Healing in Underprivileged Communities
Ancient healing practices – like yoga and reiki, meditation, massage, acupuncture and energy work – are becoming more and more mainstream.
Studios and classes can be found nearly everywhere, and hospitals are including traditional healing practices in their treatments and instructional direction. The health and wellness industries have become multi-trillion dollar luxury businesses, with extensions creating income throughout accompanying merchandising.
While more and more people are being exposed to the unquestionable benefits of holistic healing – including those who might have been turned off by the more esoteric, ritual or traditional aspects of these practices – we, at Taireiki, can’t help but ask; why aren’t these benefits being applied in all the places where they could really make a difference?
The fact is, most opportunities to access ancient healing practices lie behind pay walls and/or are given in very specific and monetized environments, even though their intrinsically low bars to entry (equipment, facilities, prior physical or athletic preparation, etc.) make them almost ideal answers to many of the issues people face today. Access based solely on inaccessible financial means ignores a genuine and profound need within these communities.
Seniors, the homeless, those who are mentally or psychologically impaired, at-risk youth and disadvantaged communities benefit immensely from exactly the kind of healing these ancient practices provide.
Traditional healing practices – and the benefits of each – are seemingly tailor-made for the specific issues faced by disadvantaged populations.
Mentally and emotionally unbalanced individuals can often trace the root of their issue to a chemical imbalance (either from a pre-existing medical condition or the cellular damage caused by prolonged states of stress), and ancient healing practices have been documented to help process cortisol. adrenaline, norepinephrine and other stress hormones that wreak havoc on our nervous system. These practices also generate beneficial neurochemicals and promote the natural balance(sate) of a healthy body.
While most of the Taireiki community is familiar with the benefits of traditional healing practice, others may not be as aware of the specific benefits one can expect from diligent dedication to ancient holistic healing practices. Let us share a few:
The poses, even in more modern systems, center on “flow,” stretch and naturally strengthening the bodies’ muscles to allow for better circulation, structural alignment, and many other benefits ranging from boosted immunity to mindful eating.
One of the most often ignored issues suffered by the homeless is the trauma and PTSD caused by becoming and being homeless. The deep breathing and mindfulness promoted by yoga allows participants to access and deal with the pain and mental stress while the postures help by both directly treating physical problems, as well as the other well documented neurological benefits the practice itself promotes.
Reiki practitioners focus on manipulations of the natural energy fields of the human body (dissolving blockages, relieve pain, release stress and tension, etc.) through hands-on treatments, breathing and meditation. The ultimate goal is to “reset” the body (or specific systems) to its (their) natural state and to promote, support and enhance the natural healing, balance, and mind-body-spirit connection innate in to every individual.
Underprivileged communities can suffer from a lack of healthy food (food deserts, prohibitive pricing etc.) and increased life stress due to socioeconomic or circumstantial pressures and reduced access to primary medical care. Healing arts like Reiki specifically address tension relief, mindfulness to combat anxiety and stress, preventative holistic health and even pain relief. Being able to boost natural immunity, target and prevent minor aches and pains and heal or treat chronic pain can often mean avoiding a costly visit to the ER/UC or an individual being overwhelmed by the pressures of life.
This Chinese discipline relies on slow precise movement, deep breathing and natural postural alignment, to stretch and strengthen muscles, promote harmony within the system of the human body, and increase self awareness and the mind-body-spirit connection in accordance with ancient Chinese cosmological principals.
Seniors, due to natural aging and a more sedentary lifestyle, often need to work on balance, tissue density, and respiratory health. Unfortunately, these same needs make it difficult for them to meet the sometimes athletic demands of yoga or Pilates.
Fortunately for this population, however, qigong is a perfect fit! Qigong can be practiced sitting or standing, or a combination of the two. It gently and progressively builds strength and most importantly, does not rely on strength, flexibility, stamina or any other athletic considerations to gain the benefits of a diligent practice. This focus on alignment and natural body positioning also makes qigong ideal for overweight or injured/differently-abled people as a supplemental program.
A method developed by Joseph Pilates, using targeted precise movements and muscle isolation, as well as breathing, isometrics and even in some cases, purpose-built machines to guide the practitioner through a pattern of fitness movements aimed at increasing strength, stamina, postural alignments and the correct use (firing) of muscles.
Many of these practices have overlapping benefits, as well. For example, both yoga and qigong can give at-risk youth a sense of community, help to relieve stress, address grief and other unprocessed emotions, and most importantly, foster a sense of control and self reliance, which can translate in to healthy self esteem and behaviors at school and in the community.
With the high popularity and obvious benefits of ancient healing practices, it’s a wonder they aren’t being utilized more. Luckily, one of the biggest reasons for lack of utilization is lack of knowledge, which is rapidly being addressed.
A growing group of folks and organizations are looking to fund good service models, provide good services, or create overall strategy. Expert healers, on the other hand, need to use a more need-based public health-focused business model, and to target communities in need (housing developments, hospitals, senior centers, etc.) and provide their services.
Institutions and organizations with funding in those areas are also usually willing and eager to work with expert healers to solve issues. In fact, they are looking for wellness professionals to come in and provide these healing services. See below for some of these organizations*.
As healers and practitioners, we are often focused on the individual and can sometimes forget the community and the holistic impact we can have. The Taireiki community and our healers, use the ancient healing arts to restore balance and harmony in our everyday lives, realizing that these practices can have a higher order effect on more serious and complex societal problems.
For example, Taireiki owner, president and master healer Ivor Edmonds serves, and has served, a number of communities across the Greater Boston Area, including St. Francis House Shelter, Tewksbury State Hospital, Boston Centers for Youth and Family, and local senior centers.
Each night, people die because they lack healing services. Overcrowded domestic abuse shelters; old people who fall alone, and the Potter’s fields filling up during harsh weather are all preventable outcomes with life or death consequences of our societal problems. There’s already a great deal of political debate about this issue, but the truth is that there is no more time for rhetoric; eventually you have to act in service, and that time is now.
Whether you believe that simply practicing positivity and healing can metaphysically affect the overall level of good in the world, or are just trying to get the highest number of individuals the best quality services, the work you do is important and every little bit helps.
Please let us know how we can help you.