How Technology is Promoting Self-Advocacy and Empowerment

We are living in a time of immense technological advancement. In just the past few years, we have seen huge leaps forward in how we interact with technology, from virtual reality to artificial intelligence. And these advancements are having a huge impact on our lives, not just psychologically but socially as well. One of the most fascinating impacts has been on self-advocacy and empowerment – how technology is allowing individuals to gain greater control over their own lives. In this blog post, I will explore the elements that have contributed to this breakthrough, particularly focusing on Telepresence Mental Health (TMH) and Human Computer Interaction (HCI).

TMH is a relatively new field that combines telemedicine with mental health care. It has enabled remote access to mental health services through digital platforms like video conferencing, which allows clinicians and clients to connect without having to be physically present in the same room. This has allowed providers to reach more people than ever before, especially those in rural or underserved areas who may have had difficulty accessing traditional care. Additionally, it has made mental health services more accessible for those who may feel more comfortable engaging with their therapist from home or other familiar environments.

HCI is an interdisciplinary field that focuses on understanding human behavior and designing user interfaces so that they respond effectively to users’ needs. HCI plays an important role in creating digital solutions for different industries. In the case of TMH, HCI helps create user interfaces that are intuitive and easy to understand for both clinicians and clients so they can get the most out of their sessions. For example, by better understanding how users interact with technology, designers can create solutions that make it easier for clients to keep track of their appointments or fill out any necessary paperwork online instead of having to go into an office or clinic setting.

One of the key aspects of TMH and HCI is its ability to promote feelings of embodiment within its environment – meaning that clients feel comfortable enough within the digital space that they can truly express themselves without feeling intimidated by physical presence or judgments from others outside the session. This feeling of embodiment also encourages self-advocacy as individuals begin to recognize their own rights within this space while also being able to communicate them clearly without fear or hesitation.

The question I hoped to address with this investigation was: What were the beneficial aspects, considerations, and/or techniques that led to a client’s and clinician’s perception of their own feeling of embodiment perceived inside the TMH environment? Facets such as telepresence and empathy, therapeutic alliance (TA), therapeutic relationship (TR), utilization of the embodied relational field (ERF), client extroversion and introversion, embodied self-awareness (ESA), other expanded modes of self-awareness through a body scan and consideration of the transliminal earth and cosmic body were considered in terms of how they influenced the embodiment dynamics that occur within the virtual environment of HCI. Continuation to the research paper investigating these facets.

Image and text copyright Eileen Dey Wurst 2022.

Development of an Embryonic Energy System

In the illustrations of my ancestral form, I had trouble recognizing what I had grown to think of as “myself.” Blechschmidt’s (2004) pictures of the growing embryo reminded me of a science-fiction novel about the evolution of an extraterrestrial species. I found the unidentifiable early growth both fascinating and alarming. I’ve seen comparable photos throughout my life but studying the intricacies of embryonic embodiment has given me an entirely new perspective on what it is to be “human.”. Because these images were shown in 2D, I found the interactive 3D atlas from the Carnegie Collection of embryos consisting of digital images of over 15,000 stained tissue slices to be an additional useful resource for understanding what I was looking at (Atlas contents, n.d.).

Likewise, Maxwell (2009) proposed that the chakras and associated energy systems may also be tied to embryonic development, which broadened my understanding of what is inherent inside the human body. As an energy worker, I realized that the establishment of the chakra and meridian systems was indeed part of the bodily structure.  Nerve cellular structures, such as synaptic gap junctions, may be the forerunners of such energy channels. This may help to explain why they are often regarded as non-physical entities (Maxwell, 2009).

Consequently, Boadella (2015) concluded that when energy practitioners engage with a client’s chakras, they are operating inside the embryonic stages of growth. It took me some time to think about this theory and compare it to my own actual experience. By logical reasoning, if an embryo already has the chakra system inside it, and that system is intrinsic within it as it grows both inside and outside the womb, I can see why there may be a link between the energy field and the prenatal structures in a fully formed person.  In my own clinical practice, I have not specifically assisted clients in accessing these levels and I am curious to know what might result if I gave space for that exploration.   I’m left in wonder at the human being’s ‘construction’ and how dependent we are on the conditions of our upbringing in order to access these fundamental mechanisms for self-transformation.


