Intentional Healing is a story of personal transformation. Jennie Sherwin was a conservative Western-educated woman when she first started experiencing debilitating, surreal symptoms that doctors had no explanation for. One path led to another and through Dr. Leo Galland in New York City, she was referred to renowned environmental medicine physician Dr. William J. Rea, in Dallas, Texas. Through Dr. Rea, Jennie found energy healer Deborah Singleton, who along with her healing team, helped Jennie to recognize that the power to heal came from within. Jennie then began a fascinating journey of expanding her consciousness, which included initiation into Reiki channeling and healing from Navajo hataali. Her experiences brought her out of illness and the depths of despair, and led her to discover her own abilities as healer. She now has her own energy practice in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where she guides others to achieve emotional, physical and spiritual growth.
The introduction from her book:
I lay in the darkness. The heat rising up from the bottom of the pit was intense, and I was drenched in sweat. I could hear the chanting of the medicine man, but the sound was muffled by the blankets covering the opening. The air in the pit was heavy and laced with the scent of steaming herbs, cedar, and spruce. I was coughing. A corner of the blankets was suddenly pulled back, and the medicine man thrust a gourd at me.
“Drink as much as you can.”
I managed three large gulps of the bitter liquid and handed the gourd back. I lay back down and the pit was sealed once again. I started talking to Jesus.
How did I get here? How did a Catholic schoolgirl, whose education was punctuated with daily devotions to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, wind up in a pit on the property of a medicine man in Navajo country?
From the time I was eighteen years old and throughout my adult life, symptoms related to chronic illnesses had sent me to the offices of specialists in New York, Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Louisiana. I was diagnosed with colitis and lactose intolerance by a physician at Staten Island Hospital in New York, reactive hypoglycemia by an internist at St. Joseph’s Hospital in suburban Maryland, fibromyalgia by the then chief of rheumatology and immunology at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) by a gastroenterologist at East Jefferson General Hospital in Louisiana. These diagnoses were based on the results of tests and clinical examinations. I suffered from migraines, intense muscle pain, fatigue, constant yeast infections, esophageal burning, and sensitivities to medications. Many of the physicians I consulted considered me “sensitive.” No one, however, could tell me why I was sensitive or exactly what it was that had triggered these sensitivities. Fibromyalgia, for instance, at the time of my diagnosis in 1990, was thought to be a condition whereby certain pathways of pain were activated. Specific triggers, however, had not been identified. Today, more than twenty years later, fibromyalgia is described in television commercials advertising new medications for this condition as “over-reactivity” of nerves, leading to chronic pain. This description, of course, is not much different from the one I was given in 1990. The new medications target the over-reactivity, but none goes beyond the symptoms to treat the cause of over-reactivity, which is still unknown in mainstream medicine.
When my husband, Roger, a physician and epidemiologist, and I arrived in New Orleans in January 1999, the symptoms of the chronic illnesses with which I had been diagnosed to that point were being controlled by a combination of prescription drugs (including hormone replacement therapy), exercise (I was an amateur ballroom dancer and a dedicated walker), and diet. Despite the best medical care, based on evidence from research studies, I still suffered from debilitating episodes of these illnesses, especially fibromyalgia. Yet, I considered myself fortunate that I could live the life of a twentieth century woman wife, mother, and career woman—with the aid of the century’s potent medications. While mainstream medical science could not tell me why I suffered from chronic illness, it could on the other hand medicate the symptoms that had made life difficult for me.
This in no way implies criticism of mainstream medicine, which has increased our knowledge of how the body works and developed lifesaving vaccines as well as treatment for chronic conditions, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, surgical procedures that save lives, and devices that help people to function in the face of catastrophic injuries. As a public health writer and editor and the wife of a physician, I do not take a biased view of mainstream medicine. I have observed, in the course of my healing journey, however, that mainstream medicine does not seem to have recognized thus far the roots of the chronic illnesses that plagued me. I am a living example that recovery is possible after those roots have been identified and mitigated. How those roots were determined, which allopathic and complementary medical therapies helped me to recover, and the spiritual growth that led to my finding the healer within are the organizing themes for this book.
My healing journey began in New Orleans after chronic and acute exposure to type II pyrethroid pesticides triggered a host of debilitating symptoms. Finding no one in New Orleans who could advise me, I consulted Dr. Leo Galland in New York City. He, in turn, referred me to Dr. William J. Rea, founder and director of the Environmental Health Center-Dallas (EHC-D). Dr. Rea introduced me to the view held by doctors of environmental medicine that many chronic illnesses are triggered by environmental toxins. During the course of treatment at his clinic, I “unmasked” for electromagnetic field (EMF) sensitivity. Dr. Rea referred me to Deborah Singleton, founder and president of the Arasini Foundation, and her energy healing team, now in Richardson, Texas, at A Healing Place. Under their guidance I learned about the potential of healing from within. While the allopathic treatment program at the EHC-D helped to reduce my sensitivities to environmental toxins, what I learned from Deborah Singleton, as well as from Dr. Carol Cole, holistic psychotherapist, led me to accept that in order for my physical body to recover fully from environmental and other chronic illnesses, my emotional, mental, and most especially, my spiritual energy fields needed to heal.
For me, a public health writer and editor who, among other things, reported on best practices based on medical research, the most important decision I made after learning about the effects of chronic and acute exposure to toxic substances, was to be open to alternative and complementary medical therapies for which research trials are in their infancy. That decision led me to healing pathways I would never have contemplated as a conservative, Western-educated woman, taking me from energy medicine deep into the heart of the Navajo Nation and to healing from Navajo hataałi, or “singers.”
My first encounters with energy healing triggered in me a process that continues to this day, a process that is called by many “awakening.” It was awakening to who I really am and following guidance from within that helped me to cross the barrier between illness and wellness. Did I heal as a result of Dr. Rea’s treatment program and the complementary medical therapies I sought and received? I most certainly did. The secret weapons in my medical armamentarium, however, were, first, faith—a belief from deep within myself that I would heal—and, second, openness to communication from the realm of the soul, the energetic world I began to recognize as I “awakened.”