Energy medicine combines wisdom from modern science with ancient tradition, and can be understood as the process of organizing and balancing the subtle, life force energies within a person. We take care of our physical bodies, but we also have energy bodies that require attention for vitality to occur. In this month’s interview I speak with long term Ashland resident, Janie Chandler, to learn more about her practical hands-on approach to energy medicine. An educator and practitioner, Janie works nationally and internationally to bring the art and science of energy medicine into the hands of anyone interested in living a more vibrant life.
Thank you! I always enjoy our conversations, and how you manage to bring out the uniqueness of your interviewees.
To begin with, I’d love for you to tell us what energy medicine is.
The term energy medicine is a pretty big umbrella, under which you’ll find yoga, Qi Gong, acupuncture, homeopathy, Reiki, and other modalities. All of these address the subtle energy in the body. Subtle energy is the “dynamic infrastructure of the body”, the part of us that is vibrating at a high rate – so we might feel it, but we don’t see it. It underlies all of our physical experience, from muscle strength to emotional resilience to mental clarity. The state of the physical body reflects the state of the subtle energies. When we address the subtle energy blueprint, and get those energies organized and humming, our physical system responds accordingly; not just in having “more energy” throughout the day, but in our clarity of mind and feelings of joy.
What does a standard session look like with you?
Every session is unique to the needs of the client. My type of energy session tends to be pretty hands-on, since I come from a background of massage therapy, so a session can be a pretty somatic experience, not just an etheric experience. I use energy testing, or energy kinesiology, to assess the flow of energy in a number of foundational patterns, and then I combine intellect with intuition to balance any irregularities that show up. Every session is interactive; I don’t do a session “to” a person, but with them. Their body speaks through the energy testing, guiding me to where the imbalances are, and the client speaks to me of their current experience of health and well-being, and what their preferred experience and goals are. I consider myself to be a facilitator of energy balancing, not a healer. The shift comes from within the client, from the optimization of their unique energies, not from an outside source.
The way the energy balancing is achieved varies. Sometimes I do most of the work, and sometimes the sessions are largely educational and I am showing the client where their energies aren’t moving and teaching them how they can help a shift to occur on their own. Sometimes a session is quiet and deeply meditative, and other times a session is more interactive, with the client holding postures or breathing or talking about their challenges while I use my hands to move energy in their system.
We’ve all experienced one trauma or another, and our stress levels are off the charts. This has gotten our fight/flight/freeze system in a bind, where it’s losing the ability to go into rest-and-refresh which is crucial for regaining its balance. This is why many of us find ourselves stuck in a pattern of habitually reacting to things rather than being able to respond accordingly. You could say we’re wound so tightly that we don’t have the internal flexibility we need to step back and assess an appropriate response. Our heart rates go up, our anxiety flares, our muscles tense, and we yell or blame because some milk got spilled, rather than simply grabbing a towel and getting on with the business of cleaning up. When our energies are balanced – and that fight/flight/freeze system is not stuck in the “On” position – we are able to respond to circumstances from an expansive, creative place, rather than react out of habit.
Janie, tell us more about your background in the healing arts.
I began my career as a massage therapist over 30 years ago with a focus on neuromuscular massage, so my energy work is firmly rooted in the sciences of anatomy, kinesiology, and physiology. In 1999 I began studying energy medicine with Donna Eden, and in 2006 I was one of the founding faculty members of her Eden Energy Medicine Certification Program. I currently serve as co-administrator of her teacher training program. My practice blends these two approaches to healing, and I specialize in addressing energy via the fascia of the body.
You have also had the opportunity to teach internationally. Tell me a little about that.
Donna’s certification training has two programs, one based in Phoenix, Arizona, and the other in England, and I’ve had the privilege of teaching for both. It’s exciting to see people of all cultures take their health and well-being into their own hands, and it’s exciting to work with an international body of students. I love teaching as much as I love being a practitioner, and I have been told that my ability to succinctly articulate the concepts of energy medicine makes the information accessible to everyone.