Atlas contents. (n.d.). 3datlas. Retrieved November 3, 2022, from

Blechschmidt, E. (2004). The ontogenetic basis of human anatomy: a biodynamic approach to development from conception to birth. North Atlantic Books.

Boadella, D. (2015). Lifestreams: An introduction to biosynthesis. Routledge.

Maxwell, R. W. (2009). The physiological foundation of yoga chakra expression. Zygon®44(4), 807-824.  DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2009.01035.x

Copyright 2022 Eileen Dey Wurst

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Reiki and the Notochord

Here is an excerpt from my Somatic Psychology class exploring the spinal developmental structure known as the notochord.

Even though the sensation of the spinal pattern is subtle and invisible, in my experience, the energy that goes through moves at the speed of light. Since I have channeled Reiki energy through this structure for a long time, I am familiar with and comfortable exploring this movement.  I have often connected to this inner channel through the passing of what is called “attunement”, which is equivalent to the giving of a blessing, that is offered to each student in a Reiki class.  The attunement permits a student to access their own inner spinal channel. Following Ayurvedic practice, I have referred to this area as the Sushumna channel; nonetheless, I view it as being identical to what is also called the notochord.

When I align with my notochord, I gain a deep sense of embodiment. Because of this dropping in, I can merge my mind and body and tap into the boundless well of cosmic consciousness. When I tune into this primary conduit, I am able to let go of any vestiges of dualism and instead experience a profound sense of the unity that underlies my entire existence. Conversely, when I focus on the activity in my stomach and brain tubes, I experience them as more material homes for the systems that maintain my physical integrity. I perceive those tubes as very defined in form.  The notochord, however, feels to me ethereal and energetic.  It appears to be able to communicate information, sensation, and feeling in much the same manner as a fiber optic thread can carry light. It’s a repository of potential for my transpersonal self. 

Copyright 2022 Eileen Dey Wurst

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Why Insight Reiki Meditation Might Work

Photo by Javon Swaby on

Insight Reiki Meditation (IRM), developed by Eileen Dey Wurst, is a mindfulness and somatic-based practice that has been found to increase embodiment. This enables access to the transliminal state of consciousness, which has been shown to have beneficial effects on mental health. To date, however, IRM has not been part of a formal study. The purpose of this paper is to explore the mechanisms by which IRM may enhance interoceptive awareness (IA), and in doing so, establish a foundation for future research into the benefits of IRM.

There is growing evidence to suggest that IA plays a role in mental health. For example, it has been found that people with anxiety and depression tend to have lower levels of IA. This may be because they are less aware of their bodily sensations, or because they have difficulty interpreting them correctly. Either way, low IA is thought to contribute to the development and maintenance of these disorders.

There is also evidence to suggest that people with higher levels of IA are more resilient to stress. This may be because they are better able to regulate their emotions, or because they have a greater understanding of their own bodies and how to take care of them. Either way, high IA is thought to contribute to a person’s overall well-being.

So, how does Insight Reiki Meditation increase IA? It is thought that the practice of IRM enhances embodiment by increasing body awareness and sensitivity to subtle energies. This, in turn, leads to a heightened state of consciousness known as transliminality. Transliminality is characterized by an increased ability to process information that is outside of our normal conscious awareness. This includes things like intuition, hunches, and so-called “gut feelings.”

Studies have shown that people who are in a transliminal state of consciousness are more likely to report experiencing paranormal phenomena, such as ghosts, UFOs, and precognition. They are also more likely to score high on measures of creativity and open-mindedness.

So, what does all this have to do with Reiki?

Well, it’s thought that the practice of Reiki can help to increase our level of transliminality by opening up our chakras and increasing our sensitivity to subtle energies. This, in turn, can help us to become more aware of our intuition and gut feelings, and ultimately make better decisions in our lives.

So, there you have it! The next time you’re feeling stuck in a decision, or just looking for a little guidance from the Universe, try giving Reiki a try. You might just be surprised at what you learn about yourself!

