If you’ve ever had something like a chronic health challenge, you’ve probably tried all sorts of strange healing modalities. This is my experience of having Rheumatoid Arthritis. For better or worse, I never had a whole lot of help or luck with M.D.’s, who were quick to prescribe medications, but not very clued into what was really going on in my body.
This was a mixed blessing for me, because the negative experiences I had with western medicine led me toward healing practices from Sufism, Daoism, Christianity, Buddhism, Homeopathy, and Naturopathy. Though my opinion is probably somewhat biased due to my own experience, the framework I developed for understanding how conventional and holistic medicine can be complementary is simple. In my opinion, conventional medicine is great at handling crisis situations, whereas holistic medicine is more about looking at the whole system and offering sustainable solutions.
One example of this distinction is the prednisone I was prescribed by my rheumatologist. Even a small amount of research into the effects of this medicine show that it will make your bones weak and brittle if taken regularly for more than a few months. When I took this medication, it helped the flare up I was experiencing reverse its course within a week. I was deeply greatful for the help, as it had become extremely difficult to walk, put my socks on, and get out of bed, but I didn’t have any plans of staying reliant on the medication
In the world of mental health, medication is often relied upon and can provide great help for people with bipolar, depression, anxiety, dissociative disorders, etc. It is a different situation than my experience taking prednisone, but I am still of the opinion that people can get help from medication, and then take their healing into their own hands.
A great example of this approach is defined clearly by Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (Williamson, Teasdale, etc.), which was created to provide a better option for the long term treatment of depression, and the prevention of its relapse. Through engaging in a structured curriculum of therapy and skill building, many people have reduced stress, anxiety, and depression symptoms dramatically, with better outcomes than medication can offer (and for sure less side effects!).
Another thing that I love about the MBCT approach, is that it focuses on education, skill building, and recovery rather than the diagnosis of depression and the idea that something is wrong with you.
What I have found is that the healing process is very similar regardless of the treatment modality, or religion, that the practice comes from. Mindfulness is kind of a strange thing, because it is basically a bunch of Buddhist practices repackaged by the scientific community for the western consumer. There are a lot of other great practices that I have found in my search for healing from the traditions of Sufism, Daoism, and Christianity as well. Along the way I also picked up a lot of natural health knowledge with the help of the great N.D.’s and faculty at Bastyr University and Clinic.
This Spring, I have redoubled my consistency and focus on my own practice of tai chi qi gong as I work to heal the latest flare up of RA that I am experiencing. With my new regime of self healing practices I am getting amazing results and I am looking forward to offering a group in March where we will practice these simple, gentle, and profound techniques of self healing together.
In my own journey I have found an abundance of practices, and the hardest piece of the puzzle of health is still motivation. This is why I am offering the group, so that by working together with the group, you can develope your motivation to consistently apply tried and true practices that enhance health, decrease stress, and reduce the likelihood of increases in depression and anxiety symptoms. I hope you will join us!
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