In ancient times people looked to what nature could offer when they were injured or unwell, for healing. Our ancestors experimented with plants and other natural sources to find what was suitable for healing. In many cases these natural materials were also used ritually as magical substances, by priests, shamans or medicine men; and included spiritual systems such as animism, spiritualism, shamanism, and divination.
Although diverse in technique these ancient healing practices all shared the belief in the healing powers of nature, higher beings and our own abilities. Many of the modern alternative healing methods evolved from ancient beliefs and practices into four basic categories. These healing therapies are sometimes used individually or in combination, to provide harmony and healing for the whole person; physically, mentally and spiritually.
In modern times, due to global awareness, there are now literally hundreds of alternative healing therapies available. Listed below are only a few examples of those grouped under four headings of - energy, physical, herbal and spiritual therapies. Some of these examples also fall under more than one group due to their wider healing ability:-
Energy therapies are based on the principle that life relies upon a free flowing of energy; that when a person’s energies are blocked, illness occurs. Energy therapy is the process of restimulating the body's life force or energy pathways, by performing gentle exercises on the areas that the practitioner diagnoses as being blocked; or through changing a person’s surroundings (Feng Shui).
Types of Energy Therapy: Acupressure, Acupuncture, Crystal Therapy, Feng Shui, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Qigong.
Physical therapies are direct treatments to the body through manipulation of the joints, muscles or skin to relieve pain. Body manipulation also stimulates painkilling endorphins. Meditation and Yoga both also fall under this category as breathing links the physical and spiritual worlds.
Types of Physical Therapy: Alexander Technique, Bowen Technique, Chiropractic, Pilates, Reflexology, Shiatsu, Yoga.
Herbal therapies are based on using natural products to regain and maintain balanced health. Practitioners of this type of therapy believe that natural products are far more beneficial than chemicals and drugs which may produce side effects, and particularly those of which long term usage is yet unknown.
Types of Herbal Therapy: Aromatherapy, Ayurveda, Chinese Food Therapy, Herbalism, Homeopathy, Moxibustion, Naturopathic Medicine.
Spiritual healing practices all recognise that some form of ‘life force' runs through our bodies and the universe, whether it be controlled by a higher being, or simply as a part of nature. Spiritual healing practices believe that with belief and faith in a healing power, and given the appropriate tools, we all have the ability to heal ourselves.
Types of Spiritual Healing: Affirmative Prayer, Aura Healing, Bach Flower Remedies, Colour therapy, Faith Healing, Shamanism, Transcendental Meditation.
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