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Walk with Me

By Sharon E. Martin, M.D., Ph.D.

My tipping point toward learning about shamanic practice and energy medicine came completely unexpectedly. I opened a clinic in rural Pennsylvania about 18 years ago and was faced every day with the differences between Western medicine and what felt to me like a more holistic healing approach.


One day, a Friday evening, about 5 o’clock, after a long week of seeing patients back-to-back, I was exhausted and ready to drop. The drive home was about 30 miles, and I was eager to get started. I came out of the exam room and stood at the counter in the nurses’ station to finish up my paperwork for the last patient. I looked up and saw the receptionist walking down the hall from the main lobby, a worried look on her face.


She told me a young man had come into the office with his girlfriend—he was not our patient—complaining of anxiety and looking agitated. The receptionist had talked over the situation with one of the nurses; they both thought it was important that I see this patient. My mind was a tumble of thoughts, some of them not so charitable because of the time and possible needs. Doesn’t he have his own doctor (meaning, why do I have to work late on a Friday night)? What if he is clinically psychiatric (meaning, how am I going to get the state police or ambulance here to bring him to a psychiatric facility; or, what if it takes the police two hours to get here and I am stuck waiting)? Do we have to restrain him if he needs psychiatric admission and refuses to go (am I putting my staff in an unsafe position)?


I took the young man into the exam room while his girlfriend sat in the waiting room. Something told me to put away the computer and paper; I turned my gaze to him and just sat. He was handsome and youthful, with soft blonde hair that curled gently on his head. Later, I reflected that he looked like a cherub. He began to tell me of the vivid dreams he had every night; dreams about things that would happen to people he knew and sometimes to people he had never met. Mostly, the dreams were about bad outcomes for the people. In the daytime he could not get the images out of his head. The worry was disrupting his sleep and his ability to find peace.


The key thing in psychiatry, at least at the level of a general practitioner, is whether these images are hallucinations or whether his beliefs were paranoid or delusional. Was he simply having a bipolar episode with his mind racing and his problems sleeping and eating? I decided to call his girlfriend back to the exam room. When he has these dreams, I asked her, do they come true? Do they yield accurate predictions? Yes, she said. Then I asked whether anyone else had noticed his ability to predict the future. Again, her answer was yes. In fact, his grandmother was a Romani and told the family when this young man was a toddler that he had “the sight.” The more I learned about him, the more I realized that Western medicine’s approach would not be helpful and might even be harmful. First, he was not crazy, and no amount of medication would fix what was ailing him. He had heightened intuitive skills, even predictive skills. The most psychiatry could offer was anti-anxiety medications, which would be sedating at best. And pushing this lovely young man into the medical system would cause him to be labeled as defective or “cracked,” which he was not. Rather, he was extremely intuitive and empathic traits that are undervalued in our society. What he really needed to learn was when to allow his “seeing” to occur, to make it on his terms. In a sense, he needed to gain mastery over his perceptions.


I told him how I saw his issues and that I did not think he was crazy. That was all he wanted to know. The relief on his face when I said this was reassuring to him and rewarding to me. Had I not seen this issue from an out-of-the-box perspective, things would have turned out a lot differently. I suggested that he seek out some renowned intuitives and find out how they learned to master their “sight.” He left the office that day calmer and reassured. I left the office committed to learning a new way of “seeing” things myself.


Not long after, I began in-depth shamanic energy training with Alberto Villoldo, Ph.D., founder of the Four Winds Society, an organization that teaches healing of the luminous energy body. Over the last, nearly 20 years, I have studied with some master healers, some of whom are very intuitive as they work with the energy body, while some follow techniques passed down from the elders of indigenous cultures. The commonality among all my teachers is that they firmly believe the pathways to health and well-being are much broader and deeper than those used in Western medicine. I have come to agree with them.


Sharon E. Martin, M.D., Ph.D., graduated from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and is a board-certified physician of Internal Medicine with a doctorate in physiology. She is a graduate of the Healing the Light Body curriculum of the Four Winds Society and the host of two radio shows, Maximum Medicine, and Sacred Magic, aired on the Transformation Talk Radio network. A doctor at a rural health clinic, she lives in Hustontown, Pennsylvania.

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