A Paradigm Shift in Biomedicine

How Tapping into ‘‘Energy’’ Can Trigger a Paradigm Shift in Biomedicine
Eric Leskowitz, MD
The practice of medicine has changed dramatically since I started Medical School in 1975. Back then, the prevailing attitude was that exercise was for jocks, yoga and vegetarianism were the domain of hippies, and lifestyle issues were basically irrelevant to health. I was a regular at the brown bag lunches hosted by a junior faculty member who was teaching his colleagues about mindfulness meditation, his counter-culture hobby. But it was a world apart from clinical care, as there was essentially no evidence at that time that patients might also benefit. In the ensuing 40 years, that young professor—Jon Kabat Zinn—went on to found the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Healthcare and Society, and helped to bring mindfulness squarely into the mainstream of American culture. A concurrent medical paradigm shift has seen behavioral factors—diet, exercise, and stress management—become well ensconced in our society’s view of health. But another challenging shift might be necessary before we can fully understand health and illness: it is my belief that this deeper understanding requires that we come to terms with the widespread belief in invisible healing energies, the additional dimension of our human organism that is hinted at by NCCAM’s adoption of the term ‘‘biofield’’ to refer to electrical and magnetic processes that occur within and around the human body. Without this added element, medicine will be like Newtonian physics in the age of Einstein—useful, but only within a very limited range. Conventional medical authorities tend to view concepts like ‘‘life energy’’ as metaphorical at best. Biomedicine remains alone among the world’s healing traditions in its rejection of this healing energy, whether it is called prana (in yoga), qi (in Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM]), e ´lan vital, or animal magnetism.1 Our materialist dismissal of these intangibles has hindered our acceptance of many effective alternative and complementary healing modalities2 and limited our concept of what it means to be human. As a result, many therapies are considered beyond the pale because they invoke these invisible forces to explain their effects. Yet homeopathy,3 biofield therapies (including modalities such as Therapeutic Touch and Reiki),4 and distant prayer5,6 are supported by a credible, if mixed, peer-reviewed literature, with JACM a leading forum for research in these
fields.4,7 But the lack of an established physiologic mechanism(s) of action makes these practices regular targets for skeptics. Nevertheless, some energy-based techniques are gaining acceptance because researchers are reducing their intangible elements to something more acceptable: in acupuncture, the piezoelectric response of the fascial matrix to mechanical stimulation is being actively researched as a potential mechanism,8 whereas acupoints and meridians are being reconceptualized, respectively, as intersections of connective tissue planes and as the fascial planes themselves.9 Such mechanistic reframing makes it easier for mainstream medicine to accept acupuncture, despite its vitalist origins. Because such a wide range of therapies fall under the biofield umbrella, it may be helpful to focus on one exemplar, which epitomizes these wider paradigm-stretching issues. I will look at an approach that remains obscure in the halls of academic medicine, but is now in wide clinical usage: energy psychology (EP). EP is so widely used that lack of fast-track consideration by institutional gatekeepers is puzzling. For example, an online training guide has been downloaded over 2 million times, email rosters of two EP-oriented organizations (Innersource, and EFTUniverse) have over 800,000 subscribers, a web-based conference (the World Tapping Summit) has averaged 500,000 viewers annually over the past 10 years, and EP’s professional organization (the Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology [ACEP]) has 1300 members, primarily graduate degreed clinicians (www.energypsych.org). In addition, over 100 published studies—including 48 randomized controlled trials (RCTs), 5 systematic reviews, and 4 meta-analyses— consistently show statistically significant clinical benefits to patients suffering a wide range of ailments, including post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and chronic pain. Yet, the latest government guidelines for PTSD treatment released by SAMHSA (the federal government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) does not even mention EP, despite its widespread use and increasingly solid research base. So the question must be asked—why not? By way of background, EP is the umbrella term for a range of therapies whose best-known form (emotional freedom techniques [EFT], or ‘‘tapping’’) can be described
Integrative Medicine Task Force, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Charlestown, MA.
