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Interview with holistic doctor: Media makes us fear about health

Mind & body medicine is a term I heart in Thailand for the 1st time. I talked to my friend, Mexican doctor and she explained me that alternative medicine has been slowly integrated to traditional and it´s called body & mind (mind & body). Few months after I visited 1st mind & body medicine center in Bratislava to make an interview with Dr. Bachratá.

May we say that body & mind is a new medicine wave or just a new term on something old?

In Slovakia it´s definitely a new shift. Beside that, holistic medicine has its roots in ancient times. In eastern medicine theories is fact that physical health is closely related to mental, very common. Whole Chinese medicine is built on this. Father of classic medicine Hippokrates was totally holistic or mind-body doctor.

What happened then?

Later arose an urgent call to generalize medicine methods that they would become largely applicable and here we have now what we call traditional medicine „based on proofs“. But call to take psychics into account appeared again. In our region (Middle Europe) was from 50´s till 70´s great boom on psychosomatics and lot of works on this were published. Unfortunately, afterward came communism which made it stop completely and psychosomatics became an unacceptable method. Accepted was just “school medicine” based on scientist investigations. Nowadays is psychosomatics or mind-body medicine spread a little in Czech republic and more in Germany, Austria or Scandinavia, where it was grounded in standard health care system. It´s still rare in Slovakia.

Communism is over but new trends are entering Slovakia very slowly. Classic doctors are still sceptic. Why?

There are more reasons. One of them is an old generation lag, which means that authority of doctors and their opinions are still on the first place. Also shortness of scientist proofs on particular methods is another reason and all the cases when alternative medicine was applied very badly which could even lead to serious harm or death of a patient.

5Big topic is lobby of pharma businesses’ which don´t really appreciate new methods with less drugs. And last but not least we can´t forget that body & mind medicine is highly individual attempt and the responsibility for health of individuals is at first place. You can´t apply the same method on everyone.

Classic doctors often reject new methods, they consider them sometimes as myths. Did this happen to you?

Sure, I think in most of the cases. Important is to distinguish between alternative methods. Some of them are acceptable among doctors, for example psychological and nutritious attempts. Problem is often with health insurance – it´s often not included. Then there are methods which are widely used in some of European countries but not in Slovakia. And then there is big group of “too much alternative methods”.

Why doctors don´t accept these methods?

Well, big part of, especially old doctors, who reached some status, spent most of their career in communism. Younger doctors seem to be more open, but usually after few years of medical practice which force them to realize that classic methods are not working. Then they sign for different courses of alternative medicine – yoga, physiotherapy, different physical exercise. But all these methods have their limitation, too.

What you mean?

For example period of time in which any of the method can start to bring results. With psychosomatics can causal treatment last for months when we would see some improvements. Patient needs motivation to continue so it´s important to see some small improvements already in first weeks. We work a lot with body, massages, acupuncture or food therapy. Second requirement is that patient has to be engaged in treatment  – he has to play active role, be able to overcome some discomfort, be open to carry some tough personal topics,… That is often unacceptable for many and they rather choose passive therapy.

Which methods does mind & body medicine apply mostly?

Generally, mind & body medicine combines methods of classic medicine with psychological attempts, psychotherapy, relaxation, mindfulness techniques, HRV, biofeedback. First of all we teach patients to listen to their bodies. They should be able to realize what feeling they have upon their bodies, they should learn how to communicate with them and take some signals (tiredness, pain) as signals not problems. Often when we take this as problems, or as  illness, our body start to release stress hormones and threat is becoming bigger. Thanks to a huge media propagation is fear for health becoming common problem. Media can turn even a small symptom into serious health issue. Fear, anxiety or feelings of hopelessness have on current society big impact which is related to widespread of civilization diseases.

Therefor we need to know as much as possible about patient to be able to understand the core of real problem. Long interview is always first.4

What are you questioning in such dialogue?

