Popular Alternative Healing Practices - Part 2 of 2
In an age where people increasingly turn to holistic healing methods, it is important to understand the basics and benefits of various alternative healing practices available. This is a two-part post that briefly looks at popular alternative healing practices. The first post looked at Traditional Chinese Medicine, Energy Medicine, Aromatherapy, and Bach Flower Essences. This second post will look at Meditation, Yoga, Ayurveda, and Homeopathy. Although the techniques are different, a commonality among them is that they promote self-healing.
Hope you enjoy it!
Meditation and its related forms of mind-body practices such as Yoga have become increasingly studied during the last 30 years as alternative healing therapies to reduce stress and improve one’s health. What is Meditation? Essentially it is a practice where one focuses their attention and quiets their mind in order to increase awareness of the present moment. Meditation has been a part of many cultures for thousands of years. In fact, archeologists found images of people sitting in meditation postures from the Indus Valley civilization dating from about 5000-3000 BCE. Currently, millions of people around the world meditate and with regular meditation various health, physiological, and psychological benefits may occur which include: improve airflow to the lungs, increased level of energy, decreased blood pressure, decreased muscle tension, decreased pain, and pain perception, improved mental and emotional health, reduced anxiety and stress, improved sleep, decreased tendency to worry, increased mindfulness, decreased fear, just to name a few. During meditation, the physical body goes into a state of deep muscle relaxation while the person remains awake. Moreover, the Dalai Lama stated that through meditation people can train their minds to leave negative thoughts and generate and enhance positive thoughts. Meditation seems to work by affecting the autonomic nervous system of the brain which regulates many organs and muscles that control functions such as heartbeat, breathing, and digestion. Interestingly, meditation was one of the first mind-body practices adopted by mainstream health care providers. How does one meditate? There are many meditation techniques but the most common are deep breathing, focusing on the body, walking meditation, mindful meditation, and transcendental meditation.
Yoga can be traced back 5000 years ago to India and is a philosophy based on creating harmony between the body, mind, and spirit. It encourages mental equilibrium, promotes energy flow throughout the body, and enhances physical strength, stamina, and health. No wonder millions of people around the world incorporate Yoga into their daily lifestyles. There are many types of Yoga; however, Hatha Yoga (the yoga of physical discipline) is the one most commonly practiced in the West. Hatha Yoga allows one to gain control over their body through performing poses (asanas) and through breath control (pranayama). Once the body is managed, the person can turn their attention to controlling their mind through meditation. There are many benefits to Yoga which include improving flexibility, stamina, and concentration, increase awareness of the body, improve digestion and elimination processes, help reduce excess fat, improve posture, promote a positive and happy attitude, and improve circulation and skin tone.
Ayurveda, or the science of life, is a holistic and natural system of health that originated in India more than 5000 years ago. Regarded by some as the oldest medical system in the world, Ayurveda’s teachings are ageless. The philosophy of Ayurveda is to optimize your health through techniques that care for the body, mind, spirit, and environment. Ayurveda assesses your state of being and the state of the natural world in terms of three basic bioenergetic forces, or doshas. The doshas are Vata (a combination of the elements ether and air), pitta (a combination of the elements fire and water), and Kapha (both water and earth elements). Each individual has a unique body based on a combination of these three doshas. According to Ayurveda, health is harmony in the mind, body, and spirit and to remain a healthy doshic balance is important. Additionally, Ayurveda teachings promote techniques where the body can support its own healing and become well enough to prevent symptoms from reoccurring and avoid the development of disease through proper nutrients (including herbal remedies), diet, and mind-body exercises. In fact, Yoga is considered to be a major part of Ayurveda.
Homeopathy was founded in 1796 by Dr. Samuel Hahnemann and evaluates the whole person taking into account the physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. It is based on the principle that “like cures like”. What does this mean? It means that a person suffering from symptoms can be treated by remedies consisting of a substance (such as mineral, animal, or plant) that is able to produce the same symptoms in a healthy person. The homeopathic remedies contain an infinitesimal amount of the substance as large doses could be toxic. By exposing the body to the substance, a healing response from the body is triggered thus stimulating the body’s innate ability to heal itself. According to the Homeopathy Research Institute, over 200 million people regularly use homeopathy around the world and it is actually included in the national health systems of a number of countries which include Brazil, India, Chile, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.
ICs can be regarded as the evolution of homeopathy for the 21st century. ICs work by stimulating the body’s own healing abilities. It is possible to transfer ICs to water and then by consuming this water, deliver the information to the body to promote self-healing.