THE JOURNAL OF ALTERNATIVE AND COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE JACM Volume 24, Number 6, 2018, pp. 1–3 ª Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. DOI: 10.1089/acm.2018.0073
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in conventional psychological terms as an exposure-based desensitization process with a somatic component. But that formalistic phrasing disguises just how odd looking the technique is. The patient repeats aloud a series of affirmations of self-acceptance despite their strong emotional reactions to the trauma, while tapping himself on a series of acupuncture points on the face, upper body, and hands. According to TCM, these spots are the endpoints of major acupuncture meridians, and they regulate our emotions. However, from allopathic medicine’s perspective, they are essentially random points on the surface of our body that have no particular biologic significance. Nevertheless, a growing body of research suggests that something significant happens when these points are stimulated at the same time that upsetting experiences are mentally reviewed. In one RCT,10 combat veterans meeting DSM-5 criteria for PTSD were given 6 weekly hour-long EFT treatments. By study’s end, 86% of them no longer met the diagnostic criteria, compared with only 4% in the wait-list control group (p<0.001); at 6-month follow-up, 80% still did not meet criteria. I propose the following reasons for this translational lag: institutional inertia, intellectual gatekeeping, and paradigm loyalty. Here are three examples of those socio-cultural processes at work.
(1) Resistance by professional organizations—The American Psychological Association (APA) has well delineated guidelines according to which newly proposed therapies can earn acceptance as an ‘‘empirically supported therapy.’’ In 2012, after 5 years of concerted effort by ACEP, the APA overturned their 1998 policy and allowed programs in EP to be granted CE credit for psychologists. But the next step—endorsement— has still not happened, despite ongoing efforts in this direction.11 (2) Resistance by professional journals—In 2012, The Journal of Clinical Social Work published an article concluding that EFT practitioners were generally ‘‘uncritical thinkers’’ who believed in ‘‘pseudoscience’’ and ‘‘intuition.’’12 ACEP formally requested the right to respond, and the journal’s editorial board initially agreed to publish a counterpoint. But the board rescinded this offer at the last minute, so ACEP’s detailed point-by-point rebuttal was published elsewhere.13 (3) Resistance in popular media—Wikipedia is a widely consulted source for medical information, yet it has been credibly accused of bias against holistic therapies.14 The Wikipedia article on EFT uses emotionally loaded terms(‘‘pseudoscience,’’ ‘‘highly bizarre’’)and omits mention of most research after 2005. However, ACEP’s attempts to update and edit the entry were regularly scrubbed within days, and sometimes even hours.15,16 ACEP initiated a Change.org petition asking Wikipedia for a reconsideration, and was surprised to receive a personal response from Jimmy Wales, the founder. He described his site’s commitment to solid scientific research, and responded16 to the systematic review of the evidence presented by ACEP with this evaluation: ‘‘What we won’t do is pretend that the work of lunatic charlatans is the equivalent of ‘true scientific discourse’. It isn’t.’’
It is human nature, of course, to hold on to cherished beliefs, especially if one’s identity (professional or personal) depends on maintaining a certain worldview. Although biomedicine has significantly shifted its institutional identity with its recent embrace of behavioral and lifestyle factors, I believe it will remain an incomplete healing system if intangible factors like ‘‘energy’’ and consciousness are excluded from consideration. Many effective therapies such as EFT will continue to be marginalized because their mechanism of action does not mesh with the standard model. But does it actually matter if we cannot explain a treatment’s mechanism of action? Surgeons continue to use general anesthesia, even though they cannot explain why it works. Energy-based therapies should be held to a similar standard: as long as they are proven effective, they should be endorsed while we work to outline a plausible mechanism of action. As long as intangibles such as energy and consciousness are not part of medicine’s explanatory mix (at least in the expanded sense of those terms used in this essay—i.e., ‘‘energy’’ meaning more than just biochemical metabolism, ‘‘consciousness’’ meaning more than just being noncomatose), I predict that we will continue to miss opportunities to construct a more complete and effective model of health and illness. That is because we will be excluding from consideration effective therapies that appear implausible, if not downright impossible. As scientists who stick to familiar territory, we will resemble the drunk who keeps looking for his missing key under the