Conversations on Healing

Dr. Shamini Jain

How Understanding the Biofield Can Increase Your Healing Potential

Scientist, Psychologist, Founder and CEO of Consciousness and Healing Initiative (CHI)

Dr. Shamini Jain, PhD, is a scientist, psychologist, founder and CEO of Consciousness and Healing Initiative (CHI). CHI is a nonprofit organization that works to create a community of scientists, teachers, healers and many other experts to enable collaborative acceleration in healing. Dr. Jain received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the UCSD/SDSU Joint Doctoral Program. Her research focuses on psychoneuroimmunology, and she has several publications on biofield healing and other approaches to using integrative health. Dr. Jain is the author of the award winning book “Healing Ourselves: Biofield Science and the Future of Health”. She integrates her experience with East Indian spiritual practice and other traditions in order to share how people can find joy in their everyday lives.

In today’s episode of Conversations on Healing, host Shay Beider welcomes Shamini as they discuss biofield awareness and some of her groundbreaking research. Dr. Jain explains the concept of biofield science and energy healing, as well as how people can bring subtle awareness to their own biofield. Shamini also shares the importance of subtle energies and how humans have the innate power to heal at a physiological level. Additionally, she mentions the importance of creating a ritual in your everyday routine in order to maintain internal self care. By doing so, people can reconnect with the essence of who they are in order to promote personal healing.

Show Notes:

Introduction (00:02): Welcome to the Conversations on Healing Podcast, where host Shay Beider speaks with renowned healthcare leaders, practitioners, and thought leaders to explore the world of wellness, the incredible powers of self-care, and what it truly means to heal today. Join us on this journey to become more whole healed and connected.

Shay Beider (00:31): Hello dear listeners, thanks for tuning in. I’m Shay Beider and this is The Conversations on Healing Podcast. Today we have a special guest, Dr. Shamini Jain. Dr. Jain received her BA degree in neuroscience and behavior from Columbia University and her PhD from the UCSD -SDSU Joint Doctoral Program in clinical psychology with a research focus in psycho neuroimmunology or PNI. She’s the founder and CEO of the Nonprofit Consciousness and Healing Initiative, a collaborative accelerator of scientists, healers, artists, and educators to help lead humanity to understand more completely how to heal themselves. Dr. Jain integrates her background in clinical psychology, psychoneuroimmunology, east Indian spiritual practice, and the vocal arts to share with others how they can best heal themselves and live joyful, meaningful lives. Shamini speaks and teaches in diverse venues, including TEDx, universities, conferences, hospitals, and centers. We even touch on some of the fun places she’ll be traveling this year, like the Maldives and some other beautiful tropical gorgeous locations. Her award-winning book, which sounds true called Healing Ourselves, biofield Science, and the Future of Health, is available both online and at bookstores worldwide. During this conversation, Shamini and I discussed the biofield and some exciting new research, which she’s done a fabulous job of organizing. In her book, she reveals what she thinks is the – secret in self-care, the importance of biofield awareness. Shamini explains groundbreaking research showcasing the impact of energy on cell physiology and challenges the current scientific paradigm to grow towards more inclusive systems, thinking this is a wonderful dialogue on the future of health, biofield medicine, and the relationship for human consciousness. So let’s have a listen.

(02:52): Welcome Shamini to the Conversations on Healing podcast. I’m so delighted to have you with us today.

Shamini (02:58): Thanks, Shay. It’s wonderful to be here.

Shay (03:01): I had a great time reading your latest book. It was such a fun read. So I want our audience to know about healing ourselves, biofield science, and the future of health. Um, we’re definitely gonna go into that today, but I thought a great place to start would be just to describe for our listeners what is the biofield, what are we talking about?

Shamini (03:27): Great question. And you know, it’s really a term that was coined by Western scientists in the nineties for a concept that is timeless really in Western science we described the biofield almost like a plural, because really what they are are fields of energy and information that guide our health. And it’s not really that mysterious because we know, for example, that we measure things like electrocardiograms and electroencephalograms brainwaves, EKGs to measure things about our organ systems that tell us about our health. So those are some ways that, for example, we look at biofields in clinical medicine today and we’re aware of those. Part of the work that we’re doing with my nonprofit, the Consciousness and Healing Initiative, and as you know, I’ve dove into quite deeply in my book, are also those veritable measurable fields that we measure electromagnetic fields. So that’s part of the biofield. But the other part are the subtle aspects of the biofield that have defied reliable measurement to date, and yet are absolutely crucial to understanding health from indigenous perspectives and indigenous systems of medicine. So here we’re talking about things like prana, chi, ki almost every culture has had a name for this subtle energy, which people often call it subtle energy. That’s also part of the biofield. And so part of what we’re exploring in science is, you know, how powerful are those fields for healing? Not only what can we measure, but what are we learning about biofield healing practices, both age old ones and more modern ones like reiki and healing touch. Mm-hmm. , do those actually have effects on patients? How are they helpful? How do we potentially develop our subtle awareness to tune into our own biofields? And can that help us, you know, augment our own health as well as the health of others. So it’s really, you know, if you, the biofield is in a way an umbrella term, just like consciousness is often an umbrella term.

