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Sanity, Compassion, and Health
Discovering, preserving and making available ancient and modern wisdom of all sorts, practical or profound, arising from whatever tradition, is the general goal that inspires the Dharma Haven Web site. We keep coming back to a basic truth of the ancient Shambhala teachings: We all want to lead sane, dignified and confident lives, and this is possible.

On this particular page, our focus is general well-being, health, and healing. We're looking for examples of sustainable, effective, respectful health care practices that could serve as components of a sane and compassionate approach to health and healing.

The selection of health care practices highlighted here is not at all comprehensive. These are all outstanding examples, superb contributions to the alleviation of human suffering, but we've focused almost entirely on methods that are not widely known. 

For information about practices that are generally understood in the community of Western medical professionals, the Internet offers many health related sites. If you like, you could start with Dharma Haven's Net Quest Health Links.

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Models of Health and Healing
Here we are pleased to list a few superb examples of sustainable, effective, respectful health care practices that could indeed serve as components of a sane and compassionate approach to health and healing.

patch adamsgaviotashildred schuelltibetan medicine

Tibetan Medicine: The Wisdom of Natural Healing

Imagine a medical tradition, highly effective, offering medicines that produce no lasting negative side effects, sustainably using resources of the natural environment, and fostering basic sanity and compassion as the essential basis of health and well being. It seems that several classical Asian cultures embodied such traditions, and elements of those medical traditions, in the form of Chinese herbal medicine, Indian Ayurvedic medicine and Tibetan medicine, are now beginning to gain respect in the West.

Through the link given above, Dharma Haven offers Web pages on many different aspects of Tibetan medicine, including its spiritual basis in Buddhism, generally, and in the Medicine Buddha, in particular.

Patch Adams and the Gesundheit! Health Institute

Can medical care be provided in a way that is both sane and compassionate? Patch adams and his friends, with their Gesundheit! Institute, hope to show us one alternative by creating a hospital and health-care facility with some unusual guidelines:

Not charging any money, to eliminate the distorting effect of greed on health care in our society; Carrying no malpractice insurance; Staff and patients living together in an environment that is not only hospital but also home -- farm, theatre, crafts centre, recreational facility, in a beautiful material setting, with the hospital ae especially silly, playful place; Having respect for and working in cooperation with healers from all traditions; Holding to the fundamental goal of living healthy lives and not just conquering sickness.

Gaviotas: The Village Who Planted Trees

In Gaviotas, Colombia, and the surrounding region, the appropriate technology movement is thriving. An experimental community in the wastelands has accidentally restored a rainforest, along with the hearts of its people.

"Gaviotans live in peace surrounded by narcotics dealers and guerillas. They live without guns, without pesticides, willing to serve and teach all comers. They count their wealth in sun, water, and community."

Hildred Schuell's Aphasia Therapy

Although aphasia was (and still is) generally considered incurable, Dr. Hildred Schuell discovered how to gradually cure most cases, by removing the element of panic and struggle from therapy sessions.

We'll be continuing to look for projects and methods that can serve as models, and for specific practices that solve certain specific problems in ways that may be generalizable to other problems. Suggestions of appropriate examples would, of course, be warmly welcomed.

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Self Care for Health and Healing
The fundamental principle of preventive health care is that one can adopt a style of life that will support health and healing. Diet, exercise, behavior, spiritual practice -- each individual can learn how to be more healthy in all these aspects of life.

Unfortunately, in our modern world of endless change and countless alternativs, deciding exactly what changes in diet and behavior would be appropriate can be a real challenge. Many conflicting sources of advice on these matters are now widely available. The best advice we've heard is to choose a system that appeals to you and stick with it for long enough to see if it really works for you.

On our Living Wisely, Living Well page we suggest three places to start -- systematic lifestyle counseling from a traditional Tibetan approach, one based on classical Chinese medicine, and a modern eclectic approach.

Living Wisely, Living Well

Exploring The Many Facets
of a Healthful Lifestyle

Health for Life: Secrets of Tibetan Ayurveda

The Tibetan Book of Healing

Imperial Secrets of Health and Longevity

Chinese Secrets of Health and Longevity

8 Weeks to Optimum Health

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Health and Healing of Brain and Mind

"If you loose your mind, come back."
-- Shambhala Buddhist Slogan

The Ancient Wisdom of Shambhala

Unbiased awareness of what is actually going on, within ones own being and in ones environment, automatically leads to appropriate action. When ones mind and body are synchronized, when what is actually happening is experienced on the spot, actions mesh with situations as they truly are. Developing such basic sanity, such authentic presence in the actual situation, is possible for all of us.

