Friday, October 30, 2009

Making Natural Wellness Choices

Lately, we’ve seen tremendous growth in the availability of services and products related to natural health. The Optimal Wellness classes now running at the Jutila Center in Hancock serve as one example: the group of us who are teaching have offered sessions on natural detox techniques, herbal remedies, essential oils, meditation, stress management, mindfulness, field control therapy, chakras, and more.

In fact, sometimes the sheer number of natural healing options can be overwhelming. Recently one woman asked me, “With all these possibilities, how do you know where to start?”

It’s a good question, and the answer will vary from person to person. A good practitioner can help you work this out, or you can learn holistic self-help practices on your own. However you choose to explore natural wellness, here are some guidelines to help you plan and prioritize.

1) Consider your budget. If you have limited funds, start with practices that don’t cost money. For instance, a simple meditation practice, sitting quietly and focusing on the breath, costs nothing and can bring wellness benefits in as little as a few minutes a day. Other low- or no-cost options include a daily walk, stretching or yoga, meridian tapping techniques such as MFT or EFT, and regular doses of laughter.

2) Consider the basics. Do you follow such foundational practices as healthy eating, drinking enough water, getting adequate exercise, and getting enough sleep? A stack of supplements will have limited effect if you consume too much sugar or compromise your sleep by working in front of a computer screen late at night. I admit it! I am sometimes guilty of both. We all can benefit from reviewing our basic health habits from time to time to keep wellness on track.

3) Consider the old medical edict, “First do no harm.” It’s a corollary of considering the basics, and can really help prioritize especially if you’re just starting to clean up your natural health act. Take the junk out of your diet, clean toxic products out of your house or workplace. You might be surprised at how much difference just this can make.

4) Consider your health priorities. If you have specific wellness goals, choose the methods that address those best. For instance, acupuncture and acupressure techniques have shown effectiveness in pain management; nutritional approaches can often aid allergies.

5) Consider your comfort level. Which practices appeal to you, and which do not? Do you prefer to go slowly and be gentle when caring for yourself, or would you rather make sweeping, transformational changes? Flower essences, for instance, often have gentle effects, while certain detox practices such as juice fasts can instigate more radical changes.

6) Consider learning a form of applied kinesiology, also called muscle testing. Using muscle testing can help you get a better read of what your body might need at any particular time. I’m trained in Autonomic Response Testing or ART, which works best when you use one or two people to test a third. There are several methods of muscle testing, some of which you can use on yourself.

7) Consider the holistic nature of healing. I’m a student of Dr. Dietrich Klinghardt’s Five Levels of Healing, which looks at how different healing modalities affect us on the spiritual, intuitive, mental, and emotional/energetic levels as well as on the physical. Physical symptoms are most often what remind us that we need to tend to our health, but these other levels have a powerful effect on our well-being. Be sure to include them in whatever you do to nurture your own health and wellness.

8) Consider writing a wellness plan, or wellness checklists. With all the options available, it can be hard to keep track of the practices you want to pursue. When I first started seeing a naturopath, for instance, I’d sometimes get a dozen or more recommendations per appointment. I had trouble remembering them all through the day, so I wrote up checklists that I taped into my calendar to help me track the remedies I took and practices I wanted to follow. I still do this for myself, and find that it helps me establish new and better habits. It also helps me track my progress, and see which things are more or less effective at keeping me well.

Do you have further suggestions for guidelines to consider in making natural wellness choices? If so, please comment below -- I’d love to hear them!

As always, I offer the above information for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any particular disease. Please consult as needed with a health care provider before making changes in your health care practices.

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