Letter from the Publisher, May 2017

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Karen_LFP_0516Anyone I’ve ever asked about my mother-in-law, Johanna Pillischer, hasn’t hesitated to tell me what an exquisite person she was. Johanna was an artist, trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and a bodyworker, certified in Rubenfeld Synergy and the Alexander Technique. A mutual friend described her as warm and open-hearted, “like a bodhisattva,” the Buddhist deity that represents an ideally awakened, compassionate being.

I never got the chance to know Johanna before she succumbed to breast cancer in 2001. Still, I think of her often, imagining how we would connect around our shared passion for spirituality, health and self-development, and all the things she would have taught me. I reminisce with her sister about their experiences in the 1960s, learning yoga when it was still a new age trend. Knowing what a beautiful and sensitive man Johanna raised in my husband, Matt, I’m wistful that my son, Asa, will miss the experience to know her.

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A New Paradigm for Health and Healing: Unite for HER Opens Doors for Complementary Therapies

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by Karen G. Meshkov

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It’s early on a Sunday morning, but the lobby at Bryn Mawr Hospital’s Newtown Square facility is already abuzz. The space is teeming with women in stylish athleisure-wear; banquet tables are adorned with balloons and centerpieces. As guests make their way to their assigned seats, only the number of heads that remain fully covered by knit caps and scarves reveal that this is no ordinary Main Line brunch affair—this Wellness Day event is hosted by Unite for HER, a cutting-edge women’s health organization, and the attendees are Philadelphia-area women that have recently been diagnosed with breast cancer.

The “HER” stands for Healing to Empower and Restore, and Wellness Days are one of the organization’s signature programs. This interactive, one-day workshop will introduce these women to the range of services and education that will be provided to them over the next year through their fully-funded “wellness passports”.

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Letter from the Publisher, April 2017

Karen_LFP_0516My Bichon Frise is one of the great loves of my life: I adopted her from a pet rescue in New Jersey 10 years ago when she was just over a year old. I’ll never forget the first time I held her, how skinny and timid she was, and how quickly we bonded with each other.

The old adage about man and dog (and woman and dog, as it is) isn’t just lore; research shows the two species have been “besties” for over 34,000 years from the time when dogs and humans began to cohabitate.

Recent research also reveals that humans experience feelings of love for their pets in ways that rival what they feel for their children and mates; what’s even more interesting is it appears the feelings are mutual. Brain scans from a study in Japan show that oxytocin, the chemical released in the brain that creates the experience of love, is stimulated in both humans and their animal companions while they gaze into each other’s eyes.

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Proof of Poison: The Mercury Amalgam Debate Pushes On

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by Rebecca Antsis and Karen G. Meshkov

There is no topic in modern dentistry as controversial as the use of silver mercury amalgam dental fillings. Since the 1840s, the potential hazards of this common dental device have been a source of contention. Despite scientific evidence supporting the health and environmental hazards of mercury fillings, the American Dental Association (ADA) continues to endorse its safety, and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) continues to side with the industry supporting its use.

While the debate continues, New York City’s Times Square is currently the site of a jumbotron projecting: “MERCURY DENTAL FILLINGS RELEASE TOXIC MERCURY.” The billboard is part of a massive effort to educate the public about the toxic properties of silver amalgam dental fillings. Highlighted is the “Safe Mercury Amalgam Removal Technique” (SMART) developed by its sponsor, the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology (IAOMT), a mercury-free dental organization that certifies dentists in an amalgam removal protocol to reduce the potential negative health outcomes of mercury exposure to patients, dental professionals, students, staff and others.

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Letter from the Publisher, March 2017

Karen_LFP_0516I remember so well being 8 or 9 years old, standing in the nurse’s office, reading the big E on the eye chart, and listening for the high tones coming through the headphones. And who can forget their first time having a cavity drilled?

As adults, though, even those considered health-conscious, we don’t pay nearly as much attention to our visual, oral or auditory health. I know it’s not uncommon for me, with my ever-busier life, to go “too long” between teeth cleanings, eye exams and other important acts of self-care. Frequently, we wait until something goes wrong before we give ourselves the attention we deserve. In this issue, we’ll seek to more fully understand how these aspects of our health are connected to whole-body, whole-being wellness, and can help us be more proactive in our approach.

