Energy Medicine Morning Ritual

Should you consider an energy medicine morning ritual? Good question. Here are my thoughts on that.

There are a lot of holistic and alternative techniques out there. Some are very valuable, some not so much, and, regrettably, others are downright fraudulent.

Personally, I aim to balance an open-minded attitude with a solid dose of healthy skepticism. It’s not always an easy balance to attain.

Energy Medicine encompasses a wide range of beliefs and teachings.

You’ve probably heard of the concept of Chi (life force) from Chinese medicine.

Or perhaps you’re familiar with the concept of chakras.

These are examples of aspects of energy medicine. There are lots more.

Are these valid, true concepts? Do they really describe energies that adepts are able to sense? Or are they woo-woo foolishness and wishful thinking?

I don’t have a solid answer to those questions, but I am inclined to accept that there are energies involved in wellness that Western medicine doesn’t recognize.

Still, it’s true that no one is ever seen or measured Chi, for example.

However, that may mean simply that we don’t have the proper instruments to recognize Chi.

If you look for x-rays with a telescope, you’re not going to find them.

So lacking proof, what should we do?

Here’s a question I use to help me decide about beliefs: “If I acted as if this belief was true, how would it affect my life? Would I be a better person or a worse person? Would my behavior improve or deteriorate? Would I be putting myself or others at some sort of risk?”

Using that criteria, here is an example of a belief I choose to hold as true: “People are doing the best they can with the resources they have.”

I don’t really know if that’s absolutely true or not.

However, if I act as if it is I find myself going through life with much more compassion.

I’m willing to believe that nobody chooses to be a jerk and that if we knew their life story we could understand where their poor behavior came from.

BTW -that doesn’t mean we condone inappropriate behavior. We can detest the sin while feeling compassion for the sinner.

Another criterion I like to use is the source of the teaching and whether or not someone promoted may have an ulterior motive.

If something has a long history in some healing tradition or another, I tend to treat it respectfully.

On the other hand, if something is being promoted with a big sales push and little solid evidence, the dial on my skepticism meter gets turned way up.

How does this relate to Energy Medicine?

Well, many traditions allude to various forms of life force and energies.

There does seem to be something that healers and mystics across multiple cultures have sensed. Perhaps it’s just a coincidence. Or perhaps there really is something there.

Additionally, Western science is beginning to recognize some very crude forms of what could be considered energy medicine.

For example, your beating heart sends a very powerful electromagnetic force throughout your body with every beat. The pattern of those beats contain information. We are beginning to recognize that these electromagnetic waves communicate that information to every cell in your body at the speed of light.

Those energies have always been there, but we’ve never paid much attention to any possible function.

Not only that, these electromagnetic waves radiate out from your body to others. It’s possible to detect traces of one person’s heartbeat pattern in another person’s EEG (brainwave) pattern, even if there is no direct contact between them!

We can expect to see a lot more research along these lines in the coming years.

On the ulterior motive side, many of the techniques evoked to manipulate energy are free or very low cost. They also are generally safe. There doesn’t seem to be much downside.

Additionally, many have proven benefits beyond any theoretical effect on your energy fields.

A good example of this is meditation. Multiple scientific studies demonstrate profound health benefits from a regular practice of meditation.

Even more profoundly, new dynamic brain scanning techniques show that meditation changes the actual physical structure of the brain.

I think you can tell I’m leaning toward accepting at least the possibility that energetic factors influence our health and well-being.

As part of that, I’ve incorporated an energy medicine ritual into my morning routine.

One of the people whose work I follow is Donna Eden.

Donna claims to be able to see or sense nine separate energy systems that are active in all of us. She also has developed routines to help clear and reorganize blocked or confused energies.

Is this really true? I don’t know. I do know that people who work with her appear to achieve great results. Maybe it’s a powerful placebo effect, or maybe she really is straightening out energies. Either way, people get good results.

One of the things he recommends is an energy clearing routine to do once or twice a day. Sort of the energetic equivalent of brushing your teeth.

