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Tuesday, 02 September 2003

My Mother The Healer

Written by  Sara Rivka Ernstoff

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It was strange growing up with a mother who was a healer. For one thing, when I got sick she never took me to a doctor. Instead, she offered to do Therapeutic Touch on me. In Therapeutic Touch the healer waves her hands over your body, about six inches away, and "clears the blocked energy fields."

Lying in bed, moaning with the flu, I would snarl, "No, I don't want a healing. I want a box of tissues, some aspirin and a bowl of chicken soup."

"But chicken soup is too yin," she'd reply. "How about miso?" I remember this clearly. It was during her macrobiotic phase. That phase ended after about a month, thank goodness, with a trip to Dunkin' Donuts. We threw out the umeboshi plums a few years later when we moved.

"Why do you feel that you needed to get sick?" she'd ask.

"Oh, I don't know, Ma. Maybe it has something to do with the virus that's going around." I could never come up with a reason for needing to be sick. It wasn't until I hit adulthood that I realized that I didn't "need" to be sick! I just was.

As a result of this line of questioning I've developed an aversion to finding psychological reasons for illnesses. Germs, viruses and bacteria do exist. While I may be more vulnerable to illness at certain times, I can never know for sure why I got sick. And it always felt like she was blaming me. To this day I overreact when I hear what sounds to me like someone blaming themselves for their illness.

Recently a friend told me she was suffering from a severe vaginal yeast infection. "I went to my healer," she informed me. "She said I'm angry at my husband and that's why I'm in such pain. I'm visualizing forgiveness to relieve my anger."

Visualizing forgiveness? I went ballistic! I started to visualize the seven out of ten women who, at any given moment, are in a state ranging from mildly annoyed to full of rage at their spouses. Do they all itch over it? Something like three out of 10 women will get a yeast infection this year. Are they the same women who are angry with their husbands? Or are they the other three?

After four days of visualizing and forgiving, my friend felt no improvement. Finally I screamed, "Go to the drugstore! They have medicine for this! Isn't a tube of yeast killing cream healing, too? I bet even Shirley MacLaine uses it!"

At 16, I asked to borrow Mom's car for the weekend. "May I also have the credit card," I pushed, "you know, in case the car breaks down or something?"
"Oh, no," Mom insisted. "Stand close to the car and close your eyes. I'll visualize white light surrounding the car. There... I see it. Okay," she smiled. "You're protected and the car's protected." Who needs American Express when you have white light?

Other people's parents go house hunting with them. Not my Mom. She was too busy giving and going to workshops on sound-healing, light-healing, aromatherapy, aura-reading, Kabbalah and meditation. But not to worry. She gave me a large purple crystal to take along. I explained to the real-estate agent, "My mother picks up vibrations from it." The agent didn't care. She just wanted her commission.

It was hard being the daughter of a celebrity. I'd be walking down the street only to be stopped by a casual acquaintance -- or a total stranger. "Wait. Isn't Kaya your mother?" the rapt woman would breathe. "Oh, I just love her. I heard her on the radio last week. I called in for an on-air psychic reading. Since then my whole life has turned around!"

I'd sigh. Since then the milk has turned too, I'd think. It'd be nice if Mom would stop saving lives, come back to planet earth and buy some groceries. Not that we children were neglected, you understand. Mom would frequently phone home, and was amenable to hints. "Mom, visualize pizza. Breathe deeply. Can you see it, oozing cheese, crusty crust, mushroom and onion? Good. Please activate this into the physical realm and pick one up on the way home!"

I have to admit that I always thought Therapeutic Touch was baloney. First of all, why did she call it Therapeutic Touch if she didn't really touch you? The theory is the same as acupuncture. Instead of needles breaking up blocked meridians, her hands radiate energy, accomplishing the same thing.

After holding her hand over the "blocked" area she shakes her hands toward the floor. The first time she did a healing on one of the kids my husband worried about our oriental carpet. "What's she putting on it?" he whispered to me. We both stared downward. "What if it wears out the rug?"

The kids allowed my mother to work on their bruises and sprains. But I, stubborn since childhood, always refused on the grounds that I just didn't believe in it until I had a horrible breast infection from a clogged milk duct as a result of nursing. "Would you like a healing?" Mom asked.

"Fine," I snapped, grouchy from the pain. "But I'm not going to tell you which side. You tell me," I challenged.

She held her hands over my chest and said, "It's the right side." Bingo. A minute later I felt a sharp, searing pain as if I had been stabbed with a hot poker. I screamed.
"That's it," she smiled. "I've broken up the clog. In a few days the soreness will be gone." The next day it was completely better.

I thought about starting a group called "Adult Children of Healers." In the meetings we could discuss our reactions -- and overreactions -- to the world of healers. But that would be too much like "healing," something I really can't bear to discuss.

Like the red-diaper baby who grows up to work on Wall Street, I find that I'm much more conservative -- healing-wise -- than my Mom. I have a homeopathic doctor and would rather take a remedy than visualize white light. Traditional religious services fit me better than chanting and drumming deep in the woods.

I find the smell of a cooking pot roast far more relaxing than sniffing an overpriced bottle of "aromatherapy-scent." And to me a crystal is a pretty rock, not the window into the future.

I love my Mom and wouldn't trade her. Today I can see that her "different" path gave me the space to follow my heart. After all, I did take up karate instead of ballet, give birth at home and home school my children.

But I've made it a point never to ask my children why they're sick or tell them to visualize white light. If they want a healing -- which they actually like -- they have to wait for Grandma! I'd rather make chicken soup and call the doctor.

Last modified on Tuesday, 22 March 2011 12:53
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Sara Rivka Ernstoff

Sara Rivka Ernstoff

Sara Rivka Ernstoff is a mother of five, a former USAAU National Karate Champion, a La Leche League leader and home-education consultant. She skipped high school due to boredom, held 21 jobs in her teens (ranging from gas station attendant to cab driver), and graduated U Mass Boston magna cum laude. She lectures on drug education, teaches karate, volunteers in her community and goes to any lengths to avoid housework.

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