TREATING THE PATIENT, NOT THE DISEASE
Remember what your mom used to say about staying healthy? Eat some protein, a good starch, plenty of green vegetables and fresh fruit every day. Lay off fats, get out and exercise, and take a quiet hour for yourself.
Good advice, but.... Most of us don't make the time to eat right, we're too tired to exercise after work and there's never that extra hour to meditate. So we don't operate up to our potential, our bodies rebel and we occasionally end up needing a doctor. But what happens if the doctor can't treat what we have, or can only treat it with a scalpel? And where do you go to treat the problem rather than the symptom?
More and more, Americans are searching out alternative therapists, trying to get a handle on the cause, rather than the symptoms, of their disorders.
But what exactly are alternative therapists? Are they all New Age nuts? Is there a scientific basis for the work they do?
Alternative medicine includes a host of therapies ranging from simple massage to finding the child within us—who rarely seems to have been satisfied and whose dissatisfaction can lead to all sorts of diseases later in life. Most have their basis in traditional medicines from non-Western countries. And most treat disease and disorders as the result of something askew in the whole picture of the patient that needs to be treated, rather than the Western ideal of claiming medical success when the symptom of the disease or disorder disappears.
The reason alternative therapists so often look at the mind/body/spirit/emotions of a patient rather than exclusively at the symptoms, according to Mark Becker, the publisher of NewLlfe Magazine, is that the mind and spirit control the body.
“If you think sex," says Becker, "your sex organs respond. If you think fear, your adrenal glands respond. Think hunger and your salivary glands respond. The mind controls the body. So the mind has a large role in causing disease, and conversely a large role in curing disease. Now if a doctor eliminates that entire concept, that's an enormous aspect of healing that's being ignored, which is going to lower your success rate with your patients.
“The same can be said for the spiritual aspects of healing. If mind, body, spirit and emotions
cause disease, then to treat disease you've
got to treat it by working with mind, body, spirit and emotions.”
It's not a theory endorsed by the American Medical Association. While a few alternative therapies—chiropractic, acupuncture, homeopathic medicine and some massage—have made their way to the mainstream and acceptance by both the AMA and insurance companies, most alternative therapies are still far from being accepted, and many are still considered outright quackery.
But despite their nonacceptance by the Western medical establishment, people are turning to alternative therapies and healers with extraordinary frequency. Herbert Burkholz, author of The FDA Follies (Basic Books, 1994), writing in New York Newsday this past August 18, noted that “a recent poll...found that 30 percent of the people questioned had tried some form of unconventional therapy, half of them within the past year. Extrapolating those numbers suggests that during the last year for which those figures are available M992), Americans made an estimated 425 million visits to providers of unconventional therapies. This exceeded the number of visits to all primary-care physicians, which was 388 million.”
Those numbers—no doubt stemming in part from the continual inability of Western medicine to effectively treat AIDS and most forms of cancer—caught the eye of the National Institutes of Health, which in 1992 opened the Office of Alternative Medicine. But given a miniscule budget of only $2 million per annum for its first two years of operation—increasing to $3 million in 1995—its first director, Dr. Joe Jacoby, resigned in disgust after only two years.
Despite the poor funding, it's a major breakthrough that the US government is even beginning to discover and discuss alternative medicine. With its concentration on prevention rather than symptomatic treatment,
alternative medicine offers viable alternatives to most of what ails you.
'Nuff said. Forthwith, a HIGH TIMES guide to some of what's out there.
NANCY AZARA Artist and Psychic Healer
What I do in psychic healing is work with a person’s aura, which is the energy field around the body. Now, in the energy field, we hold pictures, memories, images, shapes, colors, forms and sounds. The healer works as a guide, helping an individual to become aware of what’s there. It’s really about helping people to listen to themselves.
The actual work involves putting my hands about two inches away from or right on the seven chakra energy points in their body, then telling the person what I see and getting them to tell me what they see, using their imagination.
