What to think? On the one hand you've got the placebo effect, a testament to the mind. On the other, there are certain people around the world who believe in a lengthy list of unsubstantiated "cures" for HIV and other yet-to-be-cured viruses.
Various personal experiences with alternative "medicines" have fallen under the bell curve of my own reasoned expectations. These range from peace of mind to relaxation to nothing at all. Others are outliers, and the most interesting cases.
Yeah, I'm sure hot and cold treatments can make a difference in some people's lives. I'd try it if I had a headache. But, no, I won't be relying on a hot and then a quick-to-change cold shower to treat appendicitis.
I know it sounds strange, but I've thought it more than once in my life. It wasn't random. It was a polite way of thoughtfully considering a peer's wacky simplification of health. I accompanied the thought with an "hmmm."
Admittedly, I am no expert on alternative medicine, holistic medicine, or, well, any kind of medicine. However, I do have some common sense. I don't think hot or cold treatments will prevent a vermiform appendix from rupturing. It might aid in waking in the morning or relieving muscle inflammation, but I have yet to see the research on prevention of serious health issues with variations in water temperature.
Although I don't jump on the bandwagon of all alternative medicines, frankly, some are hokey; I do think there is something to be said for the tenet of treating the body as a whole. Holism, a theory that the universe and especially living nature is correctly seen in terms of interacting wholes, applied in areas outside of medicine can have benefits, too. Examples can be found in environmental and religious studies and ethics.
So, to wrap up what I've said thus far in a single sentence: some alternative medicines have value, some are a complete crock. For the rest, the verdict is still out.
Hello, Anybody Home?
Sitting on the fence led me to attend the Tulsa Holistic Health Fair the weekend of November 22 at the Tulsa Elks Lodge, 5335 S. Harvard. Maybe I'd find something useful.
Maybe I'd find lunacy. I was open to both, but favored the former.
I've generally felt better physically and mentally after massage, yoga, reiki, and meditation, although it hasn't been as frequent in my life as I would like. Especially the massages.
The fair was free. Free parking. Free entrance. Free lectures. Usually that amount of free promises on a promotional piece can only mean there's a catch. Usually, but not always.
After parking and making it into what typically serves as the Elks Lodge lounge, I discarded any worries about a catch. I sat down for a free lecture at ease.
Cristi and I settled in for a speech about how to deal with grief and loss. Timothy Trujillo, founder of First Medicines, an international health service organization based in Los Angeles, outlined the semantic differences between healing and curing. Healing, curing, blah blah, get to it, I thought.
I was concerned that we were going to come down on the hokey side of things for this first lecture.
Mr. Trujillo continued and, after resolving the semantics of holistic recovery, he added some substance. He explained how our thoughts were expressed in our bodies and that knowing ourselves is the most powerful experience we can have. Both were well received by me and the others in attendance, although, like other dialogues I've had on the topic, I was left with questions. Mainly, how? But, I was patient. There was something to be had from this presentation. It was becoming more evident.
As we moved toward the end of the hour, Mr. Trujillo explained the prominence of sorrow as an emotional state in human beings. He explained the need to say goodbye and to create a bridge of communication.
Again, I am no holistic expert, so I didn't fully pick up on the tacitly communicated "bridge of communication," but I think it means to actively seek growth between who you were at the time of your loss and who you are now. For different people this bridge can elicit conflicting emotions: sadness, peace, or happiness.
It was time for an activity. A way to say goodbye.
Mr. Trujillo is a clinical hypnotherapist. I have never been hypnotized and don't feel I was put under at the health fair, but he definitely had a gift for creating a peaceful, mentally transformative environment, minus, of course, the woman in the back who was noisily delivering freshly cooked pizza to the lounge.
As I placed myself on black rocks next to a waterfall in the rainforests of Belize, I heard the clang, clanging of metallic plates. Talk of pepperoni. With practice I'm sure I could block out such distractions, but as I relived a conversation with a Belizean friend I'd lost, the thought of a large pizza only feet from me was in the back of my head.
After five minutes, the mental journey was complete. My mind had taken a break from the constant stimuli of the present to revisit a soothing memory. I felt at peace and refreshed. I was calm. It was as if I'd just hugged the friend I'd lost.
Not everyone had the same voyage as me. Some shed tears. Others laughed. We were all individuals with our own losses, time frames and reactions to our losses. But, based on comments by those in attendance, we all benefited from the "bridge of communication."
Once the lecture (one of eleven planned during the two day fair) was complete, Cristi and I ambled through the many local vendors in the adjacent room.
I wanted a massage, but the table was occupied. I thought about a five-minute miracle, but my own skepticism convinced me there couldn't be such a thing. I settled on some handmade soaps and oils. I collected literature on alternative medicines, universal peace and wellness centers.
Although the weekend wasn't a spiritual "rebirth" like my first experience with holistic medicine (as deemed by the expert--I don't know if it was a rebirth, but it was remarkable), it was relaxing.
I need to make a point to seek out more time to concentrate on a whole body break, a healing, because no matter how hokey it sounds, I feel better afterward.
For more information on holistic health fairs in Oklahoma, please contact Gail Peck at (405)943-2741.
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