Reiki, Yoga & Other Alternative Treatment Options for IBD - Part II
In an earlier blog posts, Elizabeth mentioned her use of alternative treatment options. In this two part series Elizabeth expounds on the methods she's tried and how they have or haven't helped her health.
If you missed part I, click here and read it first!
Once I suspended my disbelief that any of the 'woo-woo stuff' could help me I really came to embrace the different techniques. The turning point for me was after my first Reiki session with Thom's friend, Katie, in Sedona. Reiki is a Japanese stress reduction and relaxation technique that uses your body's own energy to help and heal itself. During my first session (which is like a massage without the rubbing and kneading) I actually, for the first time in two years, felt my GI tract release and relax. After the first 1-hour session I left feeling more energy than I'd felt in two years and I was HUNGRY! For me, it was a miraculous time. I spent a week in Sedona and while I wasn't ‘cured' when I left I felt the best I'd felt in years. Over the next year and a half I continued getting Reiki treatments, and went through the process of becoming a Reiki master and can now treat myself as well as others.
After my success with Reiki I turned to yoga and meditation. Because of my waning energy in the previous years I'd not done much exercise and I found that learning traditional Hatha yoga (not the power yoga of today, but the yoga that people were doing in the ‘60s and ‘70s with an emphasis on breathing and stretching) and meditation helped me feel even more energetic, but also helped me to settle my mind. After the diarrhea became an every day part of my life (there were days where I was having 10, 20, 30 uncontollable BMs) I began to feel more fearful of leaving my house, not knowing where a bathroom was, etc. and I believe the stress from this contributed to some of my diarrhea flare-ups. With the yoga and meditation I learned to focus my mind and my thoughts and became capable of controlling my fears better, taking my mind off of negative or self-defeating thoughts and bringing them back to center - focusing on my breathing, the life force of my body.
By 2000 I was embracing the woo-woo stuff. I wasn't cured, but I was feeling hugely better. I had more energy, my BMs tended to be more controlled (I was down to 3 or 4 on a good day), and when the fear began to creep in I now had some ‘tools' to use before my emotions ‘took over.'
During this time I had also changed my diet considerably and was eating only fresh, whole foods - no preservative, no pre-packaged foods - and had added Probiotics to my daily regime. I was ‘listening' to my body more, meaning, I realized that I only had so much energy for any given day and when I'd hit my limit I accepted that I had hit my limit and would adjust accordingly so that I didn't exhaust myself. I started getting 8 hours of sleep every night, I learned that I could change plans with friends, co-workers, or family easily without really causing too many problems. I embraced what was good for me, what helped me to live a better, healthier, and more productive life.
In addition to the yoga and meditation, rhythmic breathing helped to bring me back to center as well and it could be done anywhere, anytime. Basically you focus on your breath - nothing else, not stress, not pain, nothing, clearing your mind and focusing only on the IN and OUT of your breathing - IN and OUT, IN and OUT, IN and OUT. I found this most helpful when stomach cramps would hit, I would breath deeply into the cramp's pain then forcefully push out the pain along with the breath. It sounds a little 'woo woo' I know, but it has helped me more than Bentyl.
I have come to really embrace the 'woo woo stuff' now while still having a strong respect for my GI doctor and all that the profession has had to offer me as well.
I wish you good luck on your path to better health as well.