It’s time for alternative therapies to take a more regular place beside our existing medical treatments, and DB residents Susan Smith, Angie Tourani and Adina Wong are going to prove it. Elizabeth Kerr reports
PHOTOS BY Baljit Gidwani – www.evoqueportraits.com
Susan Smith is standing in the sun at the Discovery Bay ferry pier, a light jacket draped over her arm, unnecessary despite the breeze and the sudden dryness that’s blanketed the city. “I thought I needed it this morning,” she quips with a Manchester lilt that hasn’t thinned in her 28 years in Hong Kong. On the way up to her apartment, we run into India-born Angie Tourani, herself a 27-year Hong Kong resident and a recent acquaintance of Susan. After a couple of minutes, native Hongkonger Adina Wong, a 15- year DB resident, turns up and parks herself on the sofa. They’re the kind of eclectic trio that’s very typical of Hong Kong and DB.
One of the things that unites these ladies is an interest in alternative healing and a shared determination to expand the work they do in DB in the coming year. Introduced by alternative medicine practitioner Dr Sue Jamieson of the Integrative Medical Practice in Central, they finally met up a few months ago to put their heads together to see what they could do to spread the gospel of healing outside the box.
The short version: Susan is an energy healer, with a specialty in reiki and its more powerful sibling, sekhem, both of which she found herself drawn to 25 years ago while still working as an educator with ESF schools.
Angie is an advanced certified BodyTalk practitioner, and Hong Kong’s only advanced certified instructor, which she describes as the practice of using the body’s innate wisdom to correct itself. “BodyTalk is about helping the body to heal from the inside out. It’s not about looking at symptoms but rather why the problem is there.”
Adina rounds out the triumvirate with her hypnotherapy and past life regression therapy, in addition to energy healing. “It increases your general awareness and helps in making decisions and taking action,” explains Adina.
For the sceptics out there, Susan, Angie and Adina couldn’t look farther from new-agey if they tried; there isn’t a whiff of patchouli (or frankincense) about them. Susan, who retired to DB 18 months ago, is sporty looking, with vaguely spiky bronze hair. Angie has movie star locks and a relaxed, confident demeanour. Draped in an elegant shawl, Adina looks like an artist – or possibly an art dealer. None has any religious affiliations – a common misconception – although all three admit to a spiritual element to their practices.
Alternative therapy is becoming increasingly mainstream but the DB trio are fully aware of lingering misconceptions of their industry. Adina jokes about assuring people she’s not going to mesmerise them into forking over their bank account information. Susan is more laissez faire, arguing, “For someone who doesn’t really want to be there the energy isn’t as strong. You have to be open to giving it a go. It’s different strokes for different folks.” They brush aside accusations of quackery and snake oil peddling, but are quick to respect anyone’s scepticism.
And despite all three agreeing there’s a growing interest in alternative health therapies in Hong Kong, critics with valid arguments still abound, among them the Journal of the American Medical Association and the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority. That said, a lengthy 2019 report by the World Health Organisation stated that: “Traditional and complementary medicine is an important and often underestimated health resource with many applications, especially in the prevention and management of lifestyle-related chronic diseases, and in meeting the health needs of ageing populations.”
“We don’t replace doctors, and I make that very clear,” states Susan. “We can help, and if someone is refusing traditional medicine, I like to remind them I’m a healer.” That’s particularly important now, when COVID misinformation and vaccine conspiracy theories are rampant worldwide. “Absolutely,” says Adina when asked if they have a responsibility to be extra vigilant about expectations these days. Angie points out that many of her clients have been referred by so-called ‘real doctors;’ she works with people who could use extra support with medical treatment as we know it.
“Western medicine is amazing, and crucial, for acute diseases and surgeries, but with chronic conditions it has limited scope,” argues Angie, who discovered BodyTalk while living in South Africa in 2005 and seeking alternative healthcare for her young children, now 21 and 22. “It’s a complement, not a replacement.” Susan, Angie and Adina claim they can assist with end-stage cancer pain elimination, management of chronic back trouble, stress relief, dealing with past sexual assaults, trouble conceiving and kids with ADHD among other ailments.
WORKING WITH ENERGY
Like Angie and Susan, Adina has a personal connection to her disciplines. As a kid, she developed an interest in hypnotherapy by watching it (inaccurately) portrayed on TV. However, Adina refers to herself as a seeing-isbelieving type; she prefers experience to description.
“Hypnotherapy helped me overcome a lot of barriers in the past, and it led me to past life therapy. I had so many questions without answers until I finally visited a past life therapist. I just wanted to answer my questions, solve my issues and move forward. I started my spiritual journey there.” Adina’s treatments are designed to help us learn important lessons we don’t necessarily realise we need; this is important karmically, since missed lessons are carried forward “until you solve the problem or it grows more serious.”
BodyTalk is a whole healthcare system but it’s essentially about communication networks, about our trillions of cells working together and how illness and disease result from those networks breaking down due to environmental stressors – which can range from schoolyard bullying to food poisoning. It’s a consciousness-based, non-diagnostic therapy that stimulates the body’s ability to balance and heal itself.
Energy healing is every bit as complicated, but it’s rooted in the concept of universal energy and its power to heal. “I work as a conduit for energy. That sounds bizarre when you talk to someone who’s never been through it,” says Susan with a chuckle. “Clients lie down, fully clothed, and we discuss what their issue might be. The notion is that behind every physical issue there’s some kind of emotional or mental issue – from childhood, or a past life – and we have a blocked energy channel because of it.”
Native Hongkonger Adina chimes in to note that what happens in a therapy session stays there: “Locals care about what people think so I keep it really low key,” she assures. “If I see someone in a shop, I just leave them be. Privacy is really important.”
TIME TO REBOOT
To kick off 2022 – and the Year of the Tiger – Susan ([email protected]), Angie (www.bodytalksystem. com.hk) and Adina (www.nadihealings.com) have some pricing specials on offer for DB residents until mid-February. Adina runs a monthly workshop in DB North Plaza, Angie works out of Integrated Medicine Institute (IMI) in Central, and all three have unsurprisingly shifted some of their work online since 2020. Equally unsurprising, Susan prefers hands-on treatment (no pun intended), though she can switch to distance healing if she meets clients in person at least a few times.
So the $64,000 question becomes: Why start the year with energy healing, hypnosis and BodyTalk rather than a spa weekend and a few bottles of Pinot Noir?
“I think it depends on what you want in life. If you just want to chill, I’d go with the spa and the wine,” says Susan, whose small wine fridge peeks out of the kitchen. “But if it’s something deep that’s making you feel anxious or uncomfortable none of those things is going to make a substantial difference.”
Angie agrees. “It’s a long-term strategy. It’s looking at the roots, healing from the inside out and solving the problem versus masking it with a temporary fix.”Tags: alternative therapies, energy, healers, health, hynotherapy, therapy