You may remember that my mother is, as my father likes to say, "into hooby dooby stuff." What does that mean exactly? Well, I have the same tendency, so I'll be a little more pragmatic than my father might be. We're interested in those things that are mysterious in the world, things that are inexplicable, and possibly on the fringe of what is acceptable in Western spirituality. Yes, I mean new age.
This might make some people completely skeptical, and they might poo-poo whatever else I have to say. To those people I say, get over it. Suspend disbelief and choose to be a little open for the duration of this blog post because it may be that you will learn something helpful.
I'm the kind of person who wants to believe in things. It's only recently that I've felt any kind of skepticism towards anything. Two years ago you wouldn't have found me attempting to tear things apart the way I do now. Still, every time I get a little too skeptical, a little too cynical, my mother is there to stem the flow of doubt. She does it in a variety of ways. Sometimes its testimony of her experiences or those of her co-workers. As a spiritual counselor in a hospice, there are always stories about miraculous and strange things that happen to different people, or in the unusual continuing education classes they are required to take. The gossip tends to be of a supernatural kind. It makes sense, seeing as these people deal with death on a daily basis. Strange things happen at death. It is one of the last great mysteries. As many answers as we find about the thing, we create ten times as many new questions.
It a strange tension between my mother's testimony and the documentaries produced on similar subjects for Nova or National Geographic. I find myself re-examining things in a way that I hadn't wanted to for my entire life. It used to be that I had a completely Christian understanding of life and death, a Western understanding of medicine, and a progressive perspective on the world in general. Keep in mind, religion isn't the only thing people believe in. Belief systems happen in politics and in culture in a variety of settings, even science can be called a belief system.
These days I have seen a complete about face in my beliefs. Everything is topsy turvy. Skeptic or not, I find myself in a whole new understanding with the necessary exploration to accompany it. To keep things simple, we'll stick to one set of assumptions that were turned on their head - healing.
My skepticism of Western medicine began as early as junior high. I got sick with a sinus infection every month from October through April several years straight until some doctor got the bright idea that I might have allergies. They never tested for it. They put me on an allergy medication, and I stopped getting sinus infections. There were things like this that kept happening, to varying degrees, until I had some debilitating issues while living in Phoenix which no doctor or physical therapist was able to treat. Literally, they could find nothing wrong with me. They couldn't see anything wrong, yet I had severe physical swelling in several joints. I was constantly in physical pain. In the end, I changed my diet myself. I started doing pilates and I was able to address my symptoms on my own. No doctor was able to help me. I did it myself.
Now, I am a very anxious person. I probably shouldn't drink as much caffeinated green tea and diet soda as I do (as to the latter, I really shouldn't, but we all have our vices). Necessarily as an anxious person, I have difficulty sleeping. When I wake up my mind starts going about everything and anything that concerns me, and I just can't turn it off. Even though I altered my eating habits in order to promote sleep, and exercised regularly, I just couldn't get anything to work. Knowing this, my mother intervened. She gave me some lavender spray and some oil and she gave me a Reiki session. I slept like a baby.
Reiki is a kind of energy work. It involves balancing the body's natural energy centers to promote consistent energy flow. Just like if your body has a blockage in another system, like your artery or intestine, it causes problems. It is the same with energy. Now, I would counter doubters this way - that even if you didn't believe this stuff worked because of the energy balancing, it is still a relaxing and calming experience that leaves you feeling cared for and tranquil. Of course, if you don't think it works, you've probably never had a session.
Each Reiki session is experienced differently, though the process the healer uses is the same. The healer goes down your body, from energy center to center, clearing each in turn. The patient experiences this clearance differently depending on what is going on with their body and spirit. For example, my first Reiki session gave me the giggles. I giggled and giggled and couldn't stop. My throat became sore (keep in mind I didn't have a cold nor was I sick in any way). As my session continued, I felt extreme heat as each section of my body was cleared. Keep in mind that my mother's cold hands weren't on me (like me, my mother's hands are perpetually cold). They were about 4-5 inches away from my skin, yet I felt a firm reassuring pressure and extreme heat.
Going into my session, I had no idea what to expect. My mother merely said that each session is different for each person. I didn't go in with specific thoughts planted in my brain as to how I should experience this thing, or how it would work. It just worked. So how is it that something like this could do wonders for my physical and psychological well being when medical doctors were unable to?
Let me put forth some observations - there are some things that Western medicine cannot address. There is mystery in the world and in the human body, and that is okay. There are some ailments where traditional healing practices are more beneficial than Western ones.
Beyond that, I love Reiki. I think it's amazing and more people should experience it. I'm seriously considering getting some kind of certification. In the mean time, I'm reading up on it (which is requiring more than a little suspension of disbelief). Even if some hooby dooby stuff is a little wonky, Reiki works, which means some of these other ideas may have an ounce of validity as well. It's enough to encourage my exploration of the hooby-dooby. Wish me luck and cleared energy centers! :-D