If you’re interested in learning more about Reiki, or finding a practitioner in your area, check out

Copyright Eileen Dey Wurst 2022

Reiki and Qigong

In thinking about how Qigong practice permits the exploration of the transitions between formless to form, I found it helpful to remember the Taoist image of Yin/Yang.  Each aspect of that symbol, whether dark or light flows into and out of each other, yet it seems they are separated by some sort of boundary or threshold.  Yet, in my own practice, I have learned that approaching that threshold between the two polarities permits access to a connection into the vast formless space that is most of the universe. The concept of form dissolves into the formless. The form can be the perception of anything that seems ‘solid’.  For instance, the ego often seems so permanent.  Yet, in my practice, I surrender to not being controlled by what the ego wants.  In my body awareness of no ego, after my mind has made the switch to not be in charge, it feels as if I release engagement to what I perceive my body and mind on a cellular level.  In doing this switch, I am permitting my existence to become a conduit for universal energy in lieu of being an egocentric body and mind.  In doing so, a connection to a sense of luminous abundance, like the vast cosmic ocean, seems to occur.  Doing so permits access to unlimited potential for healing.  Likewise, Qigong wisdom healing is connecting to “the body as the expression of the formless, we reconnect the power of pure energy to consciousness” (Mingtong, 2011, p. 28).  Healing is achieved through engaging with the mind and body to cultivate positive and affirming attitudes, beliefs, and lifestyles.  As a demonstration, participating in the embryonic breathing exercises by Yang (2003), I sensed how using the breath can enhance the abundance of qi that circulates within my body.  In doing so, a sense of harmony and balance emerged which seems to reinforce the beliefs and practices that comprise Taoist Qigong (Coakley, 1997).


Coakley, S. (1997). Religion & Body. Cambridge UP, Paperback(2000).

Mingtong, G. (2011). Wisdom Healing (Zhineng) Qigong: Cultivating Wisdom and Energy for Health, Healing and Happiness (Teachings by Master Mingtong Gu based on the work of Dr. Pang Ming).

Yang, J. (2003). Qigong Meditation Embryonic Breathing 2nd. ed.: The Foundation of Internal Elixir Cultivation (Qigong Foundation) (2nd ed.). YMAA Publication Center.

Copyright Eileen Dey Wurst 2022

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Reiki and Kampo Pt. 1

The 5-element system and yin/yang theory imported to Japan from China provided a view of the body interacting with the greater world both around and within it (Picone,1989). Maintaining the balance of each element in the system and the equilibrium of yin and yang, is both a responsibility of the individual self and of the larger community.  Influences from the cosmos, as well as the earthly environment also contribute to health or wellness on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels which developed into Kampo, the Japanese version of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).  This legacy, of comprehensively viewing the body connected and operating from a global and celestial perspective, could explain why according to Picone (1989), there are few psychological practitioners in modern Japan, as the investigation of mental and emotional health might be considered surgically removed from the 5-element system that influences the individual.   

The Reiki system which serves as the foundation for both my praxis and therapeutic practice is composed of this inclusive Kampo model of viewing the body along with the application of ki.  According to Kukubo (2001), ki has many meanings, including the seemingly different concepts of ‘feeling’ and ‘weather’. Yet, as mentioned above, the Japanese Kampo concept of the interconnectivity of the body and the environment would validate a force such as ki being able to influence both internal and external conditions.  There are various kinds of ki depending upon circumstance and application such as living ki, illness ki, etc. as well as ki residing in different body systems (Picone, 1989).  Reiki is a form of ki from the universe, it is a life force that can bring and maintain balance to the individual and the community they are a part of.

In my own experience, the application of Reiki by a practitioner to individual influences the entirety of their system.  This may explain the findings discovered by Picone (1989) when she interviewed the healer Osumi who stated “the whole body is a tsubo (acupuncture point)” (p.475).  Instead of specifically placing a needle in a tsubo, a Reiki practitioner places their hands over or above the body. All the structures; body, energy field, environment, are impacted by the intention and application of the Reiki practitioner.


Kokubo, H. (2001, December). Concept of‗ Qi ‘or‗ Ki ‘in Japanese qigong research. In Proceedings of Present Papers of the 44th Annual Convention of the Parapsyhcological Association (pp. 147-154).

Picone, M. (1989). The ghost in the machine: Religious healing and representations of the body in Japan. Fragmented History of the Human Body1.

