modern medicine, when spirit meets science

The Human Touch

The big brown eyes seemed to hold deep wisdom.  Even while I was talking with her mother, six-year-old Gowri’s (name changed) gaze never left my face. She appeared to be assessing me.

“Oh yes, she understands all that we say,” her mother said, “But she doesn’t talk to strangers.”

Throughout her pre-operative evaluation over the next few days, Gowri didn’t say a word to me despite my best efforts to hold a conversation with her.  As a surgical oncologist, my encounters are predominantly with older adults.  Maybe I had lost the knack for connecting with young children.

The day of surgery arrived. Unlike most children I have seen, Gowri was extraordinarily calm. She was sedated by the anesthesiologist in the presence of her mother and taken to the operating theatre. The surgery itself was a little more difficult than usual but all went well and it was over in about two hours.

My anesthesiology colleague was extremely gentle in waking Gowri out of anesthesia.  But as soon as she regained consciousness, she seemed very restless. The nurses tried to calm her down. She held up the little finger of her right hand.  The nurse asked her “Do you feel like peeing, child?” She shook her head.  But she still held up her little finger.

Was her finger hurting? The surgery was on her neck, so why would she show her little finger?  I ran all possible explanations in my head –  Was there any pressure on her hand during surgery? An electrocautery injury? An embolism into an artery supplying her hand? I was standing off to the side, but I came to take a closer look.  She had seen me in my scrubs before and recognized me immediately.  I took her hand to examine it – she immediately clasped her little finger around my own little finger and instantly became calm.

I tried my best but couldn’t examine her hand well in this position. My rational, non-emotional, clinical mind wanted to rule out any issue with her hand. But Gowri seemed to be content now. I kept holding her finger throughout her recovery from anesthesia and during her transfer to the post-operative ward. She had become her old calm self. After some time, we called her mother into the ward to see her.

Teary-eyed and anxious, Gowri’s mother came to her daughter’s bedside. Seeing her mother, Gowri gave a tiny smile. With the mother happily fussing over her, Gowri’s finger relaxed and let my hand go.  Quickly I checked her hand again to make sure all was OK. It was.

All Gowri had wanted was a human touch.

This article was first published on https://drsurajmanjunath.com/the-human-touch/

energy medicine, meditation

When Meditation Helps Relieve Stress

Over the last few months, I have developed an unusual condition that I have named a ‘Stress Cold.’

This ‘Stress Cold’ starts with me feeling the itch to move the muscles of my throat in a certain manner, which then triggers a runny nose and leads to continuous sneezing for a few minutes. If I pay attention to this condition, it seems to take on a life of its own and gets worse. It persists until I consciously decide to stop engaging with it or distract myself with another activity.

Of late, this mysterious condition has also begun to affect my sleep. Twice a week or so, I experience bouts of sneezing in my sleep and awaken as a result.

Recently, I was fast asleep when I developed one of these ‘Stress Colds.’ My husband Suraj was still up reading.

He shook me gently and said, “Are you alright?”

I was half-asleep and mumbled something that didn’t exactly make sense.

The sneezing persisted.

After a while, he placed his hand gently on my shoulder and asked again, “Are you alright? Do you need anything?”

At this point, I sensed a lovely flow of energy through his palm. He is not a Reiki practitioner. Yet, there was this sweet energy I could feel. The energy felt very comforting and reassuring. I believe anyone with an open heart can transmit healing energy to others. The frequency may be different from ‘Reiki’ but it is healing energy nonetheless.

This boost of energy helped me drift into restful sleep for a few minutes, after which I woke up. This time around, I was fully conscious and also had a wonderful feeling of well-being in my body, thanks to the surprise mini healing session I received!”

He said again, “Are you alright? You’ve been sneezing for a while now.”

I said, “I don’t understand what’s wrong! I can’t believe this condition has begun to bother me even while I am asleep. Something seems to be triggering me subconsciously.”

“Why don’t you do one of your energy healing practices before you head to bed? See if that helps?” he said.

I smiled and said, “Wow! You sure seem to know what will help me. Thanks a ton for reminding me to apply my own practices!”

I have now begun a bedtime meditation routine where I quickly tune in to my body and consciously release all traces of stress-energy before falling asleep. I got good results when I started off with this practice and enjoyed uninterrupted sleep. However, I plan to do it consistently for a few weeks and track my progress. This will help me see if this can be applied effectively long term.

I did not get into an analysis of what could be stressing me out. It could be any number of things, considering I have two energetic children to look after and lots of running around to do through the day. Stress cannot be avoided in life. However, it can certainly be managed effectively with all the wellness tools we have!

modern medicine, when spirit meets science

Intuition In Medicine

What is this mysterious inner knowing?

That seems to keep life flowing.

When rationality does not find a way,

Intuition steps in with secrets to say.

The word ‘intuition’ is rarely used in medical terminology. But considering that medicine is both a science and an art, practitioners frequently use their intuition, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not.