Shay (05:31): Right? Right, exactly. And one of the things that I think you do a really nice job of in the book is organizing a lot of the data because there is a surprising amount of data, um, that’s been gathered from a number of research trials. There’s meta-analysis, there’s individual randomized controlled clinical trials, um, that have looked, uh, both in human populations and in other animal species and gathered quite a bit of interesting outcomes data. So I thought it might be nice to, uh, sort of highlight some of those key takeaways from the research for our listeners.

Shamini (06:10): Yeah, Shay, that’s a great question and, you know, directive of, you know, what do we really know about the research behind these biofield healing practices? And again, here we’re really talking about those subtle energy healing practices across the board. Well, first, if people say, oh yeah, that’s interesting. There’s not really any scientific evidence behind them. Well, that’s not true. There are over 425 clinical trials of these kinds of practices, and over 125 of those are randomized control trials, which are still typically considered the gold standard in medical research. We can talk all day long about whether those are the best methods, but when we put together the data that are looking at these healing practices for patients, what we find is that these practices are helpful for reducing pain, reducing anxiety, reducing things like behavioral symptoms in dementia patients. There’s a significant amount of data now that are pointing to their helpfulness in cancer, both reducing symptomatology and cancer like depression and fatigue and things like that. But we’re also seeing effects on the physiological level. And Shay, one of the things that I get asked a lot about by our scientists is, well, we understand you yourself have done these randomized placebo controlled trials looking in energy healing and looking at all these placebo factors and having mock healing. And you’re still seeing effects and you’re even seeing effects down to the physiology. But Shamini, humans are messy. And you know, you can try to control for placebo effects, but there’s so much going on with a human, how do you really know it’s energy? And some of the most cutting edge work that I think is absolutely fascinating in which I highlight in the book are some of the studies with these biofield healing approaches that are looking at cells and animals even. Right. And it’s not to say, you know, from one vantage point, and I think you and I would resonate with this vantage point, and probably most of your listeners, um, we would probably surmise that even cells, of course, in animals are conscious, but in the mainstream academic world, they sometimes draw this distinction between humans and cells and animals when they want to look at what they call mechanisms. Right? So cause of the golden question for these kinds of energy healing approaches is can energy reach all the way down into the skin and affect us all the way down to the physiological level? So for those kinds of questions, people like to do the cell in animal studies because there’s just less psychology presumably involved here. Right? The work that has been done now in several different labs, and, you know, we don’t have to get into super detail cuz as you know, I articulate all of this down to the cell signaling mechanisms that are happening in the books and the changes in cell subsets. So we can go as deep as we want, but in a nutshell, what we’re seeing is these energy healing approaches, and it’s not just one, it’s several different kinds have been shown to affect cancer cells. In particular, a lot of the work is being done with cancer cells, where we’re seeing in cell culture models that applying energy healing to these cells re re you know, relates to decreases in number of these cells, changes in the cell signaling of these cells. Some of the most cutting edge work that’s gonna be coming out very soon is actually looking all the way at cell voltage changes across the membranes in response to energy healing. So, and we’re seeing this in animals too, reductions in tumor growth, reductions in tumor spread, changes in inflammatory cytokines, which direct tumor spread changes in cell subsets, changes in protein kinase signaling. So what does all this mean? It really means that we’re seeing these effects again, down to the physiological level. And so my colleagues that are conducting this work are doing it so that they might be able to show the groundbreaking nature of consciousness and energetic focus down to the physiology and publish these kinds of papers, ideally in nature and science. Because what it’s telling us is actually completely profound. This is human consciousness. This isn’t a drug, it’s not even a device that we created outside of ourselves to have these very real effects, for example, in cancer physiology. So what does that say about our capacity to heal ourselves and others? And this is where I get so excited by the research because when I look at it, I say, okay, we already know from mainstream research how important connection is. Okay. So we look at that, how do we look at it on the cognitive level, on the behavioral level? You know, we look at things like how being in groups affects our mood, how it might even affect things like our mortality rates. But what is actually going on there. There’s also an energy present. And so when we tap into the biofield, we’re like tapping into this whole layer of conscious connection that is actually driving our health. There is no separation between our spiritual experience and our mental emotional and physical experience. And the connection that is being facilitated by a healing practitioner is showing us, um, the, the power of our consciousness to heal. That’s what gets me so excited about the research Shay.

Shay (11:40): Mm-hmm. There was a woman I worked with many years ago, she worked in Canada and she specialized in doing hands-on gen, very gentle touch and massage with children who had cancer of whom were in a process of dying. And they did focus groups 15 years later with the parents of the children that she worked with. Some of those children had lived, some of those children had died. And in these focus groups, 15 years after she had worked with their children, they asked the parents, what did you remember? What did you remember of the session? They couldn’t remember any of the techniques. They couldn’t remember, did she use lotion or oil or like, none of that. The thing they consistently said was about her presence, that when she came, they felt safe. They knew their child, felt safe and loved that when she was the only person that when she came, they felt comfortable going down and getting a coffee or leaving the room because they knew their child would be held with such loving presence and attention and care. And, you know, it was extraordinary to hear how their whole description of who she was and what she had done was entirely about her presence and the essence of what they felt when they were with her. And it was so positive. And, you know, for me that was such a lesson in, you know, so much of our research, so much of science, which I love, I love science. I read constantly about everything that’s coming out. Um, but it’s so focused on these like, mechanisms of action, right? Which is a very like, materialist view of how things function on a material level. And when I hear, you know, some of these kinds of stories, and certainly there’ve been a number of them in our work with integrative touch, it’s very much an immaterial experience. It’s very much about how I felt. And then yes, there are ways that that can of course impact our biology. Um, but I know this is a topic that you’re also very interested in because something that you mentioned, uh, in the book at the end of part two is about we need more inclusive systems thinking that we need to think a little bit differently about the science and not necessarily, um, tie all of our research to mechanisms of action and very like materialist views of how we function. So I wanna engage you a little bit on that topic and, and have you share some of your current thinking around that with our listeners.

