BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Mind-Body Healing ...

This was another interesting find at the dollar store … and, as regular readers of this space appreciate, I do love picking up books there, both for the obvious reasons (a $24.00 book for a buck!), and for how they lend some degree of serendipity into my to-be-read stack. I suppose there's also the element of the “win” involved in finding a non-fiction title (that I am at least interested enough in to toss in the cart) amid the multitudes of fiction titles which make up those few shelves.

Stalkeresque readers will also recall that I've been involved in quite a lot of alternative health practices since my teenage years (back when dinosaurs walked the earth), including having studied with Peruvian shamans, trained in hypnosis, and other things along those lines. This, of course, made Dr. Rick Levy's Miraculous Health: How to Heal Your Body by Unleashing the Hidden Power of Your Mind of immediate interest when I found it on the dollar store shelf … and I want to point out (before I get into the caveats) that this is a very good book, that I would recommend, and which I wish I could find more (dollar) copies of to pass along to various friends.

That being said, I liked this book a lot more in the beginning than in the end. I was very excited when I read Levy's introductory material, including:
      I suppose I was uniquely prepared to expand the frontiers of mind-body medicine. I entered the profession of clinical psychology with the mind of traditional hard-nosed scientist totally committed to improving the human condition, a family mantle I inherited from my father who was a world-class biochemist and brain researcher at the National Institutes of Health. After I earned my PhD in Clinical Psychology, I held a number of traditional leadership roles that included chairmanships of the Departments of Psychology at two state hospitals …
      By the late 1980s, I saw what the methods could do for people and realized their awesome implications for improving human wellbeing on a global scale. I became determined to get the methods out, even at the expense of my stature in the filed of psychology (at that time, the clinical use of meditation, hypnosis, and biofield energy work were considered “fringe”). I used to joke in those days that I was “a suit-and-tie guy working in the tie-dye field”, but as it turns out, I was merely ahead of the curve. ...
Sounds awesome, right? Establishment shrink finds “mind-body” practices, and becomes a big advocate … great story line. My excitement for the book only increased when the first two parts, energy work (a key element in the shamanic practices I'd studied) and hypnosis, were things that I was quite familiar with, and his presentation of these was solidly in line with my experiences in those areas. However, the narrative takes an abrupt turn following that when he shifts to meditation … rather than being a suit-and-tie guy discovering these approaches in the course of his professional career, while at Brandeis University in 1966, he “traded in {his} white shirt and tie for fatigues and long hair” as so many did at the time, but
      The in 1969, Dr. Richard Alpert, now known as Baba Ram Dass, returned to the United States from a long trip to India to become one of the major teaches of Eastern thought and meditation in this country. …
      I was fortunate to meet Ram Dass when I did. Not long after he came to Brandeis, he became a nationally known spiritual leader with thousands camped out daily on his father's estate to hear him speak. However, before his fame made him inaccessible, three or four of my classmates and I would spend a half day with him, listening to him talk and meditating together. Just by being in his presence, I felt my connection to something larger than myself. ...
Thud. The guy who in the late 80's “realized {the} awesome implications” of mind-body techniques, had been a personal student of Ram Dass, with 20 years of background (practice? He doesn't note how he carried forth his early experiences) in meditation. What a buzzkill.

Again, this does nothing to invalidate what's in the book … it's just that the set-up was so fascinating, the story arc so promising, that finding that he didn't first encounter these healing practices in the course of a “hard-nosed scientific” career and become an enthusiastic convert to their clinical use but that this was a long-standing focus for him, sort of pulled the rug out from under my “cheering interest”.

The book is in five parts: “Skill Building”, “Self-Analysis”, “Treatment”, “Supplemental Methods”, and “Preparing for the Rest of Your Life”. The three approaches mentioned, energy work, hypnosis, and meditation, are the “tool kit” developed in the first part, and his exposition of these is excellent (which is why I've been eager to find more copies). The second part involves two sets of assessment tools, one conscious, with “scale of 1-7” queries, and one hypnotic which involved the chakras and “symbolic” representations (which, frankly, I found awfully literal – bodily complaints that correspond to cliché phrases or relations – heart disease from loss of love, eye problems from not wanting to see something, etc.). One of the on-going themes of the book is finding “the story behind the story” where you try to find the symbolic/mythic elements of your story.

One thing I should note is that there is a companion web site for the book, which includes a number of hypnotic inductions and guided meditations which he introduces in various sections. This is really an awesome approach, as many other writers in this niche would have those for sale, and making them available for easy download (and he even recommends burning them to CD) is very helpful.

Another thing I should note (and which regular readers of my reviews will no doubt find unsurprising), is that I have not “walked through” the process here. There are step-by-step elements for increasing levels of meditation and hypnosis, as well as all the assessment material, that I haven't delved into. The book is set up as a guide to daily practice, and I've not even attempted the first bits (although I'm certainly familiar with the general set of methods), so I really can't speak to how efficient/useful the program presented here is. However, there are things in here for combating stress, shifting modalities, and other specific issues, that I do plan to get into this at some point … I have downloaded the audio files on my system!

I must admit that I have some doubt about the “story behind the story” approach, and especially with the surface-level symbolism involved in that … but he describes many cases where the use of energy work coupled with hypnosis and meditative states has healed patients of his, so perhaps there is something there.

Miraculous Health has been out for a while (5 years) and appears to still be in print (the on-line big boys have it for 30% off), but used copies (as one would expect for something that bounced out to the dollar stores) can be had for as little as a penny (plus the $3.99 shipping, of course). This is structured to appeal to pretty much everybody, and the instructional parts are both straight forward and reasonably comprehensive. I sort of wish Dr. Levy hadn't “broken the spell” of the pretense that he starts the book with, but that's a minor issue. It's one of the better books in this niche that I've read in a while, made all the better by providing the reader with those audio files.

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Tags: book review
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