So I’m a bit New Agey (okay, like a lot New Agey), which means I stand by the understanding that as humans we are vibrational beings – in other words, we are made of the same energy as the world we perceive around us. (The entire study of quantum physics is centered on this belief! We’re talking seriously mind-blowing stuff.)
This basis of “oneness” greatly influences my impressions of healthfulness, in that I comprehend the truth in healing the person – not the disease.
Let me firstly disclaim that I am thankful for the benefits of conventional medicine, and recognize the countless ways it has served me and my loved ones. The major downside, however, is that the system in place is hugely overtaxed and therefore unable to provide the comprehensive care so many are in need of. Indeed, the medical establishment is invaluable for treating acute conditions, but falls short in terms of facilitating a holistic healing process.
It was this very reason that led me in search of alternative modes of healing. No longer am I at the mercy of a system where I’m ushered out the door of my doctor’s office only moments after taking a seat. Instead, I am empowered by the many resources available to me.
Because I know how overwhelming it can be in trying to choose which methods might best suit your own healing journey, I’m sharing with you some of the various approaches that have benefited me. I’m no expert, and I definitely encourage you to spend more time looking into the areas that resonate for you, but I hope this offers a brief sampling of what alternatives might interest you.
Chiropractic is a form of therapy that entails manipulating the body’s joints and tissue to aid healing. Basically, a practitioner positions you in various poses, and then uses his or her body weight to adjust the alignment of your own body. Although some adjustments can seem a bit scary (especially when you hear the sound of your neck crunching and back cracking), they are also superbly effective in treating specific injuries or conditions. I started seeing my chiropractor after I threw out my back a couple years ago reaching into the stove and, since then, he’s also rehabilitated my ankle after rolling it during a hike, and helped repair my knees after I damaged them squatting incorrectly during kettlebell exercises.
Like chiropractic, physiotherapy involves the manipulation of one’s body to aid overall mobility. Physio seems to take a bit of a broader scope, so while I’ll see my chiropractor for a specific complaint, I see my physiotherapist for general maintenance. With stress being such a common side effect of our modern condition, physiotherapy is an excellent way to alleviate the various ways we manifest tension in our bodies. In addition to adjustments and tissue work, my practitioner also uses a technique called intramuscular stimulation or dry needling, which entails inserting a fine needle into the muscle so that it contracts and then releases. Despite having had this type of treatment countless times, I still get twitchy each time I anticipate the needle (which is similar to the kind used for acupuncture, but inserted more deeply into the skin). It’s well worth the squeamishness, however, as the release of tension in my jaw, neck and back is deeply restorative.
Whereas conventional medicine typically involves treating an individual symptom, naturopathy is centered on a holistic, proactive and preventative approach. There is undoubtedly a wide range of methods when it comes to naturopathy – some practitioners focus primarily on diet and supplements while others, like my doctor, practice more energy-based techniques like acupuncture and homeopathy. Naturopathy’s holistic focus means that all factors in a person’s life are examined: food, sleep, hormones and relationships, for example, with the practitioner often choosing a range of methods to help support healing.
The incredible thing about yoga is that there truly is a practice for everyone. My favoured versions are gentle Hatha yoga and yoga nidra for promoting sleep, while my good friend refuses to do anything but hot yoga. Kundalini yoga focuses on the awakening of the seven chakras, while Ashtanga yoga is a more aerobic practice that involves a series of flowing asanas, or poses. It’s also important to keep in mind that every yoga instructor is unique, so it’s well worth trying out a few classes to find one that speaks to you.
As someone who has experienced anxiety on a frequent basis, herbs have proven themselves a valuable resource in my healing journey. It’s important to know that as with any medicine, herbs can have their own side effects and interactions, so if you’re ever uncertain about whether something is safe to take, I strongly suggest speaking to a qualified healthcare practitioner. That being said, you can find herbal remedies at most health food and drug stores in the form of teas, tinctures and supplements. Herbs like lavender, chamomile and lemon balm are gentle and effective for treating mild anxiety, while nettle has been shown to help alleviate the symptoms of seasonal allergies.
Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese Medicine that entails inserting fine needles at various energy meridians within the body to help restore the body’s balance of chi, or life force. Acupuncture is most effective when done regularly, as the effects are said to be cumulative, and can be used to treat everything from migraines to infertility. In my own experience, the treatments themselves vary depending on my own state of being – some generate very little response, while others produce such an intense reaction that I’ve found myself in spontaneous tears on the treatment table.
Reiki is a form of energy healing that, like acupuncture, is intended to restore the balance of one’s life force. I’m of the opinion that an individual must be willing to accept such methods as reiki for them to be effective, and I suspect this is why some folks diminish these types of methods, while others swear by them. In essence, a reiki practitioner lightly places his or her hands over a patient’s body to channel healing energy. As with acupuncture, the effects can be as subtle as feeling a little more tired than usual the night following a treatment, or as powerful as feeling noticeable heat or coolness radiating from the practitioner’s hand.
Just like it sounds, crystal therapy incorporates the use of crystal gemstones to influence and heal the body’s energies. This practice can be as complex as using specific stones and formations, or “grids,” around the body to facilitate healing energy, or as simple as carrying a particular stone in your pocket. Some commonly used crystals include rose quartz for promoting love and gratitude; amethyst for awareness and insomnia; citrine for abundance; and clear quartz for overall healing and to amplify the energies of other stones.
There really is no shortage of options when it comes to finding ways to help empower you to take charge of your own healing and to support your body’s overall vitality. What alternative therapies have you found helpful in your own healing journey?