I’ve started doing it every morning. If nothing else, it’s a general stretching get-moving-in-the-morning routine. I like to do this, then some gentle calisthenics followed by a 12-minute meditation (I listen to a binaural recording time for 12 minutes).

I enjoy this morning routine and I think it helps me get my days off to a good start. There’s certainly is no downside to it.

I suggest you give it a try and see how you respond.

In this video, Donna leads you through one version of her energy clearing/balancing routine. If nothing else, I think you agree that she herself radiates a positive, joyful energy. Have fun trying it!



Here’s a video I really like.

For one thing, it’s a love story with a happy ending and I’m always a fan of those.

More to the point here, on a website about wellness and vitality, is the message about a positive outlook.

We tend to find what we look for. We also tend to get more of what we focus on.

If we look for reasons to mistrust people or focus on some annoying quirk they have that’s all were likely to see.

Validation shows us what the opposite approach might yield, what it might be like to look for the best in everyone and appreciate then and their good points.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. And I hope you feel validated in your own life.

Great Movie Dance Scenes Mash Up

Sometimes I like to post a video just for fun.  This is one of those times.

This video is a mash up of dance scenes from over 60 classic movies timed perfectly to Uptown Funk by Bruno Mars. It’s great fun. Click play to see what I mean.

I have a lot of respect for the film buff who had both the knoweledge base and the patience to put this clip together.

A Nobel Man Reflects

It’s no secret that has become hyper partisan. It appears that the public at large has lost faith in the institutions of government.

Unfortunately, politicians’ actions justify that loss of faith.

How many former governors are in prison now? Here in New York state we’ve had a disgraced governor as well as a steady stream of government officials convicted of corruption.

I won’t agitate by going into details about recent controversies at the national level. We are all to painfully aware of just what they are.

Given all this, it’s good to remind ourselves that many, and I like to think the majority of, politicians truly work as public servants. They want to do the right thing, govern wisely and help society.

I suggest to you that one such politician is Vice President Joe Biden.

Mr. Biden attended Syracuse University. The town I live in is about 30 miles away. A lot of people in this area knew him when he was a student and after he gradualted. Everyone I’ve talked to that had any interaction with him has only good things to say. By all accounts, he’s a genuinely good guy.

His Note to Myself video below outlines the trajectory of his life. Regardless of your politics, you can’t help but admire his persistence in the face of adversity, his resilience after tragedy,  and the power of his spiritual faith and love of family.

I consider myself an independent and don’t agree with a lot of Mr. Biden’s positions. Even so, I still consider him an honorable man and a worthy politician. He’s restored at least a little of my respect for the system.

Watch the video and judge for yourself.


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In the interest of full disclosure, part of the reason I relate to Vice President may be because I’m also named Joe and I had a speech impediment when I was younger.

How I got over that speech impediment is a story for another day, a story of human kindness and how small acts can profoundly affect a person’s life.

The Ultimate Brief Psychotherapy

I’ve always thought that Bob Newhart is hilarious. Maybe that’s because he was one of my dad’s favorite comedians. We had a vinyl LP of his Button-Down Mind recording that was on heavy play rotation when I was growing up.

But who knew that Bob was such an effective therapist (even though he played one on TV)?

Check out the video to see what I mean. And although this is a comic skit it has real applications. After the video I’ll give you one example of how I used Bob’s “two words” in real life…

I’m sure you know that I don’t mean to trivialize psychotherapy in general or the suffering that people with serious psychological issues experience.

Still, I think we can become a little self-absorbed and sometimes taking a step back can be healthy.

Here’s a story about how I use the “stop it!” Approach in real life.

My wife Jackie is a breast surgeon (can you imagine the wonderful dinner table conversations our son grew up with?). She’s a wonderful woman and a very skilled surgeon. She’s also a spiritual seeker.

As a result, she’s often invited to speak on a variety of “alternative” topics. For example, she’s giving a keynote address at a conference on spirituality and medicine that’s coming up soon.

