Traditional Healing


My Redwood Sweatlodge

The following is an excerpt I wrote, from my book, Roots of Healing, co-authored by a Western herbalist, S. Woods.

What is Healing?   ›

 I have listened to thousands of stories in my clinics over the past 30 years of my healing practice. Part of the life of a healer is being intensely present, listening, and becoming a story collector. Yes, indeed, I have heard all types of stories. I have wondered, at times, how these stories found me, watched as the stories marked me, nudged me, turned me in certain directions; and then, observing my own personal story. Stories, each life a unique story, yet, leading in the same direction; the love of self, the love of family and community, and rediscovering our true nature, embedded in life itself.

I have seen clients live as if the past was all they related to, their only sense of who they are. I have seen clients live in some dream cloud of the future, with nothing but desires and always grasping for more, for something out of reach, continually frustrated. Then, there are some clients buried with the tunnel vision of this moment and only this moment, not wanting to acknowledge, feel, or learn from the stories of the past and how it has marked them, nor want to dream about the future for fear of another betrayal or disappointment. What a tremendous challenge it is to be able to integrate these three realities; the past-the present-the future, and be able to live our lives fully in life and allow it to unfold; with hope, passion and vitality. This is the healing journey!

Healing is filled with not-so straight lines and big curves, pot holes, detours, dead-ends, and, at times, cruise control, yet, always moving forward. Indeed, healing is a journey and not a destination. But what needs to be healed? What needs to be acknowledged? Does seeking ever end? And, how?

At times, it feels like a physical wound needs tending to, and there are times, when it feels like emotional trauma and tragedy has betrayed our soul. Healers abound promising cures, with miracle salves on every grocery shelf. Every year, we see two or three new products and a couple of gurus being mass marketed as the panaceas that will cure it all and save the world! Every year, we sit back and watch most of these new products and gurus become dust collectors in our cupboards and book shelves at home. But have we changed? Are we suffering less? Is our world any safer, any healthier?

Contrasts, differences, highs and lows, opposites; this is the nature of things here on this Earthly playing field. Some of us take it real serious, others laugh if off. Some of us find the middle ground, that uncomfortable place where the “ayes” and “nays” both live together. And we find some stuck here, too, and can’t seem to make a decision, come hell or high water! So, what is healing?


Healing is a desire to feel better, to be free of some dominating disorder or compulsion, to be free of pain; and to experience our bodies in a state of wellness, peaceful and full of vitality. It entails eating healthy foods, regular meals, and drinking clean water. A healthy body requires rest in order to replenish itself. It requires exercise or movement so that the blood and energy can circulate, which brings nourishment to the cells and takes away the toxins from the tissues. A healthy body is treated as the temporary sacred temple that provides shelter for the eternal soul.


Healing is a state of mind, where each day, we have the opportunity to experience our heart filled with gratitude for being given another day to live. It is a desire to make peace with ourselves, that deep desire to accept who we are, just as we are, and know that is enough. It requires discipline and a commitment to acknowledge what we have, and not focus on what we lack. It requires us to see the good in life, create solutions to situations as they arise, and not create the “high drama” or obsess about the events of our life.

The “ego”, that much needed, yet power hungry rascal, resides here in the mind. The ego, where Freud claims that our self-esteem and self-worth finds refuge, always seems to have too much or too little of something. The ego seems “parked” in the past or the future. It exposes itself when we feel a subtle or a not so subtle repulsion to “what is”. The ego seems to disappear somewhere into the ethers, when we allow ourselves to live in and accept the present moment. When our Spirit Being is caught in the strangulating grip of our temporal ego-centric mind, our response to life is reactionary.

From the place of the ego, life is a mountainous task, requires extreme effort, and very inflexible. It lacks the grace and ability to experience the gift of life, as is. Beware of the mind, it is but a tool, to help us navigate through the ocean of life. Give it the keys, and life is a continuous struggle.