Everything. From health issues in family, through relationships within family, conflicts, upbringing, childhood, adolescence, career, partnership, attitudes toward self, world and also lifestyle – that all is important. It tells us a lot about how the person behave, think, if he/ she can control emotions, how he/ she deals with misery, aggression or crises. Patient first fill form which helps us to discover some issues as well as it makes him think.

What can you learn from such interview?

First of all we search if patient has insight, if he can link his psychics with how he feels, with the problems he has. In case he has this insight, we´re very close to solution. If he is able to understand this link and to work with it, we go further. To discover whole context we work with so called timeline which is used to relate important life moments with source of health issues.

It´s much harder or even impossible to work with anyone who has very structuralized life or who isolates primary conflict from conscious self.  In such case we use mostly Feldenkrais method or craniosacral biodynamics.

Can you point out some example?

People often come with different digest issues without any obvious reason – stomachache, spasms, diarrhea or food intolerance. Cases in which colonoscopy, gastroscopy, or different investigations didn´t come with anything. Psychotherapy can tells us a lot. For example if person lives with someone negative, dominant or aggressive, he becomes too submissive. Instead of reaction of anger he keeps his feelings for himself and that leads to digest problems.

What else is pretty common in your surgery?

Common are ladies with respiration or urinal infects, pain of joints, lower back or headaches. Those are mostly ladies who were raised in very straight way and they have become too closed and disabled in expressing their feelings. They have no idea that they could act different from what had taught them their parents. Instead of pushing their needs through, they usually react too anxious, they slink which leads to stress of tonus in area of neck and breast with limited breathing and huge impact on digestions.

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Big role plays relationship with parents, who were too dominant in childhood or on the other hand, they could care too little and girl had to catch their attention.

We can see psychosomatic link very clearly, it´s often complicated to obtain these ladies for psychosomatic therapy.

Why would anyone reject such treatment?

There is often another problem. It´ s hard to talk about this, but very common is secondary advantage from disease. We face patients with chronical diseases which they use for gaining attention or care of environment. For ex. they try to avoid divorce, or loosing attention of kids, they simply crave for more care and love of the closers.

Common problem is also finance. Psychosomatics is not accepted as classic medicine method, therefore it is not reimbursed by health insurance. There are just few psychotherapists’ that cooperate with insurance companies in Slovakia.

More from interview with Dr.Bachratá here. 

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Why do we hesitate?

I love to walk in fog. November is my favorite month for jogging, cause every time I follow the morning flow of river, I´m lost in complete white. I don´t see a sh*t in front of me, but somehow I experience pure joy and faith.

In life it´s a permanent stage. You´re moving forward but you don´t see anything. Either you believe it will be fine or not, you have actually no idea what future will bring.

Unless you trust your steps and your visons, until you´re positive about yourself and you´re following the flow, it´s all fine. But once you stop to look around or back, you may start hesitating.

left-brain-right-brain-minimalism-wallpaper-2560x1600It´s the moment when your left hemisphere starts to rule you. Till now you were listening to your intuition and you were embracing things with love and creativity. But once you started applying logic where used to be a place for intuition and faith, you´re lost in white fog. Suddenly you may see thousands of reasons why your journey is wrong.

In one of my favorite Tedx videos is well-know neuroatomist Jill Bolte Taylor talking about how she experienced stroke. In moment when it happened, the link between her left and right hemisphere was interrupted and bridge between two sides was gone. She was lost in pure space of not knowing anything, weird moment of happiness and light. Without cognitive abilities like to feel the size of her body or its moves in space, she started to feel just some esoteric peacefulness and energy. „Imagine what it would feel like to lose 37 years of emotional baggage! (Laughter) Oh! I felt euphoria — euphoria. It was beautiful,“ she said.

5030387_13620007_lzThis woman, a scientist that is mostly using logic as the most important tool, ruled with her left hemisphere, suddenly experienced pure energy and creative flow of right hemisphere. That world of artists or all the people that use creativity in life and work. Moment of pure energy, power but despite peace.

