Looking for Answers?
You may have recovered from incurable or uncommon ills in unexpected ways. Some of you are seeking to relieve stress, anxiety, or pain, or to gain inner peace outside of common medical practices. Many in the healing arts are also looking for novel ways to relieve the suffering of others. And, many of you have been accused of woo woo.
Despite that, you moved forward in your search, right? That drive to make a change can come from health challenges, knowing your life is out of balance, an inner need to fulfill your life’s purpose. Or from desperation, when medical science offers no hope.
As an example, I had massive brain damage from prescription medication in my late teens. The doctors told my father I would be a vegetable the rest of my life.
I started noticing that prayers were answered when I had no answers. I found that meditation helped me focus and think more clearly. NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) taught me skills so that I could relearn how to learn. Reiki eased tension and relieved pain. Finally, I discovered virtual miracles from homeopathy and flower essences.
After my father died, one of his close friends and colleagues confessed to me. He said he and my father used to laugh at all the woo things I tried. They thought it was a big joke. He admitted ruefully that the joke was now on him, since his wife had become a Reiki practitioner, and his daughter had become a Reiki Master!
What is Woo Woo?
“Woo woo” is a derogatory label hurled by professional skeptics. Even though doctors themselves continue to order some tests and surgeries that have been disproven, the label is mainly directed at practices outside of the medical sciences.
“Woo woo” accuses people who are seeking health or self-empowerment of foolishness. No matter that many formerly woo practices have proven their value. Or that wisdom or folk traditions are themselves the source of many pharmaceuticals.
If we took away the emotional content, this accusation only means that woo woo is unproven in terms of today’s science. And, it is quickly moving to the mainstream. It is popular because it solves a lot of wellness challenges. So perhaps, woo woo is starting to mean creative and innovative ways to heal ourselves. But is it unscientific?
Woo Woo and Science
Science is not static or fixed. It sometimes moves forward by hard, detailed work and systematic thinking. And sometimes by innovative, creative exploration. It may even embrace what was formerly considered woo woo.
In the 1970’s, if someone claimed that we could change our bodies by changing our thoughts, they were poo-pooed. It was called “metaphysical thinking” back then (meta=beyond, i.e. beyond what is known in physics).
Then medical researchers saw how beliefs, emotions, the nervous system, and the immune system all interact. They created a new field of study: psycho-neuro-immunology. In other words, our thoughts do affect our body. Solid science!
Woo Woo Innovative Answers
Sometimes medical science finds itself boxed in because it doesn’t have all the answers. People sincerely or desperately searching for answers can help science break out of that box.
In the early 2000’s researchers surveyed people receiving cancer treatment. About 60% were also using alternative therapies. And most of those were not telling their doctors. But they told each other. And word spread about what helped to reduce nausea, pain, depression, and anxiety, and what made them feel better.
Doctors realized some herbs might conflict with prescribed medications. And that they needed to listen to their patients.
The result? Researchers investigated the “alternative” treatments and found several to be effective. They are now “Integrative,” alongside mainstream therapies. Even cancer experts recommend massage and other touch therapies, yoga, mind-body approaches, acupuncture, and sometimes herbal medicines and aromatherapy. And hospitals offer them because there is a low risk of harm, and because patients request them.
Wellness — intuition, intention, and practice
As we hone in on our search for wellness, we need all our tools. Body and mind as one. To use intention, focus, and intuition. Above all, to practice new wellness skills. We may find that our bodies, our “gut instinct” knows what it needs to support our health.
As we explore with curiosity how our bodies respond to our thoughts; that our health improves by changing our diet; how we achieve greater harmony by meditation; how we calm our stresses and relieve pain by mindful exercise, yoga, massage, tai chi, or Qigong; that wisdom traditions and indigenous cultures can guide and direct us; –we create our well-being and contribute to that of others.
And as we continue to empower ourselves to find better health, science may follow.
(For citations or references, I invite you to contact me.)