Are pills and surgeries the only way to become healthy when ailment knocks on our doorstep? We talk to our doctors about our symptoms, and almost every time they prescribe us a drug to get rid of them or lay us out on a cold table. It feels these are only the solutions. Prescribing drugs is part of a larger problem; prescription drug abuse, especially in Utah.
Most practicing Western doctors are focused on treating the concrete symptoms that arise with sickness. Western medicine teaches treatment of the issue is the only road to follow, rather than preventing illness and sustaining health. Once we have a sickness, treatment for an evidently acute illness begins by aiming to relieve the symptoms, not focusing enough on the “why” of the problem.
Both doctors and patients are skeptical of other types of medicine that lay outside the scope of Western ideas — but what if there are other options that are less intrusive and not addictive? There are: Eastern, alternative and energy healing practices have relevance and are worth studying, even practicing.
Eastern medicine has been around for thousands of years. These ideas must have some significance if they are still used today and have been tested by many individuals throughout time. Around 221 B.C. the Qin dynasty gained control in China, and this is when we see many traditional Chinese medicine practices being recorded. Medicine and healing became a family career passed down throughout generations.
This is similar to methods that the Aboriginal people use in Australia. Once again, many times the role of medicine man or woman is passed down within the same family generation to generation. The focus of this type of medical practice concerns healing the spirit within to help create a lasting effect of relief.
These techniques focus on positivity and good energy flowing to your mind, body and spirit — using some methods like mental power, herbs and movements. The entire body is involved in healing and maintaining processes. In the article, “Traditional Aboriginal Health Care,” Jens Korff interviewed a traditional medicine woman who explained that, “In traditional Aboriginal medicine, which is entirely holistic and preventive, ‘spirit’ is the ultimate wisdom. If the spirit is well, the body will be well. So we heal the spirit through the body.”
I have found that the Buddhist Monks in Northern India are the ultimate example of mind-body techniques. These monks can raise their body temperatures through a meditative state, called Tummo. During these meditative states monks can dry wet sheets just by raising their body temperature in a 40-degree mountain climate. Demonstrations like these show the power of our mind over our body.
In Jessica Bush’s article, “Explained: How Tibetan Monks Use Meditation To Raise Their Body Temperature,” she discusses the monks’ techniques and communicates Dr. Herbert Benson’s research on one of the monks at Harvard University. A finding they called “concentrative visualization,” requires the monks to mentally picture flames going up their spinal cord to counteract loosing any heat. Bush explains, “Scientists at Harvard see the phenomenon as a profound example of the mind’s ability to influence the body.”
Benson expresses his feelings toward the integration of Western and alternative practices of medicine, “My hope…is that self-care will stand equal with medical drugs, surgery, and other therapies that are now used to alleviate mental and physical suffering. Along with nutrition and exercise, mind/body approaches can be part of self-care practices that could save millions of dollars annually in medical costs.”
Mehmet Oz, also known as Dr. Oz, writes in his article “The Healing Power of Energy,” that “Medicine and our vision of healing is a culturally based and limited approach. If our society is unwilling to submit to beliefs that demand trust in an invisible force, our scientists will share this bias and focus on more scientifically recognized pursuits.” He suggests that exploring more research is necessary because these types of healing are not only about fixing the immediate problem but encouraging the long-term idea of maintaining health. Oz even admits to being skeptical before exploring these techniques himself, but was willing to change when he found substance in these new ways of healing.
There are many different methods: chiropractic work, acupuncture, muscle testing, energy healing, meditation, yoga, massage, reiki, etc. These techniques treat the body as a whole entity because our body works together in harmony with our mind to keep us alive. This is how treatment and prevention should be approached. More understanding, focus and belief in these practices could add immensely to our tools in the medical world. Pills are not always the answer. Our bodies were built to heal and rejuvenate themselves, so why not find ways to harness the healing powers within us?
Think of all the miracles our bodies perform daily. If we started practicing more self-healing we would realize that we have not yet dreamt of our own potential. The idea that people reject the possibility of self-healing is a perplexing one. Just entertain the notion for a moment. Now imagine the meaning behind this potential for us as human beings. We possess so much more strength and power than we give ourselves credit for, or are even willing to tap into. But then again, maybe that is why we are afraid of it – because “with great power comes great responsibility.”