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Energy Medicine by Donna Eden


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Sick After a Session

Q. Dear Donna: I am a naturopath and have been increasingly incorporating energy techniques into my work. I’ve found Energy Medicine to be a wonderful reference, and I have generally found the techniques you describe to be gentle and helpful. Occasionally, however, energy work can be disruptive to a person’s system. I have had two people now go into a "healing crisis" where old symptoms returned after a session, where anxiety from old traumas was reactivated, and where the person felt much worse than before we began.

A. I’m afraid that most practitioners meet this one somewhere along the way, although I don’t like the phrase "healing crisis." I think of "healing crisis" as a defensive term that health professionals use so they won’t be blamed for triggering a second health crisis in someone who came to them because they were already in a health crisis. Sometimes the treatment does stir the pot, causing new symptoms or reactivating old ones, but to call it a healing crisis often obscures the dynamics so the person’s complaints are dismissed rather than dealt with. Energy medicine moves energy; the new complaints provide vital information for the next step.

And sometimes the next step involves revisiting an old health problem that has become dormant as the person has learned to cope and adapt—what my friend Peg Mayo calls "wallpapering over the cockroaches"—but the unresolved problem is still robbing the person of vital energy, causing underlying exhaustion, and dulling the mind, even though overt symptoms are no longer troubling. This can happen with physical as well as psychological problems and can be very awkward for the healer. The return of old back pain, respiratory problems, or severe anxiety may be your "thank you" after what you thought was a brilliant session.

Carrying a perspective that allows for these dynamics helps you to anticipate them and prepare yourself as well as your client. While you don’t want to give a hypnotic suggestion that itself sends the person into a "healing crisis," you can set a healing context where problems that go beyond the original problem may readily be embraced. Rather than dreading this kind of development as something bad, I hold a space that appreciates the opportunity that sometimes arises for people to have a more profound healing than they bargained for. So, I find it easy to be sincerely upbeat as I say to someone, "This energy here in your chest feels very old. Working with it may stir things up, and I want you to be prepared for that."

Of course many of the standard energy techniques for keeping the body’s energies balanced can help to head off an unnecessary "healing crisis." Doing an appropriate adaptation of the 5-minute Energy Routine (Chapter 2 of Energy Medicine) early in the session so you begin with a relatively balanced energy system is pretty standard for me, as is suggesting that an energy routine be done on a daily basis after the session.

During the session, if you sense that the person’s energy is beginning to go into an unexpected reaction, you can safely assume that the triple warmer meridian has been activated. One of its main jobs is to resist change, even when the change is beneficial. Triple warmer can pull out all the stops to prevent change, from scrambling the physical energies to sending waves of anxiety through your client. So you may be sailing along during a session and suddenly find that everything stops working until you sedate triple warmer, which gives it a calming message that causes it to stop treating the treatment as a foreign invasion.

One more way to head off an unnecessary "healing crisis" is that if a great deal of energy is moved in a session, you can close the session by strengthening spleen meridian, using the acupressure strengthening points. This enhances the body’s ability to adapt, incorporate, and metabolize new information. The "hook-up" is another way to anchor in the benefits of the treatment