Jen­nifer Goes to Things & Does Stuff

Jen­nifer Levin vis­its the Mind Body Spirit Expo

Pasatiempo - - NEWS -

At the fourth an­nual Mind Body Spirit Expo, held Jan. 14 at the Gen­oveva Chavez Com­mu­nity Cen­ter, a ven­dor in­vited me to pick a stone from one of three bas­kets at her booth and wear it on the left side of my body for seven days to let it raise my vi­bra­tory fre­quency. Af­ter that, she said, I’d be set for­ever. “In what way?” I asked. She told me that some peo­ple gain bet­ter men­tal clar­ity, some peo­ple heal from dis­ease, and some peo­ple just find that their lives have gen­er­ally im­proved.

I put the rock in my pocket be­cause in the face of a pos­si­ble re­peal of the Af­ford­able Care Act, I’m tak­ing as many low-cost pre­cau­tions as pos­si­ble, and this was free. The vi­bra­tional fre­quency of a pol­ished rock prob­a­bly won’t cure or pre­vent can­cer, but in 2017 this is what tak­ing your health in your own hands can look like — es­pe­cially in Santa Fe, which has an in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion as a haven for holis­tic health prac­ti­tion­ers and those seek­ing their ser­vices.

Bear with me, skep­tics. I am not telling any­one to forgo chemo­ther­apy for home­o­pathic reme­dies, or to trade seizure meds for a reg­i­men of crys­tals and kom­bucha. But many say that the lay­ing-on of hands, which comes in myr­iad forms, can be used to re­duce and/or man­age symp­toms of chronic pain and ill­ness with non­in­va­sive tech­niques, in­stead of tak­ing po­ten­tially ad­dic­tive pre­scrip­tion pills or liv­ing in per­pet­ual mis­ery. Though they don’t work for ev­ery­body, mas­sage and acupunc­ture are prac­ti­cally main­stream, with the lat­ter of­ten cov­ered by health in­surance plans (at least for now). Other op­tions read­ily avail­able for an out-of-pocket cost in Santa Fe in­clude cran­iosacral ther­apy, hyp­nother­apy, chakra align­ment, elec­tronic lymph drainage, Reiki, and other kinds of en­ergy work that prac­ti­tion­ers main­tain break up block­ages in the body.

Many ven­dors of­fered free mini-ses­sions at the Expo — a perk I went af­ter with gusto. I had a fiveminute ses­sion of sound and vi­bra­tion heal­ing with Can­dace Cald­well, for which I sat in a chair and lis­tened to calm­ing mu­sic through head­phones, sort of like what you might hear in a yoga class, while she moved a vi­brat­ing pad up and down my spine and over my shoul­ders. Ac­cord­ing to the lit­er­a­ture avail­able, this is sup­posed to move fluid and re­store bal­ance in the body, and based on my ex­pe­ri­ence it seems like it would be good for re­duc­ing mild pain and stress, though Cald­well seemed hes­i­tant to tell me much about the ben­e­fits and sim­ply handed me a flier. I next tried cran­iosacral ther­apy with Raghu­rai M.C. Don­nelly. Be­fore she be­gan, Don­nelly asked me if I had any spe­cific ar­eas of pain. I do, but I have found that holis­tic prac­ti­tion­ers don’t al­ways re­spond well to a litany of West­ern med­i­cal di­ag­noses, pre­fer­ring

in­stead to work on in­tu­ition, so I told her “gen­eral pain” and left it to her to prove her skillset. She was up to the chal­lenge. With no di­rec­tion at all she found a few ma­jor ar­eas of con­cern, in­clud­ing one that no body­worker has ever gone to on their own. Though it was un­usual to lie on a mas­sage ta­ble with my eyes closed in the mid­dle of a busy health fair, de­spite the ca­coph­ony of voices I was able to re­lax al­most com­pletely for 10 or 15 min­utes.

For the ben­e­fit of Pasatiempo read­ers, I asked Brian Piotrowski, a sales­per­son for doTerra– es­sen­tial oils, which oils can help with sea­sonal al­ler­gies, since they will strike Santa Feans as soon as the ju­niper blooms. “Pep­per­mint, laven­der, and lemon in a dif­fuser,” he told me, hold­ing up a kit like he’d been wait­ing for just that ques­tion. I’ve tried this combo and have found it to be ef­fec­tive on my al­ler­gies and si­nus headaches, and it’s eas­ier than pop­ping de­con­ges­tants and an­ti­his­tamines for the du­ra­tion of our windy spring. You can add es­sen­tial oils to Ep­som salts and soak in a bath to re­lieve sore mus­cles, con­ges­tion, and other mi­nor ail­ments — or just be­cause they smell good. In fact, the whole Expo and all of the ven­dors smelled amaz­ing.

Most of the Expo at­ten­dees I spoke to were heal­ers who wanted to con­nect with oth­ers in sim­i­lar fields. I met yoga teach­ers, horse ther­a­pists, psy­chics, and Ayurveda prac­ti­tion­ers, as well as a Pi­lates in­struc­tor named Ray­mond Kur­shals who thought the Expo was so packed that it needed a big­ger venue and stood as proof that the city should play host to a na­tional holis­tic heal­ing trade show. He and his friend, a chi­ro­prac­tor named Patrick O’Keefe, main­tained that this could be an eco­nomic booster for the city. Look­ing around the crowded room, it was hard to dis­agree. We also talked about the need for heal­ers op­er­at­ing out­side the tra­di­tional med­i­cal com­mu­nity to de­velop their knowl­edge of com­mon West­ern med­i­cal di­ag­noses and pain con­di­tions, and the vo­cab­u­lary of symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with them, so that they can bet­ter com­ple­ment the care of those in the throes of or re­cov­er­ing from se­ri­ous ill­ness.

I met two ven­dors whose un­der­stand­ing of this is­sue es­pe­cially im­pressed me. The first was a life coach, Joni Holub, who made it very clear that her ser­vices are not in­tended to re­place psy­chother­apy. She works with peo­ple who want to cre­ate change in their lives, which might in­clude get­ting up the courage to find a ther­a­pist to work on deeper psy­cho­log­i­cal is­sues. “I can be a com­ple­ment to coun­sel­ing,” she said. “When a ther­a­pist is giv­ing you ad­vice but you don’t know how to work it prac­ti­cally into your life, I can help with that.” Su­san Griego O’Con­nor is a yoga ther­a­pist who works on a slid­ing-fee scale with peo­ple suf­fer­ing from ill­ness or trauma who can­not em­bark on an ex­er­cise pro­gram with­out guid­ance. She de­scribed show­ing stu­dents, with whom she works in­di­vid­u­ally, a few move­ments they can in­te­grate into their day to help re­lease pain and ten­sion that builds from morn­ing to night. “Ev­ery time the phone rings at your desk at work, maybe you take that mo­ment to do a gen­tle twist in your chair,” she said. “Holis­tic prac­tice is not about how much you can do, but how con­sis­tent you can be.”

If the Af­ford­able Care Act is re­pealed, many of us will find our health­care op­tions se­verely limited — which is al­ready of­ten the case be­cause some in­surance plans make it very dif­fi­cult to choose your own doc­tor, or change to an­other one if you don’t like the care you’re re­ceiv­ing. As scary as the prospect of re­peal is, there is some com­fort to be taken in know­ing that holis­tic heal­ing is a smor­gas­bord of choice, and Santa Fe of­fers even more va­ri­ety than your av­er­age small city.

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