Musings: Your Personal Healing System
Amazing, but true…according to the latest statistics posted at the American Cancer Society, your lifetime probability of developing cancer is 1 in 2 if you are a US male, and 1 in 3 if you are female.
Once it is detected, your overall chances for survival are about 58% (averaged over all cancer types and US demographics.) And cancer is only the second biggest killer; heart disease is number one. How can we possibly have developed technology that explores the rings of Saturn yet still be so ignorant about what keeps our bodies healthy right here on Earth?
When I look at what passes today for medical care, I am shocked that we continue to push pills as our first line of defense against disease, despite the well known risks and side effects of every pharmaceutical on the market. Even the American Cancer Society website states: “If Americans ate a healthy, balanced diet emphasizing vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans that helped maintain a healthful weight, as many as one third of all cancer deaths in the United States could be prevented.” That is a huge increase in the survival rate! Why are our doctors still prescribing pills for their patients instead of educating them about healthful living as the cure?
While one third of the deaths can be prevented by diet, a large number can also be prevented through the holistic treatments of alternative medicine. Holistic healthcare in general recognizes that body, mind and spirit all contribute to good health. Body: your body needs good food, exercise and rest. Mind: use the mind to create positive attitudes and beliefs that strengthen your health. Spirit: be aware of the life energy flowing through you and learn to work with it to maintain your health.
All living creatures are abuzz with a marvelous energetic system which keeps the body functioning and allows it to be self-healing. This energy, often called chi or qi, travels through the body in pathways which have been used to treat and heal disease for thousands of years by medical practitioners from many cultures, including modern Western medicine. Acupuncture is a popular healthcare treatment based on this energy system. When a body’s energy flow becomes blocked or traumatized anywhere along these pathways, dis-ease can begin to form, and symptoms break out to report the disturbance inside. These symptoms have important information to tell us about what’s wrong inside the body, so it is not in our best interest to “shoot the messenger” when he appears. Instead, we should listen first to what he has to say, then find out how to speed him on his way. This is why medicine which “shoots first, asks questions later” in alleviating symptoms through pill popping may not be providing us with the answers we need in understanding the root causes of modern disease.
At its core, alternative medicine aligns itself greatly with the wisdom of common sense in keeping a body healthy: good food and self care, everything in moderation, low stress living and avoiding harmful substances in or around the body. Even though we cannot see it, some force clearly keeps the heart beating, the brain humming and determines whether or not a body heals when it is sick, so it only makes sense that we would want to be with this force rather than against it. Our bodies are organic — they grow and change over time — and just as surely as the body can grow a tumor or diseased condition through energy disturbance, it can also dissolve it with the same life force. The more you become aware of this energy and bring it alive in your life, the better your skills will be in using it to keep yourself well. This is what alternative medicine is all about.
Get Your Mind Right With Holistic Health
The first step in holistic healing is to recognize that you have tremendous healing power through your choices. Many symptoms develop in our bodies due to poor lifestyle choices such as overeating or overworking, and unhealthy attitudes such as stress, prejudice and envy, to name a few. Each moment is an opportunity to make a different choice from whatever you have done in the past and take steps in a new healing direction. This creates new pathways of thought and neural connections in the brain. Even thinking about your energy system and intention to heal is a step in the right direction because eventually those thoughts turn into action. I yearned to cook with more whole grains and vegetables for several years before I actually started buying and cooking new things. Slow progress is okay.
My yoga teacher, Ann Bissanti, is fond of demonstrating to us that all yoga postures can be adapted for any person with any physical condition by reducing the pose to its simplest form. She encourages each student by reminding us, “If you can’t do this, then try this. If that does not work, then try this,” offering easier and more relaxed variations of a pose. Even the most elegant headstand begins simply with bending from the waist and lowering the head as much as is comfortable. You can do this while standing, sitting or squatting, and for beginners, this is your headstand until you are ready for more. The key is to find what works for you so you will be inspired to keep going. To awaken your self-healing system, do the smallest, simplest “holistic” thing that feels comfortable for you and keep going with it every day. Suggestions:
- Think of your body “in a good light.” Imagine light strengthening and providing healing to any areas of pain, disease or symptoms.
- Sip water throughout the day with gratitude for each sip that is cleansing and replenishing all systems of your body.
- Stop what you’re doing. For 15-20 seconds with your eyes closed, take in one long, calm breath, then let it out.
Despite its Hollywood image of being flaky, unreliable and mysterious, many elements of holistic medicine are simple, down-to-earth aspects of everyday life, just like common sense. Consider the benefits of healing touch, an important aspect of many forms of holistic healthcare, but which is sadly lacking in most western allopathic medical treatment. Hospitals and nursing homes are filled with patients whose only touch is clinical: testing, probing, examining. How can these patients be expected to heal under such touch-starved conditions? We are all familiar with the comfort and healing offered by the touch of another human being, an embrace during emotional crisis, or even our own instinctive reaction to hold or massage a fresh injury. While scientific research in measuring human energy fields is still in its infancy, millions of patients, including myself, can attest to the success of alternative therapies using human touch as the conductors of healing. Why wait until science “declares” touch a powerful healing tool when its effects are so clearly obvious?
While it may take two to tango, it only takes one to touch. Self care touch techniques performed just 5-10 minutes daily such as abdominal massage, breast massage, Reiki or energy psychology tapping sequences are easy to learn and powerful healing tools that will last a lifetime. Self care is at the heart of all holistic medicine and your decision to actively contribute to your wellness with these efforts is a healthy sign of positive self-image that puts the power of your mind to work for you.
Eventually you may want to explore the “power tools” of alternative medicine with trained professionals such as acupuncturists, naturopathic physicians, bodyworkers, chiropractors and the many other holistic therapies available. The pages of Spirit of Change are a good place to start looking for resources. Always check for licensing and credentials, how long a practitioner has been in business, and ask for referrals from friends or holistic organizations. If you are planning to use alternative medicine for your healthcare, eliminate insurance reimbursement from your thinking now so you will get the best care possible. Just as you pay out of pocket to maintain your car without any insurance, caring for this unique piece of equipment — your personal healing system — is a responsibility that’s all yours. Some insurance plans do offer very limited coverage for acupuncture, massage or chiropractic care, however let your body be your guide as to what kind of treatment you need and who should provide it. Don’t get boxed in by the restrictions of an insurance provider as to number of sessions or choice of practitioners. Often the choice of a practitioner is more important than the treatment itself! Energy is being exchanged. If the price for private practitioners is more than you can afford, read books, browse websites or attend classes where you can learn more about holistic healthcare as an everyday lifestyle you can build upon. Your body will thank you!
Carol Bedrosian is publisher and editor of Spirit of Change.
Readers! Note our new address change and phone number to Spirit of Change, PO Box 405, Uxbridge, MA 01569. Phone: 508-278-9640.
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