Finding pockets of tranquility in a city so consumed by the hustle and bustle of daily life can seem impossible. Our thoughts become knotted, the stress becomes stifling, and the feeling of dread drags on.
In the spiritual world, these are merely symptoms of blocked energies in our bodies. Energies that need to be untied, smoothed out, and recirculated. It is almost like being in a room where the doors and windows have been shut for too long and the air becomes stale and heavy. But once the room is opened and light and fresh air pours in, the atmosphere becomes renewed, refreshed, and rebalanced.
Proponents of spiritual healing believe these energies not only flow through the body but also around us. The energy in movement and heat radiating from other people, for example, are part of what believers say is a universal energy composed of vibrations that can be directed into people’s bodies through various methods.
For the past decade, these New Age traditions, celebrated by 1960s Western counterculture for their “Eastern mysticism,” have made inroads in Singapore, particularly the Japanese spiritual healing method reiki (“rei” means universal; “ki” means energy) and crystal healing.
Singaporean Charmaine Lim, 41, who has worked in sales for over 10 years, said reiki and crystal healing have done more to treat her burnout than a Bali wellness retreat and trips to the psychologist.
“I would think that it’s quite a big shift in terms of managing stress, managing situations as emotions-wise, there were a lot of ups and downs. So from that to being more balanced, to being more calm and feeling more energetic, and more positivity,” she told Coconuts Singapore in a recent interview.
Practitioners like Lim believe healing energies reside within minerals and gemstones. Depending on the type of crystals, these so-called conduits of energy offer varied healing properties. The purple amethyst gemstone, for example, is believed to clear energy blockages affecting mental and physical health when in contact with the body.
Today, Singapore counts dozens of spiritual healers and holistic centers conducting such sessions. Among them is Jenny Tan, who calls herself GypseeJenny, Sri Mulyadi, who runs the Blue Lotus holistic center, and Amy Lim, who claims she can heal pets.
Contrary to popular belief, spirituality does not meddle in black magic, demon worship, or see itself as a form of religion. But adherents trust that energy, beyond its relevance in physics, can also help the mind, body, and soul.
Despite the lack of scientific evidence proving so, spiritual healing practitioners have been around for centuries and manifest as various schools of thought, whether yoga, meditation, or even Qigong, a popular form of exercise rooted in traditional Chinese culture.
Reiki healers are people said to be hypersensitive to ambient energies they can harness through the palms of their hands and channel into patients by touching lightly or hovering their hands over them.
Some say they feel tingling sensations, warmth, or a cool breeze brushing their skin. Their heads feel lighter, bodies calmer, and hearts more at ease.
One of those is Lim, who has been visiting self-proclaimed spiritual healer GypseeJenny, 64, for more than a year. Prior to that, she had never heard of spiritual healing until a friend recommended it to her. As she speaks about her experiences, Lim sounded shy and almost embarrassed, peppering her responses with giggles.
“I also trusted my friend. It came from a good intention,” she said.
At the Bali wellness retreat, Lim recounted learning about exercises, improving her diet and sleeping habits. She returned home relaxed, but once she resumed work, the stress returned.
She then met a psychologist to help her deal with stress, but she felt that it was not enough. The psychologist conducted breathing exercises and guided meditation, which Lim said she had knowledge of and was “already doing.”
But after trying out spiritual healing, she sensed a difference in herself.
“Go with an open mind. We are all made from this world so anything has energy around it, whether you go to an empty stadium versus a stadium filled with people, we all bring about our energy and this energy is a vibration. If you think that you’re not vibrating at your best, you could [try spiritual healing]. No harm, not everything has scientific backing to it,” she said.
Searching for a spiritual healer is akin to looking for a “personal trainer” for the mind, she said, and it is best to do prior research, noting several books and podcasts on spiritual healing that are already out there for people seeking information.
Lim rarely speaks to her friends about her delving into spiritual healing but her husband and parents are aware and happy that she has found an avenue to destress.
“Anything that is not mainstream in Singapore is frowned upon. But go in with an open mind and see it for yourself,” she added.
On Facebook, there is an online community of nearly 300 people discussing all things related to spirituality in a public group named Spiritual & Metaphysical Products, Workshops Events in Singapore.
Many like-minded individuals also attend regular group meditations, healing sessions, and exercises together – information about such events are usually listed on Meetup.com.
‘Everybody has energy’
Lim is one of the hundreds of people who turn to GypseeJenny for spiritual healing.
In the past 10 years, GypseeJenny said that she has accumulated nearly a thousand clients from diverse backgrounds and age groups, from prepubescents to the elderly.
Those who don’t know her true profession might see her as a regular grandmother and not someone who can radiate healing powers from the palms of her hands.
Speaking to Coconuts Singapore in a video interview, with a wall of crystals and figurines behind her, she explained what she does.
“In 2002, there were a couple [of healers], quite a few but they are not known. Because in 2002, not much people know about spiritual healing, not in Singapore at least. They heard about it, but they were more used to names like Qigong,” she said.
In traditional Chinese culture, people believe that Qigong exercises can untangle energy (“qi”) knots in the body’s meridians and promote good health.
