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Energy Healing 101

For most people the body is a solid tangible entity and the core reality of their existence. They forget that everything in this universe and beyond is energy and besides what is visible to the naked eye is a whole other subtle world that influences our reality. Without this energy or life force (chi or prana in eastern traditions) the body would simply be a corpse.

Our thoughts, emotions, and feelings emit a frequency, an energy if you will, that is palpable if you are discerning. Everyone is aware of this at some deep level but often dismisses it for things perceived by the senses. Regular folk who walk on sites that used to be concentration camps or battlefields can sense the pain, fear, and despair because these places are drenched in those energies. On the flip side when people visit a monastery, meditation center or place of worship they can feel the peace and almost always come back feeling good.

Think about it. Some places or people always make you feel peaceful and calm while others trigger unpleasant emotions. So what is it you are picking up on? Surely not the external appearance of things! Someone could be smiling at you and quietly cursing you in their head and somehow you know. You are picking up on their energy.

Apart from the physical body we all have an energy body that is greatly influenced by the food we eat, our predominant emotions and thoughts, all of which are different forms of energy. This energy influences our physiology and as a result our body. This is probably old news. Doctors have been talking about the mind-body connection for several years now. But what is interesting is that more and more doctors and hospitals are offering alternative and energy healing therapies in addition to regular treatment options.

My introduction to energy medicine came at a young age. A Reiki Master came to my college and gave a talk on energy healing and I was instantly drawn to it. I did my Reiki Level 1 with my Reiki Master, Nirupama Prasad. After that I was doing hands-on healing for family and friends and also started meditating on a regular basis. I ended up doing Reiki Level 2 as well, which allowed me to do distant healing. I sent Reiki to my babies when I was pregnant and both my kids were born healthy and through normal delivery. I have this on again and off again relationship with Reiki for several years now. But a few years ago I noticed a great surge of energy every time I did Reiki. My daughter started believing in Reiki after I got Lucky, our cat, to sit on my lap while I did Reiki. She closed her eyes, became very still and seemed to enjoy it. As a matter of fact, animals and plants respond very well to Reiki.

So what is Reiki? It is cosmic or divine energy (prana or chi) that is all around us. Reiki healers can channel this energy through their body and out of their hands to the patient. They don’t draw their own energy. This is important to note because some people worry that the Reiki healer’s energy will get depleted because they are sharing it with others. Contrary to this notion, healers feel energized after a Reiki session. They allow the divine energy to flow through them and fill them up before channeling it to the patient.

Reiki treatments are very effective for aches and pains. After a couple of treatments, the pain subsides or completely disappears. The patient also feels relaxed, sleeps better, and is emotionally balanced after a session. There are stories out there about Reiki curing cancer, reversing hearing loss,  and healing bones. I did Reiki for A when she broke her elbow. She reminded me that the cast came off two weeks before it was supposed to. The orthopedic surgeon was surprised and asked us if she had eaten a lot of cheese!

Over the years I’ve been wary of openly proclaiming the miraculous powers of Reiki or energy healing. Many thought I was weird, out there, cray cray, cuckoo for talking about it. But these days Reiki has become more mainstream and less “out there” and “alternative”. There are doctors in Duke Hospital who are also Reiki healers. Duke even offers Reiki Level 1 and 2 as part of their integrative medicine initiative.

I was surprised the other day when “Saving Hope” a medical drama series that explores near death experiences introduced a Reiki healer talking about the heart chakra of a comatose patient. Usually the media stereotype for spiritual or new age folk is a blundering fool who talks funny and can’t fit in with regular folk who constantly poke fun at their weird rituals. So it was refreshing to see that the surgeon in this serial wanted to give Reiki a shot to save her patient.

Alternative medicine (acupressure, acupuncture, Reiki, naturopathy, homeopathy, etc.) is gaining more acceptance. People are beginning to wake up to the fact that there is more to life than just this body and material acceptance. Also they are tired of popping pills and dealing with side effects. While alternative medicine cannot completely replace Western medicine, it can surely hasten the healing and reduce side effects. And more and more doctors and patients are becoming aware of this.

My aunt can’t pop pills when she is in pain since she is allergic to several pain killers. So I find myself doing Reiki for her whenever she is dealing with pain. These days she refuses to go see a doctor and insists that Reiki will heal her.

After the accident, I plunged into Reiki and meditation with renewed vigor. A month ago I was a nervous wreck – weepy, emotional, withdrawn, and barely able to function. After a month of Reiki and meditation, I feel more balanced, positive, and in control. I drove again for the first time after the accident and wasn’t crippled by fear or anxiety. It’s a miracle! I never thought I’d get out of it. I thought my old fear of driving would possess me, now that it had some external validation.

I decided to offer Reiki to people outside of my immediate circle because I have witnessed its immense power and miraculous results. If you are still skeptical, give it a shot. You’ll be surprised at the results. I always am!

If you have any questions or need more information please share them in the comments section and I will be more than happy to go deeper into this subject.


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The Story of the Temple

Here’s the story of the famous temple in South India where people celebrate their 60th, 70th, 75th, and 80th birthdays, and where we celebrated my dad’s 70th birthday. There once lived a sage who was a great devotee of Shiva. Every day he would joyfully offer his prayers to Shiva. One day however the sage was a little downcast when doing his daily poojas. Shiva appeared before him and asked him why he was not his usual happy self. The sage told Shiva that he had no children and that was the cause of his misery. Shiva smiled and blessed him with a baby boy. But he warned the sage that the boy would only live till the age of sixteen. The sage was ecstatic and he named the boy Markandeya. When the boy turned five, his father taught him how to do Shiva pooja. The boy prayed to Lord Shiva every day without fail. When he was going to turn sixteen, his distraught parents told him that his end was near.

