What to Do When the Spiritual Work Isn't Working
Friendly reminder: The following is based on my personal experience, and is not intended to serve as medical advice.
A while back, I wrote an essay about common reasons that meditation might not be working to help you achieve the sense of peace or connection that you seek. I’ll link that full piece at the end of this one if you’re curious. Today, I’d like to expand on one of those reasons. That reason is, “You need something else.”
Let me back up, for those who don’t know what I’m referring to. I work in the world of energy and spirituality. We don’t make any promises over here, but we do have a lot of anecdotes of people who engaged in spiritual and energetic practices and experienced profound results -- to include physical and mental healing. Less pain, less depression, less anxiety. Even spontaneous and miraculous (or so it would seem) resolution of long-standing issues.
But what if you do all the things - the meditation, the energy work, the yoga - but symptoms don’t shift that much?
I’ve never seen someone come in for a reiki session who didn’t have some sense of improvement afterward, with regard to whatever main issue they brought up at the beginning. In addition, I’ve personally rarely engaged in meditation or yoga myself and not experienced some level of insight that helped me.
Know what I have seen, though? People who feel better after reiki, but still have symptoms of a thyroid disorder that needs to be tested by a doctor and possibly addressed through medication. I’ve seen people who are slightly less anxious following a session, but in need of additional intervention. I’ve had the experience of doing yoga and meditating every day for a decade, with improved quality of life because of it, but after that decade? I still had PTSD.
See what I’m getting at? The energetic and spiritual realms are just that - realms. Not the complete picture, but one piece of a complex human puzzle.
One of the biggest reasons I’ve observed that clients experience only partial or temporary relief from their pains or ailments, whether the symptoms on the surface seem to be physical, mental, or emotional, is that the clients need to address those problems more directly on the physical level.
Being that we live in human bodies, in order to experience certain emotions or spiritual insights, our human bodies need to be able to produce certain chemicals. I don’t mean that in a cynical, “Love is just a chemical” sort of way. I just mean, it’s how things work.
I believe that spirit is always speaking to me, but my body is like an antenna. If the antenna is bent or rusted, it’s going to have a harder time getting a clear message. When something is getting in the way of those chemicals’ production and proper utilization, we feel blocked, depressed, or anxious. If there’s not enough iron in your diet, or your thyroid isn’t working, or your nervous system is trapped in trauma mode -- the antenna is damaged! The signal’s still there, maybe even still detectable . . . but not clear or getting through.
There are numerous physical imbalances that can cause experiences like this. Some of them include infections, nutrient deficiencies, high levels of toxic elements in your body due to every-day exposure, endocrine imbalances like hypothyroidism, or a nervous system that’s still trapped in trauma mode, even years after a traumatic event. And if any of these things is going on, you can be in the presence of someone you love, and know that you love them, but not feel love as deeply as you once did. You can do something you enjoy, but not feel feelings of enjoyment. You can be meditating every day, but have limited spiritual insights, through no fault of your own.
The ways in which our physical and energetic selves affect one another are observable -- but they’re not very predictable. Sometimes, a client comes in after experiencing trauma, and reiki is the thing that helps their nervous system reset. Sometimes, someone comes in with hormonal imbalance symptoms, and reiki is the thing that helps their endocrine system start functioning more smoothly. Or the relaxation of the session helps their digestion improve, so they can get the right nutrients from their diet.
Then again, sometimes more is needed. They need a trauma therapist, or supplements, or medication. Reiki and spiritual practice can support you in that case, and they may help speed the process of healing and re-connecting. But they might not be all that you need.
I want to be very clear here that I’m not trying to give anyone medical advice. The examples I’m giving of physical issues are just examples of some things I’ve seen and experienced, and by no means a comprehensive list of the possibilities! If you’re reading this and it’s resonating, the #1 thing I hope you will take away is to find the appropriate professional(s) to help you. That could be a functional medicine doctor, an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, or a trauma therapist, to name a few possibilities. If you’ve experienced a lot of symptoms for a long period of time, you’re going to need a team.
Why does one person’s being respond deeply to energy healing, and the next respond more superficially? I can’t say, but I have theories. In general, it comes down to people just being different. When I’m alone and thinking about it, I start getting pretty esoteric and considering things like soul levels, types, and lessons.
But in the end, until we figure out how to really measure and scientifically understand the interplay between our physical and energetic selves, it’s all a mystery! One that I love to explore and be a part of, to be sure. But more than anything, I want you to feel better! If you’re engaging in spiritual and energetic practices and not getting the results you want -- look elsewhere! You deserve to feel happy and good, and I know that you can with the right help.
If you’re interested in the original essay referenced above, find it on Elephant Journal. For the record, I would never tell anyone that they “suck” at meditating. There’s no such thing. But the wise editors at EJ decided to make a catchier title than the one I gave them, and I can’t blame them for that.
If I haven’t talked you out of a reiki session, schedule here!
If you live in the Twin Cities and are looking for recommendations for a holistic doctor or other practitioner, email me and I’ll be happy to share my personal favorites.