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How to Alienate Lots of People with One Post (aka Honouring Science AND the ‘Woo’)

The other day, I shared a Facebook friend’s post encouraging people to use social media as a starting point but to look beyond, dig a little and not get sucked in by ever more polarising algorithms, bots and god/dess knows what else.

Controversial, huh?

Turned out, yup.

Even within my own little echo chamber / bubble, I found myself defending ‘science’. Was happy to do so until another Facebook friend had a go at ‘woo’ calling it dangerous.

I’m all about the woo,

I am clear that they’re not a cure for anything, always encouraging people to seek the best available medical advice too.

People who think their way is the only way, especially in this amazing time in which we have such wonderful access to healing traditions from throughout the ages and around the globe, scare me.

Every body is different. Different approaches are beneficial for different people at different times.

I have as little time for people who dismiss complementary therapies and healing practices as I do for people who dismiss modern medicine and science.

Of course there are some corrupt scientists and doctors, just as their are some corrupt therapists and yoga teachers etc. This isn’t about the practices but about personality issues – ego – coming before service.

Personally, I look forward to a safe accessible vaccine being available AND I imagine I’d be far more cautious if I’d had a bad reaction to a vaccine in the past or if I lived in a country where vaccines were being rolled out after being tested on just 35 people.

Wanting to understand the science and keep up to date (as far as possible) with developments doesn’t mean not wanting scientists and pharmaceutical companies to act with integrity.

I remember when I became a vegetarian for the first time (I flip flopped over the decades until becoming vegan over three years ago. Somehow this is much easier) when I was 12.

I declared that I’d rather DIE than have any medication that had been tested on animals. My parents pointed out that modern medicine had saved my life repeatedly as a baby and small child when I was in and out of hospital, thankfully with no lasting physical ill effects.

I don’t consciously remember that (although, apparently, I had such a classic case of whooping cough with one illness, they put Baby Me in a medical text book to illustrate the condition).

I do remember crystals and yoga helping to save my life in my 20s.

I was in so much daily pain with the endometriosis, hospital prescribed painkillers didn’t even touch the pain. The surgery helped a little but I didn’t want to be having surgery every two years (which they said would be necessary).

Because the crystals I was using intuitively somehow helped, when I was offered the opportunity to train as a crystal therapist, I went for it. I simply wanted to be able to stand upright without so much (at that stage) daily pain.

Around the same time (never even thinking that I’d end up training as a yoga therapist for mental health), I started doing yoga. My attic studio flat in Hendon, north London, was so tiny, I didn’t even have the floor space for a yoga mat but Cat / Cow, Cobra and Wheel offered instant pain relief.

Even with the crystals and yoga, there were times I was in so much pain, and could see no end to it, I wished I was dead.

Adding to the physical pain, the intrusive hospital tests (over the year of regular tests to get a diagnosis for something I’d had for over a decade already) meant childhood and teenage flashbacks were coming up for healing.

At some point, during the crystal therapy training (over three years), I remember asking the tutor how to stay alive. I don’t remember what she said but the temporary pain relief and idea of being reincarnated (if that’s what happens) and having to REPEAT what I’d survived felt even more impossible that staying alive (newly sober. Joy.)

Crystals, then yoga and then the other tools I added to my personal and then professional self care toolkit, gave me footholds to build a little more resilience than I had.

A glimpse of how life might be.

Am not at ALL suggesting that crystals and yoga are for everyone. We’re all drawn to whatever resonates for us. Personally, I couldn’t wait the 6-10 weeks I was told antidepressants would take to kick in so each time I was prescribed them, I’d kick my own efforts up several notches to help myself get through the next 24 hours.

All any of us can do is train our minds to think more critically, more rigorously. To recognise the temptation to accept easy answers but to keep discerning and asking questions, reading more and checking sources.

I quite frequently want to scream at the screen when I see various posts. Because I wear so many hats, I belong to many different types of groups.

Some are for counsellors, others for the other therapies I offer, some are for coaching, others for yoga instructors.

Some are for journalists.

Then there are the social justice, environmental and geographical groups (and, of course, I’m a blow in – Indian Irish, London born). And the vegan, cat, gardening, UNgardening…

Because I straddle so many different groups, I’m constantly reminding myself to not Other the people I know, respect and even love in various other groups. I am happy to challenge but never want to disrespect others.

Frustrating as this sometimes is, I also really appreciate the diversity of thinking these friends, acquaintances, colleagues and strangers bring to my life. I sometimes think it’s a bit like emotional and mental weightlifting, helping my thinking become less flabby – tighter – in an effort to better explain my position on things.

As I was writing this post, I was listening to Dr Daniel Siegel describing his Wheel of Awareness and how, while he developed it based on his scientific training and background, his friends from Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Lakota, Hindu, Buddhist and other religious and spiritual backgrounds have all found something in it which resonates with their own traditions.

We have far more in common with each other than we often remember.

With love,

Eve Menezes Cunningham self care coach therapist supervisor

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