street light because that is the only spot where it is bright enough to see. But there are some positive notes. Several academically based and research-oriented organizations now actively explore the reality of energy and consciousness. A recent special issue of Global Advances in Health and Medicine devoted solely to Biofield Science17 resulted from scientific meetings and discussions fostered by a recently established non-profit collaborative called The Consciousness and Healing Initiative (CHI).19 Academic researchers at major universities and medical centers (including the University of California at San Diego and the MD Anderson Cancer Center) have partnered with CHI, as has The Institute of Noetic Sciences, with its 40year record of conducting this sort of research.18 The movement toward worldview expansion in medicine goes beyond the United States: an international panel of researchers produced the recent consensus document ‘‘Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science.’’20 These groups, and others, are actively educating clinicians, conducting research, and collaborating across disciplines to generate a new and more powerful multidimensional conceptual framework for medicine. One hundred years ago, the discoveries of quantum physicist Max Planck triggered a paradigm shift, one that was met with great resistance by the scientific establishment of his era. He responded: ‘‘Science advances one funeral at a time.’’ The current expansion and shift of scientific paradigms could potentially run a smoother course, if medicine finally comes to terms with the intangibles in its closet.
Acknowledgments
The author thanks John Weeks, Robert Schwarz PsyD, David Feinstein PhD, and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions.
2 LESKOWITZ
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Author Disclosure Statement
No competing financial interests exist.
References
1. Leskowitz E. Life energy and Western medicine: A reappraisal. Adv Mind Body Med 1992;8:63–67. 2. Tart C. The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal Is Bringing Science and Spirit Together. Oakland, California: New Harbinger, 2009. 3. Linde L, Clausius N, Ramirez G, et al. Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Lancet 1997;350:834–843. 4. Hammerschlag R, Marx B, Aickin M. Nontouch biofield therapy: A systematic review of human RCTs reporting use of only nonphysical contact treatment. J Altern Complement Med 2014;20:881–892. 5. Byrd R. Positive therapeutic effects of intercessory prayer in a coronary care unit population. South Med J 1988;81: 826–829. 6. Schlitz M, Braud W. Distant intentionality and healing: Assessing the evidence. Altern Ther Health Med 1997;3: 62–73. 7. Rubik B. The biofield hypothesis: Its biophysical basis and role in modern medicine. J Altern Complement Med 2012; 8:703–717. 8. Oschman J. Energy Medicine: The Scientific Basis, 2nd ed. New York: Elsevier, 2015. 9. Langevin HM, Yandow JA. Relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes, Anat Rec 2002;269:257–265. 10. Church D, Hawk C, Brooks A, et al. Psychological trauma in veterans using Emotional Freedom Techniques: A randomized controlled trial. J Nerv Ment Dis 2013;201:153–160. 11. Church D, Feinstein D, Palmer-Hoffman J, et al. Empirically supported psychological treatments: The challenge of evaluating clinical innovations. J Nerv Ment Dis 2014;202: 699–710.
12. Gaudiano BA, Brown LA, Miller IW. Tapping their patients’ problems away? Characteristics of psychotherapists using energy meridian techniques. Res Soc Work Pract 2012;22:647–655. 13. Sise M, Leskowitz E, Stein P, et al. Critical thinking in the energy therapies: Comments on Gaudiano. Energy Psychology 2014;6:21–32. 14. Leskowitz E. Harvard doc to wikipedia: you’re not playing fair on alternative trauma therapy. CommonHealth. 2014. Online document at: www.wbur.org/commonhealth/2014/ 11/28/harvard-doc-to-wikipedia-youre-not-playing-fairon-alternative-trauma-therapy, accessed August 8, 2017. 15. Minewiser L. Some roadblocks to the dissemination of Energy Psychology research. Online document at: https://acep blog.org/2014/11/06/some-roadblocks-to-the-disseminationof-energy-psychology-research, accessed August 30, 2017. 16. Schwarz R. ACEP responds to Wikipedia founder. Online document at: https://acepblog.org/2014/03/31/acep-respondsto-wikipedia-founders-rail-against-holistic-practitioners, accessed August 30, 2017. 17. Jain S, Ives J, Chopra D, et al. Biofield science and healing: An emerging frontier in medicine. Glob Adv Health Med 2015;4(Suppl):5–7. 18. IONS(InstituteofNoeticSciences).ResearchatIONS.Online document at: www.noetic.org/research/overview, accessed October 8, 2017. 19. Consciousness and Healing Initiative. Online document at: https://www.chi.is, accessed August 30, 2017. 20. Beauregard M, Schwartz G, Miller L, et al. Manifesto for a post-materialist science. Explore (NY) 2014;10:272–274.
Address correspondence to: Eric Leskowitz, MD PO Box 92 Buckland, MA 01338
E-mail: eleskowitz@partners.org

