July 22, 2011
Holistic by chance
Acupuncture terrifies me. Dozens of needles puncturing your skin looks more like ancient torture than ancient healing.
I’ve done yoga twice — once in a posh Manhattan studio and once in a serene outdoor courtyard in India. I can’t say that either experience moved my soul, quieted my mind or rocked my body.
I do not take daily vitamins or supplements, because I have a strong aversion to swallowing pills — always have — and the only exception I’ve made so far was prenatal vitamins, because the fear of somehow damaging my baby was so much greater than the (irrational) fear of choking.
I even decline the free powdered boosts at Jamba Juice. Every time. I don’t like the chalky taste, and I’m not really convinced they do anything.
So how did I — with all my fears, aversions, objections and skepticism toward alternative therapies — come to co-own a wellness facility that basically offers salty air?
Technically, through marriage. My husband, the eternal entrepreneur, came across what he thought was an incredible business idea, and I wanted to help him fulfill his vision. But over the course of developing the business, my view of alternative therapy and the holistic approach to health shifted significantly.
I’m no Mayim Bialik — I don’t make my own baby wipe solution and I will never, never, give birth at home — but I have now read tons of articles, spoken to dozens of practitioners as well as medical doctors, pored through clinical research studies, listened to lifelong advocates and recently converted believers, and, perhaps most importantly, seen with my own eyes the positive effects of a simple, natural, noninvasive therapy on people’s health.
Where I used to dismiss anything with a new age-y air as ridiculous and lacking substance, and home remedies as outdated, even dangerous, relics of uneducated village bubbes, I now have a newfound respect for theories of healing that incorporate spirituality, nature, the power of the mind, energy and the body’s ability to heal itself.
Even Western medicine now reinforces this view. In the middle of the night last week, my son woke up with a coughing fit, followed by vomiting, so I called an on-duty nurse to ask for advice. She said two things: 1) There is nothing wrong with coughing, it’s the body’s natural mechanism to expel unwanted substances; and 2) there are a bunch of things you can do at home to help speed his recovery (give him herbal tea with honey, turn his bathroom into a sauna, avoid milk products — all things your grandma has told you for years).
We have become so accustomed to running to the medicine cabinet or the pharmacy or the doctor’s office at the slightest sign of irregularity that we’ve lost sight of some of the basics. I’m all for medical advances, but I think there is also room for age-old-wisdom-turned-new-edge treatment options.
Whatever you want to call it — holistic medicine, alternative therapies, complementary treatments — they all have one thing in common: They are grounded in the basics. Mind, body and soul.
And I believe in that.