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Home > Self-Healing QiGong/Tuina > Energy Work for Cardio Patients

Energy Work for Cardiothoracic Surgery Patients

By Julie Motz

In the spring of 1994 I met with Dr. Mehmet Oz of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City to discuss the possibility of applying certain aspects of complementary medicine to cardiothoracic surgery patients. I had been a "hands-on" healer for the past seven years, and a student of many aspects of non-traditional healing. My career as a medical journalist had also focused largely in this area.

I had to come to Columbia to get a Master of Public Health degree with an eye towards divining a way to bring complementary medicine more into the mainstream of American health care. Dr. Oz's interest in this field and in its possible benefits for his patients seemed an ideal opportunity to do this.

We decided to start with a clinical trial of preoperative hypnosis to improve post-operative recovery for coronary by-pass patients. I had recently written an article about this for REMEDY magazine, and had collected a fair amount of data about its success. When the trial is finished, sixty patients will have participated either as subjects or controls.

We also decided that I would do some pilot work with other cardiac patients, who were not participating in the hypnosis trial, using techniques which I had studied and developed in the areas of energy medicine and cellular consciousness.

Energy medicine, which is part of almost every non-Western medical system (most notably Chinese medicine and ayurveda) addresses the energy field of the human body. Physicists and engineers who study this call it "subtle energy." It is called "qi" (pronounced "chee" ) in Chinese medicine, where it is acted upon through acupuncture and massage, and "ky" in Japan, where acupuncture and a form of deep-tissue massage called shiatsu are used. In ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, it is called "prana." Yoga originated as an ayurvedic healing practice designed to energize seven centers which lie along the spine, in which the prana is concentrated.

Many western therapists who work with energy, like myself, combine these two major systems, believing that energy is gathered into the body through the seven centers along the spine (called "chakras"), and distributed from these centers to organs and tissue through the acupuncture meridians.

In my work with patients at Columbia, I usually begin by taking readings of the energy along the spine by suspending a pendulum over each chakra. The direction in which it spins, and the size and shape of the ellipse, give me information about the strength and quality of the energy in that area. My work has been mostly with heart transplant and LVAD {Left Ventricle Assist Device) patients, and there are characteristic energy patterns most of them share, which also alter characteristically after my work with them. (Note: the LVAD is only implanted in patients in need of transplants, in whom mortality is judged to be immanent. It is a bridging device, designed to take over the work of the left side of the heart until a transplant organ becomes available and the patient is strong enough to survive the operation.)

After taking these readings, I do an energy meditation with the patient, which is a way of relaxing him, and allowing him to feel the energy in and around the body. What I do next varies, depending upon my sense of the patient's needs. Sometimes I do what is called energy chelation, in which I guide the energy flow up each leg to the lowest chakra, which is at the perineum, and then up into each of the other six chakras. Sometimes in the course of the energy meditation I sense an energy block somewhere in the patient's body. I may put my hand directly on this spot and ask the patient to bring his awareness there. Together we try to sense what is causing the block, and how to remove it. Very often powerful emotions and memories are released.

The other part of my work with patients, which involves what I call cellular consciousness, is derived from the Body-Mind Centering work of Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen. Cohen believes that each cell of the body acts like a brain, and can be consciously addressed. In this work, I ask patients to sense various tissues and liquids in the body, like the blood, the bone, or the muscle. Sometimes these tissues carry the energy of specific emotions, which have not been consciously processed and can interfere with their activity. For example, when I ask heart transplant patients to go inside their bodies and "be their blood," a feeling of sadness often comes to me in my own blood, which I believe picks up a sympathetic vibration from theirs. When I ask these patients to allow their blood to thank their old heart for all it has done for them, and to lovingly say goodbye to it, the sadness gradually eases.

