Sunday, December 19, 2010


Imagine for a moment living breathing beings, that we can observe from behind a hidden one way window.

We observe that these beings seems to have different "gears." That sometimes, the beings rest, and heal, and sometimes, the beings can sort of "turn up" the energy usage into a "higher gear." And faced with certain situations, seeking food, trying to defend oneself, when threatened or competing for something, that these beings can accomplish more tasks in a faster time, run faster, see more clearly, fight harder.

And what do you suppose happens? Some of these beings find this state of "heightened gear" attractive, and they seek to push their bodies to stay in this gear all the time. They think this makes them more successful, or makes them feel better (even as it wears them out to be in this heightened "gear" all the time)

Watching over a long period of time, we see that those beings that go back and forth between the different gears at different times seem to be healthier than those that always tend to stay in "resting gear," or always tend to stay in "heightened gear." (and we see there aren't only two gears, there are an infinite number of settings between one end and the other, and the beings who seem to be the healthiest over the longest periods of time are those who are able to maintain a balance.)

Long ago, the beings knew about this balance. It was part of an ancient wisdom of their bodies. They understood it. But over time, this wisdom was lost. Even as they learned new modern wisdoms, ways to use substances to "cure" themselves when they were "sick." They even learned how to cut into their bodies to "cure" some parts that had "worn out." Some parts could be "replaced." Like magic.

One day, some beings began to realize that there was a difference between the old natural way of "healing" by being in "balance," and the new "magic" ways of "curing" things that had become "sick." And some realized that the old wisdoms could be learned yet again, and used together with the new "magic." (it never had to be one or the other)

This is very much the situation we have today. The human body has an "autonomic nervous system" that is described as having 2 "settings." One setting is described as "fight or flight" and is called by health care professionals the "sympathetic nervous system." It can also be referred to as "adrenergic" since it is related to having surges of adrenaline. The other setting is described as for being at "rest" and is often called the "parasympathetic nervous system."

What we are finding is that within the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, they are variations and it is not so simply "one or the other." Some medications for example, like "beta blockers" can block the "beta" type effect of adrenaline, without blocking the "alpha" effect, and now we know different "selective" effects within those systems. And at the same time, we know that the parasympathetic system can sustain action and activity, not just "rest" - though at a "lower gear."

"Stress" can cause more adrenaline to circulate, and while this can have benefits short term ("fight or flight") it can wear someone out, so it may be best not to stay in one state (or the other) all the time. Resting all the time and not getting any exercise ever isn't healthy either. We seem to need a balance.

We really don't know for sure what happens when we do Reiki, but it sometimes seems as if we "reset" the balance between the elements of the autonomic nervous system in a healthier way.

Talking about "chakras" may make sense to us, but to physicians trained in a very conservative way, it may be hard for them to understand. Yet, if we talk about the effect of Reiki, in terms of causing relaxation, slowing the pulse, and placing our breathing in a more regular pattern, it may be easier for Western trained physicians to understand.

The other day I came home from after a long flight. I went right back to work, and a friend asked how I could do this. "I'm always tired for a couple of days after long flights" this person shared. Some time ago, I stopped worrying about flying. Once I decide to go somewhere, there simply is no sense to worrying and I may as well enjoy the journey. Now, I suppose, I use Reiki and relax. I don't let the waiting upset me and I don't let the security upset me, and when we are flying I don;t think about what might go wrong. It is sort of interesting to see how, human intellect and thinking, which should help us, can in some situations wear us out. Worrying about things we have no control over and can't do anything about wears us out. Being thankful for the opportunities we have seems to give us a chance to be calm, and to some degree heal ourselves.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Looking through a window

A few days ago, I walked back to my hospice unit late in the day, and found one of my patients sitting on a bench, dressed to leave, waiting for her ride. It was hard to imagine, as 17 days before she had been sent to us expecting to die, with widely metastatic cancer, and a bowel obstruction. "There's nothing that can be done," she had been told. And we worked with pain medication to assure comfort, and waited with her, and prayed with her.
Somehow, the bowel obstruction had relieved (at least for now). And she was sitting and waiting to go home.
I walked up to her and we took each other's hands and I told her that I prayed that she would be well and that I would see her again. I knew the cancer was not cured, and I knew this was a gift of very special time. And what I meant was really - I hope that you do not die soon, that this does not recur too soon, and she gave me this huge smile and said, "I do hope I see you again but not here, maybe walking down the street and we will pass each other by and wave hello, or, perhaps, I will be looking through a window from a store, and I will see you walking by, and I will wave!"
And I knew yet again that sometimes, things occur that we cannot understand - that while often curing is beyond our skill, caring is not.
Sometimes it is simply, as Art Buchwald wrote, "too soon to say goodbye."