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Mind, Body, Spirit -- A Pathway to Good Health

Shedding light on some alternative therapies to consider incorporating into your wellness routine.

While conventional medicine has made enormous progress over the last century, the role it plays in our overall wellness is far from complete.

Prescription drugs, surgery and other more conventional approaches are still the most popular when treating ailments. However, we can all enhance our general health and well-being by utilizing alternative resources as well.

Underlying most alternative therapies is the belief in the unity of mind, body and spirit.

This means that our mental, physical and spiritual health all affect one another. For example, research has shown that patients suffering from serious physical illnesses may improve their chances of recovery by simply having a positive outlook on their recovery process. 

In contrast, a more negative outlook affects physical and spiritual health. Individuals with depression or anxiety are more likely to get sick or neglect their physical health. How we think and what we think about have profound effects on outcomes, including our physical and spiritual health.

Here are some alternative therapies to consider incorporating into your own wellness routine. Participation in this type of activity will support you in feeling well physically, spiritually and mentally.

Meditation: People who meditate often report dramatic benefits. Stress and anxiety evaporate, memory and attention span improve, and a general feeling of well-being prevails. Meditation has also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease in seniors, decrease hypertension, and reduce memory loss. 

Yoga: While meditation showcases the positive effect the mind can have over the body, yoga can be seen as accomplishing the same benefit in reverse: those who practice the physical poses and stretches of this ancient discipline report feeling more fit, happier, more mentally alert, and less stressed out. If that isn’t enough to get you started, there is evidence that the regular practice of Yoga also reduces the risk of heart disease and insomnia.

As with meditation, there are many different forms of yoga, including specially designed programs for seniors. For people with limited physical capabilities, yoga can incorporate chairs into the routine to make poses easier and safer.

Massage Therapy: Getting a massage can help us feel relaxed and refreshed. Research suggests that massages increase the circulation of blood and oxygen to different muscles and tissues in the body. This is especially significant for seniors whose circulation may be declining. Increased circulation associated with massage therapy can improve medication absorption rates, reduce hypertension, and increase skin temperature. Of course, that naturally relaxed feeling at the end of a massage is a benefit in its own right.  

Acupuncture: Acupuncture is based on the ancient conception of Qi (pronounced chee), or life force. According to traditional Chinese medicine, Qi flows through the body along specific pathways called meridians. To help treat imbalances in Qi, an acupuncturist inserts hair-thin needles into the body along specific meridians in order to help rebalance Qi. 

Beneficiaries of acupuncture report feelings of restored inner harmony, decreased pain, and general well-being. Acupuncture is one of the most popular therapies for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.  It has also proven effective in alleviating pains associated with arthritis and osteoporosis. 

Music: Our ability to consciously create and enjoy music is uniquely human, and distinguishes us from all other creatures. Music has the power to uplift, energize and inspire emotions. Recently, health care providers have begun to experiment with music therapy in hospitals, based on evidence that music helps people recover faster. 

Continuing research on the effectiveness of music therapy may well shed new light on a familiar, age-old idea: that music really does have the power to heal.

Whether you prefer the hands on approach, or sitting quietly and enjoying a piano sonata, incorporating supportive activities such as these alternative approaches to conventional medicine, are certain to support you in feeling an increased sense of well being.

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