YAMASHITA, K. (1993). Pain Management and Scientific Acupuncture Especially about Ryodoraku Therapy. The Japanese Journal of Ryodoraku Medicine38(10), 269-280.

Reiki and Yogic Philosophy pt. 1

Taking the dive into Hinduism and Ayurveda studies this week rekindled my own multiple decades of practice in the energetic bodywork methods of Polarity therapy and Reiki.  In Asad & Coakley (1997), I was reminded of the innate balance in the composition all bodies have: satva, rajas and tamas. Polarity therapy emphasizes balance between these doshas through bodywork, diet, exercise and movement. 

The practice of Reiki does not work with these elements, but instead, a significant correlation is that in the practice of Reiki, the beginning student is offered an attunement or blessing that is a counterclockwise spiral, rotated three and a half rotations, identical to the symbol of the serpent in the kundalini.  Instead of bringing the energy up from the spine to the top of the head, in Reiki, the spiral is offered to the crown and sent downwards toward the grounding root of the practitioner to assist them in making connection with their own cosmic consciousness and awareness of Universal energy.

Choudhury (2016) described the image of this Universal energy as infinitely flowing through the human body as Shiva.  The main pathway is called sushumna with the left channel ida, representing the moon and pingala on the right, representing the sun.  Again, a similar correlation in Reiki with another symbol used by practitioners called Dai Kyo Myo, represents the inherent potential for an individual to connect to the brilliant light of the sun and moon through the practice of connecting to the great light flowing through the central channel.

Through yoga, according to Eliade (1990), the aim is to dissolve normal consciousness.  In doing so, awareness can be perceived.  In both my clinical psychotherapeutic work and research, the transliminal state of consciousness seems to be the realm where answers, insights, and connection to one’s expanded sense of self.  One focus of my research has been to explore the studies connecting embodiment.


Asad, T., & Coakley, S. (1997). Religion and the Body. Cambridge: Cambridge.

Kundalini: Awakening the Shakti Within with Raja Choudhury. (2016, March 30). YouTube.

Eliade, M. (1990). Yoga: Immortality and Freedom. 1969.

Copyright Eileen Dey Wurst 2022

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Somatic Sufi

In the sema, the whirling motion permits a Sufi to use their body as a way in which to connect with the cosmos, to enter an altered state and to both symbolically and somatically become one with all that is spinning, the planets, the cosmos and the cells within the body (Sabra, 2013). As this movement continues, Silow (2010) has stated that such “ascending development toward unity” results in a coalescence of the self and physical body (p.80). As a consequence, the sema permits the dissolving of dualism and promotes the all-encompassing experience of unification.

The sema is part of the larger dhikr ceremony, which uses the breath in connection with various aspects of the heart to repetitively chant and recite the name of the divine to such an extent that an ecstatic state is achieved (Eliade, 1990).

During my own lived experiences in the participation of many dhikrs, both in Konya, Turkey, and in Seattle, WA, the intercorporeality between the members of the group and myself all chanting and whirling permitted the emergence of an interoceptive expansive feeling of rapture emanating from within my heart.  The embodied insight that emerged was that the whole cosmos resides within the heart.   This deep understanding would repeat with reliable frequency during each dhikr and permit an exteroceptive feeling of interconnectedness of humanity and subsequent Universe.  I would leave the group practice with a sense of peace and harmony within my own essence.

Whirling again, in writing this post, I am reminded of the initial proprioceptive awareness when first spinning of the sense of my body taking its time to open up to the space it is being contained in.  As the whirling continued, that dualistic awareness of my body and the space began to dissolve and soon there was just a greater sense of be-ing.  Because the whirling was a solo exercise and not part of the larger dhikr group experience, the sense of intercorporeal connection was absent and deeper levels of realization did not occur.  Nonetheless, there was a sense of liberation in having permission to return to a familiar method of pursuing a respite from the experience of duality.

This is part 2 of several posts in the development of Somatic Reiki as I continue my Integral and Transpersonal studies through CIIS.


Eliade, M. (1990). Dhikr

Sabra, A. (2013). Sufi Bodies: Religion and Society in Medieval Islam by Shahzad Bashir. Journal of World history24(2), 424-425. DOI: 10.1353/jwh.2013.0057.

