Shelley's Self-Help

Reiki And Energy Manipulation

By Sam Erickson 


Some traditional and complementary medicinal treatments, like acupuncture, are thousands of years old. Others, like Reiki, were invented this past century. Pronounced "ray-key," this complementary practice was invented in the 1920s by Mikao Usui who is reported to have received the ability to heal after weeks of fasting and meditation. It involves the laying on of hands to help control, balance and channel chi, a universal life force said to exist in all living things. There has been no scientific proof of the concept of chi, but its existence is the basis for many systems of healing, including tai chi and acupuncture. A Reiki treatment has several different elements. The patient will lie down on a massage table, remain clothed and try to relax. The practitioner generally takes a few moments to get in touch with a meditative state of mind and relax. Often, the hands are placed directly on the body, but occasionally they are left a few centimeters above the body. Some practitioners have a dedicated set of hand movements that leads them to an understanding of how the body is working. Others try to feel the energy of the patient and manipulate it through the laying on of hands. It is also said that Reiki practitioners can learn to heal at a distance through the use of certain symbols. Reiki is often seen primarily as a spiritual practice, and many medical professionals are skeptical about its claims of healing and transcendence. Many practitioners, however, feel that the practice helps improve the mind and body and encourages overall health. Many report a feeling of deep relaxation and glowing with powerful energy. This has been attributed to the placebo effect by those outside of the industry. While Reiki is a spiritual practice, it is not a religion and has no dogma, no churches and no priestly cast. The central tenet of Reiki is that the energy of the universe is intelligent and does not need to be guided because it understands what needs to be done. Practitioners are initiated during an attunement process where they begin to connect with and understand how energy moves through the universe. It is believed that energy is malleable and fluid, and Reiki helps people move back to their true selves from which they have deviated. Healers do not need to diagnose or understand the root cause of suffering in order for Reiki to be a helpful practice. There are a wide range of Reiki practices, and practitioners may develop their own style or follow a particular school. Reiki is still an unproven treatment, and it is best to research a practitioner, their references and any complaints that have been lodged against them, preferably before you get the bill. Many people swear by the mental, physical, emotional and spiritual benefits that come from a whole-body Reiki treatment. Perhaps it is the best complementary therapy for you. 

Modern Shamanism

By Sam Erickson 


Mention the word "shaman" and most people will have a negative reaction. Some will think of strange men dancing around with sticks or mud. Some might even think that shamanism is extinct. Despite these images, which aren't altogether wrong, shamanism is seen as a legitimate medical practice in many places around the world. There is no single tradition of shamanism, as many different traditions have evolved from a multitude of indigenous groups. Shamanic practices have been found in many Native American groups, Australian Aborigines and indigenous peoples of the Himalayas as well as many other areas. Some speculate that the different practices have all evolved from a single source, lost in the annals of time. Central to the shamanic tradition is the undertaking of journeys into the spirit world. Shamans voluntarily enter altered states of consciousness that allow their spirits to travel to other realms. Shamans remain in control of their spirits and consciously interact with other beings. In order to get into this other stage of consciousness, a trance is usually induced by rhythmic drumming or percussion. Once in this altered state, the shaman must contact spiritual entities like power animals, spiritual teachers and angels. They must master this skill, as these are considered dangerous entities. It is these entities that provide insight that can be brought back and used to help the patient. Shamans are trained to serve both themselves and their community through their healing arts. While the methods can be debated, this is the same oath that doctors and other medical professionals take. After the shaman returns from the altered state, they perform a healing ritual according to the traditions that have been passed down from master to student. Like many forms of medicine, shamanism is an ever-growing and changing field, with practitioners adding their own knowledge to the wisdom they have received. Shamanism is a practice that is specific to each culture, and its practices in the Western world have adapted to those conditions. Shamanism has branched into several different schools, often with an interest in including urban practices that are heavily influenced by Christianity. There is also an atrophying of the oral tradition and the ability to access spiritual traditions through books and the Internet that has never been seen before. This can lead to practitioners with little formal training from a respected expert in the field. All of these new influences have changed how shamans operate in the modern world. Shamanism has long been on the periphery of the healing arts, but it is primarily focused on spiritual healing, which can then have an effect on mental and physical health. Like Reiki and even acupuncture, shamanism is a form of energy medicine that is growing in popularity and participation in the West. Many of its practitioners are guarded about becoming more popular. With a little more knowledge, it is easy to see past the standard and often scary images that have been popularized in culture. 