Healing is to acknowledge and feel all our emotions. It is easy to embrace the good feelings, but another story to accept and welcome the painful forbidden emotions. As we allow ourselves to feel whatever it is at this present moment, without judgment, without the need to fix how we feel and see them as obstacles to our well-being, we begin to heal.

For many, this requires a safe place and a trusted person who can be turned to, someone to share with, from that dark secretive place. This dark shadowy cavern holds the secrets we have hidden from everybody. As we acknowledge what is hidden, we heal. Healing is to learn to befriend the hidden or broken pieces we carry; the tears, the loneliness, the fears, the hatred, the lies, the contradictions, the judgments, the criticism, the loathing; all that lives internally; hidden, forbidden, and abandoned. These hidden broken pieces we carry are our shadow. And our shadow is a mere reminder of what remains to be loved. This is the pathway to the heart and healing.


Healing is to yearn; a desire to live our “true nature”, a desire to feel at home, to belong, to be acknowledged, to be content, to be at ease. Healing is to know we are in the perfect place in an imperfect world, and that it is okay. Healing is to say “yes” to life, and allow life to unfold; not attempt to force our will onto it. Healing means to experience the miracles in life, each and every day; those small things that make life magical and wondrous.

Healing is to come to a place of grace, with the ability to see the divine in everyone and every situation. Healing means to make friends with life, and have life respond by being our most cherished partner.

Healing requires ritual and ceremony where the invisible world can be summoned, acknowledged, and celebrated. Healing requires prayer in which our ancestors are fed with our presence, our laughter, and our tears. The Spirit world feeds us generously, and our rituals and ceremonies feed them in return. Because we, the Humans, are the takers from the natural world, we give back to the Spirits, an acknowledgment, so that they will continue to feed us.

Healing requires an open heart, an open mind, and an open body; to breathe with life, in life, and surrender our personal agendas, wants, and needs. Through our hearts yearning, through our families, and through our communities we heal. In truth, we do not heal ourselves, life heals us! We are on a journey, which is consciousness evolving.

What a gift and profound pleasure to be alive! When we see each other as the divine within, we have tapped into the sacredness of life. As we heal, as life heals us, we are taken to that still, quiet place; filled with joy, serenity, and compassion. We come to understand; Healing is saying “yes” to life!

 Traditional Philosophy   ›

 The Four Winds

The information shared here comes from my personal traditional teachers from around the world, integrated with my personal life experiences, and years of clinical experience. It includes knowledge and wisdom from the four different colors of people; the Yellow, the Red, the Black, and the White. From one of the Cree medicine wheels, shared by Lorraine Sinclair, we are given the Four Directions and the Four Colors. I have included their culture with each direction. From the North, the White Humans, Galenic Medicine is transmitted. From the East; the Yellow Humans, Oriental Medicine and Ayurveda Medicine is transmitted. From the South; the Red(Brown) Humans, Native American and Maori Medicine is transmitted. From the West, the Black Humans, African Medicine is transmitted.

The knowledge from the two traditions of Oriental Medicine and Galenic Medicine fills most of these pages. This is not to diminish the value or the wisdom of the other traditions or teachers who have graciously guided us, but reflects the transmissions that have greatly influenced my personal herbal knowledge and herbal formulations, who I have become to be. I have, to the best of my ability, acknowledged when a specific transmission has come from one particular tradition or culture.

Our foremost teachers, whose transmissions or teachings are a significant part of this teaching, coming from the following Native American “Four Cardinal Directions” or in the Sámi tradition, the “Four Winds”:

From the North White Wind;             William T. Anderton, Desmond Eggleton, Reece Smith, Robert Allbee, and Francis Weller

From the East Yellow Wind;             Yasuo Mori, Herman and Cornelia Aihara, Nichidatsu Fuji, Tokujiro Namikoshi, Ping Yee Wong, and Lai Fu Cai

From the South Red Wind;             Bill Wahpepah, Bruce Elijah, and Teresea Juarez

From the West Black Wind;            Malidoma Somé and Sobonfu Somé

 Old Ways and New Beginnings

 Traditional healing is a sacred journey which people worldwide have taken and found refuge in times of illness, stress, crisis, and confusion. Whether the issue was physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual, people would seek counsel from their village healers. Together, they would say prayers and make offerings, to entice the Ancestors and Spirit Helpers to assist in the healing process. The healers, through their training, had the gift and skills to weave the individuals story together, discover the root of the disorder, and create a treatment program.

