Preparing For Surgery Using Process Acupressure, Imagery and Reiki

December 2010

By Reverend Diane Epstein

There are many articles written about preparing for surgery and all agree on some very basic principles: reducing stress, fear and anxiety, feeling supported and trusting your doctors. I developed Transforming Your Surgery using Process Acupressure, imagery and Reiki, to help my clients find a way to move past fear, anxiety and negativity: to see their procedures as an opportunity to release what’s no longer working toward health, happiness and wholeness, inspiring my clients to choose what’s happening to and for them. We are not victims of the medical profession but partners, allies and participants in our healing choices.


Learning how to keep stress to a minimum is an essential part of surgery preparation. Simply put, when stress is high, our immune system is not turned on all the way and our body’s ability to repair is lowered: our energy is diverted to deal with the stress. Keeping our immune system highly functional is imperative for healing after surgery and learning how to relax is vital. Some ways to reduce stress are: conscious breathing, meditating, yoga, Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Reiki, massage, exercise, music and therapy. The list can go on and on because, as individuals, we all have different cues that relax us. Someone might find climbing a mountain relaxing while someone else enjoys sitting by the ocean. The important part is to find what works for you and do it!


All of us are excellent at producing doomsday versions of upcoming events in our minds. These doomsday versions of events can make us feel anxious and stressed. What if, instead of running negative, devastating images in our minds, we choose positive, restorative, meaningful images? I’ve seen uplifting images move clients into greater peace, comfort and connection with themselves and the world. Plus, it’s important that we each find our own personal images that empower and heal us. We’re individuals, unique and special and the image that might work for you might not have any resonance for someone else. Dr. Bernie Siegel writes in his book “Love, Medicine and Miracles” about a man who had cancer and was part of an imagery group. He was told to imagine that his body was fighting and killing the cancer. He got up and left the room saying, “I’m a Quaker, we don’t fight or kill anything.” The imagery that worked for him was to send love to his cancer. Your images of healing are powerful and precious symbols from the unconscious. Use them!

Process Acupressure and Reiki

Process Acupressure combines Process Oriented Psychotherapy and acupressure to create a soul centered “whole-person” therapeutic modality that integrates bodywork with mental, emotional and spiritual processing. Process Acupressure is a simple and effective modality for enhancing personal growth.

Acupressure works on the same principle as acupuncture except the practitioner uses gentle finger pressure instead of needles.

Reiki is a Japanese word which can be translated as “spiritually guided life-force”. This is a simple, hands on or hands off, channeled energy healing technique.

I prefer to use Process Acupressure and Reiki for medical procedures because:

1. In Process Acupressure the client is supine-on their back-which makes it ideal for   surgery and hospital settings.
2. Process Oriented Psychology is a very deep, profound, respectful method for supporting my clients as they come up with their own healing images.
3. Acupressure supports meridian flows (lines of energy that move through our body) which are affected by surgery.
4. Acupressure points that directly affect the liver and are found on the feet are great for clearing the anesthetic in the recovery room.
5. Reiki can be used anywhere and at pretty much anytime. Hospital settings can be chaotic and Reiki is user friendly to start and stop at a moments notice. I can perform Reiki walking down a hallway while my client is being moved in a gurney, in an elevator, in any location and at any moment.

Preparing for surgery, or any medical procedure, using Process Acupressure, Reiki and imagery can be a way to empower and support the healing process on all levels of being; body, mind and spirit. It’s a conscious choice to be engaged in our healing and one that reaps great benefits. To discover more about how you can reframe surgery or other medical procedures visit my website.

If you’re facing surgery or any medical treatment and are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or just plain scared, Reverend Diane Epstein offers an opportunity to reframe your medical treatment: moving away from fear and towards empowerment and choice. Learn simple, easy techniques to improve immune response, increase cellular repair and growth. Contact Rev. Diane directly through her contact page.

