Every ancient and indigenous culture has some iteration of energetic medicine as a form of healing modality. In the West we are most familiar with the practices of acupuncture, Reiki, and work with the chakra system, but there are many different types of energy work. Globally, cultures separated by continents and centuries discovered the same energetic fields that flow in and through each of us, and connect us to each other and the Universe. Shamans and medicine men/women have always been the go-to people for all types of healing. Whether physical, emotional, or spiritual, they understood that it was the energy of a system that determined the health of a system.
The energy field that surrounds us and runs through us is vital to the health of us as a whole organism. When our physical body takes a hit, our energetic body takes a hit. But both are well equipped to respond to stimuli or trauma, and initiate and carry out a healing process. The same is true for our emotional/psychological “body”. We have systems in place that deal well with what life typically throws at us. Those systems work through a healing process and generally get back to business as usual after a given amount of time.
WHAT IS ENERGY MEDICINE
Sometimes though, trauma can be too much for a system to handle, and we have longer-term problems or deficits that occur. In our physical body – if we tear a ligament and the joint loses stability, that instability can lead to further problems, additional injuries, and more lasting, even permanent dysfunction. In terms of our psyche – significant trauma can have lasting effects on our belief systems and fears and abilities to relate to others or our environment for decades after the fact. The energetic body is no different. In fact, there is often an energetic component to physical and emotional problems that have been long-standing or were significant enough when they occurred. Significant trauma can disrupt our energetic system.
That system consists of our Luminous Energy Field (LEF) – the torus-shaped field of electromagnetic energy around each of us, the chakra system – the chakras are essentially the organs of our energetic body, and the meridian system – the channels of life energy that flow through and to all parts of our body.
Our energy body is our antenna to the world. When it’s healthy and in balance we move more easily through life. It is excellent at neutralizing the depleting and negative energies it comes into contact with. It processes these heavy energies and returns them to the earth where they are mulched and recycled. Energy is never lost, just reorganized. But when we hold on to the story of our trauma, hold on to anger or fear or any other depleting energy, it can be too much for the energy body to resolve. It can bog down our energetic system and leave us in rough shape.
The work of shaman, or medicine men/women, historically has been to work at the level of the energetic – above the physical and psychological levels – to help heal unresolved trauma. Shaman understand that true healing happens by rearranging our relationship to our wounds, not merely applying bandages to symptoms. Shaman are not much concerned with diagnosis. Diagnosis is at the physical or psychological level and that is not where they intervene. A diagnosis can often be a hindrance because of the story and perceptions that often accompany it. What is essential is to restore balance the energetic system. Much like acupuncture, which opens lines of energy, or Chi, where it is stuck so that healing can occur, energy medicine work engages that same essential energy. It works to change the energetic cause of the physical or psychological diagnosis. For example, working with the energy of anger before it becomes a heart attack. Clearing the energy of worry before it becomes a gastrointestinal diagnosis. Resolving the energy of fear before it leads to another predictable series of unhelpful behaviors. Sorting out energetic blocks in the physical body to relieve a specific pain that we may have seen several doctors for and been told “There is nothing wrong”.
Working with energy is working at the Source. If you want to change the course of a river, it’s a lot more work to build a dam downstream than it is to simply step your foot across the mouth upstream.
The work in the session is done on the energetic level, but the homework that I will give you will be done on the mythic level – the level of archetypes, ceremony, stories, dreams, etc. The mythic level is the level of the soul and the subconscious. The mythic and energetic are levels of new possibilities, whereas the physical and psychological are all-to-often levels of probabilities.
Energy medicine is about writing a new story, with a bigger territory, and a more far-reaching horizon. It is about healing what is holding us back. It is about dreaming a new world into being.