On his 16th birthday, Markandeya was praying to Shiva when Yama, the god of death came for him. Yama told Markandeya that his time was up and that he had to go with him. Markandeya ignored him and continued with his pooja. Yama repeatedly called the boy but he refused to go with him. Yama, livid with rage, took his noose and threw it around the boy. Unfortunately, Yama’s noose fell over Shiva’s idol. Shiva flew into a rage and annihilated Yama.

Shiva granted Markandeya the boon of immortality, so he would stay 16 forever. Markandeya was so grateful to Shiva that he travelled from one Shiva temple to another singing 16 verses in praise of Shiva. The last temple which also happened to be the 108th temple he visited was Thirukadaiyur. “Kadaisi” means last in Tamil. The deity in this temple is Shiva accompanied by Markandeya and a vanquished Yama underfoot. Abirami, Shiva’s consort is flanked by Saraswati, the goddess of learning, and Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Right across from the deity is a shrine for Yama.

The story goes that after Yama was vanquished, there were no deaths on earth, but the births continued unabated. Mother Earth went running to Lord Shiva lamenting that the burden was too much for her to bear. She begged Shiva to do something. Shiva in his infinite mercy released Yama and gave him back his powers. With Yama back in his post, births and deaths were balanced out and Mother Earth heaved a sigh of relief.

The number 16 shows up in the temple quite often. They performed 16 homams for my Dad’s 70th birthday. Sixteen kalashams or pots of water were poured on my parents. The priests recited the 16 verses composed by Markandeya and we had to do 16 namaskarams or prostrations. The belief is that people who visit this temple will also be granted a long, happy, and prosperous life. And I do wish that for my parents and for my aunts and uncle who accompanied us.


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Prayer 101

I imagined myself to be a very spiritual person even when I was a child. I lit the lamp everyday after my bath and prayed to all the deities my Dad prayed to. I read spiritual books and did yoga and meditation in college. And by then I had an obnoxiously swollen spiritual ego. Like I was above it all. Better than everyone else. Never did I realize that all this was just at the surface level. That you have to delve deeper into the spirit realm to know God.

It’s easy to do all the stuff I did in the name of spirituality, when life is peachy and you have rose petals strewn over your life path. Little did I know that yonder lay thorns, cliffs, deep ravines, white waters and steep waterfalls.

I had left Chennai and was in Pondicherry University to do my Masters. It was the first time that pampered little me had left the comforts of my home and family. And how did I deal with it? Horribly. I went home every chance I could, every weekend, every holiday. I didn’t like the course, or the food they served in the mess or the weather. And before I knew it I had quit and come back home. I felt awful for doing that. Now I had nothing to do. I had to wait another 6 months to get into any college. All my friends were studying or working and I felt all alone. Feelings of worthlessness and sadness engulfed me and I asked why. What did I do wrong? Why won’t you help me? You who I prayed to every single day.

In those dark moments I spent with me and woe-is-me thoughts, I got no answer. The desperation grew and I never saw myself coming out of it. I felt like I was going crazy. Turning into a nut job. Pretty soon I’d be shut away in an asylum and I felt even more sorry for myself. Nobody will miss me. Nobody wants this sad person in their life. Nobody needs me. They are better off without me. I’m a blot on their otherwise perfect life.

Of course, I had abandoned God and religion and everyone and everything by then. I hit rockbottom and that’s when my family knew I needed help and they intervened. I received the help and I got out of the hole I had put myself into. But something shifted in me. I couldn’t express it in words then, but looking back it was like being given a second chance, being born again. I felt enormous gratitude. Even though I had given up God, She/He hadn’t given up on me. I had to go through my struggles to emerge with a deeper understanding of God. God is not in the idols, not in the rituals, not in all the stuff in the outer level. God is a presence. A quiet presence. God doesn’t beat drums to announce his presence or say – Behold! Here I am. He works quietly and inscrutable are his ways. Inscrutable to the human mind. You can only feel that presence in your heart.

It’s not to say that I took all that suffering in my stride. I was resentful about it for numerous years. Very few people know about that part of my life. Now, years later I see it for what it is. A push towards higher consciousness. The understanding that God was with me then as he is with me now, carrying me through the pain even without my knowing it. I have learnt and grown through it and have the courage to share it with you in the hopes that you will find strength in these words.

So what is prayer? Constant communion with God. Reciting passages of holy books. Chanting mantras. It can be a lot of things to a lot of people. But this is the definition that I really like. Because there are two parts to a conversation. The talking and the listening. Prayer and meditation. Prayer is you tallking to God and meditation is listening to Her/Him. Most of us say our prayers but forget to sit still, quiet our minds and listen to God or inner guidance which comes from a much higher plane of consciousness if you will.

If the word meditation scares you or you think it is only for sages in the Himalayas or yogis in Indian jungles, think again! Just sit still for 5 minutes everyday and focus on your breath. This in itself is a powerful meditation. Try it now. Close your eyes (maybe after you read this entire paragraph!). Take a deep breath. Breathe in. Feel the air entering your nostrils and filling you up. Feel your diaphragm pushing downwards. Feel your stomach pushing outwards to allow more air into your body. Now exhale and focus on the air coming out of your nostrils. Your diaphragm moving up and your stomach squeezing in, emptying your lungs. Repeat and repeat. Now open your eyes. You didn’t have to go to the Himalayas to do that! You can do this everyday in the comfort of you home, in your car, in your cubicle. Sit still and follow your breath and all the inspiration you need will come to you. All the peace you always wanted will emerge from within you. And you will feel that presence as it whispers – I am here. Right here. Within you all the time…