They would address the disorder or imbalance of the individual from the different levels of awareness and could include some of the following: food or dietary adjustments; exercise or breathing techniques; hands on healing; herbal remedies; mental disciplines; emotional balancing; or prayer and ceremonies. The healing would be an attempt to adjust the current energy patterns of the individual towards a more balanced state of being. If the healing was successful, and in alignment with the natural flow of life, the symptoms the individual was experiencing, disappeared into the ethers, no where to be found.

If we want to apply different traditional concepts into modern time, we become aware of the tension and differences that exists between a number of things; the temporary “self” and the eternal Spirit World; the past, the present, and the future; the different customs of diverse cultures and traditions; and the protocol of each tradition in how they practiced their healing and preformed their ceremonies. Differences or tension hold the required energy that is necessary in order for one to “see” the other. This tension also holds the required energy that is necessary “to give birth” to a new reality. All mothers know, how painfully exhilarating it is to give birth to their new child!

Let us acknowledge that our ancestors lived a simpler and slower life. They had a different relationship to “time”. A ceremony began when it began and was in the hands of the Spirit World. There was a plan when it would start, but it began when it began. Patience, such great patience, and the ability to allow life to unfold. Tulips are not blooming because they had to meet some deadline. They just bloom. Contrast that with modern time. Be a few minutes late for work a few days in a row and see if the boss does not fire you. Modern time is addicted to the ticking “clock”, much like a time bomb.

Our ancestors had developed a deep and sensitive relationship with the Spirit World and Nature. There senses were keen, finely tuned. They cared for and gave deep respect to Nature, understanding it was a gift from the Spirit World and was an intimate part of themselves, and an integral part of the community. Clear cut the forests, pollute the rivers they drank from, build weapons that could destroy the Earth, these notions were not to be found in even their darkest moments. Our ancestors had very different values, standards, life styles, and stress factors.

This is not to romanticize about some ideal past as if there was a perfect society or culture. Humanity has always had its shadow, its dark side. However, in regards to the crisis we are facing today, much can be learned by our remembrance of the past. With this remembrance, which is said to be embedded in our bones, we can heal. We can shift our individual and collective awareness back towards Nature and the Spirit World, and reclaim our true home.

What worked for our ancestors needs to be remembered, acknowledged, and then, adjusted, if appropriate, to meet the challenges and correct the imbalances we experience in today’s modern world. We understand that for tradition to survive, it must be able to change, evolve, or adapt to the present and address the needs of our current communities. Whatever we undertake, the focus of our actions is on meeting the needs of the community. If our actions do not meet this basic requirement, then we have to ask ourselves, “Is it of any value?” It is not necessary for us to reinvent the wheel. From this perspective, we imagine the creation of something new, good for the all, while rooted in tradition. We preserve, we sustain, and we honor the gift that Nature has provided. Nature or land is not a commodity that is owned, bought, and sold. Nature is our connecting rod to the Spirit World.

 A New Paradigm

 How do we integrate traditional healing into today’s modern world?

Traditional healing applies to both, the health and well-being of an individual with their external environment. They echo each other. It becomes impossible to talk about one without the other as they are divinely connected, an umbilical cord. Some of the issues that could be considered for creating a new paradigm for the New World include the following:

v  Recognize what is working and what is not working

v  Identify the excesses and deficiencies of the current system

v  Identify how to preserve and maintain the existing integrity

v  Create ways to harmonize the current imbalances

v  Create ways to enhance movement by doing no harm

v  Create ways to encourage harmonious growth and development

v  Ask the question, “Is this model sustainable?”

