A powerful and much needed revolution is taking place in many areas of our lives. The human race is facing the difficult consequences of neglecting the laws of nature. There is no more timely gesture that any person can make than to immediately and vigilantly take responsibility for the part of the world that lies within their own command. Being mindful of balance in our home environments regarding water, pollution, recycling, fuel resources is necessary and of great value. At least as important is minding the balance within ourselves. Taking responsibility for generating and maintaining peak health is a key element in our necessary quest to achieve sustainable life on earth.
There is a self-healing impulse which is part of every person’s body, mind and spirit. In most cultures the traditional healing system is based on enhancing and supporting this inborn healing energy. For some reason knowledge of how to enhance our automatic healing impulse has been lost in the United States and the Western world until very recently. For several hundred years we have believed that the disease comes from outside and attacks the individual who is a helpless victim. Many disorders including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and cancer have been found to be largely preventable. We are now realizing that even though the disease may come from the outside, as in a virus, the internal healing mechanism of the immune system is the most important healer. The best and most profound medicine is already in us. We must learn and then apply methods to turn the medicine on and activate its ability to heal us.
Self-health responsibility, more than any other possible option, is the solution to our healing. Evidence for the truth of this fact is coming at us from everywhere. Research has shown that diet, exercise and stress management are powerful tools for maintaining health. However, in the Western world we have little tradition that is well tried in support of self-health actions. Diets change every day. Jogging was thought to be a perfect system but now has been found to be less beneficial than simple walking. Aerobics sold a great deal of equipment but was found to be detrimental to many people. Now low impact aerobics is the latest approach.
The Qigong of China and the Pranayama of India are systems of self-applied health enhancement which are easy to learn and simple to apply. Self-care is one of the most important features of the Asian traditional systems of medicine. These ancient philosophical and medical theories encourage, and, in fact, demand action and responsibility on the part of the person who is seeking to maintain or enhance health.
The self-application of health enhancement methods is particularly remarkable because of the broad array of real health benefits that are triggered. These practices modify and accelerate the body’s own self-regulating physiological and bioenergetic mechanisms. They have a very practical application for healing diseases as well as supporting health maintenance, endurance and longevity. In addition, the very same practices, refined, deepened, and perfected, link to a whole realm of more metaphysical practices focused toward spiritual growth.
In the modern Western world the prevailing medical system is tragically lacking in strategies that a person or patient can implement themselves to support their own healing process. Aside from being patient and compliant to the physician’s orders there has generally been little that the patient could do. The self-applied health enhancement methods (SAHEM), that spring from the Asian traditions, are tried and true techniques refined over thousands of years that are ready to be used now. A rapidly expanding health care revolution in the areas of patient responsibility and patient action is necessary immediately to meet the urgent need for solutions to the crisis in medical costs and the crisis in quality of care. These health enhancement practices lend themselves completely and readily to the critical need for patient applied self-care which complements any clinical strategy whether it be as conservative as acupuncture or as radical as surgery.
In their most complete and comprehensive form the ancient traditions of self-applied health enhancement and personal development include:
- breath practice
- gentle movement
- reflex stimulation (self-applied massage, stroking, thumping, pressure).
- emotional resolution
- attitudinal harmony
- toning, sounding or chanting
The preliminary level of self-applied health practice, however, requires only:
- Breath Practice
- Relaxation Practice
- Gentle Movement
- Self-Applied Massage
These are easy to learn, easy to apply, require no special knowledge or training and can be practiced by all people (sick or well) daily with very little impact on time or energy. In fact, they actually give the individual, both time and energy-time, because there is less fatigue and forgetfulness, and energy, because the function of the organs and glands is enhanced and regenerated. Every minute spent applying these methods is returned to the practitioner in a need for less sleep. Every unit of energy spent brings forth an internal ability to generate an even greater amount of energy.
Concentration, focus, intention, meditation, visualization, affirmation, emotional resolution, attitudinal harmony and toning are more advanced aspects of the practice of self-applied health enhancement. These self-applied tools generally serve to support the practitioner in moving beyond the first layer of the quest for greater health and comfort. Beyond the preliminary practices one might still be seeking improved health, but, in addition, areas such as self-esteem, personal empowerment and spiritual growth may also be enhanced. Such advanced methods are very common in the daily practice of the men and women in the monastic aspect of many spiritual traditions.
The preliminary methods of Qigong can be learned and practiced as individual techniques. However, integrated into a singular practice they become even more powerful. This integration of breathing practice, relaxation techniques, gentle movement and self massage, saves on time which is so precious to most people in Western culture. Traditions of this type of practice from both China and India have integrated the four preliminary methods for thousands of years into systems that are highly refined. The preliminary methods are profound in effect and yet extremely simple to learn and apply. Especially in the Chinese arts of Tai Chi and Qigong, the methods are merged into a singular practice which is sometimes called moving meditation or meditation in motion. In China, literally millions of people practice these methods daily. Children in schools, industrial workers in factories, elders in the parks and patients in hospitals all apply the preliminary methods faithfully on a daily basis.
Each of the following “how to” sections are offered to give the reader the preliminary methods of self-care in the simplest of terms. Most reference to Asian traditions, while wonderful and fascinating, have been removed as these practices are completely universal in their application.
There are several guidelines which will help to make these new aspects of your life most effective while keeping your interest and not taking up too much of your time:
- Do some of these practices every day. Put them at the core of your life. Consider them as central in your day as you do rest, bathing and tooth care.
- Keep it simple and fun. Start with less and allow more to come as it is appropriate. If this practice becomes a stressful issue in your life, it is more of a problem than it is a solution.
- Make up your own system. Change the order. Be the inventor of your practice. All of this was made up by someone and you are the best person to make it up for you.
- Seek guidance and support but avoid highly regimented systems whose masters and teachers infer that their way is the “only” or “right” way.
- Don’t leave the comfort zone. Increase the intensity of your practice only when it feels easy to do so. Build and regenerate yourself slowly. Go too far and you will have created a reason for stopping the practice.
The magnitude of the crisis in modern medicine demands immediate and broadly pervasive consumer action to enhance health and curb medical spending. These simple methods practiced by us all, vigilantly and on a daily basis, can precipitate an absolutely remarkable revolution in the history of human health care and medical evolution. Let’s do it!
The Healer Within columns will provide simple Self-Applied Health Enhancement Methods, including:
- Breath Practice
- Relaxation Practice
- Gentle Movement
- Self-Applied Massage