Hildred Schuell's Aphasia Therapy

Although aphasia was (and still is) generally considered incurable, Dr. Hildred Schuell discovered how to gradually cure most cases,  by removing the element of panic and struggle from therapy sessions.

Windhorse Associates -- Recovering From Psychosis at Home

Windhorse: An Experiment in Kindness -- "For decades, we who call ourselves consumer/survivors have demanded radical changes in the way mental illness is viewed and treated. We as a group always attribute our recovery to something other than force and pharmacology, the mainstays of the psychiatric system. We advocate for the human perspective in a way of life that has become increasingly cold and frenetic. We plead for treatment that is based on respect and kindness rather than judgment and pathology.

We have not gotten very far. Windhorse Associates is one of the few programs I know of that is translating the words of empowerment into the work of recovery. Kindness takes patience and humanness takes work."

Recommendations from the Tidal Model Web Site

Okimaw Ohci Healing Lodge -- for aboriginal women. Part of the Canadian federal prison system.

Healing Lodge Final Operational Plan -- from the Task Force on Federally Sentenced Women (Correctional Service Canada)

Malnutrition Harms the Mind

Working with psychological difficulties, our own or those we encounter in other people, should include careful consideration of the individual's diet. Many serious neurological and psychological disorders can be caused by chronic nutritional deficiencies. In fact, the 'B' vitamins were originally discovered as a result of efforts to ameliorate beri-beri, a disease characterized by lesions of nerves, general debility, and painful rigidity -- now known to be caused by a deficiency of thiamine (vitamin b-1). 

Among the most common causes of "mental retardation" are maternal malnutrition and malnutrition during infancy.

Symptoms of psychotic illness and "dementia" can be caused by malnutrition in children and adults. This is especially common in cases of chronic alcohol and drug dependence, and in the elderly. For example, in Western countries, thiamine deficiency is encountered almost solely in cases of chronic alcoholism. 


The Seduction of Madness -- Ed Podvoll

How to be a Help Instead of a Nuisance: Practical Approaches to Giving Support, Service and Encouragement to Others
-- Karen Kissel Wegela

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Spiritual Aspects of Health and Healing

"In Buddhism, the wisdom taught in the scriptures is mainly aimed at realizing enlightenment. However, spiritual exercises can also help us find happiness and health in our everyday life. There are extensive discourses in Buddhism on improving our ordinary life and having a peaceful, joyous, and beneficial existence in this very world."
Tulku Thondup -- The Healing Power of Mind

Teachings on The Medicine Buddha

Healing, Relaxing and Awakening

Tibetan Healing Meditation

The Ancient Wisdom of Shambhala

"[ Healing by visualizing the Medicine Buddha ] can be applied not only to physical sickness but to mental problems as well. If you want to get rid of a particular type of anxiety or stress or depression or fear or any other kind of unpleasant mental experience, you can visualize the Medicine Buddha seated above the top of your head and think in the same way as before that luminous ambrosia or liquid light emerges from his body, filling your body and cleansing you of any problem, whatever it is. 

You might think that all of this sounds a bit childish, but in fact it actually works, and you will find that out if you try it."

 -- Ven. Thrangu Rinpoche
Teachings on the Medicine Buddha

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Sanely Facing Death and Dying

Dying Without Shame; Dying Without Panic

"Excessive fear of death distorts lives, and seems to be responsible for many of the more bizarre and inhumane excesses of our American medical system. In our search for sustainable, effective, respectful health care practices, ideas that could contribute to a sane and compassionate integrated health care system, we've found nothing as simple, basic, workable and cost effective as coming to terms with death and the process of dying -- something we can do as individuals, as families, as communities and as a culture."

Living and Dying: A Buddhist Perspective
by Carol S. Hyman

"Meditation is a practice in how to let go, first of our thoughts, emotions and opinions; later, as we settle down and are able to be simply present, we let go of each moment, constantly moving into the next. Paradoxically, such relaxation, rather than spacing us out,  brings us more directly in contact with what actually is, which might be called nowness or being awake in the eternal present.  For this reason, the symbol for meditation is an endless knot, also called the knot of eternity. Training in such a way is, in effect, training for the ultimate surrender human beings encounter, letting go of this body at the time of death."

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More Resources
Net Quest Health Links

Net Quest Earth Links
Community - Environment - Gardens

The Best Alternative Medicine: What Works? What Does not?

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Indigenous Medical Traditions of the Americas

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Revised on August 19, 2000

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