Most patients report feeling extremely relaxed after my work with them, and one, who had been quite depressed, reported being in a state of euphoria for several hours. Another said that she felt the best she had in two days, and a third that she felt as if she had slept for eight hours. I have also been able to help a patient heal a troublesome bed sore, reduce the edema in his legs, bring back kidney function, bring up falling blood pressure and stop heavy wound drainage, by his own report. Another patient was able to come off dialysis in the intensive care unit directly after my work with him. Reducing blood pressure and heart rate where needed is almost routine.

In November, at the request of the patients, I began working with them in the operating room during transplant operations. In this work, before the patient is given an aesthesia, I stand at the feet, sending energy into the liver and kidney meridians to support the function of these organs during the operation. Once the patient is under anesthesia, but before the sterile field has been created, I work to bring the energy field, which tends to leave the body and collect around the head under anesthesia, back down to the feet. I do this by placing my hands on the ankles, knees, and hip joints.

During the operation, I stand at the patient's head, with hands resting on the temples or supporting the head from underneath. I frequently talk to the patient to explain to the brain exactly what is happening, and to prepare it for shocks and surprises, like going on the heart-lung bypass machine. I also help the patient deal with memories of trauma which the body appears to re-experience when the chest is opened. When the new heart is brought into the operating room, I send energy into it - an idea inspired by the work being done at Mt. Sinai Medical School, in which Qi Gong masters have been energetically affecting enzyme solutions. I usually get some vibrational sense from the new heart of how it feels about the death of the donor, and I tell the patient how I think the body needs to treat the new heart to compensate for the trauma it has gone through.

As soon after the operation as possible, once the patient is conscious, I work with him to harmonize the energy of the new heart and the body. The five transplant patients with whom I have been able to work in this way have had the lowest possible rejection rates on their first biopsies and lower than normal post-operative pulse rates.

I have also worked on patients during three LVAD implant operations and one quadruple coronary by-pass operation. None of the nine patients with whom I have worked in the operating room has had any post-operative depression.

As yet this work is still highly experimental. I am learning from the patients what their needs are, and how energy work and focusing of consciousness in the body might help them. I have also done sessions with some of the transplant coordinators, one of the cardiologists, one of the psychiatrists and one of the social workers involved with the transplant patients.

Once a month I meet with a group of healers to exchange information and try out new techniques. We have been meeting like this for two years, and have all been struck with how powerful working in a group can be. Based on this experience, I organized a group energy workshop for the LVAD patients, which meets once a week. In the group, patients do energy meditations and healing work on each other. This has been particularly effective in relieving pain.

I have recently formalized an energy healing protocol for coronary bypass operations, and plan to design similar protocols for heart transplant and LVAD implant procedures. Based on a number of of my cases, I believe that the ritual of surgery can be used for significant emotional release, and that doing this can substantially reduce post-operative pain. It appears that the patient has different levels of consciousness under anesthesia, and can actually select how "present" he or she wants to. The more present, the more consciously experiencing both memories and current events, the less pain, which, I believe, is why surgery performed under acupuncture or hypnosis involves relatively little post-operative pain.



  1. Treat kidney and bladder points on feet.
    While doing this, describe the operation in detail to the patient.

  2. Do energy chelation.
    While working ankle-to-knee, ask patient to bring awareness to the veins, and allow the veins to experience the excitement of becoming arteries. Allow other veins in the leg to experience challenge of taking over for the veins which will be removed.

    While on heart chakra, ask patient to experience grafting locations accepting veins, and teaching them their new job.

    While on brow chakra, tell patient to allow the brain to accept the miracle of the operation, and entertain the possibility that all things can be transmuted and changed, as he/she desires.

  3. Tell patient that old traumas, and especially old angers may come up during the surgery, once the chest is opened. Tell him/her that you will work to help release these out through the chest.


  1. If anesthesiologist is not ready to begin, send energy from kidney and liver points on the feet up to these organs.

  2. When anesthesiologist begins to put in i.v.s, hold patient's hand, talk, sing, improvise anything that will bring comfort.