There are many reasons people seek relief through energy medicine, though I’d say it comes down to the fact that they want to feel better and enjoy life more. They want to get to the root of why they don’t feel as vibrant and productive as they could, and they are inclined to look outside the box of western medicine to do so. I am not dissing western medicine – I engage there too – but it doesn’t always provide solutions for the root causes of illness, or fatigue of the spirit. Some of the things people come in with are foggy brain, overwhelm, lethargy, depression, fatigue, anxiety, lacking inspiration, as well as specific medical diagnosis they are contending with. I have worked with people with autoimmune disorders, neurological issues, and other mystery issues that doctors can’t pinpoint.
But, you are very clear that you do not cure diseases.
Right. I do not diagnose or treat disease. I facilitate the organization and balancing of subtle energy. I am interested in discovering where the energy has gotten hung up, preventing it from sustaining the physical system. Energy wants to move, it needs space to move, and it moves in specific patterns. When these conditions are compromised, stagnancy occurs which leads to pain and dysfunction in the physical systems. When energy is moving properly, the body’s innate intelligence can get back to the business of thriving. Your readers may already be familiar with some of the systems I use to assess and address the energy, like the meridians, the aura, and the chakras, but there are several other (not so well-known) energy systems that I engage with as well.
Why does energy get “hung up”, or disorganized in the first place?
Life. It’s not easy being human. From the very get-go our energies can go into adaptive, rather than optimal, patterns of movement and vibration. Even in the womb, if our mother is stressed or there’s discord in her environment, a baby’s energies will go into adaptive mode. Further on in life, accidents, injury, trauma, loss, prolonged exposure to a stressful environment, electromagnetic frequencies, toxins in air and food, are all things that can disrupt the normal programming of our subtle energies, causing them to make adaptations for our survival. As time goes on those adaptations can end up running the show, dictating how our life force energy is managed and distributed within the body, eventually leading to fatigue, dysfunction, and disease. Sometimes I think of it as a game of Jenga; all these adaptations are stacked on top of each other, and we’re just barely holding it together, but then we’re toppled by that final stressor that our energies just can’t manage to integrate. One of the beauties of Donna Eden’s approach to energy medicine is to put the balancing and maintenance of those energies into the hands of the user. If we understand what we’re made up of, beyond cells and physiology, we can directly manage our energies on a daily basis and greatly improve our health and vitality.
I love working with people who are self-motivated and want to take responsibility for their health and well-being beyond the usual methods. I have a very practical, grounded, hands-on approach that people find very comfortable and accessible. I do my best to bring my clients in to the process so it’s not all a mystery. I want people to understand themselves better, and become familiar with the subtle, unseen aspect of themselves which is as real as their muscles and organs. Even more, I want to show them how they can affect that part of themselves outside of the treatment room to make life feel easier. One type of client that comes to mind are care-givers: mothers or stay-at-home-dads, nurses, medical practice employees, teachers, care-taking spouses. It takes a lot of energy to be present for others, and a person can get really worn down (not to mention crabby) if they don’t tend to themselves as well. I also love helping people who feel like they’ve lost their mojo, like they’re disconnected from their spirit. When the energies of the body have become scrambled we can feel dispirited, and there are a lot of people feeling that way these days.
Can you outline benefits that may result from Energy Medicine?
Improved clarity, focus, vitality and inspiration are some of the top and most immediate results from an energy medicine session.
Strengthened immunity is another. People using energy medicine techniques tend to have a greater ability to avoid the usual colds and flu stuff, or at the very least recover much faster. If someone is dealing with a disease or serious illness, energy medicine can work in conjunction with western medicine to mitigate some of the side effects of medications or surgeries, and speed the healing process.
People feel more alive, and are better able to respond to the stress in their lives when their energies are organized and balanced. Their energy lasts longer in the day and they sleep better at night. I have a client who is a rancher here in the valley, who has been wrestling with a rare autoimmune disorder called Myasthenia Gravis which was life-threatening in that it affected her ability to breath and swallow. She began using the energy medicine exercises diligently and having sessions with me, and though the disease is not “cured”, her symptoms have abated to the point that she has many days she calls a “10” and is back to normal living.
