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Holistic Medicine

The field of holistic medicine can be a bewildering and outlandish place for many people. For some it conjures up images of crystal encrusted hippies sprinkling magic fairy dust around the room. For others it suggests something even more suspect, like the strange notion that someone might touch your feet and relieve your headache, or apply a mysterious potion and soothe digestive cramps. Upon investigation and some experience, however, the value of alternative therapies becomes clear. Many of these holistic practices have emerged from ancient cultures and been westernized, continuing a living tradition of helping people with the materials at hand, such as plants, our own hands, our loving intention, and energy.

One thing in common among most holistic therapies is the central idea that everything in the Universe is made of energy. Without understanding this, nothing else about these alternative medicines will make much sense.

At first it might seem like an esoteric idea, but if we stop and think about it for a minute, it is clear that the idea of things having energy is in our common parlance. People say, “I have lots of energy today” or “My energy is low”.  When you connect with someone you might say “I really liked that person’s energy”. Walk in to a room where people have just finished an argument – no angry words are being exchanged, they are quite civil, but still you know – and if asked about it, you might say that it was something about the energy in the room.

Worldwide, cultural traditions have given a name to this energy that permeates and sustains the Universe – prana, life force, orgone energy, bioenergy, ki or chi.

If you are having a hard time with this basic premise, that everything in the Universe is made a chi, just for a moment, suppose it is true. Or try this exercise, and see if you can get a sense of your own chi.

Rub your hands vigorously together until they start to feel warm and tingly. Hold your palms facing each other focus your awareness on the sensation in your hands. Slowly draw your hands apart and notice if the space between them feels slightly sticky. See how far you can separate the hands before you lose the sensation. Now move the hands towards each other again. Notice when the sensation starts again and if the space between your hands becomes more sticky the closer your hands get to each other. Play around with the sensation, and if you need to, rub your hands together again. You may have many “rational” explanations for your experience with this exercise, but most holistic practitioners and martial artists, for that matter, would simply say you are feeling your own chi.

If everything in the Universe is made of chi, then each aspect of our being is some manifestation or expression of chi – our spirits, our minds, our emotions and our bodies. It may be easier to think of the more amorphous qualities of our being such as thoughts or feelings as being made of chi, but it could be more challenging to consider that what we think of as matter is just a very thick form of chi – still chi, just more dense, and vibrating at a slower rate than the chi of our thoughts, which moves almost more quickly than our comprehension.

Over thousands of years, people have had the opportunity to observe and map the ways in which chi forms our bodies, our minds, our emotions and our spirits. Many holistic therapies, which are designed to balance and restore the natural composition and flow of chi, have grown out of these ancient traditions. Without understanding the basic premise underlying these alternative medicines, their practices are bound to be mysterious and unnerving. However, if they are approached in a spirit of curiosity and adventure, the benefits of exploring these fascinating ways of balancing our minds, bodies and spirits can be deeply rewarding.

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About the Author: Janet Elson is a registered Jin Shin Do™ Acupressurist, Integrative Acupressure Therapist and a Certified Aromatherapy Health Professional (CAHP), with a background in Therapeutic Touch, Yoga, and metaphysical disciplines. She is a member of the Jin Shin Do™ Foundation for BodyMind™ Acupressure and Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists. Janet holds a BA English Honours and has enjoyed 20 years as a library professional.

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  1. Brian says:

    Next you will be telling us rocks are alive! LOL
    Well done J.

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