Reach out and touch someone.
The popular slogan years ago will be revisited under a different set of circumstances next week, as a local nurse will be teaching a new class designed to help introduce touch therapy and energy-based medicine as viable techniques for area residents to use to help reduce stress and improve their health.
Jackie Scheidel, a nurse with the Storm Lake Community School District for 14 years, will lead a new course entitled "Hands for Health" on Thursday, Feb. 21, from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in room 401 at the Storm Lake Middle School, and is excited about the potential positive impact the Community Education-spon-sored class can have for the well-being of local citizens.
"I'm really looking forward to this class," said Scheidel, who has 30 years of nursing experience. "Energy-based healing has been around for centuries in Eastern cultures, and Western cultures are just starting to embrace it. It really deals with treating the mind, spirit and body, and that's a key concept. You can't just treat the physical aspect. You have to treat the mental, physical and spiritual sides of a person in order to help him or her, and these techniques help facilitate that."
An alternative healing method using hands-on and energy-based techniques to balance and align the human energy field, Scheidel said touch therapy is based on Einstein's Theory of Relativity, which states that all forms of mass have energy. The philosophy attempts to facilitate the healing process from an energy perspective rather than just a physical one.
Using a variety of relaxation techniques, biofield therapists attempt to focus on the root cause of a patient's symptoms and help the body begin its own self-healing processes. According to Healing Touch International, an association of holistic therapy specialists, this is done in order to help eliminate energy field disturbances in the body which result in disharmony of body, mind or spirit.
The idea of touch therapy and holistic healing has gained significant support from those in the medical community in recent years, as it is now being used by more than 30,000 nurses in hospitals each year. In addition, the world's first Touch Research Institute has been founded at the University of Miami's Medical School to further explore the benefits of energy-based healing.
Despite the growth of the field's popularity, Scheidel said the practice is not meant to replace "traditional" forms of medicine practiced by doctors and nurses across the country.
"This is just another way to help people, and I think it complements the 'traditional' medicine very well."
Just as various pain medications focus on separate areas of the human body, Scheidel, who has been involved in the field of holistic touching since July of 1996, said there are different energy-based techniques people can use for each part of the body.
For example, specific relaxation procedures can help relieve arthritic pain, help with joint and muscle tension, reduce neck and back problems and combat migraine headache pain.
One local example took place last year, when Scheidel was able to use the touch applications to help jumpstart the self-healing process in SLHS teacher Anita Coon's knee.
Just as physicians set two bone fragments in place and let the body heal itself, Scheidel said she was able to help Coon's energy flows around the knee realign themselves and help the body begin to rehabilitate itself, which Coon said was remarkable.
"I was feeling quite a bit of pain in my knee, and then Jackie put her hands over my knee and all of sudden heat came up and helped it," Coon said. "That experience definitely made a believer out of me."
Scheidel was quick to point out that her role with Coon was merely as a facilitator, not a healer.
Scheidel also said one of the most valuable returns on the energy-based therapy investment is the stress management.
"The latest statistics show that 75 percent of all doctor-related visits are stress-related," Scheidel said. "That's amazing when you think about it. Stress management is a big part of what I do, because if people can learn how to deal and handle stress in a healthy way, then their lives are going to be happier and healthier."
Scheidel said her biggest hope for those who participate in the class is to help them become more aware.
"My goal with this class is to get people to know themselves and to know when they're out of whack," Scheidel said. "It's being able to know yourself and be willing to help yourself."