Practicing the Alternative Techniques

Rick Branch

Throughout the United States, millions of people are becoming enamored by various techniques used in New Age philosophy. According to The Holy Encounter, a periodical that promotes the New Age A Course In Miracles program, "It seems like medical science is always playing catch up with the consciousness movement" (May/June 1993, p. 1).

The periodical went on to say, "A recent television series on PBS entitled `Healing and the Mind,' investigated the importance of the mind in our physical healing and health. Bill Moyers hosted the six hour special. The series focused on the mind-body connection and investigated the oriental arts of healing, as well as many other alternative forms of treatment."

Having said this, the author of the article went on to state, "Many universities (such as Harvard and Georgetown) are developing courses in homeopathy, acupuncture and massage, as well as meditation, yoga and breathing exercises. Last year, the National Institutes of Health initiated an office to stimulate research and education about `unconventional medicine.'

"It has even been reported in the news as of late that First Lady Hillary Clinton has recommended that alternative medicine be included in the national health care proposal that she is formulating."

So prevalent, in fact are these types of procedures, that "A study done by Dr. David Eisenberg of Beth Israel Hospital showed that 34 percent of the people they surveyed had used at least one unconventional therapy in the past year - that works out to 61 million Americans, according to the study" (Ibid).

In this month's Watchman Expositor, Watchman Fellowship is discussing some of these unconventional techniques. While The Holy Encounter, which spoke about Dr. Eisenberg's study, did not list the specific techniques used by the 61 million Americans, the following techniques and brief explanation may be some of them.

Acupuncture

"An ancient system of Chinese medicine based on the principle that health is achieved by balancing yin and yang energies in the body. Yin and Yang are opposite polarities, yin being regarded traditionally as passive, negative and feminine, and yang as active, positive and masculine.

"The body is enlivened by the flow of chi (life-force) through energy conduits or meridians in the body, and the techniques of acupuncture are intended to ensure that any imbalances in the flow of chi are rectified. When imbalances are removed, disease - by definition - is eliminated" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, Nevil and Susan Drury, p. 104).

Applied Kinesiology

"Applied kinesiology uses the application of muscle testing to diagnose physiological conditions, and anatomical problems of the human body. (This is accomplished by) identifying the links between the energy pathways known to the Chinese as meridians and specific sets of muscles.

"Applied kinesiology provides a means whereby these energy imbalances may be detected long before many other tests, whether by observation, biochemical analysis, or even X-ray, would reveal the impending problem. Once the problem is pinpointed by muscle testing, energy-rebalancing therapies can be given which will begin to reverse the process, and allow vital body energies to flow normally again within the distressed system. This brings energy to the organ, strength to the related muscles, and relief from symptoms" (The Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine and Self-Help, Malcolm Hulke, editor, pp. 29-30).

Bioenergy

"Bioenergy is life-energy of cosmic origin in man. This energy is known in eastern philosophy as `prana' in yoga, and `chi' in acupuncture. The flow of bioenergy in the organism promotes well-being and good health, while its blockage causes nervous tension and muscular pain" (The Encyclopedia of Alternative Medicine and Self-Help, p. 45).

Chakras

"A term used in kundalini yoga to denote the spiritual nerve-center that aligns with the central nervous column, sushumna. The yogi learns to arouse kundalini energy through the chakras from the base of the spine to the crown of the forehead" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 118).

Channel for Healing

See Healing Channel.

Crystal Healing

See Gem Therapy.

Gem Therapy

"The use of gems for a healing purpose. Gems are often used by spiritual healers to focus energies in their patients, and can also be worn touching the skin, to allow their subtle vibrations to penetrate the body. Gems also equate with the signs of the zodiac and in this capacity are referred to as `birthstones.'" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 128).

Guided Imagery

"A visualisation method in which the therapist guides the patient into an altered state of consciousness through progressive relaxation, and then through sequences of healing imagery. It is commonly used in clinical hypnosis" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 130).

Healing Channel

"A term used in spiritual healing to describe a person who has become a channel for healing energies which can then be transmitted to another person. Sometimes this is done mentally. Practioners of psychometry and some forms of massage also refer to themselves as `intuitive channels' and feel guided by a higher, divine source in their work" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, pp. 130-131).

Holistic Health

From the Greek holos, meaning `whole,' a branch of medicine which holds that true health stems from the balance of body, mind and spirit, and that emotional and stress-related factors account for a large proportion of disease. A holistic doctor therefore evaluates the whole person, not merely the physical symptoms of disease, in guiding that patient back to health. Holistic health care encompasses a wide variety of modalities which attend the different aspects of the human condition. These include dietary therapy, exercise regimes, oriental medicine, hypnotherapy, spiritual counselling and meditation, as appropriate" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 131).

Iridology

Also known as iris diagnosis or iridiagnosis, iridology is an alternative health therapy based on the idea that the eyes provide a map of personal health. According to the principle of iridology, it is possible to distinguish textures in the iris fibres, for the iris density reflect organic changes in the body. Iridologist also believe that pigment hues change to indicate the presence of toxins in the body. The iris zone where these pigment changes occur provides the key to the affected body organ.

"Iridology remains unproven scientifically, but theories have been advanced to explain how it might work. According to the precepts of iridology, the eye reflects different stages of disease - acute, chronic and destructive" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, pp. 135-136).

Kundalini

"From a Sanskrit term meaning `coil' or `spiral,' the spiritual and psychic energy which may be aroused systematically by techniques of yoga, and which can be channeled through the chakras from the base of the spine to the crown of the forehead" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 137).

Mantra

"A sacred utterance or sound, often intoned silently as part of one's meditation. Some mantras are given privately by a guru to a disciple, but other mantras have a more general application. The mantra Om Namah Shivaya, which forms part of the Siddha Meditation practice developed by the late Swami Muktananda, means simply: `I honour the inner self.'" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 139).