Shamini (14:22): Yeah. It’s really also honestly about how we do science on a broader level, especially when we’re looking at healing. And what do we mean by healing? You know, we define the biofield, but we didn’t define healing. And sometimes I have to dispel the myth that healing is about getting rid of a disease, right? Because we’re so used to the pathogenic materialist model where there is something wrong with me, it is outside of me and I need to take some outside agent to get rid of it in order for me to be quote healed. But when we look more deeply at what healing means, it’s actually a return to wholeness. And the fundamental thing, which I know, you know, as a healing practitioner in the work that you do, and that I have heard from all of my, my fabulous colleagues across the world in healing practice, doesn’t matter what the protocol is and how they sense energy in what they do, what is it that they’re actually doing? They’re coming into presence first and foremost, right? Grounding and clearing, releasing a sense of agency or egoic will about the process, right? But ultimately they all say, I am more of, don’t call me a healer. A lot of them don’t like that term. I’m a healing facilitator and I am reconnecting this person with the essence of who they are. That’s what healing is. The healing is reconnecting with that essence of who we are to promote what we scientists like to use fancy terms sell you to genesis, the process of healing. But this is the fundamental process of healing, is it is reconnecting with the spirit, soul, greater consciousness, God, many different people have different names for this. That is the fundamental of healing. So to just simply look and see if there are some biological changes in cell signaling, as cool as that is, you have to wonder where is that going? What’s next? Are we gonna develop some kind of drug to mimic the effects of healers? A lot of people are gonna be interested in that. Does that put us right back into the pathogenic model of now I need this device to, you know, reconnect me with myself. It seems a little backwards. So when we look at studies and we examine how we wanna do science in this way, I like to talk about what I call the smart approach, which is how I would say most of science has done and what I call the heart approach, which really honors the embedded system that healing practices are in and really looking at it more as a whole system. So let me see if I can break that down a little bit. The smart approach approach is systematic. Measurable, right? Active looking for that active ingredient. You’re drilling down into all of those things. It’s, you know, systematic, you need systematized ways of looking at things in science. Measurable, we wanna know what we’re measuring, right? can be reliable but also restrictive. Because often, for example, in randomized control trials, you’re literally trying to boil it down to what you think the main active ingredient is, as if there was only one, right? And then T of course, you know, which is actually treatment focused. And when you look at the actual definition of treatment, the origin of the word, it comes from tru, which actually means to pull out. So here again, we have this idea, I’m looking at one kind of singular mechanism that I can easily measure. I’m gonna get rid of everything else and restrict everything else to look at that active ingredient, which typically is used for drug discovery. And you know, that kind of method of, you know, the curing pathogenic model and it’s about pulling something out. So that doesn’t feel very resonant with the way practitioners describe healing. And there’s some value to that approach. But when we overemphasize only that approach, and we’re not looking at healing as a whole system, there’s a problem. So what is the solution? The solution is also to look at the heart approach where, you know, H stands for first and foremost holistic, recognizing that you’re looking at a system here, that it’s an embedded system. And that the sum of the, that the, the input is basically more than just the sum of its parts, right? That what we’re looking at is a creative emergence of many things coming together in the healing process. So, you know, there’s that, there is the sense that it is embedded, right? Healing is embedded in a particular context. That’s the E. A is for allowing. So here, when we do research, instead of trying to restrict them into only one protocol or sessions done in silence, and by the way, I’ve done these trials, you know, as you know, I’ve talked about them in, in the book allowing is literally opening to the healing process. And as scientists opening to what it is that the practitioners are doing, you know, actually exploring what it is that they’re doing, categorizing them, cataloging them, we can still analyze that way. We can do all of that, right? R is for relational, it’s really highlighting the relational aspects of what are happening in healing, which is often in science. It’s like we’re trying to get rid of that effect. And that doesn’t actually make any sense. I mean, we know how powerful connection is. So instead of trying to control for it, we should be looking at it, right? And then finally, T is therapeutic. And when you look at the core root of therapy, you know what it is actually speaking to is a service is a waiting on, right? So that’s the very different approach to even the study of healing. When you consider those concepts and how we could be doing science practically, what does that mean? I’ll give you an example. Um, one of the studies that we’re conducting right now at the Consciousness and Healing Initiative is looking at a whole systems approach to studying the effects of biofield energy healing practices for anxiety in the broader population. And here we’re taking people who meet criteria for generalized anxiety. We’re really trying to target broader populations that don’t often receive care, let alone holistic care for anxiety. But we’re not limiting our practitioners and saying, you can only do one protocol. The sessions have to be in silence. We don’t care what you do in clinical practice. We’re gonna study it as a whole system. We’re gonna measure aspects of relationship and the broader, you know what some people like to call this softer side of science, right? To get at what is your experience? What is your felt experience? And tap into what is actually happening for them spiritually. Now what’s interesting, for example, about anxiety is if you actually look at the literature, there’s no solid biomarker for anxiety. Not even heart rate variability or epigenetics or all of the sexy things that we like to look at. You know, that somehow make it more real. What’s real is their experience, right? And and yes, they’re systematic and reliable ways to measure anxiety and we do that. But in the end, maybe the question is what are you noticing about your anxiety? Are you the anxiety? Are you witnessing the anxiety? Why is anxiety happening? And is there a way to mitigate the sense of suffering that you feel when you feel that anxiety? And these are the kinds of questions that we’re asking in the literature. Is it effective? Does it really work for real people in the real population? Does it work in the way that it’s practiced? Is it trainable? Can we get out there and actually train people on these practices so that we can really uplevel community health? You know, for me as a clinical psychologist, ultimately, um, it’s about scaling the practice. You know, and I, and I I think we have some really great research tools that we can use to scale and up-level those practices across community settings as well as in hospital and clinic.

