The newspaper has fielded a couple requests for coverage from healers of different stripes, and my curiosity was piqued. Erin Borbet and Penny Murray generously offered their expertise to me for free and I went into these sessions trying to balance my healthy skepticism cultivated over a lifetime with some modicum of open-mindedness.
Erin Borbet ran an acupuncture clinic in New York City for six years before she and her husband, the artist Borbay, picked up and moved cross-country to Victor. Erin took a few years’ hiatus from work to have three kids and move. She did some remote consultation in the interim but said she missed the experience of working in a clinic and seeing people face to face.
She has a master’s degree in traditional Chinese medicine, studied for a year in China, and is certified and licensed to practice acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine. Erin’s experiences led her to specialize in women’s health and at her NYC clinic she focused on fertility and hormonal treatments. Now, since there aren’t as many practitioners here, she has broadened her scope. Lori Lloyd, who runs Elements of Health in Driggs, was the only acupuncturist in Teton Valley before Erin opened shop. Erin said they’ve connected and that Lori does great work and stays very busy.
“It does feel like there’s huge receptivity here,” she said. “It seems like there’s real need for it.”
Last week she hung up her shingle in Victor. She rents an office on West Center Street from family nurse practitioner Theresa Lerch and said their practices dovetail nicely. She is currently seeing patients on Mondays and Wednesdays, with the option to offer Tuesday appointments as well if the demand is there. She sees room for both conventional and traditional medicinal methods, and has developed relationships with other health care providers in the valley.
“Everyone seems very welcoming,” she said. “It’s a sign that medical professionals are open and aware that acupuncture can provide a good adjunct to Western medicine.”
Erin takes a holistic approach to health and gets a feel for a patient’s nutrition and medical history as well as current symptoms. At the beginning of my session, she checked my pulse, three fingers on both sides, to gauge the 12 meridians or channels that run through my body. She explained all this in a calming voice, and when I later complimented her bedside manner, she credited the 12 years she spent working as a doula.
The hair-fine needles were so thin they could fit inside a hypodermic needle. I felt the insertion of some but not others as Erin lightly tapped them into my skin. While I couldn’t even tell there was one in the top of my head, the one in my arm made my muscle thrum uncomfortably, so she placed another one that was less disagreeable. She gave me an eye pillow and spritzed the air with an appealing floral fragrance. This was my favorite takeaway from the alternative methods I tested—they always smell better than hospitals.
She said that while in the West elements of meditation often accompany acupuncture, it works regardless of the atmosphere. In China, you can be treated in rooms full of people, sometimes with cigarette smoke hanging in the air.
“Don’t stress to much about being relaxed,” she said with a laugh.
Twenty minutes of acupuncture made my muscles spasm and my head spin gently. Both healing sessions I tried left me unable to articulate the effects of the treatments. I said things like, “I definitely felt the energy, or something,” and “It was…weird.” Erin explained afterwards that she had pinpointed my immune system and spots that increased circulation. It was a maintenance session, something she recommends everyone undergo once a season or so.
“In an ideal world it’s good preventative therapy,” she said. “Acupuncture is great for pain and people know that, but it’s also great for systemic stuff, for internal medicine. I tell people, come in for anything, even for things you think it might not work for. Clinical studies show acupuncture provides deep relaxation, reboots the nervous system, increases circulation.”
Erin’s full biography and schedule can be found online at erinborbet.com.
Penny Murray is the only certified biofield tuner in Idaho and she practices her form of energy healing in a sunny little room in her house in Victor.
When she lived in Vermont, Penny was neighbors with Eileen McKusick, the woman who established biofield tuning. Penny had work done on her for years and said it completely changed who she was—she cast off all her baggage and now feels unencumbered and light. Penny decided around a year ago to learn how to do it herself and has traveled to Vermont and California to receive her certification.
I went into my session with no idea of what to expect. I lay down on the work table with a lavender pillow over my eyes and Penny drew the curtains. She started by establishing my earth star and sun star chakras, which apparently float below my feet and above my head. She poked my legs, hips and collarbone with a thrumming silver tuning fork. Then she stood at a distance from the table and struck the tuning fork against a rubber puck over and over, its sonorous buzz worming its way into my brain.
She said she was working through snags in my life record, clearing the cobwebs. I felt weird tingles and shifts in my nerve endings and my skin crawled in time to the vibration of the fork.
Penny talked a little bit as she tuned but, she said later, “I don’t want to be anyone’s psychiatrist, I just want to pound forks.”
She explained that the fork changes tone when it hits a patch of trauma or grievance in a person’s biofield. A higher tone can mean anxiety, fear or chaos, whereas a lower tone denotes sadness or despair. When she hits a tricky snag she’ll sometimes work through it with a crystal.
“I use my intuition a lot and I’ve learned not to doubt myself,” she said. “It really does make a profound difference.”
At the end of the hour I felt relaxed and mellow, as you might expect from lying still and not thinking about much. It seems to me like most of the perceived benefit of energy healing come from slowing down and being still, quiet and present for a prolonged period of time.
After working with many practice clients Penny is now offering sessions under the name Wide Aware and has had visitors from as far away as Salt Lake City. She also offers couples tuning and even remote tuning, in which a client receives her ministrations by speaker phone.
“I’ll never get over how it affects me so deeply when people trust me,” she said.
Penny can be reached at email@example.com.