Are you confused? People calling themselves energy healers show up everywhere these days, offering to balance your meridians, connect you to the universe, open your chakras, summon your angels, manifest your deepest dreams. Energy healing has become big business in 21st Century America, with one informed estimate at well over a million practitioners. Quite a few, including me, are currently living in, or moving to, Central Oregon.
This is not happy news for many trained in western science who challenge everything from therapeutic touch, often used in hospitals, to acupuncture, commonly covered by insurance plans. These skeptical scientists tend to refer to “so-called energy healing,” and understandably so. Its methods and results resist explanation within accepted scientific parameters. Many healers make this worse by describing their work with words they don’t fully understand, such as quantum and (I plead guilty here) biofield, used in vague or inaccurate ways, unwittingly demonstrating disrespect for the scientific fields to which those terms belong.
Some organizations, notably the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine (ISSSEEM), are attempting to correct this, not by denying or excoriating either “side,” but by supporting research to learn what’s going on when healer and client engage in a session that produces qualitative and quantitative change. Most of the objecting scientists are not close-minded, just asking to be presented with statistical results that satisfy their standards for a paradigm shift.
The scientists are right to challenge us. Hard scientific evidence might be found explaining why and how energy healing happens, but it’s just plain wrong for us healers to assert that it already has been. Nor should we be claiming ownership of quantum physics regardless of how tempting and ubiquitous that has become. Theories are not scientific proof.
Meanwhile, there’s no need for a healer to claim a sure explanation in order to produce amazing healing results. Nor is there any need to “believe in” any philosophy or doctrine to benefit from energy healing. Rather, I suggest this is a wonderful opportunity to do your own personal experiential research by visiting an energy healer. (This is exactly the kind of “experiment” you conduct each time you take a new prescription medication without understanding human anatomy or pharmaceutical science, though the energy work carries far less risk.)
As one of my Australian teachers said, “Don’t imagine, FEEL.” Does your healing session lower your feeling of stress as you normally experience it? Does your Qigong practice, done with persistence and regularity over time, leave you feeling more energetic, calm, vigorous and pain-free? With an energy healing regimen does your body feel more flexible, your weight stabilize at a healthy level, your sleep become more peaceful? Do you find yourself more resistant to the bugs others catch? If not, move on to a different healer or technique.
There are just about as many different ways of doing energy healing as there are healers in practice. Qigong forms (patterns of movement, breathing and attention) alone number in the thousands. You have a wide field to explore with an excellent chance of finding a method and provider offering a match for what you want. Just as in medicine or psychology, the connection or rapport between client and practitioner can have a dramatic effect on the outcome. Be attentive to your gut-level (or brain-level) response.
One commonality among most energy healers is understanding that the human body, when released from negative tension and stress, moves naturally toward health. Another is that our normal state, what all of us should expect and experience most of the time, is feeling good and loving life. This requires changing the habit of accepting discomfort, unpleasant moods, or pain until they become intolerable, and only then seeking professional help. Rather, you can work with an energy healer to increase your wellbeing––physical, mental, and spiritual––to levels you’ve forgotten were possible or maybe never known at all. This is a proactive choice that’s yours to make.
Some forms of energy healing have established credentialing organizations, but many serious and capable practitioners work in systems for which no empirical standards or licensing exist. Ask around, consult the Central Oregon Wellness Directory (www.OregonWellness.net), attend healing fairs, and don’t hesitate to contact healers to ask questions before committing to a healing session. Ask questions even if you don’t think you want a session––yet. Central Oregon, and Bend, specifically, are on the energy healer radar like Boulder, Sedona, and Santa Fe. As our community’s alternative healing choices expand, we do well to understand what that means to us, as individuals and as business people.
Kristina Bak is a healer, counselor, Qigong teacher, artist and writer in Bend.