Natural Rhythm Discovering the power in body, mind and soul By David Branigan "As Above So Below" is an oriental maxim that best describes the Eastern view that all aspects of the universe are interconnected. From the planets that circle the sun to the electrons that orbit the neutron, the Chinese believe the macrocosm reflects the microcosm and vice versa. This is the view that dominates holistic or alternative medicine. It dominates acupuncture and astrology. It is also a view that is easily ridiculed by traditional Western or Allopathic medical practitioners who have built up the science of medicine through the reductionist dogma of empirical science. In the East, body, mind and soul are interconnected and equal parts of the whole. In the West, science has stripped man down to the molecular level in sacrifice to the rational gods. Body, mind and soul have been auctioned off in historical turf wars to medicine, psychiatry and the church. Medical science has pieced Humpty Dumpty back together again but in this obsession with the physical, the emotional and spiritual have fallen by the wayside, as has the concept that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is science's Achilles’ heel. It is called reductionism. In the ’90s, with all its medical technology, health care costs are skyrocketing at the same time as governments struggle to breath. Government deficits are a global cancer. The sad part is, as exemplified by the most recent World AIDS Conference in Vancouver, that Allopathic medicine refuses to look at gentler, cheaper holistic approaches. Modern doctors are indoctrinated by orthodox dogma to believe that their science is the only medical option and anything unproven by $300 million (the average cost of a double blind pharmaceutical study) worth of experiment is shamanism or quackery. But the East has practised this quackery as part of their spiritual teaching and lifestyle in an environmentally harmonious way for 5,000 years. As did the native American Indians before they were systematically poisoned by Western arrogance. As the millennium approaches the arrogance of medical science is being challenged by chronic disease like AIDS and cancer, which Allopathic medicine has a pathetic track record against despite technological advances and the throwing of endless amounts of money by institutions such as the Centre For Disease Control. This is not to say modern Western medicine is a failure. Quite the contrary. On the physical and structural level, Allopathic medicine is verging on perfection. Locally, the healthy young population is served very well by the emergency health clinic because the majority of health problems are caused by ski, bike and blading accidents where wounds need to be sterilized, bones X-rayed, set, and casted and skin stitched. These are areas where alternative medicine doesn't exist because Western medicine excels on the structural level. For our purposes let's use the term Natural medicine to describe the Eastern, holistic approach and Allopathic to designate the Western science. Over the summer months Pique Newsmagazine is going to cover the burgeoning Natural medical community in Whistler, from the naturopath to the traditional Chinese practitioner, to the more than 30 therapists who practise massage in many fashions, as well as chiropractory. We will look at the new natural food stores and talk about nutrition, diet, veganism, and supplements such as ginseng, garlic, Spirulina, Royal Jelly, Co-Enzyme Q-10, and how they interact with your body. We will ask the Allopathic community how they feel about Natural medicine and look at the survival rate when one system is covered by Medicare while the other is cash out of pocket. We will look at the contrast between the lifestyle led by the practitioners and that of their patients as well as the spirituality that tends to inform students of Natural medicine. Natural medicine is not a quick fix. Whereas Allopathic medicine tends to treat the symptoms rather than the cause, which generates excellent repeat business, Natural medicine shuns the magic bullet of drugs, focusing instead on lifestyle and consciousness changes, which can be a tough sell in Whistler. As one practitioner put it: "Whistler is a party town. It's young and the tourists are here to have fun. Youth feels immortal until the toxins build up and the systems start to degenerate. We don't see them until that immortality is threatened. The spiritual consciousness is small here but that seed is planted and it's starting to grow. "Ten years ago you couldn't live an alternative lifestyle here if you wanted to. Now there's Yoga, Tai Chi. Now you can buy healthy natural foods and supplements and live without resorting to dead flesh. Now there are practitioners working together to forge a new community and in turn a new consciousness." Under a piercing blue sky last Thursday at 3 p.m. I walked into the All Seasons Spa in the Chateau Whistler Resort's health club to interview and receive Ayurvedic Steam and Massage Therapy from Spa owner Colleen Wight, a registered massage therapist who also incorporates into her healing arsenal energy balancing, Shiatsu and Ayurvedic theory. Just the spa ambience itself, with the sparkling pool water flowing out under the glass to the lush green base of Blackcomb, is nourishment to the soul. Already I feel better than James Brown. Ayurvedic is an Indian tradition made famous in the modern era by Allopathic/Natural fusion master Dr. Deepak Chopra. In Ayurvedic theory constitution is the primary diagnostic assessment. You'll generally have one of three constitution types: Vata, Pitta or Kappha, dominate. The constitutions are kind of a cross between Yin and Yang and endomorph-ectomorph-mesamorph. The type of constitution pertains to the physical, spiritual, mental and emotional well being, which means it is a holistic approach to treatment. I am clearly a Pitta personality. After going 1 for 3 in the first trio of questions I went 12 for 12 down the Pitta centre, which means I'm thirsty with penetrating green eyes, competitive, persuasive, irritable if I miss a meal, up and down in weight, and one of the best damn sleepers around. We included a copy of the survey so you can play along at home. By understanding personality and constitution we can better understand what treatment will best balance you. Pitta tend to be ambitious, aggressive, go-getters who are often hard on themselves. This leads to inflammatory reactions and stress disorders such as ulcers and migraines. Here is the conversation that followed as Colleen whomped six ounces of cold pressed Sesame Oil filled with calcium into my skin. CW – So the Ayurvedic practitioner's goal with a