published in Massage & Bodywork magazine, September/October 2009. Copyright 2009. Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals. All rights reserved.
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