Acupuncture, acupressure, Reiki, Jin Shin Jyutsu and Eden Energy Medicine are just a few of the ancient and modern healing techniques that are growing in popularity.
Acupuncture and acupressure operate on the premise that "subtle energy" or "qi" flows through our bodies along pathways known as meridians. This energy is accessed through specific points along the meridians called acupoints, with needles (as in acupuncture) or with a practitioner's hands (in acupressure).
Reiki is an ancient Japanese technique that promotes healing through relaxation and stress reduction. Jin Shin Jyutsu is similar to Reiki but addresses health issues more specifically, using 26 points around the body known as "energy locks."
Eden Energy Medicine combines nine different energy systems such as meridians, chakras, radiant circuits and the aura to assess and correct energy imbalances believed to cause physical, emotional and spiritual problems. (In the interest of full disclosure: the writer completed a two-year program in Eden Energy Medicine in 2012 and now incorporate these techniques into my fitness work with clients.)
There is no shortage of anecdotal evidence from clients and practitioners that energy work (alone or in conjunction with conventional medicine) can be beneficial. Increasingly, hospitals and doctors are incorporating "complementary" medicine into their treatments.
Research is ongoing at the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, but so far the only consistent conclusion is that more study is needed.
Maureen Burgess, an education administrator who lives and works on the Upper East Side, said she sees an energy practitioner regularly.
“Despite my skepticism, I’ve found that energy work provides the language for my mind and body to connect," Burgess said. "I am impressed by how my body communicates with my practitioner about my emotional and physical state, and I always leave feeling renewed and hopeful.”
Betsy Rowe, a longtime participant in a variety of alternative medicine techniques, added: “I often notice immediate improvement and long-lasting benefits after a session.”
The best way to know for sure if energy medicine is right for you is to try it yourself.
Here are some tips for how to find a reputable practitioner:
1. Know what to ask.
Request information about their certifications and related education. Good practitioners have spent years studying and practicing their craft under the guidance of more advanced teachers. Continuing education should be a staple of their professional diet.
2. Know what to look for.
Seek a practitioner who is able to explain, in down-to-earth language, how their method works. A good practitioner aims to empower clients with an emphasis on the self-help aspects of healing work. They should come with great references — preferably from people you know and trust.
3. Know what to avoid.
Practitioners with brief or undocumented training, who play up the mysterious aspects of their healing gifts or present themselves as miracle workers are less likely to be effective. Untrustworthy practitioners foster client dependence on the “healer” and minimize the importance of self-help homework techniques.
While cases of dramatic healing in one energy work session are sometimes reported, in my experience, the more likely scenario is that improvement occurs over time. Just as it requires several visits to the gym to see lasting results, it usually takes repeated practice to shift habitual energy imbalances.