Dr. Jill Blakeway has been treating patients for over 25 years, although you wouldn’t be able to tell by simply looking at her. She has a warmth and a sense of wonder of someone who is just getting started! And she makes it seem effortless. Jill Blakeway, L.Ac, DACM, is a licensed and board certified acupuncturist and clinical herbalist – and named by The New York Times as one of New York City’s top acupuncturists- she founded the Yinova Center in 1999, an integrative wellness center acclaimed for its expertise in women’s health. Offering acupuncture, bodywork, and Chinese medicine from the field’s leading practitioners, Yinova works in partnership with patients to realize their full potential. By carefully tailoring treatment to the individual, they aim to help every patient take their health in hand.
Jill recently authored a new book that studies the curative powers of energy medicine. Titled, “Energy Medicine: The Science and Mystery of Healing”, the book offers insight into the application of energy medicine, which Blakeway defines as a range of healing methods used to diagnose and treat illnesses by manipulating the energy that pulses through our body. Jill invites us on her global journey to better understand, apply, and explain this powerful healing force.
She is also the co-author of the book, “Making Babies: A Proven 3-Month Program for Maximum Fertility”, and author of, “Sex Again: Recharging Your Libido.” We caught up with Jill at the celebration of the star-studded launch of Energy Medicine hosted by Uma Thurman.
Read on for an exclusive interview with wife, mom, doctor of Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine, entrepreneur, and energy healer Jill Blakeway.
MG: Jill, you are tasked with optimizing fertility for hundreds of women, you’re writing books, you’re running a successful women’s wellness clinic, how do you do it all?
JB: I always tell people you can have it all, but possibly not all at once!
Running my own business has meant I can control my own schedule and I realize that makes me lucky, because that isn’t something everyone can do. When my daughter was small I set my clinic hours so I was treating patients during the day and was able to spend time with her after she came home from school. As she grew and needed me less, I took on more. My husband, Noah, works with me at Yinova, where he’s our Clinic Director and we’re a good team, both at home and at work. We share our tasks based on our abilities and he always took on an equal amount of childcare when our daughter was smaller.
These days I’m surrounded by a very talented team of both practitioners and administrators at Yinova, so I don’t have to do everything myself. And I love my job. I love the variety it allows me. I still see patients at Yinova and teach Chinese Medicine, which I enjoy, but I take time out to write books and to run the business. While I’m focusing on other things, my colleagues are in the office giving the patients excellent care and having that kind of back up is a blessing.
MG: How would you describe your new book, “Energy Medicine: The Science and Mystery of Healing”, to someone new to your work and philosophy?
JB: Energy Medicine started as an attempt to explain me to me. I’ve always been an effective acupuncturist and energy healer and I wanted to understand why. So, I set off on a journey that took me half way around the world to explore both the mystery and science behind energy medicine. I met with scientists, researchers, healers and mystics to better understand, apply and explain our bodies’ ability to self-heal in response to prompts – be they an acupuncture needle, a hands-on energy technique or even a placebo. The result is a book that is part memoir, part travelogue and bridges the gap between science and spirituality to offer an evidence-based case that there is an energy that connects us all and that we can use that bond to heal ourselves and others.
MG: What drew you to the field of acupuncture and TMC in the first place? Was there an experience or series of events that led you to pursue acupuncture and clinical herbalism?
JB: I’ve been an acupuncturist for over 20 years and, like a lot of practitioners of my generation, I came to Chinese medicine because I experienced acupuncture and it worked. I went to see a local practitioner recommended to me by a woman in a health-food store when I’d complained of an array of minor but irritating health problems. I was utterly taken by the ritual—the slender needles urging my energy into balance— and the swift recovery I made afterward. I was curious to learn more about this phenomenal technique, and so I asked the practitioner if I might sit in on some of his appointments with his patients’ permission.