Many traditional healers from different cultures see the individual as part of a larger “web”. The larger “web” contains four elements: the self, the family, the community, and the nation. Each individual represents one of the threads that has been laced into it, and is a vital link or thread within the structure of the “web”. If the individual, their thread, is removed from the “web”, the integrity of the entire “web” structure is affected. If the individual is a major thread of the “web” and is removed, the web has the potential of collapse.

When a healing treatment program was created for an individual, the traditional healers would “see” the individual laced into the “web”. The healing treatment program would be carefully administered to the individual with the understanding that any adjustments to their energy field within their bodies has an effect on the larger “web”. This ties into Galenic Medicine’s first rule of healing: “To do no harm”. Healers would choose their words with this intense awareness and any advice given was carefully crafted.

Beware! Healing shifts energies and traditional healing embraces “change” or “movement”. Your entire being contains the potential of being rewired. The life that surrounds you, situations and conditions, shifts and moves with you as you are taken into another level of healing and awareness. Awareness or consciousness is the realization of the existence of the “Invisible World” and accentuates your potential. Small steps, small adjustments, one thing at a time – this is a wise prescription that honors your sacred place within the “web” and protects the integrity of the whole from possible collapse.

 The Art of Herbalism

 The art of creating an  herbal formula, from a variety of traditional cultures, has been two-fold; individualized and time-proven formulations. Traditional herbalists have used these proven formulations for generations and, respectfully, passed this knowledge on so that they can be used for future generations. These time tested formulations work effectively in many situations. At times, it is necessary to create an individualized custom herbal formula to address an individual’s imbalance. The art of herbalism is expressed through the combination of different herbs and the magical healing synergy they create.

Many traditional healers use herbs on four levels of awareness: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Mastering the art of herbal medicine and being able to apply these four levels takes years of training and practice. Aspiring herbalists benefit having a mentor to learn from, as much of this knowledge is not book learned, but felt, experienced, and witnessed. It is an important part of our oral tradition. The art of herbalism is found in the subtleties and nuances of the herbs. To master this art, we must be willing to participate in our own personal healing journey. And this is a life long journey, we never seem to complete. What we give to others mirrors what we have given to ourselves. We give from the level of awareness that we have personally experienced. By experiencing the herbs on these different levels, we grow to know them in an intimate and profound way. And each healer will use herbs in their own unique way, depending on their personal experiences. How beautiful!

When creating herbal formulas and recommending strategies, many healers take into consideration a client’s constitution, along with their current body energy patterns or condition. It takes artistry to meet the client on their level of awareness; mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, and not where we think they should be! Healers are guides that assist others to traverse the terrain of life. There are mysteries and there are miracles, and with empathy and compassion, the healer can paint the map and put up the sign posts for the client’s healing journey.

Healers use their intuition, acute observation, and quiet listening skills during an evaluation. The first area for consideration is the client’s “constitution”. The individual’s constitution is revealed by their “nature”, who they are and not who they have become. Their constitution is reflected by their “vital energy”, or in Oriental Medicine, their “essence”, by the sparkle in their eyes, the tone in their voice, the way they hold themselves, and the manner in which they tell their story. This “vital energy” that they were born with, their ancestral background and inherent qualities, serves as the foundation of the individual’s constitution. We ask ourself, “Is their constitution strong or weak?”