I often work with physicians who send me patients for healing, either because they can’t be diagnosed or they’ve reached a point where they have no hope. The value in psychic work is that it deals with the whole being, with the psyche of the person. For example, say someone is extremely depressed. I’d see their depression as causing a particular illness, whereas a traditional allopathic doctor would see that there’s this part of the body that needs to be shaped up. The real ailment might be a lack of will to live or something else in the psyche that needs to be uncovered and healed, and is causing a breakdown in the body. I help the person access their inner wisdom and ask for clarity within to understand what’s happening and find a direction toward healing.
I’m not discounting allopathic medicine. But there’s a whole component that’s been dismissed that needs to be worked with. By not acknowledging our psychic wisdom—which we all have—and healing powers, we’re losing a huge part of ourselves and of life experience.
A BEGINNER'S GLOSSARY OF ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES
Developed in China nearly 6,000 years ago, acupuncture is a form of health maintenance that stimulates the body's ability to sustain and balance itself. Based on the theory that life-force is channeled in a continuous flow throughout the body by a network of meridians, disease is understood as an imbalance in the meridian system. Thin needles are inserted at specific points along the meridians to stimulate or disperse the flow of life-force in order to correct the imbalance.
produces chemical reactions that affect basic body functions. Essential oils make good homemade cosmetics for those who shun the petrochemical soup found in most mainstream products. They add considerable zest to culinary creations.
Different essential oils produce different reactions. For example, lavender is good for burns, tea tree is a powerful disinfectant, eucalyptus clears congestion, ginger settles the stomach, rose combats headaches, jasmine enhances sex. Clary sage is the most well-known oil used to create euphoria. However, overuse can cause hangover and headaches. The art of aromatherapy is knowing how to blend oils for synergistic effects: ginger, eucaplyptus and peppermint are great for sore bodies. Essential oils are also used to combat depression and as meditation aids. The most effective spiritual oils are also some of the oldest: frankincense, myrhh, and spikenard predate recorded history.
Not just New Age quackery, aromatherapy is a safe, inexpensive and nontoxic alternative to pharmaceutical medicine and a health-care system based on corporate profits.
For Further Information: Essentially Yours (805) 323-0649 Original Swiss Aromatics (415) 459-3998 The Essential Oil Company, PO Box 206 Lake Oswego, OR 97034 or: Nature's Apothecary 6350 Gunpark Drive, Ste. 500 Boulder, CO 80301
Harnessing the power of scent, aromatherapy utilizes essential oils from plant flowers, roots, barks and resins as medicine. Depending on your needs, these aromatic oils can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. They are often diluted with a carrier oil. Essential oils are usually obtained by steam distillation of plants. Vast quantities of fresh plant materials are needed to obtain just a small amount of an essential oil. Aromatherapy has been practiced by numerous cultures, including the Egyptians, Romans and many Native American tribes. It is actually quite scientific. Diane Dummer, a lab analyst with Nature’s Apothecary of Boulder, Colorado, explains: "Sensitive nasal hairs pick up fragrant molecules and transport messages directly to the limbic system.”
Inhaling essential oils involves placing a few drops in a bowl of steaming water and placing a towel over your head to inhale the vapors. For a full bath, add essential oil to hot water (ginger makes an excellent purification bath).
In aromatherapy massage, essential oils are blended with carrier oils—usually grapeseed oil. The purpose of massaging with the oils is not just for the olfactory benefits, but because they stimulate nerve endings on the skin, sending a message to the pituitary gland, which
More than 5,000 years old, Ayurveda is the traditional healing science of
India. According to Ayurvedic tradition, health is the balance of the elements of air, fire and water; illness is an excess of one of those elements (e.g., arthritis is generally caused by an excess of air). Its practitioners treat illness at its source rather than treat its symptoms, aiming to create balance for the mind and body. Ayurveda offers healing, rejuvenation and self-realization therapies through herbs, diet, yoga, massage, aromas, colors, tantras, mantras and meditation. Treatments are offered for disorders of the reproductive, circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous and metabolic systems.
A new field, bau-biologie is the study of the impact of the man-made environment on human health and the application of this knowledge to the construction or modification of homes and workplaces.