Shay (21:58): Yeah. It’s fascinating. Um, when you were speaking of kind of the research design and the methodology and how we’re, you know, very strategically trying to limit and narrow it down to one thing, right? Like the one thing, and I’ve been involved in those studies both on both sides of it actually. And I remember thinking in one of the studies that we did in the neonatal intensive care unit, like, I would never practice this way. I would, my practice looks absolutely nothing like what we’ve created for this research to meet all of the demands of the design of this research study, which from, you know, an intellectual perspective I understood. But unfortunately that so altered the way in which I would’ve actually like conducted it, that it changes inevitably the results. And so, and now, goodness, the work that we do now with integrative touch, you know, our whole therapeutic model, it’s team-based. I mean this is even more complex cuz now we have sometimes three to six people that are delivering the therapeutic intervention, so to speak, right? And so now you’ve got plus on top of it, every one of these trials that I’ve been involved in, when it comes right down to it, they wanna defined protocol in advance. You will do A, then B, then C, then D. In reality, in our therapeutic approach that we’re doing with integrative touch therapy, it’s the exact opposite. The person we’re working with, you know, the client, the sometimes called patients in our world, um, we are listening, we are allowing their inner intelligence to be the guiding force that actually defines the protocol. The protocol isn’t defined in advanced in a formulaic way that’s applied to every single person. It’s customized based on that, what you were discussing earlier, that every, you know, healer worth their salt knows is that there is a wisdom within the being within the body that already knows how to heal. Right? That’s why when we get a cut, it heals over time, right? Like our bodies, we have an intelligence, a whole, whole mechanism’s already built around natural healing. And so, you know, it’s fascinating I think to think about what needs to shift in the research to take what you’re describing this much more comprehensive look, um, about kind of whole systems thinking, whole systems’ healing. Um, and you have some really interesting parts on this in the book towards the end. Um, there’s really a neat part I have to go back and look at cause it might have been the end of section two or section three, but where you’re talking about this whole, it’s like an interstitial fluid, it’s like a whole new organ system that like has been identified. You have to share a little bit about that. Cause I thought that part was so fascinating.

Shamini (24:47): Sure. Yeah. And this is cause it’s actually a perfect example of what happens when we broaden our thinking. I often even give the example of my home area of research called psycho neuroimmunology, which is a long word that is impossible to say. We joke, if you can say it seven times, you get your degree, you know, to say it seven times really fast, what is it? Well, you know, 60 years ago it didn’t exist because we didn’t think that our emotions affected our health or that our brains were connected to our immune system. That’s how little we knew. And now we’ve actually discovered in their papers published in nature showing that there’s MicroVest vessels of lymphatics in the brain, right? So the immune brain connection is very real. Well, we never thought to look there. Now with respect to the interstitium, sort of the same thing. We think about interstitial fluid, you know, in certain areas kind of constrained to organs. But our colleagues have really begun to structurally map out the body wide interstitium, which, you know, a fluid-filled cavity, not just a cavity in the body, but literally a flow of fluid in the body that connects with our connective tissue. And that appears to be very useful in exploring cellular communication across the body. They’re looking at it in, you know, with respect to cancer process, for example, at the moment. But it could also prove to be a very useful way of examining the physiological changes that happen for certain holistic practices, including movement of course. And acupuncture. Folks have been looking of course at shifts in, in, you know, collagen and sort of the shifts in fibers, um, but also potentially even for energy healing. So it is fascinating to apply, you know, the smart kind of thinking to understanding the nuances of this fascinating thing. How does energy, which is seemingly non-physical affect the physical body? This is an age old question, the mind body problem. You know, we’ve been exploring this for a very long time. And yet, like you say from a practitioner perspective, you have to just be very clear on what your goal is. You know, your goal of inquiry for research, you know, or otherwise, am I interested in sort of drilling down into exactly what’s happening in a, the physiological system, for example? Then I may wanna use more of a smart approach, right? Am I interested in knowing whether this practice is helpful for this person and how it works and why it potentially works? Those are different questions. And so much of what you described in terms of the allowing and the relational aspects of the heart approach to the study, I just want to point out it is research. It’s not that it’s not research, it’s just that we have been so fascinated with our brains and the way of like using the rational thinking mind that we have this idea that it’s only the rational thinking mind that can guide research. But look at Einstein for example, okay? He was very, he drew his inspiration from his dreams. He would, he knew how to enter a state of consciousness that was beyond the simple thinking mind in order to gain insights, which then he followed on with precise mathematical formulas and things like that, right? So what I’m suggesting is we really do need to engage collaborative collaboratively with our healing practitioners instead of just inserting them in a protocol. So when we do research at the Consciousness and Healing Initiative, everything is absolutely collaborative from the beginning of even conceiving the study, right? Um, that’s really, really important. And I think sharing as, as my healing teacher, Reverend Rosalyn Brier likes to say she’s part of our scientific advisory council actually. And she said, Shamini I just love coming to this meetings. I said, why? She said, because just by sitting with them, like my field gets smarter, right? So what I’m suggesting is that the scientists also our fields have to get smarter in that when we sit with healing practitioners and we can allow and absorb what is actually happening, then we can ask better questions that in my view are more meaningful for reducing suffering, which to me is the point of this work, really. Right?