„It’s next to impossible to be truly creative when you are afraid of shadows,“ writes Arianne Huffington, chief of one of the best well-know magazines on a planet. If it´s said by woman who is daily walking the streets with Hollywood stars, I bet she knows what she´s talking about. „The most stultifying and damaging fear infecting Hollywood is, of course, the fear of failure, because it keeps you from taking risks – and risk is an essential element of creativity and art,“ she adds. It´s the same everywhere, not only in Holywood. As Arianna sais, failure and fear from it are just two steps on the road to success.

Two sides of one coin. Two hemispheres. Never ending dualism which is so deeply rooted in our daily life. Neale Donald Walsch in his book Conversations with God: An Uncommon Dialogue explains it in this way: there are just two forms of our existence – Love and fear. Love is the creative thought, the highest reality, the only reality. But in relative world where we have to live is also existence of fear inevitable – we need fear to know how great it feels when we create and live with love and courage.

Why scientists recommend meditation

It´s highly possible that till now you´ve been associating meditation only with eastern philosophies, esotericism and alternative medicine. Maybe you´ve been seeing it as a dangerous secret of all budhists, hinduists and people pretending to be budhists/ hinduists. Maybe you´ve never heard of a mindfulness technique and you let it to the hippie freaks and eastern addicts.

But meditation is no more only heritage of east, everyday it´s spread more and more on the west. Meditation and mindfulness techniques are nowadays widely used by specialists on brain, psychics, behavior and psychology general. Meditation is taught in schools, army, business (for ex. David Lynch foundation). Western world definitely succumbed to this method which is becoming part of a lifestyle of people of any origin, background, profession. Before you reject it just as another new wave, take a look why scientists find it so useful.

Meditation lower stress – We know very well that stress is reason for many civilization deseases: high blood pressure, diabetes, chronic pain, asthma, depression. According to many researches, meditation with concentrating on breathing and perception of inside stages of body and mind leading to deep relaxation is related to decrease of cortisol – hormone responsible for stress reactions.

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Photo: Kudivani Photography

Meditation strengthens immune system – In recent article I wrote about how I used to be ill very often. Since I started doing meditation, my immune system became stronger and I didn´t even know why. Researches show why: Cortisol is also responsible for weakening immune system a regular meditation is lowering this level as well as strengthening whole body and mind. Weak immune system reacts generally not very well to the stress situation, while person with good immune system reacts better. Stress simply influences both psychical and physical part too much, and strong body and mind can handle better. Meditation is great prevention for all inflammatory diseases and together with exercising it´s simply the best recipe for current autumn period.

Meditation lowers pain and heals lot of physical deseases – Interesting conclusion was found by Duke University Medical center which studied influence of meditation practice on chronic pain. In eight week program patients with chronic pain of lower back went through loving kindness meditation and the results were amazing. Comparing to the control group their reactions on pain improved and they could handle feelings of pain, eager and sadness better. Medical University of South Carolina confirmed that meditation can have positive effect on wide scale of psychics, physics symptoms – it reduces feelings of anxiety, depression, bad mood, low self-esteem, insomnia, etc.

Meditation improves emotional perceiving and concentration – According to different researches, meditation improves functioning of amygdala – part of the brain responsible for emotional perception. With regular meditation can amygdala get smaller, and your brain can deal with emotions better. Meditation also has positive effect on prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for concentration and memory. With aging is this part degrading, but meditation can slower this process and prevent from Alzheimer. It´s worth seeing this short video explaining why. Amazing how big influence can meditation have on brain.

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Photo: Kudivani Photography

Meditation improves memory and analytical thinking – Meditation has generally huge effect on mind. Studies showed that experienced meditators had increased their grey matter right in those parts which meditation works with. Grey matter rules all cognitive functions in brain, so mediation gives you a tool how to improve your brain at all fronts. Not coincidentally it´s recommended to the clinic doctors and psychologists to step on the more holistic path, using methods of meditation or mindfulness practice. Body & mind medicine applies these methods already and it´s just matter of time till traditional medicine follows this example.

