Alternative Methods for Health and Healing

Alternative Methods for Health and Healing, by Carl Llewellyn Weschcke

(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)

I believe that each book has a distinct personality. Many years ago a wonderful psychic told me that I could develop the ability to learn about a book merely by placing my hands on it. I don't think she meant that I could know all the details or specific information in the book, but rather that I could ascertain its essence. I don't think I'm unique—everyone has this ability if they stop and listen to the energy that emanates from a book. Anyway, I do know that I am attracted to some books much more than others. It's as if they speak or call out to me.

A Lighted Book
Henry Lin's Chinese Health Care Secrets is just such a book. Even before I opened the cover it seemed to me as if Lin's book had a light surrounding it. It felt like a friend right from the beginning.

After having studied its contents (it's one of my favorite bedtime reading gems), I have found that my life has been improved in many ways. It only makes sense that the Chinese system of natural health care works. After all, its philosophy goes back five thousand years. It is based on a set of principles and practices from the Taoist viewpoint regarding life and nature. The Taoist and Buddhist masters were scholars, doctors, martial artists, and monks. One of their fundamental goals was to explore every aspect of life in terms of health, longevity, and immortality—not because they feared death, but because they didn't want to go through any more incarnations. They wanted to merge with nature and end the countless cycle of physical lives.

Whether or not we believe in reincarnation, we all want this life to be healthy, fulfilling, and prosperous. In Chinese Health Care Secrets Lin offers an excellent blueprint for attaining the good life. It explains a readily applicable, completely natural, and highly effective alternative to the situation in which we find ourselves, where chronic disease runs rampant and medical costs are skyrocketing. This invaluable book includes an A-Z reference guide of special solutions for seventy-six of the most common health problems, the secrets of sexual vitality, and a list of sixty-five of nature's most potent healers. For each medical condition, Lin offers a description, the symptoms or signs, causes, and prevention and treatment. He includes dietary guidelines and other natural therapies such as qigong (Chinese breathing exercise while meditating) and acupressure.

How easy and what fun it was to practice his techniques in the comfort of my bedroom. I don't have much time to attend classes or join a group, so his clear instructions were a snap to follow. He also has a way of inspiring action. Although I like to read about healing, I can be lethargic about doing anything about it. Not so with Lin's book! It was fascinating to learn about the healing benefits of common foods. By eating certain foods with awareness, such as honey, lemons, onions, vinegar, and mushrooms, I was able to greatly improve my health and well-being. His acupressure charts are easy to follow, and I found relief for almost any symptom I could think of—for friends or for myself.

In addition to the section describing conditions and their treatment, Chinese Health Care Secrets contains chapters on the natural health secrets of diet, sleep and rest, physical and mental hygiene, exercise, regulated sex, and environmental hygiene. Most of us don't get enough sleep or rest, including myself. I know this, yet I push my body relentlessly. After reading his chapter titled "Natural Health Secrets of Sleep and Rest," I found myself much more relaxed and I was able to sleep peacefully. Lin emphasizes that quality of sleep is even more important than quantity of sleep, although one certainly does affect the other.

Chi Gung
Another powerful book is Chi Gung by L. V. Carnie. Chi Gung is an ancient Chinese art or practice of learning how to deliberately develop or utilize the energy in your body. Called chi, this energy consists of static electricity, infrasound, infrared radiation, and magnetic fields. Chi is a complex form of energy that manifests itself in your vitality, your spirit, your life.

Chi Gung involves coordinating your breathing with your conscious awareness. Your mind moves your chi and the chi moves your blood and oxygen, and this changes your metabolism. Lily Carnie describes over eighty simple practices and exercises that you can do at home using breathing, postures, and sensory awareness. Doing simple things with awareness brings a whole new energy into my life. Who doesn't like to walk barefoot, swim, record dreams, learn to develop intuition, or master skills using visualization? Carnie's suggested list of "to dos" was like a rebirth—enjoying life's simple day-to-day experiences.

One easy exercise I tried was whirling. Do you remember twirling around as a young child? Wasn't it fun? I love watching my three-year-old grandson spinning around, carefree and happy. As a baby he loved it when I would hold him and whirl around. Children know innately what's good for their bodies. It's unfortunate we shut out so much of our body's wisdom as we grow up.

Now as adults, if we whirl around, most of us become dizzy after two or three turns. Why is this? Carnie says that the main reason we get dizzy is that we keep our minds too active. In order for whirling to be beneficial, you must calm your mind and let yourself move without thinking about it. As a safety precaution, she suggests not eating or drinking for at least a couple of hours before whirling. Once you start, keep your eyes unfocused. If you watch the world turn as you spin, you will probably become dizzy very quickly.

Not only can whirling teach you how to center yourself, but it also helps to build your intuition. Whirling opens your mind to new ways of thinking and perceiving by offering a method of focusing so you can eliminate excessive mental chatter. If your mind is too active, you will know it right away because you will fall. Only by learning to control your ability to concentrate can you whirl for longer periods of time.

Whirling offers you a way to gain greater control over your mind. This acts as a stepping stone toward honing your Chi Gung skills by helping you develop concentration and sensory awareness and by creating a link between physical action and mental control.

You can use Chi Gung to slow the aging process, alter your metabolism, talk to plants and animals, move objects with your mind, withstand pain and extremes of temperature, and even read someone's spirit.

A third book that reached out to me was Aikido for Self Discovery by Stan Wrobel, Ph.D. Aikido is a martial art that relies on harmonious movements and minimal muscular effort to resolve conflicts. It challenges us to learn new ways of leveraging relationships to understand these conflicts. Aikido is a wonderful tool that creates situations in which we make use of something external to help us look inward to find ourselves.

This book taught me that the awareness and quality of each moment and each movement brings about exciting new experiences. Normally, we don't pay attention to the present moment. (I know that I'm often reliving the past or concerned about the future.) But, as Wrobel writes, "Our movements proclaim who we are and how we want to interact with the external world." Become aware of what you are doing at each moment.

Aikido is the way of harmony. For some, it is the martial art of blending the physical body with the force of an attack. Yet Aikido is the handshake by which we engage others in every interaction of our lives. It is the rapport we establish in our communications. It is the pacing we establish as we dance the tango, encircle another in a wrestling match, or move in a rhythmic embrace with a lover.

Aikido's techniques are the means by which we learn to view ourselves in relation to others and to the environment. They are the means by which we try to preserve our integrity in relation to others and to the universe. They are the means by which we examine our own constitution—whether physical, biomechanical, intellectual, emotional, or spiritual. They are the two-way mirrors that allow us to see through to our opponent while at the same time allowing us to observe our own behavior, intent, and attention in the interaction.

In these times of strife, terrorist attacks, unfriendly business practices, and world health epidemics like SARS and AIDS, we feel like we need to always be on guard. When I began using Stan's techniques, I was able to dispel that antagonistic energy and move, think, and act in harmony with people around me. It's easy to default to a confrontational attitude, but Aikido, "the way of harmony," showed me how to maintain my integrity and personal space in a noncombative manner.

Try this the next time you look at the titles on our site. See which ones appeal to you even before you read the accompanying words. I'll bet there will be something in those "warm-feeling" books that speaks to you, or that the innate wisdom of your body knows you should read about.

Happy reading and healing!

Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2003. All rights reserved.