Shay (29:04): Absolutely

Shamini (29:05): It’s not proven that energy exists. You know? I mean I I would hope that we’re kind of beyond that point. We’re not proselytizing, we’re not, you know, trying to convert people into thinking a certain way. We’re just exploring, is this helpful? And if it is, what does it say about our capacity to heal? Mm-hmm.

Shay (29:21): Yeah.

Shamini (29:22): It’s amazing work.

Shay (29:24): It is amazing work. And it, I thought it was also very interesting you touch on in the book, you know, non-local or distance healing, right? And how the heck from a scientific perspective, and you explain that, right? And you, you go through, you know, some of the possibilities there. Um, but it’s interesting cuz within our team and the work that we’ve done, when I, when we have discussions about that, like how are you getting sort of non-local information, right? Like, and what’s interesting is what a lot of folks will say is, well, it’s information. Like essentially you are your accessing information from a field that’s not bound by space and time in the way that we think, you know, things are bound. And, but it is, it’s really sort of a, an accessing of information, which is one of the topics that you discuss in the book is, you know, kind of again, what is that bio? Is it made up of? What is it made up of? Right? Is it an informational system? That’s right. So it’s fascinating to think about that. Feel free to, to add.

Shamini (30:26): Yeah. Well it absolutely is. And this is the reason why we don’t just, a lot of us don’t just call things energy healing anymore because the typical, you know, scientific definition of energy is that it drops off at a distance. So it doesn’t explain things like distant healing, but it also doesn’t explain some of the data that we’re seeing where healing is happening even in the same room. So, and I cover some of this in the book I mentioned that there are these studies now that have been conducted at Harvard, University of Connecticut, MD Anderson Cancer Center, where they will have a healer, direct energy at cells that have cancer and cells that are normal. Now here’s the, the real truth of the matter. Here’s what we know is happening when we’re observing this. It’s the same healer. The healer is directing energy in a certain way, right? With a particular intention, which is typically just for healing in general. So we know that part is somewhat consistent. Do we know if there are changes in the energy signature? No, because we haven’t really been able to fully, reliably measure the energy signatures coming off the hands that we may be able to measure some aspects of those. And I think there we’ll see more work in that. Here’s the thing though. Whether that same healer is directing energy at a normal group of cells, if they direct energy in a petri dish to normal cells, non-cancerous cells, those cells will grow in number. They will proliferate. If the same healer directs energy at a cell petri dish of cancerous cells, those cells decrease in number, they begin to die off. Now, do we know for sure that there are not changes in energies or frequencies? We don’t because we can’t measure them all, but it would suggest that there is some also some information that the energy is carrying that is different, right? And then certainly in the case of distant healing, we can’t describe what’s happening only by energy. There has to be something else. And then as you say, there is the actual experience that many healers have where they are accessing information from ancestors, you know, from others, you know, clear information about the person they’re working with, whether there’s a trauma that happened at a certain age or whatever that they’re not really talking about, but yet they get that information.

Shay (32:47): Yes.

Shamini (32:48): So how are they getting that information? And what I argue again is that, you know, we wanna sort of say, we wanna pick one thing again, we wanna pick one mechanism, it’s, you know, one cell pathway or it’s all placebo, or it’s all electromagnetic fields, or it’s all entanglement. But the data actually suggests it’s probably all those things because-we-are a multifactorial system.

Shay (33:21): They’re multifactorial yeah, exactly. You know, I’ll just share a brief story that I think illustrates this nicely. So for years we did the largest pediatric integrative medicine retreats in the country, probably in the world actually. And so we’d bring together hundreds and hundreds of children who had a variety of different illnesses and their families and a whole bunch of volunteers. And we would do about 120 different integrative healing therapies. All every, you know, all sorts of things. Wide range people had broad exposure, many, many things. And I remember one child in particular, she had a genetic condition. She was about seven years old, approximately when she came. And at that time she spoke five words. She was able to speak five words. Um, we had a one week retreat and at the end of the week she was speaking 35 words. So at the age of seven, she walked in speaking five words in one week, was speaking 35. And you know, people wanna come to you at that point and say like, what was the magic thing that did that They want a single, like you’re talking about single input, single output. And my heartfelt answer was really rooted. It wa it was in the synergistic effects. It wasn’t a single input, single output, it was multifactorial. We had, you know, all these human beings, she was exposed to all these therapies, there was a whole range of inputs that then created this particular synergistic dynamic that in her case was very beneficial for the development of language. And she’s continued to grow and evolve now beyond that and is speaking beautifully. Um, but again, I think sometimes we think too simplistically, and it is an argument that you make in the book that we have that idea of simpler is always better and not always right. Like some things are complex, some things are highly relational and, and have a multiple, you know, sort of, uh, like the way I always think about it honestly is like an ecosystem. I think about it at that level. Like we are human ecosystems, right? Um, and so you need to be thinking a little more broadly when that’s the framework that you’re holding.