While bau-biologie environmental inspectors won’t do windows, they can identify environmental hazards in homes and offices and propose nonhazardous solutions.
Bioenergetics cofounders Alexander Löwen and John Pierrokis contend that repressed traumas and inner defense mechanisms, which take the form of chronic, rigid, muscular tension, can be reached via a battery of breathing and energizing activities: bends, kicks, pounding, yelling.
Bioenergetics combines physical release with talk therapy, enabling integration of newly emerging emotions and revelations. Adherents claim an added by-product is often relief of chronic aches and pains.
A technique that utilizes electronic instruments to provide continuous information about subtle changes in a person’s physiological responses to stress. Through guided relaxation exercises and machine monitoring, patients learn how to control the body reactions that provoke their disease symptoms. Problems treated include: anxiety, asthma, chronic pain, colitis, severe menstrual pain, hypertension, insomnia, migraine headaches, muscle spasms, tremors, ulcers and other stressrelated disorders. Warning: The cost of the machinery may induce all of the above.
Biomagnetics is the application of solid-state magnets to the body—YIKES!—in order to encourage healing. Reported benefits include pain relief; reduction of inflammations, infection and insomnia; improved ability of the body's cells to absorb more oxygen and maintain a healthy pH balance; and a slowing down of the aging process.
A medical treatment that improves metabolic and circulatory functions by
removing toxic metals and abnormally located ions from the body such as lead, copper and iron. Therapy includes administration of an FDA-approved synthetic amino acid, EDTA, which, over time, is said to halt the progress of the underlying condition that triggers the development of several degenerative conditions, including diabetes, arthritis, cancer and Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases.
The basis for dozens of respected therapies, Chinese medicine is a holistic perspective on health and illness which treats the relationship of a symptom to the person as a whole. Practitioners don’t try to identify specific causes for a disorder, but instead try to understand the relationships among various factors affecting a person’s condition. A particular disharmony, for instance, manifested as a certain disease, is viewed as only one aspect of a broader pattern that includes environment, behavior, emotional state, stage of life—and probably the quality of recreational drugs—unique to each individual. Great emphasis is placed on preventive techniques.
Refers to a series of membranes connecting the cranium and sacrum bones and enclosing the brain and spinal cord in cerebrospinal fluid. HUH? These move in response to fluctuations in fluid pressure. Imbalances in this hydraulic system affect the central nervous system, causing a wide range of problems. Practitioners use subtle, nonintrusive hands-on techniques to redress the balance.
Through deep-tissue bodywork (massage) incorporating movement education and verbal dialogue, the Hellerworker helps patients to free themselves of self-limiting physical and mental patterns, restoring natural flexibility, optimum vitality and an expanded state of well-being. Invented by a retired NASA scientist. And not the guy who invented Tang, either.
A century ago, herbs were far more commonplace in medicine than they are now—in fact, they practically defined it. Though historically associated with magic and folklore, herbal medicine has always been a science at heart.
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SOMA Crystal Healer
Fluman beings are physically made up of about a half-bathtub of water and a few pounds of minerals [plus carbon and other elements in incredibly complex compounds—Ed.]. That’s our physical makeup. All organic life on earth has its foundation in the mineral kingdom. For example, vegetation grows in soil, which has a mineral makeup. Then an animal comes along and eats the vegetation. Then a human eats the animal—or in my case eats the leaves and flowers and skips the animal.
My point is that if you eliminate the mineral kingdom, all organic life as we know it ceases to exist. So as our makeup is of a mineral nature, minerals stand a very good chance of influencing us. What I do in gem therapy is first of all, talk to a client in a very deep, friendly, gentle way about who they are in the here and now. I then place about 80 crystals and gemstones of different sizes and shapes on the person’s chakras, starting with the root chakra and working up through all seven chakras. Chakras are energy centers all humans have. They are like doorways. They can be opened or closed. When chakras are closed, so is the person. Gem therapy opens a person’s chakras and aligns them with each other, which ultimately helps a person to find their center. Along with the crystals and gemstones I use sounds: I use a didgeridoo, Tibetan singing bowls, Tibetan bells, rain canes and shamans’ drums. The different sound frequencies activate different chakras. When the session is finished the result is a more gentle, centered and calm human being.
