One of the earliest memories I have, of spending time with my mother is when I had my aura read by a blind psychic.
Apparently my aura is tan.
I have another memory of a superstar Indian guru spraying us, among a crowd of thousands in the Pasadena Rose Bowl, with pink water from a huge water cannon during a celebration of the Indian festival of Holi.
Being fed flower essences while in the middle of one of my many temper tantrums was terrifying. But they work—temporarily.
Crystal healing. Om circles. Sweat lodges. Essential oils. Blue-green algae. Kabbalah study groups.
I was a classic hippie kid.
And that’s all by the time I was nine years old. When I was distraught over a break-up in high school, my mom put me on her massage table and cleared my emotional body. Don’t all mothers do that?
Strangely, when I was 22 years old—with no formal training, other than what I’d learned from watching my mother work on her clients, teach classes and work on me—I decided to start practicing as massage and bodywork therapist professionally. I’ve been doing it ever since.
Along the way, I’ve received plenty of Reiki, psychic healing, sound healing, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine and all the rest. I even traveled to Brazil, with a broken back, to visit a famous faith healer.
He healed me—or more precisely, Jesus healed me—or most precisely, the experience gave me the courage and the determination to heal myself.
Now, 18 years later, I’m the director of a massage school. Not only do I teach energy healing, but I’ve also interacted professionally with hundreds of energy healers and their clients, and I think most of us—clients and therapists—are completely deluded about what’s really going on when it comes to healing energy.
A lot of clients of energy healers exude syrupy, cult-like enthusiasm for whatever modality they’re currently into, while at the same time spouting a perpetual list of their bizarre incurable ailments. These helpless enthusiasts bother me. Sorry if you are one, but life is tough, and there’s no miracle cure for it.
On the flip side, I’ve met many energy healers who think that magical healing energy is radiating from their palms, or at least hope it is.
When both the healer and the client share this hope, energy healing kind of works. Many energy healers see some evidence of benefit in what they’re doing. A lot of clients feel better after a treatment. Sometimes, energy healing works.
But before we talk about that, we have to include the skeptics. Likely these people are either suffering from chronic sanity or they’ve tried Reiki once and found it incomprehensibly useless since, “He didn’t do anything”.
I’m right there with you, but with a twist.
I’ve seen and experienced deep physical and personal healing as the result of many esoteric energy healing modalities.
When they work, how do they work?
Easy—when we get a cut, it heals. If it doesn’t heal, eventually, we’ll die. When an unfriendly virus or bacteria invades our bodies, we get sick, and then we get better. Or we don’t—and then we die. Being alive is a state of perpetual healing. As soon as the natural healing process slows to a stop, either through sickness, injury, or old age, we die.
So, when someone claims to be a healer, they’re telling the truth. We are all healers—for a while.
A lot of us don’t eat well, don’t drink well, don’t breathe well, don’t move well, don’t rest well and don’t think well.
The combination of mildly toxic foods, a deficiency of pure water, an excess of caffeine and alcohol, a lack of exercise, poor sleep habits and habitual overthinking takes its toll on the body’s ability to heal itself.
We are alive because our living cells convert nutrients into energy, and we use that energy to repair ourselves. Things that don’t repair themselves are not alive, and when something is not alive, it decays.
Alive things grow and heal.
Our bodies need good food, movement and rest in order to efficiently make the energy we need to heal and grow. When those basic life essentials are deficient, then we become tired, sore and out of sorts. Eventually we become sick.
A healer is a person who helps another person heal themselves.
The best thing that happens during an energy healing session is that a tired person gets some rest and some kindness. I’ve seen a lot of healers come and go—and the ones that are the most successful are friendly people who listen and care.
Their hands are gentle, their treatment rooms are warm, clean and comfortable. When we go to see a good healer, they have good energy. They are healthy. They take good care of their body. They smile because they work to tame the wildness of their worrying, hurrying mind, and they’ve made some progress with that. It’s nice to spend time with such a person. It’s nice to lay on a comfortable massage table and be nurtured.
The real magic is that when we’re tired and stressed out, poorly nourished and stuck in our heads, taking some time out, getting some light rest and being with a caring person is incredibly good for us.
Our metabolism changes. Our blood pressure goes down. Our minds settle down. Cortisol hormone levels in our blood decrease and serotonin levels increase. All this causes a shift from a fight-or-flight state to a rest-and-recover state.
Once resting, our bodies heal themselves.
Call it Reiki or Network Chiropractic or channeling angels—call it whatever. All of it is real, and all of it works when used appropriately in the right context, because it all amounts to rest and caring, safety and trust.
The problem with energy work is that when a therapist doesn’t read people well, doesn’t watch their clients move and speak, doesn’t understand when light touch is going to be relaxing and when it is going to be aggravating—but instead sincerely believes that they somehow have power over their client’s bodies—then they indiscriminately attempt to wield that imaginary power in the wrong way, at the wrong time, with the wrong understanding of what’s really happening.
As therapists, we have to look, listen and recognize that sometimes when a person is stressed out, what they need to relax is light touch—and sometimes they need to be wrung out like a wet towel.
Everything is energy work, but we don’t wash the dishes with a toothbrush. We use the appropriate tools for the needs of each situation.
Wanna do some amazing energy work yourself?
Take someone you truly care about and have them lay down on a bed in a warm, quiet, clean, comfortable room. Gently place your hands somewhere comforting on their body. Don’t squeeze or press—just rest your hands in a caring way, the way you might touch a sleeping child. Now, close your eyes, feel them breathe and feel yourself breathe.
Both people relax.
After a couple of breaths, move your hands to a new place, nearby—rest and breathe. Cultivate caring in your heart, and let that caring guide your touch. Do it for five minutes, or even 15 minutes.
Now you’re in business.
Author: Tobin Rangdrol
Apprentice Editor: Cecilia Vinkel/Editor: Yoli Ramazzina