Phantom pain is a fascinating phenomenon. It describes the pain of a body part that is no longer present.
The first time I read about the concept of phantom pain, its origin and possible treatment options was actually in a novel, years before Reiki and energy healing came into my life. I was in my early twenties and at that time the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon was the rage among female bookworms. At that time I had been working at a huge law firm and every time a legal secretary came across a book she absolutely loved, the whole secretarial staff was reading it. I believe it was the second book in the series. The scene was at sea in the late 1700s. A sailor suffered from phantom pain in his amputated arm. A Chinese passenger used acupuncture and explained to the ship’s medic (Claire) that in order to relieve the pain of a body part that is no longer present, one must treat that limb as if it was still intact.
Even though at that time I had not yet been introduced to the concept of energy healing, this explanation for healing phantom pain stuck with me. Then when I studied Reiki a few years later, it started to make a lot of sense.
Before writing this article, I did some research on what modern medicine suggests the origin of phantom pain is. The Mayo Clinic describes it as follows: “Phantom pain is pain that feels like it’s coming from a body part that’s no longer there. Doctors once believed this post-amputation phenomenon was a psychological problem, but experts now recognize that these real sensations originate in the spinal cord and brain.” It is encouraging that scientists finally recognize phantom pain to be real and does not stem from a person’s imagination. That is a step in the right direction.
Even though scientists believe to have found the source of phantom pain, I would like to reason that the secret of this phenomena lies within the energy body. During my Reiki studies at Beaumont Hospital in Michigan, I learned a lot about how Reiki works within the body and what really goes on physically when energy moves. We also briefly touched on the basic principles of how to approach phantom pain.
When we have the privilege of working with someone who suffers from this phenomena, it is important to treat the body as if every body part were still there. So, if a person has lost his arm, we have to treat the whole arm, even though part of it is no longer there. Or is it?
On the physical level, the amputated body part is, of course, gone; and yet the energy body remains intact. So in essence, the removed body part is still present. How does this translate to phantom pain? As Reiki practitioners, we are trained to sense energy. We can feel it within ourselves and others. We know for the most part, how it feels when energy flows through us. It can be a soft tingle or it can be a stinging and itchy feeling, as if hundreds of ants were crawling right under our skin. This can be especially unnerving when we have an energy blockage that presents itself as, for example, restless leg syndrome. Generally, that feeling is still somewhat manageable since it is buffered by layers upon layers of our physical body. But when parts of the physical body are no longer present, the energy body has no buffer and the energy we feel is unfiltered and in most cases, quite intense. This is especially true in the case of an energetic blockage.
A few months ago, a client of mine had a long awaited amputation. Her leg was taken off below the knee. She did suffer from moderate phantom pain. When I treated her, I first focused on grounding. You may remember one of my previous articles called ‘The Power Drain’. I used this technique by hovering my hands over ‘both’ her feet and guiding energy out. After a short while, my client started feeling a lot of pain in the knee of her amputated leg. This indicated a blockage, which is not unusual after a surgery. So I treated her knee and her stump with Reiki to open up and resolve the blockage. I did so by swiping my hands from her knee all the way down to where her physical foot would have been to guide out any stuck energy and to basically show the energy where to go. This technique will re-establish the connection the energy body temporarily lost. Relief came on pretty quickly and I went back to continue with the power drain.
So in a nutshell, phantom pain is caused by energy blockages at the place where the limb was cut off. At the same time, the body part was amputated, the energy became blocked as a result of the surgery. Only by regulating the energy of the exposed energy body can we bring relief and instill balance within our clients.
Before I come to the end of this article I want to add something very important. Some amputees will have a hard time accepting their new body, especially when the amputation happened unexpectedly. They will see themselves as no longer complete or whole. This can cause many mental and emotional issues like depression, anxiety, lack of self-worth, or even suicidal thoughts. It is so important that you take your time talking to your clients about the physical and the energy body. They need to understand that they are still whole, even though a part of them may seem to be missing. Turn the phantom pain into a force of good – a reminder that even though parts of us may be gone and our lives will never be the same, we are still complete.
I do hope you will have the opportunity to work with an amputee client. It is truly amazing how different the energy feels and how much we can learn from this experience. For me, it was truly eye-opening. The energy body became even more meaningful than it had already been. When you work with an amputee who has a basic understanding of energy, involve him or her in the process and keep asking about the sensations they experience. Let them tell you how treating their limb changes the way they feel.
I would love to know if you ever had the opportunity to work with an amputee client and what your experience was. Please let me know in the comments below.
First published at Reiki Rays.
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