    Explain purpose of each thing being done, and encourage the patient to allow the body to accept it. Emphasize the sensuality of the needle entering the blood vessel, and the Swan making its way to the heart.

    Let the patient feel the heart's signals being projected out into the room, where every one can see it and be in touch with it.

    Let the patient experience the heart as the main actor in a great drama, with the rest of the body the supporting cast, and the health care givers as director, stage hands and audience.

  3. When patient is anesthetized, before the sterile field is created, return to the feet. Work on feet, knees and groin to bring the energy field back down into the body.

  4. Once sterile field is created, stand at the head of the patient with hands on or close to the temples, or underneath, supporting the head. These are the two positions you will maintain, alternating them at your discretion, throughout the operation. If you are familiar with craniosacral massage, you may do some of this from this position.

  5. If there are problems with the heart during the operation, you may want to raise one hand above the head with the palm facing the heart and send energy directly into it.

  6. If a helper who can scrub is available, he/she should stand at the feet, sending energy into the kidney, liver and gall bladder meridians, at his/her discretion, and pulling the energy field down to the feet. After the vein(s) is removed and the leg is sutured, she can treat that wound directly.

  7. As the incision is made, the torch is used to burn through tissue, and the saw is used to cut through bone, tell the patient, either telepathically or by whispering into his/her ear, to allow the tissue to part easily, inviting the loving hands of the surgeon to come into the chest.

  8. Once the chest is open, you may feel anger coming into your body from the patient. Tell the patient to stay present, and to send the anger roaring out through the front of the chest. Tell the patient that this time his/her anger is not in vain, and that the battle will be won and the goal accomplished.

  9. Alternatively, you may start to feel drowsy, indicating that the patient is withdrawing further into unconsciousness under the anesthesia, in order to avoid the memory of an old trauma. If you have a partner working at the feet, tell her, through addressing the remark to the surgeon, to send energy into the kidney points to focus the patient. Then tell the patient to come back and be present. Give him/her the supportive remarks about anger in step 5.

  10. If you feel a pain or a cringing in your genitals or your second chakra, this probably indicated that the patient is having a memory of sexual abuse. Tell the patient that his/her sexual energy exists only for his/her own pleasure and healing.

  11. Before the patient goes on bypass, tell him/her to prepare the blood for the adventure of leaving and returning to the body. Suggest that once the blood is outside the body, it will act like cerebrospinal fluid, with that kind of excitement-perception energy. It will act like blood again when it comes back into the body. Have the patient tell the brain to regard the chemicalized blood with curiosity, not alarm, and simply to observe and record the experience.

  12. When the patient comes off bypass, tell him/her to feel the heart as if it were beating for the very first time, at six weeks after conception, and to experience the excitement of the blood connecting the heart with the rest of the body, informing them about each other.

    If there is a helper at the feet, have him/her send energy into the liver meridian to facilitate clotting.

    Throughout the operation, stay tuned in to the patient's changing emotional states, which may indicate memories coming to the surface. Support the patient energetically and sympathetically with whatever her/she is feeling. Experiment with different levels of the auric field to see where a memory may be stuck.


  1. If there is an opportunity to see the patient in the I.C.U., work directly on the sutures and send energy through the kidney points on the bottom of the feet. If a friend or family member is available and willing, show him/her how to do the kidney points.

  2. Check chakras and work directly on those which seem weak.

  3. As soon as possible after the patient has returned to his/her room, do an energy chelation. Ask if there is any pain or discomfort and address that directly.

  4. Discuss your experience of the operation with the patient, if he/she is interested in knowing about it.

  5. Ask the patient what anxieties about the future he/she may have. Help him/her to locate the places in the body and the energy field where these are resonating, and to transform them into positive visions.

NOTE: This is only a model. I welcome input from other healers and physicians in changing and developing this further. I would particularly welcome input from cardiac surgeons, anesthesiologists and perfusionists about difficult points in the operation where additional energy techniques might be applied. will provide readers with an address for mailing comments as soon as one is made available.

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