Treating the Spirit
Updated: Apr 30
When I was 19, I lived in a scruffy student house near my college. One evening, while my roommates and I were studying and goofing off, my mother called. She said “Marilyn is dead. Come home now,” and hung up. It was obvious from my mother’s voice that something terrible had happened and she was distraught. The next morning, I let my professors know I would be gone for a few days and boarded a train bound for Alexandria, VA. I arrived in our neighborhood and passed Marilyn’s house, yellow police tape covering the door. Marilyn, my mother’s best friend who lived across the street from my family, had been murdered. She had popped home in the middle of the day and interrupted an intruder who stabbed her repeatedly. My mother, a usually capable and energetic person, was in shock. She was clearly stunned and traumatized. After the funeral that weekend I headed back to school to finish spring semester.
Several months later, my family went to visit my mother’s parents in Boise, Idaho. In the time since the funeral, my mother had gotten very sick. She had always been a robustly healthy person. She was rarely ill and possessed an abundance of energy, curiosity, and zest for life. While in Boise, she spent days in bed, coughing and exhausted. She was pale, listless, and not bouncing back.
Since she had been sick for weeks, her primary care doctor back home had run all the appropriate tests. There was no diagnosis and it was unclear why my mother was not getting better. I had never seen her like this and was concerned.
While in Boise, she found a Naturopathic doctor and made an appointment. At the visit, she and the doctor talked for a long time. He asked whether any particularly stressful events had occurred in the recent past. She told him about Marilyn and how upset she was, grieving the loss of her best friend, as well as the shock of something so violent happening so close to home. The naturopath listened deeply to her story and slowly they put the pieces together, exploring how this event related to her inability to regain her health. He sent her home with some immune enhancing herbs and let her know that he believed she would be better in a few days. And she was.
Connecting the dots and becoming aware of the connection between the trauma and the physical illness allowed her body and spirit to recover. Speaking about her feelings, and being heard and understood by an attentive person, opened the door to healing and began to stitch up the wound in her spirit.
Witnessing this experience left a big impression on me. Clearly my mother’s physical illness had a strong emotional cause. I was so curious about this. How does a physical illness spring from a non-physical cause? How did this actually happen and how did she recover? How can a healer address the non-physical cause so that there is a complete healing of the emotional and spiritual self as well as the body?
A few years later, I started training in Naturopathic Medicine at Bastyr University. During that first year of school, I was exposed to many different systems of medicine. I examined the structure and philosophy of each one, looking for one that could quickly and directly address the non-physical cause of disease, what I would come to call the Spirit level.
I learned about Five Element Acupuncture and quickly realized that I had found the tool I was looking for. In it, I saw a system of medicine that could diagnose and treat ailments rooted in someone’s spirit; a form of energetic medicine that could reach the non-physical level of an illness quickly and directly. I packed my bags, headed to Five Element Acupuncture school, and haven’t looked back.