 Evaluating the Clients Story

 The client’s “condition” is their current situation, the present moment. This includes their overall general appearance, syndromes, and body movement. The following list gives traditional concepts and greater insight to what is observed when evaluating their “condition”:

v  the spirit of the eyes

v  the sound of the voice and choice of words

v  the emotional expressions

v  the facial color, shape, and structure

v  the body shape, size, and structure

v  the color and texture of the skin, hair, and nails

v  the body odors or smells

v  the areas of discomfort or pain

right side (qi) or left side (blood)

upper (heart/lungs), middle (spleen/liver), or lower part of the body (kidneys)

surface (external) or deep (internal) discomforts

moving (qi) or stagnant (blood) pain

It is helpful to bridge the physical condition and the emotions to see if there is a relationship. Usually there is, and can serve as reminder to the client how the emotions affect the physical functioning of the body. Through healing the emotional conflicts, the physical discomforts or disorders are not continually reinvented or manifested and we can move towards “preventative medicine”.

A beneficial tool to use is a person’s “life line”. It is a very interesting and revealing process. Starting from birth to current time, the client marks on the top of the life line, their age and dates when different stressful events or traumas occurred. On the bottom of the life line, the client marks the dates when different diseases or physical complications occurred. This “life line” will reveal, if any, the connection between different emotional stress factors and the physical ailments.

Sharing the Knowledge

 From our different cultures, oral and written, we have a wealth of knowledge to gather from and to share. What has worked for one culture does not mean it can work for another, nor do we want to meld one culture into another. We protect our culture and our language, respect our differences, and allow tradition to change. Life demands change or movement. We share what has worked for us, our different theories, healing modalities, and herbal knowledge. Why? To help alleviate some of the suffering. We apply these different techniques, concepts, or herbs in our personal practice, to see if they actually give us the results we are looking for.

We can ask ourselves some simple questions in this process, such as; “Has this generated greater clarity? Has this added vitality? Has this created movement? Has this allowed someone to find more of their true nature? Has this been of benefit, for the good of all? When they do, the synergy is “life giving” and a new path emerges. Roots of Healing is a new path created by old traditions, finding each other, and being reborn in a new world! Life is our transmitter. We share what has worked for us.

 Creation of New Life

 Each tradition or culture has it’s creation story. We give great honor and respect to each one. There are instances, where one creation story or a traditional practice from one culture speaks true to another culture. There are other instances, where they do not fit or meld. We do know that the subject of “where did we come from?” has been pondered, engaged in, talked about, and written about for generations. Where life originated continues to be discussed, debated, sometimes agreed upon, and sometimes disagreed upon. We have heard so many people ask, “Why am I here? What is my purpose?” Consciousness is being able to have these types of discussions. Who knows? Who has the answer? Is there one? Our common response is, “Ask your ancestors and talk to an elder!”

What we find to be fascinating, is the beauty of each story and how it shapes and molds a tradition and a community. When we are rooted in a traditional culture, the sense of “who I am” begins to form and we gain some clarity. For some, we will have been given a birth name, initiated into a Spirit name, found our clan, and claimed by a people. From this place we are able to gain a better understanding of “who I am”, and we begin to dream about our potential, our purpose. And we dream the future by a deep remembrance of the ancient past, or we travel backwards in order to move forward.

From Daoism, Dao De Jing or Lao Zi, chapter 25, translated by Peter Merel:

Before the World exists

There is mystery:

Silent, depthless,

Alone, unchanging,

Ubiquitous and ever moving,

The mother of the World.

I do not know its name, so I call it Dao;

I do not know its limit, so I call it infinite.

Being infinite, it flows away forever

Flowing away forever, it returns to the Self.


The Self follows the way of the World;

The World follows the way of Nature;

Nature follows the way of Dao;

Dao is the way.

Dao is infinite,

Therefore Nature is infinite,

Therefore the World is infinite,

Therefore the Self is infinite.

There are four infinities,

And the Self is one of them.


From chapter 42 of the Dao De Jing or Lao Zi, translated by S. Mitchell, the first four lines:

The Dao gives birth to One.

One gives birth to Two.

Two gives birth to Three.

Three gives birth to all things….

This Daoist philosophical viewpoint of life is a foundation piece of Oriental Medicine and Chinese culture. Daoism is a philosophy of Nature, the nature of self, defining life through contrasts which have withstood the test of time. Daoism is very much alive today, intact, whereas other dogmas, over the centuries, have come and gone.

