In the summer of 2006, after a stormy period that did not leave a single area of my life untouched or intact, I asked the universe: ” Now what do we do ?”
And within a moment, the answer arose: “Energy Medicine”
This really surprised me. I did not know what it meant, but soon it became apparent that this was my new direction and the years to come were about exploring the deeper meaning and purpose of this instigation.
Earlier that week I had resigned from my job and had free time at hand to simply enjoy summer, the city and my freedom. In addition I took the opportunity to immerse myself in the teachings of a spiritual master I had just met. He had opened an unexpected door for me and so I attended teachings, took classes and private consultations. With an open mind and a heart full full of awe, I was taught the ropes of spiritual laws, Kundalini yoga and the Kabbalah, in a very practical and applicable fashion. At the same time I found Caroline Myss and I really owe it to her that it started to click. Her “Anatomy of the Spirit”, provided so many instances of deep recognition and opened a new way of thinking about medicine, and energy medicine in particular. It basically gave me the structure and words to bring forward what I knew to be true on a deep level, but lacked the wisdom to integrate.
And so I was ready for my own blend of holistic medicine.
In December 2006 I moved back to Europe, to the city I grew up in and where my family still lived. It was quite a surprise for everyone when, matter-of-factly, I returned and announced I was done with the industry and did not want another corporate job.
I still had my medical license and so I found myself a nice apartment and opened a small, private practice.
I bought boxes of acupuncture needles and moxa gear, dusted off my old books on Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine, and (re)embarked on my journey of holistic medicine, that I had all but abandoned many years ago.
How it all began…
Early on, still in my hospital days, I noticed the ability to intuit the cause of diseases, but it was something that rather confused me. I would look at someone and understood the language of symptoms and the significance of location. I also discovered that people will tell you what was wrong with them within the first three minutes of a consultation. Usually it had nothing to do with lifestyle, genetics or susceptibility of pathology. No, symptoms were like a secret language, quite graphic and very accurate. But while I sensed I was on the right track, I also understood that I did not have the required knowledge, wisdom and experience to guide others through their healing on a holistic level. It was the beginning of a lifelong search, exploring ancient holistic medical systems, alternative treatments and the wisdom and methods of healing.
In my late twenties I began to travel to India on my quest to explore the ancient art of Ayurvedic medicine. At first this was quite a culture shock, as well as a pretty tedious and strenuous undertaking, but I was lucky to have found a teacher who understood to bridge Eastern and Western thinking and philosophy. This was my first hand experience with a holistic medical system, built on five elements and three fundamental energies, that govern the human body, but also is in tune with nature and the laws of the universe – and a prompting to not dismiss my knowledge of Western Medicine, but rather seek for opportunities to integrate.
Chöd – feeding the demon
On one of these extended stays in India, I decided to leave the hustle and bustle of the sacred city of Varanasi and go to the mountains. I spent many hours on trains, busses and taxis until I reached the foothills of the Himalayas.
It was two days before Christmas when I arrived at my destination, I was coughing and came down with a high fever. When I recovered, about a week later, I was told there was an indefinite strike, all the tourist had left in the previous days, roadblocks prevented any further transportation to the next train station, and so I ended up being stuck as the only foreigner in the breathtaking hill-town of Darjeeling.
This was not so bad after all, as I found lodging in the quite scenic, yet a bit creaky “Hotel Windamere”, whose owner, the daughter of a famous Buddhist scholar, liked to talk with me and turned out to know much about the healing arts.
One day she took me to a local Tibetan Lama who performed the ritual of Chöd, an ancient shamanic practice that is using the emotion of fear to literally cut through the knots of the mind. Watching the ritual, I was simultaneously fascinated and abhorred, as it included the use of frightening masks, human and animal bones, bells, a hand-drum and a tight bone trumpet.
It required the recitation of a long meditative text, dancing and all sorts of frightful sounds. The practitioner is supposed to visualise the dismemberment, cooking and offering if his own body as food to all kinds demons ad spirits. Symbolically it means the “sacrifice” of one’s own life to satisfy the demons, to help them by giving them what they really need. Chöd was routinely used to cure people with all sorts of “demon possessions”, as well as unspecific ailments like chronic headache etc, and it seemed to work wonders. My host patiently explained everything and I visited the lama a few more times to watch the ritual. I was explained that Chöd, like all tantric practices, had outer, inner and secret parts to it.
