For more than three decades I have studied the “low tech” healing practices of traditional healers. These practices began thousands of years ago, preceding our modern era of technology dependent pharmaceuticals, surgery and digitalized diagnostics. As an occupational therapist, fascinated by the interaction of body, mind and spirit, these traditional practices have always called to me. Especially now, facing an uncertain future of diminishing fossil fuels and inability to produce sustainable replacements, our need to understand and develop these practices becomes imperative.
I started with sensory integration, studied as part of my occupational therapy curriculum at Boston University in the early 1970s. I saw it make changes in my patients with dementia, stroke, and a variety of physical and psychiatric disabilities during my first few years of practice.
In 1978 I moved to Tucson, Arizona and got my first exposure to traditional healers. The Tohono O’odham, Pima, and Yaqui nations within the Tucson metro region all have healers who practice in those communities. The Mexican-American community uses curanderismo to successfully treat a whole host of maladies. I listened to stories of healings and became fascinated by the richness of sensory experience they provided. I knew that I wanted to learn more about them.
The medical community held these practices in disregard, at best explaining positive outcomes as placebo effects. I knew that studying them from academic disciplines such as anthropology or psychology would only teach me why they did not work, so I ended up at Harvard Divinity School studying spiritual healing via theology. Not a perfect match, but at least I wouldn’t hear that it was all nonsense nearly as often. While there I had access to world class libraries, professors, all the courses at Harvard, as well as the nine other seminaries in the Boston Theological Institute – an amazing and sometimes overwhelming array of choices.
My study at the Divinity School had an interesting side effect, I had complete free-rein describing the workings of the nervous system, since no one there could comment on terms such as corpus collosum, reticular activating system or vestibular apparatus. When I got nervous about my understanding I headed back across the Charles River to Boston University where professors from my alma mater Sargent College would recommend papers I could read or suggest alternative scenarios. They kept me on the neurophysiological “straight and narrow path.”
Harvard provided me with the framework of academic rigor, and credentials for entering academia as a professor in the Occupational Therapy Department of Eastern Kentucky University. That position led to my first book, Biomechanics: Problem Solving for Functional Activity and later to another textbook, Kinesiology: Movement in the Context of Activity, now in its third edition.
Fast forward three decades, through years of: contemporary occupational therapy practice; the study of Integrative Nutrition; Traditional Chinese Medicine; and creating healing rituals for others. I am ready to approach biomechanics from a different perspective – using quantum rather than Newtonian physics this time around.
Traditional healers work on the quantum level where energy and matter have fluidity (E=mc2) and genes express themselves like light switches that turn on and off (epigenetics). Western technological science has finally caught up. Rather than dismiss the outcomes of these traditions, we have a scientific way to understand and explain them. I hope to share some of this information with readers of my blog, in my seminars, and eventually in a book, tentatively titled, The Biomechanics of Spiritual Healing.
My next blog will cover the inseparability of biomechanics and spirituality – the what, where, how, and why of healing.