As I watched him work, I felt a distant sense of calling; I wanted to provide patients with the same kind of release and support—I knew that much. I also knew that I wanted to learn Eastern medicine in conjunction with Western medicine. I wanted to be part of a medical community that was rigorous about, and respectful of, both worlds. So, I applied to the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine in San Diego, California—one of the best schools in the US to study East Asian medicine—and was accepted into their Master of Science program. I subsequently also sat for a Doctorate in Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine and I’ve never regretted my decision. I love my job!
MG: How do you help clients who may be skeptical or less comfortable with a spiritual practice and weaving it into well living?
JB: Most major cultural traditions identify a vital energy that governs physical and mental processes and provides all living beings with a blueprint for health and abundance. What these ancient traditions observed more generally is that life has two aspects: matter and energy. They viewed the body as matter and identified its vital force—variously called pneuma, prana, or breath—as energy.
Like conventional medicine, spiritual wellness practices focus on the physical, but they also emphasize the energy that animates us and in doing that they are wrestling with a concept that science also examines – the relationship between energy and matter.
MG: As you so eloquently described at the book launch, you went on quite a journey to write this book! What’s one adventure that sticks out in your mind?
JB: I spent some time in Japan meeting a variety of healers. One of them in particular stands out. Hiroyuki Abe is a monk and renowned healer. I first heard about him from a Professor at San Francisco State University who had studied his work. Before going to visit Abe in Japan, I video-conferenced with a psychologist in Israel who had witnessed his work. This man had a baby who was born blind and in desperation he and his wife had taken the baby to meet Abe. The monk treated the baby every day and to start with nothing much seemed to happen, but after a few days the parents were wheeling the baby out of Abe’s clinic in a stroller when they noticed that he was screwing up his eyes in reaction to the sunlight. He could see.
I was so impressed by this story that I traveled to Kobe, Japan, to meet with Abe and learn from him. He was a very gifted healer and seemed to be using his hands to transmit energy into the same acupuncture points that I use in my clinic. In my book I describe his method and his results, as well as what happened to me when Abe decided to open up my chakras.
MG: How do you draw upon energy medicine techniques to help new mothers experiencing perinatal mood disorders?
JB: At Yinova, we are able to draw on a variety of healing techniques to treat our patients and I think that postpartum depression, in particular, benefits from this approach because as a problem, it is multifaceted. So, depending on the case, I might use Chinese herbs and dietary advice to help balance hormones, massage to release muscle tension, acupuncture to treat depression and anxiety and energy work to integrate body, mind and spirit. In our clinic we get good results treating women with postpartum depression in this way.
MG: Self-care in general is a challenge for new mothers. What’s your advice for mothers looking to incorporate self-care and optimizing wellness in their lives?
JB: Breathe! In my book I explain a breathing technique that helps to relieve stress by increasing heart rate variability to allow the autonomic nervous system to achieve balance. The autonomic nervous system has two primary reactions: sympathetic and parasympathetic. When you’re dealing with a fractious baby, for example, your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, which is also known as the sympathetic response. This is a valuable response: it amps you up and urges you to find a solution to your child’s distress. But once you’ve calmed your little one, if you don’t have a strong parasympathetic response to bring you back into balance, you can remain in that survival state for longer than is necessary. For those who are chronically stressed, this can last for hours and sometimes even days. Breathing slowly and evenly helps to bolster the parasympathetic response—encouraging more heart rate variability and a lower heart rate—in order to interrupt the sympathetic reaction sooner and bring your back to a calm place.
You are doing so much Jill. What are you excited for?
JB: Our clinic in the Flatiron District of New York has been successful for many years and our patients think of it as a tranquil haven and a supportive community. We just opened our second clinic in Brooklyn Heights and we’ll be opening a third one in uptown Manhattan over the summer. I’m also about to start writing a new book that looks at the broader implications of the lessons that I learned writing Energy Medicine: The Science and Mystery of Healing.
Get your copy of Energy Medicine: The Science and Mystery of Healing.