Silow, T. (2010). Embodiment as ascending and descending development. In S. Esbjoern-Hargens, Integral theory in action (Chapter 3, pp. 79-98). New York: State University of New York Press.

Copyright 2022 Eileen Dey Wurst

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Somatic Reiki: The Notochord

The central energic channel, or sushumna in the yogic/Ayurvedic tradition, is what a Reiki practitioner utilizes when working with healing Reiki energy.

In our earliest development as embryos, we have the forerunner of this channel. It is called the notochord.

The notochord is an embryonic structure that serves as a central column by which other cells begin to attach and extend out from. It is our first embodied experience of having a ‘center’. It is the place from which the rest of our form grows. As our embryonic development continues, the notochord is eventually absorbed into the discs of the spine.

Take a moment and imagine the sacred evolution of this channel.

The essence of this early structure is still there, waiting for us to find our way back to it. In the learning of Reiki, a practitioner begins to work with the idea of being a ‘channel’ for healing energy. As they progress in their studies, they will reconnect with the energetic alignment of the inner echo of the notochord. As they do, this alignment permits a reclamation of being embodied, united in body and mind with access to the infinite pool of Universal consciousness.

Therein resides wisdom, guidance, and insight. It is a place of knowing and a place of being one with body and mind.

Through the engagement with this central channel, this reconnection permits the dissolution of dualism and the all-encompassing experience of unity.

Because this channel has its origins in the physical matter of the body, it is considered somatic (soma=body). Hence, “Somatic Reiki”.

This is part 1 of several posts in the development of Somatic Reiki as I continue my Integral and Transpersonal studies through CIIS.

Copyright 2022 Eileen Dey Wurst

Addressing spiritual bypass in clinical practice for insecure attachment

Welwood (1984) defined spiritual bypassing as the tendency to try to avoid or prematurely transcend basic human needs, feelings, and developmental tasks through the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to ameliorate the suffering from past wounds.  Sheridan (2017) concluded that “From a psychological perspective, such bypassing cuts off the opportunity to address and resolve important intra- and interpersonal issues” (p. 359).  In adults who have had a history of insecure attachment, the potential exists to ‘bypass’ the involvement of psychotherapeutic work by pursuing the practice of altered states of consciousness within New Age spirituality. 

Since the connection between insecure adult attachment and spiritual bypassing in psychotherapy has scarce research, there are many gaps in the study of this phenomenon.  Studies explored in this review have shown that there are limited amounts of psychotherapeutic clinicians exploring the religiosity and spiritual domain within their practices.  This is a significant issue considering the findings by Shafranske & Malony (1990) that found that one in six psychotherapy clients present clinical issues involving religion or spirituality.

The available empirical research has been focused upon the compensatory role that religion or spirituality provides clients who are adults with insecure attachment issues.  This body of literature has seemingly not been concerned with how those religious or spiritual compensations may actually be stunting the psychological development and growth of these clients.  This lack of concern indicates the importance of these topics as developing into a field of study.

One way to further the research is by drawing upon the existing work of psychotherapists studying adults with insecure attachment histories in collaboration with scholars studying New Age spiritual practices to explore the development of spiritual bypassing assessment tools and treatment interventions for more comprehensive and beneficial treatment outcomes.

In learning more about the phenomena of spiritual bypass, its connection to New Age spirituality practices and possible underlying insecure attachment histories in clients, implementation of standards of care can be initiated to provide more comprehensive assessment and treatment protocols for the greater psychotherapeutic community.

Full article this conclusion was based upon located here


Shafranske, E. P., & Malony, H. N. (1990). Clinical psychologists’ religious and spiritual

orientations and their practice of psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, 27(1), 72–78.

DOI: 10.1037/0033-3204.27.1.72.

Sheridan, M. J. (2017). Addressing spiritual bypassing: Issues and guidelines for spiritually

sensitive practice. In The Routledge handbook of religion, spirituality and social work (pp. 358-367). Routledge.

Welwood, J. (1984). Principles of inner work: Psychological and spiritual. Journal of

Transpersonal Psychology, 16(1), 63–73.

Copyright 2022 Eileen Dey Wurst

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