This month we’re exploring a variety of complementary therapies that many in our community have used to help reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s and improve their quality of life.
Brenda, one of our most engaged community members and Parkinson’s guides shared an experience she had with healing work that had a profound impact on how she felt. Fortunately, the energy healer she worked with, Amy Stark, happens to live nearby; so, we reached out to her to talk about her work.
If you’ve heard about energy healing and wondered what it is, or you’ve never heard of it but are curious, this post is a great primer to get you started.
Thank you, Amy, for answering our questions.
What does it mean to be an energy healer?
Being an energy healer means you’re trained in at least one energy healing modality. This could be anything from acupuncture to Reiki and many things in between. An energy healer is someone who is very sensitive to the human energy field and can manipulate, restore and balance the flow of energy in the body in order to activate the body's own natural healing ability.
How did you get into this type of work?
In my early 20’s, I worked as a science teacher at one of the most dangerous public schools in NYC. After four years, I was so stressed out that I decided to leave my job and pick up meditation to better manage my stress.
One day, while meditating, I had the feeling I could heal with my hands. At the time I wasn’t sure what that meant or if that was even possible. As a former science teacher, I was embarrassed to admit that I felt that way, but one day I worked up the courage to tell my friend that I thought I could heal with my hands, and to my surprise, she didn’t think I was crazy! She suggested I stop by a local yoga studio to see if they were offering classes on how to heal with your hands. Sure enough, they were! The first course I took was Reiki. From that point forward, I became obsessed with understanding the science, benefits and principles behind energy healing.
What kind of work do you do with people? What are the issues you work with them on and what kind of improvements do they experience?
I believe in addressing the mind, body and energy; so, in each session with a client, I check in to see how I can best help them. At the start of the session, we discuss what their energy body looks like and why it’s presenting itself in a certain way. Sometimes we work on releasing energy through Emotional Freedom Technique (a process of reconsolidating a memory and transforming its “charge” in the body developed by Gary Craig). Other times, I do energy work. Meaning, the client lays down and receives the energy work. Ultimately, my goal is to help guide the client to a greater understanding of what they are experiencing in life and how to learn from it.
Most of the people I see are suffering from chronic illness. They have Lyme Disease, MS, Parkinson’s, chronic pain, depression, anxiety, colitis, and Autism. What I have noticed is that energy healing helps nearly everyone. Most of the time, I see improvements in sleep, confidence, happiness, energy levels, compassion, awareness and pain from old and new injuries. Most people remark that they feel calm and at peace at the end of a session.
How did you begin working with people living with Parkinson's? What drew you to this community?
Many years ago, I worked for a very kind man who had Parkinson’s. I saw firsthand the struggle he went through daily, and it was heartbreaking watching him try to parent, work and stay joyful and present. In 2016, I began volunteering on Saturday mornings at The Corner Boxing Club in Boulder, helping at one of the stations in the boxing class for people with Parkinson’s. At that time, I knew I needed to share with them what I had seen energy healing do for people. So, I decided to design and execute a study to track their symptoms each week and how they responded to energy work.
You recently did a study on people with Parkinson's. Can you tell us about it? What are some of the unique challenges people with Parkinson's deal with when it comes to their energy?
I designed a study to measure the effects of energy work on people with Parkison’s. There were seven participants with Parkinson’s, of varying ages and stages of the disease. The study was nine weeks in total, with some of the participants only receiving five, six, seven or eight sessions.
Each week, I met with them and did only energy work. I did not do any coaching or EFT.
Working with seven people with Parkinson's for several weeks during my study was a really great experience for me. It became clear early on that there is a Parkinson’s energy profile—like an energy signature—unique to people with Parkinson’s.
For instance, I noticed the energy in the brain in the left and right hemispheres wasn't balanced, but became balanced as the study progressed. Additionally, I noticed many of the participants had a foot, ankle or knee injury/surgery and the opposite side of their body struggled. It often manifested as a tremor, stiffness or bradykinesia. Essentially, it appeared that the energy coming up from the foot progressively slowed down the higher it traveled up the body, causing weakness in the rest of the body. I also noticed that the energy in their bodies flowed in the “wrong” direction for the first three sessions. Then, it seemed to “right” itself. As soon as that switch happened, participants noticed huge increases in energy.
I also noticed a lack of energy in the hand that felt tremors, and I could feel over the course of the study how the energy flow improved to the hand with the tremors, resulting in a decrease in duration and frequency of tremors.
Interestingly, I also noticed that every single one of the participants at the beginning of the study had a weak energy field (a lack of a strong boundary) and had a much stronger field by the end of the study.
Lastly, I noticed that those who would consistently wake up between 3-5 am every night began sleeping through the night once I cleared their lung meridian.
At the end of the study, every single one of the seven participants benefited from the energy work in some way. There were significant improvements in balance, coordination, flexibility, gait, sleep and fatigue. As well as decreases in pain and anxiety and increase in hope and happiness.
(Note: Brenda reported that her posture improved, she had more energy, she could push herself to exercise more intensely and she felt more emotionally free and positive.)
Are there any energy healing practices people with Parkinson's can do on a daily basis to help them manage their symptoms better?
For people with Parkinson’s, I would highly recommend an energy technique called Emotional Freedom Technique or EFT. EFT helps to calm the fight or flight response in people which helps them relax. It’s a great way to enhance the mind body connection and decrease anxiety. Over time, this technique helps to strengthen the energetic field and promotes a coherent field, which translates into a stronger immune system, more flexibility in thinking, and awareness.
What do you wish people with Parkinson's knew about energy healing?
I was very encouraged by the results of the study I did. However, it is discouraging that more doctors aren’t aware of the benefits of energy medicine and thus do not recommend it or encourage it as much as I believe that it should be. In the future, I hope to be a part of a larger scale study looking at the benefits of energy healing for people with Parkinson’s. I’d love to have more quantitative data from blood tests, scans and assessments by doctors.