Even though Jackie has been on a spiritual path for years and continues to learn and grow (one example, she just came back from a ten-day Centering Prayer retreat), she has difficulty seeing herself as a teacher in these areas.

It’s a little bit odd, really. She’s not afraid of public speaking. If you asked her to give an hour talk on the genetics of breast cancer or anything else about breast health – no problem.

It’s talking about things like spirituality or belief systems that make her uneasy. She’s not willing to accept that she is indeed qualified to speak on these subjects. She also “doesn’t want to be anyone’s guru.”

So there’s a predictable pattern I’ve recognize over the years. The organizers of some event will contact Jackie months ahead of time to ask her to present.

Because the event is a long time off and Jackie does want to support the people asking her, she agrees.

She usually mentions it to me and then it drops off the radar until it comes time to prepare.

About two weeks before the presentation, she mentions it more often. Now insecurity and even a little bit of annoyance creeping in. “Who am I to do this?” “This is a pain. I don’t have the time.”, “Why did I ever agree.”… 

This kind of chatter increases in frequency and intensity right up until the day of the talk.  She’s no fun to be with.

Well, not completely miserable, but not her usual charming self.

Mention doing anything and: “I can’t, I have to get ready for this {expletive} talk…”

The thing is, her talks always go great. She actually enjoys them after the fact and gets tremendously positive feedback.

The reality is people benefit greatly from hearing of her experiences and insights. Her humble manner makes the message even more powerful.

The pattern is obvious and completely predictable, so you think she’d recognize it and just let it go. But no…

So not too long ago she had a spirituality and medicine talk coming up. A few night’s before, we were out on the deck around sunset. She’s reciting the usual litany about why giving the talk is a crummy idea and how she’d never going to agree to do another one, and yada, yada, yada…

It was the usual for this stage pre-talk. And as usual, this kind of negative self-talk was completely unproductive. Not only didn’t help her prepare for the talk, it was keeping her from enjoying the beautiful evening (we do have some very nice sunsets in our backyard).

At first, I responded in my usual way by pointing out how well her talks are always received, why she’s qualified to speak, etc. That was as successful at perking her up as it always is, which is not at all.

As she started reiterating again how bad this talk thing was, I had a different idea.

Trying to channel my best Bob Newhart imitation, I near-shouted:

“Stop It!”

Fortunately, Jackie had seen the video and got the joke. It was fun to laugh. And I think it helped Jackie reframe her thinking about the talk.

The skit is meant to be humorous and irreverent. Still, it has grain of truth in it.

Controlling our thoughts is one of the most important skills we need to acquire in life. Too often we get stuck in “thought ruts,” thinking the same low-quality thoughts over and over.

Something as simple as mentally shouting “Stop It!” when we catch ourselves in a poor pattern truly can be therapeutic.

Worry is one form of low quality thought (you can read my article on worry here).

Jackie often deals with worry in her practice as a breast surgeon. In fact, when we first watched the skit, she said “I do that with my patients.”
Not as bluntly as Bob Newhart of course.

And she uses a different phrase. The phrase she uses is “Don’t go there.”

Hearing that you have breast cancer is never easy.

For that matter, it’s also not easy to tell someone that they have cancer. Bringing both compassion and expertise to the conversation is one of the most important roles a physician can play. Part of the art of medicine is judging just what approach is best for each individual.

Often, when a woman learns of the diagnosis, she goes into a worry mode about what the future might hold. Jackie listens for a while, then advises the woman “Don’t go there.”

She explains that a successful outcome is the most likely future (these days, that’s the truth), and if anything unpleasant does come up they’ll deal with it then.

In the meantime, if the woman is going to imagine anything in the future, it’s much more accurate and productive to imagine growing old together with her family and loved ones.

Mental state really does influence physical health. Jackie knows this at her core and is passionate about helping her patients deal successfully with the psychological stress of breast cancer and its treatment. Her skills in that area probably help her patients more than her notable abilities in the OR.

Enough of that aside…

Again, I hope you took this skit in the light hearted way it was intended. Who knows? You just might find those two words really useful as you take them out in the world.