In treatment of illness, whenever we are calm and relaxed healing can take place wherever it’s needed. The body knows how to heal itself if given the chance. Simply placing the stones on a person’s body forces a person to be still— to keep them from falling off—often more still than they have ever been, even in sleep.
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DONAMARIE MINISSALE Hawaiian Temple Body Work
I do Hawaiian Temple Body Work, which originated in Hawaii among the Kahuna, Hawaiian shamans, several thousand years ago. It was used both as a healing art and a rite of passage, and while it deals with the physical body, it ties in the mental, emotional, physical, spiritual and etheric elements of a person as well.
I begin my sessions by asking the client questions about their physical body and some of the emotional things they’ve had to deal with since childhood. My belief is that every illness is caused by unresolved emotional problems from a person’s childhood. If you have some childhood issues that are directed towards your mother or your father and you haven’t dealt with them, that can manifest— though it may take years—into an illness.
The way I became involved with this work was that I had cancer five years ago.
I had an operation and after it was done I went on a quest to discover why I’d created this illness in my body. I eventually met a woman who did shamanic healing, and through her I found a women’s group. Through them I began to heal a lot of my childhood issues.
The actual work is ceremonial. In my healing room I place the person on a massage table, my altar. I begin by praying to the Creator; then I put my hands on the patient’s body and begin to dance the Kahiko, an ancient form of the hula. I dance in a pattern that locks me into a grid of energy. Throughout the session I’m always moving, so that I can move energy around in the person. I can suck out trauma and blow healing energy into them.
To move the person’s energy on a physical level, I do deep body work, massage. And I’m also simultaneously trying to harmonize all the bodies in a person, their spiritual, emotional, mental and etheric bodies, as well as their physical.
There’s a reason that herbs work the way they do: They are composed of vitamins, minerals, essential oils, alkaloids, glycosides, enzymes, antibiotics and other active ingredients the body needs.
One of the last great organized groups of herbalists, the Eclectics, enjoyed a heyday from the mid-1800s through the turn of the century—though they continued as an organization until the late 1930s. Recognizing the growing use of what herbalists might call “heroic” remedies for treating ailments—such as bloodletting and swallowing mercury, whose modern-day counterparts are radical surgery and chemotherapy—they diverged to form their own medical community.
The name Eclectic reflects their blending of various disciplines, including European, Native American, African-American and Asian. Today, we owe a great debt to the Eclectics for their scientific experimentation with herbs, the results of which were written up in many scientific journals as well as in the Eclectic Materia Medica. Many of the Eclectics’ findings, based on extracting the active constituents of herbs, can be found in the book American Medicinal Plants (published in 1892, but now available through Dover Publications in paperback).
Today, the Eclectic legacy is carried on by naturopathic physicians (NDs). In essence, they are general practitioners trained as specialists in natural medicine. Graduates of a four-year postgraduate program in standard medical sciences, including anatomy and physiology, NDs are also trained in natural therapeutics—as opposed to symptomatic
treatments and pharmaceuticals.
These doctors treat disease and restore health using therapies as diverse as herbal medicine, homeopathy, clinical nutrition, exercise therapy, counseling, acupuncture, natural childbirth and hydrotherapy. One might consider them to be the nontoxic equivalent of traditional doctors.
A prominent naturopathic physician who draws upon the wisdom of the Eclectics is Ed Alstat, R.Ph., ND. Twelve years ago, he founded the Eclectic Institute just outside of Portland, Oregon. The institute cultivates a 90-acre medicinal-plant farm; it sells those herbs to both naturopathic physicians and health-food stores (it also offers vitamins). Business has increased threefold over the previous year, and Dr. Alstat speculates that this could be a result of recent FDA pressures to curtail herbal usage. Says Dr. Alstat, “People used to wonder, ‘Could the FDA put us out of
business?’ But the FDA has been neutralized by an upswelling of support for naturopathic and herbal remedies.”