Meditation improves your relationships – Every love starts with love toward yourself and for many people this is the stumbling block. Feelings of low self-esteem, self-pity, absence of self-confidence and self-love haven´t helped anyone yet. Meditation can normalize also these aspects. “When I don´t meditate I feel so pent up and tense, meditation helps me with self-love and family noticed a change of me being generally more calm and chilled out,” said Georgia which meditates everyday aprox. 30 minutes. According to studies, meditation helps self-conscious, and perceiving of our own which improves understanding what is happening at the conscious level. Person who understands himself well can generally understand others better and therefor accept their behavior. Notice that something is happening and accept it are two positive steps toward happier life and better health.

Moreover meditation, especially practice of loving kindness helps to build your compassion toward others. You´re becoming more open, understanding, patient, generally that kind of partner that anyone wishes to have.

tu a teraz
Photo: Kudivani Photography

Meditation teaches you to live in presence – All that was said is highly probably true, but at the end the most important fact: Meditation teaches you to live now and here, to live the actual moment of precious present, live more mindful, more conscious. As it was said in previous article, it cleans your glasses to see things clearer. You see what´s going on, what the others are doing and you accept it as a reality. You think more, you ask more, you don´t judge. You stop overreacting, or acting too instinctively. You´re becoming more loving and sensible person. You´re happier and healthier.

It all sounds as a miracle. It doesn´t matter if you believe it or not, still you can try it and see yourself what happens. If you find a while for yourself, it´s eitherway positive. Maybe it will become your new habit that definitely changes your life.

On habits next time. 🙂

What I´m talking about when I meditate

When I sat down, closed my eyes and tried to meditate for the very first time, I had no idea what I was doing. I didn´t know what it means – to meditate. I had no expectations. It was just an experiment.

„To meditate means being as lazy as possible,“ said monk LP Pasura to his students at Mooktawan sanctuary in Thailand. Being lazy in this case literally meant to sit down, close eyes and stay calm. Let your mind being lazy till it stops thinking.

It´s hard to imagine something like that. If we spent every 4 seconds with different thought, it´s 15 thoughts per minute, aprox. 14,400 thoughts per day. Moreover, don´t forget that brain works overnight.

Our mind has no chance to rest. It leads to tension, stress and exhaustion. Meditation is a great opportunity to give your mind some rest. „Meditator dive into stage theta, which qualitatively reminds deep sleep. In such stage person experience peaceful wakefulness – he watches but doesn´t act, he follows his thoughts but doesn´t feel their influence.“ (BROWN, 2007)

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Foto: Kudivani photography

Pure mind – pure nonsense?

In a stage of absolute peace we´re finding answers for unsolvable questions. Pure mind thinks clearer. „Meditation cleans our glasses. When glasses are clean, we can see ourselves and others clear.“ (LP PASURA, 2014)

Can you imagine that you would see everything clearly? That you could understand world around you without prejudices, being able to accept everything & everyone that walks into your life?

Meditation can takes you closer. It teaches you how to watch without judgements and evaluations. „If you understand the nature of world, you´re able to accept everything and let go.“ (LP PASURA, 2014) Art of acceptance leads to happiness, freedom and peace.

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Foto: Kudivani photography

And what about happiness?

We all search for happiness. Philosophers, scientists, psychologists, thinkers have been trying to formulate universal recipe for joyfull life. Budhists are aware of fact they ´ ve found it – and it´s meditation. Famous guru Osho said in his published dialogues: „Meditation is way to rule your own being. You don´t have to be christian, jewish or hinduist – it´s all nonsense. You only have to find your center and meditation is a way how to get there.“

Center in this case is a place or a moment of absolute harmony. In world full of opposites is searching for harmonic center completely logical step. Harmony is health.

Meditation or medicine?

