by | Jan 30, 2020 | Health & Wellness

I had not yet descended down the rabbit hole of natural wellness. Little did I know my proximity to a Navajo Medicine Woman at a New Age festival 10 years earlier in Long Beach California would be the foreshadowing for this journey I now find myself on…

I was doing my ‘breakaway from medicine’ (having become far too disenchanted after 30 years of it) and thought I would try my hand as a professional musician. The California gig was significant because I had been invited to share my original stuff and would be performing with a number of musicians whom I adored on a stage on the beach.

‘Surely it doesn’t get any better than this’ I thought.

So I performed at the prescribed time, offered some background music for a fellow speaker and hung out with the Medicine Woman in between times.

I was drawn to her and the table of herbs she had on display. The questions rolled out of my mouth as though they had life of their own.

“How long have you been doing this”. “What is this plant for?” “Where does this grow?” “Did you pick all these yourself?” I told her I was a nurse, my grandfather had a knowledge of this type if medicine, but he had passed before I could learn from him and wasn’t sure how much natural healing would be accepted by the medical community anyway….

She had commented very little before interrupting me “You’re sensitive, aren’t you?”

“What do you mean?” I offered up this next question to buy some time. I knew what she meant — and more importantly I knew, that she knew…that I knew.

“Empathic, intuitive…”

“Uh….”, came my intelligent reply.

Although I had often followed a ‘gut hunch’ when working in the hospital that had paid off for myself and my patients, suddenly I felt very awkward around it. I don’t know why, because it had occurred so many times that those closest to me just came to rely on it.

“Try out the medicine bed” she said. She directed me to a pallet on the sand surrounded by herbs, some antlers and other sundry items. “Meditate on this, and see what comes in” was my only instruction.

Not well versed in the practice of meditation I wanted to object, but that objection took the form of “OK”, or something close to it coming out of my mouth.

I lay on the bed, feeling the sun on my face, smelling the sage and other herbs. I seemed to enter a dream state relatively easy. What I envisioned, was a coyote, singing passionately, but mournfully, only because it realized it was in the wrong place.

Instead of a Southwestern desert it was alone in the Sahara. No one would find it here, it could not do what other coyotes do, and moreover…no one would ever hear its beautiful song.

I awakened and the Medicine Woman asked me what I saw. When I told her she nodded her head, not especially surprised. I had asked her what she thought it meant, she said only, “That’s not up to me to interpret, only you can decide.:

“But I’m not sure” I replied.

“You might be later”, then she offered the advice that would play like a loop, even 10 years after the experience…the only advice that would ring true for me as it would inform my choice of healing outside of the institutions in which I had spent the last three decades of my professional career…

“I know one thing: The medicine you use, as a practitioner or a patient, better be the one you believe in–regardless of whether it is allopathic, herbal, energy work, or any other offering.”

And there it was: my instant awareness that I did not believe in the allopathic model as I once had. I had witnessed its decline from being both an art and a science to its de-evolution in becoming big business.

It would illustrate for me my belief that often people are forced into choices which they would not make on their own in the name of ‘evidence based medicine’ although I considered that evidence limited and often paid for with the promise of a certain outcome.

The Medicine Woman’s wisdom would remind me of my belief in belief that we each know what our bodies need–at least subconsciously if not consciously; and the obligation of any healer isn’t to heal, but to inform, educate offer choices that resonate with the patient and their journey.

It would drive home the futility of ‘treat by number medicine’ and that we are each as individual as our fingerprints.

It would point to a perception that the wonders offered by modern medicine in traumatic injury –which are many–are almost inversely proportional to its efficacy in chronic conditions.

It would also illustrate, at least for me, that in the context of those chronic conditions, alternative medicine can offer so much more.

So here I am having returned to “the desert” of natural healing, but that’s OK, because I know it to be the right one for me–even if it is not yet highly populated by many of my peers.

You see, I think it is where my song can best be heard.

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