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Letter from the Publisher, February 2017

Beautiful young people are acts of nature;
Beautiful old people are works of art.
                ~Eleanor Roosevelt

Karen_LFP_0516Many of us are enjoying longer, fuller lives. Our population will soon include 75 million people over the age of 60, and recent reports by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development show the average life expectancy for U.S. men is 76. For U.S. women, it’s 81.Certainly our extended lifespan is cause for celebration. But it also poses important questions: How can we live longer, better with improved physical and emotional vitality? How can we work against a cultural bias that favors youth and stigmatizes older age? How can we treat death with candor and compassion?

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Climb To New Heights with Indoor Rock Climbing Retreat

Sport climbingErin Owen, Transformational Life Coach for Leaders and President of EEO Balance Corporation, along with Karen G. Meshkov, publisher of Natural Awakenings BuxMont, will host a pair of indoor rock climbing and goal-setting retreats, from 1:30 to 5:30 p.m., February 26, at Philadelphia Rock Gym, in Wyncote, and February 27, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Doylestown Rock Gym, in Doylestown. No prior indoor rock climbing experience is required and newbies to climbing are welcomed—all training and safety supports will be provided by professionally trained staff. Early registration is strongly encouraged, as space is limited, and registration will close as soon as all spots are filled.

This invigorating half-day retreat is designed to help clarify and supercharge annual goals, as well as facilitate a new awareness of our innate talents and intuition. The event will include a learning lab exploring the cutting-edge neuroscience behind learning and change, and will then put theory into action through climbing. Participants will experiment with climbing, (safely) falling and climbing again, all in a supportive environment where participants are encouraged to go to their “edge” and see what growth and change is found there. The event will wrap up with a debrief session where participants can share their insights and takeaways. Climbers will celebrate their experience with newfound friends and leave feeling exhilarated, empowered and motivated.

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Letter from the Publisher, January 2017

Karen_LFP_0516Looking through the stack of 2016 Natural Awakenings magazines piled up on my desk, it’s hard to believe the year is already over. I marvel at every issue, remembering the rich tapestry of articles and interviews, events and offerings that made each edition unique. This past year has been abundant, filled with dynamic growth for Natural Awakenings of Bucks and Montgomery counties and our readers and contributors in the local, holistic health and wellness community.

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Many Paths To Healing: Exploring Modern Mental Health Practices, Treatments and Modalities

by Karen L. Smith, Rebecca Antsis and Karen G. Meshkov

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Life is not without its ups and downs. At some point in the journey, we will likely be presented with circumstances that upset our mood and behavior. Though many tools and resources are available that can help us on our path to optimal mental health, the first challenge is figuring out what kind of help we need, and where we can get it.

As an advocate of integrative, holistic and complementary approaches to healing, Natural Awakenings offers this guide as our attempt to survey the contemporary healing landscape and raise awareness of the myriad resources available to those seeking inroads to a more emotionally healthy, happy and balanced life.

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Letter from the Publisher, December 2016

Karen_LFP_0516Sometimes when I am having a hard day, I like to imagine all of the readers and contributors of Natural Awakenings standing around in a giant circle, participating in a huge group hug. This month, I’ve had a couple of those days.

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Letter from the Publisher, November 2016

Ideas are driven by a single impulse: to be made manifest.
~Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Karen_LFP_0516In this season of giving thanks, we at Natural Awakenings turn our attention toward a new breed of social and political change-makers that are bringing forth fresh initiatives nationally and internationally. Whether their work is in conservation and environmental justice, health and nutrition, food and farming systems, urban planning or cross-cultural exchange, their paths all converge at the intersection of passion, purpose and productivity. From that sacred space emerge solutions and resolutions that make the world a better place to be.

BuxMont is filled with our own cadre of innovators and originators. For this month’s issue, we focus on a handful of local trendsetters who are redefining the status quo in a multitude of ways. We meet leaders from Elkins Park, Ambler, Doylestown and Wyndmoor who are mobilizing to build fully autonomous, democratically run “co-ops” from the ground up so they may better meet the needs of their communities.