Looking at chapter 42, unable to read or translate Chinese characters, we can attempt to explain “in proximity” how we understand this chapter.

 The Dao gives birth to One.

The Dao, because it has no beginning, no language or sound, can not be named. The word “infinite” or “space” lies in proximity to what it is. “Gives birth” implies the presence of some kind of movement or energy, in Oriental Medicine, qi. The “One” could be the “Source” from where life originated, or the “Seed” where life sprouted from. The “One” could be understood to mean the “space” prior to time, nothing had yet been created or formed, no Heaven, no Earth, yet containing pure energy.

One gives birth to Two.

The “Two” are the birth of Heaven and Earth from the “Source” or the “Seed”. The beginning of dualism, complementary opposites or contrasts, is manifested. Heaven, becomes part of a manifestation of energy that rises, ascends, light in quality, and is later to be called Yang. Earth, becomes a part of an energy that descends, solid and dense in quality, and is later to be called Yin.

Two gives birth to Three

The movement of energy, qi, between these two contrasting, complementary “entities”, Heaven and Earth, gives birth to life, beginning in its most primal state. The Heaven, male, fertilizes the Earth, female and we are their children. As we lay in between them, they feed and nurture us throughout our lifetime.

Three gives birth to all things

Life, flowing with energy from Heaven above and Earth below, gives birth to Nature and all that has existed here on Earth, including the evolving “Self”, Humans, man and woman.

From this beautiful Daoist creation story, we can move towards and into the theory of Yin and Yang according to Oriental Medicine. We can observe the manifestation of these two complementary opposites in the world surrounding us and the world within us as parallel realities.

 Yin and Yang


The universal characteristics of Yin and Yang is the foundation piece for Oriental Medicine. All things in the universe are said to contain Yin or Yang, but never completely all Yin or all Yang. In the Daoist philosophy: “Yin creates yang, and yang activates yin”. They are opposites, yet complementary; separate, yet dependent; constantly changing or feeding into each other; and can be observed throughout Nature; as night grows into day, or summer grows into winter. The Universal Yin and Yang chart shows the contrasts of the different aspects of the universe. The Physiological Yin and Yang chart shows the contrasts of some of the different aspects of our internal body functions.

Universal Yin and Yang

 Yin                           Yang

Earth                                Heaven

Winter                             Summer

Night                                Day

Cold                                  Hot

Water                               Fire

Female                             Male

Receives                          Extends

Descending                     Ascending

Moist                                 Dry

Heavy                                Light

Deep                                   Surface

Physiological Yin and Yang

Yin                                Yang

Substance                            Activity

Blood                                     Qi moves the blood

Lymph                                   Circulates lymph

Mucous                                 Movement of fluids

Perspiration                        Produces body heat

Urination                              Filters waste

Fat                                            Storage of nutrients

Hormones                             Responds to hormonal signals

Chronic                                   Acute

Solid                                         Hollow

There is always some Yin within the Yang or some Yang within the Yin. For example, someone might feel energetic in the morning, a Yang quality, but by mid-afternoon, they can hardly keep their eyes open, a Yin quality. The value of observing the body from the concept of Yin and Yang, is that it reveals how unique each individual is. Have you ever sat in a room and some folks are freezing while some others are taking off their coats? Or have you been on a gym floor and some folks are sweating like a wet mop and others have yet to break a sweat? This is the interplay of Yin and Yang showing itself. Strategies for treatment programs can be refined according to these universal dualities.

One of the unique qualities of traditional medicines is that healers are able to treat the imbalance or disorder of a client without giving a name to the disease. As a matter of fact, the disease is a result of some coded internal imbalance. The healer has to be able to decipher the code. The body is not in harmony, which allows disorders to gain a foothold and create some havoc, called disease. The Body Types chart gives further examples of the distinctions between Yin and Yang.

