The Price of Healing

To embrace your highest health and well being, what would you be willing to give up?

A few weeks ago, in a post called “Pulling Weeds, Seeking Health,” I shared my electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) woes, as well as the beneficial, healing effect of being barefoot on the earth—especially in regards to the so-called “electromagnetic smog” (EMF’s, RF’s, ELF’s, and ‘dirty’ electricity) that invisibly saturates much of modern life.

Yet in spite of my ‘earthing’ time, whether weeding the garden or walking with bare soles along the seashore, I wasn’t noticeably improving. In fact, I felt that I was getting slightly worse and that my EHS was rapidly becoming a disability (as is the case for many sufferers who have become totally debilitated).

Fate moves in mysterious ways, I always say.

Roughly a year ago, back when I was in California only part time, my dear friends here suggested that I should meet a doctor they know, a woman who is both a western MD as well as an acupuncturist, an unusual combination of allopathic and alternative approaches to healing. I didn’t feel in need of a doctor at the time, and she was booked far in advance, but recently, as I struggled with my EHS and feeling poorly on most levels, with my dear mate growing steadily more concerned, I decided I would go see her for a consultation. I would get a comprehensive blood test done, simply to rule out that there wasn’t some other factor at play in my struggles, and hopefully she would help me take a step or two towards health again.

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A favorite seaside bench with early California poppies

I liked her immediately. As she listened to my symptoms and story, then read my pulses Asian-style and palpated my various abdominal organs, her opinion was that I was “saturated” with others’ energy; too many years of working as a healer, of not being properly ‘shielded’ in those exchanges or disconnected afterwards, and I had simply filled up with other client’s ‘stuff’. Not your everyday diagnosis.

“As empaths, we have to learn how to take care of ourselves when working with people,” she gently reminded me.

Curiously, saturated is the exact word I have been using for some time to describe what happens to me electrmagnetically; I’m functional up to a certain point of exposure (working on the computer, talking on a phone, etc.), but then I hit the ever elusive saturation point, and suddenly I’m ill and can’t tolerate anything electrical (WiFi and Bluetooth being especially problematic) for a couple of days… or longer.

I drooped like a wilted flower, feeling poorly enough that I would pretty much try anything. Along with some specific recommendations, she referred me to a medical Qi Gong master, a “wild man,” she called him, who works specifically with the human energy field. Great, I thought, I like anyone in the healing arts described as a wild man (or woman), a white or green witch, or a shaman. The world could certainly use more of us.

I’ve been in the alternative health field for more than two decades. It forms the cornerstone of my life, everything from healthy diet and fresh-pressed juices to pure essential oils and “clearing space”; I don’t raise an eyebrow at talk of meridians, chakras, or the bioenergetic life force we call chi, qi, prana, or mana. For in my own work with clients, through the messages and images that arrive when I lay hands on people, I know for a fact that the material realm (physical body included) is but one small facet of reality, and that many other spheres exist—emotional, mental, spiritual, astral.

White haired, spritely, barefooted and dressed in black, at close to seventy the Qi Gong master buzzes with more energy than most thirty-year olds. He talks unexpectedly in strange voices and laughs repeatedly, mostly at his own humor, all the while radiating a sense that he could throw you across the room in a second or knock you flat with the flick of a wrist. He immediately shared the doctor’s assessment that I was full of other people’s ‘stuff’—he is able to see the energy field and into the body—along with old mental conditioning and unresolved emotions of my own. 

He sat directly in front of me and took hold of both my wrists, staring me in the eye.

“Yeah man, you’re carrying a lot of stuff, and a bunch of it isn’t yours because, see, your field is full of holes. And there’s a lot of shit that you’re not telling me, but that’s okay, it’ll all come out eventually. We’ll get you cleaned up and you’re gonna feel a whole lot better.”

Our two-hour session defies easy or logical explanation; to most people, it would seem pretty woo woo or airy-fairy. And yet, it is always the realm of the invisibles—bonds between atoms, electricity passing through wires or between brain cells, or waves of love from the heart—that holds the cosmos together. 

“No alcohol, no bath, and no electronic devices until tomorrow,” he instructed me afterwards as we scheduled a follow-up session in three days time. “Have you ever heard of ‘earthing’?”

“I write about it in my column almost every week,” I chuckled.

“Great! You need to do that every day. Bare feet on the earth, half an hour. Even better, man, go put your feet in the ocean.”

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A view from the coastal bench

I departed his office feeling lighter, clearer, and energized, as if I’d somehow dropped ten pounds and had a nice cup of tea. Driving just south of town, I left my shoes in the car and walked along a favorite shoreline dirt path where, at the water’s edge, I waded in the foaming waves as they rushed onshore. Then I sat for nearly an hour on an old wooden bench, watching a California sea otter float on its back and frolic just offshore, and cast my soul to the endless blue expanse of ocean and sky.

I feel fantastic, I thought.

A few hours later at home, however, laying on the sofa I’d been hit by a freight truck. Unable to keep my eyes open, I fell asleep for an hour, after which it was all I could do to rise and feed the dogs, and to throw together some sautéed organic vegetables and quinoa for my own meal. It seemed a Herculean effort and afterward I promptly collapsed again; I was in bed by eight-thirty and slept soundly until seven the following morning.

The next day found me decidedly better, the best I’d felt in weeks, and even more improved the day following that, all while quietly amazed. His prediction was that I would feel good for about three days but then need to return for another session. Sure enough, on the third day I began to backslide, feeling wobbly again, yet immediately after our follow-up that afternoon, I was on the upswing once more.

“It’s like peeling an onion. Each time another layer comes free. You’ve done a lot of work on yourself, I can tell, because your stuff is loose and ready to come off, and that’s good. Then we can get down to the deeper levels.”

I have returned to the Qi Gong master for a couple more sessions in the past two weeks, with the result that I am stronger each day; honestly, I feel better than I have in years. While I am still electromagnetically hypersensitive, I’ve always been this way to a certain degree, it’s nowhere as extreme as it has been, and I’m definitely emerging from the disability zone.

One of the wild man’s suggestions, however, is that I cease seeing clients for an indefinite period. This is challenging advice, as it curtails most of my income.

“If I stop seeing clients, I can’t afford to come and see you,” I half joked, already weighing the impact of such a bold move.

“You’re stabilizing,” he shrugged, clear blue eyes holding me in an intense gaze, “and you’ll figure it out.”

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Anonymous wildflower bouquet at the beach

After mulling it over during a couple of barefoot rambles along the shore, listening to the thunder of crashing waves and the cries of gulls overhead, I have decided to take at least a full month off from giving sessions. Unsettling as it seems at the financial level, I have informed my regular clients that I’m on indefinite hiatus, and turned away three new people this week.

Simultaneously, in alignment with one of the mysterious ‘messages’ I often receive, I’m putting all my energy and intention into the work of editing the new manuscript. And there’s spending time barefoot on the earth with senses open and heart ajar—praising and celebrating the beauty that surrounds. Listening to the wordless song of the world, and singing back in response.

In a fully authentic existence, each of us must ask what we are willing to sacrifice for our deepest well being. Can we give up something we cling to, knowing that the process of relinquishing it—food that isn’t good for us, alcohol, work, any sort of addiction, an unhealthy relationship—may not be an easy one? What will we rationalize or justify to ourselves in order to keep holding on, even if our very livelihood is at stake? 

Friend, as with following the soul’s summons, sometimes the price of healing is high. Yet in considering what distance I am willing to go to reach that deep core of well being, the answer is patently clear: very far indeed.

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