Massage & Bodywork

SEPTEMBER | OCTOBER 2015

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technique ENERGY WORK Bioelectric Techniques An Information Source and Balancing Tool By Cyndi Dale The other day, a friend's daughter walked into my house wearing bellbottom pants. I immediately experienced the déjà vu that occurs when something old is repackaged as something new. (It's just too bad we can't become 16 again by simply wearing our high school pants.) At the forefront of the medical community is a "new" idea called bioelectric medicine, which involves the use of electrical stimulation to create healing and pain relief. Techniques typically incorporate the use of technology and instruments, which have added to the ability to measure effectiveness. Because of this, we now have an increasing body of statistical evidence supporting the use of bioelectric medicine. Having said that, bioelectrical medicine is actually yet another resurgence of an age-old concept and set of techniques, one that bodyworkers can perform without the tool kit required by allopathic physicians. What are the roots of bioelectric medicine? They spread throughout thousands of cultures across time and share one fundamental understanding: there is a vital life energy that animates us. The various names for this energy include chi or qi in Chinese, kundalini in Hindu, mana among the Polynesians, ka to the Egyptians, pneuma among the Greeks, and baraka to the Sufis. 1 On a physical level alone, we might call this energy "electricity." The central fact of contemporary bioelectric medicine is the body's bioelectromagnetic nature. We know that every cell produces electricity, not only in humans, but in all living organisms, including plants and microbes. In human, animal, and plant cells, a certain type of protein, called channel proteins, creates gaps in the cellular plasma membranes. These proteins function as ion channels—ions 102 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k s e p t e m b e r / o c t o b e r 2 0 1 5 defined as chemicals that can conduct electricity. 2 They also allow the communication of energy, or information that vibrates, between all parts of us and between this self and the external world. Electricity underlies the body's communication equation in that it passes information between cells. It also creates fields that emanate from every organ, organ system, and the body as a whole. These fields share information with the greater world and also receive incoming communications. These fields, all of which are generated by electricity, create electrical, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields. Together these various fields formulate life and interconnectivity. It makes sense that if you shift the electrical conduction or activity inside of the body, you will change the corresponding fields. It also follows that if you alter the fields outside the body, they will alter the electrical functions and codes in the body. Theoretically, if a growth is causing an electrical dysfunction in the body, and you can change the electrical flow around that area, you can potentially alter the growth itself. If you create function where there is dysfunction in electrical flow, you create new patterns for the body, enabling healing. Healers across time have worked to alter electrical flow to provide healing and hope. They have frequently shifted another's bioelectric current by applying their own bioelectric currents through their hands, via needles, or maybe with mantras (sounds), postures, psychological insights, prayers, or dietary alterations. Using technology is simply a different way to do what healers have always done—alter the life force or electrical basis of life in order to establish a healthier state. Yale researcher Harold Burr was one of the first to modernize the concept of bioelectric medicine, quite notably contributing to science beginning in 1937. In his groundbreaking work, "The Meaning of Bio-Electrical Potentials," Burr showed that every living organism emanates and exists within a bioelectrical field. 3 The fact that this field is present

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