Eben Alexander’s memoir, Proof of Heaven, details his experience while in a coma for 8 days. The interesting twist of his memoir is that he was a neurosurgeon who completely dismissed his patients’ accounts of consciousness and existence beyond the physical world because the concept did not fit within the scientific understanding of brain function and reasoning. And yet, when he contracted bacterial meningitis (a very, very RARE occurrence) and his brain was completely shut down, he experienced an afterlife that supported the experiences of all his patients’ accounts that he had dismissed for years. The revelation that came out of Dr. Alexander’s experience was that human beings are much, much more than science recognizes. Moreover, our minds are not just the mechanical workings of our brain function! Instead, there is an energy/spirit in all people which means that our behavior and life choices include much more spirituality than most of us understand.
As an acupuncturist, I wanted to cheer when I finished this book! Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is fundamentally an energetic medicine. When we treat our patients, we evaluate the state of energy balance in a person’s body. For most of our Western-minding patients and colleagues, this is a very difficult concept to grasp! Let alone to understand and embrace! Many Westerners completely dismiss the validity of TCM because it is based in energy and energy work does not fit within the traditional boundaries of “medicine”. TCM does not fit the double-blind, randomized controlled study and therefore staunch Westerners completely discount its validity. But here, in Dr. Alexander’s book, the TCM community has found an ally (of sorts). Although Dr. Alexander does not fully come out in the support of TCM specifically, he does recognize an energetic component that is found in every human being on the planet. This energy is not quantifiable by any scientific means but it is (no-doubt) present! Humans are inseparable from this energy and it is in us throughout our entire lives and beyond. I felt sorry that Dr. Alexander had to experience a near-death experience to understand this idea of energy but it is a first step for Western-science minds to understand the concept of energy and spirituality.