If you ask any of my friends, they'll tell you I'm a pretty big subscriber to wellness culture. I wouldn't say I'm full Goop, but I do pull tarot cards regularly, carry crystals when I travel, do breath work and meditation daily. I also love an ice bath and have an open mind to alternative therapies — think sound baths, acupuncture and meditation.
So to them, it comes as no surprise that I put my hand up to have an energy-healing with Chiropractor and Counsellor, Dr Sarah Jane, the founder and creator of the healing modality Spinal Energetics, when her email landed in my inbox. While I've had traditional energy healings before, what piqued my interest about Dr Sarah's particular modality, was the combination of Eastern and Western techniques. Keen to learn more, I flew down to meet her and attend my first session with Dr Sarah.
What is Spinal Energetics?
According to Dr Sarah, it's a practice that combines Eastern and Western thought, and allows practitioners to interact with a person’s spine, nervous system and energetic field (often with and without touch), to harness a person’s own innate wisdom and intuition.
"Each living being is not just a physical form but also a being of energy," says Dr Sarah. "Energy encompasses each of our aspects: physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and soul; woven together with our ancestry, experiences, stories, personality, and character. Energy is a spectrum from underactive to overactive. As spinal energetics practitioners, we intend to support our clients in meeting the middle path of homeostasis; balance."
By working with a person's energy, they use a series of light yet powerful touches and non-touches, as well as an organic flow of movement and sound to help shift, unwind, discover and release tension, resistance, and stories that may have been stored in the body.
So, what's a Spinal Energetics session like?
I met Sarah at a local yoga studio in Surry Hills where she was hosting a pop-up day for Sydney clients (she usually operates out of her gorgeous Richmond studio in Melbourne). Dr Sarah was warm, radiated positivity, and greeted you in just the way you'd hope when you're slightly nervous about what lies ahead — vibrantly.
We popped into a private room where she explained what might take place during our session, what energetic sensations might arise and what feelings might stir. Once all of that was out of the way, I laid down and Dr Sarah began to do a sort of body scan.
Dr Sarah explained that she was "assessing my leg length and tension patterns in the spine, and evaluating for resonance within the energetic field layers". As she moved around my body, she would tell me which areas of the body reflected which areas of my life, — for example, my left arm carries my emotional tension, my chest carries matters of the heart, and my right arm carries my physical tension (to name a few key areas). Depending on how much tension was there determined how much we would focus on those areas during our healing session.
This led to what I can only describe as the most intense sensation in the whole 45-minute session. To test how much my body was 'holding' onto energetically in each arm, Sarah sort of tugged each one to see whether I felt anything move up energetically towards my neck and shoulders. When I say 'felt energy', I can only liken it to a sort of pins and needles sensation that travels up your arms.
The distance the electrical current/energy sensation travels is a representation of how much energy is built up in the body. So, if it were to travel all the way from my fingers, up into the neck, it shows that there is a significant amount that the body is still holding on to.
My two biggest tension points were my hips (a sign of indecision) and my chest (a sign of emotional matters of the heart). I also had some tension in the upper neck indicating an overactive mind — something I am already well aware I need to work on.
We then began the second and third stages of the session, which Dr Sarah describes as light touch and spinal energetics. "This part involves light yet specific touches to the spine, energetic layers and centres, that cue the body's innate healing response to unlock tension patterns stored in the body," she explains.
"We use these activations, contacts and sounds to assist your spine/nervous system in adapting and releasing tension via the energetic field... This then leads the inner wisdom to alter these patterns on its own, leading to more efficient communication between your brain, body and spirit."
All I had to do was a little deep breathwork practice and let the experience unfold. As we dug deeper into the root causes of these tension points held within my body, I found that Sarah wasn't telling me anything my intuition hadn't been screaming at me for months now. I have been quite indecisive lately about making some bigger changes in my life as I approach my thirties, and I have been holding back a little in my new relationship, for fear of having my heart broken, again. So it was like Sarah was tapping into everything I'd been storing in my body over the last six or so months and really opening up my connection to self.
From there, she moved into the fourth and fifth stages of our session, which Dr Sarah describes as psychosomatic movement, and new patterns and spontaneous movement.
The psychosomatic movement focuses on the concepts of spinal 'unwinding' and the rhythmic movements that your body naturally produces in response to stress and tension. As Dr Sarah moves around making light touches, sounds and cues, it allows the body to unwind these tension patterns within. I found that parts of my body mindlessly felt the need to move, change position, or let my breath sink deeper into that part of my body. It was like every body part was experiencing some kind of 'release'.
Dr Sarah explains that "in time, with repeated SE (spinal energetic) sessions, the body creates new optimal patterns focused on the present, and as a result, has new strategies for facing stress and tension as a human being. Additionally, the client's body will move spontaneously on its own, creating an empowering experience for the client and not one that is solely reliant upon a practitioner — leading to improved overall wellness and energy."
For me, the experience really helped point out that I needed to re-align myself with what I know is right for me. I asked Sarah before I got up from the table what was the most common energetic block she saw in her clients, to which she replied, "being out of alignment with their true self". And I felt that. I've been feeling that way for a while now, and with Sarah's help, it was all bubbling to the surface.
After we wrapped up the session, I felt an immense sense of relief, like my body had just sat down after a long, hard day's work. I also felt a strange sense of empowerment, like I knew what I had to do to feel aligned with my life again. Dr Sarah did warn me that I may feel tired and slightly drained post-session, which I did, but said I would feel better after drinking some water and doing a bit of physical movement.
As my boyfriend picked me up from the airport after flying back from Sydney, I told him about my experience, and couldn't quite put my finger on what exactly it was that I was feeling. I could only describe it as lighter, more self-assured and with a new sense of balance — like my mind, body and soul were all in agreement with what I was being indecisive about, and I was ready to move forward.
Would I have another session?
Yep, I'm hoping I'll be able to make it back to see Dr Sarah at her Melbourne studio. This kind of spiritual practice is adjacent to the modalities I find comfort in, so it's not too much of a stretch for me. And while it may not sound like it would be everyone's cup of tea, Dr Sarah assured me that spinal energetics is for everyone. It's not as intimidating as it sounds, and may certainly have some benefits if you're open to the experience.
Please note, none of the information set out in this article should be construed as medical advice. Please speak to your medical practitioner to receive advice that is specific to your condition.