I also work with people who have anxiety (an all-too-common affliction of our time). Typically, getting a person fully grounded by clearing the pathways of YinYang so that they flow freely and making sure that the connection between Central and Governing meridians holds steady, is key to relieving chronic anxiety. In fact, what Donna Eden calls the “Hook-up” (which connects those two meridians) is so quick and easy your readers can try it right now: put one finger in the belly button and one finger between the eyebrows and pull up firmly on each point while taking several deep belly breaths. Continue to hold and pull up and breathe for a minute or more and you’ll likely find yourself sighing deeply or simply feeling a sense of relaxation or relief. However, I have found that people with scar tissue in their abdominal area may not experience their energies “hooking up” with this simple technique, which is where my specialization of working with the fascia comes in. C-sections and abdominal surgeries can disrupt the flow of energy in Central meridian which can result in a person feeling chronically vulnerable, not “pulled together”, not themselves. In this case, I will “dredge” the channel by opening the fascia up the center of the body which allows the energy that’s been blocked to move again. I get a thrill every time this magic happens and my client feels a sense of internal fortitude that’s been missing.
Tell us more about the practical applications of Energy Medicine.
We can think more clearly when our lymphatic system is moving freely, carrying metabolic waste out. One way that we can stimulate that process (because the lymphatic system doesn’t have a pump like the cardiovascular system does) is by deeply rubbing points that correlate the meridian system with the lymphatic system. So if we’re feeling blah and foggy, knowing where to give a good rub can clear our brains and lift our energies.
One time I was in Ashland Hardware waiting for paint to be mixed and the employee who was helping me was yawning while we waited. I told her “I can help you stop yawning” and she looked at me suspiciously but went ahead and leaned against the counter so that I could give her a Spinal Flush (systematically stimulating points along her spine). When I finished, her eyes were brighter, she’d quit yawning and she had a look of pleasant surprise on her face. Knowing how to do that for yourself and others can boost productivity and inspiration in an office or classroom.
Another example of the practical application of energy work is if you work in an intense environment. Our auras are like filters that buffer us from external energies; they need to be about an arms length out from our torso, connected to the body, and have strong integrity to do their job properly. I often use the metaphor of the integrity of the aura being like the weave of a sweater: sometimes there are holes, or threadbare spots that let the cold air in. If you rub your hands vigorously and shake them off, face your palms toward your body and then slowly and with intention weave your hands in figure eight patterns all around your body (to the best of your ability) you will strengthen your aura’s ability to filter all the energies coming at you, improving your resilience in the face of a challenging environment.
Tell us about the classes and trainings you’ll be offering this year.
On Saturday June 24th I will be teaching a three-hour Introduction to Energy Medicine, appropriate for anyone interested in understanding their own energy body and how to engage with it for more vitality and immunity. That class will focus a lot on Donna Eden’s Daily Energy Routine.
Starting on October 4th and running for six weeks, I will be offering an Energy Medicine Study Group on Wednesday afternoons. We’ll look deeper into a number of energy systems, and how we can influence them for optimal function. I am excited about a class for practitioners that my friend Debra Burchard and I will begin in September, called Cultivating Your Artistry: Marrying Technique with Instinct for the Healing Arts Practitioner. It’s designed for people already in practice, whether as energy medicine practitioners, massage therapists, educational kinesiologists, or Reiki practitioners. There’s so much to say about this class, I’d like to refer people to my website for more information.
Janie, what are the next steps our readers can take if they want to learn more?
My website is very comprehensive with a lot of information about energy medicine and upcoming classes. There are a number of free videos including the Zip-up and Hook-up that I mentioned earlier, as well as a video demonstrating how a person can “dredge” their own Central channel as I described. If people are interested in scheduling an energy medicine session they’ll find contact information and a link to my online schedule. EnergyMedicineNow.com
Any final thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?
I want to acknowledge that Ashland has a plethora of skilled energy practitioners. We literally live in a mecca for natural healing and mindful living. I love being part of the healing arts community here, and words fail to describe how blessed I feel to have been drawn to do this work in this location.
Janie Chandler – Energy Medicine Now