People’s healing traditions reflect cultural beliefs, thoughts, rituals and practices associated with their understanding of the human experience of health, illness, healing, suffering and curing. Healing traditions have endured the test of time and are preserved in health systems, which continue to thrive in society alongside biomedical culture and health care technologies. The healing traditions that are used today are a blend of folk medicine, indigenous knowledge, and modern day medicine. Indigenous health beliefs and practices are passed from generation to generation in indigenous societies and ethnic communities through such activities as storytelling, prayer, and sharing recipes for making medicines from plants. Healing traditions are inherently holistic, which involve the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physiological aspects. Holism also includes science that is connected with the environment. In this paper I will discuss healing traditions and culture.
Culture is a set of beliefs, values, and habits within a community. We have personal culture within our family network and professional culture within our work culture. For instance, yoga teachers are part of a professional culture with their own sets of beliefs, thoughts, rituals, practices, and healing traditions. Yoga people living in America will also be part of a family culture with their own set of healing traditions. Culture has a tendency to change, overlap, and health and happiness is contagious! Yogi’s centuries-old healing tradition includes providing holistic modalities that changes the lives of people and communities. Hatha Yoga Pradikpa is a great resource for learning the methods and healing traditions of India. This ancient knowledge is available by book for all to understand and practice. There have been many advances in healing traditions and for many people to access this knowledge through internet resources, making connections, and essentially learning the wisdom of the ages.
Indigionous or Aboringial healing traditions are available to each of us throughout the world. Each region has their own unique healing techniques. We can learn much about survival, resilience, and well being from these local tribes.
[O]ne of the most significant developments in recent decades has been a resurgence of interest in Aboriginal culture and traditions. At the individual level, this resurgence has promoted pride and self-esteem… [with] ten distinct values or core beliefs associated with the fostering resilience in Aboriginal settings. These include: spirituality; the importance attached to child rearing and the extended family; the respect for age, wisdom and tradition; respect for nature; generosity and sharing; cooperation and group harmony; autonomy and respect for others; composure and patience; relativity of time; and non-verbal communication. (Dion Stout 2003, 24-5.)
I find indiginous healing tradition to be dear to my heart. My upbringing had many of these indigenous qualities. These people lived from the land and cared for the Earth, with a strong connection to nature. I was fortunate to have my parents, who taught me the value of living frugally and as a minimalist. I had a supportive family, we went to church on Sundays, I attended youth groups, and I learned many things about holistic wellbeing. I learned what it meant to be healthy and not healthy. What I find interesting is what I practiced as a kid has now become a healing tradition in my adulthood. I was fortunate to have a spiritual upbringing, my parents motivated me to practice religion, arts, and be in nature. Practices like painting, walking in nature, music, and dance. Healing through movement, meditation, concentration of mind, and laughter. Healing can take place through many different means. Pets are therapy, so is socializing with others. Humans need touch, love, and harmony to live in a way that creates balance. These healing traditions influenced me in many positive ways, resulting in a stronger sense of self and my place in the world. I truly believe how we take care of the planet is more important than how we care for ourselves, for the planet is home to everyone and to future generations. We are all inter connected beings, living together as one on Earth, and one with the Earth.
Illness is an imbalance of the energy in the body. Imbalances happen when we do not receive the love, touch, and healing energy we need to thrive, when we are not whole. Imbalance can be from so many things, pollution, wastefulness, non acceptance, discontentment, and so on. Many healing traditions work to bring balance back to the person, thus bringing mind, body, and soul into harmony with each other. Not only is harmony within ourselves important, harmony with our environment is crucial. Ecological systems theory describes the dynamics of our ongoing interaction with our inseparable environment. Each part of a system affects every other part as well as the system as a whole (Hutchison, 2003). This concept is holism.
Holism is that all things in the world are interrelated and affect every other thing in mutually interactive and cyclical ways, “The parts become meaningful only in relation to the whole context” ( Marc Micozzi, 2011., pg 442) We need relationship and community to experience the great beings we are in a meaningful way. What we bring to the community matters. Each day, each choice we make will inevitably impact the environment and what goes around comes around. We affect the environment and the environment affects us. How we eat, what we buy, and how many chemicals we put into the environment affects not only us but every organism and being around us. Just as our thoughts will help or harm others. The Earth is saturated with fear and pollutants, making it that much more important that we focus on healing our Earth and ourselves. I believe for the majority of the people to love themselves, others, and the Earth, this will heal what ails us. European Americans have much to learn from Indigious peoples about energy healing. We can learn from the Aboringials and Indiginous that healing begins with spirituality and finding balance in the energy system of the body. Many of the holistic modalities were at one time considered indigiounous, because we were all indigenous at one time. Now energy healing has gone main stream, because more people use Complementary and Alternative practices than biomedicine. The number of visits to CAM providers now exceeds, by far, the number of visits to conventional primary care physicians in the U.S. (WHO, 2002). Holistic healing modality practices are prominent throughout the indigenous communities, and we are fortunate to have this knowledge as our own.
Western European Americans may have their own healing traditions within their culture, but they have taken on the concept of energy healing from Eastern cultures quite readily. Eastern ways of energy healing are: yoga, meditation, reiki, chi gong, and many more. Western ways of healing are healing touch, Swedish massage, Technically, most the healing modalities are some form of ‘energy healing’ but there are specific modalities for the healing of energy. Breathing meditatively while having a practitioner perform reiki is a way to balance energy and enhance mind-body connection. The practice of yoga is an active way of energy healing, it stills the mind and body, so the wonderful soul can be experienced as pure consciousness and bliss. Acupuncture is a passive way of energy healing, when the practitioner inserts needles to alter the flow of chi or qi in the body. Meditation allows divine energy to flow through you and to be stored in the dan tian for later use. Qi Gong allows vital energy to flow. Many Eastern cultures believe illness to be stagnant energy, the more movement of energy the better. Qi gong is considered an ancient form of martial art (Micozzi, 2011, pg 438.) Martial art is another way to energy heal. As you can see, there is a mile long list of ways to heal, from many traditions, and used similarly or differently across the cultures. We can live our best lives possible by using these healing techniques within our own cultures.