We interview Wynnewood’s Meg Miller, whose lawn signs offer unexpected inspiration to commuters driving through her Main Line neighborhood, and Dr. Andrew Persky of Chalfont, Bucks County, who has brought life-changing pain relief to patients, using an innovative approach to chiropractic medicine.

Karen L. Smith’s Full Living psychotherapy collective employs a shared economy model to connect clients with specialized clinicians across the Philadelphia area, while Randy Garbin’s Walkable Jenkintown initiative promotes civic support for a more pedestrian-positive town—hoping to improve his Eastern Montgomery County neighborhood’s physical, social and economic health.

Activist filmmaker, lawyer and advocate Matt Pillischer, from Cheltenham Township, merges personal and professional pursuits, forging a new path for engaged citizens that want to see a society cleared of racial injustice and mass incarceration. Transformation Yoga Project also focuses on the impact of incarceration on our society, raising funds to provide yoga and mindfulness programs specifically geared to those recovering from trauma.

And this is just a small cross-section of the inspiring work happening in so many ways, by so many of the members of our Natural Awakenings community who are working at the forefront of the local, progressive, holistic health and wellness movements. Whatever you are working toward, if your goal is health and healing of people or planet, Natural Awakenings is with you, this and every month, offering you the camaraderie and courage to be the modern-day change-makers that you are.

Together we are “Making the Awakening” in Bucks and Montgomery counties.

Karen G. Meshkov

Letter from the Publisher, October 2016

Karen_LFP_0516Fall is a time for learning, and this October, our curriculum includes current trends in energy medicine, energy healing and energy psychology (EP). Within the umbrella of “energy work” there exists a wide range of treatment options, from the ancient to the innovative, all with the purpose of balancing the body’s energetic flow, and achieving an optimal state of physical, emotional and spiritual health. Well-known body-centered practices like yoga, massage, reiki, acupuncture, reflexology and osteopathic manipulation; EP techniques including Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or “tapping”; Eric Pearl’s reconnective therapy; and Donna Eden’s energy medicine curriculum are only a sampling of the modalities that make up this growing body of practices.

We’re also celebrating the sea change in popular culture, as energy healing as a whole becomes more widely recognized by the mainstream. The National Institutes of Health National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s 2012 survey reports that approximately 38 percent of U.S. adults and approximately 12 percent of children used some form of complementary health treatment, and that they collectively spent $30 billion in out-of-pocket costs on those services. Nearly 30 percent of that spending was for practices classified as energy medicine. The office’s 2016 strategic plan allocates considerable federal money to continued clinical trials to identify the safety and usefulness of these practices in disease prevention and treatment. Surely, this is a sign of a turning tide.

Examples of this shift abound in healthcare, educational and correctional settings. Yoga, after proving its efficacy as a form of physical fitness and stress relief, is currently being mined for its usefulness in managing more subtle, energetic aspects of mind and emotional regulation in schools, rehabilitation and prison settings.

Major medical centers are now offering a range of complementary and mind-body approaches, such as acupuncture, tai chi and massage, in combination with conventional, allopathic medical treatment, and they are measuring their results in respected, peer-reviewed journals. Nurses are training in reiki and Healing Touch and are offering those services to patients in oncology, surgical and palliative settings. According to the American Hospital Association, in 2007, over 800 American hospitals offered reiki as part of their hospital services.

Whereas EP evidence was mostly anecdotal ten years ago, The Association for Comprehensive Energy Psychology (ACEP) now cites over 80 research studies, including multiple randomized controlled trials published in professional and refereed journals, that confirm the treatment value of energy psychology when applied to many different problems, such as post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, stress management and performance enhancement. In 2012, ACEP became the first organization to be approved by the APA to give psychologists continuing education for energy psychology.

The research investigating the benefits of these modalities continues to increase as the interest from the public demands it.

It’s exciting to think about how these developments could impact the way we approach physical and mental health in our near and distant futures. Imagine teachers that can help children with ADHD into yoga poses, nurses trained to use hands-on healing after chemotherapy sessions, test proctors teaching EFT to a room of nervous students, and law enforcement officers skilled at guided mindful meditation, bringing presence and peace to the carceral environment.

Come, open your mind with us, and consider the possibilities for wellness in a more “energetic” tomorrow.

Together, we are “Making the Awakening” in Bucks and Montgomery Counties.

Karen G. Meshkov