Though herbalists and others might successfully use herbs to treat maladies, their training is by and large empirical—not nearly as thorough or rigorous as that of NDs, Dr. Alstat points out. He adds, “Naturopathic physicians are trained to use herbal medicine properly. The premise of naturopathy is stimulating the body’s ability to heal itself—not treating symptoms with drugs.”—V. Poplar
For Further Information: Eclectic Institute 14388 S.E. Lusted Rd.
Sandy, OR 97055 or: American Assn, of Naturopathic Physicians 2366 Eastlake Avenue E., Ste. 322 Seattle, WA 98102
Not a particular therapy, but more a perspective on health and healing that considers all aspects of an individual’s life as creating a total state of health, or some part thereof. Holistic practitioners analyze the physical, nutritional, emotional, environmental, spiritual and lifestyle values of the client—in other words, the whole picture—to treat the individual rather than the disease.
Like many forms of alternative medicine, homeopathy stimulates the body to heal itself. However, the way it does so is entirely unique. The discipline began more than two centuries ago, when a German doctor named Samuel Hahnemann worked out a system of healing based on the principle of similars, or “like cures like”; that is, a substance that causes symptoms in a
healthy person will cure them when administered to a sick person. Hahnemann felt that symptoms of illness should not be masked or suppressed by drugs; rather, they should be allowed to be expressed and then treated.
Prepared from plant, mineral and animal substances, homeopathic medicines are given in microdoses, or as
Robert Stewart, R.S., Hom. (N.A.) of the New York School of Homeopathy, puts it, "infinitely minute doses. The smaller the dose, the more powerful it is homeopathically.” Because the doses are so small, there are no toxic side effects, yet the body’s defense and immune systems are enhanced. The low toxicity also makes them especially safe for children.
As an example, Stewart offers this scenario: “People drink coffee to simulate themselves, yet homeopathically it is a major remedy for sleeplessness due to mental activity. For instance, when you tell a three-year-old that he is going to the circus on Saturday and it's only Thursday, that child is not going to sleep for two nights. It’s as if the child has drunk coffee. So now, a tiny, tiny dose of coffee will put him to sleep.”
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MARK BECKER Publisher of NewLife Magazine and Promoter of NewLife Expos
Allopathic medicine—Western medicine that concerns itself with drugs and surgery—is all that medical doctors as we know them study. And so if what they’re doing doesn’t work, there are no other therapies they can recommend to their patients.
But alternative therapy treats people as a whole, as mind/body/spirit, and alternative therapists realize that there is more going on with a patient than just the immediate symptom, which leaves them open to a whole range of alternative treatments, many of which have proven histories in other countries and cultures.
The biggest fault, I think, with allopathic medicine is the limitation of its practitioners’ knowledge. Western medical schools have not progressed over the years. Most don’t even require more than a few hours of nutrition, much less teach the students about alternative therapies. Another problem with allopathic therapy is that it treats the symptom, not the patient. If you take an aspirin and your headache goes away, you may think you’re cured, but you haven’t treated what caused the headache. If you take radiation therapy, you may kill a tumor, but what caused the tumor remains intact and may cause another tumor. You’ve only treated the symptom. You haven’t treated the patient.
But in most alternative therapies, the therapist has an awareness that they have to go for the cause, not the symptom, of a disease. A fever, for example, is the body’s mechanistic way of killing a disease. So when you have a fever, it may not be good to take something that will bring the fever down. A lot of the symptoms we get are good symptoms, because they’re the body’s way of fighting the disease. So holistic therapies are a whole different concept of healing.
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One of the important concepts of homeopathy is that health is freedom on three levels: mental, emotional and physical. The concept of illness is broadened beyond pathology, Stewart explains. “If you have arthritis or a headache, you are focused on those things and are not free. Certain emotions can also be crippling. Health is relative, not an absolute state.” One of the strengths of homeopathy is that it is used to prevent illness and maintain health. At the same time, according to the National Center for Homeopathy, it can successfully treat everything from trauma and sports injuries to migraine headaches and depression.
Homeopathic remedies are all prepared in accordance with the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States and are regulated by the FDA as drugs. Most are available over the counter.
