As a scientist, I am a skeptic by nature. I was trained to question and seek supporting evidence whenever possible. Acupuncture as a medical system has historically lacked what we would recognize as modern scientific evidence. As a result, my early experiences at acupuncture school presented me with some challenges. By the time I started my training, interesting and compelling scientific data was beginning to show how acupuncture needles interact with the body to elicit the responses practitioners are seeking and the results patients were experiencing. This growing body of evidence was beginning to pull back the curtain and illuminate how this medicine has worked its seemingly magical effects for so many thousands of years. Within that framework, there were certain techniques, such as magnets and non-insertive needles, that didn't fit into what I was open to accepting.
Over the course of my training, and now throughout my years of practice, I have discovered that treatment without needles is not only effective, but is sometimes the ideal treatment. I found that while I could not explain exactly how they were working, I could not deny that they were working. Once I opened my mind to these non-insertive methods, I began to reconsider other healing styles which I was tempted to dismiss out of hand. Disciplines such as homeopathy, crystal, color and sound healing all fell into this bucket of "hmmm, I'm not so sure about that." It was while taking a class, which was outside the primary curriculum of my acupuncture program, that I was presented with a concept which broke down the skepticism I had felt for the more "hippy-dippy" healing disciplines.
This particular teacher welcomed skeptics, debates and questioning of all varieties. He also seemed to have a knack for presenting information in a way that would blow apart the assumptions and ideas you had previously formed, leaving you open to the possibility of something new. At one point he was speaking about “distance healing,” something I definitely had difficulty accepting at the time. He discussed the two states of energy:particle and wave. The particle state of energy is easy to study. We can identify it, pull it apart and manipulate it to see how it works and what we can do with, or to, it. On the other hand, the wave form of energy is notoriously tricky to study. It is difficult to capture, and changes when it’s manipulated. Think of how long it took to record the gravitational waves that Einstein predicted nearly a hundred years ago. And even when they were recorded, it was only indirectly, through the sound they generate. We don't currently have a way to see or touch a gravitational wave but we now know they do exist. If I accepted the existence of the wave form of energy, which is clearly established science, then I couldn't dismiss out of hand forms of healing which employ wave forms of energy. Healing with tools such as light, sound or energy and healing over distances were theoretically possible when viewed from that perspective. However, accepting that there may be something to some of the more "fringe-y" healing modalities that we don’t yet understand didn't mean I was completely on board.
I prefer to experience new forms of treatment so I can judge for myself how to think about them. Only then I am able to use both my trusted scientific protocols and my newer healing worldview to put them in a framework. As part of that learning journey, I recently received a sound healing session from a colleague, Janet Kessenich of Spiral Energies. As with many healers, Janet has developed her own blend of healing which has evolved and expanded over the years. I didn't quite know what to expect during the session, but went in with an open and curious mind.
We started with a brief discussion of what I was interested in working on during the session. Janet decided to take an overall balancing approach, which ended up interacting with parts of the acupuncture channel system that I was well acquainted with. The foundation of the treatment was to focus on aligning the major energy centers of the body and re-balancing them. One term for them which may be familiar is chakras. In acupuncture, as well as other disciplines, there are several major energetic centers in the body. In acupuncture they correspond to specific points on the front midline of the body. These points, or centers, have deep connections in the body not only to the physical function but to emotions and the psyche. By bringing them into better harmony, the body as a whole, along with our emotions, can be brought into better balance.
Janet proceeded to check and treat each chakra with her tuning forks. The tuning forks generate a lovely vibration where they are placed on the body and I could feel the resonance of them change as blocked areas started to move more freely. Janet chose to use several different tuning forks at different points during the session, sometimes using two different tones at the same point. A few Tibetan singing bowls closed out our session.
Not having trained at all with vibrational therapy, I'm afraid I can't tell you exactly how it works. Janet would be a much better resource for those questions. However, I can tell you how I felt after the treatment. A deep sense of relaxation & calm settled in during my session with Janet, and remained for several days afterwards. I slept especially well that night, too. Even several weeks later, the areas of my body that had felt like they became unstuck during the treatment are still feeling good. The emotions connected to those areas are also still feeling more balanced and more within my conscious control. So while I can't say why or how this healing modality is working, I can say that my experience was one in which I felt things meaningfully shift in a very positive direction.
In both traditional western and “alternative” medicines there has long been a healthy tension between scientific evidence and actual results. Whether information is gathered in the context of a carefully controlled scientific study or through the gathering of patient responses over many years, it helps us to understand how and why they work. Skepticism is a reasonable way to approach things we don’t understand. However, by allowing that skepticism to soften a bit so that it doesn’t act as a barrier but rather as a tool, it is possible to experience interesting and unexpected things. There is much that science still cannot explain, but I am certain with time we will come to understand in a much more complete way precisely how and why these types of treatments help people.