Chronic and mental illness are alarmingly prevalent these days.
For some, it proves a minor inconvenience; others are not so lucky. I have suffered both, experiencing aches and pains throughout my childhood before spending much time bedridden as a young adult. However, that is not the end of my story.
I always believed wellness was a holistic practice. Getting better was an exercise of mind, body, and spirit. Now, after years of employing this belief, my lifestyle is active and my energy is limitless. There are still occasional niggles, but overall, my conditions are properly managed.
Everyone’s journey to health is completely unique. What works for one may have no effect on another. Any diagnostic dead end is merely an invitation to find a new tactic.
If you have yet to find your ideal alternative therapy, then here are a few lesser-known options that I uncovered on my journey:
My acupuncturist that brought this option to my attention. After expressing my insecurities about going on holiday, she told me that many of her patients saw unexplainable improvements when they were away. Looking back, it was also true for me.
Hadn’t I once managed two weeks of what equates to manual labor deep in rural Australia when prior to departure I’d been consigned to bed? Hadn’t I halved my medication intake while backpacking through Asia because I wasn’t able to access more?
It turns out the “travel cure” is a legitimate thing, with numerous examples. During the 19th century, it was even standard procedure to prescribe “travel” and “clean air” to improve health. In fact, one of the most famous travel writers of that era, Isabella Bird, was only nomadic due to a prescription for insomnia and chronic back pain.
The health benefits of travel are numerous:
>> It allows us to focus on our instinctual desires—food, shelter, and exploration—away from the ongoing strains of modern life.
>> It helps boost our immune system, by exposing ourselves to different bacteria, we build antibodies.
>> It releases positive endorphins, improves cognitive flexibility, and even helps you gently increase your aerobic fitness.
You don’t have to jet off half way across the world to experience these benefits, either. Even a short weekend in the country or a day trip to a nearby town can contribute to an overall feeling of wellness.
We’ve all experienced grounding before: Sitting on the beach running our fingers through the sand, walking barefoot on soft grass, or laying out in the garden under the midday sun. We’ve felt ourselves rejuvenate from these relaxing, natural experiences—perhaps without even realizing the actual reason why.
This practice is one that, for me, was incredibly simple but powerfully effective. It works on the concept that allowing our skin to touch the natural earth can affect the bioelectrical nature of our bodies and bring us into harmony with the planet. This theory is not unlike that of using “Om“ during meditation. Both are said to have an astonishingly positive impact on inflammation, pain, fatigue, stress, and poor sleep.
Alongside this, simply spending time in nature has several scientifically proven benefits, such as:
>> Improves mental energy.
>> Improves vision.
>> Increases the ability to concentrate.
Grounding is incredibly easy to implement and can be used to maintain long-term health. It’s easy to head outside for 10 minutes or so every day. Even now, all of these years after my health improved, I put aside time every day to ground myself.
3) Tibetan Rites.
As a lifelong yogi, it was surprising that I didn’t come across the Tibetan Rites until visiting an eco-commune in my early twenties. It was made popular by Peter Kelder, who was afforded the opportunity to stay with an order of Tibetan monks. The rites are an ancient secret to a long life filled with vitality.
The monks speak of seven magnetic centres (the chakras) in the body. Their quick rotation guarantees vitality. When the spin slows, we are vulnerable to illness, fatigue, and senility. The five rites are designed to guide these centres back to their full potential, each targeting a different chakra and helping to regain balance.
On an anatomical level, engaging in regular and gentle movement is a fantastic way to build muscle strength without overdoing it, which is a very real danger for many health conditions.
You begin the practice with three repetitions of each move, adding two more every week until you reach the sacred number of 21. However, a word of warning, I had to remember to be mindful in my movement. After an extremely hectic day, I rushed through my rites and ended up hurting my wrist. What should have been a healing practice turned into a painful pursuit.
Heed this advice and the rites could be your ideal catalyst for wellness.
Ayahuasca is a substance that has been used in ritual shaman healing for 70,000 years. It’s rooted in the herbal-medicinal beliefs of the Shipibo culture in the Peruvian Amazon region, whose traditional artwork has now become synonymous with Ayahuasca use.
The Ayahausca concoction is a mixture of two plants that, when ingested, allows the user access to the realm of spirits. Traditionally, it was a diagnostic tool used by the shamans themselves. Today, it can be taken as a medicine in its own right.
The incredible concoction causes hyperactivity in the neocortex and the amygdala. These sections of the brain are responsible for reason and holding traumatic memories, respectively. When stimulated with Ayahausca, they are able to access and resolve any deep spiritual imbalances that may be causing physical and mental health problems, or a general lack of wellbeing.
For me, Ayahausca was the real start of my journey back to health. It wasn’t until this powerful awakening that I felt as if health was possible. While it may seem intimidating, the potency of its healing effects is undeniable. Connecting with an experienced healer will help you feel more comfortable with the process.
5) Energy Healing.
The concept of energy healing is one that is evident in many ancient medicine systems. While some of the most common iterations, such as Reiki healing, are well-known, the purest form of the practice is regularly overlooked.
The main difference between Reiki and traditional energy healing is the amount of training required. A Reiki “attunement” connects you with the flow in a matter of days. Experienced energy healers, however, will study for three to four years to hone their craft.
Once qualified, they channel positive energy into their patients through meditation and intention. Their aim is not to heal, but to encourage the imbalanced body to find its own natural rhythms.
The results of energy healing have been scientifically proven . A 2013 study showed that just 10 minutes of the practice was as effective as physiotherapy for mobility problems. However, many patients experience the effect in very different ways. One friend of mine felt cured completely. However, when I experimented, although there was an undeniable sense of calm, I didn’t find any long-term physical benefits.
This final example perfectly highlights my point: Everyone has his or her own destined journey to health, and just because it works for someone else, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.
This is the main reason never to give up your search. Being open-minded is one of the most important parts of wellness and plays an essential role in the journey to get there. There is a path to health out there for all of us; we just have to find it.
Author: Diamond Grant
Image: NCMallory/ Flickr
Editor: Deb Jarrett