If you’re honest about it, how often have you handed yourself over to health professionals to ‘fix’ you? Have you been able to ask: “How did I contribute to my ill-health? What warning signs did I ignore? Am I avoiding making changes that could help?”
I blamed work forever for my chronic ill health. It wasn’t until I accepted that I chose every thought, emotion and action that contributed to it that my healing process began.
We have a problem. Australia’s ageing population is catapulting toward us and our healthcare system is unable to sustain it given society’s bandaid approach to healthcare and the rising costs. We need to take charge of our health through preventative measures self-awareness of contributing factors, supportive nutrition, lifestyle changes if we’re to turn things around.
The holistic approaches that are integral to complementary and alternative health systems are part of the solution. Thankfully, there are signs of a break-through as clinics offering “Integrative Medicine” (IM) sprout in the suburbs. Alongside GPs, clinic practitioners might include a naturopath, nutritionist, acupuncturist, masseur and osteopath; yet to edge their way in are more alternative practitioners, such as homeopaths, herbalists and kinesiologists.
Professor Kerryn Phelps, president of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA) says cancer patients and “thinking consumers” are forcing change.
“. . . Over 80 per cent of cancer patients are using complementary therapies, most often without the knowledge of their doctors, and that consumer-driven push has really encouraged cancer specialists to look at what they’re doing,” she says, citing hospitals such as St Vincent’s in Sydney and Sir Charles Gairdner in Perth as Australia’s early adopters of IM.
Melbourne’s Austin Health is on the starting block, currently fund-raising for the Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre, which “is likely to include” meditation, relaxation, art and music therapy, massage and aromatherapy.
Says Professor Phelps: “We’re a long way behind the US . . . somewhat behind the UK and a long way behind countries like Germany which have been integrating conventional and herbal medicine for centuries. We’re really just at the beginning of the curve.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics Australian Social Trends 2008 report confirms it: just 3.8 per cent of the population (748,000 people) had consulted one of seven selected complementary health therapists in 2004-05. By contrast, the European Information Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (EICCAM) reckons 40 per cent of EU citizens have a clear preference for, and are regular users of CAM, while the 2007 US National Health Survey found 38 per cent of Americans were CAM-friendly.
We’re so much more than our physical bodies; it’s time to adventure deeper into the layers of being that profoundly influence health.
Who’s Who in ‘Voodoo’
Energy practitioners are here to stay and like the yogi pioneers to Western culture before them, news of their life-shaping expertise is destined for your grapevine.
The list of modalities is ever-increasing Alexander and Bowen technique; craniosacral therapy; reiki; kinesiology; reflexology; thought-field therapy; pranic healing; somato-emotional release therapy and the number of private educators training practitioners is growing. As in western medicine, there are good and bad operators, so nothing new there.
I’ve had enough treatments to know it’s worth exploring for me, with my responses ranging from energy upheavals that feel worse (lethargy, aches, disorientation) before they feel better (back problems resolved, a weight lifted, clarity, shifts in unhelpful, long-held attitudes and wellbeing).
Our physical bodies are, ultimately, just energy on the sub-atomic level, but we each also have a unique electromagnetic blueprint that influences our health, which has been researched and measured by many including medical intuitive Caroline Myss in her work with Harvard-trained neurosurgeon Dr Norman Shealy, and bioenergy pioneer Dr Valerie Hunt, a scientist and Professor Emeritus of Physiological Science at the University of California, in her work with Nasa.
Energy work is not only for the CAM-initiated, says Jeanette Young, president of the Energetic Healing Association.
“We do find people who have been to a lot of other medical practitioners and haven’t found an answer but have pain in their bodies that the medical system can’t diagnose . . . and that’s because it’s in the energy field . . . when we come to an understanding of the subtle energies via the meridian and chakra systems, we can start to read the story that the body has for us,” says Young.
How do you begin to navigate the ocean of possibilities?
My rule of thumb has always been word-of-mouth. Young agrees, and advises you to go with your gut.
“Obviously there will be a bit of nervousness when doing something new, but the key factor to a positive shift in your energy is a sense of trust and safety in the practitioner. When in doubt, don’t.”
Top 5 Health & Wellbeing Reads
Here you go: five fabulously accessible, enlightened perspectives on self-aware approaches to health and wellbeing:
- Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom, Dr Christiane Northrup
- The Creation of Health, Caroline Myss and Dr Norman Shealy
- Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind Body Medicine, by Deepak Chopra
- The Breakthrough Experience, Dr John Demartini
- You Can Heal your Life, Louise L. Hay
Lisa Mitchell is a hatha yoga teacher, relaxation instructor and freelance writer/editor who specialises in holistic wellbeing.