- Illustration by Annie Internicola
There was no question about it: As summer was slipping away, so too was what the Chinese would call chi and the yogis would call prana—my life force energy. Whether it was a mystery virus or a chronic ailment's recurrence, something was depleting me of the vital juice that we see in such great abundance in children, that we feel when we run or dance, that we taste when we fall in love. Once it's gone, you'll do anything to get it back. So I reached out for help. For two weeks in September, I took a romp through the world of energy healing—a world that is esoteric, warm, wild, strange, mystical, earthy, and loving. I experienced a laying-on of hands at my heart center. I had aromatherapy oils feathered up my spine. I reclined on a bed under seven crystals aligned with my seven chakras. I received remote blasts of energy, and had angels and guides called up and invited to stay for a week or more. My inner skeptic raised an eyebrow, and my outer reporter asked a lot of questions, but mostly I received the gentle medicine with curiosity, openness, and a harvest-load of gratitude.
The Body Electric
You won't find any double-blind placebo trials proving the efficacy of energy healing anytime soon. You're unlikely to get a nod of approval from a white-coated MD or researcher that energy healing really works, though the medical establishment is starting to see the value of the alternative modality, which has been amping up in hospitals and hospices around the country. Reiki—the hands-on Japanese system that is the most well-known form of energy healing—is now on menus at many palliative care centers and cancer wards touting services designed to offer care on an emotional and spiritual level, and to improve quality of life. White Plains Hospital's Dickstein Cancer Center, for example, now has integrative therapies including Reiki woven into their program. It's the sign of a shift—what energy healers themselves might call an expansion of cultural consciousness or a raising of the collective frequencies. In other words, we've arrived. We're in the flow.
Still, for the uninitiated (that's most of us) energy healing remains a murky business. It is, after all, invisible, explains Simone Harari, who is trained in about 20 different holistic modalities and offers a wide variety of energy "technologies" at Simhara Portal of the Heart, her idyllic spa and wellness center in Stone Ridge. "Electricity cannot be seen, but no one questions that it's running through the wiring when we turn on the lights. When the lights stop working we call electricians to come fix the wires so the electricity can flow. I facilitate the same thing for my clients, restoring the flow through the energetic pathways in their bodies," says Harari. For people familiar with ancient healing systems like Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, and yoga, there's a whole vocabulary with which to talk about energy conduits and centers in the body, such as the chakras or wheels of energy located from the seat or root to the crown of the head. Yet whether or not we speak the lingo of energy, we all know that wilting, wanting feeling when we don't have it.
Lights, Crystals, Action
Sinking into a plush couch at Simhara, surrounded by objects of beauty and aromatherapy scents, is a kind of healing in itself. But it's nothing compared to the Raindrop Technique that Harari performs on a massage table in the adjacent treatment room. She begins at my feet, applying the first of nine essential oils in the rolling motion of Tibetan reflexology; next comes wave after wave of oils—oregano, thyme, basil, cypress, wintergreen, marjoram, aroma seiz, peppermint, and valor—whisked up my spine in alternating brush strokes. "It's not just a massage," she explains; it's energy work inspired by the Lakota Indians who would take sick tribe members on a journey to the Northern Lights to receive their healing powers. Like a band of colored light, each oil has a specific frequency or function, says Harari. "They're very supportive to the emotional, respiratory, and immune systems of the body." The oils are also antimicrobial, making the Raindrop good for colds, flus, and inflammatory conditions. I leave almost giddy—feeling ten times lighter than when I'd arrived, and smelling like an herb garden.
A few days later I'm back, this time for hands-on healing followed by a whirl on Simhara's Crystal Bed. As Harari works over me, she holds one hand on my heart as the other moves slowly in a figure-eight pattern across my torso. It isn't long before I can feel it, the energy, moving in a subtle tingling sensation as if responding to her touch, which sometimes hovers a few inches above my physical body on what some would call my aura. "I feel like the client does the work, and I'm just a conduit, a channel of light and love," she explains later. "When you allow that love to come through you to another person, the healing occurs." Next comes the Crystal Bed, which invites you to lie down under a New Age-meets-the-Jetsons contraption with seven arms, each ending in a crystal infused with colored light. I "bathe" here for 20 minutes, the lights blinking Christmas-like over my seven chakra points. Harari says that each crystal has been blessed by John of God, a Brazilian healer and spiritual channel. She tells me that my angels and guides have been invited into the room, to raise my frequency.