Published at December 2010

Can You Imagine?  Guided Imagery a Tool to Help Cancer Patients focus on Recovery

“When a patient experiences stress, the whole body is geared for a fight-or-flight response, and bodily functions vital to healing, like immune function, for example, are diminished,” says the Rev. Diane Epstein, holistic practitioner, shown with patient Carol Dwyer. “The goal of my work is to reframe the fear and trauma that often accompany medical procedures into something positive and empowering for the patient.”

Times Herald-Record
Published: 09/28/11

When Hurricane Irene washed away the bridge leading to her West Shokan home and offices, Dr. Carol Robin felt her pulse quicken and panic rise. How would clients reach her? Where could she work? How could she handle all these logistic issues when rising, raging floodwaters had her and her family trapped?

Then it occurred to Robin, a doctor of chiropractic, certified clinical nutritionist and holistic health practitioner, to put into practice the very techniques that that she has used with clients for more than 25 years.

She took out one of her own guided imagery CDs from the library of products that she makes available, to help people confronting issues ranging from cancer and chronic disease to releasing stress and insomnia to smoking cessation.

Then she sat down and began to imagine the hurricane “not as a catastrophe breaking down structures, but rather as a purifying instrument for possibilities, washing away stagnation in crystal water and bringing new energy” to her life. The imagery, she explained, helped her emotionally and physiologically as well. She said that she began to feel relaxed, rejuvenated and relieved to see the events in a different light. Soon her heartbeat returned to normal and she could breathe easily once again.

Based on the understanding that the mind and body are connected, guided imagery uses the imagination to guide the body toward a more relaxed, focused state. “Imagery doesn’t have to be visual, it can use any sense,” says Robin. “Some people see pictures; others may use a sound or smell or a sense of ‘knowing.'” Since the imagination can sometimes be difficult to harness, Robin helps clients by providing instruction as well as a series of CDs and MP3s.

Gaining acceptance
Today, guided imagery is gaining acceptance in the medical community. According to Robin, Dr. Sheldon Feldman, chief of breast surgery at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center and a leading authority in minimally invasive breast cancer surgery and cancer prevention, provides patients with her Transforming Cancer Surgery CD prior to surgery. Just as the mind and body are connected, so too are many of the patients and professionals who practice the technique in many parts of the Hudson Valley region. Robin is also president of the board of directors of Breast Cancer Options, a Kingston-based, not-for-profit organization that provides a range of services including education, support and advocacy to people affected by breast cancer in six counties throughout the Hudson Valley, including Orange, Sullivan and Ulster. The organization is a resource for women interested in exploring options available to them in mainstream as well as complementary medicine.

One woman’s journey
Carol Dwyer draws on her imagination every day in her career at Tonner Dolls in Kingston, a high-end collectible vinyl doll company. But never in her wildest imagination did she ever picture herself as one of the one in eight women to be diagnosed with breast cancer. “If there are seven things you should do in life to stay healthy, I’d estimate I was doing at least six,” she said.

In August 2009, Dwyer was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. Subsequent tests revealed that cancer cells were in her lymph nodes and that cancer had traveled to her spine. At 54 years old, during what is generally considered midlife, Dwyer would find that life as she had known it was only just beginning.

For years, Dwyer had been interested in and frequently turned to homeopathic healing. With the cancer diagnosis, however, she said she decided to put herself in the hands of mainstream medicine. After careful consideration, she made the decision to undergo surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but she would do it in conjunction with certain complementary medicines and procedures.

Dwyer turned to many resources, including Breast Cancer Options. Another resource she turned to for “body work” was the Rev. Diane Epstein, an interfaith minister, New York state-licensed massage therapist and a Reiki master, a certified practitioner of process acupressure who incorporates guided imagery into her “energy work.” In recent years, Epstein has created “Transforming Your Surgery,” a practice that combines her services to help patients prepare for surgery. Using imagery, acupressure and energy work, Epstein helped Dwyer during her treatments.

