is the grass any bluer...

is the grass any bluer...
on the other side?

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I'm Not Afraid of Death

I’m not afraid of death; I just don’t want to be there when it happens." Woody Allen

by Kim Thomas

I realized this past year that a lot of people my age are getting older. It was rather upsetting to go to my high school reunion only to find that many of us were either recovering from surgery or anticipating surgery, and sadly, several members of our class had succumbed to the devastation of cancer or heart disease. I actually felt lucky to only be suffering from plantar fasciitis, and even though I battled it for nine months before it was resolved, I was smug in thinking I’d gotten off easy with only a painful foot condition that pretty much felt like was walking on glass. Here I was in my orthopedic shoes, swilling scotch as if were mother’s milk, and having a great time, limping around the room, seeking out old friends and hoping I would recognize them.

(this is part of a series in January 2008 Ace Weekly about Mind, Body & Soul, go to or visit
The bout with plantar fasciitis taught me that I must start listening to my New Age friends who are enthusiastic about methods of alternative healing, such as acupuncture, reflexology, cranial sacral therapy, lymphatic drainage, reike, and chanting. I’d sought out conventional medical treatment, only to be given a steroid injection that was mixed with an anesthetic so that I felt as if I was healed, ready to RiverDance home, only to find that the anesthetic wore off in about 24 hours and I was back to painfully limping about. This continued until my massage therapist friend gave me a simple, wooden roller for my foot – oh yeah, and she MADE me use it (that was key) – and within a few weeks, I was walking without pain, miraculously healed. I’ll admit, for years I’d ignored her advice about alternative healing, thinking that sometimes a gong is just a gong, but that school of thought has now given way with the restored health I found by using this wonderfully plain and financially feasible foot massager.
NPR advises that baby boomers – all 78 million of them – have had something of a headlock on American culture since Carole King first felt the Earth move, and haven’t released their grip since. On January 1st of 2006, the oldest boomers began to turn 60, at the astounding rate of 8,000 per day.
While the aging process cannot be reversed, many are taking steps to enhance their lives so that their remaining days in this life can be full of health and happiness. There is a great boom in the alternative healing industry, and Lexington is no exception. Good Foods Coop and Whole Foods have in-store massage therapists, nutrition classes (most of which are free of charge) and programs to educate the community on how to live long lives. Everywhere you turn there are yoga studios, day spas, independent massage/reike practitioners, acupuncturists, and reflexologists. That only begins to scratch the surface of the wide array of choices we have when it comes to finding alterative healing avenues.
In fact, there are so many forms of alternative healing, it would be impossible to cover every one of them, but below I offer a look at a two of the more available methods that are appealing to the aging boomer population. I have friends who seek out acupuncturists for relief from migraines and others who have found the peace that comes with the practice of daily yoga. Myself? I believe in music...

Dr. Kate Covington, professor of music at the University of Kentucky, related to my choir a few years ago the story of Dr. Alfred Tomatisa, who developed methods of using chanting to promote physical and mental well-being. Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis was a French ear, nose and throat doctor who made astonishing medical and psychological discoveries that led to audio-psycho-phonology, or the Tomatis method. Also called auditory training, auditory stimulation, and listening therapy. The purpose of this treatment is to re-educate the way we listen, and it is used in over 250 centers around the world. (

The Tomatis method claims to benefit a wide variety of people. People suffering from auditory processing problems, dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, autism and learning disorders can improve their communication and social behavior by auditory stimulation which can eliminate or reduce the severity of the disorder. This is based on the belief that the symptoms of these disorders are not caused by the disorder itself, but by a sensory regulation problem that begins in our most primordial sneory instrument, the inner ear. In addition, those suffering from depression, low self-esteem, or just wanting ot learn a new language or fine tune their musical talen can also benefit from this unique treatment.

There is a story that says Dr. Tomatis visited a Benedictine monastery in France in the early 1960's following the second Vatican Counsel. One of the decisions the council had made was to eliminate the traditional chanting for a more constructive use of time. Gradually, changes took place among the monks. They became more lethargic and less motivated. Sleeping more and eating more was no help. In February of 1952, Dr. Tomatis was invited back to evaluate the situation. His Electronic Ear was put to use to impove the men’s hearing, which had weakened since he had seen them last. He also requested that the chanting be brought back into their daily routine. Nine months later, the monks had fully returned to their rigorous lifestyle of little sleep, hard work, and vegetarian diets with renewed vigor. The singing of the chant was believed to affect the brain as to bring energy to the body.

"Heal the heart/soul first and then heal the body" Reike Ryoho Nikkei
Another alternative medicine practice is the use of Reike (pronounced RAY-KEY), which is a Japanese word that means Universal Life Force. Rei stands for natural force or Universal force. Ki, like Chi or Qi, stands for the unseen, nonphysical, life-supporting energy that is found in and around everything. Reike is a non-invasive, natural method that accesses this energy to heal the spirit, mind, emotions, and body. It consists of five principles that guide on to wellness:; a set of hand positions for treating the self and others; and the channeling of Reike energy through the practitioner to client. Reike is useful for treating any illness and injury, including cancer, heart disease, insomnia, headaches, cuts and bruises, broken bones, lac of self esteem and confidence, and so on.
Reike Principles, adopted from Buddhist tradition, have become the heart of Reike: Just for today, Do not anger, Do not be anxious, Be filled with gratitude, Devote yourself to your work, Be kind to all living things.
It is not known exactly how Reike works. Practitioners believe disease occurs whenever the flow of life-force energy becomes disrupted. The practitioner lays their hands onto themselves or another person and as Reike flows, the energy channels become attuned and aligned, improving health and enhancing quality of life.

Be well, love kindness, and pray for peace,

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