Widely practiced in Europe and England, where there are homeopathic hospitals, this discipline is gaining ground quickly in America: sales of homeopathic medicines increase by 25 percent annually and the number of practitioners has leapt from fewer than 200 two decades ago to several thousand today.—V.Poplar
For Further Information: Hahnemann College of Homeopathy 828 San Pablo Ave., 2nd FI.
Albany, CA 94706 or: National Center for Homeopathy 801 North Fairfax St., Ste. 306 Alexandria, VA 22314
The use of hypnosis as a therapeutic tool. (You are getting sleepy.) The altered state that occurs under hypnosis has been compared to a state of deep meditation or transcendence, in which the innate recuperative abilities of the psyche are allowed to flow more freely. (Very sleepy.) Subjects can explore events or periods of their lives that need resolving, and develop a more positive attitude. (Sleepy.) Particularly effective with stress disorders and addictions.
Since conflicts and other memories are stored as images in the mind, one way of healing them is by returning to the images, repeating them until the individual understands where his or her conflicts lie, and then using techniques to resolve them.
Imagery therapy attempts, through the use of specific image situations, to cause the person to unfold gradually and allow their creative abilities to come to the fore. Many people use imagery to develop the emotional and creative sides of their minds.
LAYING ON OF HANDS
One of the world’s oldest healing methods, used by shamans, priests and doctors—as well as Oral Roberts, who actually knows God personally—the laying on of hands works through all levels of the being. A psychic healer connects the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual layers of the client’s psyche, rebalancing the chakras (energy centers) in order to effect healing of the body, mind and spirit.
This Eastern philosophy is best known in the West through its dietary principles (pass the brown rice, please). With an understanding of the link between our physical well-being and our perceptions and emotions, the macrobiotic diet offers a way to achieve balance both within ourselves and with the world around us by synchronizing our eating habits with the cycles of nature. Principles include eating foods indigenous to our immediate environment, selecting foods available in the current season, balancing proportions of different food categories and choosing foods most appropriate to an individual’s needs.
Massage, hands-on healing, has been part of the human experience since before we dropped out of the trees. No doubt primal man did a lot of touching, evident in the fact that monkeys and apes still hug, hold, preen and groom one another every chance they get.
Sometime between the Victorian era and the medical revolution, however, the medical establishment in the West abandoned the power to heal with touch; the only instances in which touch was used were either to have sex or to punish. But anyone who has had a stiff neck or a muscle spasm knows that touching, and more specifically, massage, can work wonders where all else has failed.
In many places in the world, the use of touch in relationship to the “life force” of the body is the treatment of choice for many maladies. East and West, on the holistic scene, inadvertently discovered that they shared similar beliefs. The East, considered too esoteric in its approach to healing by the West, and the West, considered too clinical in its approach to healing by the East, suddenly merged. All agreed that the same energy points on the body relate to the internal organs or pressure points on the muscles, and that stimulating or sedating those points can influence the overall health and well-being of the patient.
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The general consensus, though there is still some opposition, is that massage in its many forms is probably one of the best preventative measures a body can take for overall good health—but don't expect to find any coverage for massage under most health insurance plans.
Massage has different styles and applications. The list is extensive, but there are a few general categories that most will fit under.
Considered the most passive of the forms by hardcore
massage enthusiasts. When performed properly, Swedish
massage is extremely effective in relaxing the body and preparing it for the deeper,
more therapeutic styles of massage. It is most effective for aiding healing in convalescent
and bed-ridden patients, as well as cleansing the tissue of cell-waste products and instigating lymphatic drainage. Most effective immediately after a long, strenuous training session.
Sports Massage: Deep-Tissue Myofascial Massage
Any form of deep, sometimes painful—good pain—manipulation of the soft muscleconnective tissue. Pressure massage applied to trigger points releases spasms, stimulates cell repair by breaking up adhesions—scar tissue—and restores muscles to their normal, healthy condition. Performed on a regular basis, sports massage has been proven to enhance athletic performance and diminish the risk of injury.
