Right before I left for Iowa to attend The Examined Life Conference, I saw my chiropractor. She has helped me for the past year recover from a concussion and whiplash, so I am in deep gratitude to her. But after this particular adjustment, I had a problem. As I lay on my back, she suddenly pulled me up by the shoulders in such way that made me lock my hips in defense. She did it again. I felt discomfort but didn’t think it a big deal at the time. It was, however, a big deal the next day.
My back and hips were so sore that I couldn’t make a move without pain. Here I was preparing for my plane flight to Iowa, contemplating hauling luggage around the airport, and I couldn’t even sit down comfortably. At first, I was clueless about what had brought on this condition. I thought and thought about any strange movement I had made or whether I had pushed myself to move in a way that had hurt me. Nothing came to mind. Then the light bulb lit up. It was that sudden move my chiropractor had made.
I felt angry. Had she warned me of what she was going to do, I would have been ok. But I was expecting her to do what she always did when I was on my back–adjust my cerebral spinal fluid by a gentle lifting of the head, accompanied by my taking deep breaths. I was in relatively good shape when I walked into her office and I was in pretty bad shape a day later. It felt right and natural to be angry because indeed, I’d been violated, albeit unintentionally.
The next day, my neighbor, a Reiki* practitioner, suggested I let her work on me. After an hour of healing touch, trust returned. As I walked home, I felt my feet firmly on the ground and heard these words: My body is sacred. She had helped me regain a feeling of wholeness and integrity. She had rebalanced my body. I still felt pain, but it had diminished. Most importantly, I felt that a negative energy was gone. In its place was love.
This experience of injury and healing was such a great lesson for me. I thought back to what it must have been like for me to undergo a stomach surgery before I was even a month old. At that time I was violated, no matter the intention and the circumstances, and must have felt so angry. And when no one was available to soothe me in recovery–my mother was relegated to looking in through a window from the hallway and the nurses were so afraid of infection they dared not linger–I must have felt hopeless. And if my pain was not properly managed, which seems likely due to the PTS symptoms I experience, I must have gone numb–a sort of fugue state, if you will. Another name for it? Depression.
As I was pondering all this after my wonderful Reiki session, I realized that babies who’ve experienced trauma need some type of ceremony to help them regain trust, balance, and most of all, a feeling of the sanctity of their own bodies. Sacredness must be re-established. Touch is the key to this act of reconstitution. Loving touch must be a part of the healing. There must be some way that hospitals incorporate this understanding and make an effort to provide care. Touch must be administered as wisely and carefully as medicine. Otherwise, the wounding continues. What was meant to heal creates lifelong disturbance, countering the very intention of well meaning doctors and medical staff and the practice of medicine itself.
* “Japanese technique for stress reduction and relaxation that also promotes healing” (International Center for Reiki Training <www.reiki.org>)