Body Type

Yin                                      Yang 

Tired                                                Robust

Pale                                                  Flushed

Narrow face                                  Round face

Soft, weak voice                           Loud, projecting voice

Thin                                                   Heavy

Soft muscle, tissue                       Hard muscle, firm

Chronic infection                          Acute infection

Low grade infection                      Hot, short term infection

Feels cool                                           Feels warm

Damp conditions                             Dry condition


The Eight Guiding Principles

 To help us further navigate through “the internal natural world” and discover the nuances of a client’s condition, “The Eight Guiding Principles” are an excellent resource. They have been a part of Oriental Medicine for generations and contain four polar opposites; Yin and Yang, Cold and Heat, Deficiency and Excess, and Interior and Exterior. In diagnosing a disharmony, these Eight Guiding Principles are of enormous value and will help determine the relative state of the essence, blood, qi, and bodily fluids. Now let us look at the Eight Guiding Principles and apply them with Yin and Yang. The combinations of these Eight Guiding Principles creates the foundation for traditional Chinese diagnosis.

For example, a client suffering from the onset of a sudden high fever, extreme sore throat, and with a red tongue would have an Excess/Exterior/Heat condition. A client with chronic fatigue, a pale face, always chilled, and tendency towards a loose stool would have a Deficient/Interior/Cold condition.



Matter or substance


























Facial pallor

Dreads cold

Cold limbs

Lack of thirst

Prefers warm drinks


Loose stool

Clear urine

Pale swollen tongue

Slow pulse

Warmth lessens pain

Low grade fever




Insufficient amount



Inside the body

Gradual development

Long duration


Red face, eyes

Dreads heat

Warm limbs

Dry mouth, thirsty

Prefers cold drinks, ice



Dark urine

Red tongue

Rapid pulse

Cold lessens pain

High fever




Excessive amount



Near the surface of the body

Sudden onset

Short duration

 The Vital Substances

 The body functions and the internal organs, from traditional perspectives, is much broader in scope and more pattern related than what is found in modern medicine. In modern medicine, health is quantifiable; the blood panels are read, throat swabs are taken and analyzed, and the sugar levels in the urine are measured. If the client falls into the “norm” after all the test have been run and read, they are told nothing is wrong with them, even though the client feels lousy. To truly understand and immerse ourselves in traditional healing, we set aside the modern medical model of the body and relearn the traditional way of looking and thinking. Traditional medicines are more qualitative, relative to the whole, looking for the “why” and “how” did this syndrome come to manifest.

In traditional medicines, we speak in terms of balance, harmony, flow, and well-being. We see you as a Spirit that resides inside the sacred temple, the body. We see physical manifestations as a link to the invisible world. We understand that your experiences; whether physical, mental, spiritual or emotional, are interrelated. Our language is quite different than modern medicine, poetic and tuned to Nature; our approach to the client and the disorder is different, more circular, woven, and built on relationships; and our understanding of the body is different, a reflection of the natural world. We speak in terms of restoring balance and harmony. We restore balance to the body and do not treat, cure, diagnose or prevent a disease. We enhance wellness.

 In Oriental Medicine, they describe what is called The Vital Substances. These substances bring nourishment and vitality to all the parts of the body. They are interrelated in their functions and actions. All fundamental substances are the direct manifestation of qi. They include: Essence; Energy or Breath; Blood; and Body fluids.

 Essence (Jing)

Essence is deeply rooted into the Earth, deeply influenced by hereditary factors, the potential contained within the sperm and egg at conception, and by the over-all health of the pregnant mother during the pregnancy period. The Essence holds our potential and secures our Spirit. Essence allows a person to grow, develop (physically and mentally), mature, and reproduce. Essence, because of its ability to control reproduction, taps into the root of our existence that is embedded into the twisted DNA of our ancestral tree. Essence is comparable to the Earth. When the soil is rich in humus, the crops will thrive, come to seed, and their will be a bountiful harvest.