Acupuncture without the needles. Pressure applied to the healing points on the body. Following the philosophy of the “Five Element Theory” and incorporating the use of prescribed healing herbs, Shiatsu instigates a “systemic” effect on the overall homeostasis of the body. When this type of massage is performed by a master, an alteration in the condition of the internal organs, as well as the soft tissue of the body, can be accomplished. —Larry LaValle
Meditation is an ancient Eastern discipline fast gaining popularity in the West as an effective stress-buster. Though it got a bad rap back in the '60s when the Beatles first chanted “Om,” then hightailed it back to England absent their guru, the fact is that esoteric mantras and the Maharishi have as much to do with this practice as powdered amino acids do with muscle-building. Useful, but unnecessary.
Meditation, according to New York Times reporter Daniel Goleman, who’s also a psychologist and meditation instructor, is a simple, physical technique of mind focus that “sharpens attention and develops a relaxed alertness" in the practitioner, allowing for “a precise awareness in any field of activity.” Ultimately, it also serves as a tool for exploring the mind, enriching daily experience and, if practiced over time, can lead to a state of bliss.
Physiologically, it produces all the signs of a body at rest: reduced metabolic, heart and respiration rates; decreased anxietyassociated lactate levels; and increased alpha brain waves.
Here’s how it works: You calmly “center” your body, then focus on a sound (some call this a mantra), a single thought or image, or on your breathing. The purpose is to let all thoughts and feelings pass, while you remain unaffected by their content. In this way, you temporarily transcend all, aware instead of your inner, timeless self. In the Buddhist Zen tradition of “mindfulness” you can also do a walking or moving meditation.
Regular practitioners find meditation brings a sense of inner balance and renewal and can also lead to expanded consciousness. Users rely on it as a nonmedicinal quick fix when stressed out; and, in fact, scientific study (notably, research by Herbert Benson, MD, at Flarvard University) has proven its calming effects. Hospitals and specialized clinics now use it to complement other medical regimes, prescribing it largely as an antidote to our fast-paced lifestyles. —Leslie Stackel
For Further Information: The Himalayan International Institute RR 1, Box 400 Honesdale, PA 18431
Osteopathic physicians are fully trained and licensed according to the same standards as MDs, with additional extensive training in techniques that help the body stimulate and restore its own immune system naturally. Osteopathy utilizes generally accepted physical, pharmacological and surgical methods (that’s the knife, folks) of diagnosis and therapy with a strong emphasis on
This therapy encourages people to investigate their past lives (“How could you have been Cleopatra when / was Cleopatra!”) in order to explore unconscious and conscious parts of ourselves in a manner similar to analyzing our dreams. Recalling and examining past lives can release us from inner restrictions and fears, reveal more of our potential to us, establish a deep sense of connection to our being and help us understand the transitions in our life-cycles.
Scream! Scream! Scream! your way to freedom from the trauma and unmet needs of your tormented early life that created all that repressed pain you’re lugging around and tormenting the rest of us with. That repression can affect you physically and emotionally, creating conditions that include anxiety, migraines, asthma, heart disease and cancer. Primal (Scream!) Therapy encourages a person to relive those imprinted memories in order to reverse that repression, thereby resolving neurosis and a number of physical problems. (AAAAAHHHH!)
Check out any well-stocked pharmacy and along with Dr. Scholl’s, there’ll likely be a wide assortment of soothing, pedi-curative apparatuses. But neither these mechanical devices nor a basic, old-fashioned foot rub can approach the healing capability of reflexology—an age-old therapeutic massage technique.
Among the lesser-known of Eastern touch therapies, reflexology relies, like acupuncture, on a Chinese view of physiology. Energy meridians, according to the system, run through the body linking various parts; in reflexology, precise link-up trigger point areas in the foot are mapped, each one corresponding to a part of the body.
By pressing or massaging one area, the upper arch of the foot, for example, the solar plexus is soothed; apply pressure to the heel and the sciatic nerve is eased. Practitioners claim reflexology can induce healing in simple, practical ways, by helping the body release stress, improve circulation and generally clear out toxins. The preciseness of this technique in localizing problem points contributes to its power. PMS, chronic headaches and any condition causing pain can be aided by this form of therapy.
