June 25, 2015
Saranac Lake has wonderful lodging and wellness venues. This year was the first time they were combined in a delightful weekend event. Which created a vortex of healing Adirondack vibrations!
The Holistic Health Retreat & Conference was held on the weekend of May 16th & 17th, but I arrived Friday night to relax and enjoy the fine dining at the hosting property, the Lake Clear Lodge & Retreat. This lodge dates from 1886 and is still run by the latest generation of the family. It has the classic Great Camp feel, built from many separate buildings and charmingly decorated in the relaxed, woodsy, Adirondack style.
the wilderness greets us
At this point I only dropped off my bag and went back out, because the shore of the lake was calling me. The grounds were set up for strolling, with an incredible view of St Regis Mountain, my favorite.
We were going to explore healthy cooking with emphasis on gluten-free eating and cultured food. We were going to explore ways of living that were anti-inflammatory. We would learn muscle testing for intuition, the importance of recognizing and dealing with our emotions, meditation, and natural pain relief methods.
This conference was all about the healing powers of nature. So I found an Adirondack chair to sit in and simply soaked up the gorgeous surroundings and listened to the occasional lapping of the water and the distant thunk of leaping fish. Most of us have been encouraged to think that such "doing nothing" is, at best, a waste of time, and at worst, a sign of sloth.
But that isn't true. We need to take periodic stock of ourselves by giving the environment enough stillness to settle around us. This lets those thoughts in the back of our head, unable to make themselves heard over the din of daily life, a chance to tell us something.
nature heals us
This retreat was in the perfect place. Not only were the surroundings part of the wild nature around us, the food has been handcrafted along age-old principles of health. Chef Cathy Hohlmeyer seeks out sustainable, natural ingredients, and then prepares them in traditional ways that maximize their nutritional value. As much as she can, she will find products raised and grown within 100 miles of their kitchen, and they have an onsite store to allow others to enjoy this bounty, too.
One of the features of the weekend was a cooking class where Cathy shared the simple principles of culturing vegetables. I was excited at the thought of making my own pickles, and many participants were pleased that it was so easy and did not require much in the way of equipment. By culturing vegetables, which is even easier than making yogurt, we add live cultures to our diet and encourage digestive health.
"It's easy!" she emphasized. "Just play!"
Another presenter, Sabine Weber of Adirondack Nutrition Consulting, emphasized eating "closer to the earth." The more processing a food undergoes, the more the nutrients deteriorate. We also can't put back in what we don't know is missing. She emphasized that when it comes to nutrition, one size does not fit all. This is why she works with her clients' aspirations, needs, and health situation to find the best path to their goals.
Dr. Karen Kan, organizer and moderator of the event, is a holistic doctor who sought out alternative healing a decade ago, when she was was diagnosed with an “incurable” chronic pain disorder, fibromyalgia. Her shining eyes match her boundless enthusiasm as she told the group how she gained back her health with a holistic mind-body-spirit approach. She is a Board certified physician and medical acupuncturist, whose practice specializes in chronic conditions, using cutting edge energy medicine tools.
Her presentation demonstrated the use of LifeWave patches, a form of “acupuncture without needles.” Volunteers came up from the audience to report that their painful areas have improved. I have had them applied to me in the past, and can confirm these patches do actually work to soothe sore muscles and joints.
Dr. Kan also guided the group in learning the rudiments of Applied Kinesiology, or muscle testing, as a do-it-yourself guide to resolving treatment dilemmas. She also discussed the increasing problem of EMF sensitivity, and ways to handle it. As a courtesy to the EMF-sensitive among us, we had already turned off our cell phones. As is common in many Adirondack Lodges, the WiFi is restricted to common areas so guests can choose to be away from it if they wish.
hospitable to all
With a group following such varied nutritional regimens, the usual luncheon would be a challenge. Chef Cathy solved it by not serving the usual lunch. We were able to build our own soups from different bone broths, or the option of a vegetarian broth, by adding our own cooked vegetables. Bone broths are highly nutritious and provide a complete protein for healthy bones and joints. The meal was rounded out with a tossed salad with a tumeric dressing, (this spice reduces inflammation and has many health-giving properties,) and the highly appreciated coconut milk pudding with chia seeds and raisins.
Marie McMahon of Down To Earth Therapeutics shared her expertise with releasing trapped emotions that have created points of stress in the body. This is a technique she uses in conjunction with her training in orthopedic therapies such as craniosacral therapy and soft tissue release techniques. She is also a certified Emotion Code Practitioner, and that is what she was demonstrating for us today.
With the help of a volunteer, she went over the required techniques and shared stories of people she had helped, many in dramatic ways. Just as stress can give us a head or neck ache, it can also affect muscles and organs in ways we might not be aware of.
Michael Harrigan, a Certified Healing Touch Practitioner, demonstrated techniques used for reducing both pain and anxiety. Like stress and inflammation, these paired "bad guys" feed into and off of each other to create health challenges.
Michael works at Albany Medical Center. They have a Healing Arts program used throughout their hospital and medical school, treating 100 inpatients and 50 staff in the healing touch clinic every month, using Healing Touch to keep patients more comfortable, from placing an IV to recovering from brain surgery.
The alternative healing we've been learning about uses actual science, no matter how unusual it can appear when we first encounter it. The principles of the Emotion Code are that the heart has a large electrical field. This now has been supported by the work done with magnetocardiography. The Life Wave patches used by Dr. Kan show the lowering of inflammation in the nearby tissues, using infrared cameras, during treatment.
My own experience is that these techniques certainly can work. I've been getting progress on a chronic muscle issue, not helped by conventional medicine, by using such treatments.
the path to healing
Most of the people attending had found, or hoped to find, relief from chronic issues with pain, fatigue, or insomnia. They had all tried conventional medicine, but were unsatisfied with their doctor's ability to get at the source of their problems. While modern medicine is tops when it comes to putting us back together after a traumatic incident, the care and maintenance of chronic conditions have a less than stellar track record.
This is where the techniques used by the Healing Weekend practitioners come in. By removing obstacles to good sleep and digestion, and lowering the stress from our environment, we support and enhance our body's ability to heal itself.
After filling our minds with new things to try, the class followed up with a special Guided Meditation, which has known relaxing effects, and then a complimentary African dance celebration (no experience necessary!) to live drum music by the drum group Wulaba Drum. Coaxing people to their feet, all according to ability, we were led by dance teacher Janine Mead of Soma Beats.
Because there are many ways of healing.
At the turn of the twentieth century, Saranac Lake was renowned as a tuberculosis healing destination. As that menace faded with the invention of antibiotics, the town has been reborn into the twenty first century as a different kind of healing place. We still have many of the same elements which were so beneficial to the first health seekers; our acres of wilderness, our abundant fresh air, and our welcoming hospitality.