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Breathe, Relax, Re-focus November 10, 2006

Posted by Benji in Journal.
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            I figured I’d give it a shot.  Though in the back of my scientific mind I wanted some paper proving efficacy, I took off my shoes and lay myself down on a padded table in the middle of the room.  “Have you ever done reiki before?” Dave, the founder of SPARK (Spirited Action Release and Kindness), asked.  “Yes,” I said, reflecting on a time in Ecuador when a friend of mine tried it on me as I was ailing from a stomach bug.  I didn’t remember feeling any different afterwards, really, but I had liked the warmth of her hands on my limbs.

            Now I’ve found CAM to be a little odd to discuss with others – mainly because it is on the fringes of medicine and because something as simple as breathing or touch (rather than massage) seems so obvious.  It also often finds itself, I think, joined to the “dirty hippie” or “eccentric aunt” archetype.  But like I said, worse to worse, it couldn’t hurt to give it a shot.  So, relatively open to the idea, I tried to envision light passing from my head to toes and then to be keenly aware of direct touch or even Dave’s hands held above my skin.

            Experiencing reiki is a hard thing to explain.  It is calming and yet perplexing, as I felt my muscles twitch even though they weren’t being used.  And I thought it strange that I could allow a total stranger to place his hands on my limbs and head for upwards of 15 minutes.  Stranger still that it felt like there was actually an energetic connection.  When he had finished, my mouth was very dry and I really felt pretty relaxed.  Skepticism remained (for quantitative proof) but overall I felt good.

            I had tried yoga a little earlier in the school year, again, just to try it.  Supposedly it was somewhat trendy and people claimed to be benefiting from it in some unclear way, so I thought I’d try it, too.  And thus, during the 2005 regional AMSA conference in Brooklyn, I woke up early to try more yoga.  Like my morning aerobics class, I figured different instructors certainly function and make me feel differently, so perhaps it would be good to explore another yoga class.   In this basic introduction, we worked on breathing and just focusing on that, as in the
CAM presentation I’d had in my clinical medicine class.  Maybe because I felt like I knew what I was being exposed to now, I gave myself fully over to it, thinking of the poise of Tai Chi.  In repeating a stretch 3 times, moved by breath, I was able to go further; I didn’t experience the tightness of stretching.  And when we sat down to focus on counting breath, I felt I “saw” a central, circular image with my eyes closed (supposedly the Third Eye).

            When a later speaker talked about charkas and pressure points and again had us focus on our breath, I did feel some tingling and calmness again.  I’ve been trying to do the “spirit in, smoke out” mantra while focusing to see if there is any positive effect.  And yeah, I think it’s kind of cool, and as funny as I feel speaking about the unquantifiable spirituality or self-healing, I wonder if it’s something I will explore more fully in medicine and share with my patients.

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Comments»

1. Doug - November 11, 2006

I’ve never had a “western” medical doctor who knew anything about “eastern” traditional healing. It would be refreshing to find one who could provide insight to the benefits of mixing the best of both worlds.


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