I have begun rereading The Healer Within: Using Traditional Chinese Techniques to Release Your Body’s Own Medicine by Roger Jahnke, Doctor of Chinese Medicine and the Director of the Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi in Santa Barbara, California. This book contains a wealth of information that really spoke to me. Reading it the first time left me considering its teachings for months afterwards, until finally I bought it. (You may remember me referencing Dr. Jahnke’s work in previous posts on favorite asanas and nudges for optimal function.)
The methods in the book, borrowed from Qigong, include gentle movement, self massage, deep relaxation, and conscious breathing. The simple formula for self-healing is awakening the medicine within, the author writes, and one of the most effective ways to activate this formula is the regular practice of the four essential self-care methods. (In addition to healthy eating & hydrating, I would add!)
Dr. Jahnke reports on research out of the New England Journal of Medicine stating that 8 out of every 9 deaths are preventable (meaning they occurred due to a preventable health condition.) It has been shown that increasing physical activity a small amount has a powerful disease-reducing effect, he writes. That applies to everyone, even those of us who are completely inactive.
The good doctor shares that thousands of people have learned these techniques, and many have experienced dramatic health improvements, often within two weeks’ time. Commitment to a daily practice, albeit short and simple, is necessary, he says.
Now, on to the specifics. All quotes below are from the book.
Method 1 is gentle movement. Not to say that we should give up our regular exercise routines. But in addition, or for those who are not really active, a few minutes of gentle fitness practice increases levels of healing internal resources that will not be gobbled up as fuel by hungry muscles. Gentle movements help push water deep into our cells, increase oxygen and nutrient circulation, build strength, enhance balance, and accelerate propulsion of lymphatic fluid.
Method 2 is self-massage. This, of course, is in addition to the benefit of a massage therapist if you are so inclined. Daily self-massage, especially of the ears, hands, and feet, can aid sleep (I can confirm that!), hydration, & PMS symptoms, and address addictions. This practice soothes the sympathetic aspect of the autonomic nervous system, which controls the function of the organs, resulting in the release of restorative neurotransmitters and the reduction of adrenaline.
Method 3 is deep relaxation, including meditation. Research shows that many diseases can be caused or exacerbated by stress, and deep relaxation can resolve or neutralize the effects of stress on the body and heal disease. This is accomplished by lowered brain wave activity, reduced blood pressure, dilated capillaries, and enhanced production of healing hormones.
The final method Dr. Jahnke shares is conscious breathing. Inspiration (meaning to breathe in) is what we call the force that impels us forward into life with enthusiasm; it is the divine influence that brings forth creativity and vitality. Breathing deeply in a calm fashion can also give us a sense of control. This practice pumps lymphatic fluid, causes neuropeptides to be released, increases endurance, and shifts the nervous system toward relaxation.
The book provides a good number of examples, including illustrations, for each of the above techniques. And if you’d like to experience a free Qigong practice that incorporates all 4 methods, check out this page on the website of The Institute of Integral Qigong and Tai Chi.
The human body contains an amazing internal pharmacy, if only we learn to activate it and keep it in good running order. Dr. Roger Jahnke’s The Healer Within serves as an instruction manual, offering simple suggestions with profound effects.
The content of this article is for educational and informational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice. Please consult with a qualified health care professional before acting on any information presented herein. Any statements about the possible health benefits of any subject discussed have not been evaluated by medical professionals or the Food & Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease or illness.