In previous part of an interview we talked with Dr. Bachratá about holistic medicine in general. Now you can read her thoughts on meditation, lifestyle and roots of our problems.
Alhought you´re a traditional doctor, you´re still using alternative methods. Do you find mind & body medicine as alternative medicine?
Lot of studies confirm effect of mind & body attempt, so in global context, it´s not alternative anymore. Talking about Slovakia, here it´s still different. Even I, when I just began with Mind & body center, I tried so hard not to be seen as alternative because I was afraid to risk my reputation. But lately we´ve been more obvious in this and we find it more as advantage. Also more and more people consider it as positive. Our center provides classic as well as alternative methods, because we are simple sure about their meaning. Sometimes they are the only way how to help patient to get rid of unpleasant symptoms whom traditional medicine can´t help with.
Why is traditional medicine not applying this methods too – is it financial question?
Sure. But if we count right, then this method would be much more cheaper than taking pills. But in such case would money go somewhere else where our state actually wants them to go. Problem is people are not ready yet – they are used to the situation when state takes care of them. They just wait until someone comes and take the responsibility for them, rules them that they don´t have to rule themselves, that they don´ t have to change their habits, start to work out, change eating habits or lifestyle. If traditional medicine would apply some of “alternative” methods and people were willing to take responsibility for their health, we would spare so much money. The first question is therefore not money, but the way people think. It´s about how much they need comfort and how passive they are. Also it´s question of conservatism, lobbing and corruption.
Recently, at European forum I´ve heard a speech of some doctor about how much the situation in his ambulance has changed since health insurance company let them have psychologist. He said that since then amount of patients has changed rapidly.
Do you prescript antibiotics or you can avoid them?
You can´t because people usually can´t and don´t want to help themselves. Prevention is always first, but if a person enters ambulance completely sick, two weeks with cold and he/ she can´t live with it anymore cause he has to go back to work, and not stay longer to cure himself, there is no other solution. But there are fighter who try to avoid antibiotics and they believe, as I do, that there is no infection thread, that couldn´t be handled with our immune system. But thanks to permanent stress and pressure we can´t hold it anymore. Current medical system teaches people they are no educated enough to understand their own bodies. Although we have this nature within us, only it´s not usual to us to take over our responsibility for own happiness and health.
When we look from above, almost everyone has some problem, for ex. bad relationships with parents, childish traumas, inner conflict, etc. That means that everyone has some diagnosis in general. Or you see it differently?
Diagnosis is a word I don´t like very much. It associates some disorder, something permanent and fixed we should avoid and we should be afraid of. Conflict, crises, problems or change are normal part of our lives and we should see it that way. It´s all about if we have competencies to handle that problem or not. Eitherway, sooner or later we come to the point when life turns 180 °. If we take it as regular thing, if we trust ourselves and acknowledge our skills, our limits, mind and body, if we already have such experience and we are able to listen to our intuition, we can push the limits and find always some solution.
But nowadays is instead age of comfort, plenitude and securities and we don´t have to test our endurance in fight with animals or climate. We are trying to avoid critical situation and we pay big price therefore. We avoid hot and cold, everything out of our comfort zone and we are losing so much. One who is able to face such discomfort is more resistant and it´s not only about body but also about psychics.
We all carry some patterns that rules our life. How we can change them?
The method differs according to therapist. First is always insight – ability to accept that current pattern is not optimal for us. Then we have to discover new pattern. We apply different exercise on particular situations, where patient can preview different reactions that he would usually has. It´s just an exercise so he doesn´t have to feel insecure. But everytime it´s very individual, psychological attempt.
Our web talks about meditation. According to different researches, can meditation or mindfulness change the way we think or act? Do you apply it as well?
For me is meditation or mindfulness more or less the same – it´s in the way how it helps patient. Principle is always to stay present – now and here, which helps us to avoid negative thoughts and emotions. Andrej (psychologist at our Mind & body center) offers mindfulness as part of individual or group therapies because it brings very interesting results. Meditation is not yet available although patients are more familiar with it. Sometimes is term “meditation” deterrent for patients, they relate it mostly to some ezoterics. Slovaks are a lot orientated on rationality and performance and “going deep while sitting with crossed legs “ how Slovaks usually consider meditation, is not something they have time for. They think that change can be reached only with hard-work not while “doing nothing”. It´s hard to change their minds. We often ask patients in survey what they dislike most about themselves. “Laziness” is the most frequent answer. People think that relaxation is just waste of time and it simply lowers their personal value.
Are there any risks about meditation?
More and more people are giving chance to meditation and try some video guides or articles. Sometimes it helps, but mostly is the result not the same as they expect. We had some patient who meditated on regular basis but it didn´t do a lot. We checked him with so called biofeedback and we found out that his will to stay present “now and here” made him feel very anxious and stressed. Health issues went worse. We taught him to bring his concentration outside his body on some particular object. That made him relaxed in a right way. Not every meditation has the same effect, and we recommend to search for an experienced lector.