Shamini (35:35): And look, we know this mean, this is something that we can share with everyone, with our patients and our clients. Psycho neuroimmunology is literally a discipline that is based on an ecosystem of our mind, body, spirit affecting us all the way down to the physiological level. And what I find about that is that it’s so empowering to share with our clients and our patients this because what it means is that not nothing I do matters. It’s the opposite. Everything I do can have an influence. It’s not just one thing. So when I change my diet, when I monitor my environment, my relationships, my energy, my mind, my emotions, all of these can have synergistic effects. And most of us know this, right? And on the personal, I, you know, veer towards sugar addiction, it’s something that I deal with on a constant basis. And I know that if I have too much sugar, my mind is dull, I’m tired, you know? And that’s going to affect everything in my ecosystem. And you know, if I’m good about eating my vegetables and like keeping my blood sugar levels strong, right? Then I have less craving, I’m more alert, I’m more present. So we understand this, you know, on a, on a conceptual, not just on a conceptual, but on a felt embodied level. We all know this to a certain degree. The biofield work is really just tapping into that subtle awareness of the ecosystem that I think is really amazing. So in one way we can say, okay, mind, body, emotions, energy. But you know, I think for those of us who practice, we know that we can tap into the energetic feeling of the food. We can tap into the visceral sensation of the emotion, right? We can foster an even deeper spiritual connection by tapping into energy. So I always, I do feel like this aspect of what we call the biofield has almost been our best kept secret in self-care. You know, I think there’s um, tremendous payoff for all of us to augment our subtle awareness, you know, our awareness of the field. I think it can be very, very helpful for us.

Shay (37:44): And you do also discuss a little bit, um, in the book about kind of subtle bodies. And you mentioned to me that you’d recently gone to, um, a gathering at Esson where there, this was a key topic of conversation and I thought that might be a topic some of our listeners would be interested in cuz they may not be informed about it. So maybe you could explain a little bit about that and some of what is being, you know, learned and discussed currently.

Shamini (38:10): Yeah. One of the things, you know, when we talk with folks and they say, oh yeah, okay, energy you, so you mean like reiki and all that? And, and, and Reiki actually has a beautiful history that is act actually grounded in many of the, um, indigenous, uh, spiritual systems. But often people think of this as new age or woowoo. And in fact the concept of subtle energy and the subtle bodies, meaning bodies that are beyond the physical body and the relationship to self-development, to spiritual awakening, um, and to healing, um, are very vast. So one thing that I learned at this beautiful meeting at Esent on the subtle bodies is that every culture has had descriptions of this and they are similar and different. So one of the things we discussed at that meeting was, okay, what’s our goal? Are we trying to create a massive cartography that we’re umbrella of the subtle bodies that everything fits under? Are we okay with the plurality that for example, different systems describe the chakras or the energy meridians or the nies and different ways and they don’t all correspond. There’s even a discussion about are the subtle bodies real or imaginable? And can you create subtle bodies with your consciousness where they’re not always actually there, but they can be created. Now what’s fascinating is, you know, when I was sitting and talking, they were super excited for me to share about the empirical science behind this, right? These are humanity scholars who know the languages, the ancient languages have looked at these ancient texts across different traditions across the world, right? Spiritual traditions, contemplative traditions, medical traditions. Um, what was really fascinating was, you know, even in the western traditions, the concept of the subtle body or subtle bodies has always been there, right? And the eastern traditions of course, and other indigenous systems. And those have informed the practice of health and medicine. So, you know, examples are Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Tibetan medicine, African medicine, like all of those stemmed from a deep understanding of consciousness, the role of consciousness as it comes through what we call the subtle bodies, which some people might call the etheric body. You know, the bliss body, the causal body, different names for these types of bodies. And that these subtle bodies service as a bidirectional communication system between the spirit and the physical body. Right? That’s really the point. And that’s sort of how I describe the biofield. You know, what is it? It is this big giant umbrella term where everyone is looking at pieces of the elephant. We can look at the biofields of cells of people of the earth. You know, we can look at it from all these perspectives. So ultimately what does it mean? It is a communication system. It’s something we can tap into to get more fortified by our spiritual power, which then augments the healing process as you well know, right? And as you know from the work that you do, you can actually cohere and connect by bio fields for powerful group healing. And we’re seeing that too reflected in the data, which is really exciting. So the bodies are, you know, one of the ways that people have described kind of on the metaphysical level, you know, what’s going on in spiritual practice and it’s all really based on adept practitioners descriptions of literally what they saw felt, um, and how they understood that to work in the spiritual liberation and healing process. And I, what I love about it is they’re not all the same, you know? Right. The, the details can kind of differ, but the basic concept of that we have more than just the physical body, um, is pretty resonant across culture.

