Chapter 35 – A Holistic Approach
“Healing takes courage, and we all have courage, even if we have to dig a little to
find it.” – Tori Amos
When things were terrible with my illness, and I was wading through the muck and the mire, I searched for the proverbial magic pill that would cure me. Of course, there was none to be found, but it didn't stop me from wanting to find something that would cure me from this illness that had me in its icy grip. If someone had told me that rubbing a garlic clove on my nose would fix me, I probably would have tried it. I was desperate. While I didn't find true magic, I did find many alternative approaches to healing that captured my interest and seemed to work for many people. If these modalities of healing didn't help me directly, the process of trying something new taught me to keep searching for what would work for me. I believe that everyone is capable of finding the right combination of remedies, therapies and inner peace that will lead to a better and happier life.
When one takes a look at less traditional forms of healing, it’s important to note that the focus is not on the symptom itself but more on the energetic balance of the being in general. Symptoms provide a clue as to what is going on deeper in the body or mind. According to Chardin Bersto, M.A., in the case of, for example, five-element healing,“we’re looking at a new way of coming to the human form from an energetic perspective as opposed to physical.” His somatics method “integrates the contemporary thinking of Quantum and Unified Field Theories with spirituality. Thus you will learn to see yourself and others as having many choices within a wide field of possibilities.” His work frees the individual from the physical manifestations of old thoughts and limiting beliefs by balancing the five elements: earth, water, metal, fire and wood.
The foundation of the work is the pulse. According to Daniel Redwood, DC, acupuncturists take a similar approach and look at the whole person. A treatment plan is devised on an individual basis, taking into account not only overt symptoms, but also the patient’s constitutional makeup and the factors that weaken and strengthen them. Diagnosis includes a subtle reading of the wrist pulses, which indicate the flow or blockage of qi (the Chinese word meaning “vital energy”) that flows through the body’s acupuncture meridians, or pathways.
The way Chardin looks at something like illness or injury is very different from the way a physical therapist or a standard medical doctor does. The latter focus on the symptoms only and treatment of those symptoms. Chardin points out, “Particular restrictions occur in our body as the result of how we come in contact with the world. In the process of a person’s life, in osteopathy one may refer to the ‘key lesion’ or original injury that can go back as far as in utero. The work that I do treats the span of the person’s life.” He adds that “Stress translates into mal adaptation of an organ or meridian. Even stress from the mother can translate to trauma to the fetus.” In general, one should be able to heal readily from either physical or emotional trauma, but if there are blockages, that healing may be diminished. Stressors that cause blockages can be as big as a car accident or as subtle as a child getting his feelings hurt.
Though there are now medications available that diminish the effect of post-traumatic stress, Chardin states, “In Chinese medicine, pharmaceuticals create deficiencies in the body. Medications tend to weaken other parts of the body. In terms of rehabilitation of the being, it doesn’t work. Carl Jung always felt that tension is the seed of change, so to get rid of tension doesn’t serve the person’s soul.”
With anorexia, instead of seeing a treatment plan that is the same for all patients, Chardin cautions: “Anorexia is a system-dynamic challenge. Some perception occurred in the course of the person’s life that led them into using behaviors around their eating, and also the idea of self-concept plays into this. If you take one hundred people with anorexia, you will get a different reading on each one. The key lesion becomes the center of a particular tensional constellation in the body, because we’re dealing with a body that stands in gravity. If you have a weakness in one part of the body, another has to take over and a pattern develops.” The result is pain or tension in that part of the body, which can be traced back to and is also a symptom of the key lesion.
The development of self is a core issue in healing. Chardin explains, “As children we are innocent. Children have an energetic relationship to the world that is completely permeable. They experience the world in an energetic manner more than adults. They can pick up on things that are happening in the family system. When it comes to healing, the family can actually be seen as an entire working system.” Chardin asks, “What is that symptom or, if you look at the family as an entire system, what is the individual with the illness trying to accomplish within the whole system?”
Chardin’s work includes “balancing of the pulses in order to repolarize the spaces in the body that have been held in tension. A pulse is in direct contact with the connective tissue matrix field and tells me by its weakness or strength or overabundance where the problems in the body live.” It is a very subtle practice in which twenty-nine different qualities of the pulse are detected. It is known to be very similar to the Ayurvedic practice of pulse-reading.
When looking at diet and nutrition, Chardin continues to stick to the five elements and balancing these elements with appropriate foods that correlate to each. In this way, food is considered energetically, not nutritionally. The focus is on how food can help balance any imbalance in the body through color, flavor and even temperature. If your attitude about eating is tied up in a past event and that behavior no longer serves you, you must consider what you can choose differently that will nurture who you are.
As we grow and develop, stages of our lives correlate with the different elements as well. You may notice that many people approaching their forties and fifties become more at ease with themselves. According to Chinese medicine, this stage of life correlates to the earth element, settling in to who you are.
Similar to the ancient Chinese method of healing with the five elements is the Shamanic approach to healing. According to Heather Clewett-Jachowski, founder of Inkavisions in Sedona, Arizona: “In the Inka tradition, we are in a sacred relationship with the wisdom of Ayni. Ayni means balance. As caretakers of the Earth, Shamans must walk the path of Ayni. Only this commitment will allow the Shaman to assist others in bringing their lives into balance.
“Shamans will not collude with you about the disorder that is eating you, or the truck that hit you on the way to work, or the jaguar that ate you at the watering hole. Regardless of the story, Shamans will ask you, how is it that your life is out of balance – out of Ayni – and how can I help?
“In these interesting times, we each have chosen a difficult birthing process for our souls’ evolution. The secret that has been kept from us, and that we have agreed to keep even from ourselves, is that we are Spiritual beings. We always have been; we always will be; it has always been this way. This creates the knowing that we are responsible for the human experiences we each choose along our paths. As we remember that we are Spiritual beings choosing human experiences, we become the wisdom-keepers we’ve been waiting for. As we bring our lives individually and collectively into balance – into Ayni – we dream awake a healed world into being.”
No matter what approach one takes to getting well, it’s crucial to view the individual as more than her illness or injury. A more holistic view is essential, especially with anorexia, which includes obvious physical as well as emotional issues. In nearly all modalities of treatment, healing occurs by bringing that which is out of balance back into balance. What’s important to know is that the body in balance can heal itself.
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