The most important is breathing. We can´t live without breathing but what else is it good for?
Survive is somewhere at the end of whole “thing”. Our body is smart enough to not allow us not breathing. If we would try it, we all would end up unconscious. Breathing is important for exchange of body gas´, for oxygenation and extracting carbon dioxide, which is related to acidobasic balance. Diaphragm breathing is important mediator between stress and released reactions, it influences statics and dynamics of our locomotor system, digestion, and many other functions. If we breathe shallow for long time, anarchy in our body starts. Even though we have many mechanism´to keep homeostatic. Stress reaction is principally life-saving and therefore it rules inner balance. Recently I´ve read an article of some doctor on so medialized acidity where she mentioned it´s all just nonsense.
No, it isn´t. Of course a big deal of whole thing is business but many psychosomatics studies show that person under long-term stress has serious inner, metabolic reactions leading to acidity. Stress stimulates process that leads to different changes of calcium, potassium, magnesium level and higher acidity. It´ s related to breathing and our genetically given reactions on stress – active fight or flight reaction or passive form, which is the eldest. It´s called freeze – person stops to breathe, pretends to be death. Part of patients,mostly those anxious, react in this way. Part of this reaction is, already mentioned, shallow breathing, weak digestions and non-functioning absorption of nutrients, skin problems. Emotions and the way we control them are ruling our physical process´.
How to deal with these emotions? Is it better to overcome them, let them release or push them through?
It´s impossible to generalize. Anyway it´s better to realize any emotion we have and investigate its roots. But often we overreact without reason. We are desperate for broke up or we have conflict at work and we shout at our kid instead. Maybe we push this emotion and it releases in other way, for example on physics. We have to release these emotions in a right way, also with risk of some discomfort. On the other hand we shouldn´t let the emotions rule our life. There should be enough self-love that balances tendency to self-sacrifice and altruism.
Experienced meditators, mostly monks teach us to accept everything and walk through life without too much emotion. Is it possible in your opinion?
I don´t think it´s possible in common life. Some issues are so important for us that we have no chance to react completely calm. Important moments are followed with strong emotions which later disappear. E-motion is the driving force of any activity we do, that´s where the term comes from. Life without emotions is flat, has no depth or sense. I can imagine some monks living in temple out of civilization who put their spiritual life on the top of everything. It´s one possible attitude. I, personally, can´t live in world of no emotions.
I think what we talk about is called dynamic balance.
Of course. Narrow line is from physiological point of view simple death. Life is always dynamic. Every second of our life we lose this balance then we search for way how to get it back. It´s driving force of our life. We lose balance – we are hungry, feel insecure or cold, so we have to do something to get what we need. It is always related with frustration and some stress reaction. Animal wouldn´t move without reason. Why would it when it doesn´t miss anything? Why should I run when there is no reason?
But people still do that..:)
That´s called higher goals. But motivation is always there, otherwise they wouldn´t do that. In age of abundance we are logically motivated by values from higher levels of Maslow pyramid. People need nowadays much more to keep life balance, not just to be sated.
We often hear about something as return to nature, wholeness,.. Does it mean moving to country?
No, for me it´s return to ourselves. To feel what I need and do everything to get it. As mentioned, we don´t have only primitive physiological needs – to eat, to reproduce but we care for higher values, self-realization. Lot of people, unfortunately crave for goals of others. Return to nature is return to goals of ourselves. For staying healthy we need to differ between what is ours and what we were given by family, society, work, school,…
But all of this has big influence on us, we can´t avoid that. Or you mean Rousseaus´s return to nature?
I agree with Rousseau. Civilization destroys nature of human and push everything that we were given naturally. I know that nowadays return to nature is not totally possible (or simple) but it would be very useful, mostly for men. They are losing a lot of testosterone and becoming effeminate. I´m a pacifist but still I would vote for army service some men would need it so much.
Isn´t it contradiction? If the masculinity is natural thing, then they don´t need any war to apply their instincts’, do they?
Yes, it´s natural thing. But part of it is masculine aggression, fight and overcoming of barriers and discomfort which teaches men to stand on their feet. That war is indeed not the best example, it has brought us a lot of pain and disguise but for many men it was one of the most important life experiences where they had to overcome themselves. Nowadays men run marathons, do sports instead, but still lot of young men are less masculine. It´s pretty common at households with too dominant father or, on the contrary with father who is too feminine, that son is becoming weak and submissive too. Boy needs an example of man who is brave and strong from psychical and physical side. Lower level of testosterone is often related to sterility. And we all know how common it´s nowadays.
Is it normal evolution or we should we worry?
It´s evolution (if normal, that depends on what norm we accept) but we should definitely worry. On the other hand, all depends on the perspective we look from. If we consider the fact that we have overpopulation, then from global perspective it´s evolution tendency that nature makes some couples sterile. From an individual point of view it´s a catastrophe.