Her Holistic Way of Healing
a certified ophthalmologist gets meditative to nourish the spirit
If someone had told me a few weeks ago they could ease my stress and muscle pain by playing a Tibetan singing bowl, I would’ve called them crazy straight to their face.
Fortunately for me, ophthalmologist, reiki master, and yoga teacher Aveen Banich shared what life-changing effects yoga and meditation methods (singing bowls included) can have on a person’s overall well-being.
“Mediation is a practice that can be transformative for an individual,“ Banich said. “When I discovered it, I finally had this understanding that there was more to life than how I was living.”
For those not entirely familiar with the practice, meditation is a technique in which an individual trains their mind to reach higher levels of consciousness. Those who practice this often experience relaxation, peace, and mental clarity.
However, it involves sitting still, concentrating on a positive mantra or affirmation, and often requires the individual to practice mental visualization to aid in concentration – something that is a lot easier said than done for many. Banich knows the challenge all too well.
To help your meditation visual aids, close your eyes and paint Banich’s picture in your mind. For the past 10 years she powered through the demands of medical school, being a physician and raising four children with her husband, who is also a physician. Between the beeping pagers and soccer practices, “me time” was a foreign practice to Banich.
It wasn’t until her youngest son was born prematurely and flown to St. Mary’s hospital in Rochester, Minn., that she finally had a moment of awakening.
“I had been juggling so much in my life, and when this huge moment happened, I just couldn’t do it anymore,” Banich said. “So for the first time in years, I gave myself permission to just breathe.”
As she explored the sensation of sitting in stillness, she felt selfish for taking the break, as she had a list of things to do running through her head. But as she sat still and began to focus on her breaths, she started to relax, and slowly found clarity and insight on past experiences, that had been blocked by life’s blinders for years.
“It just felt so good to just sit in stillness and notice how much better I felt from that simple experience,” Banich said. “Meditation is where I found myself, and it inspired my interest in yoga and other meditation practices.”
Intrigued by her first still moment, she explored this new type of medicine, and began to learn more about yoga and reiki, an ancient Japanese healing practice in which a reiki master acts as a conduit for the universal energy so that it may flow into another person.
She also practices sound therapy – and, yes, singing bowls are an actual thing. The 7-to-12-inch pure quartz bowls infused with gemstones help to slow down brainwaves and reduce stress in an individual when played.
Being a medical doctor, Banich said she had doubts when she began practicing holistic techniques such as yoga and sound therapy, but given her personal success, she’s incorporated them into her own practice for five years now.
“In many cases these ancient techniques can help bring balance in stress relief, pain relief and healing alongside Western medicine,” Banich said. “They don’t have to be exclusive.”
To further serve the community with these healing methods, Banich teaches three yoga classes a week at The Center (just outside Eau Claire) and leads “Life by Design” retreats that immerse women in the various yoga and meditation practices.
Banich is also the author of Expanding Vision: Five Ways to See More Love in Your Life, a book expressing love as the divine energy we all strive for as we try to balance and soul-search in our busy lives.
She is also currently working on a blog project depicting personal testimonials of individuals seeing spirit present in their lives.
“I hope to turn the project into a book someday,” Banich said. “I’ve found that the more people can hear how others have found a way back to themselves, the more likely they are to find glimpses of spirit in their own life.”
The spirit Banich is referring to is the divine energy of love present in the universe. Banich says mindful meditation allows individuals to first connect with their own thoughts and wisdom, and eventually to open their minds and hearts to the divine energy.
“There’s a loving force in everyone and everything, and the more we connect and engage into it, the more love and miracles we see in it in our every day lives,” Banich said. “The universe wants us to be in that healthy place, we just have to get there.”
To learn more, visit aveenbanich.com.