Emptying Our Vessels, becoming The Wise Woman.

Power and Growth for our Life’s Third Act

This is the inner work for us women to do as we approach our 50’s and from there right the way through to our mid 60’s. Some women are called to start earlier but from conception onwards we accumulate frozen life experiences and limiting beliefs that can separate us from our true nature. Leaning into our wounds and processing the mental and emotional debris of the suffering can lead us to harvesting their gifts, learning and having more energy to act and THIS is what allows us to contribute to life as a Wise Woman. Allowing our suffering and the painful places in us to deepen our connection to Spirit to Life Force/Shakti. At the 2009 World Peace Summit the Dalai Lama said that Western Women will have a big part to play in healing the world.

Cultivating mindfulness, moment by moment self-observation through meditation is an essential part of this journey but so is embodied self-awareness and freedom. The ‘Wise Woman’ knows that her body is a portal to Spirit and that this connection needs to be present while we work, are in relationship to others, mother our children, and contribute in our communities. It’s not enough to be connected when there is the space of a meditation cushion, or on a retreat or doing conscious activity. We are called to be a loving, compassionate, wise presence moment by moment that is committed to growing their capacity for more.

This work is about moving towards more inner contentment, lining ourselves up with our ‘Life Purpose’, finding our power, confidence and freedom to act. This is largely about taking action to clear what’s in the way of Life Force/Shakti freely flowing in us.

So how do we clear our ‘Life Force’ that has been frozen and also created life limiting beliefs?

One effective, gentle and efficient way is with EFT/Emotional Freedom Techniques also becoming known as Neuro-tapping. A foundational application of this approach is called the Personal Peace Process.

  • Do you expend a certain level of energy coping with thoughts around a particular memory from years ago?
  • Do you feel guilt or shame around any aspect of your past?
  • Do you keep bumping into the same kinds of relationship challenges again and again?
  • Do you suspect that you may be numbing yourself with food or other substances or activities to avoid persistent “old” feelings?
  • Do you feel limited in your potential maybe because of confidence issues?

Answering yes to any of these questions, means you are probably carrying stress from events that happened to you in the past.

Making peace with the past and empty your vessel so that more ‘Shakti’ can flow through you and out to the world is a task for a knowing woman.

The 4 Directions of Exquisite Self-Care

I wonder do you realise that many of us function in the world especially in our working life by being in our masculine? We spend time doing , trying, efforting, pushing, always on the go go. Yes we may be successful and we measure that by how busy we are and perhaps how much income we are earning. The adrenalin and cortisol this produces in our systems can feel really good for a while. However this approach often has a price to pay and that’s exhaustion, frustration, and maybe even wanting to withdraw and this can lead to burnout or declining physical health.

How would it be if we functioned with a more feminine approach (this can be useful for men too.) The nature of this is that it feels more natural, more organic, more inspired, and what is happening is our outer life, our doing is flowing through us like a river. The essence of this is that we feel that what we do work from this place it is full of enthusiasm, ease and its hugely effective as we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing.

Continue reading

The Power of Intention

When I work with people one of the fundamental starting points is to set an intention for the outcome and purpose of the change they want to create.