“The goal of my work is to reframe the fear and trauma that often accompany medical procedures into something positive and empowering for the patient,” Epstein explained. She added that there are more than just emotional benefits. “When a patient experiences stress, the whole body is geared for a fight-or-flight response, and bodily functions vital to healing, like immune function, for example, are diminished. Changing the way a person perceives and experiences their diagnosis and treatments can help emotionally as well as physiologically by reducing stress, which increases immune function. It also may slow the heart rate, release hormones for rest, well as aid in minimizing pain and postoperative trauma,” she said.

Bringing about these changes involves achieving a kind of altered state. Theoretically, Epstein said, when the mind is fed different multi-sensory images — thinking of a beautiful scene, hearing rapturous music, tasting fabulous comfort foods, feeling fabrics that are soft, gentle and comfortable — the body follows the mind’s lead and can move in a new direction. “Each person’s images will be different. Helping patients find the images that work best for them is a wonderful journey,” Epstein said. “If we can learn to see surgery as something positive and healing — an opportunity to lovingly release a part of the body that is no longer working — it can help our bodies can be cleansed, strengthened and empowered.”

After Epstein guides a patient through the guided imagery process, the patient then practices until he or she is able to master the technique and use it whenever and wherever an adverse situation arises. One of the most important results of gaining this kind of inner strength is that a patient has a sense of being in control, said Epstein. Thanks to the mind-body connection, the patient feels better and can do better — in other words, according to Epstein, the patient feels empowered.

“It took a few sessions with Diane until I began to feel that I could work with myself, using my own inner dialogue to help me see that surgery and treatment weren’t all bad — they were necessary to help me live,” said Dwyer. “I had to tell myself that I needed to let go of my breasts and put things in my body that would be helpful to me on my journey.”

‘No longer a black hole in my life’
“Instead of thinking of chemo as a poison, I pictured cartoon-like, helpful molecules of chemo, cleaning things up inside,” recalled Dwyer. “During radiation, I imagined a poultice of feathers protecting my skin, or I felt water running over my skin to soothe it. I didn’t think of fights or ‘battles with
cancer.’ Cancer was no longer a black hole in my life, but part of my life’s journey that would give me strength.”

Dwyer’s most recent tests found no cancer in her body, yet both she and Epstein don’t speak of the guided imagery in medical terms — no one professes that it’s a cure. The end result was that Dwyer felt empowered, in control of her life, rather than a victim of a disease or condition. “Rev. Diane helped me create my own vision and version of what was happening to my body,” said Dwyer.

• Breast Cancer Options –; 845-339-HOPE
• Dr. Carol Robin –; 845-657-7545
• The Rev. Diane Epstein –; 914-466-0090

Paula Bojarsky of West Shokan, who teaches English as a second language at the elementary-school level, deals with words every day. However, she said, it’s hard to find the words to describe how the guided imagery process worked for her.
Four years ago, at the age of 51, Bojarsky faced a breast-cancer diagnosis and needed help coming to terms with her fear of surgery. The Rev. Diane Epstein of Kingston, an interfaith minister, Reiki master and New York state licensed massage therapist, helped her prepare with a combination of hypnosis and imagery, along with other techniques that Bojarsky said “spoke to my subconscious.”
According to Bojarsky, on the morning of surgery at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, she didn’t feel frightened at all. “I felt calm thinking about what an interesting experience I was about to have. I pictured the hospital as an ancient temple, a center of learning that had healing as a top priority,” she remembered. “Before my surgery, I was able to thank everyone.”

Throughout the 13-hour surgery, Epstein was at Bojarsky’s side, sometimes massaging her feet, other times soothing her with her presence.

“During the operation the surgeon turned to me and asked: ‘How is the patient doing?'” said Epstein. “He was asking for my evaluation. It felt so good to be considered accepted and respected as part of this extraordinary medical team.”
Gloria Smith Zawaski

ealth Points E Newsletter Spring 2011: Healers in the Operating Room