Very often, a doctor knows what to expect from a patient the moment they set foot into the clinic. The subtle signals they give out during their consult and their body language speak volumes to an experienced practitioner. This art of assessment is honed over years of experience. Energy healers would probably call this an ‘energy field’ emanated by the patient.

Though medical treatments are evidence-based, they are often required to be delivered in various permutations and combinations, depending on the case being treated. Many decisions – for example, what is a probable diagnosis (and what could be other possible diagnoses), what treatment to give, what not to give, when to give, when to change it, when to stop, when to operate, and when not to operate – are often based on judgment and intuitive decision making.

Many people may not be conscious of the intuition operating in their lives. Nonetheless, it is used by almost everyone in varying degrees.

Excerpt from the chapter ‘Intuition In Everyday Life & Medicine’, When Spirit Meets Science by Dr. Suraj Manjunath.

modern medicine, when spirit meets science

Toughness & Temperaments: Stories From The Operation Theatre

“Good evening Sir!”

Suraj and I were walking towards the hospital car park when I heard some cheerful voices behind me. I turned around and saw two young women and a man passing by. 

The greeting was for Suraj. The three of them walked up to us, smiling.

“Hello! Meet Haripriya, my wife” said Suraj to the three of them. 

They smiled and nodded at me.  

“Meet Savita, Vinod and Nisha,” he said to me, “Savita and Vinod are among our best theatre nurses. They must have assisted me with at least 50 surgeries over the last one year. Nisha joined recently and is training to be a theatre nurse too.”

“That’s wonderful! Nice to meet you all,” I said.

“I’ve seen you often on the residential campus Ma’am,” said Nisha to me, “I live there too.”

“Ahhh, yes! I did think you looked familiar as well,” I replied.

We engaged in small talk for a few minutes and then parted ways. 

A week later, I was waiting for Suraj outside the operation theatre block, when I saw Nisha emerging from the entrance. She was walking hurriedly and had tears in her eyes.

She bumped into a senior nurse on her way out and wiped her tears as she explained something to her solemnly.

“Something seems to be wrong,” I thought to myself, feeling concerned.

A month later, I was on a walk in the residential campus when I ran into Nisha near the gate.

She recognized me immediately and said,

“Hello Ma’am! How are you?”

“I’m good Nisha.” I said, “Are you done for the day?”

“Yes Ma’am,” she said, “I assisted a complex case today. It went on for seven hours.”

“Wow!” I said, “You must have a lot of stamina.”

“Thank you Ma’am,” said Nisha and the expression on her face changed suddenly.

“Being a theatre nurse is tough Ma’am,” she said and paused.

“Yes, I can imagine,” I said, sensing there was more to her statement.

“It’s easy to work with some surgeons, difficult with others,” she went on, “I couldn’t handle the temperaments of some surgeons. So, I gave up last month and moved to ward nursing.”

I listened empathetically.

“However, I love to assist surgeries and thought my passion must be more important than the temperaments of others. So, I decided to switch back to working as a theatre nurse,” she said.

I recalled that day last month when I had seen Nisha in tears.

“Something upsetting must have happened while she was assisting that day,” I thought to myself.

“You’ve taken a good decision Nisha. Your love for you work is what counts most,” I said.

I shared this with Suraj later and asked him if it was really so hard for theatre nurses.

He said, “High pressure situations are commonplace during surgery – unexpected obstacles can show up and theatre nurses have to assist seamlessly. Some surgeons lose their temper when assistants aren’t able to keep up in the operation theatre.”

“Oh I see,” I said, “This high pressure environment must be hard on the surgeons as well as theatre nurses. Isn’t learning to be calm a part of your training? Isn’t it a helpful skill to have when one must perform under pressure?”

“Yes, it is. But it isn’t a formal part of training. It’s all learnt on the job,” he said, “Some people possess these skills naturally, some pick it up along the way and some never do.”

“So, problems with human behaviour and interpersonal skills are common to all professions I guess,” I said.

“Yes, of course,” he said.

I thought to myself that being a nurse must be hard. The work is demanding, while the pay isn’t great. In addition, nurses are required to withstand pressure from multiple ends.

Some months later, I bumped into Nisha again during one of my evening walks. She shared with me excitedly that she had received a good job offer from a reputed hospital in Oman and was relocating shortly.

“That’s very good news. Congratulations Nisha!” I said.

“Thank you Ma’am,” she said, “Thank God I decided to pursue my passion. The work experience I gathered as a theatre nurse here and the recommendation letters I got from several surgeons, including Dr Suraj, helped me get the job.”

“That’s awesome!” I said, feeling truly happy for her, “I wish you the best life has to offer.”

This incident made me reflect on different aspects of life – sensitivity in human beings, ability to stay calm under pressure, and the value of persistence and perseverance.

reiki, when spirit meets science

Reiki: Magic Minus The Flamboyance

Oh, beautiful Reiki

Of rainbow colours bright.

What a wonder you are,

Though nowhere in sight!