“We don’t claim to cure people of diseases or to replace Western medicine,” says New York-based reflexologist Laura Norman, an acknowledged leader in the field. “Our goal is to achieve well-being and
better health.” Nonetheless, an anecdotal record of successes in alleviating pain and stimulating the body’s own recuperative powers has led to the beginning of clinical study of this therapy. The University of California at Los Angeles is conducting research into its uses; meanwhile, some physicians now prescribe it as a noninvasive, nonchemical painkiller that’s particularly useful where drugs are
verboten, as in pregnancy.— Leslie Stackel
For Further Information: The Foot Reflexology Awareness Association P0 Box 7622 Mission Hills, CA 91346
A method of activating and balancing the life-force energy present in all living
things. (Beam me up, Scotty!) Reiki techniques are applied to the entire body, channeling energy to organs and glands and aligning the chakras. It is used for disease prevention, as a healing art—particularly in the areas of emotional and mental distress and chronic and acute physical problems—and for achieving spiritual focus and clarity.
Rolfing is a technique of stretching and moving the connective tissue that envelopes the muscles in order to lengthen and balance the body along its natural axis. Distortions of the connective tissue can be caused by reactions to and compensation for accidents, emotional tension, unresolved past traumas or patterns of movement developed in early childhood.
A Chinese-Taoist martial art form of meditation in movement, combining mental concentration, coordinated breathing and a series of slow, graceful body movements— what you see those people doing in the park at 7 AM. T’ai Chi is practiced for meditative and health purposes, as well as for selfdefense. The art form relaxes and deepens breathing, quiets the mind and, in turn, regulates heartbeat, digestion and muscular, neurological, glandular and organic body functions.
While Plato and Aristotle were thinking up a philosophical storm, Eastern wise men were perfecting a natural physio-thought system designed to spawn whole societies of future sages. Beginning 5,000 years ago, they called this system “yoga,” which literally means “union.”
The purpose of yoga is to integrate and harmonize the mind and body and ultimately, to reach the optimum functioning essential to wisdom. With Western society so out of whack these days, we’re learning the lessons of yoga science—and increasingly turning to them as an aid in traditional Western medicine.
The bottom line of yoga is physical health, achieved through a regimen of simple
stretches and bends, similar to those of a nonaerobic workout. Unlike ordinary exercise though, yoga
“postures” move parts of the body generally unaffected otherwise, opening spinal vertebrae, for instance, or massaging internal organs and glands. Also, specially devised breath-work—the taking in and exhaling of life-
energy force (“prana”), sometimes in conjunction with sound—is critical.
While the exercises are simple, they often have profound effects over time: relaxation; cleansing toxins in blood, organs and skin; stimulating energy and promoting inner balance. Better nutrition and lifestyle are usually natural outcomes of ongoing yoga exercise, as is an altogether healthier frame of mind.
All of which explains why medical doctors are discovering yoga as a way to treat certain illnesses, among them cardiac disease. The July issue of The Lancet, a British medical journal, published the findings of a study which indicated that 82% of the patients who followed a health regimen prominently featuring yoga (along with dietary changes and interpersonal skills training) experienced strong reversals of serious artery blockages. (Control-group patients, following standard, pill-dosing procedure, worsened in condition.)
Because common medical wisdom prior to 1990 held that such reversals of heart disease were impossible, study author Dean Ornish, MD, was repeatedly denied funding for his experiment by the National Institutes of Health as well as other medicalestablishment sources. Later, he noted in a best-selling book outlining his curative program that “whether research is considered ‘pioneering’ or ‘fringe’ is a matter of vision and faith.” —Leslie Stackel &
For Further Information: The Integral Yoga Institute Route 1, Box 1720 Buckingham, VA 23921 or: The Himalayan International Institute RR1, Box 400, Honesdale, PA 18431
Portions of the glossary were excerpted from NY, CT, NJ and NM Naturally magazines, all published in Brooklyn, NY.