Shay (42:01): Yeah, that’s great. There’s another area that I wanted to touch on with you cuz I know it’s something you’re very passionate about, which is sound healing, the use of things like mantras, a way to kind of create an internal vibration and resonance in the body. And as I understand it, you’re about to launch into a pretty big study of sound dealing. So I thought you might wanna share a little bit about that and what you’re learning and exploring.

Shamini (42:27): Yeah, thank you for that. Well, you know, during Covid when everyone was shut down, we were trying to figure out what could we do to help mitigate, um, you know, the mental emotional suffering that we were seeing everywhere. And we decided to do a feasibility study looking at a sound healing approach called biofield tuning. And I went to the practitioners and I said, well, I know, you know, during lockdown you’re not having people come into the office, but are you still practicing? And they said, absolutely. And I said, well, how are you doing it? They said, we’re doing it at a distance, you know, back to our discussion of distant healing, which most practitioners I know do and certainly were during Covid. And I said, well what, what do you think about us doing a study actually exploring how your approach, where they’re using tuning forks to basically tune into a person’s field, recognize where the stagnations are, which they do by hearing the sound of the tuning forks, and also by feeling into the field. And they use a process that they call columning and combining to literally move the energy back into the body and adhere, kind of bring that energy into the nadi, for example. Right. And clear in that way. It’s a much more detail than that. It’s based on the work of Eileen Sik. She’s written a book called Tuning the Human Biofield, which people can check out. Um, anyway, in a nutshell, we’ve found that in that very small study, you know, one group design feasibility study, this was tremendously powerful for reducing anxiety for people who met criteria for generalized anxiety disorder. After just a few short weeks of receiving this sound healing, they no longer met criteria for anxiety. But what was also very interesting, we did qualitative interviews again, you know, using more of a hard approach again to kind of get at the nuances of their experience. We measured changes in spoken language, you know, all of these different ways that we tried to get at the ecosystem, if you will, their relationship to their anxiety changed. It was almost like a mindfulness effect where they recognized that they were not their anxiety and they said, I can watch all this stuff going on, but now I’m witnessing it and I don’t feel so caught up in it anymore. It’s not my identity. Right. And even in that, like disengaging from the emotion in that way to be able to witness it allowed for less suffering to take place and less feelings of anxiety. So now we’re following that up with a randomized controlled trial, which we will have, you know, proper control groups, potentially even comparison groups with other types of biofield therapies to just examine, you know, what are, what is the promise and the power of these holistic approaches. And I’m really excited too to kind of get into those interviews because this time we’ll have a little bit longer time to work with people. You know, ideally we’re hoping to give them at least six sessions over a period of time and do some follow up because I’m very interested in that inner experience that people are having, you know, the things that we don’t measure by biomarkers, meaning, you know, did they havea resolution of some trauma that they were holding onto in the field that might have been exacerbating their sense of anxiety in the first place. Right. And how long does that last? Does that actually last for them? You know, even after the sessions are over, these are some of the payoffs. I mean, what are the payoffs? We have a lot of different treatments for anxiety. The bio filled work can be given at a distance. You don’t necessarily need, um, a mental health degree to do it, although you do, you know, have to have some capacity. You do training, you know, you have to be in a mentally and emotionally grounded place. Um, but it’s very trainable. It can be scaled at a distance and it is tapping into a spiritual dimension that often we don’t do in talk therapy. So I suspect it could be really, really useful for mental health and that we’re underutilizing biofield approaches for mental health actually. So I’m really excited to do the study and we are targeting, you know, those in, um, communities again who don’t always receive care, including the black indigenous people of color community, including those in the lgbtq SIA two plus communities. We know that those communities often, um, have, um, just un they just don’t get enough services for mental health. And so it appears that, you know, um, they suffer more, uh, because they’re just, you know, there’s not as much access to this care. So we joke about getting bio filled science out of the ghetto, but I also joke about getting bio filled practices out of the spa you know

Shay (46:48): Right.

Shamini (46:49): Expanding beyond just, you know, that kind of paying out of pocket system.

Shay (46:53): Mm-hmm. Absolutely. And, and I wanna make sure that we share with our listeners that you have a very interesting science of healing course that’s like an eight module course as I understand it. Um, that could be accessed also, and we’ll be sure to include that in the show notes. But if you wanted to share briefly about that course for our listeners, that might be nice for them to hear.

Shamini (47:15): Yeah, I’d be happy to. You know, it’s a beautiful offering, um, put together by our nonprofit, the Consciousness and Healing Initiative. And we’re really a community, we’re a community of scientists and healing practitioners and thought leaders. So everyone came together for this course. You know, there are over 35 guest faculty where we cover topics like consciousness healing, placebo, subtle bodies, um, clinical studies and preclinical studies devices, um, and the future of health. So we have really top leading MDs and researchers as well as some of our wonderful healing practitioners that are well known and respected like Donna Eden and Cindy Dale, Dr. Sue, um, Pamela Miles, who also each give us healing practices every week. So we’re engaging in practices and we’re learning from panel discussions, which are very accessible about like what the latest is. They’re peer reviewed-published papers, um, that we’ve kind of curated for people to learn more about the topic and overviews provided by myself. So if this area’s new to you, it’s very accessible because the overview videos are really just kind of summarizing the nuggets, for example, that I talk about in the book. And then for those who wanna dive deeper, they’re the peer reviewed published references. We are offering continuing education credits for the course for nurses and mental health professionals. So it’s a great way to get CE credits in in a way that’s really just super inspiring. We’ve gotten so much great feedback on, on the course.

