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Introduction to Energy Medicine Book

Author’s Introduction to 10th Anniversary Edition

By Donna EdenEnergy Medicine

When Energy Medicine was first published in 1998, I never imagined how very quickly the field would grow over the next decade. In the past ten years Energy Medicine has gone from being an obscure curiosity within alternative health care practices to an integral aspect of the worldviews of leading-edge thinkers within conventional medicine. Mehmet Oz, M.D., one of the most respected surgeons in the United States and the director of the Cardiovascular Institute at the Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons, speaking in 2007 to an international audience on Oprah, announced that "the next big frontier in medicine is Energy Medicine." Indeed, as the costs of medical care spiral out of reach and the dangers of potentially lethal side effects from standard treatments skyrocket, our culture is desperate for a good, reliable folk medicine, and Energy Medicine is quickly stepping in to meet that need.

When I go into a city and teach an introductory weekend workshop, the group usually develops a buzz of excitement about the tools and ideas they have just mastered, but at the end I remind them, "I leave tomorrow. Who here knows a local resource you can recommend to everyone, a person in the healing profession—whether a physician, a massage therapist, or someone simply with a "shingle" on their door—who brings an Energy Medicine perspective to their practice and to whom you would refer a loved one with a serious illness." When I first went on the road, perhaps one or two people in an audience of 200 would raise their hands and we would promptly put the name of the practitioners they were recommending on the white board. Ten years later, 40 percent of the group typically raises their hands. Some 40,000 people, including many doctors and nurses, have attended more than 600 classes and presentations I myself have given on the topic in the last ten years, and now my students are teaching many more classes than I ever could have hoped for. Besides starting to shift the paradigm in Western medicine, energy medicine is rapidly finding its way into local communities.

But you do not need an Energy Medicine practitioner to experience the benefits of Energy Medicine. You can use the methods in this book to help yourself, heal yourself, increase your energies, become happier, and grow healthier. People are finding the most basic principles of energy medicine to be surprisingly easy to learn, simple to use, and enormously helpful in addressing their own health challenges and the health challenges of those they love. We have received in these past ten years thousands of notes, e-mails, and personal words of appreciation describing the way that this book alone was key in overcoming a challenging health condition. A few of these are recounted in the following pages.

Energy Medicine arises out of centuries of wisdom from different cultures around the world. This is why it is so especially gratifying to me that this book has been translated into more than a dozen languages. In fact, I was honored a few years ago to be asked to write a special introduction to the Chinese edition, in which I was able to say:

When Huangdi, the legendary Yellow Emperor of China, decided some 4,500 years ago to codify the already ancient practice of acupuncture, the body of work to which this book owes its most profound debt was compiled. I cannot overstate how humbling and satisfying it was to learn recently that Energy Medicine would be coming out in a Chinese translation. Only in a world where globalization allows an unprecedented cross-fertilization of ideas and practices could we expect to see such exchanges. Just as the time-honored healing arts of China are impacting the Western world, scientific investigations being conducted in China are refining healing procedures and concepts from the Yellow Emperor’s time.

When Jeremy Tarcher and Joel Fotinos asked me to update and revise Energy Medicine, I had to think twice. I had had a full-time practice in energy medicine for 23 years prior to writing the book, and the book accurately reflected the insights I had garnered and it presented the techniques I had developed and found to be most effective. It was already a central text in many schools and training programs. I had subsequently co-authored The Promise of Energy Psychology to apply the principles of Energy Medicine to psychological issues and was completing Energy Medicine for Women, which focuses on many of the health and developmental issues that are dearest to my heart. I had expanded the ideas in the original book into an extensive curriculum for our two-year Certification Program. Did I have anything new to say that would fit into the scope of a revision of the original book? In reflecting on that question, I felt resolved that the basic model presented in the first edition had stood up quite well to the tests of time, many readers, and many discerning students. Nonetheless, with David and I now having worked with 40,000 additional people in classes and audiences, we know better than we did a decade ago what questions people have as they try to assimilate the sometimes curious concepts of energy medicine; we know how to make instructions for the exercises more clear; and we know how to present certain ideas more lucidly. So we have re-read every sentence of the book and made literally thousands of revisions, many of them minor wording changes for clarity or emphasis (this can happen if your "with author" is obsessive enough), but many are more substantive as well.

I have also incorporated numerous helpful suggestions from my readers, students, and teaching faculty. A difficulty some of my students who are well-versed in traditional Chinese medicine had with the original edition is that the acupressure points I showed in the drawings often did not match the points shown on standard charts. While I have in this edition had Cindy Cohn redraw many of the diagrams (the original drawings by Brooks Garten remain unsigned; Cindy’s name is on her contributions) so they do match the traditional charts, it was not a matter of one set of charts being right and the other being wrong. The differences reflected, instead, a very important concept to understand about the body’s energies.