Some disorders are generational, adversely affecting the Essence. Traditional healers have the skill and tools necessary to help mend the links of our ancestral heritage, enabling us to enhance our potential and that of our children. Be patient, the healing work that we are now engaged in is reflected back to us by the clarity and vision of our future generations. Generational diseases demand ritual and ceremony and Life requires ritual in order for life to be recreated. This we know to be true.

 Energy or Breath (Qi, Chi)

One of the major differences between traditional medicines and modern medicines is found in the use of the word “energy” or “qi” by traditional healers. Modern medicine does not know how to restore energy to the body, even though you tell the doctor you are always tired and the blood panels are normal. Traditional healing has mastered the art of regeneration and rejuvenation, not to forget the art of purification and movement. In Oriental Medicine, qi (also called ki, Prana, life force) is present in all of life. It states, “When qi gathers, so the physical body is formed; when qi disperses, so the body dies.” This invisible life force lays within matter and is not separate from it, so is considered energy and a bit of substance. Qi moves throughout the body and in Oriental Medicine, through the meridians or energy channels. Just as the seasons rhythmically flow into each other and complete cycles, so does the qi rhythmically flow through the body. The qi has the capacity to nurture, protect and sustain all the functions of the body. Through good nutrition and breathing, qi can be generated and maintained. Wellness is directly linked to the flow or movement of the qi. When qi becomes obstructed, stagnant or deficient, the balance of Yin and Ying is disrupted. The functioning of the organs is subsequently disrupted and the emergence of a disorder becomes more than a possibility. If the imbalance is too extreme, suffering manifests and we descend into pain.

Blood (Xue)

Blood, as it circulates through the body, brings nourishment and vitality to everything it touches. Healthy blood is created by the food that we eat and the body’s ability to transform the food. If our blood is weak, then our energy will be low. Blood is the physical manifestation of qi. An old Chinese adage says, “Blood is the mother of qi  and qi is the commander of blood.” They are separate entities that are inseparable! Another example is the Earth. The Earth (feminine) of itself is lifeless without the Heaven (masculine). Together, they create life. As life on Earth has evolved, we, too, are evolving. Some traditional healers say that consciousness is our next evolutionary step. We will think and act from our hearts and not from our heads. Blood is Water, give offerings to the Godess of Water!

 Body Fluids (Jin Ye)

The body fluids are created from the food we eat and liquids we drink. They protect, moisten, and bring nourishment to the body parts. They are less refined than the blood, yet essential parts of the community. They include saliva, sweat, digestive juices, tears and urine. Their ability to nourish the body is not as significant as the blood, but critical, as they respond to the body’s constant cry for moisture. The lighter fluids moisten the exterior of the body, the skin and muscles; while the heavier fluids support the interior of the body, the joints and the brain. The body fluids depend upon the qi for movement, and the qi depends on the fluids to moisten and nourish the organs that help to regulate it. Again, we can see the interdependence of the Vital Substances and life itself. Not only does it takes a village to raise a child, in similar fashion, it takes an inner vital village to keep the body functional and balanced. This is life remembered. The small guys, the not so significant, hold the trump card.

Our bodies are one of the most beautiful examples of how to live in community. The scientific community has tried to estimate how many cells live within our bodies. No one agrees, but it ranges from 10 – 100 trillion cells. Each one of these cells working for the good of their community; no wars, no territorial disputes, and no power struggles. Our bodies hold the intelligence of how to coexist peacefully. How is it that the world Humans live in together have somehow forgotten? Where in our psyche have we gotten so askew? Is there a name for this disorder? How do we balance it?

 Give me beauty in my inward soul,

for outward beauty

I am not likely to have.

May I reckon the wise to be wealthy

and those who see as the artist

to be like the gods.

Make me content with what I have

but not self-satisfied.

Let me give more than I get,

love more than I hate,

and think more of living

than of having lived…

Anything more?

This prayer, I think, is enough for me.