This experience seems relevant because it was the first time I came in touch with “Energy Healing”, a practice that would bypass several levels of the body, mind, soul entity and work directly with the energy body. However, it took over twenty years for me to come back to it, with a broader understanding and also a readiness to go deeper.
AS an aside, it is curious that the practice of Chöd stayed with me since the time of being stuck in Darjeeling. I used a simplified version many times when I had to deal with fearful patterns and shortly after my arrival back in Vienna, I came across a modern-day lama who taught a marvelous sword practice based on Chöd.
On my quest to find a holistic approach to medicine, something that was as practical, as it was effective, I tried many avenues. Acupuncture, movement exercises, Pilates, Tibetan Yogic Practices, Visualization, Mantra and Meditation Techniques. Looking back, I always had incredibly knowledgeable and accomplished teachers. There was a spiritual master who taught me a metaphysical healing practice that works through prayer and touch along the spine, that I am still using today. He said that this healing system was a seed, it could not be taught, only transmitted from a master to a student and today, seven years later, I start to see glimpses of these seeds coming to fruition. There was the young lama from Eastern Tibet with his knowledge of the power of nature, secret texts and ancient rituals, access to the highest tantric teachings and shamanic healing. I studied with him directly, but what seems to be even more important was that he too imparted knowledge by transmission, and it was bestowed upon me by simply sitting at his feet, or at his side, when he saw people during interviews and consultations. Today, so many insights and downloads start to make sense, come together as a large body of experiential, esoteric and scientific knowledge, I realize, with great humbleness, that I have been walking with masters, who taught me, wordlessly and generously, what I needed to know, not so much in terms of medicine, but healing. And I have been taught, not so much through philosophical discourse, meditation or spiritual practice, but by direct transmission, soul to soul.
Soul receives from soul that knowledge,
therefore not by book nor from tongue.
If knowledge of mysteries come after
emptiness of mind, that is illumination of heart.
When I returned to Vienna I started to develop an approach to help people suffering from the physical symptoms of stress, which to me is the underlying issue of all diseases. If you understand the mechanism of a stress reaction in the body, you understand how illness or disease manifests. It does not necessarily tell you much about the cause, however, the location and the type of “disorder” are very powerful pointers to the issues at hand.
It took many years to refine the approach. I started on the physical and mental level, soon went on to the emotional domain, and then focused a long time on balancing the energetic dimension. I am an acupuncturist and I found myself using needles more and more intuitively, and more and more barely pricking the skin. In terms of acupuncture, this is an analogy to homeopathy – its working on the subtle body and sometimes, with just one needle, you can heal a physical symptom.
In the end, just before I gave up my practice due to a move, I just used my hands.
Today I am able to look at a symptom and together with the affected person go deep into the cause of the disorder and teach them simple relaxation techniques to assist the healing.
This was not always the case, for even though I could see the cause and reasons, even communicate it, the radical causal approach for healing would not always be heard, understood or appreciated. What was in the way was simply belief, fear and attachment to the known. In one word – I myself, could not hold the space to allow a deep healing to happen.
I have often been invited to lecture or teach and as I discovered my zest and gift for public speaking, I noticed it was most effective when I simply talked off the cuff. I sensed that my words could lift the energy of a room full of people listening to me. I could literally see that from the stage or lectern, people holding the attention, following me into going beyond common medical knowledge, closing their eyes in meditation and experiencing the simple joy of being in the truth of the moment. I often think this is what I had to discover – how to communicate something that can be very complex and daunting in a clear and concise manner, so information could become empowerment.
When I lived in New York, I came across the concept of “second generation Holocaust survivor”. It was about the transmission of a trauma response from survivors of war or other atrocities from one generation to the next. It truly opened my eyes, for I am one of them and I suddenly saw so many of my experiences, attitudes and behaviors in a new light. When I returned to Vienna, I started to study trauma systematically, all the while discovering, that I myself, had a nervous system continuously reacting according to the patterns of survival. Vienna is a great place to explore this, for we have such a close proximity of victims and offenders and how they returned to normalcy and living together after the war. Everyone growing up here is affected by it and I see the consequences every day in the sufferings of old people ( who were children in the years of war), as well as the emotional issues of people of my own generation. We grew up in an environment that just wanted to forget, without ever knowing how to forgive. There is still so much work to do, all over the world, for forgiveness is an inner experience of redemption, not an outer gesture.