Pitta person is to help cool them and calm them, along with relax and detoxify them. The metabolism of the Pitta person tends to be quite active. They can eat well and burn it off. Summertime is Pitta time. Constitution identification helps me to determine what oils to use in the massage portion. Some are heavier while others are lighter and you want to try to match the oil with the type. Kappha people tend to be heavier people with bigger eyes and more mass. If you put a heavy oil on you're just going to slow them right down where they may lose a lot of motivation and energy. DB – So if a Kappha person comes in with the goal of losing weight you would use an oil-based treatment aimed at speeding up the metabolic rate? CW – Yes, coupled with dietary choices. Different constitutions work better with specific foods. But people tend to be drawn towards foods that are bad for them. When people are down or depressed they tend to be drawn towards the foods and energies that hurt them most. Say Pitta people have lots of what the Indians call Agni, which is digestive fire, representative of the fire element that dominates the Pitta constitution, so adding tons of spicy food to that fire overheats the system. Pitta people benefit from things that are soupy and stewy — and rice is excellent for Pitta. In the oriental view these are called Yang foods. Vata people are taller, leaner with a tendency towards drier skin. When they're out of balance they can come off as dizzy and scattered. Very talkative. Their features are smaller, the eyes are smaller, the teeth are smaller. Vata need routine, but they dislike routine. However routine tends to ground and centre them. Many people think the Chinese originated this holistic approach. In fact, Zen, Buddhism, and traditional Chinese medicine have all been adapted from the Ayurvedic approach. The Indian is the older tradition. From this point I started losing interest as the combination of Swedish and shiatsu massage in the darkened room coupled with native chants and new age music combined to put me in an alpha brain wave pattern similar to that of meditation or hypnosis. My breathing slowed, as did my brain waves. The concentrated efforts and breathing of the therapist only added to the intensely calming effect. My Pitta fire was being organically chilled. After the full body massage on front and back, including some energy balancing between major muscle systems and some shiatsu acupressure to maximize chi energy flow through the meridian system, Colleen let me float through the cosmos while she prepped part two of the Ayurvedic steam therapy. In the back corner of the room lay what looked like a cross between an MRI and a sauna bath. In this wooden tube Colleen sprinkled in equal parts sandalwood, rose petals and lavender. These herbs are put into a steam slot which lies between the body and the vaporized water. I then moved into position on the steam bed where the herbalized steam opened up my deeply relaxed pores, through the sesame oil and calcium, and the detoxification process began. For about 20 tingly minutes I took the heat which grew intense enough to have make my toes squirm, after which Colleen took me out of the oven and served me back up to the massage table. The third part of the treatment as I lay in a delirium was to powder the freshly steamed body with barley powder and then rub it in with a dry brush, thereby exfoliating the dead skin cells and maximizing the efficiency of the skin, which is an extremely underrated player in the body's cooling and detoxification process. After the process I showered and changed before coming back for a post treatment interview feeling seriously high in the most natural way. The treatment took over two hours and would cost you approximately $145. That night I went off to participate in my 11th ball game of a tournament week. As I hit the field I felt extremely calm and quiet. The frayed nerves of this tortured soul were stilled. With my pores open and some warm-up exercise I started sweating profusely and continued to water the Spruce Grove Field for the better part of the game, while my teammates wondered if I was sick. In the batter's box I felt very grounded, walking on four poorly pitched balls which I normally would have chased, before smashing a stand-up triple deep to the centrefield fence. I was playing Zen Baseball, at peace with the universe, because I had been centred by my treatment. The most powerful factor in Natural therapy is the energy exchange between the practitioner and the patient. Colleen is very grounded and giving, and during the course of my two-hour treatment she not only massaged, and detoxed me, she also gave something of herself which calmed my overactive Pitta constitution. Touch itself is healing. Many major hospitals now employ Therapeutic Touch nurses who calm and soothe patients simply by holding their hands, stroking their hair and touching them. In this modern, alienated world, simple touch is a primordial instinct that sends the subconscious back to the nurturing environment of childhood. It soothes the soul and quiets the body, allowing it to function at the highest level. In Natural medicine all power lies within the body-mind-soul of the patient. Only the body heals. Practitioners like Colleen Wight and Karen Cruikshank who have studied Eastern philosophy and Natural medicine, use all their skills to calm and balance the body. It's more than just touch. It's intuiting blockage, and reading the interior of the body from the exterior signs. As above so below. More than anything, it is sending the body's ethereal healing energy through the hands into the patient's body. It is Natural medicine in the guise of massage. For many who are parched by the dry, clinical desert of modern science it's a perfect counterbalance to the Allopathic reductionists who look at you as a soul-less collection of biologic systems. History is a pendulum and after 500 years of focusing on a reductionist approach, the holistic spirit of the East is swinging back because the post modern world with its industrial pollution and processed food has thrown us out of our natural rhythms. Next week those of us outside the conditioning of Megacorp International will discuss shiatsu massage, and a very powerful healing I received at the Spa from Karen Cruikshank. Here's a sample of the lifestyle advice: "Do you eat a lot of red meat? The Chinese believe that if your diet is dominated by red meat that you will eventually take on the appearance of a cow. The reason I ask is because your neck is thickening, and you are retaining water, possibly from Uric Acid build up. Do you drink alcohol?" "Ummm... on occasion." Big trouble in little China.