I see energy—vividly, distinctly, and palpably. This is what has allowed me to chart the body’s energy systems in ways that have been so useful for others who do not see energy. From this mapping and through physical procedures you will learn in the book, anyone can enhance the health of the body’s energies—their own, their loved ones’ and, if they are health care professionals, their clients’ energies as well. But just as everyone has a different physical structure, everyone has a different energy anatomy. So the points I listed on the charts are averages or approximations (though still within a narrow range, fractions of centimeters rather than inches) rather than precise points that hold true from one person to the next. What I find remarkable is not that they are not exactly the same as the points on the traditional charts, but that the points I see are so close to the points recorded by Chinese physicians thousands of years ago.

The field of acupuncture has actually been debating the exact location of these points for thousands of years. There truly is ambiguity, and it is actually an endless debate for two fundamental reasons: 1) no two people’s anatomy or energy systems are identical and, even more basic, 2) the location of the points actually changes within a single individual. Before you roll your eyes and ask how it is possible to develop a scientifically based practice around such imprecise and varying fundamentals, let me explain a bit more about energy anatomy. The acupuncture points are the physical connection on the skin to an energy field called the meridian system. Taking the metaphor of the "ghost in the machine," the meridian system is like the ghost, and while it stays within the boundaries of the machine, it is not fixed. It is fluid. So the points on the skin that connect with it may move somewhat as well. Are the points I charted in the first book better than the points on the standard charts? Not at all. Both sets of points are averages and approximations. In revising the book, I am acknowledging that there is value in showing points that correspond to the standard charts but also emphasizing that the standard charts must still be understood as averages (and even there I often had to select which standard chart to consult for a given point).

The good news is that you do not need to be completely precise as you do the procedures that are based on these points. With acupuncture, precision is more important because a needle is so thin. The best acupuncturists can instinctually sense exactly where the point is before inserting the needle. In Japan, in fact, it is recognized that blind people often develop an enhanced attunement to energy. They are encouraged to study acupuncture because they make some of the finest practitioners. Fortunately for those who are not so attuned, you can use acupressure. The width of your finger is far greater than the size of a needle, so you have more latitude. If you make a three-finger cluster (bring your thumb and first two fingers together) to touch the point shown on a chart, you are almost insuring that you will be covering the correct spot. Another variable that can work in your favor is your intention to be helpful. Mind moves energy, and simply knowing what you are attempting to accomplish will get the energies of your hands to find their way to the energies in the body that are needing their support. It can seem very metaphysical, but all of this can be measured scientifically.

I have also added a number of new sections to the book. The most important, I feel, is a discussion of how to use Energy Medicine and conventional medicine in concert. If you are going in for surgery, how can you prepare your energy system to optimize your ability to tolerate and benefit from the operation? What can you do to speed your recovery? How can energy medicine enhance other medical treatments or be used in tandem with them? Which energy medicine techniques are most effective in alleviating the side effects of medications or radiation or chemotherapy? I am asked these kinds of questions all the time in my classes and have summarized some of the best strategies I know in a new closing section in Chapter 9.

Another new section introduces the "electrics" as one of the body’s major energy systems. While the electrics are briefly mentioned in the original edition as points used in traditional Chinese medicine, their importance as an energy system has become more evident to me during this past decade. I didn’t include them with the primary energy systems presented in the original book because I saw them as an aspect of each of the systems, which they are. But they also operate independently of the other systems, and I have experienced remarkable results working with the electrics alone. So they are presented here as a ninth energy system. This is not to imply that there are only nine energy systems in the body’s complex dance of energies, but rather to suggest that if you have a good understanding of these nine aspects of the body’s energy anatomy, you can be very effective in helping the body thrive.

We have reviewed the books and research studies cited and have generally let the original studies stand. While perhaps a bit dated now, they are still solid, and we have also added references to some of the most important books and studies of the past decade. Finally, as you might imagine, the resources section from the original book has (happily) become totally out of date due to the field’s rapid growth, and it has been thoroughly revised.

As I ponder the publication of this Tenth Anniversary Edition of Energy Medicine, I realize that, for me, Energy Medicine is far more than a system for healing people. David, my husband and co-teacher, often says toward the end of a class, explaining why we spend so much time on the road instead of enjoying the comforts of home, "If you had an opportunity to raise the vibration of this troubled planet, you would probably go out of your way to do it. We have the privilege of being able to help raise the vibration of the planet by teaching people, one individual and one group at a time, how to raise the vibration of their own bodies." This may be the unexpected gift of energy medicine as we face challenges in the world that tend to throw our energies into disarray. When we don’t feel good in our bodies, we don’t make choices from the radiant joy that is our birthright. As a result, we suffer and our planet suffers from the choices people make out of unnecessary suffering. Energy Medicine is a modest enterprise with far-reaching implications.

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