Letter from the Publisher, June 2017

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PAIN has an element of blank; / It cannot recollect

When it began, or if there were / A day when it was not.

It has no future but itself, / Its infinite realms contain

Its past, enlightened to perceive / New periods of pain.

~Emily Dickenson

Karen Meshkov, Natural Awakenings BuxMontPain is a chronic condition shared by 100 million Americans; it’s the leading reason people go to doctors in the U.S., costing the nation upwards of $635 billion a year—more than cancer, heart disease and diabetes combined, according to the American Academy of Pain Medicine.

WebMD explains how vast and amorphous the condition can be, saying, “Chronic pain can be mild or excruciating, episodic or continuous, merely inconvenient or totally incapacitating…the signals of pain remain active in the nervous system for months or even years.” Sometimes the cause is known, or eventually discovered; sometimes the source remains a mystery.

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Letter from the Publisher, May 2017

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

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