Ony Yoga!

By Shelley D Brienza

I thought it might be good for me to write an article on Yoga and my experience with it as a first time class attendee. A friend of mine asked me if I wanted to try yoga in a class setting overlooking the Great Sacandaga Lake. I said sure why not give it a try. I need to get in better shape anyway and our plans to walk every day haven’t exactly panned out.


Ony Antonucci, what a lady! She has so many talents, and she has this air about her that radiates such calmness and peace. She holds her classes at her home studio overlooking the Sacandaga Lake. It’s a perfect setting to become grounded, which I’ve learned means to really feel the earth’s goodness within, and re focus yourself away from all your daily troubles. Try to imagine yourself melting into the earth. It feels good to your body, soul and mind, and the room fills with this spirit of likeness. It’s hard to put into words. You should try it.


What exactly is yoga? I certainly didn’t know before recently buying a DVD on eBay to try it at home first. It taught me the basics, but it was like listening to a foreign language because I didn’t understand the foundation of yoga.


Yoga is an ancient physical and spiritual discipline and branch of philosophy that originated in India reportedly more than 5,000 years ago. The word yoga comes from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to yoke, join, or unite.

There is no written record of who invented yoga because it was practiced by yogis (yoga practitioners) long before humans knew how to write. Yogis over the millennia passed down the discipline to their students, and many different schools of yoga developed as it spread. The earliest written record of yoga, and one of the oldest texts in existence, is generally believed to be written by Patanjali, an Indian yogic sage who lived somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 years ago. Patanjali is credited with writing the Yoga Sutras (sutra means "thread" in Sanskrit), which are the principles, philosophy, and practices of yoga that are still followed today.


Yoga uses asana (postures), focused concentration on specific body parts, and pranayama (breathing techniques) to integrate the body with mind and mind with soul.


So now you have a brief history on yoga. I am amazed at how many people regularly practice yoga. Yoga today is used for wellness benefits like stress reduction, quality of life, health conditions and specific ailments like back or neck pain.


Now my experience going into this class was a little bit nerve-wracking at first because I have an ailment. I have a bad case of Scoliosis. I have for many years been to a chiropractor for this condition and that helped immensely. Yoga is different than chiropractic work but can be a very effective alternative. I didn’t consult my chiropractor for his advice first if it was a good idea for me to practice yoga. That is probably not recommended, but I am being honest. I figured if I have lived with Scoliosis ever since I was born then I know my body better than anyone and what limitations I have. And I do have some. And that is the great thing about Ony’s class; she teaches you it is all right to have limitations. Yoga is about what you can do and not about what you cannot do. That made a huge difference to me.


Don’t go by what you see on TV or in some magazines or books that offer such poses that you think what kind of benefit could that ever have on you…it’s not like that. It’s the stretching you do that seems to be most beneficial. And don’t think you will feel uncomfortable doing this because you thought it was affiliated with some religious group. It’s just not like that. It has a religious background to it but I feel it is a non- denominational background. It originated from India remember, but it is more about a joining of persons within a like-minded goal.


However, I would recommend you discuss yoga with your doctor before starting if you have medical conditions like heart disease or high blood pressure and a host of other issues that only a doctor could advise you on. Ony is a yoga instructor that is highly trained, but she is not a doctor so just check it out first with them.


Ony also has taught at the Fulton County YMCA at 213 Harrison Street in Johnstown recently in conjunction with Healthlink Littauer. The YMCA’s own Health and Wellness Director, Sheldon Howard, even took her class and stated he left feeling refreshed and relaxed as her teaching style has a wonderful warm, nurturing and upbeat style.

In my own words, I feel that after taking just two classes with Ony Antonucci my mood was better. I was definitely more relaxed in a deeper way than I even thought possible. All the tension just erased from my body as we did our cool down. She teaches you breathing methods that help to reduce stress and in today’s society, I think we can all use some of that. My body just felt better. All this I thought, and without the use of medications to cover up ailments. It is all so natural.

Yoga is a great complement to aerobic and resistance exercise too. I highly suggest that you might give Ony Antonucci’s Yoga class a try sometime. You might be really surprised at the benefits you experience. Even if you only have the slightest interest in yoga, I believe it’s worth a try. Check out her website for more information or how to contact Ony.

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© 2019 Shelley B.


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