Healthcare Perspectives - Native American Medicine
The healing traditions of Native Americans have been practiced in North America since at least 10,000 years ago and possibly as early as 38,000 years ago. Recent years have shown an increased interest in the therapies of traditional cultures, in patients' use of alternative medicine, in the desire for mind-body therapies and for spiritual healing, as well as for behavioral medicine treatments for chronic medical illness. Some hospitals have included traditional Native American Medicine Healers as part of their staff.
Native American Medicine is based on widely held beliefs in regards to healthy living, the cause and effect of disease-producing behavior, and the spiritual principles that restore balance with nature. Diagnosis and treatment of ill-health varies greatly from tribe to tribe and healer to healer but the common thread of interconnectedness is a belief generally held by the Elders and Medicine Healers of all tribes.
Traditionally, Native Americans stress development of the inner life which is seen to be reflected in the outer world thus the events of the outer world speaking of the inner processes of the person. The Native Elders and Medicine Men & Woman passed down a simplistic understanding of a quite sophisticated view on the interrelatedness of energy and nature; the view that dynamic energy systems interact in complex ways, actually communicating and creating shared experiences through their reciprocal effects upon each other during their communication.
Because illness is viewed as simultaneously spiritual, mental, physical and environmental; through the interaction and hierarchical interconnectedness of these dimensions, intentional intervention towards restoring health within any one dimension should affect any other. Thus illnesses can be restored to health by prayer, chanting, music, smudging (burning sage or aromatic woods), herbs, laying-on of hands, massage, counseling, ceremony, imagery, fasting, harmonizing with nature, dreaming, sweat lodges, developing inner silence, or going on a shamanic journey. Family and community are also very important in the healing process.
Healing Modalities within Native American Medicine
- Sweat Lodge
- Herbal Medicine
- Shamanic Energy Work
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