Shay (48:43): That’s wonderful to hear. When you think about your own life Shamini and you think of healing and what have been some of the key lessons that you’ve learned about healing just through personal experience, what stands out for you?

Shamini (48:59): Time and space, even though this is timeless and spaceless, the paradoxes, because most of us are living typically in time and space in terms of deadlines, you know, obligations, roles and responsibilities, multi-dimensional lives. The key thing that I’ve noticed, both for myself and as a teacher is that when we dedicate time and space for healing and literally prioritize, you know, spending time with our spirit, everything else falls into place. So it’s very difficult cuz sometimes we say, well, I don’t have time to meditate, I don’t have time for this or whatever. But even it’s, it’s the intent because even five minutes of just bringing that self-love and self-care to you, especially if you’re a practitioner, right? But even if you’re not for your healing process, tremendous, tremendous.

Shay (50:01): Yeah. Yeah, there is a paradox there. And I know you and I had discussed a little bit previously about Sacred Space and you know, these like powerful sacred spaces and it sounded like you’ve recently published, a paper on the effects of the biofield of being like in a sacred space. So share a little bit about that and what you found.

Shamini (50:26): Well this is why know, coming back to a beautiful quote of Tik Han who says “A person without a suna is like a drop of, of rain in the desert”, right? So there is a vibrational truth to this. And what we’re starting to learn is that when we go into these sacred spaces where literally the whole area is resonating with collective practice, the energy changes. So we’re just beginning to do some exploratory work in this arena. Just published a paper looking at the effects of touching a sacred object in the sacred space and the effects on biophoton emission from the fingers, um, as a result. And we see this amplification in, you know, actual measurable energy for people who come into contact with these sacred objects in sacred spaces. There’s so much more to explore here, and again, back to our practice and time and space. In my book I talk about, as you know, the third part is all practical, it’s called the Healing Keys. And it’s really about how do I put this into my life? And one of the keys is really creating our healing ritual, and that means creating our sacred space, right? So we’re literally building up the vibration in that space, whether it’s five minutes or 50 minutes a day, right? And so we’re, we’re coming into that sacred vibration so that we can be nourished by it. That’s the beauty of the Biofield.

Shay (51:45): Yes. And I have to say it’s for 18 years with Integrative Touch. We’ve always taken our work elsewhere into hospitals, into palliative care centers, into clinics, into outpatient facilities. We’ve been doing healing retreats on the road in other places. We’ve always been in other people’s spaces trying to do this beautiful work and converting it. And for the first time we’re launching a healing center where we will have our own sacred space that we can cultivate and develop. And I just can’t wait to see what that feels like a year or two in of Oh yeah. It’s gonna be rich.

Shamini (52:23): Yeah. I love that. That’s beautiful. Yeah.

Shay (52:26): It’s gonna be rich. So, um, in kind of wrapping up our beautiful conversation today, Shamini, I just wanted to give you a chance if there’s anything else that feels important for you to share.

Shamini (52:37): Well, just thanks to all the listeners. I do invite you to check out our nonprofit, the Consciousness and Healing Initiative or CHI, um, I’m sure you’ll be sharing links, but it’s, uh, because Chi is, uh, it’s a beautiful community of people. Um, and we often have gatherings online and, and otherwise. So, um, feel free to tap into that. And I do my own speaking and teaching so people can always find me there on, on social. I’m doing some very fun events this year in beautiful places.

Shay (53:08): Good. Well that even makes it more fun if you can get to beautiful places.

Shamini (53:12): Yeah, we’ve got The Bahamas, the Maldives, uh, potentially Mexico. So because again, speaking of, you know, sacred spaces.

Shay (53:22): Right?

Shamini (53:23): We should be allowed to engage in our self-care in these beautiful spaces with beautiful community. And you know, I’m honored to be helping lead those, um, in our own ways and, you know, we do do a lot of sound work and fun exploration, creative play to really connect with our fields in a loving and playful way.

Shay (53:42): And hopefully that’ll encourage us to continue to take good care of our planet so we have these beautiful spaces that we can continue to enjoy for many years to come.

Shamini (53:52): Yes. So we are fed by the land and we honor her and, you know, we pay reverence to being able to be on the sacred land that we are on. Yeah. I’m very, very blessed to have that and must maintain it.

Shay (54:04): Yeah. Well, thank you so much for the beautiful work that you’re doing, Shamini, and the way that you’ve integrated, you know, the science and the biofield all into one book. It’s, it’s quite, um, an important contribution. So thank you for what you do.

Shamini (54:21): Thank you so much Shay. Appreciate it. And, thanks everyone for listening.

Conclusion (54:27): We hope you enjoyed this episode of The Conversations on Healing Podcast. If you haven’t yet, please go to Apple Podcast, Spotify or your preferred podcast platform and subscribe, rate and review this podcast. It helps so you won’t miss an episode. See you next time.