“But as the years go by, and now they have holistic fairs and things like that, and because of people itself, the amount of stress they have and they cannot help themselves in many ways by turning to Western doctors, so they turn to spiritual healing,” she added. She said she saw more holistic and New Age fairs sprouting up locally in the past decade.
GypseeJenny, who also claims to be psychic, said she was introduced to spiritual healing in 2002 before becoming a healer two years later in 2004.
A former corporate type who once worked in insurance, she left her job in 2012 to pursue spiritual healing full time. She counts government civil servants, corporate CEOs, doctors and even physiotherapists among her clients. They come to her with a myriad of issues, mostly emotional and stress-related. She said she attends to up to 40 individuals in a month.
“Sometimes they have a long relationship and then there was a sudden break-up. Or maybe the spouse decides to leave them for another person. So, emotionally they are very unstable and they cannot proceed in life, they cannot do things properly, they cannot concentrate on themselves, so they come for all sorts of emotional problems too,” she said.
There are also those who go to her to soothe physical ailments such as backaches or menstrual pain.
The COVID-19 outbreak has also been a rather busy period for her as anxieties run high among clients – some due to the loss of jobs. GypseeJenny said she conducted reiki healing from a distance due to the “circuit breaker” lockdown.
As someone who claims to be hypersensitive to sensations around her, she said that she can sense a person’s issues simply by laying her hands over a person’s body. She finds it hard to describe the feeling but gave an X-ray analogy to loosely explain it.
“I will kind of ‘X-ray’ a person’s body. I will place my hands over them and I will just do a scan to find out exactly what’s wrong with them. And from there, I will do a proper healing to see what they need,” she said. “Sometimes they will need more [reiki] or they would need more crystals, depending on the individual.”
“Everybody has energy in them and energy has movements. When you scan them you can feel that there is a certain movement that is not proper. Let’s say someone has a heart chakra problem,” she added, referring to the point near the heart where energy is said to be centered according to ancient Hindu and Buddhist beliefs.
“When you feel the energy there, you somehow can feel that the energy there is imbalanced … it is something that is not easy to explain in terms of words,” she said.
There are seven energy centers under the chakra system, with others located in places such as the throat and near the stomach.
GypseeJenny also believes that crystals can help to boost healing energies. But what ultimately makes it possible for any kind of spiritual healing to have an effect, is to actually believe that it works, she said.
“Those people who do not know anything about healing, they must first understand the meaning of what is the universal energy, where does it come from. They must first believe that everything is made of energy, even when we move, there’s energy,” she said. “They must be mentally strong to think that it will work for them because if anything, if you don’t believe in it, it won’t work.”
From skeptics to believers
But feeling is believing when it comes to spiritual healing. Two of GypseeJenny’s other clients Coconuts Singapore spoke to said they were skeptics until they tried it.
They have largely kept it a secret from their friends mainly due to their lack of awareness and understanding, and how difficult it can be to explain spiritual healing to the unacquainted.
One of them is a human resources professional who wanted to only be identified as Ling. She said that she used to rely only on scientifically proven methods for anything involving her health until reiki healing helped her recover from a nagging knee pain caused by sitting in the office for too long.
“For me, I would really like to believe in scientific methods. It’s only when it really helps me, and I see a difference in myself,’ she said, adding that reiki and crystal healing have also helped her become a more calm and good-tempered person.
Ling said that she does not tell her friends about her interest in spiritual healing for fear of ridicule:
“I don’t even dare to tell my friends that I learned reiki healing. Because they will be like ‘Hey, you’re crazy is it?’ ‘What is reiki healing? Is it some kind of satanic thing?’”
“But I can see that more people are taking care of their mental well-being, so slowly they will open up to reiki,” she added.
Another client who wanted to be known as A.L. noticed improvements in her relationship with her children after divorcing her husband of 10 years.
The 43-year-old pharmaceutical professional said her 9-year-old daughter had become rebellious and rarely spoke to her. She took her daughter to see a counselor but saw no difference until they both, along with her son, went for spiritual healing.
The trio has since been able to communicate better and live harmoniously, she said. Her daughter even showed improvement in her studies, she added.
“End of last year my younger daughter, which gave me the most problems, actually had a good progress award from the school, so I was pretty proud of her. From someone who was very rebellious and not close to me, she improved a lot on her behavior and results,” she said.
A.L. said she has tried explaining to her friends what spiritual healing is about, but could never escape from being the subject of jokes. She said that some of her friends assumed she was praying in her room, even when she was simply meditating.
“People who don’t know tend to link it to some kind of religion. I like reiki healing because it is not associated with any religion. Initially, when I start to explain it to my friends, they are like ‘Oh, you go praying?’”
Curious about New Age spirituality and energy healing? GypseeJenny writes about her practices online. Several popular podcasts on spirituality and energy healing include Spiritual Shit by Alea Lovely, the Reiki Lifestyle Podcast, and Weekly Woosah With August Lim.
Other stories to check out:
Conversations Singapore needs to have about mental health are happening on Instagram
Everything old is new again: Singapore’s long history with blackface
The Japanese women ditching their traditional society for Singaporean men
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