The growing field of Quantum Physics and Quantum Biology is showing us that human beings are a vibrational receiver and transmitter. Our heart’s magnetic field, which is the strongest rhythmic field produced by the human body, not only envelops every cell of the body, but also extends out in all directions into the space around us. The heart’s magnetic field can be measured several feet away from the body by sensitive magnetometers. Research conducted at Heart Math Institute https://www.heartmath.org/research/science-of-the-heart/energetic-communication/ suggests the heart’s field is an important carrier of information. Continue reading

The Deeper Truth of the Menopause

The Sacred Pause – a rebirth of you.

The peri-menopause and the menopause can often be a time in women’s lives that is dreaded and resisted. Our modern-day culture can see it as a negative time of loss of youth and beauty, of mood swings, lack of energy and annoying hot flushes.

What is generally on offer for us is hair dye, anti-wrinkle creams, hormone replacement, the need to hide it and fix it.

As a medical text book says;

A miserable tired woman; droopy boobs, sagging tummy, uterus prolapsed, her vaginas dried up and she’s growing a beard. Oh yes AND she’s depressed!

Continue reading

Finding Your Inner Resilience, Power and the Freedom to follow your Heart’s Path

We Human Beings usually are very un-conscious in the way we create our lives. we are often living in a way that is  almost by accident rather than on purpose. The lives we create are often stressful and full of anxieties about the work we do, the way we feel, our life style, and maybe our relationships.  When the going gets tough, as it does at times in everyone’s life, we don’t have a tool box of ways to help us bounce back.  When we are living in a way that does not best serve us we resort to distractions to try and keep us feeling good, alcohol, food,  holidays, TV, computer games, the internet, sometimes even loveless sex or drugs.

What happens is we live a life that is second best, we are not relaxed and joyful that often, our work, relationships, the environment we live in are not ‘ideal’.  This can become our norm. we feel tired, frustrated, irritable, anxious. We have to just keep on going, it feels as if we have no choice, we survive on the hope that something will get better.

What if there was a way to create the life our heart dreams of, not overnight but in a step by step way. Continue reading

The Science Behind the Mind-Body Connection

What controls the fate of our cells, what controls whether they are healthy or sick. is it our genes, are we at the mercy of our inheritance? Well scientists now know that this is not true, instead its the environment that the cells live in that determine their fate. We may fear that because our parents both died of heart disease and maybe some of our grandparents too suffered heart disease we will end up with similar. Or we may fear some other illness its all same same, Cancer, Altzeimers, M.E , Athritis, choose your poison. However change the environment our cells are bathed in and their outcome will be different.

Changing their environment so it’s healthy does not mean just changing their nutritional state by eating well and avoiding toxicity for example by not smoking. or doing exercise to improve the cells endorphin environment and energy capacity. It also means changing the environment of the mind as our cells are constantly bathed in the chemicals our mind/brain creates. Continue reading

Core Stress Release

Core Stress Release is a powerful and fascinating way of releasing pent up tension and deep muscle contraction held within the emotional and physical body as a result of trauma and stress. Try using it daily for 10 minutes for the first 2 weeks and then as you feel the need. Continue reading

Creating Space

One thing that we have observed consistently with recovery is that for many people it can require a considerable amount of your attention and energy. This may sound obvious, yet it is amazing how many people aren’t truly giving themselves the time and care they need to recover.

For many people, because they aren’t able to be as active as they used to be, they assume that they are resting – but seem somehow not to be getting the results that they would expect. In truth, for many people when we look at how they are actually spending their time and energy, very little of it is focused on what we call ‘real’ healing. Without that, our bodies simply do not get the energy they need to do the healing necessary, and crucially, the activities – or lack thereof – such as resting, meditating, nurturing physical activity, even juicing and following a helpful diet, just don’t happen.

So let’s look at what we mean by creating space, and how we might be getting in our own way: Continue reading

Emotional Resilience

How’s life going for you? Most people I’ve met lately have been feeling under quite a bit of pressure and stress.

Something I believe is really crucial for all of us right now is to develop our Emotional Resilience.

Emotional Resilience may be THE most needed skill in the current challenging and turbulent times where economic uncertainty, financial stress, climate change, natural disasters, the constant threat of terrorism, wars, and the collective anxiety of media-fuelled mass social trauma are taking a heavy toll on people, businesses, and indeed whole countries. Continue reading