This little poem is from the first chapter of our book ‘When Spirit Meets Science.’

My first encounter with Reiki happened when I was a child. I was playing with a friend at her home when I saw her mother standing beside a plant, with her palms over it, eyes closed and keenly focused.

When I asked my friend what was going on, she told me her mother was practicing something called ‘Reiki’ and sending good energy to the plants.

This scene struck a chord deep within me. It felt very natural to me that someone should be doing this.

“Wow! How nice to be able to send good energy to a plant,” I thought to myself.

I believe a Reiki seed was gently planted in my consciousness that day.

Little did I know back then that this act of sending and sharing ‘good energy’ would become my purpose in life one day.

Around a decade later, in the year 2007, Reiki came into my life.

And this time around, it came in like a whirlwind.

I developed a strong calling to experience Reiki.

I was in a difficult phase in life and each day was a struggle. My soul pushed me to expand and to connect to something much larger than the ‘human struggling me.’

And Reiki training helped me achieve this connection successfully.

Soon after the training, life began to flow – whatever wasn’t working well for me made its way out of my life and positive new circumstances took birth, almost as if by magic.

Synchronicity kicked in and re-arranged my life, one step at a time.

I just took whatever practical action I had to take at each step and thereafter surrendered to an ‘Intelligence’ much bigger than me, trusting that everything I needed would come to me.

And it did. Even beyond my wildest expectations.

And if someone asks what the logic behind this magic is, I cannot answer – for Reiki is not concrete.

It cannot be seen or measured.

Its many possible effects are best experienced.

To me, Reiki is a subtle sweet force that works silently, offers support on different levels, and pushes you to become more of who you are.

Reiki is magical, without appearing flamboyant.

And this magic, which has been the very foundation of my growth and success, inspired me to begin the book with a poem dedicated to Reiki.

Thank you Reiki for everything you do for me and for everyone whose lives you touch!

when spirit meets science

The Logic & Magic of Energy Healing

“I want to avoid surgery for my knee. Please do something so I can heal without surgery.”

“My blood sugar is sky-high. Please bring it down with Reiki.”

‘My mother has been diagnosed with breast cancer. Please make the tumor go away.”

In the past, I often felt stuck when clients placed medical healing requests before me.

I knew several people in the Reiki community who confidently told clients that they could heal all kinds of health conditions – right from sprained ankles to cancer. Having many friends in both energy healing as well as medical circles, I have often been a part of heated discussions and debates. When the energy healing community made medical claims and the medical community asked for evidence, the former was either not able to produce any, or the evidence they shared inevitably had many loopholes and could easily be dismissed.

As a result, I avoided taking up requests for healing of medical issues and felt frustrated when people approached me with such requests.

One day, Suraj said to me.

“What are you afraid of? All you have to be is authentic. Then neither will you feel frustrated nor will your clients.”

“What do you mean?” I said

“Can you say for sure if Reiki or any other energy healing modality can cure broken bones and cancerous tumors? You’ve trained in Reiki and also tried so many other modalities,” he said.

“Well, I personally can’t say for sure,” I said, “There are many anecdotal accounts of course. But I can’t say anything for sure.”

“My take is this -” said Suraj, “When it’s a question of another person’s health and well-being, just stick to sharing whatever you know for sure, especially if a regular medical solution is available to them. Until you know better, don’t offer medical solutions based on guesswork, hypotheses, hearsay, or possibilities. Tell people only what you know for certain, whether it’s about Reiki or other forms of energy healing.”

“Reiki helps to relax the body, calm the mind, and connects you to your soul. It helps you feel supported and inspires you to stay positive through challenges. Gosh! Reminds me of how comforted and energized I feel when I give myself Reiki,” I uttered in delight

“Perfect!” he said, “So, this is what you should be telling people without hesitation or fear. That’s enough value in itself, without having to cure any disease! Trust me, people will appreciate your honesty. When they see you being authentic, no one will insist that you must cure their wobbly knee or aggressive cancer. When they know what to expect, they are also happy and you are also happy.”

‘But you know, energy healing is so much more than just feeling happy or calm,” I said, “Through energy-based work, I have experienced a lot of life’s magic, synchronicity, and some really good stuff. Wasn’t Reiki a primary force behind my synchronistic meeting with you too? I may never have met you if not for Reiki,”

“Of course,” said Suraj, ‘Your clients may also discover the magical aspects of energy healing should they choose to practice it as sincerely as you do. However, it may surprise them in ways unique to them. Let the ‘magic’ be their discovery, not your promise. Magic is more fun when it is found rather than sought. What say?”

“Absolutely!” I said, feeling like a load had been lifted off my chest.

Now, I tell people clearly that Reiki is not a substitute for medical treatment. I do take up medical cases but offer Reiki only as supportive care.

When friends and clients share positive feedback on how Reiki brought ease to their journey, my soul is satisfied. I take pride in the fact that Reiki has such a lot to offer in itself, without the added pressure to deliver medical outcomes. Reiki is indeed a gift.