Energy healing is an ancient practice used in many traditions in the modern world. In the U.S., it is not always well understood, but interest is growing. This series of articles intends to provide insight into energy healing. They’ll provide information on the basic practice, traditions of energy healing, and simple energy healing practices you can use for yourself.
While energy healing might sound new, working with the energy systems of the body is only relatively unfamiliar to Westerners. Many ancient cultures believed in and understood the body’s energy systems. Healing methods such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the east Indian Ayurvedic traditions, and the Hindu chakra system have recognized that the human body is first and foremost energy.
For thousands of years, indigenous cultures viewed the human body as an energy system with the ability to heal itself. For ancient cultures, there was no division between body, mind, and spirit—all worked together seamlessly. In fact, Plato wrote in 380 BCE that physicians erred when they separated the soul from the body in providing healing and cures.1
While the terminology varies from culture to culture, the concept of working with the body’s energy field is similar. In China, this energy is called chi. In Japan, it is ki, and in India, the energy forces are referred to as prana. All terms describe the life force energy or spark of life. Just as the circulatory system brings blood and the lymphatic system carries off waste, the energy system brings life force energy to all areas of the body. And just as when the circulatory system is blocked, disease results, similar problems occur when the energy system is blocked.
Perceptions of Health in Western vs. Eastern Traditions
In Western medicine, doctors are trained to assess and eliminate symptoms. While some doctors are beginning to understand the power of the mind-body connection, most of their work is still focused on the physical body. Doctors deal with the body, psychiatrists deal with the mind, and religious people deal with the spirit.
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In most ancient, and especially in Eastern, medicine, symptoms are assessed but then described based on what initial imbalance caused them. These causes can be of the body, the mind, and the spirit—all are assessed together. Rather than striving to make the symptoms go away, alternative practices focus more on eliminating the imbalance or blockage, and when this is accomplished, then the body has what it needs to heal itself.
Evidence of Energy Healing Throughout History
Stone tools discovered from as far back as the Neolithic period were shaped for making small incisions in the skin—believed to be an early form of acupuncture.2 Acupuncture is quite well-known today, a proven technique that has been shown to work for stimulating and balancing the body’s energy system. While the equipment has changed, treatment still follows practices that have been used for thousands of years.
The Aztec Tetzkatlipoka tradition, thought to be 5,000 years old, believed in four fundamental levels of energy: the physical body, the mind, the emotions, and the energy field. When these four aspects are in balance, they allow life to flow in the most optimal way.
Ancient Mayan medicine also shows striking similarities to some Eastern forms of healing, including the concept of a life-force, a primitive system of acupuncture, and even massage techniques. The practices of Ancient Kemetic (Egyptian) physicians ranged from embalming to energy healing to surgery. In ancient times, healing was an art that provided a holistic way to assess individual issues.
Energy healing is not just ancient history. It’s possible to find forms of energy healing in almost every tradition, culture, and country in the world today. Hospitals around the world offer energy healing as a source of calming before and after procedures.3
“Give me some scientific proof” is often the comment fired at a proponent of alternative healing techniques. There have been many scientific studies on Reiki, one well-known school of energy healing. Hospital studies show that patients receiving Reiki before and after surgery recovered more quickly and with fewer secondary complications.
Additionally, patients receiving energy healing experienced lower blood pressures and pulse rates than those who had not received energy treatment.4 Quantum physics explorations have provided a vast world of new data and ways to look at what is real, helping individuals remember that the visible and common is not all there is to our world.
Energy healing has ancient roots confirmed with modern science. Hopefully, this article can help you make informed decisions about trying energy healing to improve your overall well-being.
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