Medicine Man

See Shamanism

Muscle Testing

See Applied Kinesiology

Neuro-Linguistic Programming

"The term derives from the Greek word neuron, `nerve,' and the Latin lingua, `language,' and indicated that there is a sensory factor in all forms of behaviour which in turn affects the structure and sequence of different forms of communication. The programming factor relates to habitual thought and behaviour patterns which affect certain outcomes.

"Many forms of behaviour do not produce satisfactory outcomes and may lead to psychosomatic disease, aberrant perceptions of life, or states of being well below optimal levels of functioning. The NLP therapist observes the client's behavioural and linguistic patterns, and seeks to guide him beyond personal limitations to new levels of awareness and personal effectiveness" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 145).

Past-Lives Therapy

"A technique of hypnotic regression in which a subject is led back to the experience of `previous lifetimes' in which major traumas apparently occurred. The traumas are believed to have a continuing effect in the present lifetime, manifesting as disease or mental imbalance.

"The direct hypnotic encounter with past-life events provides an emotional release from their impact at a subconscious level, and helps free the subject, in this lifetime, from the psychosomatic stress factors impinging on daily life. Many past-lives therapists accept reincarnation as a fact, but others maintain that it is not necessary for them to actually believe in the concept for the therapy to be effective. The subject may be simply imagining the past-life persona in response to wish-fulfillment, fantasy, etc., but this image still provides a context for therapeutic treatment, enabling the therapist to help the subject overcome various fears, anxieties and traumas.

"The fact that a second `personality' is involved helps in fact to make the treatment more palatable, since there is a sense of distance between the trauma and its effect, even thought the 2 figures are seen as being linked in destiny" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 148).

Polarity Balancing

"A technique developed by Randolph Stone. Stone integrated Occult theories, acupuncture, shiatsu, ayurvedic medicine and herbalism to produce a conceptual framework which emphasises `energy flow' in the body, and resembles both Wilhelm Reich's notion of orgone and the Chinese idea of chi.

"Polarity therapies endeavour to locate areas in the body where the flow of energy has become blocked or impeded, causing emotional tension and pain. As the therapist stimulates energy-flow in the body, through pressure or touch, the blockages break down and the toxins are eventually eliminated - through the breath, sweat, faeces, urin or emotions" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 150).

Psychic Massage

"A massage in which the practitioner responds to healing energies and magnetic currents perceived around the patient's body (that is, the `psychic energy field'), rather than utilising techniques of direct physical contact. They masseur or masseuse believes that the patient's etheric, or spiritual body is being massaged, rather than the physical organism" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 153).

Rebirthing

"Neurotic troubles are primal, that is, they begin in childhood when a baby senses that its basic needs are not being met. The aim of primal therapy is to help the client replay painful scenes from childhood, get at the root of the problem, and so find relief. The client's outstretched arms are considered to be a sign that she is struggling with the rebirthing process, just as a baby struggles through delivery.

"During long baths, (Leonard) Orr began experimenting with prolonged relaxation and various breathing rhythms, and ultimately found that he could enter into an altered state of consciousness. According to Orr, these experiments led him to relive his birth trauma and to focus on the very first breath he took outside the womb, an effect he found liberating and therapeutic" (Family Guide to Natural Medicine, Alma Guinness, editor, pp. 150-151).

Reflexology

"Reflexology is a technique of applying pressure to specific points on the feet, hands or ears. The method is most commonly used on the feet, largely because they have so many nerve endings and so are quite sensitive. Reflexologists believe that the foot functions as a microcosm of the entire body, and that reference points or reflex areas in the foot correspond to all the major organs, glands and parts of the body."

"Proponents believe that applying pressure to a specific area of the foot spurs the movement of energy along channels in the body to the corresponding area - a process which promotes better health by reducing stress, improving circulation, eliminating toxins, speeding healing, and generally balancing and energizing the body" (Family Guide to Natural Medicine, pp. 168-169).

Shamanism

"In primitive societies, a medicine man, priest or sorcer who is able to enter a trance state at will and who serves as an intermediary between the people and the realm of gods and spirits. Shamans may be required to banish the spirits of disease or recover the lost soul of a sick or dispirited person" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 160).

Shiatsu

"A Japanese bodywork technique utilising traditional acupuncture points, but employing manipulation and pressure from the thumbs, fingers and palms rather than needles or mechanical instruments. Shiatsu reinforces joints and muscles, and focuses on the efficient flow of energy throughout the meridians and autonomic nervous system" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 160).

Spiritual Message

See Psychic Massage

Tai Chi

"A Chinese form of self-expression resembling slow, graceful dance but intended primarily as a means of surrendering to the natural flow of energy in the universe. The words tai chi translate as `supreme ultimate' and reflect the idea of a universal life-force which sustains each individual and unites him with all other forms of manifestation" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 163).

Touch For Health

"Essentially, Touch for Health shows how to release energies in the body and enable it to regain health and balance. Touch for Health emphasises that changes in body posture and the tone of certain muscles affect the position and function of the internal organs and the energy available to them. The Touch for Health practitioner utilises acupuncture meridians and `channels of energy' and relates each meridian to an `indicator muscle' - usually in the arm or leg. The practitioner then tests for muscle weakness - not in a specific, localised sense, occurring within the body as a whole. All aspects of mind and body are inter-related, so anxieties, stresses and even nutritional factors reveal themselves in posture and muscle patterns."

"The Touch for Health approach is both diagnostic and preventive in its emphasis, showing the subject in each case how to identify energy imbalances and prevent their recurrence in the future" (The Illustrated Dictionary of Natural Health, p. 164).

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