Meditation originates from latin meditor – to heal. „Medicine defines what heals physical phenomena and meditation heals psychical phenomena. (OSHO, 1999)

For many centuries meditation has been part of an eastern philosophy, medicine and society generally. Nowadays, modern western science like neuroscience are currently investigating this traditional technique and exploring its influence on brain, thinking and psychics. Results are more than interesting. (More soon.) New branche of medicine known as Mind – Body medicine fully benefits from potential of meditation and mindfulness. People meditate in schools, companies, offices. In the USA, meditation is part of programs for health and trauma relief of communities, especially traumatised by war or social restrictions. In times when national governments invest billions of dollars into health service and laboratory researches, meditation appeals as a magic pill, moreover for free.

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Foto: Kudivani photography

It´s hard to believe that solution of many problems could be so easy. But we should not forget that solution for most of the problems lies in our head, althought we´re looking for it elsewhere. We´re not able to stop and orientate in labyrinth of events, emotions and thoughts. Meditation helps us to understand this stage and adjust it. Beginning is easy – you have to become so lazy that you stop think totally. Then you´ll answer even those questions which you hadn´t even ask.

OSHO, 1999. From medication to meditation. Praha : Pragma. 1999, 344 s. IBN 80–7205-701-4

BROWN, CH. 2007. Pilates Yoga Ausgleich und Harmonie fur Korper, Seele und Geist. Bratislava : Slovart, 2007. 160 s. ISBN 978-80-8085-237-5

Lectures of a monk LP PASURA in Mooktawan sanctuary, june 2014, Peace revolution – www.peacerevolution.com

What kind of future do we have

Important thing nowadays (which I realized on my travels) is fact, that there are no limits. Especially when you´re young, coming from country that is relatively free, you have so many options.

Not talking only about all the youth exchange, Erasmus and volunteering programmes, which allow you to go anywhere. Following the right pages, sooner or later you´ll find the offer you need to find – to make a movie from Kosovo documentary festival or train to become part of one NGO in Macedonia. Most of these offers are almost for free – you pay max. 30% of your travel costs. Can you imagine what your parents would say (especially when you´re coming from former east block as I do)? It´s not fair.

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Well, it´s not. On the other hand, not everything is bright. For example – insecurity we live nowadays – like my friend told me – most of young folks around me are lost. In present and especially in future. Still there exists principal conflict – should I go with the flow which dictates me what to do, when and how or cut the rope which ties me to these borders and leave them? Well, hardest fact to accept – it´s up to you.

Let go your fear

I used to be a fearful kid. Afraid to be myself, afraid of trying new things, do what I like. Becoming older you´re getting rid of these fears but still. Fear is my biggest enemy. Where does this fear come from? Is it my fear – or fear of my parents, ancestors, the society I live in?

I met a lot of people on my journey to Thailand – people with no plan, no future, let´s say. They were coming from travels – used to travel for years or months and now, coming home, little bit fearful what it will bring. But, who knows what future brings?

I met a guy, let´s call him Diego, he used to be lawyer in Argentina, safe future, nice girlfriend, nothing to worry about. But at the certain point in his life – he asked himself – is this what I want? No, was the answer. Somehow he moved to Australia, to work, to live, to travel, then go to India to practise yoga, then it happened he got offer from organisation teaching young people around the world to meditate. He was just following his “inner voice”, not thinking too much, not planning a lot, going with the flow of life. And so we met. You should see him. I bet you haven´t met so many people like him – free, open to anything, feeling comfortable with himself, shining like a star.  The way he talked, acted, was uncompromisingly straight. No fear, no hesitation, just pure faith. In life itself, in future, whatever it brings. I often think of him.

Leave your comfort home

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But… It´s not necessary to leave your job, home, family and friends to change your life, you can start to do something different here, staying in your homeland. Sometimes it´s even harder to stay. Try to be more trustful, more happy. Look on the things you want to do and things you can do. Don´t ask if you´re good enough to go out with something you want. People are so easy to persuade – untill you´re persuaded. Leave your old habits, your zone. Your homeland is a safe place, we all know that, but also too dangerous to turn you into old, lazy, always complaining, grumpy daddy.

I´m telling this to myself everyday. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. At least it makes me think. And thinking can be the first step. But not thinking too much.