With regards to trauma I particularly studied the work of Peter Levine and I love the approach and teachings of Isaac Shapiro . I will attend a two weeks silent retreat with him in the middle of May and one day I hope I will be able to meet people the way he is. I am looking forward to exploring the “second generation” issue with him, for obviously, he is of Jewish origin.
Trauma and Stress are related. The reason for this is trust. Childhood trauma prevents the experience of joy and love and leads to a distorted experience of reality and the ability to trust love. But I have also learned that Love in one evokes Love in the other, and even though it takes great patience and faith, the body becomes more and more accustomed to the energetic frequency of love, and the nervous system will gradually begin to relax and open to it’s presence.
This is of course my own story. I had to learn that what prevented me from feeling a deep and fulfilling emotional love was a traumatic stress response, even though I have never physically been through any significant trauma whatsoever. And as I experienced could heal myself, I also realized that this was precisely what enabled me to heal others.
Trauma conditions addiction and prepares the ground for it’s dynamic. Nobody develops an addiction without the continuing terror of survival fear and the wish to contain and control it.
And in many ways, we all are fearful of the only thing that is certain in this life: Death.
In my early days I have used the practice of Chöd successfully to “feed and satisfy the demon”. To me the key to healing an addiction lies in the energy body. It can be easily corrected, if the affected person has a true desire to heal. It means to give the body what it needs, to drink of a well of deeply satisfying and nourishing energy. But it comes at a price: people who heal addiction have to prepare to go naked, without a crutch and for most, with their underlying trauma, the terror and fear of survival, this is simply unbearable. Thats the reason why AA is more successful than any other treatment approaches – for it uses the energy field of a group to raise the frequency and so help the nervous system to adapt to receiving love.
To me, trauma and addiction, are the final frontiers of holistic medicine, for they cannot be healed in the conventional sense. They need a healer or an environment conducive to healing. They require preparation, practice and patience – and someone who is able to teach to open up to love, to transmit the sense of “to be held, to be felt”.
I am a reluctant healer, for despite my life-long fascination with medicine, healing and the human condition, I have struggled with the approach and with the contemporary consensus in medicine. My direction and vocation for sure is one of healing, but it’s my own experience now that is guiding me. There is perhaps an aspect of the wounded healer, as I do feel, my path is about transformation, signified by the old shaman with his bone trumpet and the young lama with his sword.
I have written before about my fascination with the Tetragrammaton and I am coming back to it. It pertains to the healing of body, mind, emotions and spirit, or one could even say – to the healing of the world. It is the formula of the universe and can be applied to all phenomena. This is how our experience is being created. A spark is received, it creates a stir , the precipitation of that stir takes on form. To me, this manifestation, the becoming, the completion is the “whole story” and the healing is in the story. Everything is contained in it, we must not neglect, avoid or transcend the story – we have to embrace it, transform and transmute it.
And this is how the past is being changed.
How am I Called by Love ?
And while I have been writing, my purpose and calling revealed itself even more clearly. There is an underlying purpose, a calling, a charge – and it is based on my soul question: “How can I heal ?” The WHY of my quest is simply a knowing that we are able to help each other heal by one allowing the other to see and experience themselves in a safe way, so trust can grow and be relied on.
The HOW seems to be related to my soul word – “connect”, to be able to arrange the pieces of the puzzle in a meaningful way , to reveal the WHOLE STORY. To make sense of something, to find the perfect image or example, to surprise and open doors, finally to bring the audience (of one or many) into a resounding YES. The HOW is about creating an attitude of a no-opposite YES, so that the message can be heard, felt and understood at the deepest level, and so the healing begins to happen.
The WHAT is emerging…perhaps it is as simple as the consultations I seem to be doing all the time now, formally and informally, in person and over the internet. And also that I keep making notes of all the incredible stories of the people I meet…and how they suddenly make fantastic sense, if we just allow ourselves to open up to the … WHOLE STORY.
“Holistic” and “Whole” have the same root. I love etymology…for this is the Whole Story of the word.
holism (n.) 1926, apparently by South African Gen. J.C. Smuts (1870-1950) in his book “Holism and Evolution” which treats of evolution as a process of unification of separate parts; from Greek holos “whole”
This character of “wholeness” meets us everywhere and points to something fundamental in the universe. Holism (from [holos] = whole) is the term here coined for this fundamental factor operative towards the creation of wholes in the universe. [Smuts, “Holism and Evolution,” p.86]
I am closing with a video about my personal hero, Jane Goodall. This is what I aspire to – to help the healing of souls and inspire others to do the same.