James Dillard, M.D., D.C., C.Ac., on Why Energy Healing Is Often Considered “Woo-Woo”

By: Loolwa Khazzoom, Founder, Dancing with Pain

June 26th, 2008 • Mind-Body MedicinePrint Print

Loolwa Khazzoom: Why is energy healing often considered “woo-woo”?

James Dillard: The vast majority of people who would say that energy work or energy medicine is “woo woo” are also people who hold strong religious beliefs. For example, Christians believe that there was a man who lived in a whale, believe that there was a talking snake in the Garden of Eden, believe that Jesus was able to turn a little tiny bit of food into enough loaves to be able to feed a huge multitude.

And I can go into the Torah and the Talmud in the Jewish tradition. I can talk about some of the miracles that are mentioned in the Koran. My point is that there’s sort of a double standard.

There are many people who would reject out of hand the notion that there is any such thing as biomedicine, or that it could have any effect on how we feel, on our health. If you question those same people closely, you’ll find that they hold personal beliefs which are purely metaphysical and defy all the rules of physics and the physical world.

I don’t say this to be critical, because I’m very respectful of people’s religious beliefs and religious freedom. I think religion is tremendously important. I would just ask those people to reconsider looking at something like energy medicine and rejecting it out of hand because it seems bizarre or “woo-woo” — simply because it’s not something that’s based upon physical laws or something that can be measured in a laboratory right now.

I would ask them to examine some of their own beliefs, some of their own spiritual systems, and consider whether there are things they believe in that also defy the laws of physics and engineering, that also cannot be measured in the laboratory. In other words, my point is I’d like to see an even footing, a fairness about these things.

We don’t know what’s going on with the whole notion of energy medicine and healing, but you know what? We don’t know about lots of things. And I think that we all need to be able to accept and embrace some of the mystery that goes into health, wellness, healing, how we feel, life, death, disease, our own perceptions.

There’s a tremendous amount of mystery here. And I think we have to be humble in the face of that. We have to be less judgmental and accepting that there are things we don’t know, and that’s OK. It’s actually kind of nice.

LK: Do you think that maybe this double standard is rooted in the fact that in the case of Jesus or Mohammed, these are authority figures outside of us? Is there perhaps a mythological air to whatever happened thousands of years ago, somewhere else — as opposed to energy healing that we can do on ourselves, right here, right now? Do you think there’s almost a fear of self-empowerment, tied into this distinction between a do-it-yourself approach and a defer-to-authority approach?

JD: I think the issue of authority that you bring up is an important one, and it’s also a matter of the familiar vs. the unfamiliar. The Koran and the Torah and the Bible have been around for, well, thousands of years, at least in terms of the Torah and the Bible. The Koran is a little bit more recent.

For some reason, because they were created 2,000 years ago, they carry tremendous weight. But those books — all of them — also make reference to certain kinds of spiritual healing. There’s tons of spiritual healing that goes on in the bible. Not only Jesus, but also his disciples practiced spiritual healing.

So just because it’s unfamiliar doesn’t mean it’s unfamiliar. If we get quiet and look at what it is we believe, and look at our religious traditions, these things are actually immensely familiar. So it’s just a matter of looking at energy healing from a different position, a different angle — without prejudice and without judgment. There’s no conflict here.

I have an Episcopalian minister who comes to me, and I do acupuncture and qi-gong with him. This is someone who has recently started to pursue becoming a Reiki master.

This is an older, very sort of stodgy, straight-laced Episcopal minister with a big flock, a big congregation, and he’s embracing something that is completely congruent with his role as a minster, as a pastor, as a priest in the Anglican faith. His position is that acupuncture and qi-gong are completely in alignment with his seminary training and his ministry, and he is able to integrate them completely. He’s not doing the work of the devil. He’s truly ministering to his flock, by becoming a Reiki master.

James N. Dillard, M.D., D.C., C.Ac., is one of the leading pain specialists in America and the author of numerous books on chronic pain, including The Chronic Pain Solution. His many media appearances have included The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, and the CBS Evening News. He served as an assistant clinical professor at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons for 12 years and also was the Medical Director of Columbia’s Rosenthal Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. He resigned from employment at Columbia in 2006, to go exclusively into private practice in Manhattan and in Stamford, CT.



Comments

Ian Stone June 29th, 2008

I agree with James, as a practising Catholic and Energy Healer, I am totally comfortable with both. My understanding is that Jesus used similar methods to heal people in Biblical times, that many Energy Healers use today. In fact Jesus said: You can do all that I do and more; or words to that effect. When it is broken down Energy Healing can often be very similar to a Prayer.

Let me clarify, often we are invoking a healing for a person, in a very specific way for a specific problem or incident and if invoked correctly that change happens almost instantly at the Spiritual or Energy level of that person. The physical manifesting of that healing may take that person’s natural healing process a few days or more to appear.

As we gain more knowledge and learn the specific methods; instant healing in the physical is possible and happening every day around the world. Just like the miracles of the Biblical times; yet although we have heard or even seen some of these miracles we seem to discount them because they mystify science and seem beyond explanation

With Love
Ian Stone – Founder of HEART Energy Healing System,
Human Energy Assessment Release Treatments
Metaphysical Institute
Metaphysical Institute Blog

Reiki Guide November 1st, 2009

Interesting blog post. What would you say was the most common problem?

Therese Johnson January 5th, 2011

As a practicing Catholic when I first learned of Reiki at first I was skeptical and wondered if it would be a conflict with my faith but because my Reikimaster was a nun who had a degree in theology who reassured me that it would not conflict with my faith but enhance it I was Ok and very excited about it.
Since I was a teenager I had been rather intuitive and at one point had started to develop my intuitive skills but then got scared and decided to not pursue it further.
In reading some history on Energy healing you will find that it was reserved for the upper classes and only the Bishops of the church were allowed to use it as they were also the doctors of the times and anyone else professing to use their techniques were condemned as witches.
So it has passed on down through the ages in our societies culture and gotten a bad rap .Thus the so called phony faith healers and snake oil salesman were a sign of the times and did nothing to help our lot today.
For many years Reiki was not assessable to the layman only the rich as it was  $10,000.00 or more to receive a Reiki attunement .
And yes Jesus did say you will do greater things than I and that statement is what led Dr. Usui the Reiki founder who was asked by his students if what Jesus said is true then how do we do it?
This set Dr. Usui on his quest to find the answer.And in Japan you will see the memorial to Dr. Usui at the foot of the famous Mt. Kurama where he climb to the top and stayed for 21 days searching for the answer and where he was given the Sacred Symbols and secret to accessing  the  Reiki energy.
To learn more see my website for class dates and times.

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